2021 has been a great year for music, a fact no doubt helped by the pandemic, an event which forced producers indoors – and for many, to get extra creative or to pout the finishing touches to the album they’ve been putting off for some time. Whatever the case, German duo GHEIST have hit a real home run with their debut LP, the tantalizing, many moods of the most excellent Zufunkt. Following the release of the album, we quizzed the guys on everything from mentoring to the pandemic to their production processes…
How was the last year for you, what was good and bad? How did you get through it?
Actually the last 18 month have been a very creative phase for us. As everything slowed down we went in the studio and produced our album “Zukunft”. Obviously it wasn’t always easy to stay calm and focused when everything around us got so unpredictable, but as we are a group of three we always had each other’s back mentally and creatively. So we definitely can say that we made the most out of this strange period, even though we lost a lot of shows like so many artists out there. The key to manage through that time in a positive way, was for sure to keep ourselves busy and to enjoy the process of writing an album.
Can you tell us a bit about how you met one another and how you ended up as a trio?
We met about 15 years ago while we were all still involved in different musical projects. Two of us were playing in a band while the other one was touring as a DJ. We immediately became friends and started working together in various constellations. We went on like this for another ten years before we finally put all our strength together and came up with GHEIST. Looking back it is still a myth why it actually took us so long to join forces, but in the end it was inevitable and we are very happy the way everything turned out.
How important is it for you guys to mentor younger producers? Did you have a mentor yourself? And can you talk us through your production history and set up a bit?
The exchange between us and other musicians or producers has always been an important aspect in our lives. Even now as we are a part of the “Riverside Studios” in Berlin, we are always in touch with the other residents. In the past we had a few music production students that did their internship with us and of course in our personal history in production, there were some other producers that offered guidance when we needed it. Generally speaking we love the vibe of LFO movements in synthesizers.
We usually bounce all tracks in place before mixing, so it’s kind of hard to reconstruct everything we used ;). But we definitely used a Juno, a Polysix, a Moog Matriarch and also some soft synthesizers – synced with the E-RM Multiclock to get some nice poly-shuffled movements. Our drums are mainly sample based combined with some 808 HiHats send through diverse delays to add a special feel. For mixing we use lot’s of analog gear, like Moog-, SSL- and Neve-EQ’s. We also worked with the SSL Fusion, which is great for distortion and a Lexicon 480L.
This are some of the main tools we used for the album.
Can you tell us a bit about your history in electronic music and your involvement in your local scene?
As we all come from different musical backgrounds, our active involvement in the electronic music scene started at varying career points.
Stefan, for example, had his own club at the age of 18, and later, he was involved in techno bookings for a small club near his hometown.
Stefan: „yeah my electronic music experience started at the age of 15 as I visited the Love Parade in Berlin for the first time. I can remember that Westbam was playing at the Siegessäule. This was a life-changing event for me as a 15 years old boy. I was totally thrilled about the people around me and this music. Two years later, I was resident Dj at the after-hour club Winterpalais in East Germany.“ That’s how it started : )
Your sound isn’t what a lot of people would associate with Berlin electronic music. Do you find it hard to be heard in a city that’s so dominated by techno sometimes?
Actually from the beginning on of GHEIST we were not particularly keen on just being a part of the Berlin electronic scene. Of course it’s our homebase and we also love Berlin for it’s music and art scene. But our understanding of music in general is not bound to one city or country. Most of the music we listen to is not even German. Other than that Berlin has always been very good to us and we are very grateful for that. We always had a great relationship with the “Watergate Club” and everyone who is working there, and by now we even have our own party series called “Again”, where we can host and invite artist we love.
After a period of reflection, do you think the electronic music scene will learn from the pandemic? Or do you think it’s back to normal in some ways?
That’s a very difficult question to answer as we have the feeling that it’s not about any music scene in general but much more about society as such. It’s a very difficult phase globally and we just simply hope everything will turn out fine for everyone in the end.
Tell us about your label, Radau, what’s the thinking behind it?
When we founded our label “Radau” about three years ago, it was all about freedom. We just finished our song “Frequent Tendencies” and were sending it out to various labels and didn’t get the response we were hoping for. As we were very convinced about this track and in general love to be independent in all aspects of our career, we revisited an idea that was on our minds for quite a while already, -let’s start our own label and make this the first release-. So basically that’s what we did and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made along the way. “Frequent Tendencies” went better than we could have ever hoped for and we gained the freedom to release whenever and whatever we feel like. “Radau” became the home to our music.
You guys always have excellent artwork — as is the case with your latest EP. How do you feel music draws from art? And vice versa?
It’s very nice of you to mention this, as we do all our artworks by ourselves, so thank you very much :).
In our opinion all art draws from each other in every direction. It’s important to get inspiration from nearly every aspects in our lives. Only then you can feel the urge to sit down and create something new. It might be a good book, a great painting or photo, a movie that touches you but in the end all of that sets a certain mood and inspires you to do something.
What do you see as the ultimate goal for your careers as musicians? Is it something you do full-time or is it a side thing for you now?
It’s hard to say what will be the ultimate goal as musicians but we have some ideas for the nearby future, as we’re a planning to come up with a life version of GHEIST playing concerts. But in general it is very important to us to stay open minded, as it’s very hard to say where we will be at in 10 years from now. We’ll certainly still be making music together as GHEIST and we definitely will be making music our entire lives, as it’s just who we are.
Let’s chat a bit about the record as it’s great! Can you talk us through your inspirations for this one?
It’s actually impossible to get very specific about this as each one of us gets inspired by different things, even though we have a very similar taste in music. What actually became kind of a guideline and inspiration throughout the album process, is a certain feeling of melancholic optimism and the idea to create something, that you also want to listen to at home and not „just“ on the dancefloor. Of course we‘ve also been influenced by the current situation and it’s ups and downs and we‘ve all individually lived through moments that became songs, lyrics and state of minds.
What else can we look forward to from you over the next while?
First of all we are super happy to be touring again and we hope we’ll see as many of you as possible on the dancefloors around the world. There will also be a few music videos released within the next weeks and other than that we are already back in the studio and we are constantly working on new music that we can’t wait to share with you. Thank you very much for having us and see you soon.
GHEIST’s Zufunkt LP is out now. Buy/listen to the release here and keep up with GHEIST on Facebook and Instagram.