Swiss duo ME & her have been making waves in the realms of house and techno since their first release back in 2014 on Berlin’s OFF Recordings, since then they have had a string of releases on Deeperfect, Get Physical, Suara and Natura Viva. The pair’s fusion of influences shine through in their productions as well as their energetic DJ sets, with gigs spanning the globe from Barcelona’s City Hall to Singapore’s government headquarters.
With a forthcoming release on Hot Creations' vinyl-only sub label Hottrax featuring remixes from DJ Bone and Dense & Pika, we sat down with ME & her to catch up.
Hi guys, thanks for talking to us. How is 2017 treating you so far?
Phuong: Thanks for having us. 2017 was a little bit of roller coaster for us. Personally we both had some hard times as we had to deal with multiple losses in our inner circle. But in terms of music it has been great so far. I spent the last 6 months touring around Asia and Jen took care of our Europe gigs in that time. But we can’t wait to be reunited soon again for some double trouble.
Jen: As Phuong mentioned I lost my dad one and a half months ago which really created a mess in my life; however I did get some strength from DJing and of course from making music. It was also great that I had Phuong who covered my back. The EP on Hottrax and the amazing remixes were also really motivating to continue and get back to a happy attitude to life.
Tell us more about how ME & her came into fruition. How did you guys meet and decide on working together?
Phuong: It was love at first sight! Haha no just kidding - it kinda just happened. Jen was spinning at my birthday party six years ago and that’s how we got to know each other. At one point she had a gig in Tel Aviv and asked me to join her. We had such a good time there that we decided to create a duo so we can share even more good moments together.
Who are each of your musical influences and why? Both within and outside of dance music.
Phuong: I had quite a crazy musical journey. I grew up with cheesy Vietnamese music because my parents loved to sing karaoke (Asian thing) until I came across my dad’s vinyl collection of Pink Floyd and I loved it. I started quite early with classical piano, continued with jazz, soul, funk and r&b and also had a short moment of madness with punk & SKA when I was a teenager. I discovered electronic music quite late I have to say but it captivated me right away. In short you can say that I’m the softie within our duo. I love melodies and experimental sounds.
Jen: I am huge fan of Miss Kittin, DJ Rush and Speedy J. I grew up in the Techno Scene of Leipzig & Berlin and started producing “Schranz“ when I was 15 years old. I was singing for a House DJ when I was 18 and had some producer boyfriends during that brought me into music productions and DJing. However, I did also have a classical music education (singing and piano lessons for some years). It was a great time. When I moved to Zurich some years later I met Phuong and that was when the magic happened.
Can you tell us a little bit about your studio process – How do you make your tracks and what equipment do you use?
Jen: So actually it’s always a bit different. We have two ways of starting tracks. Either I create a main groove with Logic (now I train myself hard to switch over to Ableton - but still I feel comfier with Logic) and I then start over with an idea for the arrangement. When it comes to “finger power“ I need Phuong to play in some synths cause she is better with her piano skills. We also collaborate with Riverside Studios in Berlin where we recorded music and have a great mentor from London, Ian McKenzie, who is really experienced and always give us support on how we can improve our music and once in a while we visit him for jam sessions.
The second approach is that we have a lead vocal where we build our tracks around (we have also done this the other way around, for example our collaboration with Billy Fountain) but it’s easier to have a singer with his idea and then to create the magic around them.
What key equipment - hardware and software - do you use to producer with?
Our studio is simple but effective. We have KRK white noise active studio monitor speakers, a Motu soundcard, the Arturia key lab midi controller, a Samsung g track microphone, the zoom arq (also using that one for the sets), the icontrols pro-daw controller, the Moogerfooger ring modulator, the possibility to record with a dave smith prophet 08 and a sub 37 (both we have used for our Jan Blomqvist remix). We also work a lot with vst/plug-ins (analog lab, sausage fattener, synplant/sonic charge - we have a free download on our Soundcloud where we used the synplant for the main synth).
We have created an elements pack where we try to use it from track to track so we can keep our signature elements. However, we always use a lot of new stuff because we like to work a lot with vocoded and abstract elements.
You’ve made international appearances across Europe, USA and Asia. What are some of your favourite places to play and why?
Phuong: One of our favorite places in Europe is definitely Berlin. We love to play extended sets and challenge ourselves whilst creating something new and special and take the crowd on a journey with us. But also Spain, Italy or the French part of Switzerland are places we love to play. When it comes to Asia... India is a pretty special for us. We just had our 3rd tour of India within a year and a half and we can’t wait to go back - they truly know how to party.
Besides India there is one club in Asia which is our favourite club and that’s HQ by the Council in Singapore. Incredible vibe and crowd and one the sweetest hosts ever, but also Vietnam is very special especially for me (as I’m Vietnamese). The scene is super small but they are really appreciative of you and your music. Also Vietnam has one of the most beautiful festivals I’ve ever been - The Quest Festival. It’s definitely a country to look out for.
How does the duo's dynamic work – do you always DJ and produce together and how does it affect the creative process?
Phuong: Normally we always perform together. It’s actually more of an exception that we were apart for so long now. It’s that special energy when we perform together and that’s actually what makes us as a duo. As we don’t live in the same city anymore we work more remotely or via Skype but we try to be together in the studio as much as possible.
Jen: I also spam her a lot on WhatsApp. Our chat history is glorious
As touring DJs you must live a very busy lifestyle. What are some of your favourite ways to relax outside of music?
Jen: I have the comfiest bed on earth which I really enjoy when coming back. Also I love to go out with my dog and cooking is my biggest hobby. Until last autumn, I also studied for around five years, besides having a normal job as well. I was pretty tired from everything but seeing new places and having the music gave me a lot of power.
Phuong: Good food and good sleep. We live in Switzerland so we are surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains - the best getaway that you can have - hiking, swimming, reading and fresh air.
Your next release lands on Jamie Jones’ sub-label Hottrax and features remixes from Dense & Pika and DJ Bone. What’s the story behind this release?
To be honest, we were waiting for that release for quite a while now... but the wait was worth it. We just sent the demo to Jamie and didn’t expect a reaction at all. But we are super happy that he was diggin’ it and wanted to release it on Hottrax… it took some time until we found the perfect remixer for 'Wild Rage' and we couldn’t ask for better ones than Dense & Pika and DJ Bone.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you? Any releases, gigs or projects you’d like to shout about?
2017 is going to be very exciting. But first we can’t wait to be reunited again after 6 months and kick off our summer tour with some nice gigs around Germany and Switzerland. Besides that, we are thrilled to headline some super nice festivals this summer and looking forward to a great Sonar and an Asia tour with both of us at the end of the year as well. Musically we’ve got some nice remixes in the pipeline, which we will announce very soon. We also had a release on SNOE and we just submitted remixes for Lapsus and Bedrock.