Shifted and Sigha are two key players defining the future of dark, industrial modern Techno. Guy Brewer & James Shaw have a substantial catalogue of releases between them under their respective monikers and they each run their own labels. Guy manages ‘Avian’ along with another Techno loving pal – Ventress, while James pulls levers and twists cogs at ‘Our Circular Sound’ Although this alone wasn’t enough to satisfy either. Both hailing from the UK originally, looking for something different and a fresh start this like-minded pair re-located to Berlin in a bid to escape the hustle and bustle of London and focus purely on the Techno. They came together last year to form a new joint project and label ‘A Model Authority’ with the desire to “rise above modern mediocrity”.
Ahead of Headlining Fabric room 2 tomorrow night, Hyponik writer Conor McTernan sat down for a Skype session with the pair this week to pick their cyborg brains and talk about the state of the Techno landscape in Berlin, doing their weekly shopping in Hardwax, working on new material, buying puppies (even Techno junkies have soft sides) hanging out and playing a few rounds of golf in GTA like regular blokes.
How are you both today & where are you right now?
Shifted : We’re both sitting here in my apartment looking down on the canal in Kreuzberg. It’s a beautiful day outside.
Sigha : We’re still waking up really! (sips tea)
So you live on Paul Linke Ufer or ‘Hardwax street’, is that the reason you chose the area, to be close to the temple of Techno?
Shifted : I just got very lucky! When myself and James first dreamt of living in Berlin a few years back this is where we wanted to live because of Hardwax. I have to be careful for sure because I’ve got Hardwax down the road and then Schneider’s Buero 5 minutes around the corner.
Sigha : It’s the street of dreams…
How often do you see each other nowadays?
Sigha : A fair bit! Every other day really. But it’s not necessarily making music all the time. We’re both very busy with separate projects but we always find time to hang out and get into the studio together whenever we get the time.
How do you each juggle label management and being an artist?
Shifted : I think it works hand in hand. James gives me a lot of advice for ‘Avian’, I in turn give him advice for ‘Our Circular Sound’ when I write new music James is always the first person to hear it and vice versa. You need to have someone close to you to say that’s brilliant or that’s shit you need to keep going with it.
Sigha : To have someone with such a similar taste, it’s really valuable in this line of work.
How did you both find the ‘Berlin Winter’ is it as bad as the German’s says it is?
Shifted : It was nothing this year! Pussy shit, it dropped down to -14 for a week or something like that. Spring has come very early compared to last year when there was still snow on the ground in April.
What do you like to do for your downtime in Berlin both together and separately?
Sigha : Sit in cafés and moan about music!
Shifted : I never feel like i’m working but at the same time i’m always working. I do it in a very relaxed way, i’ll have a loop going in the background, i’ll do some work on it and wonder off pottering around my apartment…I never really feel like it’s work as such. I’m the same as most dossers out there…I go out for food, play Playstation. I’m still playing GTA together with a mate over here.
Sigha : I met up with him last night and he was like “We’re on 92%!” they’re doing all those little extra tasks in the game like going round playing tennis and rounds of golf…
With increasing tourists numbers and major gentrification there are whispers that Berlin is losing some of it’s mystique? Do you think that this is the case?
Sigha : I never really understand why people get so up in arms about these things. It’s going to happen, we live in a capitalist society. Gentrification is the normal way of evolution of any major city. Berlin is unique in that it’s been through very interesting history, it’s a lot different to other European capitals. Things are changing but that’s completely normal.
Shifted : Nothing stays the same, all the real “Berliners” like to whinge about it, fucking hell try living in London or Paris. Where you really know what tourists are.
Sigha : People complain about the amount of young people and students coming here but they’re the people who keep things fresh and vibrant. The club scene in this city wouldn’t be able to operate on the level it does without that influx. I get the negative aspects, people saying the Berghain crowd is changing, etc. Nothing ever stays the same, with the positive there’s always going to be a counter balance of negative.
Correct me if i’m wrong but I understand that you moved to Berlin to get away from the hustle and bustle of London, to focus on music and whatnot. Do you still feel that way now and would you ever consider coming moving back to London or elsewhere?
Sigha : When I moved here two and a half years ago I was totally done with London. It was too stressful and expensive and just doing my head in really. But to be honest, I got homesick really quickly. I lived in London all my life and it’s taken me a long time to find a nice rhythm here in Berlin because it’s so different. In the past couple of months it’s really begun to feel like home after I come back from a weekend gigging somewhere.
Shifted : I definitely see myself here. I can afford a much nicer apartment over here, I have a much better disposable income. Honestly Berlin is massively a financial thing for me. I was struggling as an artist in London. Sure it’s changing but I have a lot of friends still living in London and it’s a rat race. I’m only speaking a small amount of German but everyone is so welcoming here. I had my Mum over to visit recently and she’s completely in love with the place. She was shocked at how relaxed it is over here.
You started a joint project ‘A Model Authority’ last year. There was confusion with the title and artwork with links to made to Nazi Germany on a certain forum. What was your response to this backlash on this?
Sigha : People love to look very politically correct in this day and age. If there’s anything they can point a finger at or shout about on the internet they will. Somebody noticed it was the Berlin Olympic Stadium and immediately made connotations with Nazi Germany. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Shifted : It’s not like we’ve been strutting around in SS uniforms doing press shots next to a Panzer tank, come on it was a photo from a Christian Rally. Forums like that are terrible places with the worst possible kinds of people hang out. It’s the most vile element of society, people just waiting to jump on things.
Who are you considering signing for the label?
Sigha : If we’re considering signing someone. That’s top secret!
Shifted : The next thing that’s coming up for Avian is from James actually. It feels like the start of something new. I’m doing a vinyl re-releasing from a New York artist named Matthew Folden. It’s Slodgy, Lo-fi, down-tempo Techno. I really fell in love with the tape the first time I heard it. We’re also doing another album from the unpronounceable Swedish guys, SHXCXCHCXSH this summer too.
Sigha : For Model Authority we have the second release pretty much finished and there are plans to do something more substantial in the future.
What are some releases Techno & maybe non-electronic music that have struck chords with both of you recently?
Both Simultaneously : That Peder Mannerfeld record (Lines Describing Circles) on Digitalis. Thats so fucking good!
There’s a lot happening in the Techno long-play realm this year with Perc, Untold and others putting out experimental bodies of work…
Shifted: I think Techno lends itself very well to the LP format. People have things to say outside of 4×4 sounds and things that you may not be comfortable putting out on a 12 inch EP.
Sigha : As an artist I think the album is something you always want to achieve. That first album you do…that’s your biggest statement.
Techno is always growing, changing, Where do you think it might be in 5-10 years time?
Sigha : It’s super hard to predict. You can only do what you want to do and let everyone else do their own thing. I guess at somepoint the harder, traditional ‘Berghain’ sound will go full-circle and maybe more minimal sounds might make a re-entry.
Shifted : Techno is something which draws from everything around it, the changing musical landscape that draws from other genres. Look at what happened with the whole Techno/Noise thing. There was a big cross pollination between those.
Sigha : It gives it a little bump and different branches come out. I think those areas of cross-pollination are where the most interesting things are born out off. Differing unions of music coming together and colliding, that’s where new ideas come from.
Do you bring out different sides in each other in your sets
Shifted : I don’t really know. We just play records really!
Sigha : Don’t listen to him! it’s more complicated than that!
Shifted : It depends where. If we play some big event in say…Italy. We can’t really go that deep. But when we’ve had opportunities to go all night things have been really interesting.
Sigha : The dynamic is different. On a personal level when I play b2b with Guy, i’ll play a couple of records then step back and listen to what he does it changes the energy of the night for me entirely instead of being completely focused all the time.
Playing Fabric Next Saturday, looking forward to both being home together? What can we expect?
I always love playing Fabric. There’s a really lovely group of people involved and the booth in Room 2 is incredible as well.
What’s on the agenda for the rest of the day then?
Sigha : Getting stuff sorted out! after Fabric I’m staying in the UK for a week or so tying different things up so I need to get as much done here before I leave. I’ll be running around like a crazy person. If I get time I might hit Schneider’s and pick up something nice aswell…
Shifted : I’m actually going to check out a puppy with my girlfriend later. I’m 90% sure I’m going to end up with a a new addition to the family. It’s a miniature Dachshund. Very German.
Words : Conor McTernan
Shifted & Sigha are going b2b as part of a whopper line up in Fabric’s room 2 tomorrow night. More info here.