David Pollock chats to German duo Âme about pronunciations, house music and the beauty of 12in vinyl
‘It’s pronounced “am”,’ says Kristian Beyer, one half of Karlsruhe electronicists Âme. ‘All the time people pronounce it “ami” or “Amy”, but it’s “am” – the French word for soul.’ In which case the duo are well-named, because Âme produce a beautiful kind of soulful, continental house, which blends the Chicago style with dashes of ambient and progressive sounds.
‘We make house music with a bit of a techno influence,’ says Beyer. ‘I’m not a friend of sub-genres beyond that at all, there’s good house music and there’s bad house music.’
Beyer should know, because he’s even the expert in such matters within his own group, which is completed by fellow Karlsruhe boy Frank Wiedemann. ‘I never made music on my own,’ says Beyer. ‘I was a civil engineering student and I would work in record shops outside my studies. That’s where I met Frank, who is a classically-trained musician. His father is also a musician, his mother runs a jazz club in our town and he always had a studio since he was young. So he asked me to make music with him, because Frank’s background is in jazz and he thought I had a good ear and a good taste in Chicago house and Detroit techno.’
This was seven years ago and they have released one artist album so far, 2004’s Âme on Sonar Kollektiv. The duo have also convened their own Innervisions label alongside Berlin-based kindred spirit Dixon, an old friend of Beyer’s since he signed Âme to Sonar Kollektiv in his past life as an A&R man. Their 12in output has been consistent and high-quality. The label has been going for three years, and Beyer describes the working relationship as ‘super-happy’.
‘When we started the label,’ Beyer says, ‘ the focus was to be entirely on 12in releases, but we brought out our first CD this year called Muting the Noise, which was a selection of ambient tracks by friends of ours and people who inspire us. From now on, I think anything we do that isn’t aimed at the dancefloor will be on CD, and everything that is will still be on 12in.’
For those of a particular vintage, Beyer and Innervisions’ commitment to vinyl-based releases for the DJ market is heartening to hear. ‘Everyone is complaining that sales of records are going down,’ he says, ‘but we still sell good amounts of records and people keep buying them. Of course we now take in a lot of money from online platforms like Beatport, but there are many collectors out there, and I would say there’s still a base for reasonable record sales.’
It seems a shame to labour some kind of point about German efficiency, but Âme have built on success after success and are now spreading their sound around Europe and the world. Beyer and Wiedemann even DJ separately, because they can cover more ground and would both rather have a full set to themselves than show up somewhere for an hour each on the decks. Only Beyer will be appearing here, although he’ll be dropping many of the duo’s co-productions.
‘We are good friends, though,’ says Beyer. ‘We still talk a lot, we learn a lot from each other, I think we both ended up working on the right thing together.’
Subculture at the Sub Club, Glasgow, Sat 9 Aug.