Musik kennt bekanntlich keine Grenzen. So kam es, dass das Musik-Magazin Indiefferential mit Sitz in Los Angeles im Netz über meine Musik stolperte, bei mir anklopfte und um ein Interview bat. In dem Interview erzähle ich über meinen Weg zur Musik bzw. wie ich als Singer/Songwriter arbeite und worauf ich Wert lege. Ihr könnt das englischsprachige Interview hier oder auf www.indiefferential.com direkt in der Online-Ausgabe des Magazins nachlesen.
What inspired you to pursue a music career, and when did you first realize that you wanted to become a musician?
I would say it all began with listening to music. When I was a child, I was listening to a lot of music from different styles and genres. The vinyl collection of my parents had lots of guitar-based singer/songwriters (Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot) but also albums of Guitarists (Santana, Al Di Meola) which I loved listening to over and over again. You can say it was diving-in-process by listening closely to the sound and spirit of the music. Some years later, at the age of 15, I borrowed a guitar from a schoolmate to learn some Nirvana Songs from a friend of mine, who just started playing guitar. From that day on, I was in love with playing guitar and singing songs. It was on the Greek island of Crete while our last high-school trip that I wrote my first song „On the Island “, which became the starting episode of being a Songwriter and should be followed by many more songs. I also played and sang in a few local bands at that time, for which I wrote some songs as well. However, at that time I had no ambitions to become a professional musician. Rather I felt, that I must go the normal way of doing „something real“ (in German we say „was Gescheites“) to make a living in life. So I applied for university and wrote songs besides, though I conceived my songwriting always as the more important task. Many years later, after having worked in different jobs and realizing that I might regret it if I didn’t give it a try, I undertook my first attempt at making music for a living. By then I was already in my late 20’s.
How do you approach the songwriting process, and what themes or ideas do you explore in your music?
For me, Songwriting begins mostly with the guitar melody and very seldom with the lyrics. When I write a song, it’s often that I doodle around on the guitar until a catchy riff or a lick comes my way. Then I try to stick to that and develop it into a more detailed scheme. After this idea has settled, I turn to the chorus of the song, where a bit of music theory comes into play, since I try to arrange something with the main chords of the key, in which the song was written. Often this first sketch of the song lies there for a couple of days and I play the idea over and over again to find out if I still like it. Then I write the lyrics, which are influenced by the pictures that come into my mind while playing the song melody.
Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they shaped your sound and style?
On one hand, I like the singer/songwriter sound of the late ’60s and ’70s, which appears to be very natural and warm. At that time songs were recorded live in two or three takes without much postproduction. My favorite musicians of that time are the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and John Martyn. On the other hand, I’m a child of the 80s and 90’s and absorbed a lot of music those days. My mum used to record lots of songs from the radio on cassettes, which we were listening to during long car drives. By listening to these songs over and over again (we had lots of long car drives!) I believe that I learned a lot about the shape of songs and the art of songwriting. I slowly became aware that every good song contains either a catchy hook line, a fancy guitar lick, or most important – an enchanting voice. If the voice comes from the bottom of the singer’s heart, then the
song becomes magic! – I think that’s my most important lesson when writing a song: it has to do something to me, it has to touch my heart. I can feel that when I sing it.
What challenges have you faced as an independent musician, and how have you overcome them?
I think the greatest challenge for me is to accept and appreciate myself as an artist. Being an artist is not like having a normal job. Being an artist is mainly a matter of the heart. You follow a call inside yourself. And that needs a lot of good nourishing, self- motivation, and of course – a lot of work. After all these years I still find myself talking harshly sometimes with the sensitive artist- soul that is me. In those moments I question myself and ask myself if it’s not better to quit with all that and do something different. But then I play the next concert or write the next song and then I remember, why I chose to go that way. Besides that another great challenge is, that as an independent artist, you have to do everything by yourself: And that is besides creating songs and playing them live also booking concerts, rehearsing with the band, venue research, promoting your music, updating your website, feeding your social media, selling the merch, etc.
How do you connect with your fans, and what role do they play in shaping your music and career?
I don’t think I have too many real fans by now (well you never know!), but I try to communicate with everyone who likes and comments on my music, which happens basically on social media channels. In addition, I send out a newsletter from time to time to inform those people, who are interested in my music.
How has the music industry changed since you first started making music, and how have you adapted to those changes?
When I started making music in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was a different situation in terms of recording music and promoting it. At that time I was a singer in a band and we wanted to produce our first CD. We didn’t have much budget so we borrowed a big 32-Channel-Mixer together with TAPE Recording Machine from a friend and recorded the tracks for our songs in our rehearsing room. I remember that in one of the breaks of the recording sessions – we had already recorded drums and basslines for a few songs – I got curious about how this TAPE Recorder works and somehow unintentionally pressed the eject button so the tape came out and everything we had
recorded so far, was erased! Luckily my bandmates were cool guys, so i didn’t end on the stake and we recorded all the stuff again. In terms of recording today, everything is much easier. You can record your own songs at home with a minimum of technical equipment and knowledge and have it mixed and mastered by someone else very easily. That’s what I basically did with both of my albums. Also, the releasing of records has become much easier, since you can do everything by yourself without having to sign for a label. On the other hand it has become harder to get attention for your music because everyone is doing it that way now and so there’s masses of new music coming out every day. In my opinion, playing live is still the best way to promote your music and also to sell your merch. For example, when someone buys a single CD at one of my concerts, it’s more than i make with the total yearly outcome from all the streaming of my music. That’s really a problem for us musicians – the streaming industry and its bad conditions.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting out in the industry?
Trust your creativity, and your ability to create songs (not everybody can do that!), be sincere and authentic in your art, and never let others decide who you are and what to do as an artist. Try to play live as much as possible, no matter if it’s with your own music or in other projects. Connect with other musicians, meet them, and talk to them – it’s nourishing energy! Don’t overestimate social media and the internet, use it as an instrument to promote your art, not as a substitute for real life. Be persistent, be patient. Good music will always find ways to spread in the world.
What are your future plans for your music career, and what can fans expect from you in the coming months and years?
Currently, I try to play live as much as possible and establish a band to play on bigger stages and festivals. It will depend much on the development of the band, and how the next album will sound, but i definitely have a plan to record an acoustic album with a more intimate sound and with songs that are very personal. Besides i also have a „spiritual project“ and want to record some intonations of the Bahai writings, that I did in the last couple of years. Since I only played in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, I also hope that I can play in other countries in the future and literally spread my music around the world.
Finally, what message do you want to convey through your music, and what impact do you hope…
I wrote my songs often in situations, where I had to face difficulties and challenges in life, so many of them have a heavy, melancholic side, but at the same time, they also contain hope for betterment and little hints on how to get back on the way. My greatest joy is, when people get touched by the music and find some inspiring moments in there, may it be lyrically or musically.