20 years in the game is an achievement worth celebrating, particularly in the fickle world of underground dance music. DJ Clé and Mike Vamp have both left an indelible mark on the culture, both individually and as the Märtini Brös. To celebrate, the pair have commissioned a number of remixes for some of their most well known work, and this EP showcases some highlights.
The Butch remix of 2004’s electro-clash-tinged Big and Dirty is a suitably energetic affair – firing percussion and a restless, edgy beat propel the track forward. The iconic vocals by Eric D. Clark feature strongly, wrapped around a sick acidic synth.
Flash appeared on their debut album ‘Pläy’ in 2002 and is one of their biggest hits. Here it gets remixed by the Kompakt legend Michael Mayer – his 606 remix is a deep, rolling affair for the house heads, bringing a few new levels to the original from 2001. The instrumental mix sets aside the vocals for maximum dancefloor focus.
Babyhaze first dropped in 1999, and here is remixed by tech-house legend Mathias Ka- den. The track is given a 2019 overhaul, spicing up the groove in the signature style of the German DJ and producer.
To complete the celebration of their 20 years in the game, we had the chance to talk with the duo. Enjoy while listening to the remixes package.
WWD: Tell us about forming Martini Bros more than 20 years ago… how did you meet and when did you decide to start making music together?
Cle: We have known each other since the late 80´s – going to the same clubs and bars and having some friends in common, but never really made real close contact until we were put together to work on a rather strange project: creating electronic excerpts of W.A. Mozart´s opera Don Giovanni for an opera project at the E-WERK club in Berlin, where I had my DJ residence back then. The production itself was quite a pain in the ass due to the organizers / conductors of the project, but in that short time we got to know each other very well and during the looong nights of trying to get through that mess, we produced the first tracks for what would become Martini Bros later, to relax from the headaches given by the job. It kind of felt like it just had to happen.
Mike: My booking agency at that time Komplize also booked Dr. Motte. At that time he got this absurd offer to work on an electronic version of Don Giovanni in the recently closed famous techno club “E-werk”. He refused. So my agency asked me. I didn’t want to do this thing alone at that time and since Clé was more or less unemployed as a former resident DJ of the E-Werk and I always appreciated him as a great DJ, I thought it would be a good idea to bring him on board.
During this painful work, in which we asked ourselves again and again why they want to do this, we got a vocal sample from DJ Ninefinger from which we should build a dance track. That’s how our first 12″ on “Raw Elements” “Material Love” came into being. I remember that we did everything live and dropped the tracks in and out by hand. It became a dancefloor filler.
WWD: You were both involved in the Berlin music scene during the 80s and 90s… how does the scene then compare to now? What do you miss most from those early days?
Cle: We always liked to experiment musically. We both have a rather wide musical background and were never afraid to play around with styles, instruments and influences. Back then that felt very welcome in the scene – mixing German and English (sometimes even Japanese or Turkish) vocals, adding guitars and other instruments to our electronic tracks, citing musical influences from the 60´s to the 80´s and so on. I feel that a lot of that freedom is now suppressed by the fear of being ‘uncool’ or not ‘underground mainstream’ enough, and the outcome of that is pretty boring, if you ask me.
Mike: I can’t make a direct comparison, because every creative time is always exciting, except that nowadays you worry more about the genre you belong to. I’m totally glad that I don’t have to carry a 40 pound “Emulator” sampler to the 4th floor of a studio anymore to find out that the 20,000 DM worth instrument has a broken floppy disk drive. What I actually miss now is: time.
WWD: As Martini Bros, you released your debut EP in 1998, then releases one of the very first Poker Flat EPs the following year. How has your relationship with the label developed over the last 20 years, and why do you think it’s continued to thrive?
Cle: Well – I always felt there was a great trust and honesty in that relationship. Steve (Bug and Tobias Lampe and the rest of the gang had just the right vibe with us and all the other artists. they helped us a lot during our days and even send us the royalty statements regularly and on time….! Poker Flat is until today a very woke and future orientated label with smart A&R politics and a very professional crew.
MIKE: Our relationship with the label has been strongly influenced by our friendship with Steve Bug, who, as Clé says, helped us a lot in the initial phase together with Tobias Lampe and Olaf Reinholz. At some point it flattened out because we had actually achieved more than we wanted and decided to break new ground. Fuck our own plane, we thought! It was always nice to hear how other new young producers were influenced by us to start their musical career. Thumbs up for our remixer Mathias Kaden! The same goes for Steve Bug. Many producers were inspired by him and wanted to join the label. Today the label still has a strong presence and is for me the No. 1 label when it comes to find a good dance track in the whole jungle.
WWD: With access to a huge range of music now more convenient than ever, what part do you think that record labels play in supporting musical communities?
Cle: Not many labels today in the house / techno scene seem to know too much about the core of their job. It´s not just about releasing track after track no matter what, but more about clever A&Ring and encouraging ‘their’ artists to go out there and dare to experiment… these days I get super bored and sometimes even angry when I go to the shops or browse the matrix for new tracks – it´s mostly uninspired stuff and repetition after repetition of tracks that are there already for a long time… a sad development.
Mike: I’ve been listening to a lot of dance tracks from the 70’s and 80’s lately, maybe everyone, except in techno, should be working on not building tracks out of 1 bar loops and arrange your track more like a live show. But finally, I don’t care how someone destroys his own career with bad music.
WWD: Tell us about the new remix package… were you involved in selecting the remixers? And do you have a favourite new version? Is it difficult for you as an artist to allow someone else to change music you’ve created for a remix?
Cle: it was more of a ‘birthday surprise’ for us from Poker Flat : )))
When we learned about the 20 years project and our inclusion in this celebration we were more than happy, especially after receiving the mixes! It´s fantastic, what Mathias, Butch and Michael created from our dusty leftovers HAHAHAHA…! You must know – there was not much like ‘stems’ we had to offer them from the original material – most of the original single tracks are lost on some floppy or a broken / lost hard disc. So I have the greatest respect for the work of these three musicians and really can´t pick a favorite. In our career we had a ton of remixes made for us and let me say – these three are amongst my three favorite mixes of them all : )
MIKE: yeah, surprise cake but we had to renew our contracts first and got a lot of money for it (hahaha).
WWD: You also have prolific careers as solo artists, what have been some of your personal career highlights to date?
CLE: Ouf. definitely the founding of LYT Recordings a new label of my partner Eva Be and myself earlier his year – a label for more leftfield and dubby electronica, but also of course touring the world with Mike Vamp presenting our odd take on electronic music to thousands of people around the planet, one time even with a ten piece string orchestra in front of 100.000 people during the love parade after rehearsing for only two hours just before the gig. For sure a highlight in many facets!
MIKE: … It was even 250,000 back then. Crazy and the fucking stages were totally wet. The idiots from the Loveparade in Dortmund synced the sound in the video clip wrong, otherwise I could still show it today with pride. But that is the past. I made a solo album with David Harrow (Oicho, Dub Syndicate, Anne Clark) which will be released in the next weeks. It’s going towards Glam Wave Rock with electronic influences. I also play guitar and synths in a German Berlin based NeoKrautrock band whose album will be released on December 13th. At the same time I’m working on some solo dance tracks and a TV series. It all has to go out of my head so I don’t suffocate or get depressed.
WWD: Can we expect any original Martini Bros material any time soon?
Cle: if that were the case we would never unveil our intentions. Where would be the fun in that?!
Mike: Next year maybe Martini Bros again? Who knows. I’m already up for it.
WWD: What else are you both currently working on that we should be keeping our ear out for?
Cle: Check LYT Recordings – there are some interesting developments on the way…
Mike: Just Google for “Mike Vamp” from time to time …
WWD: Finally, what are your personal favourite Poker Flat releases from the last 20 years?
– Donnacha Costello – Before We Say Goodbye – Remixes
– Sian – Sei ( Steve Bug Remix ) Maertini Broes – Morphine Robot
– Martini Landsky – Reject feat. Filip G. (Jack Mix)
– Owens, Berkson, What – Keep On (feat. Robert Owens)
– Maertini Broes – Flash (Michael Mayer 606 Instrumental Remix)’ – just because I would have loved to play this version of Flash at our live show at the Love Parade in Dortmund with a string orchestra.
Martini Bros – 20 Years of Poker Flat Remixes is out now – listen & buy: https://pokerflat.lnk.to/pfr222