In a world of ever- changing trends, TIEFSCHWARZ (deep black) is the most timeless of hues: it has style, depth, intrigue and above all staying power. And with a DJ & Producer career spanning more than 14 years to date, the German deep house duo has proven just how apt their moniker has turned out to be.
Born and bred in Stuttgart, brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz’s passion for techno and deep house was largely driven by their experiences in the early 90’s as DJs at the now legendary clubs that Ali ran in their home town, “ON -U” (1990 – 1993) and “Red Dog” (1993 – 1997). Around 1997, the brothers decided to begin producing and embarked on their joint venture as TIEFSCHWARZ, releasing their first single “Music” on Wave Music (New York) in 1998. The success of their debut spurred them to record their first album “Ral 9005”, released on the Stuttgart-based label Four Music in 2000.
The album was subsequently licensed to Classic Recordings in London in 2002, putting TIEFSCHWARZ on the map in the UK and laying the groundwork for international notoriety. In the same year, Classic also released Ali & Basti’s mix album “A Little Help For Your Friends” and both releases were enthusiastically received by the English and international press. 2002 was also the year that TIEFSCHWARZ relocated to the electronic mecca of Berlin, where they worked closely with Jochen Schmalbach. They continued to nurture their careers as international DJs, playing high-profile venues across the globe whilst simultaneously building up an impressive remix repertoire, including reworks for the likes of Masters at Work, Ultra Naté, Freaks, Isolee, The Rapture, Cassius, Minimal Compact, DJ Hell, Missy Elliot and Kelis.
TIEFSCHWARZ cemented their status as internationally recognised producers with their remix of Spektrum (“Kinda New”) which was a worldwide hit. Around the same time, the brothers helped create “Fine Records” in London (a division of Four Music, their former label in Germany) where they released their fantastic ‘Misch Masch’ album, which not only showcased their talent as DJs but also their remix skills on a double CD release. Ali and Basti then turned their attention back to writing and producing their own material. The resulting album (“Eat Books”) was met with critical acclaim, with the first single “Isst” being voted one of the best singles of the year in 2005 by Trax and DJ Magazine.
The pace of the TIEFSCHWARZ journey was upped a notch in 2006, with high profile mixes including Depeche Mode ‘John The Revelator’, Madonna’s ‘Get Together’, Roxy Music’s ‘Rain Rain Rain’ and Booka Shade’s ‘Darko’ and the release of two further remix albums – one for the outstanding Fabric series and the other in conjunction with the Time Warp festival in Germany.
Yet 2006 was also the year in which Ali and Basti gravitated back to Berlin – after years of constant touring and international DJs sets – to found their own label, Souvenir with their French partner Arthur Vélasquez. Inspired by the mass of experiences, sensations and impressions they gathered on their trips round the world, the Schwarz brothers felt compelled to create a platform for musical expression with a personal touch. Basti explains “We like the idea of seeing music as a souvenir, an impression you take from somewhere. Something intimate that you remember”.
Since 2006 the label has carved itself a definitive position in the dance record industry of today by offering a continuous release of outstanding tracks from artists such as Phonique, Riton, Tom Mangan, Ziggy Kinder, Ruede Hagelstein, The Psychonauts, whilst Santé and his brother Marius aka Re.You can also be found on the Souvenir imprint. Souvenir Booking is an exciting addition to the label structure, with artists such as Rampa, &ME and Adam Port filling the roster thanks to TIEFSCHWARZ’s close ties with Keine Musik. Above all else, Souvenir is open minded and forward-thinking : not every release is expected to be the “next big thing” on every dance floor in the world, but rather the label founders seek to be surprised, intrigued and challenged by their artists. Hence the development of their online platform, Souvenir Plus, which acts as the label’s digital playground, where artists are encouraged to keep redefining the limits of electronic music through experimentation.
Indeed, experimenting and developing pioneering new sounds is how TIEFSCHWARZ have made a name for themselves over the last decade. Their best of album, “10 Years of TIEFSCHWARZ” (2007) documents the rich variety of sounds and original styles they have touched upon in their career to date. And the search for something innovative continues into 2010: TIEFSCHWARZ’s new album “Chocolate” pushes the parameters of their sound to unexpected levels thanks to a new collaboration with producer Philipp Meier alias Santé, who joined Ali and Basti in 2008. The tracks are a manifestation of Ali and Basti’s musical development, and testament to Santé’s distinctive sound touch.
Techno and house still form the foundations, yet it is clear that TIEFSCHWARZ have found a new, intrinsic sound of their own that oscillates between numerous genres – at once both clear-cut and immensely intricate. The tracks work perfectly on the dance floor, yet at the same time, the album as a whole is great to listen to outside of the club setting, due to its fantastic depth, enduring vocal tracks and subtle production methods.
The first single “Find Me” is the perfect example of striking the right balance between music to dance to and music to listen to – resident at Berlin’s Panorama Bar, Cassy can be heard on this track, who has made a name for herself by working with the likes of Steve Bug and Ricardo Villalobos. Other guest features include Seth Troxler, Daniel Wilde and Dave Aju. With “Chocolate”, TIEFSCHWARZ serve up a platter of smooth and luxurious food for the soul. The indulgence continues with the digital bonus album, “More Chocolate” and in yet another demonstration of their remixing prowess, these techno chocolatiers will also be finely crafting a remix album entitled “Melted Chocolate”, where tracks from the first two releases in the chocolate series will be blended and stirred up.
The release of their latest album also marks a new milestone in TIEFSCHWARZ’s DJ career. Ali and Basti have of course been household names in the world’s most cutting edge clubs for several years now, with residencies at Robert Johnson (Frankfurt), Fabric (London) and Watergate and Weekend (Berlin) to name but a few, as well as regular appearances at world-class clubs like Space & cocoon Ibiza, Womb (Tokyo) and D-Edge (Sao Paolo) during their frequent world tours.
But with the arrival of their third artist album, TIEFSCHWARZ have developed a new live concept: Santé will become the third member of the TIEFSCHWARZ DJ line up, accompanying Ali and Basti during their sets. Together, the TIEFSCHWARZ trio will be facing the exciting challenge of performing as a live act for the first time: they are never afraid of trying something new. After all, the unknown is a dark abyss, a place of profound shadows, from which their particular shade of TIEFSCHWARZ originates.