Germany's Andhim (due this Friday, January 24, at Bar Standard) display a humility not often seen in the DJ world. Full grace and gratitude, the duo of Simon Haehnel and Tobias Müller create house music that's made "to uplift." They call it "superhouse," and although it's not new to the underground scene, it's being propelled to the top of the charts with help from acts like Andhim. We recently spoke with Haehnel about touring in the State, the idea of "superhouse" and growing up with hip-hop influences.
Westword: Is this the first american tour?
Simon Haehnel:No, but it's the biggest one so far. We are playing seven or eight cities. It's the fourth time we've come to the States, but this is definitely the biggest tour.
What are your thoughts on how you've seen house music explode in America, whereas it's been "mainstream" in Europe?
I feel like when I tell people I'm playing in America, I am super excited. I think U.S.A. has a really good scene. On one hand, you have super big shows with EDM shows and major artists, and that's just one side of it. The side we know is a very nice underground scene. I try to explain it to people who ask, and in my imagination, the scene in Frankfurt or Berlin fifteen or twenty years ago is comparable to the underground house scene in America now.
We play all those secret warehouse shows -- but then again, fifteen or twenty years ago, I was a kid. I wasn't a part of it then, but this is what I am thinking about. As I already said, all those secret locations with people dressing up like they are going to Burning Man, and the crowd makes it happen. I guess you call them hipsters nowadays. The crowd is very good, and they come to have fun and have a great party. That's what it's all about.
Have you ever been to Burning Man?
No. We would love to do it, and I think we will do it in the future, but it's hard to do while touring all year. We played 120 shows last year, so it's hard to go into the desert for two weeks.
Coming from Germany, is America the goal for tour stop because the market is different?
I think it's more personal. Everyone in the world looks at New York like it's the greatest city on Earth. When we played there, it was a big thing for us because we come from a small town in Germany. It's a goal, but it's personal for everyone. We've met so many wonderful people here in the U.S.A. that we've become friendly, so it's great to come back. Maybe in five years it will be a main goal. It's just cool to play here. It's cool to maybe be a small part of the upcoming scene. We try to build the scene with other guys.
It's important to educate, too. Dubstep got this major spotlight, but now it seems house and disco are coming back strong. It's almost the modern backpack hip-hop with producers popping up everywhere. How would you define your music?
It's superhouse. You have to come to a show to see what it means for yourself. It's just a good feeling. It's uplifting, organic, and feel-good music. Good feeling. Good vibes. Smiling people. Everyone is in a good mood without being cheesy. It's not being EDM, but it's uplifting.
What did you grow up listening to?
Man, there are so many artists. We started with hip-hop and turntablism, so you could say we were educated with hip-hop, but there are so many other things. We like David Bowie, Daft Punk, Bob Dylan... there are just so many. There are no borders. In the beginning we were educated by hip-hop, but there is so much wonderful music out there.
What are y'all listening to now?
I listen to a lot of German groups. There is just so much. I like Action Bronson -- he's pretty cool.
What's your schedule looking like for the coming weeks?
We play Chicago, New York, and then Washington, then Denver, then San Francisco and then Los Angeles.
Does everything just kind of blend together?
It's okay because we are used to it. We play every weekend, so it's not that hard core for us. We have to save some energy, so we can't get wasted tonight because then the tour will be hard. We have three days of holiday in New York.
Have you built relationships with people here because of touring here?
Definitely! We are going to see some friends in Chicago, where we will go to Kuma's Corner, which is the best burger in the world. In New York, we know a lot of people, and in San Fran we know some people. We are trying to meet up with DJ QBert while in San Francisco, and Tobias knows him from the past. I have his cell phone number, so we'll see.
Who would you like to collaborate with while here?
Our friends don't really work in the music industry. There are a lot of artists who only chill with other artists, but we chill with regular people.
What do your friends think about what you do as artists?
They are proud of us. Very proud. They like it, and they think it's cool. It is cool, actually. But our very close friends have seen our careers develop, and they saw it all start ten or fifteen years ago. They are very proud. They don't care, really, and they say 'that's great' and 'wow,' but really they are just friends.
What kind of advice would you give yourself ten years ago?
Go your way like you think it's the right way. We did everything right. What is the English word for schicksal? Destiny? Fate? Even if we were not looking for a big career ten years, we never said we had to become super DJ stars. We just did what we wanted to do without any pressure. It comes as it comes.
What sorts of things do we have here in America that you don't have in Germany?
We really love your delis. I love the fact that you can go into any deli in New York and get the best smoothies and bagels. I am really a big smoothie fan, but only in the supermarkets in Germany. They are just not that common.
Are there things you miss?
Germany, in general. We love to live there. Like everyone else in the world, we miss our home. I am missing the bread. We have 4,000 different types of bread in Germany, and I am missing that. You can't get that anywhere in the world. Your bread is too soft.
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