TAPEd Conversation: My My
"My my." It's a great phrase, one of those phrases that, to me, makes the English language great, and there's no other way to enunciate it than in a smooth, slightly seedy James Bond drawl (well, ok, you could probably do some John Inman take on it, but...). Well, until recently that's all "My My" meant to me, but then a trio of Berlin-based producers put out a pair of 12"s, 'Serpentine' and 'Klatta' on Playhouse under that very moniker, and well, the rest is (techno) history. If you've not heard the organic but very noirish sounds of those two tunes carving up a dancefloor, well, I think you probably need to visit more dancefloors. You've probably enjoyed the recent single 'Butterflies & Zebras' as well, which Carnage posted up here a while back. But a far more pressing concern right now is My My's debut LP, Songs for the Gentle, also recorded for Playhouse and also - you guessed it - amazing. With wonderfully twitchy, fussy sampling, complex rhythmic arrangements but always on and around a fairly tough tech-house backbone, this album will be a treat for those of you who, like me, went bonkers for Pier Bucci's (still underrated) Familia LP of last year. Songs for the Gentle also shares that album's yearning, bucolic undertones, inspiring images of flora and fauna, and revealing a human heart pulsing beneath layer upon layer of twittering, chirruping machine noise. Which might explain why their live sets are so fucking good.
As is my way, I asked the My My fellas some not too penetrating questions...
TAPE’s buying. What are you drinking?
Lee: Bombay Saphire and Tonic
Nick: Vodka apple juice
Carsten: Jack ginger ale
The secret to a happy life is...
Carsten: Don’t be jealous!
Nick: Sweet little lies!
Lee: No regrets!
You’ve called your forthcoming album Songs for the Gentle. Was song structure, or the idea of song, something that you had particularly in mind when making the record?
Lee: Sure, great songs are the only things I keep listening to for years and years... Melody and harmony are the main things that give me an emotional response to music. The tracks on SFTG are mainly structured in a club friendly style, but the music should give people the same feeling they get from hearing a song they love...
What equipment/software do you use for your live sets?
Nick: We're using 2 laptops each running live, 1 controller, a tiny keyboard, an Electribe ER-1, a little dj-loop-player and sometimes a guitar...
I’m interested in the group nature of your project. Do you all work together in the studio, at the same time? Or do you all work on your own, then come together in the studio at a late stage in the production process?
Nick: It depends, although most of the time, Lee and me are working individually and hook up later in the process to finish our work. Every once in a while we do long, jam-like studio sessions together and have already come up with nice stuff like “Clean Break”, the opener to our album, that way.
How do you think your backgrounds in other types of music have informed your more techno-orientated tracks?
Lee: I think it all comes back to hip hop and sampling. It’s the main thing we all have in common musically, that we all loved the hip hop. The process of playing with beats and samples led us through all kinds of music and we ended up here...
How did you hook up with the Playhouse guys?
Carsten: I met Jörn Elling Wuttke of Alter Ego through work and nightlife. I was telling him about us doing music and he asked for a demo. It took us more than 6 months to finally come up with a demo containing 12 tracks, of which they signed three straight away. That became the Klatta EP.
Why did you start JUST?
Nick: Something to do, innit? No, seriously: Lee has quite a huge output and that made us think about setting up a label, in the first place. At the same time we noticed some friends around us doing great tracks and one thing led to another…
Who are JUST’s key artists?
Nick: For the time being, it's Lee Jones. Then there's Pigon, which is the Dial artist Efdemin with his mate DJ RNDM from Vienna. Our third release comes from Kock&Wilck, two guys from Potsdam, near Berlin. We got to know Sebastian Wilck as the trainee of Watergate, a Berlin club, where we're hosting a Wednesday night once a month. Another artist is Daniel Offermann aka O., who will be doing our fourth release.
Lee, what made you move to Germany?
A German girl and a few problems with the English tax office
What’s your favourite place/venue to play together?
It has to be Panorama Bar, of course!
What does My My’s dream rider consist of?
Plenty of drink tokens and friendly people
Did you set out to record tracks especially for an album, or did you make the tracks individually and realize afterwards that they’d sound good together as an LP…?
Lee: We had a lot material we’d been collecting since the beginning of the year, but nothing seemed to gel properly into an album. I decided to try and write a few extra tracks alone, and ended up writing about 8 tracks back to back, which became the album. It worked better like that – we always talked about making an album, not a compilation of tracks. Some of the other stuff Nick and I did together has ended up coming out on other labels and on a follow up EP.
Favourite TV show ever?
Nick: Six Feet Under
Are there any artists/producers, old or new, who you really admire, of who have had a big influence on your sound?
Photek, A Tribe Called Quest, Pepe Bradock, Carl Craig, Luciano, Mathew Jonson, Stewart Walker, Quincy Jones
What’s your favourite Bowie album?
Lee: Hunky Dory
Carsten : Low
Who, in the real world or dream world, would you love to collaborate with?
Do you spend a lot of time in the studio? Do you work in short bursts or do you sort of keep regular office hours?
Lee : I’m a workaholic. My studio is at home, so I live in my studio. I’m always trying to keep to some kind of a normal working life, but it’s so hard!
Nick: I’m also busy doing other stuff, as well as djing every weekend. I’m trying to do as much music as possible, anyway.
What are the most prized records you own?
Nick: Maybe that 9/11 12” Theo Parrish did. I’m really crap at assessing my gems, so I don’t know, really…
Lee: I don’t think I’ve got any precious records.
Carsten: A bootleg of Led Zep my father gave me.
Which of your tracks/remixes are you most proud of?
Carsten: Swiss on Rye
Nick: It’s gotta be the first EP, even if other My My tracks sound more accomplished in retrospect. It just gave me such a rush to play out our first proper 12” and to see how well it went down with the crowd.
Lee: I agree. I saw Sven Väth playing Klatta and I was very chuffed.
What’s the best thing about living/working/partying in Berlin?
Cheap, good nightlife, lots of other artists, German girls and boys. You know the score…
The concept and sleeve-art of ‘Songs for the Gentle’ seems to be quite pastoral; are you regular visitors to the countryside? Or is the natural/pastoral thing a sort of fantasy?
We love nature, but we need friends with cars!
What’s the worst/funniest gig/set you’ve ever played?
The worst was playing live at New Kids On Acid 2005, when half way through our set Richie and Ricardo arrived with their private charter jet from Glasgow. Their entire entourage assembled on stage, almost pushing us away from our laptops.
The funniest was playing an after hour in Hamburg this year when we did an impromptu laptop jam for five hours. Lee and Nick spent considerable time in front of no audience but couldn’t care less…
What was the first 12”(s) you ever bought?
Nick: Feargle Sharkey – A Good Heart
Lee: Can’t remember if it was Sade or Scritti Politti
Carsten: MC Hammer U Can’t Touch This
My My's 'Songs for the Gentle' is out on Playouse on 23rd October.