Sound of the Week: Tuff City Kids

Gerd Janson and Phillip Lauer are creatures of habit. Every week, the two club veterans meet up at Phillipʼs studio and spend an entire day making tunes. And while Gerd often likes to joke that his role in the arrangement is limited to making coffee and looking at his cell phone, itʼs clear that the two men have forged a potent partnership, one thatʼs been responsible for an astonishing amount of dancefloor heat over the past few years. Incredibly, this German pair has managed to maintain a relatively low profile, despite the steady stream of music theyʼve released via well-respected labels like Unterton, Delsin, Internasjonal, Permanent Vacation and Live at Robert Johnson. And then there are the remixes—Azari & III, Scuba, The Juan Maclean, Fort Romeau, Avalon Emerson, Massimiliano Pagliara and Sinkane are just a small sampling of the artists whoʼve enlisted Tuff City Kids to work their studio magic. Throughout it all, there have been whispers of a proper Tuff City Kids album, and now that ‘Adoldesscent’ has arrived, it will be all but impossible for the duo to linger in the background.

KALTBLUT: Let’s go back to the start, how did you two originally meet to create Tuff City Kids? Was there a “eureka” moment when you realised your music fitted perfectly together?
Phillip: We met at a party in a club called Monza.. I think we had briefly been in touch because of the label I ran at the time called Brontosaurus. Then Gerd had this remix offer from Sonar Kollektiv and gave it a try in m studio. When we needed a name Tuff City Kids came up. It wasn’t really meant to last. I’m still waiting for that moment. Gerd?
Gerd: I am bad with names. I am happy to take on a clever moniker like Arto Mwambe that defies race, class, gender and cultural heritage every day now.

KALTBLUT: How has your approach to this duo project differed from producing solo? Have you found it easier/harder/challenging?
Phillip: I find it easier. decisions are made much faster and we share the work.. also GJ has not yet managed to get on my nerves. He is close though..
Gerd: As Philipp might have noticed by now, our weekly sessions turned into monthly ones, involving emails and Skype.

KALTBLUT: And what influences have you picked up along the way?
Phillip: You mean the merits of having a DJs DJ in the studio? I adore the way he works this polyphonic synthesizer called Tan Generator. Its’ amazing. But influences… mmh.
Gerd: I learned from Philipp how not to use automation in a DAW and still be able to use EFX plugins. Truly amazing. Apart from that, he is very uptight about sharing his knowledge.

KALTBLUT: Walk me through your typical production process – what are some of your preferred methods and tools of the trade?
Phillip: Everything we do is based on remixes, even the original tracks derive from some sort of remix work, so we usually start with big mouthing about what kinda style we can make out of the track. After that we spend 25 minutes laughing about our own jokes and then we do the remix.
Gerd: Sad, but true!

KALTBLUT: What was it like working with Annie and Joe Goddard? Who approached who?
Phillip: Annie has always been on my list of who i would like to sing on a track. There was a contact through mutual friends and we sent her the track, she wrote the lyrics and recorded them. so we never met for this collaboration. Jasnau is an old buddy from school. I knew he was a super good singer and so I approached him to sing on one of my tracks last year (‘ESC’), so when we thought about singers, he was a natural pick.
Gerd: I know Joe and I am still in love with his Osborne collaboration, so I thought, I’ll hit him up. He was great, but we are not as good as Todd “The God” Osborn. But it still turned out nicely, and Tensnake did in his remix what we couldn’t do.

Who are some of your most influential producers / composers?
Phillip: Zeus B Held, Shep Pettibone
Gerd: Andy Sojka, Bobby Konders, Theo Parrish and Tee Scott.

KALTBLUT: What is next?
Phillip: Remixes, the TCK live act, maybe money counting.. maybe not.
Gerd: Remixes, our live act, and our own album remixed.

‘Adoldesscent’ is out now via Permanent Vacation