An Interview with Digitalism


By Serenat Kivilcim

Digitalism (link), a German electronic music duo, was formed in Hamburg in 2004 by Jens “Jence” Moelle and İsmail “Isi” Tüfekçi. Having made appearances in numerous clubs and festivals such as Coachella and Ultra Music Festival, Digitalism is leading the way in the electro-punk and indie dance movements worldwide.
Digitalism has remixed tracks for Tom Vek, The Futureheads, Daft Punk, Tiga, Klaxons, White Stripes, Monk, Depeche Mode, Cut Copy and many others, while being featured by numerous well known DJ’s. Black on the Canvas had an exclusive interview with Digitalism, who are celebrating their 10 year anniversary.



So, the band is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year. How would you say your music has evolved over the years?

It’s grown up a lot since we started. The reason why we formed Digitalism was to supply ourselves with music for our DJ sets, but after a while we ended up being producers and songwriters, basically album artists, which was something that we hadn’t planned. We also learned everything in a DIY way and we just finished school, so we had no money and no clue how to do all these things. Now after a few (actually, quite a lot) years we are more certain about our sound and what we want to express than ever before. Sounds might have evolved you know, but the very essence of “Digitalism” is in everything that we write and release – more than ever — there’s some kind of signature thing in all of this that crystallized over the last decade.

Let us talk about your latest track “Wolves”. Do you have any stories you would like to share about the production process?

The track very quickly evolved from a tool for our sets into a full song. That’s how a lot of our music started. We started dropping the instrumental and people started asking about it. However, we felt like it could really use some vocals, and since our “Lift EP” from last year (on Kitsuné), we were used to working with other artists, and so we got connected to Youngblood Hawke, who wrote and performed the vocals. They did an amazing job – without any briefing they nailed the atmosphere on this track.

To whom do you like to send your tracks for feedback?

Mostly to our audiences when we go out there and play shows!

From where do you primarily derive your inspiration? Other musicians? Movies? Books?

Mostly from our lives and our surroundings. Being from Hamburg, a city that calls itself “The Gate To the World” because of its huge seaport, what’s most inspiring for us is travels, faraway things and all those backdrops for your own personal movie. We see our music mainly as soundtracks to all these aspects of our lives.

Do you guys ever feel burnt out? And how do you motivate each other?

Of course there’s times when you feel exhausted from airports or very late nights, but there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people coming to shows and enjoying them. We like to recharge at home, but after a few days we’re ready for the road again – it’s very addictive, and it’s always different, always exciting. No day is really the same.

What are some of your favorite underground artists that you would recommend who deserve more attention?

Chopstick & Johnjon and especially their whole label “Suol”, Polargeist, Palermo Disko Machine.

What is your favorite place that you have played a show?

We really went to a lot of places around the globe over the last decade, and there are loads of amazing places, but one that was particularly breathtaking because of its setting was The Gorge in Washington. It’s a natural amphitheater and you basically play at the rim of this huge canyon, overlooking the prairie plains.

This question goes to Ismail: Judging from your name, you must be of Turkish descent… So am I! It makes me so proud to see a fellow Turk making incredible music. Would you say that your oriental background at all contributed or influenced your sound?

Yes I have Turkish roots and I am Turkish, first of all, thank you. But as for the inspiration, not really, but I discovered some nice Turkish artist from the past like Baris Manco or Zafer Dilek who made a lot of good soundtracks for big movies in Turkey, like movies for the famous actor Kemal Sunal.

So, if you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be?

Jens: Hard to pick. Maybe something with food and photography.
Isi: Good question. I received education as a wholesaler in a vinyl distribution so I would say that I still do it.


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