This week’s mix exits the studio and enters the club with a live mix from Get Physical co-owners Patrick Bodmer & Philipp Jung (aka MANDY), recorded live at Berlin’s legendary club Watergate at the end of last year. It’s all a warm up for the duo’s newest mix CD, Body Language Vol. 2. We spoke to Patrick and Phillipp about the new CD.
This is the tenth installment of the Body Language series. It started with yourselves and DJ T, and has since featured Dixon, Jesse Rose, DJ Hell, Modeselektor and others. What’s the common thread that binds the mixes together? What do you look for when choosing a DJ to head the mix?
We mainly look for people that we personally like. People who fit with the label and who we like to work with. We try and work closely with the djs/producers on this series so you need to like and respect each other. Of course we also choose people whose music we appreciate and have been into for a long time. We have also tried to vary the series quite a bit too to provide an overall almost encyclopedic view on dancemusic.
It’s been eight years or so since MANDY was last in charge of a Body Language CD, what did you guys do differently this time around for your mix?
It has been six and a half, I think. For us the main difference was that our previous edition was our first one and of course you have a complete unspoiled and almost naive approach when you do something for the first time. We were listening to it the other day and believe it or not, we still really like it, which made us very happy. We always tried to find a way to make these compilations so they stand the test of time and that they are not something only for that particular moment. We always take about 4 months for a CD. It takes us so long to find the right tracks as we want to combine pretty much all the styles that we play as DJs, which makes it very difficult.
In eight years of Get Physical you guys have gone from being a relatively small outfit, to becoming one of the most dominant and influential electronic labels around. Was there a plan for this growth when you started the label or did it surprise you? How does a response like that, and the accompanying expansion, affect an independent label, in terms of its musical ethos, and on a practical level?
Booka Shade, T and ourselves started the label for the simple reason that nobody wanted to put our own music at the time. With the first records we pressed ourselves we went then to every distribution outlet in Germany and everybody rejected us except Intergroove. So with such a humble start, we can tell you there was no bigger picture for sure.
Luckily for us people responded and things grew very fast, we always had very solid English support from people like Pete Tong which helped enormously. Like a lot of other labels we made the mistake of growing bigger and bigger, employing more and more people (we were 14 at some point). But we are a pure underground label and suffered of course big time from the downfall of physical sales. It took us while to adjust to the situation, but i think we have everything in place right now back here in Berlin. A nice little team (still 6 people) and we are happy to carry on as long as possible.
There have been many Berlin sounds, over the years. I think Get Physical comprises a crucial part of that mix. I remember when Booka Shade were first starting to get noticed, people were saying that this was the sound of Berlin. Where do you think Get Physical fits in the sound of Berlin? As a resident of the city, do you feel there is a fixed Berlin sound or is it more temporal?
You are right, it was considered as one big aspect of the Berlin sound and it probably was. The sound was pretty new at the time and influenced quite a few other labels. For me the berlin sound was always a bit darker and more minimal, but this was never working for us. We like the other side of the spectrum. But Berlin leaves so much space for everybody which is obviously a great thing. In general the big question is: is there the one Berlin sound? But most of the DJs don’t come from here, they come from all different parts of the world and that is what contributes to the variety of the Berlin sound, but also makes it really impossible to define one true Berlin sound.
The mix you have given us is of MANDY playing at Watergate in Berlin. When you play Berlin do you play differently than elsewhere? Are you playing for the city, or do you still play to the venue? Does it feel like playing at home?
Berlin will always be home, although i’m living most of the time in NYC. But Patrick is in Berlin and the label too, so it is for sure our homebase. We have a very solid night at Watergate, the guys who run the club became our close friends, so there is definitely something special about playing there. It’s the night where we play 5-7 hours which is the best for us. We really love to play long sets when we play together. In general you definitely play more for the club than for the city. You should!
On the Body Language CD people can get the first listen of the new MANDY Booka Shade production. Obviously you guys have embraced different performance styles, how does it work when you guys are together in the studio? Do those performance differences manifest themselves in production?
Walter from Booka Shade is the guy who is in the studio whenever he can. He is very skilled and fast and is not happy until we are all on the same track. We have been in the studio together for nearly 20 years and each time it’s very exciting and new. We never know what will come out and we have 6539 songs in the bag, which will never be released as we don’t think they are good enough. We are just playing around and normally we know after a couples of hours if it’s going to be successful or not. Luckily we normally always come to a satisfying result, but unfortunately the four of us don’t see each other enough. Our two different styles of performance really complement each other in the studio. That’s what it makes it so exciting and fresh each time…
I know you worked in A+R for other labels prior to Get Physical. What made you guys decide it was time to start the label? Was it a desire to release music that other labels you worked for wouldn’t?
Patrick and i always wanted to do a label, but the time was never right. Life teaches you to wait for the right moments and we did. When Booka Shade got bored with their pure production jobs and DJ T got tired of doing Groove Mag, it seemed right for us to combine forces, which was in 2001/2002. So we put all our experiences and contacts and money together and started our baby. Of course one strong motivation was not to rely on other people as we were self confident enough to say: we can do it ourselves. and we were right, luckily…
I know there have been some changes at Get Physical, with some of your artists moving on. How will these changes impact Get Physical? What can we expect from the label in the coming months?
Booka Shade and DJ T left the label for different reasons, but we managed to all stay on the best terms, that’s why T is releasing his album on Get Physical and we are still working with the Booka Shade boys in the studio. It was just getting to hard to always go through six different opinions. It’s much easier now. It was a big step, but as well a really big relief especially as we managed to stay friends. We are just about to release the Audiofly album which is one of the only dance albums which i can listen to all the way through again and again. We’re really happy with the work of Anthony and Luca. Also DJ T has released his album, a downtempo dance album that he did together with Lopazz. Of course there is also Noze, the two crazy French guys, Get Physical is putting out there album ‘Dring Dring’ which is getting great feedback all over the world. We have wonderful single releases from new people like Javier Gonzalez, Siopis, Tim Green. Heidi will also do a compilation with her Jackathon project, on which Raz Oharo did some beautiful dance tracks. So tons of stuff and we are very happy about it!
What is some of the music you have been listening to of late? What labels and artists are exciting you right now?
There will soon be a new label called Scissors & Thread from Brooklyn which has tons of very interesting music. Very excited about that one. Obviously Damian and Crosstown Rebels are on a roll at the moment putting out beautiful music. There is lots of more slow and musical stuff out there which i really like. It’s not for peaktime (yet), but it’s very nice to see that this kind of music is growing so fast. We rarely listen to pure electronic music at home, i like the Twin Shadow and James Blake albums a lot lately…
When will we get to hear the much discussed MANDY album???
An album should tell a story and should not only be one track after the other, in our opinion and to be honest, we were not happy with the overall vibe of it so far, so we are continuing to produce singles primarily and I’m sure it will result in an album sooner or later. Even if it takes another 10 years, there must be a reason for it. We are patient and you can’t rush these things anyway. First we want to spend again much more time in the studio and release some proper dance music. May it be 115 or 124bpm…. it better be good!