The Adana Twins have been immersed in the world of electronic music for quite some time. Established in 2006, coincidentally the same year as our very own C-Heads magazine, these two have embarked on an interesting musical odyssey. Throughout their journey, they’ve navigated various currents, trends, and in 2018, they took the bold step of founding their own label, TAU.
Hailing from Germany, the duo of Benjamin Busse and Jan Friso Traas have received acclaim for their innovative productions that fuse techno, house, and indie-pop influences. This distinct blend is also evident in their latest EP, “Distant Dream,” featuring collaborations with Darlyn Vlys and Krakow Loves Adana, which transports listeners on an electrifying voyage into the electronic cosmos.
In our interview, they delve deeper into the creation of their EP, their perspective on the new party generation, the impact of their TAU label, and the qualities they appreciate in one another.
You have constantly refined and evolved your sound. How has your new Distant Dream EP pushed the boundaries of your musical ambition?
Benjamin: Hey guys, first of all, thanks for the nice compliment. But I am not really sure if we pushed the boundaries of our sound. I would say it was more like what you said in the first sentence – a constant development of our sound. And when you have a fantastic collaborator like Darlyn, that’s what makes something different from your regular sound. I think you can really hear in the EP that we combined the best of both our worlds, and I think the result was pretty nice.
If you could describe the EP as a journey, what kind of adventure would it be, and what emotions do you hope listeners will experience along the way?
Benjamin: Driving with Friso, Darlyn, and Deniz from Krakow Loves Adana in a Corvette from Hollywood to the Houston Space Center where a spaceship is waiting to take us into a new galaxy. To make it short, I think ‘Distant Dream’ is the perfect track for a road trip through America, while ‘Phase One’ is a bit more dramatic. Last but not least, ‘Starwaves’ is the perfect soundtrack for a journey into space. I was listening to this song a lot when flying to our gigs. In combination with a sunset above the clouds, it really has an impact on me when listening to it, especially when the string parts come in. I always become emotional during this part.
What role did your experiences as advertising and design professionals play in shaping the visual and creative aspects of the Distant Dream EP?
Benjamin: All of our covers have our background as an important part, not just in this EP. Normally, in advertising and design, you work with concepts, and all of our series have this kind of idea. In the past, they were more abstract but still had an idea behind them. A big headline in our meetings was always ‘Planet TAU’. This was the big idea behind them. Of course, you can play very abstract, but this was the first time it became more concrete. The idea behind the series comes from the mindset that we are all the same in a club. Clubs should be safe spaces where every person, no matter who they are, can have an amazing time together. At this place, it can easily happen that people who meet and dance together would maybe not do so during the day. And this was the idea – bringing things together in the artwork that you normally would not expect to fit together. We came up with the ideas for this series together with our friend, New York-based D.a.m.j.a.n.s.k.i, who is an artist in a browser and who has already had an exhibition at MoMA. We also worked together years ago in Germany. I helped him with some sounds for a new art project called ‘Never Not There’, and he helped us with an ‘idea ping pong’. 3D artist Marcel Kohlr made a great execution of the ideas. But I am sure Friso can also say a few more things about our design process because I am more the advertising and art direction guy while he was working as a professional designer.
Friso: As Benni has already said, the important word here is difference. Different dancers on the dancefloor a bit like how Benni and I are both very different but complement each other with almost contradictory opposites. This is also how the current cover series for our label is meant to be.
Opposites, contradictions that seemingly don’t fit together, irritate, seem unrealistic, almost surreal.
Our world is more and more set in numbers, everything is measured and somehow limited, as if we want to show a counterbalance. A surreal, playful world that is illogical and yet seems to have a meaning. Maybe a freer world. A world that has much more to offer than just ones and zeros. There is so much that we don’t know, that we want to discover. There is always an alternative, a new world. This is only our one world, but there are others too. (smiles)
People need more and more humanity. The more fast-paced the environment around me becomes, the more I realize how important people and friends are in my environment.” Friso
I love the beautiful nostalgic sound of “Distant Dream feat. Krakow Loves Adana” that feels reminiscent of past eras. How do you believe this sound resonates with your fans, and how important do you think nostalgia is in the creation of new music?
Benjamin: I think it will resonate really well. We’ve always had influences of past eras in our sound, and in 2020 we had a collab with KLA on our Diynamic EP, and the fans liked it, even if the song was a bit more punky – maybe more for a concert and not for a proper club night. With ‘Distant Dream’, we tried to make a song that has great pop and indie appeal but which also fits well into our sets. And yes, it works out super well, and it’s always great to play it and see the reaction of the crowd. For my nostalgia, it’s really important because nostalgia always evokes a feeling in me. That can be a sound from the time I grew up or simply bring back some beautiful memories of that time. And for me, music is a lot about emotions. Let’s say music is the best way to express your emotions, and music can help you a lot to come through difficult times.
Friso: Sometimes when we make music, we get to the point where it fits, where it sounds like it’s always been there. Then you ask yourself, is that already there? Is that new enough?
But at the end, what is really new? Music is usually based on what we have learned, on different influences and effects. I think it’s wonderful when we can add a new nuance with our music. I hope we have managed to do that here. It sounds like it was already there, but in a new way.
As label owners and A&Rs, how has your experience in discovering and nurturing new talent influenced your own creative process and sound?
Benjamin: I think the releases of TAU are not really influencing our production sound. When it comes to production, I try to have not many influences in mind, just making music I like. Otherwise, it might become a bit too much the same as we do with all TAU releases. But of course, our releases influence a lot on our DJ style. It can easily happen that we play only music from TAU and us in a 90-minute festival slot. And I think this is really beautiful and special and makes us and our TAU sound more independent.
Friso: I think that the way we make and listen to music has a big influence on how we choose releases and artists for our label. So there is a certain interaction there.
But you can also turn it around: The label also has its own sound, and when I’ve made a song, I ask myself, “Does this fit with TAU?”. It’s an incredible enrichment for our productions, but as Benni said, it probably has the bigger influence on our sets.
“Nostalgia always evokes a feeling in me. That can be a sound from the time I grew up or simply bring back some beautiful memories of that time.” Benjamin
What do you appreciate about each other?
Benjamin: That we can talk openly about everything since we have known each other for 20 years now. Wow, that’s a long time. But when you know each other for so long and work together for almost the same amount of time, it’s proof that it fits very well.
Friso: We both certainly have our strengths, but it’s especially nice to have a partner who compensates for one’s weaknesses. I also admire how he manages to be a great, loving father and at the same time puts so much energy into our projects. Impressive!
In an interview, you mentioned that after the pandemic, many things are changing, and this can be heard in the music or at club nights. There seems to be a new party generation of young people full of energy. How exactly do you believe these changes can be heard in the music? Additionally, how do you think younger generations can use their energy and enthusiasm to create positive changes in the industry and beyond?
Friso: Of course, this is just my feeling, but can you remember when you were 15? For me it was a grueling time. I wanted to feel myself, I listened to hard techno, I wanted to stand out. I feel the same way about the new generation that hasn’t been allowed to go out for almost 3 years. When the clubs opened again, I felt that there were young people who wanted to feel a lot, who wanted to make up for the past. They want to experience their whole life at once. People have probably been dancing together in groups for as long as there have been groups of people, and that will continue to be the case. Fortunately, the retreat of music has only increased the demand for it.
I think the music in the clubs has gotten faster and harder after the pandemic to kind of make up for lost time. It feels like my introduction to electronic music at the time.
In the last few months I almost feel a counter movement to that again as well. So many things are changing in the world, music is becoming more positive and maybe slower once more.
It’s an exciting time again overall, but there’s more music now, so there’s more to discover and maybe things are mixing even faster now?
Benjamin, I read that you are vegan and that you may be considering opening a fully plant-based fine-dining restaurant in Hamburg someday in the future. How long have you been vegan, and what motivated you to choose this lifestyle?
Benjamin: I think I have been vegan or, let’s say, plant-based when it comes to food for six years. I would be lying if I said I was a hardcore vegan. There are some places in the world where it’s not easy to get fully vegan food. Sometimes, a cook denies you the opportunity to have a fully vegan meal. Before ending up eating nothing, it can happen that I take the vegetables in butter instead of having a bad vibe from an empty stomach. Luckily, this happens not very often, and in 95 percent of cases, I can eat fully vegan. Of course, over the years, I have learned about many hidden traps in food. Especially in Asia, I cannot guarantee that there was never fish sauce in my vegetable curry. The motivation behind my plant-based diet was a check-up at the doctor. My blood pressure and cholesterol were high, and my skin looked unhealthy as I was a meat-eater. So my doctor said, “Don’t worry about it. Just try to change what you eat, and everything will be fine again.” So, in the first step, I became a vegetarian, and six months later, I switched to a vegan/plant-based diet. After a year, I had another check-up, and everything was perfect. So I decided that if this diet helps me that much, I really don’t want to change it in the near future. Especially with our travel lifestyle and lack of sleep, it’s important to eat healthily and take care of your body. And, of course, with this food lifestyle, I think I am also a good example for my kids, even if they can eat what they want. But, like me, they are not really into meat because they don’t like it, except for Salami Pizza. (laughs)
“It’s an exciting time again overall, but there’s more music now, so there’s more to discover.” Friso
My friends recently visited Hamburg and were thrilled with their experience. They mentioned that the city is unique compared to the rest of Germany, not to mention Austria. They described the people as relaxed, the atmosphere as never boring, and the space as plentiful. Benjamin, I know you also love Hamburg. Besides having your friends and family there, what makes it feel like home to you?
Benjamin: I have been living here since 2002, and as you said, most of my friends, kids, and fiancée are based here. So for me, it’s always special to come back after the weekend, no matter how much of a disaster the weather is. I think that’s the only little deal-breaker in Hamburg, but my surroundings push this little fact away. I grew up in a small village 90 minutes away from Hamburg, and Hamburg (especially my part, Eimsbüttel) has this little village vibe where you always see familiar faces. I think this is another big reason why Hamburg feels like home to me.
Friso, in an interview you mentioned that meeting new people is an important aspect of human connection. However, with the rise of social media and online communication, do you think that face-to-face interaction is becoming less valuable in today’s society? How do you balance the convenience of technology with the importance of personal connections in your own life?
Friso: I think you often get the feeling that human contact is no longer important, especially on social networks. Everything passes you by so quickly, AI is taking over, etc.
“In this world of isolation, a computer could rule the nation.”
In contrast, I feel that people need more and more humanity. The more fast-paced the environment around me becomes, the more I realize how important people and friends are in my environment.
How beautiful it is to encounter people and nature. Computers and Artificial Intelligence are certainly an opportunity and also a danger, but who would you rather go around the houses with, your avatar or an old friend?
If you could collaborate with any artist, on a future project, who would it be and why?
Benjamin: Like everything in life, this can change from interview to interview. Right now, I would be really excited if I could go into the studio with Stuart Price.
“Our world is more and more set in numbers, everything is measured and somehow limited, as if we want to show a counterbalance.” Friso
You often have a jam-packed tour schedule. How do you maintain your mental and physical fitness?
Benjamin: Like I said when you asked about veganism, for me, it’s really important not to eat too much shit. Even if it becomes harder from year to year. Katjes just released vegan cola gummies. I am dying. They are sooo good. Haha. But I am also doing boxing during the week and have regular daytimes, meaning I wake up at 7 in the morning, bring the kids to the kindergarten, go to the studio, and after the studio, I pick them up again. That grounds me a lot and helps to go straight back into the weekend after touring weekend where the rhythm is totally different. I can’t sleep really well or long after a gig because my inner clock wants me to wake up mostly at 7. That’s why it’s very important for me to go to bed early during the week. But not today as I am still writing the interview, and it’s already midnight. Also, most of my friends I am meeting during the week are not from the industry which helps me a lot to clear my mind. It’s super nice when you have people around you, and music is not the first thing in a conversation. I think this helps a lot to stay creative. But no matter how healthy you are trying to live, it always can happen that you have some downs phases or that you are not creative. Here, it’s really important to not put too much pressure on yourself. Take a break and talk to friends a lot.
Friso: Unfortunately, the aspiration is often greater than the reality. But I try to do breathing exercises in the morning, have a yoga routine and some strength exercises that can almost be implemented in the smallest hotel room. When possible, I also try to get out in the sun.
Another very important thing after a lot of tequila at night is the ice cold shower in the morning. On the weekend I was just in Switzerland and jumped into an ice cold mountain lake. Wonderful, after that you are awake for the first time. On the many flights I try to read a lot. Apart from that I meet a lot with friends and love to exchange ideas..
As a clubber, everyone has those special moments that stay with them forever. Can you share one of your most memorable experiences witnessing a DJ set, and tell us which club and country it was in?
Benjamin: Of course. We played years ago at a festival called Carnaval de Bahidorá. Normally we were supposed to play only two hours, but after an hour, the promoter asked us to play the slot of the DJ after us because he could not make it in time. And this was the sunrise slot. Between the stage and the audience was a little river, and when the sun came up, the people went into the river and were coming onto the stage, dancing all around us. That was really something special.
Any last words to our readers?
Benjamin: Always stay positive. Even if it’s hard some times.
Thank you so much for your time!