Jens Moelle of Digitalism on making music for video games and how it's like the new radio
The men behind the Hamburg duo Digitalism have been blowing out all the stops on their tour, which hits just nine cities. Their DJ-Kicks mix last year was well received, and they've got new remixes out showcasing their take on Bloc Party's "Truth" and the Rapture's "Sail Away." We spoke with Jens "Jence" Moelle about how this tour differs from previous journeys, what forms of media he'd still like to conquer, and what we can expect from Digitalism this summer.
- Thursday: Digitalism at the Bluebird Theater, 5/16/13
- Kevin Saunderson on how dance music has gone from an analog to a digital world
- Paul Kalkbrenner on keeping his sound pure by not listening to anybody else's music
Westword: Can you tell me first of all about the tour? How's it been going so far?
Jens "Jence" Moelle: It's been good! It's been really cool. This time we stripped it down because we're playing small venues, and it was interesting to see the impact that the show has by doing that.
How does this show compare to other tours you've done in the U.S.? What can your audience expect?
It's completely different from the shows we've played on the last tours. The last time we came over was two years ago, and we brought a drummer with us and everything. It was more like a proper band setup, and this time, we went back to just the two of us, back to more techno. We've got new tracks as well, from us at DJ-Kicks, so there's more to choose from. So we always try to come back with something new, and we started this show last year in Europe, and we got slated, so it was time to come over.
What's the response been so far?
It was really good, actually, because like I said, we were a bit like, "This is going to go down either super-well or not at all," because it's been more rock-and-roll, but we like that. The best part is that you're closer to the audience. It's more intimate, and usually after a couple of minutes at the start, people get really into it.
Your tracks have been used in video games, sports channels, commercials and television shows. Are there any forms of media that you'd still like to break into?
Nowadays, it's very fluid, medium-wise. Video games are huge nowadays; that's almost the new type of radio that people listen to. We've been in commercials, a lot of video games, we had some tracks in films -- but we've not really written soundtracks, so that might be the next step. But I've heard it's a lot of work, and I don't know if we're ready for that yet!
For a lot of electronic music's history, deejaying has been known as a more solitary way to make music -- as opposed to being in a band -- so how do you think collaborating has influenced your sound?
It's hard to say, because we're really one unit. We started making all the music together since we met; we developed our record collections together. We're a little bit yin and yang. He tends to go a bit softer, where I go a bit more dark sometimes, and sometimes there's a little tension and we have to get it back to something listenable. There's a little back-and-forth, but it's more like we're working as one piece, almost like one mind. It's not like we've got a couple of bandmembers and everyone's going in their own direction.
What's it like playing live together? How much do you still surprise each other in terms of what you pull out?
When we play live, we have a lot of stuff that we talk through before we play. But then, of course, when we play live, there's always different stuff going on because gear fails. I've got the microphone on and it picks things up. You never know what will happen!
What's up next for Digitalism after the tour?
All the days between the gigs, we're trying to get some new music done. We've been producing in L.A. a little bit; we've got some cool releases coming out; the Bloc Party release is coming out, and the remix for the Rapture. We've got a couple of tracks we're working on with some peers of ours -- they'll be out this summer. After this tour, we'll go back to Europe to play festivals, deejaying, and after this summer, we can concentrate on something new. But you know how it goes!