Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
We are both based in Berlin. As commonly known, the scene especially for electronic music in Berlin is very diverse, a lot of talent – so a very vibrant place to develop your creativity.
You’re working on a new project where by you release a new track every month for nine months and at the end you’ll be releasing a full album, this has been happening since August and you’re now on your 4th release, how have the fans’ response to this unique release approach been?
People are more excited about the project then we thought they would be. Somehow this concept got people really curious about the outcome and they are looking forward to the new one every month.
How and why did you come up with this idea to release this way?
We have been toying around with this idea with our label manager Arash for some time now, but never found the right artist or project to do this with.
The thing that always bothered us is, that while making an album so much time passes by producing it. When you finally have it done, it takes another 6 months to put it out there, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect the mood you in at that point. By releasing one track a month we found a way to basically make an album while we go along.
Where and when did you record?
We started with the first sessions in spring of this year. At first trying to figure out what setup suits our production style at the moment. We wanted to change the whole approach and exclude the computer as much as possible. So we setup a little project studio in our studio in Berlin. So basically when ‘Wishing’ came out in August, we had only 3 tracks ready for the album and as time moved on, we finished the rest.
What has influenced the sound and song-writing for these releases?
It’s definitely a mixture of the sound we’ve been playing in our DJ sets for the last couple of years. We always try to combine the old classics we are up with like Omar S with some of the new guys that take a new approach to House music.
How do you usually go about writing music?
It always starts with a beat. You have to get yourself in the right mood and a good groove is all you need. With this album we tried re-sampling and it was a great way to do it. So basically we played some synth lines, recorded them and then treated them like a sample … editing, cutting, rearranging, filtering them. Brings a great old school vibe to it and you don’t get in trouble with any copyright owners. haha.
How did Chopstick and Johnjon form?
We were introduced by a friend about 15 years ago back in Hamburg. I (john) was DJing at that time in and around Hamburg and Thien was a producer. So Karen, our friend, thought it would be a great fit. And it was.
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about working together?
The most challenging is probably to constantly try and find that common ground in music as our tastes varies. We’ve known each other for almost 2 decades and grew up on the same music so that helps a lot of course. It’s a challenge which we gladly accept each time we go into the studio together and as long as the result is something we’re really happy with, we’ll keep on working together. The finished music and what comes after is probably most rewarding as we’ve been playing beautiful venues in the furthest corners of the Earth and are grateful for that.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
(Thien) At this very moment I’m listening to “So it goes” by the late Mac Miller which is the last track on his latest album “Swimming”. Amazing how he has grown musically!
How has 2018 been for you and what do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
2018 was the year we focused more on our label and studio work again. We are steering the label into new old waters.. House music as we love it. And we’ve been really busy with writing and producing our new album “Nine” and working on other projects as well. For the rest of 2018, we’re going to be in the studio for a few more sessions and finalizing our album.
What programs/equipment do you use?
We mostly record our ideas with Ableton live as we jam with our synths like the NordLead 1, Waldorf Microwave XT & Q, Virus Ti, Prophet 6, OB-6, Roland JP8000, Jx3P, JX8P, JD900, etc…
But what makes the sound more interesting is that we use a lot of old school FX units such as Korg Delays, Boss Delays, etc…After we record our basic ideas, we start arranging and then finally move the stems over to the mixing studio with a 48 channel console etc… After it’s mixed, we send it to the moon and back for that extraterrestrial flava you’re used to hearing from us!
What do you like to do away from music?
Mostly hanging with friends and go boating on the sea, and just spend quality time with loved ones… it’s something we’ve missed for the longest time and would not want to miss it for anything in the world.
What do you enjoy most and dislike about touring?
The travelling and waiting is something we dislike from the bottom of our hearts! It’s exhausting and your body just takes a toll for sure as you’re usually fighting with jet lag and different time zones. But in the end it’s all worth it as you get to meet the best people in the world.. experience new territories, cultures and share something that is so dear to us: House music.
Favourite food and place to hang out?
Favourite food has been Burgers for the longest time but that has changed.
We love our Asian noodle soup.. like Pho, Soba or Ramen and there are just way too many favourite places in Berlin to name. Takumi NINE and Madame Ngo are definitely up there as the favourite noodle soup places in Berlin!