Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ancient Methods Interview

Through four releases on their own self-named label since 2007, Ancient Methods have created a distinct take on the darker side of techno. Originally rumoured to be two more ‘famous’ producers working under this alias, such was the maturity and quality of their sound, it later emerged that it was in fact two underground DJs from Berlin, Baeks and Trias, who up to then were more well known for their long running residencies at Tresor Club. In advance of their debut Irish show at DEAF 2009, we got a chance to speak to them, in this their first interview:

How did you first become interested in electronic music?

Baeks: I heard an Acidhouse-tape from a friend in the late 80s and got infected. A local radio show and first party experiences in the early nineties gave the food.

Trias: With the first Berlin radio shows around 1991.

Did you ever dance on a float at Love Parade, honestly?!

B: No.

T: Yes, I participated, honestly. Until the middle of the 90s there was nothing wrong with the LP.

Who were the important DJs to you back then and why?

B: Saw some good DJs over the years, but the works of Surgeon and Regis impressed me the most, as they produced and played fine, strong, uncompromising and yet surprising Techno.

T: OK, of course they’ve been important to me too. I’d mention Pete/Rene from the Hardwax crew, who had a strong impact due to their mixing skills and musical knowledge, furthermore the former Tresor residents who had all their own very individual style but altogether delivered a wide range of valuable techno.

Was there much of goth/industrial scene in Berlin that you were aware of or part of?

B: No, I wasn't into that scene.

T: No. I’ve never seen myself as a part of that “scene”, sometimes I join some of the “industrial”-concerts/parties which take place here quite regularly. Due to the difficult club situation in Berlin some parties coming out of that scene had recently more proper techno to offer than some of the self-proclaimed techno-clubs, not to mention that the girls are way better dressed there. Adam X tried to set up some parties here, called “Crossing the Parallel” – the naming speaks for itself, in my opinion they have been the best parties in Berlin for a very long time and an appreciable attempt to merge the crowds.

You were resident DJs at Tresor Club until quite recently. For you, did the new club location ever feel as special as the original space?

B: The new Tresor is a special place too, but unfortunately too big which led to commercial demands that couldn't always be fulfilled. The old Tresor was in some way more comfortable and familiar.

T: I can only agree with that.

What kind of impact did regularly playing in a small, dark basement like Tresor’s bunker room make in developing the AM sound?

B: We guess you can hear that - we can't deny the impact of that place. If we had played only in small and cosy bars, the AM-Sound would probably be completely different and more slack.

T: Of course Tresor basement was the most important influence on AM. But the appearance of this special venue is just one small part of influences.

Is there a particular concept behind the name ‘Ancient Methods’?

B: It was born out of the situation - the minimal-hype was omnipresent when we launched the label. So AM should be an alternative draft to that
- with a wry smile of course.

T: Regarding the naming I wouldn’t say it was referring to a special musical aspect or meant as a counter-draft to a musical hype, nor was it a ‘concept’. But indeed it was contrary in a way to how many labels in the “techno/electronic” field try hard to emphasise the modern or even “futuristic” approach by use of naming, which in my opinion appears rather outdated. We thought the name would match to the label, as we thought that it’s rather necessary to sound powerful than modern or futuristic.

What was your inspiration to start the label? Were you reacting to the route the techno scene had taken in recent years?

B: We got bored by that minimal-hype and started making our own tracks in 2005. Two years later we were confident with the results and started the label.

T: The disappearance of techno music was an issue, but surely it was not the sole motivation for starting the label. But as mentioned before, AM never felt the demand to sound different.

Playing live is obviously a different challenge than playing a DJ set. Have you found it as fulfilling?

B: Playing live together requires more preparation than a dj-set, but also gives you new ideas how to improve the set and the sound in general.

T: After such a long period of DJing it was a significant turn. It’s fulfilling in a different way – on the one hand it is much more focused on a special sound, your own sound, you can’t react to a crowd with such a wide range of music like a DJ is able to. But on the other hand - if people like what you’re doing it’s much more fulfilling because it’s not the music of others they are celebrating with you.

Your sound has gained a wide range of fans; besides the quality of the music, has the variety of tempos on some of the records helped widen your fanbase do you think?

B: Maybe... I guess, most fans still come from the techno-field. We discovered that some sounds need space to deploy, so reducing the tempo just a little bit makes them more powerful.

T: Difficult to say – I don’t know. I wouldn’t regard tempo for decision if I like a record. And I guess if you play AM-tracks records on the intended RPM, they all have nearly the same tempo, ;)

Some UK producers cite native bands like Nurse With Wound or Throbbing Gristle as acts that created their interest in harsh or noise driven music. Did you hold a similar connection with any German bands?

B: Sorry, no.

T: Of course there have been influences by most diverse bands, also by German bands of course. As far as “noise driven music” is concerned, there has never been THE important band, who gave me the initial spark to discover the genre, neither a UK nor a German band. It was more a fluent passage of constantly discovering dark and experimental music.

How helpful has Hardwax and your association with them been to you?

B: They supported and encouraged us from the very beginning and we probably wouldn't be there where we are without them.

T: People assume you get more attention if you’re distributed by Hardwax, so you can’t deny that it has been helpful. I have great regard to Torsten (T++), who gave us a channel for distribution - at a time, when nobody else took any interest in our music.

Was their work ethic over the years, and of other Hardwax associated labels, influential to the aesthetic of Ancient Methods?

B: Hardwax's label-work over the years showed us, what is essential for a good record and we tried to realise that on our label too.

T: Sorry – I can’t re-iterate what Baeks is talking about, ;) For me there has been an important influence by Basic Channel and some of the Chain Reaction releases. But if you consider how many labels are more or less associated with Hardwax especially during the last years I think they are way too diverse to have a common aesthetic or even a general influence on AM.

Have you been happy with the overall reaction to the label, and are things more/less difficult than you thought it’d be to run a record label?

B: Yes, we didn't expect such good reactions on our music. To start a new label wasn't that difficult as we thought, but there are always new challenges in the whole production process and good old Murphy lurks around sometimes. But in the end we were confident with our releases.

T: I’m happy with the reaction. I wish we could spend more time on music – that’s the most difficult point.

Being based in Berlin makes it easier to collaborate with other established artists, like for instance Karl O’Connor. Are there many people you feel you could collaborate with?

B: There are a few artists we will collaborate with, so there are more things to come... watch out.

T: I guess being connected to the internet makes it much easier to collaborate with other artists than being based in Berlin. We’d love to push collaborations more forward but as I mentioned – there’s only so much leisure time for making music.

Has the current buzz surrounding your music tempted you to release a bigger quantity of material? What is your plan from here, will you continue to record primarily for your own label?

B: Well, as we both have a full time job, time is the most rare element, which prevents us from doing more - but we try to improve a little bit. Of course we set the priorities for our own label. This year we already contributed a track for RSB and releases on other labels are planned too.

T: I agree.

Have either of you ever thought of taking a career break or reducing your hours at work to put more time into the project? Is that kind of option unrealistic nowadays?

B: I tried it, but it wasn't possible at that time, maybe in the far future.

T: No. I guess the question if this is a realistic option mostly depends on the music you’re doing. Rubbish 90s techno seems not to be a promising business, which could feed two guys.

Do you see future generations in Germany continuing to support vinyl, and do you regard the scene over there for the physical product to still be healthy?

B: Hard to say now, as the market and scene are changing nowadays. We do small presses, but they sell constantly - vinyl still isn't dead...neither are we.

T: But Baeks, you have to consider: Maybe one day we are all dead. Maybe. I’m already too old to watch the future generations, so probably this is proof that we’re all going to die someday. But I hope that enough will ultimately be accomplished to convince future generations that a product is way better than an evil file.


A special thanks to Ancient Methods for taking the time to answer these questions.
Catch them up close when they storm Dublin this bank holiday Sunday, October 25th, at Andrew’s Lane Theatre in Dublin.

Ancient Methods Myspace

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Planetary Assault Systems & Ancient Methods in Dublin

Welcome to the Earwiggle blog. Our upcoming show takes place on bank holiday Sunday, October 25th, as part of DEAF 2009.

The night is headlined by Planetary Assault Systems, the legendary project of London producer Luke Slater. Having supplied some of the most truly outstanding music in techno history, PAS have marked 2009 with a new album 'Temporary Suspension' on Ostgut Ton, which has been one of the year's highlight releases. While Slater leaves behind him a trail of memorable sets in Dublin, this is the debut Irish performance of Planetary Assault Systems Live. Joined by current PAS member Christos Deligiannis, we anticipate this show to be fully worth the 15 year wait!

Also appearing on the bill and playing live are Berlin duo Ancient Methods - one of the most enigmatic new acts to have emerged over the last few years. Their sound is described in some quarters as 'pitch black techno war funk' and in just four releases (via their Ancient Methods label) they have established themselves as a shining light of today's scene.

The lineup also includes Dubliners Sunil Sharpe, Rory St John (Live) and Giles Armstrong. Tickets are priced at €18 from Spindizzy, Road and City Discs, which is inclusive of each shop's booking fee. Online tickets are €18, which are subject to a booking fee from and It takes place at Andrew's Lane Theatre, St Andrew's Lane, Dublin 2. Doors open from 9pm 'till late.