The long-standing Renate residents step up with a a colourful array of rave euphoria.
A duo who could be commonly categorised as a curveball to the hard-edged, minimalistic feel of the Berlin techno scene, long-standing Renate residents Peak & Swift embody the exuberant energy and nature of the famed Berlin club. Bestowing an innate sense of how to make dancefloors work, their careers now extend far beyond their landlocked native musical home, gracing booths across the globe.
Their newly released, debut ‘Floppy Drive’ EP via Renate’s in-house label, Renate Schallplatten, is a sure testament to the deep relationship the pair have held with the club. Involved within many differing roles behind the scenes, they now run their own party series there, sharing the same name as their forthcoming EP, inviting a range of guests that fall within their musical preferences such as Axel Bowman, Luca Lozano, Andy Hart, Lauer and Ex-Terrestrial.
With previous experience programming the line-ups and visual language of Renate, their ‘Floppy Drive’ party is a project that feels completely their own. As an ode to their musical journey thus far, Peak & Swift step up on our latest mix to provide a colourful array of rave euphoria, brimming with the hi-energy and hysteria for which they are known so well.
Firstly, we know you both don’t come from Berlin so, Where do you come from? Where have you been? What brought you both to Berlin?
Swift: I was raised in a super small town in the south of Germany, quite beautiful but also super boring for me as a teen. When I was sixteen, we went on a school trip to Berlin and I sneaked out of the hostel with a couple of friends to go to Tresor on a Wednesday night. I was completely blown away, so I decided to move to Berlin as soon as possible. Which i did right after high school.
Peak: I was five when my family decided to move back to East Berlin. I saw the wall fall and I was on my dad’s shoulders when he walked through the open border.
Where did your individual musical journeys begin?
Peak: In my room when I was fifteen! I got my first turntables (Technics replica’s with belt drive), a Gemini 626 Mixer and an old Sony Tape recorder; that was in 1999.
Swift: Hard to pin down exactly when it started for me. I was interested and amazed by music for as long as I can remember. I really got into it around the age of fifteen, when I started to tell people what to listen to to be cool – and they actually trusted me!
Do you have any particular memories from your childhood that you feel may have informed your love of music?
Swift: There was always music around the house when I was a kid and I quickly learned that music can emphasize feelings, such as calming you down. Maybe this was my parents’ best trick to handle little Bene.
Peak: I was the only one who was allowed to choose the music at family events or our annual summer party at school!!! “I like to move it move it.
When you arrived in Berlin, what was your experience of the scene there?
Peak: I had my first club experience when I was fourteen. In the late nineties it was pretty easy to enter a club or underground party in Berlin as a young teenager, especially with the right friends and look. “Die Insel” in Berlin Treptow was the first club I went to. In late 1998 I went to an underground trance rave in a location called Grassgrün and then next “Subground” which was located in the old “Pfefferberg” in Prenzlauer Berg. Subground was like my second home for a while. From 1999 I was on fire and one year later, in 2000, I did my own rave with two other friends in a little old warehouse close to Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. It was DIY decor, a self-made soundsystem, we were djing ourselves and only distributed fifty Flyers by hand…but we kind of forgot to organize enough drinks…
Swift: Well, I had Peak as a perfect guide when I arrived and he showed me a lot of underground places. The scene was somehow a lot less professional compared to today, in a good way, and much smaller. It felt like you knew everyone within six months, and today there are loads of micro scenes so it’s quite hard to keep in touch with everyone.
How did you guys meet?
Peak: Via a friend I met in Thailand in 2001/2000. She was from Munich and planned to move to Berlin and Bene was her new roommate!
Swift: True, I met Jan on my second day living in Berlin and we instantly clicked as we have a very similar taste in music and also share most other interests.
When and how did the Peak & Swift become a thing?
Peak: From the first day we met, we just spent time together… music, joints and döner kebab!!!
Swift: Yes, being messy in my flat and surrounded by music 24/7. My landlord for my house back then was an alcoholic and he wanted to punch me in the face several times because of the noise – but being drunk makes you slow, so he never hit me, but sorry to my neighbours. As we had a very similar record collection, we started spinning together at home sometimes. Then Peak put me in front of five hundred people at the first party we organized together (I was so fucking nervous.) After this we started to play b2b more often and with that Peak & Swift actually was a thing.
As a duo, what would you say your ‘musical philosophy’ is?
Peak: #followthedolphins #energytuesday #bitterballern
Swift: We actually don’t overthink at all and we never plan our sets. I think we are quite good at connecting with crowds anywhere in the world because we play a broad spectrum of dance music (so book us for your next bar mitzvah!)
You have both been involved in various roles at the famed Berlin club, Renate including bookings, art direction and playing as residents. How did you first become acquainted with them?
Peak: They asked me to do the bookings for the first party in that building. That was twelve years ago and the rest is history.
Swift: I was doing an internship in Vienna for a year, I came back right before Renate opened and didn’t expect much, but as Peak was doing the bookings we played the opening party; and what a party it was!
How instrumental has Renate been for you both, what have you learned during your long relationship with the club?
Peak: ALL the good and bad things about the business, the scene and all aspects of a good electronic dance party.
Swift: We shaped Renate a lot and it also shaped us in a good way… mostly! We have been with it for such a long time, it’s hard to think what would have happened without having that club to call your living room.
In your own words, what does Renate bring to the Berlin scene?
Peak: I think Renate is one of those clubs where you never know what to expect … everything is possible… even for the people who work there.
Swift: For me Renate is one of the most “flexible” clubs in Berlin, like Peak said it can surprise you a lot. This is mainly because we usually have three or more rooms open each night and we try to make our bookings very musically divers, so there is always a lot to discover.
Your debut EP ‘Floppy Drive’ is out now on Renate’s in-house label, Renate Schallplatten. How does it feel to be releasing on this label that is so close to both of your hearts?
Peak: Good.. I mean, the cake tastes best when it comes out of your own oven.. Right?!
Swift: It also really was about time for us to finally release an EP and 2019 only saw releases from our residents on Renate Schallplatten, so it just made total sense to do it.
The EP carries a distinct sense of fun in the music. Was this EP inspired by the party you run at Renate with the same name ‘Floppy Drive’?
Swift: The EP was thought to be a condensed version of what we like to hear at the party, which is pretty nineties oriented and ravey.
Peak: Yeah, it pretty much matches with the sound we like and play at the moment.
So how did you channel the vibe of your parties into this EP?
Swift: I think we are pretty good at conserving the vibe we had at a party and bringing it to the studio the following week. Maybe it’s just experience after such a long time djing and going to clubs together.
Can you outline any particular musical influences that played into the making of this EP?
Peak: Nineties tech-house, trance elements along with new and old house music. Not to mention all our great party moments over the years!!!
Finally, can you tell us about the mix you recorded for us – for those who don’t know, how does this mix compare to a Peak & Swift set in the club?
Peak: There’s nothing like a real Peak & Swift live experience – so come and find out
Swift: It’s pretty hard to do a one hour mix as we have to condense our usual three hour minimum sets down a lot, but i think this one tells our story, just quicker and to the point.
Does your mix carry any particular story within it?
Floppy Drive is out now. Buy it here.
Words: Sophie McNulty