A common saying goes that for a true artistic collaboration to flourish, it must exist in a constant state of conflict. Keinemusik - the Berlin-based DJ collective of Rampa, Adam Port and &ME - balk at that prospect when I mention it in passing. The last time this trio was in a state of conflict was over what color their Converse shoe should be for a partnership with the brand.
Which is impressive, considering that this rag-tag group of DJ's has been more or less a unit for over a decade now, forming in the golden era of Berlin's hedonistic club scene and sticking through thick and thin right on through now. If anything, they might now be in their peak form.
After a years-long recording process, Keinemusik has just dropped You Are Safe, their first proper album. It's a collection of expertly-produced dance music, oscillating between floor-filling house anthems and introspective ambient works, unified by the constant interplay - not conflict - of their respective styles.
We caught up with all three members at their recording studio in Berlin to discuss bringing the album to life, a collaboration with skate brand Civilist surrounding the project and their wild party days working the club circuit.
So for those that haven't heard, tell us a bit about how you all first came together as Keinemusik.
&ME: We came together maybe twelve years ago? Maybe even thirteen years ago? When I moved to Berlin, I started to work in a studio, as an intern in Berlin. The other intern that started the same day, he was a friend of Rampa. And then over a couple of months, I met Rampa. And then we ... I don't know, we jammed around in the studio at night. In the beginning we were doing lots of hip-hop. And when we jammed around we were experimenting with electronic music a lot. That was kind of the beginning for me, like doing some other kind of music besides hip-hop.
Adam Port: I've also got hip-hop origins, from childhood, but I've been a lot of years in the hard and pop rock scene. So I spent most of my teenage years with rock and hard-core punk music. Then I finally came to DJing and electronic dance music from the influence of Berlin, because I grew up here. Back in the day, I didn't like house and techno, because in the nineties everything was quite fast, like 130 bpm. Doof, doof, doof, doof, a lot per rate.
&ME: Not like pop rock.
A: Anyway, I eventually met Rampa through DJ stuff. It was Rampa's idea to start Keinemusik, so he brought us, all of us, together. I don't know if he already had a master plan or something.
Rampa: Yeah, more of plans for the next weekend than for the next ten years. So, no, it was not planned.
&ME: No, but he had the plan to do something. To do something as a collective. He saw something that we had in common and so everything grew together over the years, tighter.
How did you come up with the name Keinemusik?
&ME: You know what it means, right?
It means 'no music' in German, right?
&ME: 'That's not real music.' Or 'that's not music.' At one point my Mom said, "What you do is not music." I was like, "Okay, we will take this name." I don't know. It was a long time ago.
R: The name is probably 20 years old now. Then when we started the label, it was like, okay, we have a few names. We could do this name. So we chose Keinemusik then. But this time is pretty blurry. Between 2001 and 2008 was a lot of parties; like maybe 70% of my life was parties.
A: Yeah, it was just going to clubs.
&ME: Probably four times a week, and then the times we didn't go to clubs, we had parties at home. That was an intense time.
Tell us about your new album, what were some of the things you were thinking about?
&ME: For some people that don't know us, we are usually signing artists. So everybody is releasing and signing under their own names. Keinemusik gave us a label, and the idea was to make an album under Keinemusik, so the big boss and the three producers are all doing an album together. It's shared work but it is a lot of work - with three different producers who have three different directions, more or less, it's easier to make a diverse album. It's throwing everything together in one pot and doing the album.
R: It was really clear for us that we want to do something different and we don't want to make ten dance tracks. We want to do like a pop song or whatever, whatever is coming out. But it must be more like an album, and not like a ... Again, not ten dance tracks in a row.
I understand you collaborated with Civilist on this project?
R: The track, one track on the album is called "Civilist," and there's obviously, Civlist the Skate Shop, which we are really close and have done a lot of T-shirts and parties together. So, we did a scarf for the release, and we're doing a skate video. A skate music video, which features the skate crew and some pro skaters, mixed with a little bit of our party footage.
Do you guys still skate?
R: I used to skate.
&ME: Last time we skated was like, eight years ago, nine years ago.
R: And he was quite good. I was okay, but most of my friends skate, and I'm still mentally into it. Physically, not so much anymore.
A: It's never too late to learn.
Your Bandcamp page says your credo is "You don't necessarily need to be overly serious to be taken seriously." Do you still stand by that?
A: Yeah, I think so. Why not?
For more of our interviews, read our chat with MC and Chance the Rapper-fave Saba.