On a recent Wednesday in New York, Jens Moelle had his mind on his homeland. Germany's national soccer team was in the process of beating the Netherlands in this year's European Football Championship, a happy fact for the Hamsburg resident and one-half of the globetrotting electronic chameleons Digitalism. Along with his partner in crime Ismail Tufekci, Moelle has traversed the divide between dance music and rock since 2005. Last year the duo morphed into a touring rock band, but this month they are back in the club with a dance-minded DJ-Kicks compilation that drops on July 10 in the US. We caught up with Moelle in between plays of the European Championship to talk about the group's upcoming tour and navigating between two distinct and different genres.
EARMILK: What was your angle while putting together your DJ Kicks?
Jens Moelle: Our last album was a bit more song-based, so we thought we'd kind of do that onstage as well. It was a bit more like a band. We get bored easily so we took it back to a clubbier style. We always go back and forth between the indie side and the techno side, those are our dimensions.
I think people are a bit surprised with our last album more time songwriting, it wasn't based around the normal clap tempo 130 bpm as opposed to the first album. The thing about your favorite bands is, when they do something new—it's hard, because you like a band for something, and if they change their sound quite suddenly, it's a bit hard to follow. But it would also be sad if they did the same thing all the time. So for us, that means going back to the roots, because we started as DJs and we turned into producers, then we took it on the road and turned into a band. The DJ Kicks represents our origins.
EM: With your more club-minded sound, do you think you're going to have to adjust your sets for when you're in Europe vs the US?
JM: With the live tour, no. We always do our thing, and we don't really adjust our sets last minute depending on if it's a big or small set, because we have a set and we want to present it to the people. We've done that, last year, with our more concert-y thing, and this year it's the same. We've already played a lot of gigs in Europe this year with the new show, and the response was really good. I think we found a good balance: it's pretty dance-y, but we also played the big songs as well. There's something for everyone in there, definitely. It's always hard to find the balance because of indie and techno and doing something in between. I think that makes it hard for us. It's probably easier for someone who's doing one kind of sound all the time, but we like it because it's our favorite music that we're making.
EM: Do you see a big difference or separation between those two musical worlds, rock and dance? Or are they merging?
JM: I think they were merged a lot more than they are now. I think they separated again. I think like, kind of hybrid bands are only doing band stuff at the moment, and the proper rock and indie bands have a completely different following. It used to be different a couple years ago.
EM: Around the time that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the Rapture were coming out?
JM: Yeah, you know, when they first came around, that's when everyone was kind of united. At the minute dance is really taking over—it's pretty dominating. If you ask people in the music industry at the minute, they would say that the hotspot for music has switched over to the States from the UK. It's pretty interesting, actually. It used to be that the UK had all the hottest new stuff. Traditionally in the UK, they have a huge indie and rock tradition over there, but you don't hear that so much at the minute. A lot of things that you hear about are from the States.