Tensnake on Nile Rodgers, Signing to a Major and Debut Album, 'Glow'

Tensnake
Dan Reid

According to German electro producer Marco Niemerski, better known as Tensnake, working with Nile Rodgers is a surprisingly easy thing to arrange.

“About a year ago, I sent him a message on Facebook and didn’t expect anything,” Niemerski explains. “I just wanted to send him my album, really. Ten minutes later, he wrote me back.

Rodgers, like many fans of underground electro house music, had heard Tensnake’s 2010 track “Coma Cat,” and wanted to meet the man behind it.

“The funny thing was he was trying to reach out to me through a mutual friend and I didn’t know that, so it was a huge coincidence. I didn’t expect him to know anything about me.”

While his humility is well-placed, Niemerski’s profile is likely to get a boost this year as he releases his finely-tuned debut album, “Glow,” this coming March through Astralwerks. The set features Rodgers on two tracks and expands on the disco-tinged vision put forth on his early singles and showcased on remixes for artists like Friendly Fires, Little Boots, and Lana Del Rey. And while its sound is cohesive, it’s not exactly as if Niemerski was implementing a grand scheme when he made it.

“It took me a while to finish the album–almost three years,” he concedes. “It wasn’t like I had a master plan of the album. All I knew is that I wanted to make an album that people would want to listen to through the end. A little bit like it used to be in the glory days of pop music.”

Niemerski grew up in Hamburg, Germany, listening to ‘80s pop radio and mining his older brother’s record collection. “I remember when CDs came out and you had to buy the album because maybe the song you wanted wasn’t available as the single,” he recalls. “Then you discovered other songs and you started to love the whole album.”

He cites influences as disparate as ‘90s hip-hop, old school disco, new wave, and of course Rodgers’ group Chic, much of which can be traced throughout “Glow.”

Before signing to the UMG family last year (he landed at Astralwerks through a deal first brokered at Virgin UK), Niemerski says he hadn’t considered approaching major labels with the album.

“I didn’t think the market was ready for this sound,” Niemerski admits. “But there was a funny thing happening in the past year. House music is now bigger than ever. Disclosure, Duke Dumont all that stuff started happening. [Major labels] were way more open and appreciative than two years ago.”

Touring for “Glow” will likely feature a solo Tensnake–at least for now. The album’s lengthy list of collaborators (in addition to Rodgers, Jacques LuCont, Jamie Lidell, and Berlin-based Australian singer Fiora are also featured artists) make it hard to tour in a live band capacity, though Niemerski is not ruling out a possible live event with Rodgers.

“He really loves music,” says Niemerski. “It doesn’t matter if you sold 500,000 records or 50, he’d be always up for a jam session.”

Tensnake’s new single, “Love Sublime” featuring Nile Rodgers and Fiora, is out on January 14. “Glow” drops March 11 on Astralwerks.