We talk absurd gig locations and the magic of electronic music with German-British post-pop pioneers – I Heart Sharks
Pioneering their self-termed genre – German-British Post-Pop – Pierre Bee, Simon Wangemann and Martin Wolf, aka I Heart Sharks embody hedonistic musical escapism in its purest form. Creating daringly ambitious pop music, their sound whilst forward-thinking, brings forward nostalgic tones of times past; a masterpiece of German engineering with a British heart and a dash of New York grit.
Having recently released their debut EP on Island Records “To Be Young”, we were eager to catch up with the trio to hear about their journey this far, from meeting at Berlin’s techno mecca, Berghain, to their current jam-packed schedule of live performances at abandoned factories, disused airport hangers and beyond. Here’s what they had to tell us…
So where did you guys meet?
Simon: Pierre and I both moved to the city around the same time to start making music, and we met one night whilst going out at a big techno club called Berghain. In the beginning our influence was a mix of the music we were hearing: the steady and danceable techno beat that is so popular in Berlin on the one hand, but with the heart and depth of real songwriting, and a live attitude on the other hand. We didn’t want to make pure machine music, but to bring in everything from it that makes music danceable. We believe that music that moves your feet can also move your mind.
We couldn’t agree more! Where did the name I heart Sharks Come from?
Pierre: We like it because it sticks out. Nowadays that’s something that is ever-more important. Stop making sense.
Why are Manchester and Berlin so important to you?
Simon: Berlin is the city where we had the freedom to start creating. It’s very cheap to live here, or at least it was when we came. We had simple jobs with little income but a lot of time to make music. Very soon we started playing all over Germany and a few other countries in Europe, and we noticed how exciting and inspirational it can be to travel. So most of “Anthems” was made in transit. On the bus, in a train, waiting for a flight to go faraway. For this reason we were really excited to work with a producer abroad, Joseph Cross. We did a lot of production and recording in his studio in Manchester, and he really gave our songs the “British” edge that we were looking for.
It definitely does have that British edge. What would you say electronic music means to you?
Simon: Electronic music is what moves our bodies. There’s a certain kind of magic about the repetitive, pulsing beat associated with it. But we like to add lyrics with a deeper meaning to tell a story and reach the heart.
Pierre: As Simon said, there’s a magic to it, and that’s definitely also got to do with the simplicity and the sounds used. Usually a sound will be what makes the song, rather than a chord structure or a melody.
So how would you term the music you create?
Simon: German-British Post-Pop.
What about your process for producing the sounds we hear, I read you use guitars as synthesisers and synthesisers as guitars?!
Simon: Basically we try to use most original sounds possible. Many synthesizers have presets or typical ‘inherent’ sounds that might be kind of impressive at first, but then you realise you’ve heard them a thousand times before somewhere else. Same thing with guitars, they’ve been around for decades, so we try to do something new with them. We always want to push an instrument into new territories, past the limitations of using it “correctly”.
Well it certainly works. Where did the lyrics for To Be Young come from?
Pierre: After a very long night out, when I was feeling fragile the next day, it suddenly dawned on me that one day everything I know will be over. Nothing is forever. You just have to take with you what you can. “To Be Young” is about taking time to be young, about the people who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never take time to yawn or say a commonplace thing.
They are definitely words to live by. With regards to live performances, what’s the best venue you have ever played at?
Simon: We’ve played shows in so many different kinds of venues. From airplane hangers to abandoned staircases, old factories and the top of double decker buses! It’s hard to tell which one was the best. Right now we’re looking forward to our festival shows this summer. We get to play a lot in huge tents because we like to be in the dark. They’re always very impressive. When they’re empty they look much smaller, and then when you go on stage and see the crowd for the first time it can be quite overwhelming.
I bet! What does the rest of 2014 hold?
Simon: We will be on the road most of the time and writing new music on the days between. And we’re glad about it, because we’re pretty restless when it comes to music. The days we dread most are the days spent at home, so we’re always looking for ways to escape by playing shows, traveling to other cities and writing, producing and collaborating in music.
Lastly, where do you see yourselves in ten years time?
Simon: Definitely ten years older, maybe ten years wiser, but probably still crazy enough to be making music.
Pierre: Somewhere between psychotic and iconic.
‘To Be Young’ The debut EP from I Heart Sharks is out now.