Das UK-Duo Ten Fé um die Singer-Songwriter Leo und Ben aus London ist dieser Tage in Berlin unterwegs, um heute Abend beim Indie Kollektiv im Lido zu performen. Nachdem sie jahrelang zu zweit die Londoner U-Bahnen bespielt haben, stehen sie nun mit mehrköpfiger Band auf den Bühnen dieser Welt und haben im vergangen Jahr unter anderem das Telekom Electronic Beats Festival in Bukarest und das Eurosonic Festival in Groningen gerockt. Letzte Woche begeisterten sei beim Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. Unterstützt wurden sie in ihrer musikalischen Entwicklung vom Telekom Music Talent Space (TMTS). Das internationale Musikförderprogramm hat der Band auf ihrer Reise finanziell, aber auch mit dem notwendigen Know-how und dem richtigen internationalen Netzwerk unter die Arme gegriffen. Und siehe da, ein Jahr nachdem wir die sympathischen Briten in Bukarest beim Electronic Beats Festival begleiten durften (Stylemag berichtete hier), werden sie als viel versprechendster Newcomer Act der Insel gehandelt – für alle Beteiligten ein großer Erfolg und einmal mehr Indiz für den erfolgreichen Outcome einer Kreativ-Partnerschaft mit der Telekom, die seit vielen Jahren junge Talente aus den Bereichen Musik, Kunst und seit kurzem auch der Mode fördert. Nächste Woche geht der neue Remix von Ewan Pearson zur gleichnamigen Single “Turn” online, der nach UNKLE’s Interpretation von “Make Me Better” der zweite Remix dieser Reihe ist. Die Idee: Mit der Remix-Serie unterstützt Telekom Electronic Beats Ten Fé mit Hilfe namhafter internationaler elektronischer Künstler. Stylemag Autorin Stephie hat den beiden charmanten Briten bei schönstem Indian Summer Himmel über den Dächern Berlins vorab schonmal auf den Zahn gefühlt und mit ihnen über das letzte Jahr, das lang ersehnte Debütalbum und die Kooperation mit der Telekom gesprochen. Fazit: Die Jungs sind vielleicht bekannter und erwachsener, wohl aber keineswegs abgehobener geworden. Ein Gespräch über Freundschaft, die Liebe zur Musik und ganz große kleine Wünsche.
Stylemag: Hi Ben, hi Leo, how are you doing?
Ten Fé: We are great, thanks. It’s a lovely day, sun is shining. Not only here but everywhere it seems. I think the whole of Europe got that weather, it wasn’t bad in England either. Thank god for global warming (laughs). But that’s another thing…
It’s been a year since you opened the Electronic Beats Festival in Bukarest, a lot happened since then. If you look back now, how important was it for you to team up with Telekom?
Leo: It has made a huge difference, the main thing for us personally was, that we are able to play with a band. Ben and me, we are writers and it’s always just the two of us. I am one half, he is the other. Now we have been on tour with a huge band. So we got two guitars, a base drum and an electronic simplifier.
That sounds very different to performing in a London tube…?
Ten Fé: It is, yes. We have never been on the tube with five people. You would have to share the money with five then (laughs).
You have been doing that for years before teaming up with Telekom. Is that something you still have time for and keep relying on?
Leo: Oh yes, unfortunately we still have time for that (laughing).
Credit: Bart Heemskeer
What’s the difference between the intimacy and anonymity of performing in the London subway in comparison to being five people on a stage at big festivals?
Ben: When we go basking we got a different name and we are kind of just playing other peoples songs, like covers of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. We are really trying to be accessible for people in that situation, just as we do on stage.
Leo: There are obviously certain elements that cross and we do allow some of the experience we make while basking to influence how we perform live because we really communicate with people. That’s been something we tried to stick to when we play live, communicating with the audience in an upfront way. We are trying to tear down barriers and bring the crowd on the stage.
You seem to be a very harmonic couple, that’s at least what my colleague told me from past year – sometimes you are singing Leo, sometimes you Ben. You both perform to the audience and try to involve them. How important is this kind of unity for being authentic and successful?
Ben: Absolute important. In the end we are a band playing songs that are very personal and illusional. So we want to make them real, especially on stage.
Leo: Just as you said, sometimes I sing, sometimes Ben sings, sometimes I play the keyboard, we all switch instruments and positions, even our band. There is no kind of ego, everybody is doing everything. You gotta do what serves the song. That’s how it works and makes sense for us.
This requires a very high level of mutual trust. How long have been you been together – as friends and as musicians?
Ben: Quite a long time, about eight years. We didn’t write songs together right away though, but had music that we both shared and loved, thats how we started out basking – when we just kind of got to know each other. So it’s been a friendship from the start already.
Leo: It’s like best friends that have been side by side over years and after a few years they are starting to go out with each other. (laughing)
Ben: It’s the same with the guys we are having in the band, we have known them for a long time as well and we were friends with them before we started making music. There is so many bands with one leader and session musicians, that’s not a very authentic way, at least not for us. Things on tour are very intimate anyways as we are all in the same bed so it require some trust. (laughing)
What was the best about the festival season and being on the road, besides sharing beds?
Ben: That we were able to go to the festivals ourselves, to spend time there.
Leo: After we did the festival in Spain we headed north basking meeting new people and playing in different places, the same in France. It takes off the pressure and you get your music out in a much more organic way while making friends. We love doing that and this has been important.
In your latest single “Turn” you sing “You say you love me, but who knows what you mean, who knows who you’re really thinking of?”. So every fact is kinda followed by a ‘but’ or ‘maybe’. What was the inspiration behind it?
Ben: I wrote this song for a women who couldn’t show her feelings, and the character in the song is completely exhausted by it. When the trust is gone you can try to turn things back but in the end there is nothing you can do if you can’t read someones mind anymore.
It also seem to state a ‘turn’ in your band history, you changed lead voice, this time it’s you singing, Leo. Music vise it shows a new more soulful sound to the band…
Ben: It’s a very driving rhythm, but one of the things we are doing, is really concentrating on a song trying to not come up with kind of an overacting style we have to be a slave to. So if we feel like a song works in a particular way that is not necessarily the same as other as songs, that’s fine. We haven’t felt pressure.
“Make Me Better” was remixed by electronic music legend UNKLE, this one is remixed by Pearson who also produced the album. How do you feel about those kind of different inputs and interpretations of your songs, what do remixes add to your music?
Leo: Both remixes are really amazing. Them taking our songs in an electronic remix was just very fresh for us. It stretches the songs out and fills them up in a more like deeper way.
Ben: Just as we said earlier, it’s just the two of us when we write songs and songwriting is really important to us, even when we record thing are quite changeable, following a very natural procedure when we interpret it. The songs themselves are strong, so they are not based on one style but can work differently, and those remixes just prove that to us.
The debut album will finally be released somewhen at the beginning of next year, what can we expect?
Ben: People will definitely find quite some different styles going on. And that’s really important to us, just as we said, we do not want to be slaves to a specific style. We really believe in all the songs and the response so far, especially in Europe has been crazy. So we are looking very forward and are curios to see how it will be received.
Und hier haben wir endlich den neuen Ewan Pearson Remix von “Turn” für euch: