WMC Preview: Interview with M.A.N.D.Y.!
M.A.N.D.Y., hailing from Berlin, isn't female -- nor is it even one person. Rather, it's the purposefully ambiguous moniker of the DJ/producer duo of Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung. Longtime pals since boyhood, over the years they moved from throwing warehouse parties for the sheer love of the music, to fiddling with their own compositions. Helping to create the new sound journalists would tag "electrohouse," M.A.N.D.Y. hit big-room gold in 2005 with their single "Body Language," created with fellow duo Booka Shade. It's a rolling, deceptively simple trip over tweaked-out bass that landed itself on no less than a BBC 1 Essential Mix that year.
But what Bodmer and Jung are also revered for in today's dance music circles is their cofounding of Get Physical Records, along with friends Walter Merziger and Arno Kammeier (Booka Shade). The label's become known for its slinky, sexy sound of old-school, body-jackin funk that bubbles over with futuristic machine melodies. There's enough of a cold, techy wallop for dance floor purists, and enough warmth and swing to lure over former rock kids who are ready to move beyond the neon-flashy hype.
I recently caught up with Philipp by phone at the Get Physical offices, and we chatted about the limitations of festival appearances, this year's Get Physical party at WMC, and why David Bowie is cool, but Mick Jagger isn't. --Arielle Castillo
M.A.N.D.Y. appears Thursday night at the Get Physical Miami 2 party at Studio A; Friday at the Beatport pool party at the Remix Hotel at the National; and Friday at the Ultra Music Festival. Scroll to the end for full party details.
M.A.N.D.Y.'s Fabric 38 mix is available now on Fabric's label. And check the duo's Myspace page, at http://www.myspace.com/getmandy for details of their upcoming international tour.
Full interview after the jump.
The Get Physical Miami party at Studio A was definitely one of the highlights of conference last year, and everyone is super excited that you all are headlining it this year. But one thing I noticed is that on the flyer it says your set was a W.M.C. exclusive, but you're also playing the main stage on the first night of Ultra.
Thank you! Well, the real reason is that budgets are really tight. At first we were going to play only that party, and maybe the Beatport pool party. And then we saw how much we had to pay for the flights, which were super expensive, and the hotel, and honestly we miscalculated (laughs). So we had to take on an extra booking! That's the honest story.
So what will you do at the Get Physical party that will be exclusive to that, and different from Ultra?
We're going to play last at our own party, and of course people come to our party for our own sounds, and we play for three or four hours. I think the difference with a festival is you always have to go full-on there. You can't play too subtle because people won't understand. I don't want to play only the hits, but you have to play very entertaining. It's different when you have four hours, where you can really lead people to a place they didn't see before, and not just the current hits of the dance floor.
Have you played many other festival crowds in the States? Well, I guess there aren't that many to choose from here....
Not big festivals with 10,000 or 20,000 people, although I think this year there's maybe one or two more coming up.
So this show at Ultra will be the biggest you've played in the States.
In the States, I think, yeah.
What's your setup like for these shows? How much of it is more or less straight DJing, and how much are you manipulating live?
We play mainly with one computer in Serato, and then we have one effects machine, and then of course the old school part with vinyl and CDs.
So your sets are really still at the core about DJing rather than a live PA kind of thing.
I think so far, at least for us, it's not working too well if you just put Ableton on and you're staring at the computer together the whole time. We like more interaction. Being more limited with your choice wakes you up a bit more. I see a lot of Ableton Live sets and I think it's boring. So we like to mix it up with the vinyl and the CD thing.
You actually prefer the limited choice brought about by using vinyls and CDs? Most DJs say the opposite these days.
Totally! Like Patrick just now left his laptop in Paris in the cab last night, eh? And he didn't have a backup, and there were maybe 5000 tracks gone. So we tried to fix it; I gave him a lot of mine, and he got it from here and there. Even though you have all this choice, you concentrate on the ones you really like. It's like with record collecting. I don't record collect. I throw them away or give them away, except for the fiver percent I really like.
You really just throw them away? So you're not one of those guys with the room of just records.
I throw them away, or give them away, or resell them. The same way I do with books; when I read the book, I give the book away. I'm never going to listen to them again, so I don't see the point in collecting.
Then how much do you bring with you when you're traveling so much and DJing constantly?
It depends really. Maybe like 80 records, and then the rest CDs and the computer. A lot of new productions, and a lot of the back catalog I have on CD. I could do probably 48 hours straight on CD without repeating myself.
With your choices purposely limited, then, do you plan out much of your set in advance?
At the beginning when we started, we always tried to make plans how to perform. But it always ends up completely different. When we play here at our night, we play for 10 hours in a row. It's hard to predict. It's contemporary music and old tracks, and it's important to present this.
When you have like only one hour in a festival, it makes definitely sense to talk a little bit in which direction you should go. I know a lot of DJs always play the same records in the big festivals, because they know they work, which is totally boring. It's super successful for them, for sure that's the reason of their success with always hands up in the air the whole time. But for me and for Patrick it's not that way.
Well, surely you always play "Body Language."
Honestly, no! Sometimes we have really hard discussions with people, especially girls, [imitates a high-pitched voice] Oh, why didn't you play "Body Language," I came all this way to hear you play "Body Language!"
It's especially a problem with girls, eh?
Yes girls! [Laughs]. They love the track, its' a really nice summer tune. And I'm so sorry, but I've played this track so many times that I don't want to be trapped in this one track! I like to play the role of Superman, but I'm not playing what people ask me to play.
Because then you're a jukebox, as everyone says.
Exactly. It has to feel right for me. I have to present it with confidence, if the moment is right. I still love the track, but I can't play it just any time.
I don't know how the Rolling Stones can do it, 40 years always playing the same song. It's different from David Bowie, who's refusing to play his older stuff. People yell out for him to play "China Girl" and "Let's Dance," and he doesn't give a fuck. He'd rather go somewhere else and do some mistakes, but go further with the music. So he's still cool, and Mick Jagger's not!
So what tracks are you playing a lot right now?
At the end of the last year we released a remix compilation [12 Great Remixes for 11 Great Artists (Get Physical)]. So a lot of our remixes: the one we did for Tiefschwarz, and the "Push Push" remix (of Rockers Hi-Fi). Of course we always present our own music, and new productions from our own label. We want to present our label, but it has to be a mix.
How much stuff are you playing that's not by artists on Get Physical?
Maybe it's like 30 percent, and the rest is records or remixes from people we know, or promos that come out in the next couple of months. It needs to be the right mix to keep people interested.
When you do the same thing -- it's really short-term thinking if you have a formula at some point, and then you do it all over again. I always ask myself what's next. When you play so many times as we do, you have to keep yourself interested as well. You have to go to record shops, talk to other DJs, see what the new trends are.
What other artists or labels do you particularly like right now?
I've loved Claude VonStroke's stuff for Dirty Bird for a lot of years now. He's one of the only Americans who makes fun of himself. He doesn't take himself seriously, and his productions are super sexy, in my words. It's got these crazy ideas in it, so this is definitely a guy to look out for.
And there are so many others where at the moment it's just one or two productions, so you can't tell where they're going yet. There's a new label called Oslo from Frankfurt that's really nice house music. There's a movement with all this that I am totally into.
One thing I've noticed is that your music appeals to a lot of kids who were also previously into rock, but you still don't sound like all the other Ed Banger-type distorted stuff.
It's really a nightmare for me! Honestly, with all respect for Pedro Winter, the chief of Ed Banger and the manager of Daft Punk.... But I think it was done by Daft Punk 10 years ago, so much better. I totally understand, the kids that listen to this are 15 to 18 or something, and that's maybe their first connection to electronic music.
I'm happy that we're still at least in the same family, and they got to know electronic music. But for me it's too much into the face. I think it's not long-lasting music. I'm not trying to talk bad... But this is the first time I've thought, Fuck, I'm too old to understand it, maybe. I like songs, and they're not leaving songs.
Still, what I meant is that I think a lot of the rock kids who first got into that stuff have discovered you guys lately, maybe because you are still very melody-driven....
Maybe that's what I mean, and that's why I think it's important that it's there. I had this discussion with a couple of people, and we all had to agree. Our music as well is very groove-driven, and you don't have to listen to it for seven hours until you start to understand what the music is about. It's instant dance music. I always say that if you don't take drugs or drink, you can still enjoy the music. It's just something for your body and for your soul. That's what we try to do.
On the other side of the same question, how did you all go over in Berlin at first? Because over here, the stereotype has always been of Berlin as this place full of cold, minimal stuff being played in an airplane hangar somewhere. Did you encounter much resistance in the beginning?
Of course. I mean, we always did our own thing at the beginning. When we started, it was completely different music, and at some point journalists started to call this music electro-house. Then there were so many labels following this sort of sound.
We didn't do it on purpose, it was just that the time, at the end of the Nineties, beginning of 2000, techno was overdone, house was a bit too soft. It was more for warm-up DJing. I loved the records to death because the groove was sexy. But it was still a bit low, if you know what I mean. We like the energy of techno, as well as the sexiness of house.
There wasn't a major plan, but we thought there was something missing. We were sending out our own records and productions and nobody wanted to do them. So we said, Fuck, we'll start our own label, and we kicked off. It was being at the right place at the right time, but you can't really plan for that.
Because the success came quite quickly, the other guys didn't like it too much, but we did well, and that's what we did. Like, we knew Ricardo Villalobos for a while from the early Nineties, and we asked him for a remix on the second release, and he said, Hey, you do your thing, I do my thing. At the beginning I thought, Oh, that's really mean, but now I realize you have to do your own thing and not look right or left.
Wow, rejection from Ricardo Villalobos.
Just for the remix! But not in a bad way. At the time, I didn't understand too much what he said to me, but after a while I said yeah, of course. He was with the Playhouse crew, and he said, You guys, you do something else, just do it. And now it's what I think everybody should do. Don't look too much right or left and don't take people into the boat to make you look good. At the beginning, of course, when you start a label you're insecure, and you try to take people into the boat to help you out, but in the end you have to do it yourself.
It seems like the whole Berlin obsession with minimal is changing though, and that things are getting much more melodic. Do you agree?
My flatmate is Konrad Black, for instance, and he's got this label with Mathew Johnson [Wagon Repair]; they put out stuff which is a bit weird and melody-like. But he's as well with the MINUS crew and stuff.
Everybody's a bit longing for music again. I did like a two months' break right now with four weeks in New Zealand and a bit more than three weeks in Iceland, and I didn't listen to techno. Then you come home and try to listen to new music, the songs are a bit missing, and I think more and more people are getting more housey, more melody-like. The minimal where nothing happen, a lot of people are tired of it.
Did you listen to any music at all in New Zealand?
Yeah of course, but not one techno track. Instead it was stuff like Cat Power, Nick Drake -- more singer/songwriter stuff -- and Jose Gonzalez. I was in A&R for a long time so I signed rock bands and stuff; I'm not only a techno guy.
The other thing about the Get Physical party this year in Mimai is that the lineup seems to be even more diverse. Like Junior Boys, even though they're doing a DJ set, they're almost more like a band. What's your relationship with them, and how did they get on the bill?
We're all 30-plus, so we never listen to techno in the office here. We love and live the techno life, but there's a time for everything and after six or seven in the evening, okay, but during the day not so much. And it's important for a label that wants to exist a bit longer to have a range. So our label manager got the contact, and we wanted them to do remixes, and then we asked them for [their installment of Get Physical's mix series] Body Language.
We always work with the Body Language concept where the guys come, and play us the tracks, and we work a little bit together on it. They have total artist freedom, it's just that we know what direction it should take: We don't want just a pure techno full-on club mix. From the whole arrangement, how [Junior Boys] did the whole CD, I was super, super, super surprised. So we asked them to play at the party with the Noze guys from paris.
And Noze, they're the craziest live act we've ever seen. They're two French guys, and it happens a lot that they end up naked....
That actually sounds like Ed Banger...
But they do proper French chanson! It's totally not Ed Banger, not full-on.
Proper chanson, like the old songs with the accordions? Really?
Yes. When I first met them, we just listened to Brazilian music and we drank like 10 bottles of red wine, and talked about music in general. They have a totally different approach. They're crazy live.
Then Tiefschwarz [also on the Get Physical Miami bill] are old friends, really good friends of ours, and there's Heidi, and us. And Italo Boyz are a new signing for us.
Why did you go to Iceland to work on your new material?
I think we wanted to go to Scandinavia but we didn't find the right house, and then Iceland came up. We just wanted to be away from everything, all the temptations there are in a big city, you know, none of all these guys that are calling, or no girls that are calling. (Laughs)
It's not tough, but especially if you're working, you look for an excuse to sneak out. We were really isolated, away from Reykjavik, the middle of nowhere. It wasn't a proper idea, just a few instruments. So now the real work starts.
But was good to get the vibe and spend time together -- Patrick and me hardly spend time together, only in the planes and hotels, and we're always tired. Then we had a proper three weeks to sit down. Sometimes even if you know each other for so long, there's always a danger you lose yourself, where you just think everything's cool.
How many tracks came out of those sessions? Well, not completed tracks, obviously, but ideas for them. And how is your sound evolving in them?
We did 26 layouts, and maybe there are like 10 we can pursue. We hardly did any dance; the dance tracks we have to do here. In that environment it's hard to do proper techno tracks! (Laughs). It's really hard to say. We did like two dance layouts, but we just did basic arrangements and sounds; it's not as dark as the environment should impose.
As a guy who does music, you can't describe your own music, it's really hard. Then when you read them in an article, you say, Okay, that's my music then. (Laughs) The only thing I can say is I like it, you know? Because even with "Body Language," of course it's house, but it's got the 130 bpm, which is proper techno speed. So if you asked me about "Body Language," I couldn't say house, because it's so fast. But maybe it is. So I can't really answer the question.
When can we expect to hear them?
We're the slowest producers in the world because we're traveling always. But I think the second half of the year.
M.A.N.D.Y. performs at Get Physical Miami 2 Thursday, March 27 at Studio A, 60 NE 11th St, Miami. Others on the bill include Heidi, Tiefschwarz, Junior Boys, Noze, and Italo Boyz. Doors open at 10 p.m., and tickets are $20. Call 305-358-7625, or visit www.studioamiami.com.
M.A.N.D.Y. also performs at the Beatport pool party at the Remix Hotel Friday, March 28 at the National, . Others on the bill include Anja Schneider, Heidi, Dubfire, Tiefschwarz, and others. M.A.N.D.Y.'s set time is 8 p.m., and admission is free with advance registration. Visit www.remixhotel.com.
M.A.N.D.Y. also performs that Friday at the Ultra Music Festival at Bicentennial Park, 1075 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. Doors open at 4 p.m., and tickets are $69.95 and up for a Friday ticket, or $129.95 and up for a two-day festival pass. Visit www.ultramusicfestival.com.