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Feature: Monkey Safari [Interview + Premiere]

23 min read

August will see Monkey Safari put out their long-awaited Body Language Vol. 24. The 18-track affair is a deep dive into their own musical output as well as a testament to their alluring DJ style.

German pair Monkey Safari have become Get Physical mainstays over the years. In 2022, they have released a wealth of teaser tracks from this mix with each one showcasing a different side to theirsound. After more than a decade of EPs and LPs on their own Hommage label they are still mining new musical ground and their 2021 album ‘Love Will Set U Free’ was the latest testament to that. This new mix is a further superb showcase of their signature DJ style and seductive musical output.

Hello Sven and Lars, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Thank you very much, the mood is very good. Summer is our season and it always brings us good mood. The last song we heard is Kaolack by Martin Waslewski...it just came out on our label Hommage and for us it's already one of our summer hits.

How's your summer been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

So far we have toured a lot and in the next weeks we will continue to tour a lot. A lot in Europe but also North America and South Africa. We are very happy that after the last two years finally something like normality has returned. Let's hope it stays that way.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a 'music of the future' or 'continuing a tradition'?

The truth is like so many things in the middle. Music and especially electronic music is constantly changing and evolving. That is the beautiful thing about it. But that doesn't mean that old structures don't work anymore. Just the fusion of more classical approaches with new progressive ideas can create really great music.

Listening to music can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within the Monkey Safari dynamic? And does being brothers make this a bit easier perhaps?

Maybe the fact that we are brothers makes it easier, but nevertheless a lot of work on an interpersonal level is necessary to work together for a long time. It's a partnership and it needs to be nurtured and sometimes it needs to bang.

You guys are on the cusp of releasing the 24th installment of 'Body Language', Get Physical's long running and influential DJ mix series. Tell us a bit about the release and how you went about selecting the music for it.

For us it was important not to just create a compilation where we contribute 2-3 tracks and the rest is licensed music. We didn't find that concept very inspiring to us. Get Physical has an endless back catalog of amazing music and to choose from that was incredible. Of course we chose some tracks because we found them interesting 10 years ago. But it was important for us to create a homogeneous mix, similar to an album. I think we succeeded with that quite well.

Given that the release is entirely your productions (both originals and remixes) how did you end up with the final track selection and how did you go about cutting stuff out? There must be a point where it becomes quite difficult letting go of certain pieces?

We have produced many more tracks than fit on the compilation, but that does not mean that the work was in vain. We have tried to curate the track selection final like an album to find audible a red thread. Some tracks did not fit so well, but will certainly find their place in the future. If it would be either on the compilation or delete it would certainly be more difficult.

As previously stated, there is a nice balance of originals and remixes on the release, so do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

It has both advantages and disadvantages. A remix gives you a theme so there is a good starting point. Especially with tracks that you find very good yourself, it is often very difficult to find a good approach. What do you want to change in a song that you already find perfect in the original. With originals you are totally free concerning the theme, but you also get lost faster in different approaches and have to search permanently for the red thread. If it feels good, both are equally easy.

The digital era seems to have had somewhat of a negative effect on artist albums, but how, if at all, have they affected DJ mix compilations like 'Body Language'?

Hard to say...I think that today you don't earn money with the medium itself, at least not as much as in the physical time. However, much more music is consumed globally today and by many more people. If you have sold a CD 20 years ago 40k times, it was very good in the DJ area and you have also earned well as an artist with it. The first single of our Body Language was heard just as often in the first 24h. Wassili so more important...to reach many people who listen to your music or earn more money with it. I think that only everyone can decide for themselves.

DJing is a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation. How would you describe your approach to it and more specifically within your Body Language mix?

It's a lot about telling a story and triggering flow or trance effects in people in a way. The mix is a journey and it goes up and down and sometimes something unexpected happens...we like that.

How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ duo and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? Is there a sense of collaboration between you and the dancers? And is this something which you kept in mind while working on the 'Body Language' mix?

The idea comes from us first, but then when we test the tracks it becomes a kind of collaboration with the audience. You notice how people react to certain parts, or where you need to improve things. It's a very exciting process and that's why producing without Djing wouldn't work for us, at least not with the music we're making right now.

Also relating to that, in terms of the mix flow, was this something you looked at from a listener's perspective or a dance floor? And how did you go about deciding that?

In that case, more from the listener's point of view. It makes a difference whether I listen to a mix at home or in the car, or whether I listen to a DJ set in the club.

In a song or classical composition, the building blocks are notes, but in a DJ set the building blocks are entire songs and their combinatory potential. Can you relate this to your 'Body Language' mix?

Yes, you can. There are also notes or chords that fit together better than others. In a mix, the right composition of the tracks to each other is crucial to make the transitions as smooth as possible and at the same time build a tensionless.

Can you tell us a bit about how your work as a DJ duo has influenced your view of music, your way of listening and perhaps also, if applicable, your work as producers?

Of course, everything is in relation to each other and it influences each other in the same way. We as a DJ hear a new track at a party again on a completely different perspective than the people who are there to party. You are always in an optimization process and of course you want to get the maximum out of it.

Will there be specific dates in support of the album release?

Yes, we have dedicated our summer tour completely to the Body Language and play across Europe and the world with the hanger of the compilation. There are many dates where the theme comes up again and again but not the one record release party.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

Music promotes emotions in different directions and depending on the position you are in, it can be supportive or have the opposite effect. We think it's important to make music that can trigger emotions in one direction or another and is able to touch people.

Looking back over your career as DJs, have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you perform?

We started with vinyl and then we went from timecode vinyl to CD and now we have just arrived at USB. So yes, in the last few years the medium has changed completely. Due to technical progress, anyone with a bit of practice can now DJ in a club and play a technically clean set. The art of DJing as you know it from people like Jeff Mills is more and more in the background, it's more about curation and making the right choice in your set. That's something that no technical feature can do for you and it's the most important thing for us.

What's the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you'd rather have taken care of by somebody else?

The best thing is just to play around and jam freely. Without a real goal to see where a track takes us. The mastering I prefer to give to people who can do it better and also have more desire for the nerdy side.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Moog Modular System

Monkey Safari has been a mainstay in our scene for well over a decade, how do you remain passionate about what you do?

We always try to develop ourselves and our music and never focus too much on one thing. This keeps us fresh and always brings new impulses that are fun.

What's going down well for you guys right now, what are your current Top Five favourite tracks?

Martin Waslewski - Kaolack
JAMIIE - Mussoya
Pablo Fierro - Nomada
Super Flu - Humbled K
DJ Pierre ft. Chic Loreen - I Feel Love (Monkey Safari Remix)

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for Monkey Safari? Anything you can share with us?

We did a remix for Rüfüs du Sol which is out now and also one for Swedish House Mafia. Then of course Body Language with various remixes after that and then we are already back in the planning phase for a new album. So there is a lot to do.

Body Language Vol. 24 by Monkey Safari is out on 19-08 via Get Physical Music

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