Tensnake reveals his inner Glow
A little while ago I met up with Tensnake (aka Marco Niemerski) for a chat about his album, Glow, which was released yesterday. We spent over an hour together, discussing his history, the debut LP and how he found love through the project. Here’s an excerpt from that interview – the full version can be found on my website here.
Your album has a lot of collaborative work but, prior to that, were you mainly working on your own?
Yes, that’s how I started. I was making mainly club-based tracks without vocals. The collaborative stuff happened because I feel like a song is never really complete without vocals, I have a soft spot for pop music so that’s where my thinking comes from in that respect. I like working with singers, it’s more interesting. The album is my first step into working within the pop field a bit more.
When you were working on your own, did you find easy to be in that isolated environment?
Yeah I love it. That’s what I’m missing at the moment – having that quiet time in the studio, where it’s free and loose and I can jam alone. It’s not happening much lately but it’s a whole different way of working with someone else in the studio and you’re trying to be more efficient. Plus you may not have met before so the chemistry might not be quite right to begin with, when you’re on you’re own it’s totally different.
I guess it’s limitless, you don’t have anyone else to worry about so you can mess around and jam to your heart’s content without worrying about wasting someone else’s time.
Exactly, I used to love that; jump out of bed and go straight to the studio and just work all weekend, eat while you’re working and carry on until whenever. I’m not a trained musician so it’s not easy for me to go in the studio with trained musicians and be able to get stuck into it straight away like they might be able to. On my own I can play around, make mistakes…
And from those mistakes you find your direction.
Absolutely. But it’s great working with other musicians, you really learn a lot, just as much as you do when working alone. Often, when you’re producing alone, you can move something and by accident something random pops up that you really love more than what you were doing in the first place.
How did you get started with the album? Was it a theme, or did you just gather up some your music altogether in one place, or did you contact potential collaborators…?
I didn’t have a concept really, all I wanted was to make a collection of songs that really sit together. These days people rarely buy albums, it’s all about singles and people choose their favourite songs on iTunes – but it was important for me to have a whole album that’s like a little journey and makes sense from the first song to the last. Everything came together naturally – there’s a song on there with Jamie Lidell, produced with Stuart Price. I’m a big fan of his, we met in LA, he has a studio there and his daughters were running around pressing buttons on the keyboard, it was a really fun, natural process. That was the first song I pencilled in for the album. Then we needed a singer, the song has a bit of a Prince vibe going on and Jamie Lidell was the next step, he’s the only one for me who comes close to Prince moments with his voice. When we recorded Jamie, it made sense with the vocals and so I decided to continue in that direction.
What was your next step once that was recorded?
Without a goal I kept on producing once I was back at home. I think you know when a track needs a vocal or not. Another singer on the album, Fiora, I met through a friend in Berlin – she’s from Tasmania – I sent her the track and she sent it back to me with her vocals, I loved what I heard and she ended up doing half of the album with me. She did most of the lyrics and songwriting, then we went to Tasmania together!
And Virgin signed the album, that’s not bad…
Yes, I just sent it out and they really liked it. I was very happy, what a great label with an amazing history. I didn’t expect it at all, I was like ‘Really? Ok!’ I have no idea where it’s going, but wherever it takes me is fine. The most important thing is that I produce it for myself, the second one might be a bit more commercial but we’ll see how it progresses.
Do you reckon Nile might join in for a special show somewhere if you were to get band together, I know you can’t speak for him but you’d hope he would be up for it…
Of course, it’s a hope. Personally, I think he would do it, but I think he would need to be sure it was a good show and we had the best musicians. For him, all that matters is music and he’s such a musician that he gets turned off by something if it’s not right. I don’t mean that in a diva way, but his level of professionalism is so high that he’s simply not willling to compromise that, which I respect massively. I realised that I have three different singers too, so it would be impossible to replicate the exact line-up from the album. Personally, I don’t like it when you go to a concert and it’s not the original singer performing.
So, you and Fiora got together through working on the album tracks?
Yes! I always try to avoid things like that happening. Obviously, it can be very intimate a man and a woman working in the studio together – I think you should try to keep it professional. I usually do, but it didn’t work out that way this time. She’s a great lyricist, even if I don’t listen to them! [Laughs]
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