Techno Tuesday: Monkey Safari on making a club album & their new chapter
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.
Monkey Safari have built quite the fabled career for themselves. With a philosophy of bringing joy to any dancefloor they touched, the German pair swept the tech house realm early on in their careers with grooving melodies and catchy rhythms. They only continued to solidify their standing within the top ranks of the underground from there, opening a club in their hometown of Halle and entering into the realm of label ownership.
However, a change is nigh for the outfit, who is beginning to enter into a new phase of their artistic evolution. The pre-cursor to this change began in 2015, where they abandoned their older labels in favor of their newest effort: Hommage. This label focused on a more melodically-centered approach to music, opening the door for working a wider variety of artists while also refining their sound.
Odyssey has since come along to solidify this new direction for Monkey Safari. What began as a quest to create a “listening” album soon turned into the development of a club-oriented venture, which saw the duo emerging from their tech house chrysalis as a new, avant-garde underground act. Eleven tracks entrance the listener with their winding developments and intense structuring, taking on a more progressive sound than ever as the duo work on creating impact through subtlety. Thus far, this new sonic direction has landed them on the likes of Bedrock and beyond.
As they’re preparing to kick off a North American tour throughout the end of 2017, Dancing Astronaut caught up with Monkey Safari on the writing process behind Odyssey, their new chapter, and beyond.
Credit: Florian Kolmer
When did the “ah-hah” moment arrive when you realized you were meant to create a club-oriented album instead of a “listening” album?
I think it was around a year ago. We mostly play club shows and festivals during the year and making an listening album didn’t felt right at that moment in time. When we decided to make it more club-oriented it allowed us to be more free and to let it flow. A listening album is still an interesting thing for us to do, however, it isn’t something that we’ve had a lot of time to do.
It feels as though your music has taken a darker, more progressive turn over the past couple years or so. Most of the album listened like something I’d normally hear on the Parquet or Steyoyoke labels, for example. What factors led to a change in this direction?
The main thing for us is to make music we like and that we play in our own sets. Over the years our own musical direction has developed into the driving techno influenced sound that you may have heard in our sets for some time now. The Odyssey album was a good way to show the world how our own musical style has changed over the years.
There seems to be a whole movement around more brooding, melodic, techno/progressive-esque compositions. In your opinion, why are people seeming to gravitate toward this sound more heavily in recent years?
I think there is always a progress in electronic music. That’s a good thing because there is something new happening all of the time. At the moment it’s getting darker but in a couple of years maybe a totally different influence will change it towards a different direction once gain.
Where are some places you drew inspiration from in writing Odyssey? Did the tracks come together randomly over time, or did you write them with the vision of a cohesive club record?
Most of the inspiration came from the clubs and festivals we were playing at during the production process of the album. We tested the tracks in almost every set, then during the week we took the inspiration from our shows to develop the tracks further and we would then play them again the next weekend. I think there was a period of 6 months where the ideas came together and another 6 months to finish and mix it.
Do you see Odyssey as the opening chapter in a new era of your career/sound, in a sense?
Yes, I think so. The whole thing is more grown-up and the album is somewhat like an opening to a new chapter indeed.
Which artists, if any, have influenced your songwriting the most throughout the year?
There are a lot of artists we like, and every artist and even every record you like definitely influences both you as an artist and also your ways of producing, however, there aren’t any specific people that we could mention more than others!
Your label Hommage is now edging into a more established institution. What are some exciting plans/releases you have for it over the next year?
There are a few new releases in the pipeline. In December we will release an EP by some young talented producers from Germany called Avidus including remixes from us and Marino Canal. In the beginning of next year an EP from Kieran Apter is planned and after that we will release the remix packages for the Odyssey album in 3 steps with a lot of huge names on it!
What are some self-care habits you’ve built to help you balance being club owners, label bosses, a heavy tour schedule, and producing albums without going insane?
Honestly, we don’t have time to think about self-care! ;) When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work, so it’s all good! :)
08/12 Primary, Chicago
09/12 Bespoke, Toronto
13/12 Bar Smith, Phoenix
14/12 Q Nightclub, Seattle
15/12 Sound, Los Angeles
16/12 The Great Northern, San Francisco
17/12 Larry Flint Hustler Club, Las Vegas