October 22, 2014

ATB: Marquee Man

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Las Vegas—From his perch just above the Marquee masses, André “ATB” Tanneberger can see that his melodious mix has rubbed the dancefloor into a lather. The new club’s clean and powerful Funktion-One sound system offers the perfect vessel for his boomy lift-offs and hook-filled breakdowns, so the party people are eating from his often-gesticulating hands. Is there a better time than now to push it further? Of course, not.

In the midst of a trippy interlude with dancers shaking to each side of the DJ booth/stage, ATB drops a snippet of his 1998 global smash, “9pm (Till I Come),” featuring one of the few genuinely iconic guitar lines in recent dance music. On cue, hands shoot into the air, strobes fire and a mechanical LED wall, with house dancers stationed on top, eases over the booth.

It’s a moment, one of many to come. Make way for the Vegas party fare—Blur, The Killers, Nirvana—the night’s about to get crazier.

The next day at a Tao Beach pool party, ATB’s at it again. From a relatively cramped booth, he plays to a tighter, certainly wetter environment, but the crowd is no less energetic or adoring. This time, it’s a different mix. Yes, he touches on some trademark trance (his own “9pm”), but he dips deeper into the evergreen house world (Armand Van Helden’s “U Don’t Know Me”) and, this being Vegas outdoors, he drops a few Ibiza faves (Deep Dish’s “Say Hello”). Animated as always, ATB connects as easily with the sun worshippers as he did the previous evening’s club vampires.

Familiar and tasteful, just what a beach party should be, his set ends and ATB heads to a cabana for an adult beverage, preparing for the inevitable fan attention—pictures, autographs, backslapping—you know, the easy work.

As the Bochum, Germany-based DJ neared the completion of his upcoming artist album, Distant Earth (Kontor), we caught up with ATB in a moment of Vegas downtime. We asked the immensely popular 37-year-old jock how he’s managed to maintain such a successful global career, how he views the changes in American clubland (like his residency at Vegas’ spectacular, new Marquee) and how he believes younger DJs can maintain their connections with the audience.

DJ Times: How does a DJ approach playing Vegas clubs? What’s different about it?

ATB: First of all, the people who come to Las Vegas have really high expectations, like, “This will be a special night.” Then, you have a lot of visitors coming from all over, from different areas. So I think it’s really hard to satisfy everybody. And, I don’t know why it is, but I haven’t really had that experience with Marquee.

DJ Times: What’s it like at the other clubs, then?

ATB: I’ve played Vegas a lot of times, but in other clubs it was always too much about the VIP section. You had people with their noses turned up and people not really in contact with the music. Marquee has a lot of different people, yes, but everyone’s there for the music and to have a really good time.

DJ Times: Overall, what changes have you seen in U.S. dance market?

ATB: The major thing is that more and more people are getting involved. I think I’ve played every major city over here and what I’ve noticed—no matter where I’m playing—is that I’ve always had a good connection with the crowd. They were always enthusiastic and powerful with their support, and this hasn’t changed all these years later.

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