First of all, tell us something about growing up in Germany…what were you into back in those days? What influenced you early in your lives?
We both kinda raised in different musical worlds that built the foundation for our music as Ancient Astronauts. Kabanjak grew up with Blues, Rock and Jazz and Dogu with 90´s Hip Hop, Funk and Reggae. a big influence always was international independent artists with an edge. German music was not really our thing, except some forward thinking cats like Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Embryo or CAN. Also Dogu was heavily influenced by the Boardsports culture. Then the movement of abstract forward thinking turntablism, that brought the artform of Hip Hop to real music lovers worldwide, was a huge influence on us. This was established by labels such as Ninja Tune, Mo´ Wax, Wall Of Sound, Cup Of Tea or Catskills Records from the UK. And the Sound System movement, that came from the early Reggae days, created a party vibe that is unforgettable.
How long have you guys known each other anyway? How did you initially meet?
We know each other since our teenager days. We both grew up in Moers and even played tennis in the same club. At an early stage we realised that we are both big music heads so we started running parties in our hometown together. Through this we got into music production. We also met our soulmate Protassov in those days and then Dogu started Switchstance Recordings. That´s how it all got started.
What can you tell us about your naming “Ancient Astronauts”? What is behind this?
For us it means the combination of the “old” and the “new”. Our life's and the music we produce is highly influenced by traditional music genres such as Funk, Jazz, Dub & Reggae, Afrobeat, Rock and Blues but also with more modern styles like Hip Hop, Drum & Bass/Jungle, Dopebeats, Trip Hop, etc. The music we produce as Ancient Astronauts fuses these styles together, it combines analog music recording with modern music production techniques to give it a timeless touch.
Describe us the kind of music you make in four words?
What is your view on the German music scene then? In the last three years quite a few exciting bands have come out really….
Actually we are not the right persons for this question because we do not follow the German music scene at all. For us music is and will always be an international phenomena. The only outstanding German artist that we would mention as a highlight is Peter Fox.
Tell us something about the recording sessions for the album “We Are To Answer”…how did they look like? How do you usually get started with a new track?
Our recording sessions are the same since many years. Just the variation of our production equipment gets bigger and bigger. More analog instruments like Rhodes piano, flutes, melodica, etc combined with tight new school stuff like the APC40 or the classic MPC. Mostly Kabanjak works on some stuff upfront (he plays nearly all instruments on our songs) and then we choose what fits best to the project we are working on and then we start to jam. The arrangement of the songs is dependent of the use we give those tracks. It will be different for a vocal song than it will be for an instrumental tune. we leave place for vocals or more added instruments. Always depends who we work with on the tune. Mostly we work with international people that send us their parts for the song so we can keep the production budgets as low as possible.
If you had four free questions to a fortune-teller, how would they look like?
Will the success of bad Bling Bling Hip Hop ever stop? Is there still enough drinking water for everyone on this planet in 100 years? Will there still be vinyl and analog equipment when we are old grandfathers? Will Jimi Hendrix ever return back to earth?
We heard that you are accommodated by the US recording label ESL Music? How have you managed that?
Actually the first contact to the DC family around ESL Music came through our friend Kalani Tifford, who was the manager for Thievery Corporation for a couple of years and was with ESL Music since their early days. We met at MIDEM Music Conference in Cannes/France about 6 or 7 years ago and became good friends. He respected our music a lot. At the same time we did a remix for the first Fort Knox Five 12” on their own imprint Fort Knox Recordings and the ESL Music family and the Fort Knox crew are both from Washington DC and are closely connected. So that was the first touch and over the years we always stayed in contact, exchanged music and kept on shaping our own sound of Switchstance Recordings and Ancient Astronauts. After some years with Switchstance Recordings we started concentrating on artist albums but soon noticed that our company is too small to exploit our music in the best way possible worldwide. So we made the plan to finish a tight artist album, which was “We Are To Answer”, and license it to a bigger international label. ESL Music gave us the best feedback for the album and because of knowing each other since years it was a natural decision to get on board with ESL Music.
We wondered what Astronauts would like to wear at their live gigs? Kabanja and Dogu, please tell us your favorite pair of Etnies shoes…
Actually we wear the same clothes that we love to always love to wear, no matter where we go. Kabanjak's favorite Etnies shoes on stage are the Portland and Dogu loves to roll with the Santiago. Big up Etnies for those dope sneakers!
Last but not least what does it mean to you guys to be a music artist?
First of all it is very important for us to be independent music artists. Through our own label Switchstance Recordings, that we founded in 2001, we got the ability to have our own personal freedom in choosing what music we wanna put out. It is an honor for us to be part of a serious international music scene and culture that takes traditional music recording and production to higher levels.
Finally give us a short view into your future plans?
Kabanjak just finished his solo album “Tree Of Mystery” for ESL Music which will be released in October 2010. On this album he plays every instrument himself except the drums which are either programmed or played live by German wonder drummer Ulf Stricker. We just finished remixes for Nappy Riddem on Fort Knox Recordings and Thomas Blondet & E-Ball on Rhythm & Culture Recordings. BUT, months ago we already started to work on our second Ancient Astronauts album which will be called “Into Bass And Time”. The plan is to have it finished until the end of September 2010 and we are good in time. we worked a lot on it in the studio and when we come back from our upcoming USA mini tour we will put finishing touches on it. The release is planned for February 2011 through ESL Music. After our album “Into Bass And Time” we will work on a straight Hip Hop album that will feature our most favorite lyricists that we work with. And of course this will be a Hip Hop album in the way we feel Hip Hop. It´s gonna be very organic and warm and loaded with dope beats and conscious lyrics. Kabanjak also has a “Kabanjak In Dub” album in mind since years and this will also appear in the future. Loads of stuff to come from us.
Thanks for the interview and good luck at the upcoming US tour….
Check out this song from Ancient Astronauts featuring The Pharcyde.