You may not know the name Tensnake, but you almost certainly know the sound of his signature hit.
With its steel drums and irresistibly catchy hook, the disco-house hybrid ‘Coma Cat’ put him in high demand. Since then, the Hamburg native – real name Marco Niemerski – has toured the world and crafted more remixes than you can count. When his long-awaited debut album arrives later this year, it will surely push him even further towards the mainstream.
“It took me a long time to finish it, almost two years,” Niemerski says. “It has just been mastered, and I’m hoping it will be out by late September.”
If that’s not enough to get you excited, the list of collaborators will.“I worked with quite a few different musicians and singers on it,” Niemerski says, “and I guess now I can say their names. I worked with Nile Rodgers on two songs, which was very exciting for me. I worked with Stuart Price, also known as Jacques Lu Cont, on one track. Jamie Lidell is singing on one. There’s also a singer from Australia, known as Fiora. She has lived in Berlin for about four years, and when we became friends, we planned to do a song together, but we ended up doing six or seven, and she’s a huge part of the album now. I worked with some really incredible people, that’s for sure.”
If there’s one thing that unites Tensnake’s tracks, it’s a sense of uplift and euphoria – even the moodier ones, like the beautiful and spooky ‘Congolal’, can bring on a great rush of endorphins.
“That’s definitely not conscious,” he tells me. “I would say those happier elements are just in my nature a little bit! I think I just prefer happy melodies and a certain vibe. For me, a track like ‘Congolal’ is not necessarily happy,” he continues. “If you’re sad, it could be a sad song. If I had to choose, I would always choose happy music. It’s easy to play a couple of sad chords and to create a sad song than it is to create a happy song that doesn’t sound cheesy.”
It’s often the case that the best club tracks, while not necessarily ‘happy’ in their overall sound or style, can transport you somewhere different, and take you away from the reality of whatever you’re feeling in that particular moment. Niemerski agrees that this is the essence of a really great electronic track.
“That’s always what I try to reach when I’m producing,” he says. “I want the songs to have the potential to take me out of the room – I mean, my studio is a windowless room with no sun and lots of electronic gear sitting around, and if the song can take me away somewhere different, then I think it’s good and it works.”
Niemerski is bringing Tensnake to Australia soon for a series of shows that bring together elements of a DJ set and live performance. “My production skills have always been my main focus,” he says. “When I started getting bookings, I would play live sets with just my own songs, but I found that I didn’t have enough new material, so I started doing edits of other people’s music and putting that in there.”
Over time, the set became a hybrid of the two. “I’m not at the point where I have huge production or anything,” he continues, “so the show is laptop-based, but I’m bringing Fiora with me to sing. I’m going to present material from my new album for the very first time – I’m probably most excited about that.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Tensnake plays Terminal Projekt at Vivid Terminal Bar, Overseas Passenger Terminal on Sunday June 9.