Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska & Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Birgit Kaulfuss
Modeselektor is a German electronic music duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, who are also the founders of Monkeytown Records. The artists are also known for Moderat – thire project alongside Sascha Ring aka Apparat.
If you had to choose between sex or music for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Why?
Szary: I would choose music, it maybe has more possibilities…
Gernot: Both, in turns.
What have you learned through Modeselektor on a personal and professional level?
Szary: We learned how to deal with both success and failure.
Giving up was never an option for us. Because of that, we’ve also learned how important it is to stay true to yourself. And that friendship weighs more than tons of gold.
What does it feel like to acknowledge having power over a crowd and being able to set a certain vibe? How would you describe your personal states of mind on stage?
Szary: It really is a feeling of power. But it’s also a fragile feeling because it’s dependent on many tiny situations that can come unexpectedly. The mental state while being on stage follows a timeline: At first, there is excitement, then you start to ease and you can reach utter dedication. But as I said, sometimes certain things can happen that change it all.
Gernot: These unexpected situations are what make live shows so appealing though. There’s nothing better than to transform a room, say a dusty festival tent, into a completely different world with the set-up you bring along.
What are the questions that you hate answering?
Szary: ‘Please describe your Music’, ‘What is the best club in the world?’ and ‘What is the sound of Berlin like?’
Gernot: Hahaha, absolutely! These are the worst questions ever.
What do you think about interviews? Do you enjoy answering questions or do you do them because you sometimes have to?
Szary: I would say it’s always both. There are good interviews, and there are bad interviews.
Gernot: If you get asked great questions you also get the chance to find out something new about yourself in interviews. Things you have never thought about before and that never occurred to you.
Szary: And by the way: This interview is doing quite well so far.
How would you like your work to echo in the culture?
When you get quoted or serve as a source of inspiration for other artists, you realize that you are doing something right.
Gernot: It’s really great to see your own art inspire the work of other people. This is maybe the best thing that can happen to you. What’s also important to us is to push young artists and to discover their music in order to present it to a broader audience.
What was the wisest thing you’ve ever heard?
Szary: “Light and darkness lie very close.“
Gernot: “Harmony only exists in the bedroom!“ (Gabi Delgado)
What are you most proud of?
Szary: I really like my chest hair.
Gernot: We’re quite proud that we could combine our strengths in a way that allowed for this honest and unbelievably inspiring world to emerge around us.
What have you learned from each other and what do you appreciate the most in one another?
Szary: I think what connects the two of us most is the combination of shared tastes, technical skills, and our general character.
Gernot: I’m a quite impatient type of person, while Szary is more relaxed and thoughtful. Which is a perfect fit most of the time.
Do you sometimes feel like you need a break from each other? (Is there something you dislike and what do you do about it? Or is it always the other way around?)
Szary: It’s important to keep distance from time to time and to do your own thing. That’s also crucial while creating something. You must always allow for change.
Consider Modeselektor being one living organism, which body part would each of you represent?
Szary: Hands and feet.
Gernot: Head and bum.
Looking back at your music journey, is there a specific time you reminisce about the most?
Szary: I always think about the time when it all started. It’s so fascinating how naively we got things going.
Gernot: I can’t think of any specific time period, but I love the memories of being on tour and totally committing to this one cause. That’s just amazing.
In our interview with Sascha Ring he shared a story about how one time you left for the airport without him in South Korea during the Moderat tour and since you took his suitcase, he had neither a phone nor a passport. What’s your perspective on the story? Or what other fun tour stories could you tell us?
Szary: Yeah, that episode was intense. But we would never have left without him. It felt like a miracle when he finally sat next to us on the plane.
Gernot: Once the driver of our tour bus in Mexico almost fell asleep while on the road. Luckily we noticed and could stop so that the driver could take a nap. Unfortunately, we stopped on a route that is famous for robberies and raids. Nothing happened, but we were a bit concerned, to say the least.
If you could travel in time and space, either to the future or the past, where would you go and why?
Szary: We are more curious about the future, say 100 years from now…Wait, we’re dead until then, let’s make it 40 years into the future, the year 2060. That would be interesting.
Gernot: I would travel 1000 years to the future to see how bad we humans really fucked up – or maybe didn’t.
What truth have you learned after all these years you’ve lived?
Szary: Money can stink.
Gernot: I learned that saying ‘no’ is sometimes more important than saying ‘yes’.
Which superpower would you like to have? What would you do with it?
Szary: To spread my arms and begin to fly, the oldest of human desires.
Gernot: No doubt: jumping from one dimension to the other.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or experienced in your life?
Szary: The birth of life.
Gernot: It’s amazing to watch my kids growing up. And to love them as much as I love music.
What do you realize as you get older? What do you like and dislike about it?
Szary: I started to realize it when my beard turned grey. But there’s really no problem with growing older.
Gernot: I think getting older is an interesting process that everyone of us is experiencing. I often look back at the past, but I definitely don’t want to be the young bird from ten years ago again. Everything is perfect as it is.
What are your thoughts and concerns in regard to the pandemic reality that we’ve all been living through? What changes do you expect or would like to see in the world?
Szary+Gernot: We all have to be strong and get through this. Maybe it will even benefit us somehow and make us stronger. It will definitely lead to a new mindset. Nevertheless, everything could continue the way it did before. This current situation shows how vulnerable the political system and society really are.
What was the most memorable question you were asked in your life? Not just interview-related.
Szary: “Do you want to marry me?“
Gernot: As far as I can remember this question came up during a festival, somewhere in between a long queue of interviews. It regularly happens that inexperienced journalists bring their groupie friends to interviews, and so drunk questions like this one can happen.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
Szary: Coffee or tea? Answer: Coffee.
Gernot: How would you describe your music? Answer: No answer.