Anatomy of an EDM shooting star duo: Ostblockschlampen (Eastblock Bitches)
The Ostblockschlampen (which is German and means „Eastblock Bitches“ in English) are among the most celebrated and established DJ/producer duos in Germany.
Formed by Markus Lange and Sophie Schaefer just a few years back, Ostblockschlampen have seen a meteoric rise to the stages of some of Europe’s biggest EDM festivals, performing in front of hundreds of thousands of fans at Electric Love, Parooka Ville, Sonne Mond & Sterne, and more.
Not surprisingly, they have released tracks on labels ranging from Spinnin’/Oxygen Records to Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak – and their music has been supported by the likes of David Guetta, Martin Garrix and Major Lazer – just to name a few.
We had the exciting opportunity to connect with Sophie and Markus ahead of their upcoming release “Dab is Dead” on Spinnin’/Oxygen Records and talk about how to build success as a DJ and artists. Their incredible insights are a must-read and great inspiration – check it out!
Hypeddit: Markus, Sophie – we would love to hear about your origins. How did you get into music as artists in the very beginning, when you just started out as ‘bedroom producers’?
Markus: I started producing music sometime around the year 2003, at the time when (New York) electroclash peaked as a music movement. My first DAW was a software called Sonic, followed by Reason, finally Ableton. Working with Reason was important – it helped me understand subtractive synthesis.
I released my first track as a solo artist – “Markus Lange” – on a small but really influential label called Pocketgame Records. This was a breakthrough, followed by lots of other releases on various labels and international touring as an electro live-act.
Sophie: I started DJing with vinyl records in 2007 when I was 17 years old. Spinning vinyls as a DJane was pretty unique at the time, so I quickly had the opportunity to play sets across Germany as a solo act. My first DAW was Fruity Loops before I switched to Ableton pretty quickly.
Markus: The first time we really met was in 2009, actually at a friend’s house party. We had so much fun that night – playing records together back and forth, chatting about music. We started joking that we should start a new group 😉
At the time, we were both represented by the same talent agency. Our booking manager, who heard that we were joking about starting a new group, actually booked two gigs for us as a duo – we didn’t even know!
So all of the sudden we had two shows booked together and no idea how we would perform – with Sophie spinning vinyl and me using Ableton live on stage.
We still don’t really know how (lol) but somehow it all came together and we started something new, combining some more popular tunes with totally new sounds and tracks. The feedback was incredible and we had one of the best nights ever! Of course, we had to pursue this further. That’s when Obstblockschlampen was born.
Hypeddit: What struggles did you have to overcome in the beginning?
Markus: We got so lucky! Everything worked pretty well for us from the start. I think one of the keys to our success was that both Sophie and I already had some pretty good success before we started out as a duo – that certainly helped.
The only thing we faced some real struggles with is actually our name “Ostblockschlampen” („Eastblock Bitches“ in English). It’s provocative to some folks.
We are both from East Germany, the side of Germany that was part of the Eastern Bloc before 1990, so it works for us, but some party promoters actually had to remove festival posters with our name on them in some cities.
Sophie: Sure, maybe it’s not the best name. In German, it’s pretty easy to pronounce, but for everyone else around the world it’s a tongue breaker 😉 That’s one of the reasons why we now add the English translation (“Eastblock Bitches”) to everything we do internationally. So, if you haven’t heard, you have to check out “Eastblock Bitches” – crazy dudes! 😉
Hypeddit: What tips and tricks do you have for our artists on how to build their success?
Markus: You have to be strong. You have to get up every day to pursue your goal. And you have to believe in yourself! Produce new music every day and never stop sending your music to labels, DJs, friends. Promote your music all the time. Work on your own style – BUT also have the courage to re-work a song when someone gives you good advice on how to improve it… like changing a drop. It’s OK to transform, you just need to make sure that you can stand behind your work and are always OK when looking at yourself in the mirror.
You can see that it works. If you come up with fresh ideas, you can have huge success. Look at what Dillon Francis did with Moombathon or more recently Flume with Bass House.
Hypeddit: Knowing what you know now, if you had to start your career from scratch tomorrow, what are the 3 – 5 things would you do first?
Sophie: First thing: the name! Pick an international name that everybody can read and pronounce. Don’t make the same mistake we made 😉 At the same time, choose a name that sounds interesting and maybe polarizes!
Markus: Second thing: Learn to produce music! We are not fans of “ghost producing”. Sure, I understand that a worldwide-touring act such as Diplo has a producer team in the background. But everybody knows that he has skills!
It’s also ok to co-write with other artists. But we can’t understand folks who decide to become a “famous DJ” without skills and passion! It’s so easy to just download a trial version of any DAW software, start producing, and see if it’s your thing. Music is the key these days! Don’t think you have to learn DJing. You can be successful without mad DJ skills – good example was Kygo.
Good social media work with good pictures or provocative videos helps, too.
Sophie: Third: When you have the chance to sign a contract with a major label – do it! Sure, they get a big share of your earnings but they have the man power to build careers!
And fourth: be different. Don’t just play what other DJs play. Don’t copy playlists from famous DJs. Find your own way and style! In the end, there is no simple formula for success. Just one thing you need for sure: luck!
Hypeddit: Where are you heading for 2017?
Sophie: We only had two releases last year. Our goal for 2017 is to put out a lot more tracks.
Our next single “Dab is Dead” (preview video: https://www.facebook.com/Ostblockschlampen/videos/1291753814195888/) is scheduled to be released on Spinnin’ Records on April 24th. Shortly after that we have a new single coming on Universal. So far, so good 😉 Also, we are already completely booked for live shows through fall, and maybe we get to play some shows in the US at the end of the year 😉