Let’s Talk About ATB

Staying True to the Sound: ATB's Journey Through Three Decades of Electronic Music Artistry


André Tanneberger, better known by his stage name ATB, has made a name for himself in the world of electronic music over the course of almost 30 years.

We sat down with him to find out more about his career and future. In an honest conversation, the German DJ and producer talks about his creative process. He told us what inspired him to make music and how his style has changed over time. A

Even though electronic music has changed a lot over the years, ATB has stayed true to his roots while also incorporating new sounds.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in electronic music, and how did you get started?

My passion for electronic music ignited during my childhood, with artists like Jean-Michel Jarre and Enigma serving as significant inspirations for me in the early 90s. The emotive use of synthesizers in their music absolutely captivated me. On the other hand, I stumbled upon some pretty hard techno beats and fell in love with them. Finally, I merged these two musical realms: emotive compositions with captivating melodies and danceable beats. This fusion gave rise to my signature ATB sound.

Over your two-decade career, how has your musical style evolved, and what influences have shaped your sound?

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three decades now (laughs). From the beginning, it was crucial for me to carve out my own unique sound while staying true to the essence of ATB. However, achieving this balance hasn’t always been easy. Many fans often ask, “Why not create another track like the ones you did back in 1999?” But that sound already exists.

My goal is to keep my signature style recognizable even after 25 years, but with a more contemporary feel. That’s why I’ve been cautious not to blindly follow every new trend in the scene. Instead, I place greater emphasis on the reactions of my fans during live performances and incorporate their feedback into my music.

The extensive touring experiences, particularly those unforgettable journeys in a tour bus across the USA, have undeniably left a lasting imprint on my musical evolution.

Can you walk us through your creative process in the studio when producing a new track?

In the studio, I find my inspiration from various sources, whether it’s a captivating vocal top-line or the enchanting sound of a synth pluck or pad. Once I’ve discovered that spark, I begin recording harmonies and melodies, piecing together the initial structure of the song. During moments of creative flow, I often find myself completing the rough framework of a track in a very short time.

To ensure I maintain this momentum during the crucial creative phase, I’ve fine-tuned my workflow to minimize distractions from technology or the search for plugins and sounds. If I’ve crafted a strong melody, harmony, and vocals, for instance, I essentially have the entire song envisioned in my mind, needing only to arrange and produce it.

After the initial creative process, I dive into mixing the track on the fly, ensuring that each element contributes to the desired sonic landscape. Finally, I take on the task of mastering the song myself, as I have a clear vision of how the end product should sound. This hands-on approach allows me to maintain control over every aspect of the production process, ensuring that the final result is true to my artistic vision.

ATB in the studio
ATB in the studio

What elements do you prioritize when crafting your signature sound, and how do you keep it fresh and innovative?

Creating a captivating atmosphere in my songs is a top priority for me. While I previously relied heavily on pads, I now explore different elements to build background ambiance, allowing more room for additional sounds to shine. Pluck sounds play a essential role in infusing emotional depth into my melodies. And of course kick and bass. These two elements are also very important to me and have to harmonize perfectly with each other. To keep my sound fresh, I often watch youtube videos with new plugins with which I can tweak and modernize my Sounds.

„Take A Moment” featuring David Frank is your latest single. What was the inspiration behind this track, and how does it fit into your overall body of work?

I first heard David’s voice last year and was immediately struck by its distinctiveness. Shortly after, he and his team sent me the initial version of the vocal melody for “Take a Moment,” which greatly inspired me. From there, we exchanged stems and ideas, and while refining the song, I felt a need for a change in the B part. David and his team responded brilliantly, and that’s how the final version of the song came to be.

Despite never meeting in person, David and I collaborated remotely, a common practice in today’s world. After the very poppy intro, the song changes to a more minimalist direction. Kick, bass and a very concise pluck sound typical for ATB then give the song a clubby ATB feeling.

How do you approach collaboration with other artists, such as David Frank, and what do you look for in a collaborator?

Above all, I’m deeply inspired by a voice that exudes uniqueness and possesses a distinctive quality. It must leave a lasting impression on me. Moreover, the melody’s topline must instantly captivate my attention.

Many of my most successful tracks from the early 2000s featured female vocalists who were relatively obscure at the time. However, their unique voices elevated the songs. Thus, it’s not essential for a vocalist to have millions of monthly listeners on platforms like Spotify to create impactful music.

As a pioneer in electronic music, how do you view the evolution of the genre over the years?

Indeed, electronic music has undergone significant evolution over the past 30 years. In its early days, it was a niche, relatively insignificant genre, but it has since cultivated a dedicated fan base for its passionate artists.

As the years went by, the music became increasingly mainstream and overground. While this expansion opened doors, it didn’t always serve the musical quality.Throughout it all, I’ve endeavored to remain true to my style, resisting the urge to chase every trend simply because the record company or the scene deemed it necessary.

Maintaining my signature sound has always been paramount to me, and I must wholeheartedly stand behind every song I create. There have been occasions where I’ve declined potentially promising collaborations because they didn’t resonate with me. Ultimately, my feelings and intuition have guided me through these shifts and changes in the industry.

What do you think sets electronic music apart from other genres, and how do you see its future unfolding?

Electronic music relies heavily on technological advancements in a way that few other genres do. Many other musical styles also incorporate electronic elements to evolve. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial because creating a truly unique sound has become increasingly challenging.

The accessibility of music production tools, especially on laptops, has democratized the creative process, allowing more young artists to produce music. In the past, having a studio was a luxury that few could afford, but now, with affordable technology, the barriers to entry have significantly decreased. This accessibility is expected to drive substantial developments in electronic music in the future. As technology continues to advance and become more accessible, I foresee exciting innovations and new directions emerging within the genre.

What advice would you give to aspiring producers and DJs looking to break into the electronic music industry?

Find a unique sound and style. Don’t copy others, just be inspired. This will enable you to survive on the market for a long time.

Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re particularly excited about sharing with your fans?

I recently dropped my remix of Zerb’s “MWAKI,” and I’m thrilled to share that I also wrote and produced the anthem for Dreamstate Poland. I can’t wait to unveil it on April 6th at Arena Gliwicze.

Can you discuss the role of technology in shaping your music production process and live performances?

To me, technology serves as a primary instrument to swiftly manifest my creative ideas, whether I’m in the studio or performing live. Over recent years, digital audio workstations (DAWs) have undergone advancements, becoming faster and more streamlined to enhance workflow efficiency and enable greater creative freedom. Additionally, the emergence of AI-powered plugins has been beneficial, particularly in tasks such as vocal processing, where they can yield impressive results and further aid in the creative process.

What challenges have you faced throughout your career, and how have you overcome them?

As mentioned earlier, there is always a fine line between staying true to your sound and not losing touch with the scene.This struggle is something every artist experiences in their own way. When I find myself in that mindset, I retreat to the studio and create tracks purely from instinct, without concerning myself with fitting into any current trend. Typically, these tracks resonate with me deeply and end up being fan favorites that I’ve performed live for many years.

In addition to music, are there any other creative outlets or interests that inspire you?

For years, photography and image post-processing have been my creative hobbies. I love capturing memorable and impressive moments with my camera.

Looking ahead, what goals or aspirations do you have for your career in the coming years?

Currently, I’m excited about the prospect of releasing my 12th studio album in 2025, and I’m determined to stay true to the ATB sound throughout the process.

Additionally, I am passionate about continuing to create music for many years and sharing it through live performances on stage.
Being on stage and experiencing the live reaction of the audience is an essential part of my musical journey, and that feeling of connection and energy is something I know will never fade away.

From our interview, it was clear that ATB’s journey is far from over. With each new album and live performance, he continues to push boundaries while honoring the essence that first sparked his love for electronic music decades ago.

We are truly grateful to ATB for taking the time to share his incredible musical journey and insights in such an open and inspiring way.