When Berlin-based duo DJ HEARTSTRING arrived onto the city’s clubbing scene a couple of years ago, they gave it a much-needed shot in the arm. The pair, who go simply by Leo and Jonas, started gaining traction for producing original tracks both playful and melancholy in equal measure; a welcome fusion of speedy trance, electro and techno that lends itself well to heady club nights and sun-drenched festival sets.
Their latest EP, Why Can’t We Live Forever?, created in collaboration with acclaimed German DJ Narciss, is a further development of this invigorating sound. Across four exuberant tracks, the trio channel “the story of friendship, self-doubt and heartbreak, of togetherness, perseverance and emotions,” as they put it.
“At first we just started going to the studio with Nick because we liked each other’s music, without a clear idea of what we wanted to create,” Jonas and Leo – who often prefer to be quoted as a pair – explain. “We wanted to connect Nick’s more housey style with our fast-paced, melancholic sound to make something new. It worked so well that we decided to release an EP.”
Both Jonas and Leo started producing electronic music as teenagers; they met around six years ago, through the latter’s girlfriend, and felt a near instant connection. “At the beginning, neither of us felt any pressure, which helped us go with the flow and just see where things take us,” they say. “We have a very clear idea of what we like and what we don’t, and we can communicate that without hurting each other’s feelings.”
Over time, DJ HEARTSTRING cultivated a sonic sweet spot that spoke to their audience’s appetite for “euphoric, happy and digestible music and art, especially after Covid,” as they put it. “But our music is supposed to be fun – never funny, if that makes sense. Right now, our sound combines euphoria with a bit of sadness, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
With gigs in the pipeline across Europe and Australia, for Jonas and Leo, the most important thing is giving their listeners room for interpretation. “There’s nothing better than people coming up to us and telling us our music has helped them through a tough time in their lives,” they say. “That’s the craziest compliment you can get. If they can connect our songs to something like that, then our job is done.”
10% Where were you born, where did you grow up, and what did your trajectory into music look like?
Jonas: I was born in Hamburg and grew up in Berlin; I played piano and saxophone in my youth and started producing electronic music around the age of 16.
Leo: I was born in Karlsruhe and grew up in Baden-Baden. I started listening to EDM and drum’n’bass in my teenage years, which inspired me to start producing electronic music myself around the age of 14.
20% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Listen to your heart and don’t stress about the small things.
30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
Leo: I’d make pasta al limone with parmigiana as a side dish.
Jonas: I can’t cook for shit!
40% So what would you do to impress someone?
Jonas: Never try to impress, just be yourself.
50% If an alien dropped down from the sky, how would you describe your music to them?
“Hello Mr./Mrs. Alien, we feel very honoured that the first thing you want to know after coming down to earth is how we would describe our style of music. We don’t really know how music works on your planet, so we want to ask you: what do you think? Do you even speak English? What the fuck is going on?”
60% Love, like, hate?
Jonas: I love St Pauli football club, I like bars, I hate raisins.
Leo: I love my mum, I like nightclubs, I hate it when Ableton crashes for the 10th time.
70% What’s your dream holiday destination?
Jonas: Somewhere in South America.
Leo: A lonely island with a beach.
80% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Jonas: Overthinking shit.
Leo: Comparing myself to others.
90% If you could go back in time and watch any musician perform, who would it be?
100% What can artists do to help save the world?
Keep making art.