What do you do when you’ve been there and done that during a decade or so as a DJ/producer? If you’re Maayan Nidam, you move the goal post a bit further and set another challenge for yourself. With a career that’s seen her release choice house and techno tunes on Raum Musik, Freak n’ Chic, Kalimari and Perlon under a host of aliases (Miss Fitz, Laverne Radix and Spunky Brewster), Nidam began collaborating with Markus Nikolaus (who helms his Cunt Cunt Chanel solo project) and Louis McGuire (of Ballet School, an indie band signed to Bella Union). No limitations. No restrictions. No judgements. They tapped into their influences and let it all hang out in the studio.
Out of their union came The Waves & Us, a new trio whose forthcoming two-track debut on Wolf + Lamb is as far from the inspired house music mana typically associated with W+L as you can get. What the threesome have come up with is rooted in the dirge of post-punk dirge mixed with electronics and a dash of good ol’ angst. With the trio scheduled to make their U.S. debut on Saturday in Brooklyn, NY after debuting in Berlin in May, we asked the triumvirate about the project’s impromptu formation and the emphasis they’ve put on performing live.
The Waves & Us make their U.S. debut at Wolf + Lamb’s party at Cameo Gallery on June 28. Their debut is released on vinyl on July 7 and digitally on July 14.
TW&U has to be one of the most interesting collaborations of the year. How did you all come to work together?
Louis: Me and Markus have been making music together since the 21st of June, exactly a year ago funnily enough. He’s one of those people who just effortlessly brings people together. So one day he calls me and tells me about this girl….
Maayan: It was a bit random. I met Markus a few days before and I had invited him to come and check out my studio. He called Louis over and we just jammed together all night. The next time the guys came over we spent three days locked inside writing what turned out to be half the album.
From the get-go you’ve positioned the project as a live band. Tell us about what informed that decision. What’s the division of labor like?
Markus: Decisions are made of pure intuition.
Maayan: We play live in the studio, there’s no planning. When we come in, we each have our musical territory and after a while it all comes together.
Louis: We record the tracks in real time straight to tape. That’s just how Stuebchen studio is set up. Maayan normally presses a magic button, beats start happening and Markus is always full of lyrics or references. It’s all super fast, and we want it that way. I think were all a little impatient, tired of sitting in front of computer screens.
The two tracks I’ve heard don’t sound like the music normally released by Wolf + Lamb. How did you come to connect with the label?
Maayan: I’ve released in the past with the Wolves and we keep close contact. Gadi had sent me some music he was about to release and I sent him stuff I’ve been working on and when he heard what we do together with Markus and Louis he was really into it. In some ways it encouraged us to keep going and make more music together.
Markus: The label has actually been very band oriented over the past couple of years. Some showcases they’ve put on haven’t even had a DJ in between the live shows.
Louis: I didn’t get it at first either. But I knew we would be at home with them after their Watergate showcase in Berlin. Me and Markus went there to meet the crew and Slow Hands was rocking on guitar as we walked in and there was Gadi with open arms. They know it’s a risk for them, and I respect that they’re daring to push their comfort zone.
Maayan: Our sound might be different, it’s much dirtier and rougher than what you’d expect from W+L but they made us feel like there’s room for us and our distortions.
“Maayan normally presses a magic button, beats start happening and Markus is always full of lyrics or references. It’s all super fast, and we want it that way. I think were all a little impatient, tired of sitting in front of computer screens.”
“With Any Future” is such a wonderfully wrenching song, Was there something specific that influenced the song’s lyric’s and dirgy sound?
Markus: It’s hard to explain the specific influence. We spent a long night in the studio above the Wilde Renate and in the club itself….
Maayan: I think there was some sort of exhaustion of the mind that stopped us trying too hard and instead gave way to expression.
Markus: I thought I sang the lyric from a book of poems a friend gave me but after we recorded the song, I couldn’t find a single match in the book.
Louis: I remember we kept on adding more and more distortion to the elements and loving it more and more as a result. It was all about getting two or three simple ideas and playing with them till they moved us…
I love the synths on “Missing Us” and the vocals are filled with angst. Is it true that sad songs say so much? What is that song about?
Markus: It is not about missing someone. It is more about missing something. I really believe that this track speaks for itself, but you’re right that it has a more melancholic touch than our other material.
You’re making your NYC debut at Cameo Gallery, an intimate venue known for booking brilliant artists. How did you come to choose this venue for the live debut? Have you played there before? What can people expect from this show?
Maayan: We’re playing as part of the Wolf + Lamb residency at Cameo. It was their decision to pick this Williamsburg venue I’m guessing mostly because it has such an intimate vibe.
Louis: It’s definitely going to be something new for the W+L crowd. We start late which is nice with Gadi and Maayan playing deep cuts from their collections both before and after the show. Everything is still super fresh and raw for us as well as for our audience.
Is there a long-term goal for TW&U, or are you taking it one step at a time? Where do you all go musically from here?
Markus: Easy metre, little steps.
Maayan: We’re still new to each other in this context and I personally am still just really excited about being in the studio and making music together. There’s so much more to explore and try out, so this is really just the beginning.
Any final thoughts?
Maayan: Watch this space.