Moderat are nothing if not strange bedfellows. Berliners Sascha Ring, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary are known primarily for their own projects: Ring is the man behind wistful electronica act Apparat while Bronsert and Szary make mischievous pounding music as Modeselektor. And yet the trio have a chemistry between them whenever their busy schedules allow for the studio collaboration, as revealed with the release of their second full-length album, cleverly titled Moderat II.
We caught up with Ring in Berlin to ask about how the group came together and if they think of Moderat as the musical equivalent of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy.
What brought everyone together in the first place? Did it immediately click?
We met a little festival in Berlin about 10 years ago; we played with totally different setups. I was a laptop guy using my own software, which was pretty rare back in the days (“Oh, a whole concert just with a laptop.”) and Modeselektor played really old school with a whole tower of analog equipment.
We had some nerdy conversations and they started using my software and using laptops. We played some fun shows every now and then — just three guys connecting their computers playing their loops together. At some point our own careers kicked off and we didn’t have so much time for fun shows anymore. Five years later, we remembered our project and thought it could be nice to work together as a bit of a fresh breeze in our lives.
We got along very well because we grew up the same way as these post-reunification techno youths, going to parties in old abandoned Russian military buildings and stuff. When we moved to Berlin in the end of the ’90s, we still loved Detroit techno but we all were ready for something new.
Was the Auf Kosten der Gesundheit 12 the first fruits of working together?
Our first single was just us as some kind of “fun live band” and we had no idea how to work together. It was really messy and we all got sick afterwards. That’s why it’s called “at the cost of our health.”
How long did you get to spend making II?
We wanted to get into “the zone” for six months and just work on this album, nothing else. It was a very intense time. Of course, we could have just kept on working on it, but I think at some point you start destroying good ideas. We also wanted to make a bit of a less-polished and dirtier record.
I keep imagining you all getting together to be somewhat like the Linklater films Before Sunrise, Before Midnight, etc., in that it happens over the span of a few years and you sort of get to check in on how the other party is doing in their life.
Well, we’re not exactly in a romantic relationship; we’re more that kind of old couple that’s already married for 25 years getting along quite well, needing each other but having different opinions on all kinds of topics. But yes, it’s a bit like that. We don’t hang out too much while we’re on tour with our own projects, but when we get back together it’s quite easy to continue where we stopped before.
Is Moderat a pressure release of sorts from Apparat and Modeselektor?
Moderat is definitely a bit of a vacation from our own projects. We can do things we wouldn’t do as Modeselektor or Apparat, as people have their expectations. When we made the first Moderat album, we were completely free. No one even saw it coming so there were no expectations at all. Even we didn’t expect much. The fact we can still take a break from our own musical personalities is still a very important reason to do Moderat.
Moderat II is out now on Monkeytown Records