Guest of Honour: Backstage with Kollektiv Turmstrasse

Guest of Honour: Backstage with Kollektiv Turmstrasse

Mar 13, 2012 |  by  |  Music
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

Two pairs of Converse sneakers, a decade-long friendship and a very sincere poetic affinity for techno. That’s how Christian and Nico from Kollektiv Turmstrasse found themselves turning tables in brimful clubs, just like they did last Saturday in Studio 80. Right before their show, I met them backstage and felt like I was hanging out with my former high school buddies who love to talk about everything under the sun while forgetting that they actually happened to become  famous throughout the years.

For those who missed their gig, what comes next will cheer you up. Kollektiv Turmstrasse will be back in town soon!

You two used to live and make music together on the ‘Turmstrasse’ (‘Tower Street’) in the German city of Wismar. What’s so special about this street that ‘Kollektiv Turmstrasse’ became your artist name?
“The Turmstrasse is a very old street located in the centre of Wismar, a city that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It’s named after an ancient water tower, which is probably the most interesting thing about this street. The city doesn’t even have 50.000 inhabitants, so there is nothing really crazy going on there. Choosing the name ‘Kollektiv Turmstrasse’ was actually completely random for us. We lived on that street and everything started there for us, so it’s a matter of origin. Funnily enough, the name got bigger than we had ever thought it would.”

We don’t act up or talk big.

When was the first time you performed as Kollektiv Turmstrasse?
“We played our very first gig in 1997, in a club called Gerberei. This place was famous for its genuine and rough vibe. People would come from all over and the suburbs just to be part of it. Ron Albrecht, our biggest supporter back then played a huge role there. He was the curator of this venue, a DJ and a passionate backer of young talents. If you ask people in the German electro scene about him and the club Gerberei, they will all confirm that it’s a milestone of club history in Germany.”

How much did the fact that you grew up in Eastern Germany influence your career?
“A lot. We started being serious about our music career in the late 1990s, so we were the last generation to experience both the times of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification. We  think people who were born in Eastern Germany grew up with a certain attitude and philosophy towards life in general. It really meant being somewhat humble towards people, you can name it reservation. We don’t act up or talk big. That’s why we’re also not taking for granted what we achieved with our music.”

Your latest album ‘Rebellion der Träumer‘ (2010) has a very poetic touch. Tracks like ‘Tristesse’ don’t seem very techno-like, but rather melancholic. Where does your affinity for these emotional sounds come from?
“We consider ourselves as musicians and there is always some soul and a story behind our tracks. This might sound cheesy, but there is a lot of sincerity behind what we are doing. We like to combine harsh techno with melancholic tunes. Our album Rebellion der Träumer is a good example of that. The video for ‘Tristesse’ reflects exactly what we had in mind when producing the sounds. It’s funny because even though we have never met the producer of the video, he totally got the images right and mirrored what we wanted to mediate.”

How much did breakthrough tracks like ‘Tristesse’ change your career?
“Completely, it really changed everything. And we are really happy that our fans always accepted our musical experiments as well. It’s not always easy to be confident about new and different sounds since there is always the option that your audience might disapprove. We want to make music that is honest and not only there for promotion. We’re thankful that our stock of fans recognized that as well.”

What does Amsterdam mean to you?
“In the first place, we associate Amsterdam with Studio 80. Our gigs here are always exclusive and over the top, every single time. We know that a lot of artists experience the same. There is a certain kind of vibe to the venue. It feels like the crowd here was brought up with knowing what they get when they come here.”

When are you coming back here?
“We’ll be back in Amsterdam in the summer. The truth is that we could play in Amsterdam every single weekend if we wanted to, but it’s very important for us to stay exclusive as well. It makes sense to choose your shows wisely and don’t oversaturate your audience. We have good friends in the Amsterdam scene to advise us on that.”

Are you guys going to an after-party tonight?
“Believe it or not, we aren’t into the typical kind of after-parties that much. The best party we have been to recently was our friends’ private house party where we could just chill out, drink and catch up with people. These parties will always be the best. We really don’t need a huge line up or a super-hyped venue to have a good time. It’s really the genuine and small get-togethers that count.”

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