Spotlight On: Tender Games
Pushing the limits of pop dance music, the duo behind Tender Games is creating a sound that has mass appeal without compromising their musical integrity. The brand new project between 20 year-old Marlon Hoffstadt and Well Done! boss Ulrich Harrison AKA HRRSN was formed out of a need to create sounds that steered away from traditional techno sounds. The result of this effort to diverge from dance music standards led to their self-titled debut album, Tender Games, out now on Suol Music. Full of lush soundscapes, organic instruments, bountiful basslines, and R-n-B inspired vocals, Tender Games contains the technical proficiency of a duo that has been together forever, but this pair is just getting started.
Exploring a wide palette of sounds, the album distinctly draws from the duo’s various influences. Hoffstadt’s house-inclined sound lends to tracks like “Want it All,” which features jacking house beats and airy atmospherics that swirl around HRRSN’s soulful croons. Evident from his poignant vocals on slow-burners like “City Lights” and “Lost” among others, HRRSN finds inspiration from garage, rhythm and blues, and even folk. Highlights on the album come on “Make Believe” and “A Million Times,” club-ready tracks that feature catchy vocals the crowd can effortlessly sing and dance along to.
It would be easy to compare the group’s sound to that of crossover dance music titans Disclosure, but Tender Games’ initial album offers more variety in sound. Intimate collaborations also make this album stand apart, as many of the featured vocalists have personal connections to HRRSN and Marlon Hoffstadt. The result is a contemporary pop/alternative dance hybrid full of raw, unique sounds that attract a broader scope of listeners. We had the opportunity to catch up with the talented duo behind Tender Games for a quick chat about their philosophy, collaboration process, live sets vs. DJ sets, and what’s next for these rising stars.
RP: What is the meaning/ philosophy behind the name, Tender Games?
TG: I wouldn’t say there is a ‘meaning’ behind it really, but as far as our philosophy goes I’d say that we try to make music without boundaries and from the heart.
If you had to describe your sound with 3 words, what would they be?
That’s a tough one.. I’d say: simple and honest.
After successful solo careers, what made you decide to start a duo side project? And how does your approach to making music differ with a partner?
Well we made music long before we chose to start Tender Games, but in the end we made this a side project because we wanted to express our different sides and our own tastes in music. The difference would be that you have to make compromises but on the other hand you’ve got the input of another person, which it great. And luckily we are often on the same page as to the direction a song should go.
More and more house/techno producers are choosing a live set over the normal DJ set and it continues to gain in popularity. Why are producers gravitating towards a live show over a DJ set? And do you think this trend will continue in an upward trend?
In my opinion, you’re not doing a “live set” if you bring Ableton and one controller. I would much rather hear a good DJ set than that. All in all, I think the term ‘live set’ is being used excessively and the reason may be that it sounds good… I don’t know. That’s a hard topic because you can’t judge too quickly, but I have seen some “live sets” that did not deserve to be called a live set.
Any upcoming gigs/ scheduled releases for the rest of the year that our readers should know about?
At the moment we are kind of dealing things out. We’ll play at the ADE Showcase of Suol Music in October. Also we are trying to maybe set up a tour, but that is all in the works right now. As far as releases, we will have our next single coming out around November. The track will be “Lost,” which had the honor of being premiered by Annie Mac and there will be some great remixes for this which we have to keep under wraps…for now!
- Your Perception
- Make Believe feat. Stee Downes & Yvy Coe
- Want It All
- In Her Bed feat. Miss NatNat
- In A Mess
- Too Late
- A Million Times feat. Meggy
- City Lights
- Freak In The Sheets feat. Forrest