Berlin, it was a warm and sunny day in the end of October and literally the last goodbye of the summer 2016. We were walking down Maybachufer in Kreuzberg, where we met the duo, Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, from the London based band Ten Fé.
They were sitting on a lovely wooden bench, enjoying the beauty of the summer in Berlin. These places and streets here are pretty familiar for both of them. The duo recorded their debut album ‘Hit The Light’ in Berlin, HQ of Kompakt Records.
Both seemed pretty chill, they were casually dressed. Ben had his guitar, from a session they played before for a radio station, and he was wearing a fluffy denim jacket – we’re still wondering how he managed wearing that jacket this day.
Hey guys, welcome back in Berlin. We heard that Berlin is a very familiar place to you. How does it come?
Leo: We did our Album in Berlin. We were involved in a lot of „Electronic Beats“ stuff, you know the magazine. So to be honest we saw a lot of those people and Germany is a bit like a second home.
Leo: Definitely especially Berlin. We want to play much more around – Hamburg was the first place we’ve done a show outside of Berlin in Germany. We just wanna play lots more here.
Are there any main differences between the audience in the UK, like in London and in Hamburg or Berlin?
Leo: We know a lot of people in the audience. (laughs)
That’s the main difference?
Leo: What’s the difference? I don’t know.
Ben: It’s hard to say I mean, I guess we played a lot in London. I think in general like, London crowds have a reputation for being quite reserved. It generally takes – it’s harder to break the barrier and just kind of letting loose. So it can be like that sometimes in London. We generally try to do gigs where we got sort of a good venue and we like get it packed out and we sort of put it on as our kind of night, you know like evolved tunes playing, people we know dj-ing and stuff like that. So generally we try to make it feel more like a party and that’s something we want to do more.
Leo: Yeah when it goes right in London there’s no nowhere else like it, ’cause you’re having a party with your mates and obviously you don’t know everybody but that’s what it feels like. Yeah, like Ben’s saying, if we’re honest we’re not an authority on it, ’cause we’ve only done like two gigs in Berlin.
Where did you play?
Leo: At the cafeteria of Berghain.
Leo: Yeah! (laughs) Cafeteria. It’s almost the same.
And the other venue?
Leo: It was in Flux-F, kind of.
Leo: Fluxbau, yeah. It was a really good gig.
Ben: That was wicked.
Leo: It was great when we were there. That’s definitely one occasion where we could tell the crowd were much warmer here than they were in London. But Ben was saying a really important thing, if in London – because there’s venues and promoters see so developed. We’ve been doing it for years and years, it’s got really stale. So the only way to do a show in London is to do your own show and that’s a huge difference. There are two very different ways of doing a gig in London, either you do it with a promoter in a venue and it’s very hard to make that good and fun, very difficult. You need to be quite big. But if you do it the other way, like you do it yourself; find a place – usually not a music venue- Usually somewhere quite strange like Ben was saying we’re gonna start doing it in our rehearsal room pretty soon, maybe fit 100 people in there but that doesn’t matter, that’d be great. We’ve been in bands before were we’ve put on gigs in very strange places, you know abandoned houses. We did a tour on a boat, down the river Themes once. Stopping in front of every kind of pub. You know I think it’s because people and bands have been playing in London so long that you have to look for something new, otherwise it’s just really hard to make it fun. – What’s the best venue in Berlin?
It’s pretty hard to say, we have some cool tiny venues. Lido is a cool venue!
Leo: Yeah, we keep hearing that!
It’s not that big but it’s a special venue, it used to be a cinema.
Leo: We’re honoured to play there, we’re not quite sure why we’re playing our first gig in Berlin there. But we’re happy, we’re happy playing anywhere.
You just released your debut album ‘Hit The Light’. What influenced you or the album?
Leo: We’ve gone through quite a lot together as like a music duo. We’ve been writing music together for a long time and I think we’ve shared a lot of influences that we’re both into over the course of that time. Some of it is just old bands that we just really like, Bob Dylan and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. So that stuff is kinda part of our blood. Or running through The Cure or modern stuff like Tame Impala or Mac DeMarco, Kevin Morby, Whitney. There are just so many good bands out there at the moment, who are writing really good songs.
Ben: The songs are the important thing. I guess the main thing are the songs rather than style that we’re influenced by. It’s a new way of album. Well we were listening to a lot of prog-rock, so it’s a prog-rock album. Which is so common now, it’s quite strange, you know, like, „yeah we listen to a lot of psych rock, so we made a psychedelic rock album.“ It’s the perfect study of this kind of music and that’s just not the way we do it. I think the styles between each songs are quite different but the songs themselves they’re consistent. Leo: We definitely got a sound that we see it sort of being channelled into but we just don’t want it to become something like very tight and prescript, like it’s got to be exactly this style.
If you had to describe music in one word, which word would it be? Music is…
Ben: Music is life…
Leo: Vibes. Music is vibes. – What would you say?
Leo: Taste of your own medicine! (laughter)
Music is being.
Leo: You went for the deep one. Good man.
Music is breathing.
Leo: Music is breathing. Music is being. Music is life. Music is vibes. Ah yeah, we got to the bottom of it. (laughter)
What was the last record you bought?
Leo: For myself… Happy Mondays first album on vinyl. ‘Plastic Face Carnt Smile’ from Lithuania, that was the only place they had it.
Ben: I bought Frank Oceans ‘Blonde’.
Do you have any childhood heroes?
Leo: Yeah lots and lots. It used to change every week when I was a kid.
Ben: I used to be mad about Jimi Hendrix when I was a teenager.
What would be your desert island record?
Leo: It would have to be a long one! ‘Für Immer’ by Neu! possibly. ’Cause that goes on and it does actually sound like you could listen to it for about 20 years and it would always sound different.
If you could choose another decade of music and fashion, which one would it be and why? Would you go back in time or to the future?
Leo: I’d choose the last decade on earth.
Ben: Well it would be obvious to say the 60s. It’s a pretty great time, really.
What does fashion mean to you?
Leo: Fashion is just a pair of good shoes.
Ben: It’s walking down the street and feeling like a million dollars. With only your shoes on.
Do you think fashion is important for you as a musician on stage or is it not that important for you as it is for other bands?
Leo: It’s a complicated question because fashion always has to come second, music comes first. And with a lot of bands it really is the other way around. I mean, we lived in East London for ten years, have you ever been there?
Leo: So you know what it’s like. Fucking Hipster-Tsunami. I’d never known that idea before I got to London, this person’s in a band for fashion not for music, it blew my mind. Yeah, he’s in a band just because it’s cool, he can’t really play anything, never written a song but he liked the idea of being in a band. So maybe that answers the question, I hope that answers the question. Fashion comes second and if you’re into music as much as we are then you dress in a certain way naturally. Because all of your heroes are dressing the same way.
Ben: If you’re in a band it’s a way of identifying with each other as well, you kind of share an aesthetic. It like gives off a vibe and you feel like you’re a unit, a group of people feeling the same way about stuff.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to have a chat with us. Click here to listen to Ten Fé’s debut album ‘Hit The Light’, which is out now and keep your eyed peeled for their upcoming shows (they will be back in Germany in March 2017).
xx smoke and echoes