Music with soul: The original stars of deep house speak out
What’s On and Hype to bring you an interview with Ame (Kristian, Frank) as they prepare for their DJ set at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
Deep house is nothing new, but it sure is the genre everyone wants to be a part of in 2014. Whilst much of the stuff being called deep – from Duke Dumont’s chart toppers to Bondax’s bulbous beats – isn’t at all, one duo that’s had a career-long affinity with warm, human house sounds are Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann.
Though the pair themselves won’t be drawn on specifics – “I just tend to say I play house music,” offers Kristian. “No comments on stupid phrases like ‘deep’ or whatever” – it’s fair to say that while the German duo has been recording as Âme (French for ‘soul’, it’s pronounced Arm, not Armay, despite what people say) both as a live act and studio duo for over a decade now, never have they served up anything less than sumptuously soulful and pleasingly grown up music that makes you feel as much as dance.
“We never thought we would be doing this a decade,” Kristian tells Hype. “We both had different plans in our life but at a certain point we made the decision that music is our job now and, of course, having this opportunity feels like being blessed. We’re constantly fighting and discussing things, but we’ve learned over the years to have respect for each other and the talents of both of us. We’re more like a very old married couple where opposites attract but in a respectful harmony.”
When the Berlin based pair first emerged in 2003, it was at a time when dry minimal techno was ruling clubland. Their first few releases on Sonar Kollektiv, though, started turning the public tide towards a more organic and considered house sound. Their tempos were slower; their synths more musical and their basslines more inviting. It wasn’t until 2005 that they scored their first big hit with Rej, the seductively slow burning, widescreen and filmic affair that was as epic as it was spine tingling. “I like to draw the movie-making comparison: I’m more the director and Frank is the cameraman with the brilliant eyes,” says Kristian.
Since Rej the duo has never been out of the spotlight. Soon after that breakout hit they started their own imprint Innervisions, originally as a sub-label of Sonar Kollektiv, and continued to serve up the goods. The ensuing years saw the pair become firm favourites amongst the more connoisseur clubbers out there, and they played all over the world at the same time as establishing Innervisions in its own right. As well as a home for their own music, the label houses acts like Marcus Worgull, jazz house specialist Henrick Schwarz and, of course, close friend Dixon. Together the pals and musical peers even branched out with a fully live and improvised club show under the A Critical Mass alias. Making free jazz but with a techno approach, in 2010 the group played a number of gigs in unusual locations and released some of the live recordings from such sessions.
In terms of Âme themselves playing out, ever since A Critical Mass there has always between a split between live shows and DJ sets. “It was a decision we made around four years ago,” says Kristian. “I was always a DJ and I never lost the passion for that, but Frank comes from a band background so he had something missing in his life for a long time. While watching Henrik [Schwarz] play, he came up with the idea of playing live. It was one of the best decisions we made together as now it feels a bit like both of us can fulfil our own dreams.
“All the new material we make goes directly into Frank’s live sets,” adds Kristian. “Speaking from the outsider position, I would say Frank’s live set is more live than a band just playing note by note. It’s based around different loops thrown together and being reworked in real time.”
This two-pronged attack means that Âme’s stock has continued to rise. Their Innervisions label is now one of the most recognisable and tightly branded in the whole of house music. Their music has remained innovative and authentic, and has never come close to what might be called selling out. “It’s great how it is and we’re all not afraid of a bigger market as long as we don’t need to change,” says Kristian. “There are always so many projects that we still need and want to finish. The label work keeps us busy, our family lives and, of course, the work in the studio and our travelling schedule.”
That schedule brings Frank and his live show to Plus Minus Sessions at Nasimi Beach this weekend, providing the perfect opportunity to find out what the duo have been cooking up in their studio recently.
Plus Minus Sessions, Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm. Friday, 2pm to 3am; Cost: Ladies free and gents Dhs100 before 7pm. Dhs150 after 7pm. Taxi: Atlantis, The Palm. platinumlist.net