With electronic music, the constant quest for newer, brighter, and better often overshadows more desirable attributes: consistency, quality, and longevity. At times even I have found myself questioning lineups with veteran producers, only to be schooled with a flourishing demonstration as to why these artists have been able to hold foot through the recent turmoil. Friday night during EDC, I got to bask in the spotlight, and humility, of one such artist, André Tanneberger (better known as ATB), only hours before he took the mainstage.
20 years ago he began his career in Germany, and, since then, he has toured the globe time and again, having released 8 studio albums, many of which span two discs and special editions. Conversing with him, though, you'd never realize an international superstar sat only feet away. His genuine love for the music, appreciation for his fans, and dedication to the scene shine through every word. With this humble outlook, ATB took Kinetic Field by storm, leveling possibly the largest crowd of his career with a powerful set that traversed the music spectrum, from his classic “Ecstacy”, through rock anthems “Song 2” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, to Showtek and Noisecontrollers’ current hit “Get Loose”. Continue reading for ATB’s thoughts on the current dance climate and some never-before-heard info on his 9th album, hopefully releasing later this year.
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Earmilk: You come to festivals like this all the time. What keeps the magic alive for you?
ATB: You know, the good thing is that I’m not just doing festivals. In fact, I’ve never been a friend of festivals, though I’m turning into a friend because the American festivals are always an amazing thing. Sometimes I love the club a little bit more because I’m much more in contact with the crowd. But compared to what I will see this night, with 80,000 people in front of me, these are the kinds of things you will always have in your head. I’m really glad to have the chance to play here tonight. I’ve played a lot of EDC things but Las Vegas is always very special.
EM: What do you think has changed the most since when you started playing?
ATB: Playing when? I started 20 years ago as a musician and I started touring the U.S. 15 years ago. EDM did not exist yet. Every year I did a tour, being on the road for 4 weeks in a tour bus and we did all the small cities from the east to west coast. We played small rock clubs and country clubs, and we brought this music to the people.
I’m glad that we’ve finally made it here; it’s bigger than ever. My hope is that it’s not getting too big too fast. We had it in Europe, 5 to 10 years ago we had more festivals, and more, and more, and more, like a big bubble. Then one day it pops. But right now I have a really good feeling and I’m glad EDM is so strong here; so let’s party on!
EM: On that note, is there anything you would change? About the scene or industry?
ATB: In a lot of cities like New York, Chicago, LA, everybody smells the money and wants to do a big festival, and all the clubs want to do it, too. What I know is that the more people who do it, the quality gets lost. I just pray, please don’t do too much. If you start to have an oversaturation of it, people will get tired of it and change things. If you have 10 festivals in one city, of course it will become normal and the festivals won’t be packed anymore. So, let’s please keep the quality up.
EM: Do you think a lot of the oversaturation has to do with the ability of artists to self-publish through Soundcloud, instead of maybe taking a more traditional route by DJing and working their way up?
ATB: You know, it’s good that we have these ways. The music business has changed dramatically over the last few years. In earlier times you would have to go the traditional way through a record company to present your music, and now we have the internet with so many possibilities to spread your music to the people.
Sometimes I think the traditional way had some advantages, because there were people to tell you it’s good stuff or it’s bad stuff. Today though, everybody has his or her own label, so there’s no A&R manager to get out the really bad things.
However, I have to go back and say that there are a lot of talents that now have the possibility to spread the music through Soundcloud and other sites. I discovered a lot of my collaborations because I found people on the internet, so it’s a good thing. The times are changing and the possibilities are changing, and we have to go with the times. This is the modern world; let’s take it.
EM: You normally produce an album every two years, and 2011 was your last one. Any word on the next?
ATB: Yeah. I can tell you exactly how it is. When I go back home from EDC I will be in the studio for 5 weeks and finish my album, hopefully. So, it’s coming out worldwide in the second half of this year. I have already finished 3 singles. It’s a double album and it’s amazing, I hope! I like it, but in the end everyone has to decide for themselves.
EM: Do you have a title for it yet?
ATB: I have one, but you would be the first I’ve told… I haven’t spread it or posted on Facebook because I have been waiting for the right moment. The album title is Contact. It’s always hard to find the right name for an album. But I found this name and it stands for a lot of things that are really important to me, one main thing being the contact between me on stage and the people in the crowd.
EM: Any other words for your fans?
ATB: I’m still glad to be here! After 20 years being on the road, and I’m getting older and older, I’m so proud to be in contact with this young crowd and with all the people who have been into my music for such a long time. So, I’m glad to be here in the U.S and thank you to all the fans out there!
Earmilk Photo Credit to Julia Vie
ATB Photo Credit - ATB Facebook