Interview SONIC SEDUCER Music Magazine (print) / 30. October 2019 / english
Your album of quiet atmospheres and moving sadness is very touching. One is almost inclined to believe there is a story behind it. Is that the case? And why "Against the Pain"? Against what pain exactly are you singing?
That's interesting to hear, but behind it there is simply a human being with all his moods, thoughts and feelings. By musically seducing people into a world of pain, I point beyond my own. Maybe this is a kind of artifice, it could be, but I can imagine that even for the listener the introduction of his own feelings and moods, which then mix with the sound world, makes it a very existential experience. Pain is a leitmotif in many of my songs. Calling the new album "Against the Pain" seemed so natural to me in the way I deal with this theme. When you make the pain sound again and again, it becomes familiarity and what is familiar becomes part of you, dissolves into an acceptance. In this sense, "Against the Pain" is not to be understood as a "fight against pain", not a therapeutic recommendation.
Careful guitar inserts, piano parts, only softly vibrating pads, only occasionally careful percussion - and above it your ethereal, fragile voice of vulnerable weightlessness. in which moments did the basic ideas for the new songs arise?
They are moments of seclusion, which I need for my music, but also of reorientation, as I have often experienced biographically. Moments that I find very fruitful for the further development of the music, even if they can be painful, that's because of the break, the new beginning, where I have to let go, where something passes and, as you beautifully say, something will never be the same again. But it is also connected with a pain that liberates and brings distance, and can even enable a deeper look, certainly deeper than remaining in comfort. I think it is indispensable for music, and for art in general, to keep renewing itself, not to become comfortable; everything else is mainstream, designed to merely please and boring, it kills art.
A yearning sadness, born of memories of irretrievable happiness, the heaviness of lonely nights: all this seems to come across to me from your songs. How would you yourself comment on such an interpretation?
I would be happy that the music offers so much room for interpretation, that it touches me and makes me think, because it is a sign that it is alive, that it enables a dialogue and that I am not alone with what moves me in my innermost being.
It's hard for me to pick a personal favourite song. "Into the dark blue sea" is one of the songs that probably captivates me the most at the moment. What is this particular song about? Is there a particular song that is more important to you personally than all the others?
It's a love song, very simple, very moving. This song is about a love between dream and reality, a love that seeks and finds in equal measure, that questions and doubts and yet always unites in all its ups and downs. Anyone who takes the time to listen to the song will understand this immediately. Every song has a special meaning for me, is connected to the time of its creation, a mood, an image of memory or an experience. "Nothing stayed the same" was very groundbreaking, as it was the beginning of a new creative phase and at the same time dealt with the loss of two people close to me. The song is very close to me for that reason alone.
Melancholy, melancholy: sometimes it can make your throat close. Which emotional audience reaction is the one you are aiming for?
You're right, it's a very existential, radical album that calls a spade a spade, doesn't sugarcoat anything, is far from any sentimentalism. I was concerned with authenticity, with truth, which, as we know, also hurts, which brings us back to pain. But it is also an album full of love and emotion, often pushing the limits. Musically, it was important to me to cancel out these apparent contradictions, i.e. to develop songs from an extraordinary calmness that they can even disturb. The "I walk" in the song "Against the pain" is indeed a walk but by no means an easy one, it is even musically interrupted quite abruptly. It was also important for me to work out the quintessence of a song, where nothing seems to impose itself or to be superfluous.
In your work, the opening path to optimistic life assessments is not really thematised. Or is that too gloomy an interpretation?
It can be perceived that way, but it doesn't have to be. I don't consciously write dark songs, but see the world as it is, far from good and evil. To answer your question: yes, too gloomy, if I expect optimism. No, because I don't feel responsible for hope at all, it's so deceptive, but affirm life, which is positive in itself - no matter what ups and downs it brings. Whether that can be perceived as optimistic, I'll just leave open.
In 2006 you said: "It is not important how far or difficult the path is, as long as it is taken at all". Would you still underline that?
Yes, the proof is this album. It was a very long, often rocky road to realisation, the conditions were not the very best but I made it, went the way, that's the most important thing of all - everything else will show, I have no influence on that. I feel every completed album like a message in a bottle, whether, when and how it arrives remains uncertain.
There are about thirteen years between "Will-o'-the-Wisps" and "Against the Pain". Why this long break?
It wasn't planned this way, but it took this time for various reasons. I'm glad and grateful that I could allow myself this time as an "independent artist" in the truest sense of the word. Financially it was extremely difficult, no question, but nevertheless I feel it is a luxury in these fast-moving times that I have allowed myself this. Difficulties should not be a deterrent, on the contrary, they represent a special challenge.
And for what reason did the German language dominate - and now the English?
On the first two albums I liked to show how well the German language can be sung, that was still a rarity; the new album should be a further development in every respect, whereby the encouragement I had received abroad was certainly a decisive factor in making it an internationally understandable album. Interestingly enough, I'm even going back to the origin, where I wrote my first songs in English under the influence of the formative stays abroad. I'm very linguistically open-minded anyway, and I'm currently working on a song that will be partly French.
With a Bryan Ferry song and a Lou Reed composition you round off the picture of your album; these two very individually designed cover versions glide seamlessly into your very own sound. What do you associate with these two classics?
Both artists are well-known, the two songs unfortunately not, so I have always found them to be "undiscovered jewels". I also associate these songs with a time that shaped and formed me a lot. The second Roxy Music album with "Strictly Confidential", which came out in 1973, felt very "dark" to me even back then, when this term didn't yet exist. I even associate Lou Reed's lesser-noted "Rock and Roll Heart" album with his live concert in Hanover, just two days after my 17th birthday. Out of respect for original songs I never really felt the need to cover them, but out of the same respect I dared to do these cover versions and didn't regret it. The songs seemed made for this album and as familiar as I was with them, I had the necessary empathy and could interpret them effortlessly.
Editor: Kym Gnuch