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Friday 11th, May 2007
André Tanneberger (ATB)
Updated: Thursday 28th, May 2009

German DJ, producer and remixer André Tanneberger became world famous under his alias ‘ATB’. In 1998 he had a world wide hit with his record ‘9 PM (Till I Come)’. After the massive success of this track, more hits followed: ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Killer’, ‘Hold You’, ‘Marrakech’ and many others! Besides his productions, he did many remixes for a lot of famous artists and acts as well. So for example ‘ATB’ remixed tracks from Gouryella, William Orbit, Rank 1, Miss Jane, Ayla, Blank & Jones, Bob Marley, York, Enigma, Kai Tracid, Signum, Mr. Sam, Sash! and lots of others! And last but not least ATB is a well known DJ as well. He travels a lot around the world to entertain the audience with his music. You can find him ranked in the DJ Mag Top 100 list for many years already!

Trance.nu: André, your new album, “Trilogy” will be released soon, when can we expect to see it in stores?
ATB: We try to have it released worldwide at the same date, but it’s very difficult to have all countries synchronize, but it’s out now in Germany and if it isn’t out in your country, it should be soon.

Trance.nu: What can you tell us about the album?
ATB: First of all, it’s a double album. I’ve done a double album before, “Two Words”, 2 or 3 years ago and I’ve decided to do the same again because I really love two kinds of music. Everybody has their different styles of what they prefer, and it’s the same for me. I love to listen to the music I play in the club and also when I drive around in the car I love to listen to the radio, but the other side is that I love this kind of Indian music, which is why I’ve chosen to release one side of the album with no vocals and strictly in an ambient style. This is the first important aspect of the album, and the second is that I think people will recognize that I work with a lot of different instruments. I’ve done it before, but on this album there are really a lot of instruments: real drums, real guitars and real pianos, because in the electronic industry everything is synthesized, but when I use real instruments I get a special warmth; it all fits together and I think the result is good.

Trance.nu: It’s really special to use real instruments because, like you said, everyone is using synthesizers and digital instruments.
ATB: Yeah, it’s more humanized. When you just work with all these sequencers and all these synths it’s getting a bit cold, and when you play in an instrument you always have these little imperfections which really make it humanized.

Trance.nu: What are your own favorite tracks on the album?
ATB: This is a really difficult question, because it changes from day-to-day, it depends on the mood. I think you have the same feeling sometimes with your favorite albums: you like this track one day and then another track another day, so I don’t have one favorite track on the album. I think every track can be a favorite track of mine, it all depends on the day and mood. But I do slightly prefer the ambient part of the album.

Trance.nu: You just told that there are a lot of instrumental tracks on the album and a lot of vocal tracks, I saw you worked with Heather Nova and in the past you also worked with some other vocalists. Are there any singers you would like to work with in the future on other albums?
ATB: I never plan before things like that. What I planned in the past to work with Heather Nova again, because I really loved her voice and she has some really special things in her voice, and I worked with her for 3 years, but this time I wasn’t happy with the songs. But I’m never really interested in working with big names for the press attention or anything. I’m always just looking for a great voice, and that could be anybody. I make connections through MySpace; I’m really interested in internet communities because there are so many opportunities to listen to other people’s work and collaborate.

Trance.nu: How long have you been working on the Trilogy album?
ATB: I had an album nearly every year, and Trilogy was a little bit longer. I had some personal things the past year and I also spent a lot of time on the roads; tours in the US, China, etc. And when I’m on tour I can’t go into the studio – that’s my problem. But this was also good, because I got a lot of influences from all over the world, and a lot of things I put into the music later, so, in fact, the whole working process was something like one year for the whole album, but it wasn’t one year in the studio, it was scouting for ideas and searching for all these voices and all sorts of things.

Trance.nu: Where do you get the motivation and inspiration from when you start working on a new album?
ATB: I never need motivation, music is my life, and especially working on an album is my favorite thing to do. I always hated to do these single versions and these club versions, because you always had to it strictly; no longer than 3:50 etc. But when you work on an album you can do what you want, you can show what is coming out of you, and this is what is making album work so interesting for me. So I don’t need motivation, but of course I still get lazy sometimes. I still like to have a private life, but if I was a workaholic in the studio all the time, it would lose some of that interest for me.

Trance.nu: What’s going to be the first release of the album?
ATB: The first release has just come out in Germany, it’s Renegade with Heather Nova and I think the second release will be following very soon – it’s Feel Alive and the reason why I want to have the second release very fast is that I get really good feedback from the clubs when I play them, and it’s a very strong song, and that’s why I want to have it fast after Renegade, which is also doing very well right now in Germany.

Trance.nu: Indeed. The second release is also a vocal track?
ATB: Yes, it’s a vocal track, and very, very ‘rocky’. There are lots of guitars in the track, and it depends when we get some club mixes, but I have really interesting remix names for the next single, but I can’t tell you now! But the original is very interesting, there are lots of crossovers between trance and rock and… you have to listen to it!

Trance.nu: Yes, we will! It’s 9 years ago already since you had the worldwide hit, “9PM (Till I Come)”, can you tell us what happened when you found out you were responsible for making such a big hit?
ATB: Things like this you recognize very slowly, you know? And for me it was especially good that I recognized it slowly because I always try to not believe in these things. I realize, “oh, this is a number 1 there, and there, and there, and this is great”, but I always try to stay on the ground, because when you stop trying to do music, or when you do shit music, in the future people will forget about you really fast. So I never look back, and I always want to try new music and new styles to show whatever is in me. My goal when I made 9PM was I wanted to show people that ATB is not just a guitar, because in the beginning everybody said, “oh, this is just a one-hit wonder” but I showed them more than that with “Let You Go” – the biggest hit in Germany. So I never rest on things, and I never think about them. The success is not important for me, what happened there is great, but it wasn’t important to me.

Trance.nu: Do you think your sound has changed a lot over the years?
ATB: I hope so! Because this is one of my major goals that I have; that the sound is changing. If I hadn’t changed my sounds, ATB wouldn’t exist anymore, because people want changes in the music. I was 25 when I made 9PM and now I’m 35, so that’s 10 years between it, and I think when you grow up the music develops.

Trance.nu: How do you feel about some of the trance fans saying your music is too commercial?
ATB: I notice. I noticed from the first moment on. Commercial is always a word that is hard to describe. I never try to think about what people say about it, and I’ve heard some people say what I do isn’t really trance, and they are right: what I do on my albums – this is not trance. They have influences and sounds, but this is what I like. When I do albums I never think what category it is. What you call the music isn’t important to me, what you hear on my albums is just what I personally like. When I am out as a DJ I do play trance, and I play what people expect, and respect, and some people have to understand that ATB as a DJ and ATB as an album artist and as a producer are very different. I try to be a chameleon, when I get a remix request I can do a nice trance remix for them, but when I’m working on an album, this is not intended for the club and I use an album for listening. But it is hard to get rid of that image of being called commercial, because when 9PM came out it was being played by all these cool DJ’s and everybody was talking about, “I played it first”, “no I played it first” and then suddenly it became a #1 single and then all the DJ’s were saying, “well I never played that…” When it comes to success all these cool people are talking about, “no, this is too commercial…” but 9PM was cool in the beginning and suddenly it was commercial, and I can’t understand this point because it is not my fault that all these people bought this record – maybe they liked it, you know? After being in this business for 10 years I understand all these things and I just try not to think about it because it’s always the same thing; if there is a song which is selling really good, it gets a stamp on it, “okay, this is commercial.” This word ‘commercial’, maybe we should throw it away and try to give each kind of music a chance.

Trance.nu: You also released tracks with other people like Sequential One, United DJ’s For Central America, Trance Allstars etc. are there plans to start new projects in future?
ATB: I really would. But I’ve just finished the album and I’m on the road now and I have lots of upcoming things to do. I like to take my laptop and try and start some things, but there is nothing planned yet. The main thing is my own project and I think it’s important to concentrate on one thing. I will do some future projects but this year there are too many things for me to do. But I will never say no. Maybe something will happen, because now there is MySpace I can listen to people’s tracks, and maybe in the future I will make a collaboration and new project this way.

Trance.nu: What do you consider to be your best production so far?
ATB: My best production?? This is really hard! Haha. I really hate to give things top tens or things like that, like what is your favorite food or anything like that, so it is difficult for me to tell you what my favorite song is. For me, personally, it’s not important; I never like to think this way. You remember, as we started to talk, I said to you it’s the same on the album with my all-time productions. Now I do know I have some productions I really hate… the second release of ATB, which was “Don’t Stop”. The way I see it today is that it was just like my first release but with a new melody, and I don’t like the melody anymore. So I don’t stand behind it anymore, but all other ATB tracks I do stand behind.

Trance.nu: Well if it’s only one then it doesn’t matter! Now you also made a lot of remixes… can we expect some new ATB remixes soon?
ATB: I think so but there’s nothing planned yet, because I’m on tour now and I’m just now sitting on a remix for Mark Norman, which is a huge thing, it sounds really good. Mark Norman has also done a remix for “Justify” – another single from this album. So I did a remix for him and you can listen to it soon.

Trance.nu: In the past you also released some mix compilations. Can we expect a new one soon or are there no plans for another?
ATB: I think the next mix compilation will be out by the end of this year. I feel this would be a good thing between the albums. My plan was always: album, mix compilation, album… and so on. When it comes to mix compilations you can see the differences between my artist albums and the mix compilations; on the mix compilations you can listen direct to trance, or to the stuff I really love. And I think this is something people get into their head, that there are two kinds of ATB: ATB as a DJ, and ATB as an album artist I think when people understand this they stop thinking about me as a commercial artist.

Trance.nu: You ranked pretty high in the DJ Mag top 100, how does it feel to be at such a high position?
ATB: Everything like this, of course I’m happy with it, because it reflects that you’ve done something right. In the end you never know why you are standing there, whether you have done something right with your productions or as a DJ and I’m happy about this but it’s not something I try to work on to get into competition against other DJ’s. When it comes to this list it looks like there are 10 really good DJ’s in the world and the rest are not, and that’s just not true because every DJ has his own qualities, and there are some DJ’s who aren’t as well-known because they don’t have productions. So something like this list is really great to gauge the popularity of a DJ but I don’t think that it reflects the quality of the DJ.

Trance.nu: When did you actually start with DJ-ing?
ATB: This is a good question… hehe. I had a different way to get into the DJ thing, because most DJ’s start as a DJ and then they want to get more well-known so they start producing, and I did it the opposite way because I started in making music in 1994. I started to recognize that no DJ’s played my music, and I was always wondering, “why?”, “why does no DJ play my music?” because I used to always make really long intros before each song and I wanted to find out why none of the DJ’s played my songs. I decided the best thing to do would be to get into the DJ booth myself and play for myself, and my productions actually ended up getting better and better. I went in the opposite way from many DJ’s, so today I never want to just do music now, I never could do that now because I need the reactions from the crowd and the direct feelings between DJ and crowd. I think, one day, when I stop DJ-ing I would stop club productions too. Although you can never fully trust playing your music to a crowd, sometimes it needs some time before the crowd love the track and your track might have a different result on a different night, so you should never just play it once to one crowd and decide.

Trance.nu: How do you prepare for a DJ gig?
ATB: I never prepare! Haha! The only thing I do is that I will listen to new music I have been sent from artists and record labels. But there is nothing I do to prepare, there is nothing you really can do to prepare when meeting a crowd. The one thing I do is try to do is arrive one hour before I am playing, so I can get some of the spirit of the crowd and study how the crowd are. This is very important to me, because I could never just arrive into the club and play directly – that is very difficult for me. I need contact with the crowd before.

Trance.nu: So you’ve just told us you are on tour, where can we expect to see you in the next few months?
ATB: I’m currently doing a very small tour in Poland, and on Monday I fly to South America and start my four-week tour in America; one week in South America and three weeks in the USA. And this time it’s more on the East Coast; something like New York and a little bit of Canada and Fort Lauderdale, so lots of things on the East Coast. We’re doing it again by bus so it will be crazy! But also, on the touring side, I always enjoy to return back home afterwards. It’s nice to travel but it’s very nice to come back home again.

Trance.nu: What kind of music do you listen to at home, in the car, or not in the studio?
ATB: It’s always a little bit different. When I’m in the car I will try to listen to normal radio music because it’s easy; you don’t need to concentrate and it’s just music in the air. Mostly when I’m at home I love it to listen to ambient and relaxing tracks, so something like the second side of my album. Something chillout which is nice to get away from all the stress and calm down a bit, this is very important for me.

Trance.nu: Besides the new Trilogy album what else can we expect from you in the near future?
ATB: Lots of touring. Just lots of touring, and I think in the end of this Summer I start to work on the next album. So lots of things to do this year and I’m really looking forward to working on the next album, I really love this album work and I still have lots of ideas in my head so I need to get to work fast. Not this year, but in 2008 I am sure we will see a new album.

Trance.nu: Thank you very much for your time and good luck for the future!
ATB: Thank you very much!

Written by:
Twan van Loon

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