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Berlin-based duo Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary make up Modeselektor, an electronic band who produce a mix of hip hop, electronic, IDM and glitch. They are well regarded for their use of cutting-edge MIDI controllers and were one of the earliest adopters of JazzMutant technology...

Modeselektor's profile is, initially anyway, typical of many acts born from the acid house era. Like Aphex Twin, 808 State and The Prodigy they continue to break ground with their amazing electronic-based tunes and, like those, they even adopted a studio/technology-based name, in this case from a function on a Roland Space Echo! And like those bands we can clearly see that they are at one with their technology, but more on that later, and besides, Modeselektor have several defining qualities that set them apart from even the biggest names in electronica...

Firstly the band have become renowned for their use of visuals, having teamed up with Pfadfinderei, the renowned Berlin VJ, early on in their careers. Consequently they have been involved in several art-house installations including one at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Their unique brand of music has also brought them high profile fans including Radiohead's Thom Yorke who was a guest vocalist on their second album Happy Birthday (which also featured Maximo Park).

Modeselektor are well known in artistic quarters but are level-headed enough not to take themselves too seriously. When they talk it is often with tongue very firmly in cheek although, as we'll see, they do take their technology and their Lemur very seriously...

Firstly, though, we find the duo happy to talk about their live sets, for which the Lemur has been a great addition. Modeselektor have been playing live for more than seven years but only really got involved in the club scene by accident... "Yes, that is correct. We predominantly play in a club context, although we are from the art freak corner! Around seven years ago, our label head (Ellan Allien) convinced us to play a rave in Switzerland after the main act cancelled. We mastered the show and since then have been playing "boom boom" with charm. It's fun. It so happened that we played the Sonar festival in Barcelona in the same year in front of 7,000 people, which ultimately cured our stage fright..."

Since then Modeselektor's live reputation has seen them invited to play at some of the world's biggest festivals. "It is hard to say which festivals or clubs have been the most impressive," they say, "but just to name a few: Mutec in Montreal, Sonar in Barcelona, Motomix in San Paulo, and various clubs in Glasgow, Tokyo, San Francisco, and naturally Berlin."

It’s obvious that Modeselektor have a love of technology, from their name through to the resulting music. However, this love initially led to a lot of impracticalities on the road...

“There were times when we had truck loads of equipment, a lot of which was unnecessary,” they remember. “For example, [we had] three drum machines or 20 analogue synths. That was when we were predominately playing in Germany and would drive to the gigs. Two guys and a car full of stuff, is what it usually looked like. Then along came the laptop and everything abruptly changed. Since then we have optimized the amount of equipment we bring, so that we may comfortably travel without having to break our backs.”

This is just as well as the band have had a very busy live schedule... “The last few years we have played several live shows, around 110,” they reveal. “That is a lot. One learns how to travel, how to pack light, and most importantly, how to wait! It doesn’t matter, you have to wait- taxis, planes, drinks, technical checks...”

“In our live set we use the Lemur as a controller for a looping Max/MSP patch, with an integrated drum machine. With diverse functions such as the Mass-Spring, I may automate movement when normally my finger would cramp. Another highlight is that no buttons or faders can break off.”

In the studio, their approach is quite different, but the Lemur still finds a place to control studio software...

“We build up our set in the studio and do a live session for the first hour, because the best ideas originate from playing live,” they say. “This crystallizes a moment from which we find the basis of a new track. We use the Lemur as the controller for diverse software such as Reaktor. Afterwards we edit everything like a puzzle in Logic.”

And their ambitions? Well, it seems it’s all about the bass...

“Our definition reads as follows: One shall not be afraid of the bass drum. This is our approach. We would like to find the optimum bass drum; that is our mission. Otherwise, we wish for good health and maybe 20 fingers on each hand.”
http://www.modeselektor.com/
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