10 Questions with ... ATB
November 3, 2015
1) How did you come up with the name ATB?
It's very easy. It's the initials from my name: Andre Tanneberger. In earlier times, people thought because I am living in Belheim. They thought it was Andre Turner Belheim, but no, it's not. I started the name just for a remix. A really trash remix because I didn't want to use my name ... my first project I had was Sequential One it was a Techno project, and I didn't want to use my real name for the remix. So I thought about it and called it the ATB remix, under this name and then "9 PM (Till I Come)" was out and then suddenly everything changed for me.
2) In 1998, "9 PM (Until I Come)" comes out is that where it really started for you?
No, for me it started with the other project -- it was 1993. This wasn't a typical Techno project but it was way more melodic, like I'm now as well. It was Heartbeats, but with a nice melody and nice chords. I had some club hits with this project and I also had some in Germany and Europe some chart hits as well. I think the highest chart position was 25 or something like that. With this other project, when the success was going down for Sequential One, suddenly there was "9 PM" and everything started as well. For me it was a change because it was worldwide success. And "9 PM" was #1 everywhere and it was like, okay, now I have to travel. And in the beginning I hated to travel. I was like 'No, I just want to do the gigs in Germany' and then it was, I think, the first big tour, which was in Australia and things like this, and I smelled how good it is to travel and meet other people when you travel to other countries. Later I started to do the U.S. tours and I fell in love with the U.S. crowd. For 15 years, I've been touring the U.S. every year a couple of times by bus, by plane, and I think I know more cities in the U.S. than in my home town
3) Where does your love for music come from?
I don't know. I started as a kid; I learned all for myself. It started when I had a ball, I didn't play ball so I had two sticks and played drums or whatever. I don't know if you know the thing that cuts eggs in slices? I used it as a harp. I used everything I had as an instrument. Later, my parents gave me the opportunity to take some guitar lessons and I started with that. I hated to play other songs because whenever you play another's song, like from notes, people notice when you're playing something wrong. So I started to do to my own tracks. Cuz people don't notice if you're playing wrong. You just tell them it's your own song. So, I started to create my own tracks. But just playing guitar was too boring for me. I wanted to do a full song, so I started to buy some computers and small synthesizers, so it started from zero to building up a studio.
4) Any early influences, or inspirations?
My father or parents weren't that much into music, but my grandpa played in a band as well. Mostly in the genes going over one generation, and it's coming from him. I don't know. I always think music is in your blood or not. You know? Most people love listening to music, and I think music is so important in our life, but there are a lot of people who also have it in the blood to create music.
5) Early on in your career, right after "9 PM" you put out an album called 'Moving Melodies' and you followed it up with 'Two Worlds.' You've had a lot of albums come out.
Yeah! I'm working right now on my 10th album! That's amazing and it's just an artist album; there's even more mix albums and things like that. Sometimes it's strange because in my own country people are asking, 'Oh you're still doing music?' But the last album was in #5 in the German album charts, and so doing an album for me is like giving the full concept of what I'm doing. What I want to do. It's not just Dance music; it's not just club music. I'm always showing the people the second CD, although we don't use CDs, that I'm doing a lot of tracks and show that I love the Ambient stuff or other experiments. That's very important for me not to be categorized into Trance, or doing House or whatever, I don't want to have a category. On my albums, I have the opportunity to show that it's more than just Dance music.
6) Now with it being your 10th album, it's kind of a magical number, special number, what can your fans expect from the album?
The fan thing is always really difficult because in the music business, when you have success with the music don't do something else. Or if you're too different it's like, 'Oh we want to have the old stuff.' If you're doing the old stuff. it's like, "You sound like you always do." I don't concentrate on what I want to do; I'm just in the studio doing tracks that I love to. Now some songs are already finished -- "If It Takes All Night," "Flash X" and other songs I just finished. I did one yesterday at the hotel that's amazing! I played it two times yesterday and noticed there was such a reaction in the crowd. For me, it was very emotional because I never finished a song on a laptop, because I hate it. Normally I'm in studio where I have a nice system to listen to it, where I also sit and listen to what's going on there with my headphones, but it sounded so good in the club, so everything is good. It also gives me the opportunity to work in the club, when I'm on tour, and have the influences that I have direct into the music. It's great!
7) You just mention two new songs, "If It Takes All Night" and "Flash X." What can you tell us about your new single?
"Flash X" is different. I notice that some of the fans are like, "Oh, that's so different or are you now going into EDM?" I don't think about that with "Flash X." I was sitting in the evening; I just played this melody and I noticed this is something special for me I like the energy of the song that's really nice. That's the same thing with "If It Takes All Night;" it's a lot of energy. With "Flash X," I started to do it as more of a club track, but I noticed the vocals are fitting so perfect that you can listen to the radio in your car or whatever. It's not just a club track anymore; this is what I like. In the end, it's always hard to talk about music that you do. You have to listen to it and make your own feelings about it.
8) It's out on your own label?
Yes, first time! I never had a label and we thought about it. What better name than atbeats? (Lol) The idea came because fans are always thinking about what is ATB for like: Always The Best, or things like this. People are always so creative with these three letters so we decided to be creative as well, and so atbeats sounds good. So yeah, that's the first release and I'm proud of it. I never wanted to do a label, but in the end it feels good because you can handle all for yourself. You know, times are changing ... especially these days it's no longer just a big label. You don't really need labels any more if you really want to go forward. So this is a great experience for me.
9) Speaking of great experiences, when you first started DJing, I'm sure you were lugging around crates of records ... then it was CDs ... now it's flash drives.
Yea, I started with vinyl and I remember the first time I played in a club. I didn't know what I should do. I put the record on it, put the needle on it, my first record in the club it was like two bass songs and then ZEEEEP silence! All because the DJ before me didn't clean off the dust on the needle. From this moment on, I cleaned the needle before I use it. This was a nice lesson! The first record! I always, today I can laugh about it, but this moment was so horrible for me. But the vinyl times were great!
10) Do you think with today's technology with things being on a flash drive, and people using a lot of digital means are you more creative or less creative? How has it changed for you when you get behind the decks?
That's for sure. You are more creative because you don't have to do this physical search thing. I remember when I had the records, you always had to search and have it in your hand. What I don't like, technology-wise, is when the laptop is playing because you never know if it's pre-recorded set music coming out of a laptop. I also don't use beat making things because I want to do something on stage. I can't understand DJs who just want to be on the stage performing without doing the music any more because they have pre-recorded sets. I would rather play music on the stage. It's horrible. In the end, the flash drive is good. I don't have to carry the things any more with me any more and I have all the music with me. Also, when I want to play a classic right now, I always have it with me. I hated CDs because you weren't able to label it. Whenever you labeled it, you have to put it in and you don't find it, I hated them. It was horrible. I was so happy when the USB sticks came out; I think I was one of the first who started playing with the USB stick. Pioneer brought out the 400 but it wasn't a professional thing and I remember when we ordered it to the club. I wanted to play with the. I was so happy when we had the Pioneer 1000's and then the Pioneer 2000's.
You're on a big U.S. tour, you're in New York City tonight playing Pacha. Uou mentioned you know the U.S. cities possibly better than you're home country, is there a favorite city in the U.S. that you love DJing in?
There are a couple of places that I always love to play, like yesterday when we played Beta in Denver. This is like the roots; it's a small club, but not too small ... you are really near the people; they are right in front of you, right beside you. It's great energy. I have about five spots in the U.S. that I always look forward to. In L.A., it's Exchange, it's amazing. I don't know what it is but people are also waiting for me. I have a really good feeling. Same here in Pacha and sometimes it's Marquee. I like Pacha, it's a little bit more back to the roots, it's not this table feeling there. It's a dark room. It's what DJing is for me.
Festival vs. club ... what's the difference?
Sometimes the good thing with the festivals is that the play time is not that late. Especially for us, when we come here and are jet-lagged. Both are good. It's like being asked what's more important to me, being on stage or in the studio? I want to have both because that makes it interesting. I wouldn't want to not make music, and I wouldn't be on stage to present it. The clubs are nice, of course, but sometimes it's nice to be on stage with this big crowd, but with the clubs, people are there just for you. On the festivals, you know there are so many DJs out there, you can't say they are there just for you. Unless you're Calvin Harris!
You are visible on social media how much interaction do you do with your fans?
I started social media before the term was even there, I had a forum long before Facebook and Twitter and these things. I had over 50,000 people in this forum. I started it just because I wanted to interact with the people. I started topics and people could ask me things there. This was my Facebook 0.1. People are asking me today if I want to do a forum again because they always knew I started writing there. I was kind of happy when Facebook started or in earlier times, it was MySpace. I am still doing it for myself. That's very important. People notice it when management is writing something, so I'm doing it myself. You saw the trailer, I'm doing it all myself. I'm filming it, I'm cutting it, I love this technique. I love to do a little movie on the road and put it online two hours later and spread it out to the world. That's amazing!
What do you do for fun if you have some down time?
At home I have a lot of hobbies. I love driving cars. I love photographing as well as filming. I love computer gaming. My favorite game is Battlefield. I do it a couple of times a week in the evening usually when other people are watching TV. I have a nice crew, like five or six people. It's amazing to just shut down the daily problems and just be there.