One of the Kompakt label’s more recent success stories, the duo of Saschienne (Sascha Funke and Julienne Dessagne) are disarmingly friendly and outgoing – interacting with each other on stage and in conversation with a familiarity and comfort befitting of a married couple. Unknown, their debut album as Saschienne, is also a decidedly intimate affair. Whether it’s the antique feel of the acoustic instruments, Julienne and Sascha’s delicate vocals, or the beats that creep smokily into each track, Unknown is a capital-A Album, a complete encapsulation of a time and place. As part of our series featuring artists from the Kompakt cosmos we sat down with Sascha and Julienne to discuss coming together personally and professionally, the making of Unknown, and the challenges of bringing their music to the stage.
Let’s start at the beginning – how did you two meet?
Sascha Funke: We met four years ago when Julienne was working in a club in London. Then Julienne moved to Berlin in May 2010 and we were setting up the whole music project in October 2010. From that first moment we were playing music together, we weren’t doing anything else - we were really surprised about ourselves, about the way we can work together and also the fact that we don't have the same roots. It came to a point to say "let's do music for more than us and let's do an album". We came very quick to the point to do that.
Julienne Dessagne: Probably a bit too fast.
And Julienne, your music background is more in classical instruments?
Julienne: Yes and no, I mean my background is that actually I like many, many different kinds of music, so I can't say I'm this or that type of music. I listen to a lot of different things and I had a club background, of course. I used to work for Soma in Glasgow, and I used to work for Fabric in London. Yeah, I had this club background and I was a big fan of Kompakt actually from the early days.
My training was more classical academic piano, a little bit more boring, but then I listened to contemporary music a lot - Philip Glass is a favorite, and this is a common point for our music. So for me I don't separate genres, it's just music.
Sascha, you've released a number of techno and house records. Did you also come from an acoustic instrument background, or did you really start with electronics?
Sascha: When I was a child I was listening a lot to pop music in the 80s. I started listening to electronic music in 1992. I never really forgot that other music existed, but I was never practicing anything beyond synthesizer or sampler or other equipment that we know from techno.
And how did you first become acquainted with the Kompakt label?
Sascha: Whenever the Kompakt DJs were playing in Berlin, I went to see them. I got in touch first with Michael Mayer, Tobias Thomas and Superpitcher. In 1999 I gave a demo CD to the label and, luckily, they picked a few tracks to release as my first single.
It’s been nearly 15 years since you started with Kompakt. What’s changed between 1999 and 2013?
Sascha: The label philosophy is still the same as it was in the beginning. They never changed the approach of finding personal music with a unique character. Also, many employees from the first days of Kompakt are still working at the office. It shows the continuity they have in sharing the same ideas and challenges around the music. The music scene always changed and will change in the future, but the wheels of Kompakt always find their individual path.
Julienne, you worked on the business side of the music industry before starting Saschienne. How did you first become acquainted with Kompakt?
Julienne: I discovered Kompakt as a teenager and have loved the label since then. They have released a lot of my all-time favorites. A few years later, I met Michael Mayer as he often came to play at Fabric, where I used to work. We had artists coming from all over the world every week, but a set from Michael Mayer was always a highlight for me. At that time I also got the chance to meet and work with some of the office staff. Kompakt has a real dream team working in its office, all passionate about music and really dedicated to what they're doing - this is also what makes the label so special.