Name: Adana Twins
Members: Benjamin Busse & Jan Friso
Occupation: DJs, Producers
Recommendations: A very important image is Monet's Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning, 1891 which you can see in LA in the Getty Museum. Its effects only develops when you stare at it for a longer time. I don't know any other image that changes its intensity almost psychedelically in that kind of way. In terms of music, for me it's Hildegard Knefs Song “Ich Schreibe Dir ein Buch”. I don't know why but I just love this woman, her music and especially this song. My girlfriend and I were listening to it when we were renovating our flat a few years ago and we had an amazing time. Painting the walls with a glass of wine in your hand and Hildegard Knef in the background. Cheesy! Isn't it?
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this 15 Questions interview with Adana Twins, do check out more on their website and facebook page.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I (Benni) started in 1999 as a Hip-Hop DJ. Back then I was influenced by a local radio show. I listened to it every week and recorded everything on tape. Every Wednesday, some of us (DJs and MCs) met and started freestyle session. The DJs were playing beats while the MCs were rapping over it. Some time later, I was the DJ of a local rap group in my hometown, which was really fun and through which I had my first live experiences. When I moved to Hamburg, I got in touch with electronic music and really liked the vibe in the clubs. The rest is history ... ;)
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Yes, we were influenced by a lot of different music, because we were DJs before we started producing ourselves. We used every free minute to find new tracks and we often went to clubs to find inspiration for our weekly 8-10 h sets at a small bar in Hamburg. When we started producing, we were influenced by a lot of music from our sets. DJ’ing also helped us understand how to produce this kind of music. I guess the first baby steps consist of emulating of what your favourite artists do. The more experience you gain in the studio, the more confident you become, and the more you're developing your very own style. You still "quote" a musical reference from time, but overall it becomes less important what others do.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
In the beginning the main challenge was to develop the necessary technical skills. However, at some point we learned that the main challenge was not to create the perfect transition from track to track, but the ability to "read" the crowd and to get a feeling for the night and select the perfect tracks. And to be honest: Some bad transitions will not destroy the night but a bad record selection most definitely does. On the studio side of things, the experience we get as DJs helps us when we produce, because we know what kind of music works in the club. :)
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
As a DJ we see our task in presenting the crowd on the dancefloor new and sometimes even old and maybe forgotten tracks and to put those songs in a meaningful context. Of course, our experience changes with time. Constant change is inspiring and the experience from the dancefloor influences our music productions very positively.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
The first home setup were two Reloop turntables and the legendary Technics SH-DJ 1200 Mixer. Later replaced by an MK2. When we started to play in clubs, initially we played vinyl only. At a later point we added Pioneer CD players, as lots of music we played back then was only released via blogs. So, we had to become "digital". Luckily it didn't take long before we bought the first generation of Traktor Scratch. With this nice tool we switched back to CDJs. And this is how we're still playing today: 3CDJs Nexus, Allen & Health Xone 92 and Strymon Blue Sky Reverb.
In terms of production, you mentioned in a previous interview back in 2014 that you were locking yourself up in the studio with new equipment. What kind of equipment was this and how has it directly influenced your most recent productions?
It's pretty different and depends on what we produce. In 2014 we had a phase that was strongly shaped by analogue equipment. We worked a lot with our Juno 106. More recently, we started working a lot ''in the box'', which determines a more or less different process of producing. The constant change affects our work rather positive. We're more secure now and also faster.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Only technology makes our work possible. Creativity results from the interaction of those two components. Human vs. machine – the philosophy behind this could fill a whole book, which is why I will leave it at that ;)
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Most of the creativity is generated during DJ’ing itself, while the most important thing is what songs you selected before the show. In terms of producing, we value freedom the most, when there's no pressure. The exception proves the rule, but I think the less pressure the better the results and vice versa. Regarding our daily routine it totally depends on what day it is, whether we're playing or if we're producing. After I (Benni) get woken up at 7am by my son, he gets the first few hours of my time in the morning before I, same as Friso, go to work out. After that we go to the airport, hotel check-in, dinner, party, hotel, flight ... When we're producing, the morning looks quite similar except that we meet each other at the studio around lunch time. Only a long and nice lunch and a good coffee makes the beginning of the working day pleasant... ;-) In the evening, we go back home although, sometimes, it can get late.