They’ve released tracks on labels such as Suara, Hive Audio and Monaberry. They’ve played across the globe, bringing sunshine to even the rainiest of dance floors. And recently, German brothers Sven & Lars dropped their newest EP ‘Cranes’ on their very own Hommage imprint. We got a hold of this crazy couple and talked about traveling the world, the Hi-Life, and bomb threats in their hometown of Halle. Is anyone up for some Monkey Safari?
Hey guys, how are you doing?
Yo! Fine, thanks. Sun is shining!
You guys are just back from a tour in the US, how did you like it over there, what were the highlights?
Was it strictly business or was there some time for some pleasure as well? It was a good tour. Fully packed with amazing gigs almost every day, so we unfortunately didn’t have much free time to explore the cities we played in. But it was a great experience and really interesting to see what’s going on with the electronic music scene over there. All stops of our tour were great but a real highlight was the gig at Verboten in New York City on Halloween. Great people and vibe and not to forget a massive sound system! Our 2 days off in L.A. we mostly spent shopping. I think we walked about 20km from one sneaker store to another! We for sure want go back to the US soon!
Last year there were plans for some gigs in India as well. Did those already take place, and how did that go? Crazy experience?
The India tour is planned for this year, our agent is working on confirming the dates at the moment. We’ll see what happens, but we’re definitely prepared for a crazy experience. From what we have heard from artists who already played there, it’s a great country with lovely people so we’re looking forward to going there.
One of the main strengths of Monkey Safari is that often during a show, you get that feeling of genuine connection. How do you try and achieve this?
We just play the music we like… Straight from the heart!
You guys prefer to not really prepare a set, but rather arrive early to feel the atmosphere and then decide where the musical journey will lead?
Yeah that’s true. Every set we play, we try to introduce the right track at the right moment. It really depends on a lot of factors like our mood, the atmosphere, what time we play, the vibe that the crowd gives us etc. All those things play an important role and influence every Monkey Safari DJ set. By preparing our sets, we feel we’d cut the connection with the crowd before even starting to play. That would be a shame. And make traveling around the world almost pointless.
How do you go about selecting tracks for gigs? Do you both have to agree on a track to make the cut? Or do you sometimes sneak something in that the other one doesn’t really like?
Of course, not every track that the other one plays is a highlight for oneself. But that’s also the interesting and exciting aspect about playing ‘ping pong’ the whole time – to embark on the journey together, track by track, ups and downs. Having a great party and a happy crowd in the end.
The title track sounds more mature than previous Monkey-work. Do you feel like you’ve perhaps come in to your own and found your sound with this EP?
In our opinion the new productions are more ‘a technical upgrade’ of our past works. No changes in terms of software or hardware, more a logical consequence of improving our skills over time and hard work that pays off. Our sound as well as our skills are developing with every gig and studio session that we have. We think every artist would agree here. We are not really working on the special Monkey-sound because we feel that’s something that comes naturally, and is more something that reflects in how we produce, not what we produce. We love different kinds of music and being versatile. We like to release tracks in different styles, that’s just our way of life. Maybe that’s the special Monkey Safari sound: nothing special or necessarily recognisable, but just a reflection of what we like and what we feel when we produce our tracks. For some people, especially in the electronic music scene, it seems intangible. Others, in turn, love us for the variety in our music. Sound is really subjective, everybody should find out for themselves what it feels like to listen to Monkey Safari or ‘Cranes’.
Is there actually a story behind the track? And where did you get that amazing vocal from?
We’ve been working on our second album for almost 2 years now. And during one of our album sessions, looking for young talents and vocalists, we found the great voice you hear on the track – an amazing guy from the UK. He luckily was up for a collaboration and ‘Cranes’ was born!
Our favourite time during clubbing is 6-7AM, and this is absolutely a 7AM track to us. Do you guys still like to party until the early hours?
Of course! And agreed – during those hours early in the morning you have a special kind of energy on the dance floor. It’s usually much closer and intimate, very peaceful as well. The people who are dancing, whether they know each other or not, start interacting much more than for example during peak time. Sometimes it almost feels like a little family for a moment. A little rave family, we like that!
Another track of yours that immediately brings to mind closing hours is ‘Hi-Life’. I remember how much it enchanted people in the clubs over here.
Our main intention while producing ‘Hi-Life’ was to create something we love and has the ability to touch other people the same way it touches us. We wanted the track to convey a certain vibe. It’s not easy to produce club music that is supposed to get a dance floor moving and at the same time makes them want to close their eyes for a minute or two to simply enjoy and not think about anything. It’s the best compliment when people come to us and say: “Your music does something different to me, moves me and makes me forget about reality for a while…“ Really. That’s an amazing feeling.
Did you in any way realise it was going to hit off with crowds while working on it?
We liked the main theme of the track from the start, but a lot of new music is being released all over the world every day. It’s always hard to tell beforehand if a track will be a hit or not – you really can be totally wrong. Our main intention is to produce compatible club music. Does it get big? Good! If not? Also fine!
Back to ‘Cranes’ now, which is a big release as a whole, with outstanding remixes alongside the original. We are totally digging the Wolf+Lamb version, but can definitely see the Kölsch remix doing great at the summer festivals as well. How do you guys feel about the remixes?
One year ago we did a remix for Kölsch on Kompakt. During the production of ‘Cranes’ we were thinking about possible remixers and he was our first pick. We sent over the track and he immediately said he loved it and would be up for a remix, which made us super happy. The guys from Wolf+Lamb are producing really nice and funky stuff. We’re personally big fans of their music and play a lot of their tracks and from the people around them. We wanted something different for the second remix, just a different direction musically. And the guys were up for it. We are really happy with the whole package and proud to have such great artists on board, especially for our own label.
You are releasing the EP on your own Hommage label. Why did you decide on retiring your two other labels Mambo & What!What! Was it a tough business decision, or more part of your natural coming of age as artists and entrepreneurs? We started What!What! a few years back and planned for Mambo to be a label for our own productions only. After a couple of years we were not 100 percent happy with the development of the imprints and decided to start something new and fresh. It hasn’t been an easy decision, but we think it was the right choice to focus on one completely new label.
Apart from DJing & running the label, you also are the proud owners of your own club ‘Charles Bronson’ in your hometown of Halle. We heard you once had a bomb threat there?
Any other crazy stories you’d like to share? Or does that top them? When you own a club you have crazy stories every weekend all night long! That’s just what nightlife is about. But the bomb threat was definitely the freakiest thing we had so far. There is no other story that can top this, really. It happened in January during a party with &ME from Keinemusik, when 30 policemen stormed the club telling everybody to leave the building because of a bomb. After 2 hours of waiting and freezing outside, we were allowed to continue the party and went on till 11am the next day. One for the books for sure, haha!
It must be liberating to have your very own space to reflect your musical vision, and interact with crowds on a whole other level than as a DJ. What’s it like owning a club, for you guys?
In the first place, owning a club is hard work, risky and often can be frustrating. Our vision is to offer quality bookings in a club with a capacity of 250 people and a Funktion One Sound System. We also like to take care of good decorations and run some different concepts. There’s a lot of passion and love involved, and sometimes it’s just hard to understand that people don’t honour what energy you’ve put in. Working and being successful in this business requires to be unique and creative, but it’s definitely not the place to become a rich man. Even though many people think that. But it is a ton of fun and we love our club!
Halle seems to be a hotspot for electronic music in recent years, being also home to the Kompakt label and Super Flu’s Monaberry. We heard you guys are quite committed to foster the music scene over there, does it feel like a little family?
Halle is a small city so we all know each other of course. It’s a very unique place and the scene here grew very naturally. It’s cool when young talented artists can see that you don’t have to move to Berlin to get support and to be successful. Not sure if you can call it a hotspot yet, but it for sure is a special little island on the electronic music map with it’s very own scene. We’re proud to be part of it and are excited to see it growing over the next few years.
Any talented newcomers emerging there we should keep our eyes on?
If you ask us, a lot! Martin Waslewski, Karl Friedrich & Ole Biege (who remixed Hi-Life) to name only a few, are people you’ll definitely hear from in the future. We are really proud of their development over the last years and hope they’ll get the attention they deserve in the near future.
Your first album ‘Happy Body Music’ dates back to 2012. Will we see the release of the second one somewhere in the future? Any other plans for this year?
The production of our second album is in full swing and we have finished a lot of new tracks. We did a remix for Marc Houle on Minus recently which should be out soon, and another one for Super Flu’s ‘Volkwein’ EP. We have no exact release dates yet, but that will all be happening within the next few weeks and months. Our next EP on Hommage will be released at the end of May, we are really looking forward to that and are excited to see if we can live up to the success of ‘Cranes’.
Courtesy of Pulse