"Clubs are our life –from there come our emotions which have an impact on our thinking.". With the Marshmellows you can talk for hours about music and will always discover a surprising variety of styles and a glittering past. But one fact is always evident to them: "We come from the dancefloor and think in dance categories." Almost every weekend Jörg Wicked E. Rosenbaum and Thilo "der Kraft" spin records in Europe (and local regions), which leaves its mark on their self image. In the past ten years they played sets with almost all renowned colleagues (among others Rockers Hifi, Fatboy Slim, Deejay Punk Roc, Skints Cut La Roc, Aromabar, Sofa Surfers etc.). Such experiences had much more influence than the vague recollection of mastering a classical instrument. "We shape our pieces so that we can play them any time."
With :swat, the brand new third album, Jörg and Thilo, succeed in a very elegant mix of fine hearing and fun on the dance floor. The pulse of the songs is stimulating. The tasteful arrangements are sometimes almost exuberant but are always transparent. Powerful pounding rhythms and the springy grooves are the unbroken threads of the album, while tempo, sounds and voices vary happily.
On :swat samples and electronic sound are as organic as never before and even distinct invitations to dance keep this special profound aura. Behind the characteristic formula of the Marshmellows is a clear principle. "It has always been our interest to experiment with different styles within a certain frame”, explains Jörg, "that is our definition off freestyle”.
With :swat the Marshmellows deliver their preliminary masterpiece. The moods change, the atmosphere remains lively. Amusingly, some of the songs give the impressions of live music. Drum patterns infect the music groove with Latin swing, march straight away or jump in Reggae- offbeat. Polished arrangements combine spheric synthesizer sounds with piano phrases, guitar fragments with string phrases, funk jazz, associations with Brazilian percussion and house related rhythms. At one time, break beats or multi layers of sound games irritate, at other times cool downbeats and flickering Rhodes-harmonies invite to relax.
There is no cool calculating master plan behind all this. The first goal is to keep the suspense – the rest is intuition. "We produce from one song to another and in the course of the productions often something unexpected happens”, Jörg reports amused and Thilo completes "whereat, we do have an idea where we are heading to, according to that we choose the samples. But sometimes they don’t work as we had thought and the piece has its own dynamic. This doesn’t come from the intellect but from deep intuition. It is about a feeling which should be transmitted by music”.
One thing which significantly determines the handwriting of the duo. All three , so far published albums have the Marshmellows charisma – in spite of all the differences in sound and production. "Our debut sound system was very much formed by dub and trip hop. The second, Rebound, rather by electro. :swat puts it all together and includes some additional ideas as well” Thilo explains " in Rebound we focused more on sound and engineering. In the past year our attention was more on the music as a whole”.
Producers and engineers, of course, add a great deal of spontaneity. :swat originated in Vienna in the I/O studios of Roland Hackl (a.o
. Aromabar, Telemark) and Gernot Ebenlechner (a.o
. Vienna scientists). Two years ago during the Infracom evening at the Popkom, they met and appreciated each other. From the idea to invite the Marshmellows to play records in Vienna became a series of celebrated sets. A one week stay at the Donau metropolis the two teams used for the recordings of the split-maxi conspyration. Even after their – by now – 30 performances in their second home base the Marshmellows are still enthusiastic about Vienna as the "dub capital of Europe”. Kingston in the Alps? Jörg explains: "The basic thought, concerning the beats, is similar. Only the actual dance-floor music is 20 BPM faster. When we start our sets a little softer, they already have a certain tempo.”
Interesting with the Frankfurt-Vienna connection is the fact that the partners haven’t looked but still found each other. "The co-operation began accidentally” Thilo remembers: "but when you are locked together in a small space for days, it shows quickly whether you get along. These "accidental acquaintances” occur throughout their life, which is always open for surprises.
Their first sound engineer, Dennis P. Sarratou was an acquaintance from the techno-trance scene. From these different backgrounds developed Klangsystem in 1995. "We tried out and experimented a lot” Jörg remembers. The following album Rebound came in 1998 with engineers from the Megashira surroundings. "Probably because of this it sounds somewhat architectural, because it has been produced very rectilineal and has been mixed extremely clear and pure. We spent long nights to polish the sounds. It matches precisely drum&bass with its static, technoid character. In connection with our music the impression arises as though it sounds less organic.
The "radical” production put the parallel running musical development somewhat in the background. "In fact on Rebound the beat structures became complicated”, says Thilo, "on :swat more complex arrangements are added to the complicated rhythms which make the album more melodic.” Some passages sound as if the Marshmellows had summoned, besides some vocal artists, a number of musicians to the studio. "Some motives we wanted to have as a sound and couldn’t find as sample prototype were incorporated by hand, above all, the Rhodes-sound and keyboard spaces ", Thilo explains.
However, the Marshmellows do neither make a principle nor dogma of the use of musicians as long as the music keeps its electronic esthetic. Beyond that , further integration of instrumental artists into the Marshmellow concept are no subject. "We don’t intend to imitate a funk or jazz band. We are and remain DJs. If we took a step towards a tape project and had musicians play the compositions, we might have a great record but couldn’t use it live as DJs – or we would only conduct an orchestra.
Exceptions are live voices which occasionally add soul melodies or rap-staccatos. As usual these contacts happen by chance at gigs or through friends in the studio. It happened like this with ex-stereo MCs singer Verona Davis, whose voice decorates Rebound. And it is like that with the vocalists who enrich :swat.
Lady Fuzz is a friend of Drimal and Ebenlechner and dropped in to the studio one day to say hello. Spontaneously the idea came up to sing Passion Hunter. The Vienna producers also suggested Ursula Maria who had produced with Patrick Pulsinger, among others. "We met for lunch and discovered many common preferences”, Thilo tells. Like this the mysterious Lofi-Dub resembling High flying originated.
The sound-track-experienced American Dolly Melaine also lives in Vienna now, like Super B., who as DJ and MC belongs to the constant Dub Club Team. He already worked live and in the studio with Kruder & Dorfmeister and is, together with DJ Makossa, responsible for the radio program Silly Sound of FM 4. There are also some Frankfurt connections. Mc Sir Real was guest in the Marshmellows Diversion Program at Space Place and with his partner DJ Laidback he belongs to the rising DJs in London. Rhoda Beck finally is a good friend from the Frankfurt scene.
Compared to productions which are recorded by bands in only a few sessions, the Marshmellows take a lot of time for their work. The team worked for one year to produce :swat, which was also due to the fact that the studio was at such a distance. "This, among other things, leads to the fact that we might have thought differently in the beginning than at the end of the production”, Jörg describes the chances of such a long time production. Hectic actions are completely strange to the Marshmellows. They rather rely on their inspirations and their calmness.
Blessed are the self-reliant! In the independent role between the styles Jörg and Thilo are feeling extremely well. Special trends they gladly leave to specialists. Their stamina to keep an audience during a club night in a groove is based on their long time experience. ”Besides all we do musically we are always driven by subversive thoughts”, Jörg grins. He can’t conceal the old school of illegal parties and their influence between anarchy, openness and family like friendships. From this time the do-it-yourself idea originates which motivates the Marshmellows even up to now. Consequently they keep cover design, booking and production of the new video in their own hands. "Experience shows that the results correspond more with your own ideas if you do everything yourself”, Jörg says "we also stay up to the last sound during the music production to always be in the position to interfere. The result is 100% Marshmellows.!”