I meet andhim inside their hotel lobby on a cloudy afternoon. ADE has already begun and the boys are looking a little bit tired from their event the night before, a hybrid dinner-turned-into-party affair that kept them awake until early morning. Despite this, their spirits are high and they’re as talkative and approachable as ever.
We step outside the lobby and sit down by the river overlooking Oeverpark and the docks on the left and Amsterdam Centraal and the rest of the city on the other. We opt to do the interview alfresco without really explaining why. All three of us could do with some fresh air and the backdrop available isn’t too shabby either. It helps that Amsterdam is in the midst of some kind of heat wave during ADE week this year, just like the rest of mainland Europe.
Simon and Tobias are as busy as ever, pushing their own releases on their Superfriends label (their latest is the recent Huso EP), touring practically every weekend of the year and always working on exciting projects, the latest of which is the release of their very own Dragon Brew – Super Kölsch style ale in collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing Co. in Chicago. Find full information on the beer at the end of the article.
So you guys got in yesterday huh?
How many years is it that you’ve been coming to ADE now?
Tobias: About 5 years now as andhim
How has the conference changed in the last 5 years?
Simon: To be honest, we don’t know that much about the conference because we never really go to the panels and stuff. I would say that the shows probably got bigger, even bigger like bigger brands, bigger venues. But the cool thing is that even if we don’t go to the panels, ADE is still very important for the industry and for us. It’s not like WMC, because ADE is also about this part of the industry and not just about the parties. We are here with our agent and he is having meetings all the time, and yesterday at our dinner there were people from all over the world, from Australia, from the USA, Scandinavia, from all over Europe, they’re all coming here to meet and do work.
I agree I have had almost 30 meetings in 3 days artist interviews, networking and of course all the parties and trying to keep it all balanced. but if you’re not going to meetings and the panels what else are you guys doing when you’re in Amsterdam during ADE that you feel you can talk about? Red Light District? Restaurants? The Museums? Do you party?
(both laugh and look at each other almost embarassadly)
Tobias: Yesterday we combined it because that we had dinner at a restaurant. It was our own party and our own dinner, so we combined it but usually we don’t have that much time. But also Amsterdam is very close to our home…
Simon: Yes we come here 4-5 times a year, you know? There is no need to do things every time we are here but of course we’ve done everything from boat rides, to the red light district, to all the museums, all the typical touristy stuff. It’s such a unique city.
You’re flying to the States this weekend after ADE. I’m interested to know what about actually being in the United States in different cities, the culture, the food and the like gets some of the European artists like yourself excited about?
Tobias: It depends, sometimes the Friday shows are in and out, but on Saturdays a we might have time to see the city a little bit. This time we’re going to see the Niagara falls for the first time.
Simon: Of course it’s always very very short amount of time for us because it’s in and out, but as he said if we have the time we always try to do stuff and this time we actually fly there just for the Niagara falls right?
Tobias: Yes, because it’s between the East Coast and the West Coast. Actually it’s because of our gig in Montreal, it’s possible because it’s right in between.
Simon: Yeah we fly in for 1-2 days just to do this, of course we try to take some time for fun activities when we can.
Tobias: Oh and we’ll get some Buffalo wings!
Simon: Yeah and then we have the release of our own beer in Chicago!
That’s right, you guys have the Funky Brunch in Chicago with Claptone and then Spybar and the new beer…
Simon: Yeah, it’s andhim’s Dragon Brew
How did that even come about?
Simon: Actually we got in touch with the brewery, it’s a small fantastic brewery called Pipeworks and they are doing all this fun beer, different types and the idea came up to do our own and they were very supportive and helpful and we did our own artwork together with their graphic designer and they brewed the beer which took 4-5 weeks and yeah… we can’t wait to taste it!
Oh so you haven’t had a taste yet?
Simon: No not yet!
Did you have input on what kind of beer it would be?
Tobias: Yes, it’s going to be a kölsch. It was a good choice because it doesn’t take too long to brew it, because it depends on the beer how long it takes to get done.
Simon: We wanted to have a very light beer, you know? Something easy to drink, and for the girls too of course (laughs). Also what we are trying to do when we are in Chicago, this is another fun activity, we always go to Kumas Corner for the burgers!
Oh of course, which one is your favorite there?
Simon: I don’t remember the name!
Tobias: The Slayer!
Simon: Oh yes, Tobias had the Slayer once, with chili on it, the biggest you can get!
So burgers and beers, are they two of your favorite things?
Simon: I mean yeah, it’s a cliché but when you’re in America why not? Not every day of course…
True, although I have actually had very good burges in Germany. When I go to Berlin especially…
Simon: Yeah, too much there maybe, every 20 meters!
Is kölsch your favorite type of beer then?
Simon: Kölsch is great, also pilsners. German beers are generally very good.
What’s going to be the deal with the beer. Obviously this is the launch event, are you selling it there, will you sell it after?
Simon: We will sell it there, it’s more of a fun thing. We did 1,000 bottles and of course we will bring some with us and send some to friends and promoters. It’s a fun thing and I think we will sell it for the two events and then it’s in the hands of the brewery and they will distribute to small delis, bodegas and liquor stores but only in Chicago. Maybe it’s going to be a success and they will be worldwide one day! (laughs)
I admire what you guys have been doing as far as the wide spectrum of activities you are involved with! How do you keep focused with everything and how do you prioritize what to work on?
Tobias: Yes we are now master brewers too! (laughs)
Simon: It’s always a question of what mood we are in actually. We do our music and of course we focus on the label and releasing the music, and of course have other projects all the time but we are very spontaneous with what we do. If we are working on a new design for a shirt then we get on it, we finish it. It’s the only way it works for us. We have a million of ideas but if you don’t do it and finish it then the other ideas will disappear. There is no real system, we just try to do everything we want to do 100% at that time.
Do you have any other crazy ideas brewing?
Simon: There’s new merch coming, new music coming but nothing crazy that isn’t out yet. But spontaneous stuff will come up. We got invited by Soul Clap in New York next week to cook with them, they are doing a kind of DJ cook book or something!
So you’re also chefs!
Simon: (laughs) We try, we try. We don’t have the menu yet, we don’t know what we will be doing yet but German tapas. Small dishes.
Sounds like fun stuff! What else do you guys like to do that isn’t music related. On a random afternoon back home what do we find you doing?
Simon: Meeting with friends, walking, being outside. Eating a lot, cooking.
Tobias: Yeah, especially those! (laughs)
So you’re normal people then?
Simon: (laughs) Yeah… I went to the cinema a few days ago to see Blade Runner but i got bailed by a friend so I watched it alone. First time in my life! (laughs)
How was that experience? It’s funny because it seems weird to go to the movies alone yet it’s an activity where you don’t even get to really interact or talk to the people you’re there with.
Simon: That’s so true. You can do the popcorn trick, you know?
Tobias: A friend did it once to me, when I was younger (laughs) It was disgusting!
That’s luckily never happened to be, thank God.
Simon: You go on the wrong dates man, not like him! (points to Tobias)
Tobias: No it wasn’t a date, we were 15 man.
Simon: Of course… (laughs)
So how was Blade Runner?
Simon: It was ok. I fell asleep… it was very impressive camera work and nice pictures and stuff but I am not a big fan of Ryan Gosling, always with his one fucking face
Tobias: Kind of like Nicolas Cage.
Simon: Yeah, he is getting a little bit boring now, always the same.
Tobias: It’s a follow-up to the original right?
Simon: It is but more or less the same story. It was not a waste but the week before I saw IT, also not that recommendable. It was ok. Both were ok to watch but nothing special. IT was not scary at all.
Any other exciting things happening for you guys to close out the year?
Tobias: We are working on some music… can we talk about it?
Simon: Yes. There’s a remix coming out in December for a German DJ duo… this is happening, and then for our latest EP there will be remixes. Hopefully this year, maybe January. We didn’t receive all of them yet, for the Huso EP that is. We are also going to be doing a charity event in our home town of Cologne. We rented this club there which has an open air area and an inside area and we are going to play a show there and also going to do a Christmas market with stands with waffles and mulled wine and stuff like that. People can also bring clothes to donate for homeless people and we will try to raise money to give it to an organization in Cologne that helps take care of the homeless.
Tobias: Yes, we want to give back to our city.
Talking about Cologne, how is the scene there, do you guys go out?
Tobias: It’s ok, but it’s of course way smaller than cities like Berlin. There are a few clubs and stuff but to be honest I don’t go party that much, because we are not there on the weekends.
Is it more house focused or techno?
Tobias: It really depends on the night and on the club really.
Simon: I mean it used to have this signature Kompakt sound back in the days but it’s not anymore, because they are barely doing parties. 10-15 years ago they had their regular party going on. They still have their record store, but I think in Cologne there’s still people from the early days of techno but not in form of party promoters.
Are you guys still based there?
Simon: No actually, I moved to Berlin.
Tobias: Yeah I am still in Cologne.
What’s the difference between living in the two cities?
Simon: The move was super spontaneous. It was job related, I moved after university, very spontaneous. I left there almost 10 years ago… 9 years actually. I like both, it’s different. We grew up in Cologne so it’s always special, a lot of friends there and family. And Berlin is my new home, it’s a very nice city, very green, a lot of parks, good friends and restaurants. I don’t party that much there, very boring life there to be honest.
Makes sense. Having added the label to your resume must have been quite something. How has the experience been so far?
Simon: We had to think about how and what the direction of the label would look like. We know, and we made it easy because we only release our music. It doesn’t matter which direction because it’s always andhim and so we can do whatever we want, because it’s our label! But still we were discussing whether maybe we should release music from other artists or not but we came to the conclusion that we only want to release our music for now at least and I don’t know, for us it makes it easy to work with and it’s a big motivation to release music because there’s no rules, you don’t have to think about what is the right home for a new record, what a label could think about your track… if we like it we just put it out there.
So when you make a record do you shop it to other labels ever anymore, do you consider other labels at all or do you just release on yours?
Tobias: Now if we like it then ok, we get it out. It’s good motivation to release the tracks, there’s no schedule and it’s just easy. After just 5 weeks we can just have the track out!
Simon: We don’t have to ask anyone, we do what we want.
The roles of labels has changed this way over the last several years, and with the advent of technology.
Simon: Yeah sometimes you’re dealing with delays, and waits of months.
Tobias: Or over a year!
How is it dealing with vinyl releases?
Simon: We have a new press plant, so for the upcoming releases we are working with this new factory and they only need 5-6 weeks from sending the master files to the finished vinyl product.
That’s fantastic. How about the art work? How does that work?
Simon: We have the concept that every cover is made by another artist, or just a different person. They don’t have to be artists, they can be friends, someone we like to work with or similar and we don’t have the title or anything on the front side so this gives a whole new layer than just the music. Besides the music we try to provide something on top of it, and by asking other artists and friends they can contribute to our label, which is also the idea of Superfriends, to involve people. It’s interesting, as some we don’t know personally, and sometimes we ask friends and they love the idea. Toby did one himself.
Tobias: It was a photo, so it’s different styles from drawings to photographs. It can be anything.
How about the apparel? Do you guys have input on how it will look?
Simon: We are pretty lazy with the merch. I would love to do more, there’s two new designs coming next week. I really want to do new designs but we are not designers. We will start working with a friend on some good ideas, so maybe we turn the shop into something bigger… streetwear or something, but it’s just fun for now, a fun thing to do. It’s really not our main focus. I wish it was but it’s just a fun thing for the fans.
I love the branding of your logo, it’s something you did really well from the beginning. it’s always something that the fans have always loved.
Simon: Yeah there are a lot of people who have it as a tattoo actually. Really a lot.
How do you feel about that?
Simon: It’s cool, it’s crazy!
Would you get a tattoo of it?
Simon: Ummm yeah, I mean, it’s funny because he has an andhim tattoo (points to Tobias). I don’t have any tattoos, but if I was to get one it would be an andhim one, but I am not sure if it would be the logo.
Tobias: Yeah mine is super old. (points to hand tattoo located between his thumb and index finger with the word “andhim” in cursive).
I got it I think 6 years ago. It’s still pretty good for this area that usually gets worn out so fast.
Simon: Yeah the jerk off area
Simon: One day maybe, but until then it’s great to see the fans love it!
Information on Pipeworks limited edition Dragon Brew – Super Kölsch style ale in collaboration with andhim:
The beer can be purchased in 22oz bottles and on draft at most stores in Chicagoland that carry Pipeworks. Your best bet is to find the nearest store that carries Pipeworks on our website: http://pdubs.net/find-us/
The beer will also be available on draft in limited quantities in New York and Connecticut through Sarene Distribution.
The beer is a bright, clean, easy drinking Kölsch (5.4%ABV ) which is a style of beer popular in Cologne, Germany where andhim are from.