Three summers ago a track by Ry X and Frank Wiedemann emerged from Berlin with the potential to toy with the imaginations of fans from across musical spectrums. Despite coming from two respective heavyweights within their own spheres and arriving on the esteemed Berlin label Innervisions, ‘Howling’ brought an intriguing sense of both fragility and the unbeknown. With an Âme remix to boot, an earthy folk element transcended traditional boundaries to find itself making a connection as a cult record within underground dance music.
Ry X and Âme’s Frank Wiedemann are artists that need little introduction within their respective realms, and for those who have followed their collaboration to this point, it’ll seem strange perhaps there still seems a requirement for further introduction. ‘Howling’ was the synthesis of a project of the same name, and the relaxed, organic nature of the duo’s progression away from the press glare has made the journey all the more special for the two artists.
“Even though we’re coming from quite different locations within music, we found the way that we create music is quite similar,” Frank tells me as the pair take a moment away from their rehearsal space in Berlin, and it’s a synergy that extends beyond the recording studio and in to their everyday lives. “Frank’s like an older brother to me,” says Ry. “We spend a lot of time together. In terms of going through different things with family, relationships, things that have happened in our lives, we’ve always been there for one another as mirrors. It’s a deep one, but we enjoy life together and that’s why we enjoy making music together so much.”
The amalgamation of three years working together comes to the fore this week as their debut full-length, Sacred Ground – a stunning partnership of deep house subtlety and a human rawness, knitted together by ethereal wonder – is released in the UK. Through their recent video for ‘Stole The Night’, Howling play elements of nature and constructed reality off against one another, and over the space of a full-length. Ry explains how that same concept quite naturally exudes from their work. “A lot of what we do is either taking the organic material and putting it in to a context that’s really breathable in electronic music or vice versa – we take something that’s electronically based and we find a way to make that much more human. It’s about the constructed reality around us versus the natural and the actual rawness of who we are beneath that. I think that’s just part of us.”
Despite the distance between the pair they managed to create an intimacy in the recording process that shines through on the finished piece. “If we were away from each other we always skyped, so there was always connection – We made the record together,” explains Ry, detailing a creative process that comes incredibly naturally. “Intuitively Frank and I often have the same feelings about something, and I think that if it’s not like that then you shouldn’t do it. You should always try and move in to everything openly but if it’s not inspiring and intuitive then maybe it’s not meant to be.”
With an LP under their belt, it brings new potential for Howling to reach out from the foundations that they’ve steadily been laying across the previous three years. Having been fast tracked in to the pulse of Berlin dance music through their association with Innervisions – a label founded by Wiedemann, his Âme ally Kristian Beyer and Dixon a decade ago – the potential to turn heads outside of that sphere is laid bare on Sacred Ground. That said, whilst the admiration from within that community is second nature to Frank, for Ry it’s guided an exploration of house and techno from an inside perspective.
“I always loved electronic music in a certain context, but I didn’t really know about the more pure, specific forms of it,” he recalls. “Coming into the heartbeat of it through Innervisions initially was a godsend in a certain sense, being able to be at the centrepiece of something, not from the outskirts looking in. It’s strange for me but I feel really honoured to be respected within the community. I came in to Berlin yesterday and walking through Görlitzer Park people were stopping me and talking to me about Howling. I’ve become a sort of accidental son of this community and that’s very humbling and beautiful.”
I think it’s good that people aren’t commending laptops playing back everything with an artist singing over the top.
With old prejudices about the performance of electronic music continuing to rear their heads, talk turns to forthcoming live dates and it’s clear it’s an arm of Howling’s make-up that’s worked on with the closest of consideration. “We’ve been working on versions so there’s something a little bit different depending on where we play; either at the club, on a big stage or at a very intimate concert. The light show that we have now, that’s actually more of an art installation, is going to complete the optical experience too,” says Frank, who whilst seasoned in the presentation of electronic music live relishes the added dynamic having “to deal with the fact that it’s a human being that needs sleep before singing.”
“I think it’s good that people aren’t commending laptops playing back everything with an artist singing over the top,” adds Ry, “but it’s very difficult to translate what you’re producing in the studio to a live format. You need really amazing musicians and you need a lot of gear and whilst it’s not an easy thing to do we’re fully committed. That’s what we love to do and that’s why we do it live. We’re not too bothered about being in the spotlight, what matter is that people are connecting behind that.”
Live: Oval Space – May 22nd