words: Andy McColgan

Modeselektor, Thom Yorke’s favourite German electro dons and all round glitchy geniuses, are back as Moderat, a collaborative project with fellow German Sascha Ring aka Apparat. But it’s a miracle their album ever got made…

It’s down to luck, dogged determination and a disregard for their health that Moderat’s eponymous debut album exists. The German supergroup – made up of Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary and the brains behind Apparat, Sascha Ring – first went into the studio together in 2002 to record an EP for BPitch Control. The experience was so exhausting that they all became ill and ended up renaming the EP at the last minute – it’s final title, Auf Kosten Der Gesundheit, translates as At The Cost Of Health. When the time came to start work on an album, Moderat suddenly split up.

It was a twist of fate that brought Moderat back together. Last spring, Gernot and Sebastian were at the swimming baths in Berlin with their kids when they ran into Sascha – who happened to be accompanied by several women. After quick spot of verbal abuse, the trio made peace, put all memories of the hell that was their first EP behind them, and decided to start on that long player. The results form an album that Apparat and Modeselektor fans will not want to miss.

Recorded at the Hansa Studios in Berlin – where David Bowie recorded the classic Heroes album – the record manages to mix modern computer-based electronic innovation with a little vintage analogue technology. It’s a strange record, but it’s also right on the money, like an off-kilter and haunting take on the techy-electro, IDM sounds favoured by Modeselektor and Apparat. The album travels from the shoegazey, Boards Of Canada-inspired opener A New Error through to the atmospheric minimalism of Out Of Sight in a plaintive and at times delirious manner. Guest vocalists grace the album in the shape of Californian hip-hopper Busdriver and German vocalist Dellé aka Eased, and Apparat himself also contributes vocals to two tracks. The CD will also be released with an companying DVD featuring the graphic animation of artist collective Pfadfinderei. It’s an intriguing project and one that demands further investigation, so EQ caught up with Sascha to talk about the new album, artistic differences and touring the new Moderat concept live…

Why the long gap between the BPitch EP back in 2002 and the debut album?
When we started Moderat it was a kind of fun live project – that was before our solo projects went off. We played totally improvised gigs together, and it worked pretty, but when we tried to do this EP, it was pretty tough. It took ages, and when we finally finished we were all sick, but we knew we would do a full album one day. It just took us a while before we could afford taking a couple of years off from Modeselektor and Apparat.

Does the album take a hugely different direction from the music you’re used to making?
The main idea was to develop our own Moderat sound. We only had a few ideas in mind when we started, nothing specific. Then, sometimes, while working on it we kind of slipped back into Apparat or Modeselektor paths, but hey, these are things we can do very well so why not do them? These songs got totally changed during the recording process quite a few times, so sometimes an ambient track ended up as something totally different. In any case, it was really refreshing as we worked in a different way to how we normally work, and this was one of the main intentions to make this LP. We wanted to have some fun.

What are the benefits of working collaboratively rather than on individual projects?
Sometimes you get stuck in the way you approach a song. You find some little tricks you use all the time, maybe a bit too much. So collaborations can be a good way to see how other people work, a way to get some new ideas. When I get back to my own records after almost a year of Moderat I’ll definitely do things in a different way, and that’s important. No-one needs the same record twice.

Any major disagreements between the parties involved?
All the time! The whole production was a democratic process and fortunately we are three people, so if everyone votes you end up at least with a majority of two. We had endless discussions about certain hi-hats and rimshots. It happened pretty often, and sometimes one of us left the room pissed off. I’m looking forward to the tour…

The album was recorded at Hansa Studios, where Bowie recorded Heroes. Why did you choose to record it there?
We thought we needed a regular studio with all the possibilities that brings. We wanted to record lots of stuff, but in the end we ended up with a total computer record. Still, it was great to just record a rimshot if you thought that was the way to do it. It didn’t happen very often though.

The album comes with a DVD produced by long-term Modeselektor affiliates Pfadfinderei, right? What can we expect from the DVD?
You should see all of us like a big bunch of dudes making all kinds of stuff. For example, the whole BPitch Control building is full of friends making clothes, music, graphics, videos… it’s a great environment, and it doesn’t happen often enough that we collaborate. So Moderat is meant to be a project of Modeslektor, Apparat and Pfadfinderei – they are involved in the whole appearance: the live show, the DVD, the artwork. We gave them parts of the music while we were making it, and they’ve been involved from the first minute. We do endless meetings about everything. Sometimes it feels like Moderat is more of a discussion forum than an audio/video project.

Tell us about the special guests who feature on the album.
Modeselektor met Busdriver at a festival in France and they just liked each other. We didn’t think he’d be someone to work with on Moderat as we weren’t planning on doing rap stuff, but this one song was just perfect for his fast MC style. So we sent it over and he came up with a cool idea two days later. Eased has a studio in the same building as me, and he just came by one day and said hello. He’s pretty much a superstar in Germany. And he’s one of the most optimistic guys I’ve ever met. Whenever we were in a shitty mood and he came by, all of us instantly recovered by sucking some of his positive energy.

Are you planning to tour the Moderat concept live?
We’re setting up the live show at the moment. It’s going to be five of us – three doing audio and two in charge of the video and lights, playing in a special stage set-up. It’s pretty exiting as none of us have ever been involved in this kind of production. We want to do more of a concert than a club show – perfectly synchronised sound and pictures.

BPitch Control are a label with a devoted following and fan base. How is the label managing to thrive in the current economic and music industry climates?
That’s something you should ask someone who works for the label! I can only tell from a general perspective as a musician. These days anyone can easily download music before the record is even in the shops. The only way we can keep on doing what we do is that there are some people out there who buy the music to support artists on purpose. I guess that’s what having a fan base means today. It’s not just people who appreciate your work – it’s about people who are willing to support you.

What’s next for Moderat?
A big festival tour and a mix CD at the end of the summer.

Moderat is out on April 20 on BPitch Control. Visit,, and



“When I get back to my own records I’ll definitely do things in a different way, and that’s important – no-one needs the same record twice”