A flight from Copenhagen to Berlin, a tip from a stranger, two artists colliding, And The Beast was born.
German producer Philipp Peltz and Danish singer Amy Horn combined forces to shape their sonic vision of the future past. Their modern interpretation of Trip Hop infused Synthwave creates phantasies of desire and repulsion, order and chaos, good and bad, gentle and rough. The productions are both sharp and fearless with influences of Portishead, Kavinsky, Moloko, Radiohead and Trentemøller shining through. Warm haunting synth lines broken up by digital soundscapes and complex drum arrangements, all tied together by Amy’s cunningvocal lines that lead through the ambivalent soundscapes pulling strings of the unknown.
We just had to ask them some questions.
indieberlin: Tell us a little bit about your musical background.
Amy: My background is pretty mixed. I grew up in a home full of jazz, world and classical music. My mother is a musician so we had a grand piano. When I was about twelve I started composing these simple but pretty beautiful piano pieces. I didn’t want my mother to teach me about technique and scores – I was pretty stubborn and wanted to discover everything on my own. Then the piano pieces started developing into songs.
Since then I’ve had pretty different band experiences, my very first one doing catchy choruses in an otherwise spoken word band. That really wasn’t for me. I was bored. After that I tried out everything – jazz, pop, rock, alternative and electronic. I did a Master of Arts at university and focussed a lot on what music does to us; how it influences us and how we use music as a tool. I’m very glad I understand the academic way of thinking but I feel much better outside that world. Now I make my own music and write songs for different projects. I guess they all have a weird twist and mix organic and electronic sounds.
Philipp: I learned to play the piano, some guitar and drums, played in various bands and produced chill-out music under different aliases. I’m also a lecturer and academic and try to provide a distinct angle on music that feeds from those two backgrounds. Every artist should bring some interesting background to the table, I believe, and that is what I find interesting about myself.
A very rational, logical mind developed through my academic background. On the other side, an emotional, unstructured approach driven by a lazy mind to enjoy a creative flow experience. Those two sides, the rational and emotional one, are sometimes conflicting but conflicts are much more interesting than harmony.
they weren’t holding up appearances but rather walking down the stairs to a basement full of hidden things
indieberlin: How did you come up with the name And The Beast?
Amy: We had these songs and they all had something pretty dark. As if they weren’t holding up appearances but rather walking down the stairs to a basement full of hidden things, strong emotions and forbidden desires. We discussed different things but “And The Beast” was the only name that both of us really liked. It was a fit.
I kept running into the same two guys at the airport because there was a mix-up at the gates
indieberlin: How did you get together as a band?
Amy: Philipp and I met because I was on a plane from Copenhagen to Berlin at the end of the summer 2018. I kept running into the same two guys at the airport because there was a mix-up at the gates and no-one knew from what gate the flight to Berlin was departing. The guys went on the same plane to Berlin. Eventually we exchanged phone numbers and one of them told me to get in contact with his friend and producer Philipp. When I wrote to Philipp, he said that he needed a male singer. But after a while he sent me a Dropbox folder with a lot of demos. Then we met and I started writing and recording to his demos.
Philipp: I was very impressed by Amy’s vocal lines that she recorded over some tracks I had lying around. Very catchy but never cheesy. We both love Trentemøller and Radiohead, so we thought it’s an intriguing idea to record some synthwave inspired melancholic trip hop songs.
indieberlin: How does the songwriting process work for you / in your band?
Amy: So far we’ve only tried out one way: Philipp does a demo, I write and record a song to that demo, then he produces and adjusts the soundscape to the song and we send it back and fourth a couple of times till we’re both happy. Philipp is a pretty amazing producer. And I think we work differently, which is a good thing.
Philipp: I had some tracks lying around always thinking they needed vocals. Then Amy came along. A vocal line can be very inspiring. Often you have to change quite a bit in the arrangement, harmonies, melodies, sounds etc. In fact, the whole track needs to be changed to give room and support the vocals. So the final songs are quite different to the first demos. It’s always a back and forth. Elements inspire new elements.
The music is like driving through a city at night, watching all the lights and discovering the differences to how people act when they think no-one can see them
indieberlin: If you had to describe your music to a deaf person, what would you say?
Amy: The music is like driving through a city at night, watching all the lights and discovering the differences to how people act when they think no-one can see them. It’s kind of liberating.
Philipp: Yeah, driving around one rainy night without a destination. Emotions will lead you down a path but surprises – good and bad – are luring behind every corner.
more sex than love
indieberlin: If your music was a movie, which genre would it be in?
Amy: Probably some kind of crime science fiction drama. Probably with a touch of ironi…
Philipp: And probably more sex than love.
indieberlin: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Amy: Everywhere. From things I see, things I hear, emotions, moods, people on the street – from everywhere.
Philipp: Difficult question. I could discuss that for hours without having an answer. It comes back to my point above. A joyful struggle between emotions and ratio, accepting and confronting each other. Art is a great way to express this struggle, at least for me.
indieberlin: How do you feel about covering a song?
Amy: If it’s the right song I feel pretty good about it. We actually already talked about doing that at some point. We’d probably find something from the 80s.
Dark colours…with some pink
indieberlin: Do you see your songs in colour or in black and white?
Amy: Dark colours.
Philipp: With some pink.
indieberlin: In ten years you look back to today and think:
Amy: That I’m really glad we released these songs.
Philipp: I want to change so many things in these songs but I was who I was back then.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.