M.A.N.D.Y. - Feeling R.A.N.D.Y.-
Friday, 5 October 2007
M.A.N.D.Y.’s Philipp Jung and Patrick Bodmer met in distant Saarbrucken on the French-German border. Back then they were just a couple of kids who liked playing tennis. The rest is history. 3D’s Cyclone caught up with one half of the dynamic duo.
Germany’s M.A.N.D.Y. - Philipp Jung and Patrick Bodmer - are unlikely pop stars, but pop stars they are. Electro-housers M.A.N.D.Y. have lately been sampled by The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am, who’s apparently enamoured with Euro club beats. The rapper’s Get Your Money, based on M.A.N.D.Y.’s Body Language, is a big-up to... strippers. And so M.A.N.D.Y. have acquired overnight street cred - possibly more than the BEP don himself.Jung and Bodmer belong to the Get Physical collective along with fellow music ‘maniacs’ Booka Shade (Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier) and DJ T, aka Thomas Koch. The label rivals only the French Ed Banger - or Modular - for its cool factor, appealing to punters and not merely DJs. Jung admits to being astounded by Get Physical’s popularity whenever M.A.N.D.Y. tour. “It sounds very kitsch, but it’s like a dream come true,” he muses in fractured English.
The Get Physical stable operates on strict democratic principles, with each member having ‘veto rights’. They reach difficult decisions through group, and sometimes one-on-one, discussions. But, Jung betrays, it’s not always so harmonious. “It’s a lot of talking and fighting, I can tell you - we fight as well. It’s insane!”
In fact, M.A.N.D.Y.’s career trajectory is intricately intertwined with that of Booka Shade. Booka Shade have long co-produced M.A.N.D.Y.’s output - even the cult Body Language - hence their deployment of the ‘versus’ in credits.
It’s a strange scenario, particularly considering that Booka Shade are themselves major players, nevertheless it works - and both acts have a distinctive edge. ”We always work this way,” Jung says of their exchanges. “Since we were 20 years old, we went in the studio together.
“Walter is so good - and so fast - on the machines, and our understanding is so blind that, honestly, it’s the easiest way to work.
“If your time is limited, then that’s just a good way to do it.”
As DJs, M.A.N.D.Y. help out Booka Shade in turn, testing their records in clubs. Above all, everybody is content. “There’s no jealousy or anything involved.”
Jung and Bodmer started partying, DJing and promoting together in Frankfurt - for a spell Germany’s electronic epicentre, courtesy of Sven Vath. Jung secured employment as an A&R rep - which accounts for his business savvy. He worked for the hip-house combo Snap!, whose The Power was a global smash in 1990. Jung subsequently moved on to Jive in Cologne and, finally, to V2 in Berlin, supervising the likes of Bebel Gilberto.
Meanwhile, Bodmer, who studied art, aspired to paint.
Jung is amused to hear that his old friends Snap!, though thoroughly washed-up, toured Australia three years ago. “It happens to bands that make a lot of money,” he admonishes. “That’s the good thing about not making too much money - because [if you make money] you just get lazy and not very creative anymore.
“I think every group is good for one revolution, but you can’t reinvent yourself every five years - it’s very difficult.”
At any rate, Australian media types assume that M.A.N.D.Y., touring here as a unit for the first time this month, are kids. “We’ve been around for a bit,” Jung laughs. “We gotta have facelifts next time we come!”
Having befriended Koch, who was linked to Frankfurt’s Monza nightclub, M.A.N.D.Y. took up high-profile residencies. And they teamed with Booka Shade, also from Saarbrucken.
M.A.N.D.Y.’s first studio effort was a remix for the French electronic outfit Galleon. It was a huge hit, yet Jung and Bodmer felt ambivalent about commerciality - to the extent that they nearly quit there and then. Instead M.A.N.D.Y. devised the underground Get Physical with their musical allies, discovering Berlin.
In 2007 Jung shares his Berlin pad with Canadian DJ exile Konrad Black and raves about the city’s ‘special vibe’. He doesn’t miss Frankfurt - M.A.N.D.Y. are not sentimental. “Once we are over something, then we never look back.”
M.A.N.D.Y. aren’t necessarily afraid of crossing over. However, they engage with the pop sphere on their own terms. The duo’s latest foray is a self-explanatory compilation, 12 Great Remixes For 11 Great Artists. It encompasses their ubiquitous remix of Lindstrom’s cosmic disco I Feel Space. But then there’s a surprisingly moody incarnation of Sugababes’ ’60s-inspired Round Round. M.A.N.D.Y. are, as with everything, scrupulous about remix commissions - “especially,” Jung stresses, “with people we like so much.” If, after a couple of days, a remix is going nowhere, they ditch it.
What’s more, M.A.N.D.Y. have recast Roxy Music’s classic The Thrill Of It All, from 1974’s urbane Country Life, Bryan Ferry’s slinky vocals set against a minimalist backdrop.
Virgin sought a host of club tastemakers to remix Roxy Music’s catalog ahead of their reunion. But few of these, aside from Cut Copy’s Angel Eyes, which surfaced on FabricLive29, are commonly available.
Ferry reputedly approved of M.A.N.D.Y.’s. “I know Isaac Ferry, Bryan Ferry’s son, and he told me that he played it to his father. He said that he liked it, which, of course, was very nice,” Jung says.
Alas, not featured on 12 Great Remixes is M.A.N.D.Y.’s revamp of Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman.
M.A.N.D.Y. have released mix-CDs - most recently At The Controls - but their ‘artist’ album is still to show. The pressure is on: Booka Shade are plotting their third. With conspicuously no original material over the past two years, M.A.N.D.Y. have just furnished dual remixes - for Alexander Robotnik and Matthew Dear, respectively - and intend to commence their LP at last early in the new year. At one stage, Bodmer indicated that M.A.N.D.Y.’s debut would be musical with vocals in addition to live instrumentation.
“As we have travelled so much lately, we haven’t really had time to go in the studio and do our own thing,” Jung proffers. “We’ve rented a little hut in Scandinavia in February and we’re going up there and probably having some saunas and doing some work as well (laughs), just to get away from everybody.
“We decided to go away and start with it and at least get maybe eight songs done, and then in the first half-year do another two-week session in order to complete the album. “Hopefully, by the end of next year, there’s something coming out.”
Significantly, M.A.N.D.Y. are weaning themselves off Booka Shade, since Walter has a young family to tend to. “It was good at the time - and now it’s time to move on,” Jung sighs.
M.A.N.D.Y. are conscious, too, that, with countless imitators, they need to do a Timbaland - revolutionise their sound to keep abreast. As such, Get Physical have evolved from electro-house into deep minimalism. Nowadays M.A.N.D.Y. tout their own style as “science fiction disco”. “In 2005 there was Body Language and there was [Booka Shade’s] Mandarine Girl and stuff.
“It would have been easy to carry on for another year with this big electro-house dancefloor thing, but we decided to really cut it down into a deep house sound with [producers] Fuckpony and some other records, where we knew we’re not gonna sell even as close as many. But we didn’t want it to appear like, ‘Ah - another big track from blah, blah, blah.’
“Sometimes it’s good to step back and just think about things and put out solid music without always aiming for the next big hit - that’s very important. You can bring out good music - just don’t overdo your sound.
“That’s the reason Patrick and I didn’t bring out our own tracks for quite a while - because we weren’t satisfied with the results. “We concentrated more on remixes - and that’s better than trying to copy the success that we had with Body Language or something.”
HAT: 12 Great Remixes For 11 Great Artists through Inertia / Plays Killer at the Gaelic
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 13 October