TIEFSCHWARZ with KENNY GLASGOW , BEN MURKO , IAN GUTHRIE and more at Boa-Redux (270 Spadina), Saturday (March 26). $25 before 2 am, $30 after. www.boa-redux.com. Rating: NNNNN
Tiefschwarz (aka German brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz) are at the forefront of that edgy new-wave-influenced house music that's been revitalizing the underground over the past few years. It's got a rough punk edge while keeping its focus on the dance floor, and crosses over a range of scenes.
Unlike a lot of the new faces that have popped up in this area of DJ culture, Tiefschwarz have more house pedigree than rock influence. Ali ran a few influential deep house clubs in Stuttgart in the mid-90s, where the two built up a bit of a name as New York-influenced soulful house DJs. Their first singles were well received, and they could easily have stuck with that style, but they felt increasingly constrained by the genre's limitations.
"It was a natural thing," explains Basti from his home in Berlin. "My brother and I have a creative process, and you have to be open to new things. Four years ago we decided that we needed to change. We were getting bored with straightforward deep house and were getting more into the dubby electronic side.
"We don't want to think too much. It just comes out of our stomachs."
Basti credits the 2002 release of their debut album, Ral 9005 (Classic Records), with shoving their new approach into the underground spotlight. A string of remixes introduced their sound to other scenes, and the best of these were collected on the recent Misch Masch compilation. With a new album dropping in late spring, they're poised to get even bigger soon.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Classic Records, which has just folded as a result of the collapse of its distributor, a story that's been all too common in the past few years.
"It's a hard time for the music industry. The underground scene is doing well, but the commercial side has problems everywhere," says Basti.
Working as a pair has allowed Tiefschwarz to make the most of the uncertain dance music economy. While they do DJ as a pair sometimes, a glance at their tour schedule reveals that they often split up and play solo DJ sets, a clever way to be in two places at once.
"We have too many gigs to do them together. We love to play small underground clubs, and it gets too expensive if they have to pay for planes and hotels for both of us.
"Beside, sometimes it's good to travel without your brother."