Techno Tuesday: Andhim on growing up in Cologne and the rise of the US underground
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
There’s a particular sound emanating from Cologne, Germany, and it goes by the name of “super house.” Soulful and emotional yet minimal and to the point, it’s the brainchild of rising duo Andhim. Since arriving on the scene in 2010, Andhim have transformed into one of Germany’s finest underground exports.
Raised on hip hop, turntablism, and Kompakt Records, the duo have patented a delectable house style that has earned them a home on labels like Terminal M and Get Physical. On top of recent remixes for Groove Armada and WhoMadeWho, they’ve even attracted the attention of Pete Tong and BBC Radio, recently delivering their debut Essential Mix.
Later this year, the duo will play one of their largest US performances to date at CRSSD Fest in San Diego. Ahead of their appearance, Andhim have shared the story of their upbringing in Cologne as well as their thoughts on the growing US underground scene.
We both grew up in Cologne, Germany and have been heavily influenced by its rich culture as an electronic music hub (and of course the Carnival!). Kompakt as a label had a big influence on us when we were younger, as there were no restraints on the type or genre of music that they were releasing. Kompakt records of the early 2000s would spin off in so many musical directions and paths; you never really knew what genre or direction the next release would take. For example, you would hear techno with German Schlager (folk music) samples, trade style hymns, remixes or collaborations with German Indie bands or even ambient songs. It was exciting and fun and with Kompakt you knew you would get a new experience out of every record. They also did their famous “Total Confusion” parties in a very small club in Cologne where DJ Koze started his career as a techno DJ. It was massive to see him playing when we were 17/18 years old. You would hear him playing a hip-hop song after a very hard techno track and the people loved it, we loved it.
The scene in Germany for electronic music is enormous; every city has at least one club where they play house music. This means young people growing up in Germany have an incredible exposure to underground music.
We just finished the festival season here in Germany, which was great fun. There are a lot of high quality festivals like Time Warp, Love Family Park and MELT with amazing lineups and cool productions. But it is still more about the underground and versatile artists than about the big EDM acts in Germany. EDM is, besides a few exceptions, not that big here. It’s getting bigger but the underground is still dominating the dance floors and festivals. The party experience in Germany is also pretty unique. In cities like Berlin you can pretty much party all day & night, with the weekend starting and ending whenever you want! There are so many venues you can visit, small hidden places, pop-up one-off locations, big clubs, open airs and even boat parties. You name it!
Rocky from Bespoke Musik was the first promoter who brought us to the US for a gig in New York three years ago. We made contact via Facebook and I wrote to him that we would love to come to New York and play. He liked the idea and we flew over. Of course we got back home having lost a lot of money but we gained an unforgettable experience that forever stayed in our hearts. We played a show on a rooftop in Brooklyn and fell in love with the city and its people immediately.
From then on we went to the US to play 2-3 shows and paid most of the expenses on our own. It was never about the money for us. We just loved and still love to play in the US. It is a huge pleasure to show the people our definition of house music.
The feedback from the people was immense. They seem to like and understand what we were doing. 2 years ago we started working with the Bullitt Agency and from then on our tours have gotten a lot bigger. Nowadays the US is, besides Germany, our second biggest market. We come here between 5-6 times a year and absolutely love the curiosity and diversity of the US underground scene. Since we started playing in the US, we noticed that people over here are really receptive to all different kinds of electronic underground music, culture and experiences. Besides from outstanding clubs like Verboten in New York, Public Works in San Francisco & Spybar in Chicago, the US underground also has a very young and healthy warehouse scene, which we love and always look forward to experiencing more of. There’s a lot of super talented and passionate promoters like Minimal Effort from LA or Bespoke Musik from NY who not only support us but also are supporting the underground scene in general. These and other promoters in the US are really the driving force behind the growth of the underground scene in recent years.
The underground scene will definitely get bigger. It’s already changing the dominating EDM scene. The Resistance stage at Ultra festival during WMC this year is a good example of where both parties can combine. People start digging deeper into electronic music scratching at its cake glazed and glittered surface, finding all different genres that they are interested in, that’s the beauty in it. There is a huge interest and acceptance for electronic music worldwide and there are many ways to make things bigger, better and more approachable. But it is a fine balance; I wonder when we will see the first fireworks being lit to the drop of a techno track!