For more than 20 years, ATB has been at the top of the international DJ charts and reaching in the top 50 in DJ Mag’s 2022 list while his songs have been played billions of times all around the globe.
We caught up with the BRIT Awards-nominated artist about his new single with Au/Ra and York called ‘Highs and Lows’, his numerous releases over the years and what his plans are for the coming months…
Welcome to DMC World, ATB, where are you joining us from today?
Hello DMC World.
I’m sitting here in my new studio right now and working on several new songs in parallel. In addition, I’m pretty excited because shortly our 2nd child will be born. These are just exciting times
As a producer and DJ, what inspires you?
So far, my worldwide tours have always inspired me a lot for new music and productions. Other countries, cultures and customs. All these impressions always flow into my music in the studio. As a DJ, the crowd is always the most inspiring thing for me. I never have ready-made tracklists. I always study the crowd very carefully and try to take the audience on a musical journey. Then I often see in the reaction of the audience whether it should be a little more melodic or whether it can also go harder to the point. That’s why I always need to be close to the audience to be able to actually perceive these reactions.
You just released your new single featuring Au/Ra, ‘Highs and Lows’. Tell us about how the track came together?
That’s actually a pretty cool story. My old friend Torsten Stenzel (YORK) visited me in my new studio in Bochum / Germany. York and I had a hit together in 1999 with “Fields Of Love”. We listened to different ideas and one of them Torsten liked very much. Since Au/Ra (Jamie) is Torsten’s daughter, he played her the backing and she found it so inspiring that she went right to it and wrote the top-line and lyrics. I finished the song with the vocal tracks here in the studio and I’m really happy that the collaboration worked out like that.
Link: ‘Highs and Lows’ HERE.
You have been releasing music for over 20 years, any short lessons you could share with us that have been key to your career?
I started writing and producing music in 1993. At that time still with my project “Sequential One”. My motto has always been to create something new, not to chase any trend and to still be relevant in the music business in 20 years. Over time I have found and developed my own sound and for me it is always a compliment when people say that they hear my signature in my songs. I’m firmly convinced that if you stay true to yourself and also sometimes cancel collaborations that are promising but don’t match your own taste, you can last a long time in the music business and build up your very own fan base.
In your career you have released on labels such as Armada, Kontor, Coldharbour and Universal, what have been your favourite collaborations?
Oh you know, everything has its time and that’s why there is no ranking for me here. Kontor Records was the first label for the ATB project. It started in 1998 with 9PM (till I come). I signed the record deal with Jens Thele and his team at the kitchen table of the first small Kontor office in Hamburg. We released countless singles and 10 studio albums together and Kontor was a big part of ATB. Armada has a close relationship with Kontor, so some tracks were licensed to Armada in different countries. But my home label was always Kontor. But at some point it was time to go new ways. That’s why I switched to Universal / Virgin in the wake of the release of Your Love (9PM).
How do you normally approach writing a track typically in a studio?
I like to be inspired by sounds. I have a library of sounds that I maintain over and over again and then I just sit down and see which sound inspires me at that exact moment. And then I quickly realize if it’s going in a good direction. There are also days when I’m really happy and the next morning I listen to it again and think: Unfortunately, this is not good at all (laughs). But that’s also part of the creative process in the studio. As soon as I have the harmonies and melodies for the track, I actually have the song already finished in my head and then I just have to put this idea into practice in the DAW.
Then I see if the song could use vocals and work out the ideas for a topline and lyrics with a writer and singer. I always have ideas for lyrics, but I’m not a native English speaker and prefer to let others work them out. Then I finish the production with the vocals and finally master the track.
Are there any sounds or genres that you’re particularly inspired by at the moment?
I find it funny how the sound from the 90s comes back. The fast rave songs that are currently mega hip again often sound like my Sequential One tracks in the mid 90s. It’s fun to hear the sound come back and I’m excited to see where it goes this time. Maybe I’ll unpack my Sequential One shoes again and come up with some new tracks.
What else can we expect in the coming months for ATB?
I am currently working on more singles and an EP. And I’m planning my 11th studio album for 2024. I’m currently taking a step back from touring because, as I said, the birth of our daughter can start at any moment and I want to spend time with the family. But soon I will go on tour again.
Lastly, what are the big 5 tunes you can share with our readers for this weekend…
ATB x Au/Ra x York – Highs And Lows
Fred Again – Delilah (pull me out of this) (Original Mix)
Block & Crown, Chelsea Singh – Enjoy The Silence
Vivid & Xander Jones – Daydream (Extended Mix)
Andain – Beautiful Things (ATB Mashup)