14 Feb 2016

A conversation with ABBY about Berlin, international success and their album HEXAGON

“The basic emotion connecting us - a mixture of melancholy and a grin, that’s the four of us.”

Berlin-based four-piece ABBY shook up the music scene in their hometown with their latest album HEXAGON, released in August 2015 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and in October in the UK and the rest of the world.

Filou, Lorenzo, Tilly and Henne met more than 8 years ago at University, where they were studying music. Starting a band seemed like the logical step and they have been close friends ever since, going against the stereotype that bands have to unavoidably despise and love each other at the same time. “When we’re the four of us, we know that it will sound like us,” they say in the short movie that accompanies the album.

And this feeling is one you cannot shake when hearing what they have achieved within 16 months in the studio. “The feedback was crazy. We sure didn’t make the easiest album and were therefore surprised by the fan’s reactions and the reviews,” Lorenzo tells me. “We could barely believe it sometimes.”

Their music is what can only be described as the feeling you get when you walk into a bustling club with a lot on your mind. You can’t turn off completely but you lose yourself in your own thoughts and enter a state of delirium. If those thoughts turned into music, that’s what ABBY sounds like.
Inspired by the 70s psychedelia they grew up with, the atmosphere and the chemistry amongst them, the album was worth the 16 months it took to record it. “We decided, with this album, we did not want to limit ourselves in any way. Style-wise we wanted to be more open and we also wanted to work with the idea that every single one of the four of us could do exactly what he wanted, without having to explain much.”

Why is the feeling so special? Berlin is known for its extraordinary clubbing scene, which doesn’t quite feel like any other. Berlin, for them, is their home, and it inspires them time and time again. “The city is open for basically everything and gives everyone a chance to fully unfold - in personal and creative ways.” It’s a city that has been a cesspool for creative people for decades. Bowie and Iggy Pop lived and recorded there and the capital has shaped the international electronic music scene with acts like Kraftwerk.

But the positive feedback was not limited to Germany. “Since we released HEXAGON there has been a lot more international attention, especially from the UK, which we’re very happy about. We never wanted to make music that limits itself to our modest territory. Over the years, we have always played gigs around the world. These have always been a big influence.”

Germany’s vibrant music scene is very self-contained, even though there as many artists that deserve and desire international attention, as there are ones that don’t. So is it hard to ‘get out’?
“These days it’s easier than ever, I think. Electronic music is zeitgeist. It can be understood everywhere.” In this respect, they are very proud of their heritage. “Germany has always been one of the most important countries for electronic music and we feel like we belong to that culture.”

2016 is going to be a busy year. They will tour Germany in February and during the festival season, they will “play live wherever people want to see us.”

There's more music from ABBY and their electro-alias ABBY SYSTEM is also in the works.

(written by lena pagel)