Electronic music is the most international scene of all music genres. True. But sometimes, the place of origin is also important because it gives the context of character and the attitude that makes also the artist appealing and lovable. Tendts, the electronic duo from Thessaloniki, is both appealing and lovable. They are also a new asset on the international music scene. The 2016 Sónar Festival is just the beginning.
The first question is always an introductive one. So please, Fotis and Chris, help us put you in a frame. You know each other from the first light after birth since you are brothers, but how long have you be making music together? How was Tendts formed and what kind of music do you create together?
We have been making music together since 2008 under different monikers. During the summer of 2011 we decided it was time to change that, focus on one new project only and try to be very specific about what we really wanted to achieve. We wanted melodies and organic samples to be in the forefront. So we left behind all the other abstract technoisshhh sounds and samples that we’d been using until that time, and that rusty tent gave birth to TENDTS. We create electronic music with various elements that you can dance to or maybe not!
I believe that we should take it backwards, because Sónar’s days are close and we are excited about your performance there. Tell us what should we expect? What are you planning to show us?
We will be playing our live show which consists mostly of material taken from our debut LP entitled ‘Cheap Poetry‘ and a couple of older tracks from previous releases. What’s really exciting is that we’ve got a couple new toys that will be tested at Sónar and, hopefully, we— as much as everyone else— will have fun listening to the result!
Sónar is one of the most appreciated festivals for electronic music. In three days hundreds of people try to make their way to the different stages and enjoy their kind of music. Some would say that it is a great opportunity for artists. How did the invitation come and how do you feel about it?
Well, the invitation came from Reworks Festival and Anastasios Diolatzis as part of the We Are Europe platform which is an association of 8 major European events that have joined forces. The whole idea behind this endeavor is actually really interesting and exciting! Long story short, we have known Anastasios for quite some time and he is a great guy to work with, so when he popped the question if we would be interested in being part of something that big, how could we say no?! We are super duper excited that we —amongst so many great artists— are part of this endeavor called We Are Europe and we cannot wait to play at Sónar!
We need a perfect line up for this year’s Sónar. Which artists are you planning to see?
Yikes! That’s a tough one! In random order, cause we have not fully made up our minds regarding the “who to see” program, we are definitely hyped to catch Jean-Michel Jarre, Soichi Terada, Roots Manuva, John Talabot, King Midas Sound + Fennesz, Kode9 x Lawrence Lek, Howling, Byetone, Mura Masa and maybe a couple more! Also we are not going to miss We Are Europe affiliates Badbadnotgood and Nozinja playing after us —not for the world!
Over the last two years I believe that you have packed and unpacked every few days, with sets and performances all around Greece. But making music in Greece and collaborating with a record label in Berlin, Germany, making a small trip to Barcelona… Do you feel that you are making baby steps to take Manhattan? Is a universal career in your plans?
Sometimes we freak out so much and we are desperately trying not to lose time. Sometimes we really think that time is our enemy! What we must do, what we should have done but didn’t. What if we could do this instead of that? It’s a vicious circle really. But when we chill and start thinking reasonably, you know, put our thoughts in order, we realize that yes, at the end of the day, we prefer the small tiny steps that we are making. Who cares? What’s all this rush about? We are already doing the things we like and love in our own way (most of the times anyway). Maybe we are already there… In Manhattan, that is.
If someone doesn’t catch you in Barcelona, where will you be found next?
We have some gigs planned for summer, mostly in Greece, like Saristra Festival in Kefalonia & International Music Day at Volos but we are currently in the studio so not quite sure if there will be more during summer. Also in September we are going to be at Reworks Festival— that we know for sure— but, other than that, not much else is planned for autumn.
Let’s talk about recording. In 2015 you released ‘Cheap Poetry‘, your LP with Fair Weather Friends Records. I was quite surprised with this LP, mostly because earlier in my mind you were a dance beat duo. But ‘Cheap Poetry‘ managed to be the soundtrack of most of my car trips. What were you thinking?
Well, we were trying to keep a balance between slow beats, melodic songs and more upbeat -kinda club oriented- material that would translate well both in your car and in a venue! You know it’s an album, you have to tell the whole story! You must create a palette of sounds; you cannot restrict yourself to using only the 3 basic colours. Every album is like a story that evolves both during writing and listening to it, changing every time you get back to it! Several events take place. You can’t build an album describing only specific events with specific sounds. You must have diversity. On the other hand, if you are working on an EP, it is a whole different story.
On 1st of April you restored my faith in you (just a joke) and ‘Cheap Poetry Remixes‘ was released. An LP with all of your last poetry was mixed by dear friends and now we can all dance to it. Was that planned from the first release of the LP in November, 2015? And why did you decide to trust only Greek artists?
It actually was! Although it took a little more time and effort in order to come to life we really-really love the result and want to thank everyone that was a part of it! Although the majority of artists originate from Greece, there are musicians from Budapest, Berlin and U.S as well. So it is pretty much about some friends of ours whose work we like and admire no matter where they are from!
If it was possible to make a music friend from anywhere in the world, who would you choose and what would you create with them? Do you feel that this dream is close and we should expect some big collaboration?
Yeap! We would love to hang out with: Tim Sweeney, James Holden, Four Tet, Moderat, Caribou, Gold Panda, Heathered Pearls, Mathew Dear, Beautiful Swimmers, Palmbomen, Mbongwana Star and a couple more but for the time being it ain’t happening! [Laughing] So, nope, no big collaboration coming!
I have heard something about a recording studio in a cottage. Isn’t that what every musician dreams of? What are you planning next in discography?
Maybe it is, although the isolation during wintertime was a little bit tough, especially with no internet connection, but, to tell you the truth, it sure has its positives: imagine that our only neighbour is a 70-year-old lady and we get cheese pie and fresh vegetables —among other awesome stuff— almost every morning! We tried to focus all our energy onto producing new music and it has definitely been the most productive and creative year so far. As far as discography is concerned, we are in the studio right now —in the cottage mentioned above actually— finishing what could become our next LP. Let’s see what happens.
Sometimes, couples need distance. As a duo you are at the peak of your career, but what about solo projects? What are the differences between you two and what have you had to leave behind to work together?
It’s really hard to try new stuff right now. We don’t really have the time and if we want to be honest we don’t want to feel like we are leaving “Tendts” behind. Of course we have ideas and maybe sometime in the future we’ll find the time needed to try them out, either as Tendts or some solo project, but not right now. We have a lot of differences, believe us! But we also have so much in common; apart from being brothers we are really good friends and, as far as producing music is concerned, after all these years we know what each of us is good at and try focus on these aspects. We are not sure if we had to leave something behind, because it happened naturally and we still argue a lot, it is not like this is a walk in the park! But, eventually, we always figure it out.
Last questions. After Prince and Bowie, who do you believe will die next in 2016?
Dear God what a lousy year this one has been regarding deaths! We actually are in favor of people who have offered something to this earth not dying. So we will pass this one!
Photo credits: Mariza Kapsabeli (1st one), M_Kate Lou (2nd one)