From Manic Street Preachers to Pulp, and Amy Winehouse to PJ Harvey... Soho's prolific venue The Borderline has seen some phenomenal names grace their stage.
While it may be a place that has figured immensely in the development of the UK's thriving homegrown music scene, The Borderline's impressive heritage and the site's rich history has attracted touring musicians from around the globe. A necessary stop for many artists on their way through Britain, the venue welcomes another hotly-tipped European talent this Wednesday as they continue their steady rise to prominence across the world.
Berlin's ABBY are Emerging Icons on the brink of something massive... and they're travelling there at break-neck speed. Early in 2012, they scored some well-deserved airplay on Emerging Icons' exclusive new music slot on Absolute Radio. As they were played to some hundred thousand listeners across the nation that night, it soon became clear that their stylish approach to alt electropop was primed for widespread success.
Looking back at their achievements to date, it's amazing to see how things have taken off since then. They've been snapped up by Universal in Germany, secured a number of fantastic support slots, their shows have selling out and they've made it to prolific showcases like SXSW. Their music is reaching further and wider than ever before... and 2013 is poised to be the year that takes ABBY to that next step.
Having put them in touch with Universal, we can't wait to hear 'Friends and Enemies', the first release to emerge since their signing. Reflecting a lot of the music they've been making in the last two years of their musical journey as an unsigned act, it's a record they're extremely proud of. The sentiments of such a hardworking band as they continue to make signifcant headway in this difficult industry couldn't be more fitting- but they still remain grounded. 'We're happy if you guys listen to it and like it!' they tell us. 'It will be released by the end of March- first in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but we're planning on something for the UK aswell!' With a number of dates booked on Everything Everything's upcoming European tour, there's going to be a lot of happy gig-goers when this new stuff drops on the live stage.
Thankfully, you don't have to wait that long, and neither do we. We're pumped for Wednesday's show at The Borderline- and there's even a cheeky added bonus in that our very own anti-folk heroine Erin K, is joining them on the bill. Here's an unplugged taster...
In anticipation of what will be a fantastic night for new music (not to mention the opportunity to see some future greats in a gloriously intimate venue) we caught up with ABBY to put a few questions to them.
Just how much have things changed since we aired them on the radio over here? How's life as a signed band? And of course, that very important question... where's good for a knees-up in Berlin?
2012 was one hell of a year for you guys! Could you fill us in a little bit of everything you've been getting up to since we heard you on our Emerging Icons feature on Absolute Radio?
That's true. 2012 was very kind to us. We played a bunch of great festivals and great shows, sold out two london shows, toured in the US, including a SXSW appearance. We finished our album 'Friends and Enemies', went to Abbey Road and did a lot more great things we definitely forgot to mention right now...
Lorenzo bought a harp, that's cool.
You've managed to achieve that enviable goal of a record deal at last- how did it feel to finally put that pen to paper with a company like Universal?
It felt very relieving; although we didn't have the feeling that we achieved anything major by then. We're very happy to finally have found a new partner that helps us to manage the whole record thing and gives us new opportunities to spread our music. Still, this is just the beginning of a long journey!
Considering the fact you spent some time with us before the Universal introduction, how important is a site like Emerging Icons for the promotion and protection of the unsigned community?
We really like sites like yours and think they are very important. There's so many great unsigned artists out there and most of the people don't care if a band is signed or not if they dig the music! Being signed doesn't change too much; though it gives you support to spread your words and music. If there would be a lot more institutions like Emerging Icons, a lot more artists could be able to skip the 'label' part and still be heard! We appreciate that a lot!
You're off on tour with Everything Everything in March- how are you feeling about that and what do you think about the music coming out of the UK right now?
There has always been great music coming out of the UK and there still is! Great bands, great DJs, producers and singers! No way to start dropping names now. Everything Everything are a very refreshing band, and kick the shit live aswell. We actually played one gig together years ago in a tiny club in frankfurt, so we're looking forward to doing that again even more now!
What should we know about you that we can't learn from your music or your press releases? We're hoping for interesting facts and weirdness...
Maybe the fact that we're even more into electronic music than you would expect from all the press releases. The album will show a lot more. But considering weirdness, you guys should come to one of our gigs to be a part of some honest and extended, improvised raves...
It's something we enjoy a lot on stage - moments without any musical borders or limitations. Well, despite that it's danceable I guess...
Berlin is renowned for being a bustling cultural centre- how does the atmosphere of the city help feed your own creativity?
A lot. Berlin has so much to offer. But despite all the good food and the fact that we have so many friends here, we can't deny that the constant availability of good raves and parties feeds our hunger for electronic music. Besides this, I guess you can get your inspiration everywhere in the world- but berlin is a great homebase for all of us.
Which gig venues and nightspots should we make sure we get to if we're ever over there?
Still, all the great things you hear about Berghain are true. It's worth not only one visit. We love the KaterHolzig in summer and had some great moments in Ritter Butzke.You should also check out Sisyphos and Farbfernseher sometime. Gretchen has a great lineup most of the time. The chances are damn high that your favourite party-spot ever is one out of the ten popping up here everyday.
Are there any emerging acts in Europe we should know about and look out for on the touring circuit?
If you don't know them yet, our friends from Brandt Brauer Frick are awesome. They just finished their new album 'Miami'... and Dj Koze is making a new record! He's been playing around the world for years now, but always a great adresse, amazing dj and musician. You should also check out Apparat's epic new record 'Krieg & Frieden' where our guitar man Tilly is all over the place.
With your infectious balance of indie and electronica you could easily be heralded as Germany's answer to Phoenix. Are they a band you admire, and if so- which tracks of yours would you love to see them cover?
Phoenix covering a song of ours...that's babaaam!! Yes, we've been listening to their music since the beginning, great band. Hm...maybe monsters, cause for us it's so far off what they are doing!
You've already made it over to SXSW. Have you got any particularly memorable moments from this global get-together of the music community?
Austin seemed to be a great city, although SXSW is so special and invading the city so much that it's hard to imagine how it looks and feels without the festival. But yeah! We had bad power-converters which brought us (let's say) 'memorable excitement' on stage!! Haha, we were sweating our asses off. All of us had a great time though- not only at SXSW, we had some great moments in New York and LA too!
What is your one word of advice to acts still seeking that break you've finally had?
You can buy your tickets for Abby's show with Erin K at The Borderline on Wednesday 27 Feb by following this link here.