As Berliners with techno in their veins, Moderat is interested in how music makes you feel. Now the masters of electronics – formed by Sascha Ring from Apparat and Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary from Modeselektor – invite you into their world with the brand new Apple Music 1 radio show. Moderate FMlaunching May 3 at 6 a.m. EST, and upcoming fifth album, MORE D4TA.
Moderat has commandeered subterranean basements, pumped out abandoned buildings with bass, and melted the brains of dancing crowds at Coachella and Alexandra Palace. Subsequently, he built not just a catalog of post-minimalist techno, but a soundtrack of dark yet complex melodies that altered the electronic music scene. Originally, Moderat was techno in its most palpable form, but today his work has allowed the trio to break out of a fixed genre or sound, favoring sensations, moments and a nostalgic spirit of the youth of the group.
In doing so, Moderat creates music that is both personal and interpretive, giving its listeners the opportunity to immerse themselves in an experience of their own imagination. Now Moderat puts the focus back on his own memories, thoughts and feelings with Moderate FMwho, as Gernot Bronsert tells HYPEBEAST, has been “group therapy in a good way” as she sets out to find herself, remember “very personal friendships” and tell her story from a honest and unheard of.
HYPEBEAST: What prompted Apparat and Modeselektor to form Moderat in 2002?
Gernot Bronsert: There was a very small festival in Berlin and there was a club there, and we had the chance to play in front of people as Modeselektor. We hadn’t been on stage much before, so we brought all our work gear from the room we called a studio to the room and put on a breakbeat, frantic fan show. It wasn’t really serious.
After us there was another band called Apparat and they did the complete opposite of us, they had an amazing setup with a new Apple MacBook Titanium and a super fancy controller. He played melodic, fragile music and it was the complete opposite of what we did before.
We got super drunk after the show and became friends. We were so different musically but found we had the same background – all three of us are from the Eastside, we had the same experiences after reunification [of Germany] and we had a lot in common.
Moderat doesn’t have much to do with Apparat or Modeselektor, it’s still a thing between the three of us. I think the interesting thing is that when we work as Moderat, we take on that role of Moderat and get out of our other projects and we experience a very personal friendship.
What makes something from Moderat distinctive, as opposed to something from Apparat or Modeselektor?
We are not trying to recreate Modeselektor or Apparat, we come out of those worlds. We try to recreate a state of mind, the one we experienced together when we were younger. Moderat’s sound is always as timeless as possible, we try to create the techno spirit that we have known.
It has nothing to do with the musical style, it’s a question of sound and atmosphere. It’s all about feeling.
And over the past two decades, how has Moderat refined that particular sound to define who it is?
I hope we will make personal music that doesn’t follow the rules of electronic music. We always try to create something different, not new, because you can’t recreate, redefine or reinvent techno music because it’s always been there. It’s the sound – nice warm noises, deep bass, a mix of sounds.
[Groups like] Basic Channel was the music we grew up listening to, they were the soundtrack to our childhood. It’s not the music, it’s the sound of the music and it brings back so many memories. You remember the first time you smoked an ice bong. You enter this parallel dimension that we have all experienced on the dance floor; when you really forget about time, who you are and what you are. This is the moment.
Sasha [aka Apparat] started singing at some point to have more tools to put in the soup, more ingredients to cook.
20 years later, Moderat launches Moderate FM through Apple Music. Why is now the time to get on the airwaves in a more personal way?
We have never told the story before. Even though we’ve given many interviews in the past about particular records and about ourselves as a band, I think the radio show gave us the chance to tell our story from a very personal point of view. .
Is there anything about radio that excites you?
You have a personal connection and you know that someone is going to listen carefully to what you say and that interests us. We learned so much about ourselves and remembered details that some of us had forgotten, it’s a process, a public process, group therapy. In the right direction.
Each episode of Moderat FM will be centered around a different album chronologically. Do you have a favorite Moderat album, or are all of these projects considered one big idea?
It’s really hard to have a favorite. I could choose songs that I really like, but I think every record came across as the record it is. We never had a concept behind it, we never planned anything, we just tried to put ourselves in the right mood to open the channels, to inspire us to make music together.
Each disc shows a different stage of our life. The very first Moderate FM The episode is about our first EP, we did it together shortly after we first met. We hadn’t played any gigs before, so it was a process. All the music we created is a document of our friendship.
So when you put all the EPs and albums together, it’s almost like an audio photobook?
Yeah pretty well. It’s like synesthesia. You can listen to a track and receive feelings, images, memories. We tried to force that with our music and create music that brings together the things we experienced in the moment. It’s not easy to explain because we don’t really understand. We follow our feelings and the hardest part is getting rid of overthinking.
How is this feeling conveyed in Moderate FM?
We discovered these feelings by talking about them. We didn’t prepare too much before each episode, so we just reminisced as we talked. When we started recording Moderat’s first record, we went on tour straight away and we never had too much time to think about that kind of stuff. This radio program gives us the opportunity to reflect on our history, what we have done and what we are doing, and to understand each other a little better.
The radio series will lead to your next album, MORE D4TA. What can we expect from this new version?
It’s a really difficult question. Every artist hates this question, but I’ll give you an answer.
I think MORE D4TA is the best record we’ve ever made. It’s different from previous records, but it carries our sound, vibe and mood. The circumstances under which this record was recorded were also different due to the pandemic situation.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
Without recording this disc, we would not have survived healthily with all the fear in the air. I wasn’t personally afraid of getting sick, but global collective fear was surrounding us all and it was killing my inspiration. We were planning on doing this record anyway, so we put ourselves in personal confinement – being together in the studio and writing new music… I think I would have suffered more than me [if Moderat did not make music].
The pandemic hasn’t affected the music, I really don’t want the energy of fear in my music.
You did it as a way to get through the pandemic, but it’s not a response or an acknowledgment of fear.
Exactly. The pandemic helped us speed up the process and go to the studio together as friends. When we quit in 2017, we didn’t speak to each other for maybe two years, not a phone call, not a text, nothing. We wanted to take a break, not that we were mad at each other, we just focused on different things. Families were growing, everyone had a new child and we were busy with that.
The pandemic has helped us focus on each other again, which is even harder when you have family and so many other things going on.
What do you want Moderat fans to take away MORE D4TA and Moderate FM?
We want people who listen to our music and our radio show to be taken into our personal world. Moderat is not frank, we have our group photos and we are on stage but Moderat is quite anonymous. It’s part of our lifestyle and where we come from – the underground techno scene – and we let the music do the talking. We want to take people with us and show them who we are and what we do.
We tried to create an honest and personal moment.