Heilewelt - a blog for music lovers

Geschichten von der Heilewelt - a blog for music lovers

"It is wonderful to be able experience art without understanding how it was meant or what makes it good." (Kim Boekbinder said that during an interview I did with her) I might not have the biggest knowledge about music but I have a great passion for it. Passion is what counts.

I live in Berlin, Germany (born, raised and still resident) and this is my personal blog about music and other things that cross my way. Things I love to be exact. And even though I am German and my English is still not perfect, this blog is in English.

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Posts tagged "Astronautalis"

My favourite rapper, Astronautalis, is coming back to Berlin (and Europe). EXCITEMENT! Why? Maybe this gives you an idea: https://heilewelt.tumblr.com//interview-with-astronautalis

astronautalis:

EUROPEAN TOUR PT 1!

May 05- Darmstad, DE-Oettinger Villa
May 06 – Nürnberg, DE-K4
May 07 – Dresden, DE-Groovestation
May 08 – Münster, DE-Gleis 22
May 09 – Berlin, DE-Schwuz
May 10 – Bremen, DE-Lila Eule
May 11 – Hamburg, DE-Hafenklang
May 13 – Grimma, DE-Teletubbyland
May 14 – Plzen, CZ-Papirna
May 15 – Ústí nad Labem, CZ-Mumie

sorry for forgetting plzen! (it wasn’t added when i filmed this)
SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!

For some reason I can’t sleep from 3.30 to somewhat around 5 in the middle of the night since I started a decent job and tonight I turned on my computer on to look something up (there are sure better things to do, I know). This song started playing for some modern technical reasons. At first I thought who is this? I couldn’t remember having Matt Emery's music on when the computer went into sleeping mode. He would very likely make such a song but probably converting some heavy metal/hard rock into this kind of layering, chorus driven music with strings and piano (actually he did). 

I have heard this “Black & Yellow” cover already when Astronautalis, Andy Bothwell, released it but it still seems so strange in a way, so unlike him (the choruses and the music itself) but then again I wouldn’t pin any label on him, so I guess it’s perfectly right.

Basically I want to say I am once more astonished by Andy’s diversity and this incredible track. 

Here is what Astronautalis wrote about this cover:

"A little over a year ago, the folks at RadioLab contacted me about an episode they were working on about “colors”. Now, if you are not familiar with RadioLab, it is an astounding radio show/podcast about the marvelous of area where science, art, and magic all mix. Understandably, it is one of my favorite things ever, and when they asked to be apart of this episode, I was over the moon! The episode was going to be focusing on colors, what color is, how we relate to color, etc, and they wanted to get various musicians they liked to cover songs about color to soundtrack the entire episode.

I wanted to do something that would stand out, not only in song choice, but in style, and all of the things that came to mind, like “Paint It Black”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Blue”…they all just seemed too easy, too obvious. So I set out to cover “Black & Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa…and make it the prettiest damn version of a Wiz Khalifa song ever. Of all time.

So I enlisted the help of my dear friend Rickolus to shape the backbone of the song with pianos and synths, then I brought in the talented Erica Burton to add layers and layers of strings to really doll up this ditty. The whole thing was recorded for free, in bedrooms, in a day or two, and mixed by yours truly all in a pinch. RadioLab never used the song, and I am too damn proud of the way this turned out to let it sit on the shelf any longer!
So here you go, have this for free, since it is summer, and the sun is shining!”

Maybe good night,

Dörte 

Here we are. The last part. One long answer. It’s about the South, the West and the East and the new album which is not close to be finished yet (as we learned in the first part). Andy Bothwell (Astronautalis) and I have also talked a bit why he started with his genre binding music and what he appreciates about other music. In the second part he shared his fascination for science, art, faith and how these thing are strangely connected. Now we are looking into what is going to inspire his next album and our political frustrations. Enjoy (click play). 

On your last record “This Is Our Science” you were mentioning Darmstadt. Is there any place that will influence your next album?

Andy: Yes, the previous record is mostly about my travels and this record is more about the people that I meet and their relationships to their world. I have been particularly influenced by Eastern Europe and the American South where I am from. I have never really made a record about the South. I felt like it was time to talk about this especially because America is in a weird place. America is being torn apart by the very liberal people in the cities and the very conservative people in the country. They are both right about some things and they are both wrong about some things and they both are getting more and more different. They are getting more and more angry at each other. I grew up in the south, I grew up around southern redneck country motherfuckers and then I moved to cities like Seattle that are very liberal and people would talk shit about the south who have never been to the south. It’s just like this feeling like… I had the real luxury to travel around the world, to see a lot of interesting things and places.

Many don’t. I knew people who were like 25/26 years old who never left Berlin.

Andy: So I feel my obligation is to share that. And also when i travel I get to travel in a way that most people don’t. I am never a tourist. I show up in a city and there is always anywhere from 50 to a thousand people that are so excited that I am there, who want to show me their house, who want to introduce me to their culture, who want to teach me about their history. They are so excited that I am there. Whereas everybody else who travels has to be a tourist at some point. I never have to. So, I get to see things people never get to see, I get to learn things people never get to learn.

I can talk to people in a way that people won’t get to talk to people. You can’t just sit down with on a stranger in Romania and be like “tell me about Ceausescu” but it’s like that. I get to hang out with the promoter all day and just be like “hey man, how was it growing up under Ceausescu?” And I get to learn. For me these places are the most fascinating. Particularly like what’s fascinating to me are the places that are misunderstood, the places that are left behind, the places that are on the edge of failure and what people are doing to try to keep from failing. And in places that are failing: what people are doing to be happy even within this failure.

That, to me, is the most fascinating thing when I go to places like a tiny village in Slovakia, like Čadca which is an old mining town. The miners are gone and it’s poor as fuck. It’s in Slovakia to begin with and it’s a poor Slovakian town which is saying something. And people still listen to music, people still dance, people still fall in love, people still make families and people still make it work. When I look at the people in the places I grew up and they complain about their problems and I am like “You don’t have fucking problems, my man. You need to understand that your problems are very relative.”

I like to call my problems “the first world problems” because they are no problems at all.

Andy: And more than anything, everything is relative of course. Everybody has problems and some people’s problems seem huge. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be upset because you have problems, because you’re not in Somalia fighting for your rights but it infuriates me all the western dissatisfaction that I see. You have everything and people are still not satisfied. You have everything and people are not happy. And they are taking fucking drugs, going to the doctor and treating their bodies terribly and their minds terribly and their lives terribly. I like my music, I like my friends, I like love, I like this, you know. And also just the sense of entitlement that I see in the western world where it’s like my city sucks whereas in Čadca, Slovakia, they are like “this city sucks. We are gonna bring some shit here, we are going to make a show, we are going to make a club.” You know, places like in Germany or Switzerland where they have no shows, so they squat a building. Like this [referring to RAW Tempel]. Now it’s owned by some giant company but how this started is just like “no one is using it, let make cool shit. No cool shit is happening, let’s make cool shit.” The places that are the most interesting to me are the places where nothing is happening so people make things happen. The places where everything is going wrong but people are trying to make things right on a small scale. I am more interested in small scale success. I don’t fucking care about governments anymore. I am fucking over them. I am done caring, I don’t care anymore. I am more about making sure that the world around me is better. And everywhere I go is better and I can learn from it. We’ll let the big guys keep fucking up until it collapses and in the meantime I make sure that the small is perfect.

Astronautalis live @ Cassiopeia, Berlin

I mean that is all you can do. At least for me - at some point I got really depressed about politics. Also, because I kept thinking that people don’t really learn from history. We had all this shit already, why do we have to do this again?

Andy: Totally. I feel particularly frustrated because I am American. I am proud to be American and also an American from the South. So, I have a complicated relationship with the world because I am American. And I have a complicated relationship with America because I am from the south. And a lot of people look at the south like it is this fucking terrible place. It’s not. America is not a terrible place. They are doing terrible things but everybody has done terrible things. If you give any country the power we have it always gets abused. It doesn’t give us an excuse to not make it right but it is what it is and it doesn’t make us all terrible fucking people.

The things I am most proud of about America is our fucking revolution. We did a fucking incredible thing. We did the biggest military upset in the history of the world. We have done this beautiful thing, fucking kicking England out and making this incredible ideal country. And we have totally disconnected ourselves from that. In some ways our ability to disconnect ourselves from history is what makes America the fastest moving, most forward thinking country that it is but I also hate that we have completely forgotten this. This idea of the American dream, that myth that we’ve fed in America is no longer… the American dream isn’t this concept of freedom, it’s this concept of ownership and consumers. And I am not a fucking communist, I am not a total anarchist, I am not on the extreme of anything. I understand it. People want to have nice things, this is a need.

Not everyone can travel around…

Andy: Yeah, and not everybody wants to live in a fucking squat. Ever since the beginning I am sure people were trying to make their cave nicer than the other persons cave and that is totally a natural thing. That’s fine. I don’t fault anybody for wanting a nice pair of shoes. Because the thing is, I would like to have a nice pair of shoes. It’s cool, it’s fine and I don’t fault anybody for not wanting that shit. But I also think we are totally misdirected at this point. We are doing all these things to make us happy and it’s not making us happy. It’s also making us weak, weak mentally, weak socially. Again, I grew up in a town where nothing happened and no one did anything to fix it. And when I started to travel the world and go to towns where really nothing happens and I see people working their ass off to fix it, I was like “I was such an ungrateful asshole”. This has been the constant lesson in my 10 years of touring and traveling. You need to work harder. Happiness is hard. It’s hard to be happy. You have to work hard at it. And it’s not going to come from a new pair of shoes. A new pair of shoes is great but it’s only going to make you happy for about an hour.

People, especially the younger generation, want to get more and more.

Andy: I get frustrated with it. I didn’t drink or do drugs when I was young and I grew up loving music and going to concerts and a lot of concerts were 18 over or 21 and over and I was under 18 and couldn’t go. And I would figure out ways. I had a fake ID, I would sneak in back doors and that sort of shit. Because I wanted to see the show and my thought was never “I can’t go to the show”. I would try to go to the show and the worst thing that will happen is that I am going to get kicked out. I won’t be at the show. I am exactly where I started. And I get I this now… I write everybody who writes me on the internet, I am very accessible on facebook, twitter, instragram and so on. And I have this thing where underage kids will write me and be like “your show is 18+ and I am 17. Can you get me in?”. And it annoys the shit out of me, it makes me fucking pissed off…

Just like the people who say something like…

Both: …”why you are not coming to my town?”

Andy: Because you are not fucking bringing me! Because I can’t just show up and be there and have a fucking concert. It isn’t working that way. It’s not how the world works. This is like you need to make this happen for me.

Or you need to travel. Either way.

Andy: Yeah, either way. When I am in America we’ll fucking tour and tour. Our European tours are like 5000 km total - American tours are like 15000 km that we will travel in the whole trip. You can’t drive an hour, come on man, fuck off. We just drove for a month. Some shows in the American West you drive 14 hours to get to a show. You can’t drive 30 minutes? Fuck you. What do you want me to do? Sit on your lap in your bed and sing you a song? Like Jesus Christ. The idea of “bring it to me. Give it to me, I don’t wanna work for it”. It annoys the shit out of me. And I don’t think that it’s like…it’s just conditioning. We weren’t always like that. Things are too easy now. America is so comfortable. The West is so comfortable.

Occasionally I must admit that it happened to me, too. And then saw it and I was like “Ok, I am going to book a flight and go there”.

Andy: And this is the thing… I say America but really I mean the West. This thing is one of the reasons I am more fascinated with going further east: because it is different. While you have things like this [referring to the RAW Temple] exist in Germany, that do not exist in America. But a lot of Germany is like America, like it’s the West. It’s just the West…

I grew up in the American part of Berlin, so I went to a fun fair with Military Police standing around. I like America a lot, not for the politics but for a lot of other things.

Andy: And the thing is that there are differences but they’re are subtle differences because now the west is so dictated by itself, its companies, its corporations and it’s also corporate culture. So much culture from America dictates everything. Look around these motherfuckers dressed like rappers, dressed like American rappers. They were dressed like this in Berlin fucking 15 years ago and now they are all dressing like American rappers. And I go to fucking Lithuania and everyone is dressed like rappers from the 90s’. These white kids from Lithuania are dressed like black gangsters from the Bronx. So, it’s like everything falls into itself. Things are comfortable. Even more when we are in an economic crisis: no one is waiting in line for bread, we are all out here drinking fucking beer in the sunshine. You know, in America everyone is like “We’re in this economic crisis”. My friend did this amazing blog post where he posted a picture of the economic crisis in America and made this blog post about the great depression and there is this picture of all these people waiting in line for food and a picture from that week in the news where everyone was waiting in line for the new iPhone. It’s just like “guys, remember where we are, remember how good we have it. We are not living in Bangladesh. Let’s just chill out.”

People can go out on the street and be safe most of the time.

Andy: And even I have friends who are like phony communists in America who are like sympathizers for Russia and whatever and they are like “it’s not so bad”. I am like “Motherfucker, do you know what Pussy Riot is doing now? You couldn’t make your artsy punk rock about the president. You couldn’t make that shit in Russia. You would be sent into fucking labor camp, motherfucker. Chill the fuck out. Put yourself into perspective a bit here.” And it’s not wrong. It’s just we have been coddled. We have been taken care of. We have been kept in our mother’s arms for too long. And no one goes out and sees how the world is a very real place with very real problems and very different. And there is this notion like “We’re all the same, we are the world, globalization”. It’s bullshit. We are very different. And if you don’t believe that then look at the fact that the Jews and Muslims have been fighting for 2000 years. They never got over that difference. Just go to China and see how different we are. We are fucking different. Yeah. I think that was a really long answer to your question but that’s the sort of shit on my record.

It’s ok, I like long answers. I will probably transcribe it exactly like it is…

Andy: Good luck.

Well, I think I have taken enough of your time now. Thank you.

If you want an extraordinary live experience, you surely want to attend his show with Sims tomorrow in Minneapolis, USA. He will also play some solo shows (with his Laptop) and tour with Why?. All dates can be found on his website:

http://astronautalis.com/

Listen to the track “This Is The Place” by Sims feat. Astronautalis below:

Thank you for reading and Elyas for your help,

Dörte

Part 1, Part 2

In the first part of our interview Andy Bothwell, aka Astronautalis, and I talked about how he started with rap, his working process and his music. In case you missed it, go there:

http://heilewelt.tumblr.com/post/52388966311/interview-with-astronautalis-part-1

Now we will talk about science, Dimitri Mendeleev, art, faith, connections and all the stuff that I find so interesting. 

Another thing I have been wondering about is the last record “This Is Our Science” and that maybe because I have a diploma in chemistry: Why did you choose Dimitiri Mendeleev?

Andy: I mean all of that record is based on the concept of comparing the process of scientific discovery and the process of artistic discovery and how in particular like science is this wall of knowledge sometimes where they discover, discover, discover and then they don’t know what to do next. So, they are forced to just really experiment wildly and right now this is happening for physics. And so they have the Large Hadron Collider where they are just slamming protons together, taking a picture and hoping they see God. You know, that is just a crazy thing because they build this gigantic thing and it so immature feeling almost.

I became really obsessed with the science in the age of enlightenment, which was like the heyday for chemistry. It’s a long run for chemistry from Newton all the way to Curies and everything. It was such an interesting time because it was…. Once they figured out that the world was made of individual elements but they didn’t necessarily know how to find them all and it became the cool thing: Find an element, you make your name. So everyone was doing everything they could to find a new element. They were eating Polonium, huffing Carbonoxid and fucking shooting chemicals in their skin and just destroying themselves. And that idea felt so much like what an artist goes through when they are trying to make a record. When they know that there is a song in their head or their art but they can’t make it work. They don’t sleep, they don’t eat, they do drugs, they smoke cigarettes, they drink, they fucking became a wreck trying to make this song right.

Or like an artist out on the road touring, we started for the first time like 10 years ago when we didn’t have any fans. We had like literally 50 fans in all of America and it was just like “let’s go” and we played for nobody and we starved and we slept in cars and we had no health insurance. We get sick and you get paid 10 $ and they pay you in beer but it didn’t matter. Because you needed to find this thing. It doesn’t matter to the scientist, they need to find this thing. It doesn’t matter to the artist. It’s an addiction and a compulsion and it’s the same thing. Once I started to make this connection in my mind about this drive being the same drive. We are all driven by the same engine, going into different directions, I started to just research more about science and scientists and the story or the legend of Dimitri Mendeleev and his discovery/development of the Periodic Table: it is so beautiful to me. This idea and then the concept of the periodic table and the arrangement of the periodic table is also beautiful.

That this complex universe of stars and beers and rap music and idiots and love and everything and music could just be on this sheet of paper: like this is all you need to make the Universe. And you don’t even need most of it, you basically need 8 of them, mostly carbon. That idea was just so beautiful to me and also empowering. It made me feel like…I hold this sheet of paper in my hands and I am like “Is that all? The universe isn’t so scary anymore. It’s just this. This is it. I can crumble this up. It’s not a big deal.”

And on top of that the idea of the transference of subatomic particles that is constantly happening in our bodies. And the idea that over the course of your life you will loose and gain trillions of particles. And that it is entirely probable because it transfers at such a high rate, it is entirely probable that you will at some point in time have particles in your body that were in Shakespears body or in Cesars body. This connection to the universe is just brilliant, it is beautiful, it’s thrilling. I felt this is a story that needed to be told. And it all started with it.

That is exactly what I love about science, what got me into starting chemistry in the first place and then it somehow happened I ventured into music journalism.

Andy: It’s the way it ends up. I was in the theatre and I ended up as a rapper.

That’s what you study for…to find what you really want.

Andy: Exactly. It’s the path of knowledge.

Astronautalis

You also mention Joni Mitchell in that song. I just love it when stuff like this happens that you’re combining so many things.

Andy: I think it’s important, too, in music especially…there isn’t anybody that is… to think that you’re writing a song that no one has written before is arrogant. Everybody has written this song. It may not have been written from your exact perspective but every song has been written.

Pretty much every topic has been…

Andy: …every story has been told, you know.

You could have stopped writing songs many, many years ago.

Andy: But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write songs, it’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. But it is also important to understand the history, to understand your place in the history of an art form. It’s important to know how to abandon the history of an art form so you can fast forward and make new history. But you can’t do that without appreciating what came before you and being able to again feel connected to all of that. It is important to feel connected and tight to the Universe. But it is also in the river of time, of the Universe’s life. It is also important to be swimming in the middle of the river of history, of your craft, of your art: to appreciate what has comes before. I appreciate it enough to be able to abandon it and be ready for what is coming next.

Someone I did an interview with (James Elliot Field/Tall Ships, read here) once told me - and they have these scientific metaphors in their songs - a couple of hundred years ago people would write about God and religion and that’s it and nowadays science is like the new religion to some.

Andy: I am an atheist. And this is one of the most incredible discoveries out of all this research about science. All of my life it has been science, science, science, there is the truth, the truth, the truth. And the more I learned about science, the more I realized we don’t know anything. We are constantly guessing. We are putting this faith in science.

Yes, that’s what it is.

Andy: It’s faith. And it’s the same faith that religious people put in their God or their saviour. It’s the same faith and that changed my perspective about religion and connection to it. It just gave me a new found appreciation for religious faith because it’s the same as scientific faith, it’s the same as artistic faith. It’s all the same. Whether you put your faith in a band or a political party or Jesus or fucking Tom Cruise or Dimitri Mendeleev, you put your faith in something, you put your hands in something and you decide this is the thing that I trust to guide me through the unknown. This is the net that will catch me when I fall. That was an interesting thing. Again, the unifying concept.

We still we think we know everything but somehow we never learn that we don’t know anything.

Andy: Never ever. We laugh about how we used to think that the world is flat but then Einstein gets the theory about relativity and we think “that is it, that is the answer to the universe”. And then fucking 40 years later we are like “well, no, it’s only true this time, it’s not true when things are really huge or really small.

Just think about how radioactivity developed. In the early 1900’s they had their x-ray machines with them…

Andy: Yeah, totally. And even now like all of the dinosaurs that we thought were dinosaurs aren’t dinosaurs because we put the bones in the wrong places and this is one of things that is so amazing: the entire fossil record that we use to determine the history of the universe could fit into the back of a truck. All of the actual fossils that we have could fit into the back of a truck. Just go to a museum and you see a full Tyrannosaurus Rex it’s all fake, it’s not a real fossil. It’s just a model. We’re making it all up.

The early humans, the pre-humans that we use to determine what humans were like 20.000 years ago. We have like 10 % of their skeleton and we determine the information, based on hypothesis and history. Inevitably like 30 years later we are totally fucking wrong. Every time. And every time we are like “no, this is the answer”. The thing that I have learned over and over again is that everything that everyone is like… and I am unpopular at parties because when people talk about climate change I am like “I don’t know, man. I don’t know yet. Let’s just wait and see where this is going” which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recycle, we shouldn’t drive fucking cars but let’s just chill out and see if this is what actually happen. Because we seem really certain about these things from everything, from physics to chemistry….

Especially nowadays you have the whole press behind it and then the press goes like “this is it” and everyone will believe it because no one is questioning the newspaper.

Andy: Totally. And it’s also the race for money as well. This small pool of money that you have to be digging in. So everyone has to make discoveries to make headlines to make money so you can make more discoveries to make more headlines to make more money. Whereas what is an interesting thing is like in the age of enlightenment the scientists were just rich guys. It was their hobby. It was what rich guys did for fun.

Nowadays if you look at a statistic, you have to see who sponsored it.

Andy: Oh yes, of course. Who is behind the science is always a huge thing because it can change the nature of the science for sure.

And many people don’t see that.

Andy: No, no,no, but that goes the same with everything: It’s on the news, it’s true.

It’s on the TV, they said.

Andy: So it’s true. I read it on twitter.

End of Part 2. 

In the last part we talk about the East, the West, the South but not the North - go there:

http://heilewelt.tumblr.com/post/52880186038/interview-with-astronautalis-part-3

(And again: thank you Elyas for your help.)

http://astronautalis.tumblr.com/

"I think that was a really long answer to your question…", said Andy Bothwell, aka Astronautalis, at the end of our interview. Luckily I like long answers, especially when I am talking to such an interesting person as he is. We have met before his amazing concert in Berlin. It’s been the first time the rapper brought his band with him to Berlin and they make his shows even more intense. 

In this first part of three we talk about his music and working process and everything in between. And yes, three parts - it’s a bit long and I found everything so interesting I could bring myself to shorten it. Enjoy!

The first time I have seen you was with Tegan & Sara a couple of years ago.

Andy: Awesome. That was one of the best shows in my life.

I like your music because it’s not just simple Hip Hop or simple Rap - did you always plan on having all these influences in your music?

Andy: No, when I started I didn’t even make music. I just started out as a battle rapper, just rapping like that. So, that is sort of less like art and more like a craft. It’s about a skill, it’s about being precise and being the best at something. And It’s not really about pushing an art form or yourself or an audience emotionally or mentally. It’s just about being this thing: it’s like a weapon. And so, for me, I was listening to gangsta rap but I was also listening to indie rock, country and folk. I was listening to all these kinds of music but never really thought about combining them until 99/2000/2001 when the beginning of the American Indie Artrap scene started to happen with record labels like Anticon. They are all kids that grew up like me, skateboarding and listening to all kinds of music and sort of taking them all and combining them together. Hearing that music was a big deal because it all of a sudden felt like music made for me. Rap music made for me, made by people that are like me. When anyone first starts listening to rap music and they are white middle class suburban kids they first start to listen to rap music because it is exotic. Because it is such a foreign concept. And at that point it was like rap became like…it would be impossible to make rap on my own. And that was when I started to think about…it wasn’t until years later when I worked on my own records that it sort of began to connect.

It is also a good way of getting the listener to listen to other music as well? Because some people are just so narrow minded…

Andy: I don’t think it was the intention initially. The intention was to try to be different and fight the system and you know, fuck commercial rap music: I wanted to make something weird and freak everybody out. That was the initial thing. It’s funny because the beginning is sort of “I want to make everybody feel uncomfortable and freak out the fucking squares and shit” but then inevitably but you start to think more in terms of what is listenable and what would draw more people in and speak a message to the people.

You studied theater directing. It also gets into your music.

Andy: For sure. I was never trained as a musician. I was never in a band like in a garage jamming with my friends that never happened. So, I learned about art through theater. I learned how to make and create art through theater. And theater, especially the directors process of creation, is very research heavy. You are in a library, researching and sort of building this concept for a production and researching the lives of the characters, the lives of the playwrights, the history of the production. It’s lots of reading and so for me when it came time to make records this was the approach that I understood in order to make anything. So, this was the approach that I have taken in making my records. So, it is definitely a huge part of making my albums.

Astronautalis live @ Cassiopeia, Berlin

Is it also transfers throughout your albums? I found it funny that on “Pomegranate” the last song is “The Story of our lives” and then when you put out the next record it was like the story of your life.

Andy: I think that there is this sort of maybe subconscious connection. Often times, for the last few records too. I am not that kind of musician that will write like 30 songs and pick 15 or even 10. I generally have one song left over and if I start a song I’ll have like little fragments of songs but I don’t record them. And as I get closer to the process I will just be like “this isn’t going to be a song yet, put it away”. Like the song Midday Moon: I have tried to write that song for 8 years. The concept and the image of it…. And I don’t really finish them. I just go “It’s not ready yet” and move it away but inevitably there is a song that like I’ll be really close to finishing but I’ll finish it right after the album is done. There will always be the connection between the previous record and the next record sort of stylisticly and content wise because by the time I am recording a record I am already done thinking about that record and writing that record. Because my process for writing is so long, it’s almost it is set when I go in to record it. I am already starting to think about the concept for the next record. So a lot of times that last song that I write is the beginning seed of the concept for the next record.

Which song from "This is our science" have you taken for the next record?

Andy: Ah, you’ll probably hear it tonight. There is a song that I started with. It’s doesn’t have a title but I am performing two new songs tonight. It’s cool. I am pumped about it.

How far is the new record then?

Andy: About I’d say half way written and there is still a long way to go after that. And there is other stuff like scheduling and business stuff as well. But I am also not really in a rush to finish it right now. I am working on other projects and am trying to finish those.

I always read what you’re working on and there is so much that I can’t remember everything.

Andy: Yeah, I try to stay busy and I am not very good at stopping. I get very nervous when I am not working. I am very frustrated. I like working, I like my job. I like working, so I like doing it. So, I am taking my time with my own record. When the inspiration comes in moments and burst I work on it but it’s not like I am at the point where I am really killing myself over it yet because I am just enjoying these other projects and stuff.

You also once said that you like to work within the concept of an album, with limitations. Why?

Andy: Because there is too much to write about. There is too much to be inspired by. Especially because I don’t make one genre of music it’s also easy to just be like there is too much music to make. A lot of times once I get into a track I won’t listen to any new music because it will fuck me up. A couple of albums ago and I was working on a record and I had a really good direction of things and then one of my friends, Why?, put out a new record. It was just a mind blowing record called ‘Elephant Eyelash’. It was just totally fuck me up. I was like “Man, this is so fucking good. I gotta rethink everything from my record. This is too good.” For me it is like I have to work within a confinement of like a limitation of sound, style and content because there is just too much. And it’s like one of those things: it’s like you walk into a giant library and it’s like “where do I start?”. There is a real famous museum in New York City called the Metropolitan Museum. It’s humongous, gigantic. And it’s everything, it’s art, it’s sculpture, it’s history, it’s everything and it’s an amazing museum. 

And after a couple of rooms you’re just overloaded.

Andy: You have to just pick like “today I am just going to look at this” and you just ignore everything else. You could spend hours looking at just old plates. They have rooms of just old plates. So, it’s one of those things where you have to finally just go: ok, I wanna start writing. It’s kind of broad and as I get closer and closer and closer, it’s kind of you get it down to a laser. That’s when I really write.

How difficult is it actually to avoid new music?

Andy: It’s not so hard. I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t have a television. These? days it’s actually easier because you don’t relay on other people to give you information. You can pick and chose everything. Generally, when I am not working on music, I don’t listen to music. I try to get breaks from music because it can get overwhelming. So, I listen to a lot of podcasts about sports and politics and science and stuff - anything that is not music. Because sometimes it’s like there is too much fucking music in my life.

I often think it must be difficult when you are musician to listen to other music: you automatically also see your own in a different light.

Andy: It totally changes the way you think about music and especially once you start touring and you’re relationship to music changes when you’re playing songs live nonstop and when you’re playing shows all over the world for different people, different cultures and different sort of tastes. And then selling your record and doing the business of music as well. It changes everything because you think in terms of… I think it’s a good way for me. It made me appreciate music and musicians for different reasons. Whereas when I started doing this it was just like either I like it or I don’t. And this has sort taught me to appreciate it for different things. There is very little music out there that I can’t listen to and I mean if I don’t like it a lot of times I can still find something in it. I listen to someone like Lady Gaga and I don’t listen to Lady Gaga’s music, I don’t like her music, but I am impressed by a song like “Pokerface”. It’s like six choruses, six pop choruses, there is no verse. And you listen to it… writing choruses is hard, it’s hard to write a chorus that people want to sing and she just put six in a fucking song like it’s not a problem. The music is not my style but you listen to it and it’s like an architect looking at a building and being like „I don’t like the building but look at the construction”. You know you start to appreciate it for different things. You appreciate people maybe not for their music but the business of their music. There are artists out there who I really respect for their business. Because they’re doing it in really a smart and compassionate way but I don’t really give a shit about the music. For me it’s totally changed the relationship but I think ultimately in a good way. Because it made it more grey - it’s no longer just black and white like good music, bad music. There is a huge spectrum of diverse appreciation for music.

Astronautalis live @ Cassiopeia

I have also read that when you’re at home, which happens not too often, you like to go to concerts a lot. Is it different then?

Andy: Yeah, for sure, totally. I’ve talked about this earlier. I am really much more brutal on judging a band if they put on a bad show. If a band put on a bad show I’m fucking done with them. I won’t listen to them. It’s impossible, I can’t like them anymore if they put on a bad show. Partly because as a person who is a performer who really works his ass off to put on a good show every night it annoys the shit out of me because it’s like “…lazy fuckers! This is your job and it’s a great job and it’s a really good job, you lazy fucker. Put on a fucking good show you piece of shit. You could be working in construction right now you asshole.” So, for me I get pissed about that. And then the other part, too, is like “Come on, man, if you don’t want to play shows, that’s fine. Don’t play shows, just put out records and stay home. And so for me it totally changes my relationship.

End of part 1. 

In part 2 Andy and I will talk about history, science, art and the connections. 

www.facebook.com/Astronautalis

(Thanks to my dear friend Elyas helping me with some grammar issues on this one.)

Part 2Part 3

A few days ago, Astronautalis posted this video and - as you can read - asked to reblog it when I like it. I love it, so I guess I should reblog it. And a few days ago, back in 1869, Dimitri Mendeleev introduced the periodic table to the world. How is that connected to Astronautalis, you might wonder. It’s quite simple: “Dimitri Mendeleev” is one song of his newest album “This Is Our Sience” and was available as a free download a long little while ago. (Side note: I am currently writing my diploma thesis in Chemistry therefore these things are a plus just like that.)

Astronautalis is still the only rapper that can catch my interest (and had it from the first time I heard/saw him). A few weeks ago I saw him live in Berlin and he was just fabulous. He brought Bleubird with him and I am pretty sure Bleubird wasn’t bad (he was good) but I just couldn’t feel it. But that was just me and I started to wonder why that might be the case. I think I am not “trained” to hear rap - so many words in such a short amount of time. I just can’t follow them and then everything starts to sound very similar to me (except for the beats). That is just very ineffective when you listen to a storyteller like Bleubird. It’s my “fault” (can’t find a better word for it), not his. I always want to understand it, I would love to understand rap better, make a better sense of it, but I guess you just can’t like every music style even if you want to. However, if you like rap, make sure to listen to Bleubird. But what is the difference to Astronautalis since he is a rapper and a storyteller as well? For me there is a difference in the energy of the performance - it’s not only different from every rapper I ever saw but also from a lot of other musicians I saw. Astronautalis feels a lot more intense to me (nevertheless the passion for what they do could be felt with Bleubird and Astronautalis), he fills the whole room and even when he is in the background, he is there. And the sound of Astronautalis’ voice is amazing. I just love utterly his voice (which sort of doesn’t fit the way he looks at all but that is just an irrelevant fact). It’s so rough. It sounds a bit like too much whiskey. He sings and shouts and raps and combines it all to a one of a kind thing. It’s the stories he tells. It’s lines like "Tell me this, put up your fingertips/ If you’re living your life exactly the way that you wished, yeah/ And for the rest of us with our hands on out hips/ Our work is never done, we are Sisyphus" that make me love his music. 

I hope one days he will bring his band with him to Germany even though it was quite awesome to hear “Measure The Globe” without any back up (not even a beat from the apple). Currently he is touring the US with his band - you can find the dates on his facebook. Make sure to see him live and be blown away. Oh, and he is pretty funny, too. So, prepare to laugh as well. 

Thank you for reading,

Dörte


astronautalis:

In honor of my new tour starting today, i am excited to release the new video for “This Is Our Science” shot, directed, and edited by June Zandona.  If you like the video, PLEASE REBLOG IT!  and if you live in the middle of america or will find yourself at SXSW, be sure to come see me live with Busdriver & Jel!

CHECK ASTRONAUTALIS.COM FOR FULL DETAILS!

Last week I talked about how I have music styles where I don’t have the biggest affinity to and this week we will learn how I actually don’t have the biggest affinity to Rap or Hip Hop. But there are always exceptions like Astronautalis. I have seen him live over 1,5 years ago for the first time and it was intense. He is a story teller, he tells tales in his songs. And I really love his voice. Well, I am very happy to finally share a link that will bring you to a site where you can download the first single of his upcoming album “This Is Our Science” for free. It is called “Dimitri Mendeleev”. Dimitri Mendeleev is the guy who invented the periodic table and therefore Astronautalis already won by the choice of title because chemistry is something I like. I still need to wrap my head around the lyrics which as always takes a little longer but at the first listen in doesn’t sound like it is about this Medeleev. And I don’t want to make presumptions here (not this time). 

And I just read along with a lot of other things on his facebook page that he wrote it in Berlin when he was here the last time. I remember the show he made back then and how awesome it was. Oooh, I want to see him now. Where are you? And why haven’t you moved to Berlin? I can’t wait for the whole album to see the daylight. And now go and get this new song, too. 

He is my most favourite rapper. I love his unique voice. I love the stories he tells. And the intense live shows. 

Go and get it. (It’s free, too.)

Astronautalis is a rapper and even though I am usually not the biggest Hip Hop fan on planet earth I found him amazing when I saw him for the first time a bit over a year ago. He was the support for Tegan and Sara. And I didn’t knew at all what I should expect when that one man with his computer hit the stage and he literally blew me away in the end. He is very intense on stage and his songs are amazing (and I do love his voice a lot). “Pomegranate” is an amazing record. It’s maybe due to my lack of knowledge about Hip Hop but what was fascinating for me about him was his different style and the unique way he told his stories. The stories are not the usually one, too. It’s at times like he has a time traveling machine and comes back with stories of older times. Something I have never seen or better hears until then. It actually doesn’t matter how big the stage is, he just does what he does and that is simply amazing and works out on both-small and big stages. 

This is a photo of him back then:

The following video was just released. “The Wondersmith and his Sons”. Enjoy it!

And if you don’t have enough and you need a bit of a laugh I also recommend you to watch the following video for “Trouble Hunters”: 

P.S. Happy Birthday, Astronautalis!