"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.
It all started with a bunch of friends who wanted to put on their own events to show people what they found cool. That was ten years ago. Since then Sinnbus went from a living room collective to an internationally known record label with a super spacy office in Berlins upcoming trendy district Wedding (not like marriage, it’s an actual part of Berlin). On Thursday they will celebrate their 10th anniversary with the second to last concert of their birthday tour.
As time went by they decided to turn their hobby into their full time job. “At a certain point we had actual albums”, said Peter Gruse in our interview. Gruse is one of the four bosses behind Sinnbus. “But there are many more people around us who help us when there is a video or something.” If you look from the outside the label still seems a bit like a collective… and a bunch of friends. There is a lot of good vibes/love coming across when you talk to some of the artists they signed.
The first proper release of a band was Seidenmatt. A postrock band from Berlin. A music genre which followed them for many years - Sinnbus were known as the postrock label and it took quite some time until they could change that image. These days they are certainly not a one music genre label anymore. Many of their artists use electronics in combination with an organic sound like The/Das or Unmap. One of the most impressive things is the musical diversity of the signings. This is because they still do what they like and what they enjoy but Gruse also admitted that he would love to sign another guitar band.
Over the years many things changed. In the early years they just worked for the release basically, it was album, tour, album – also not many artists at a time. They didn’t knew it any better and didn’t stick until the end and get everything out as Gruse puts it. “Nowadays the album is just the half-time”, explained Gruse. “Many things just start after that.” Some things remain: The strongest moment for Gruse was and is the concert for the release of an album.
Another thing that has changed it the expectations of an release: it has to work financially as well. “It has never been the case that we have thought ‘we have to do it because we can make money with it’. It has always been the question ‘How can we make money with it?’”, explains Gruse. “But this is just the second question, the first is ‘Do we like it? Do we tingle with desire for it?’”.
That is what makes Sinnbus so charming. You can feel this passion in everything they do. Sometimes they release albums, mainly because the like them but not for a financial reason. Like Kam:as where they already knew it would be difficult. It was already clear that the band couldn’t tour enough and that it might be a difficult one but Sinnbus released it nevertheless. Gruse puts it into perspective: “We really liked it, we just had to do it.” It does seem really simple.
If you fancy an excellent musical journey and a glimpse how Gruse’s, Bossenz, Eichhorn and Spindler’s music taste developed over the years, you may want to give “Sinnbus Vol. 10” a listen. 34 songs of Sinnbus past and present, not future.
What does the future sound like? The/Das and Einar Stray are working on new albums, Unmap is releasing one later this month and Rue Royale who just released “Remedies Ahead” would just love to do another one. Although Gruse expects that Rue Royale will work on it for another year before the next one will have a chance. Miss Kenichi is new on the label and will release her hauntingly beautiful album next year. So, a lot of music, singles and videos are waiting to be made and be released.
And since the concerts are still the highlight, Sinnbus have planned a little tour through Germany – most dates have been done, two are still left (and one of those is new):
07.11. Berlin, Heimathafen Neukölln: Hundreds, Me And My Drummer, Unmap, The/Das, Rue Royale
21.12. Dresden, Scheune: Unmap, La Boum Fatale, Freedarich
Read the full interview (in German) over at FastForward Magazine:
Thanks for reading,
The first time I saw Miss Kenichi live was in a living room where she and Earl Harvin played a gig. It was all sorts of beautiful. Over the years we have met a few times and she happens to be one of the few artists who played on one of the concerts I put on a year ago. So, we have a bit of a history, in the best sense. I am not the only one being in love with her music. The guys behind Sinnbus told me how they had an eye on her for a couple of years but her music didn’t fit into their rooster back then. Now it does and this makes me so happy. I think they will be a very good team. So, after many years of waiting there will finally by a new album some time early next year. There are a lot of things I want to tell you about this album - I have already listened to it a lot but it’s a bit too early. But there are other great things Miss Kenichi, Katrin Hahner, talk about - the Oscars (or how it is to contribute a song to a film that is considered to win one), her new song “Who Are You”, “Sinnbus” and what has changed since her last album “Fox”.
How did the liaison with Sinnbus started? What is special about this label for you?
I think Sinnbus is a really good label. They have a distinct „sound“ and character to them, but they are also pretty eclectic in their taste and artistic choices, open to new ideas and different things. It also helps that they are great people. Thinking about it now, I realize that our paths have crossed many times over the last couple of years in various circumstances. When my new album was finished and it was clear that I want to go in a new direction, I sent it to them, amongst others. Their reply came fast, it was special, very clear and enthusiastic. It felt good. So I decided that I want to work with them. We teamed up now and I am really looking forward to the release in March 2014.
How is it to be part of a project which is considered for an Oscar?
Crazy. Unexpected. Nice.
The film „Freier Fall“ deserves all the praise and attention. It´s a really good film. Dürbeck&Dohmen (the guys who did the music to the film) and I know each other through the work for another movie. I was so thrilled the way they work and their personalities, that I went ahead and recorded my second album FOX with them in Cologne. It really is a pleasure to work with these guys. So when I got the call that they need a song for a movie, that it had to go quick, followed by a short description of the storyline and the note that it would be the only song in the movie, I immediately went for “Who Are You”, a song off my new and unreleased album. I sent it, and everybody was really excited. It was a perfect fit.
The reactions were great and the movie was shown all over Europe, the US and South America. It won a few prices at festivals and will be released on DVD in November.
It always amazes me, how you cannot plan these things. Everybody works by their own standards and follows their compass and you never know if anybody else will be interested in what you did after all. All you can do is hope for it, but if you wanna do something real, these hopes cannot influence the decisions you make. So a success like this really is a wonderful surprise and gift and it´s nice to be a part of it.
„Who Are You“ sounds very chased to me - is that the way it supposed to be? Nowadays there always seems pressure to define yourself. Does that play a role in the song as well?
Yes, I think so. Don´t let others, outsides, shapes and forms or common beliefs determine you. It is so easy to feel uneasy or „wrong“, or on the outside, excluded. It´s all about being the true you with all the shades and colours. It sounds cheesy, because the advertisement industry made such a joke out of „being yourself“. But it is not cheesy at all. It is the hardest thing to try and be true to yourself, to take a stand, to show your heart, to admit mistakes, to not be discouraged, to not give up, to believe in something, to try and really connect with others, to keep your secrets and an open mind, to stay teachable, to not hide behind irony, but to show weakness and empathy, to conquer your ego and it´s petty needs.
What can the listener expect from the new album?
I have started to record for this album almost two years ago, but I threw all those first attempts in the trash bin, because I felt it didn´t deliver what I had in mind. I wanted to expand into a bigger sound and setup, become more powerful, add more instruments, but keep the space and fragility. I had experimented with the way I play guitar and how I could take weight off of it and weave it together with other instruments to open up my writing and playing for bigger arrangements. I had experimented with my voice and had taken singing lessons and rediscovered a whole register that I hadn´t really used before. I also had played my shows with an amazing musician, Earl Harvin for some time now and we had decided to make this album together. He is a true inspiration and to work with him is incredible. There is a mutual understanding and trust. And he is just badass. So all these things gave me a certain confidence to push my boundaries. I changed the whole recording process. We went in the studio and also invited some very talented people to contribute and it was really magical. There it was! I am really excited about this album. Even though I already think about the next one. Haha. But as I heard a painter say the other day: „A finished painting is nothing more than the invitation to make a new painting.“ I´ve got nothing to add to that.
What has changed?
Some of the songs are written in a way, that makes it impossible for me to play them alone by myself. Which is a good thing, because I will bring a wonderful band with me on tour and I will have the greatest time playing with them.
Thank you for the interview, Katrin!
Miss Kenichi will be playing on the 10th anniversary tour of Sinnbus as well but just on the Leibzig date, 2nd of November, in the UT Konnewitz. She is joining Jan Roth, Rue Royale and Unmap. It’ll be an evening of splendid music.
This “best of 2012” list is slightly different from the ones before - it’s not all music or film. The Berlin-based Miss Kenichi loves books, music and art and in today’s list you’ll find all three. I have read an article (and interviews) of her as well and found her style of writing very good - I love how one can feel her enthusiasm about the stuff she wrote about. So, enjoy her words here and then go and check out her music!
What Miss Kenichi found awesome in 2012 list (without numbers as everything is equally awesome)
SWANS- The Seer
powerful, cathartic, also contains immense beauty .
thick , glowing magma.
Great artwork on the cover. A beast with Michael Gira´s teeth.
TINDERSTICKS -The something Rain
old synthesizers were bought, new sound created. I just love the record. It starts with a 9 minute long beautiful, kinky story written by David Boulter. And “Fire of autumn” has the best hi-hat moment of my year.
KIRA KIRA – Feathermagnetik
A wonderfully melancholic, yet strong and healing trip from icelandic composer and sound magician Kristin Björk Kristiansdottir. City meets nature. It´s a shapeshifter. “Leave a light on” contains a sample of the sound that lightning makes.
DANCING SUNS- Goldmine
Irish siren Nina Hynes created an album that is full of light and joy, but deeply moving and with great insight at the same time. A daring production with real choirs and big arrangements. It will be out on the 28th of December. Let´s win over the whole world!
TALK TALK- Laughing Stock
Yeah I know , it´s been out since 1991, but it´s one of my favourite records. I might dare to say it´s THE favourite record. I always listen to it. Year after year after year and it never gets old or boring. It´s a masterpiece.
GRIZZLY BEAR – shields
makes me punch my hands on the stirring wheel in the car while listening to it on maximum loudness. Complicated, busy, but never too full or cold. “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” are amazing songs and on repeat in my car and in my head.
TALES FROM THE TWO PUDDINGS - Eddie Johnson
A really good, poignant, funny and interesting read. A book by THE THE mastermind Matt Johnson´s father Eddie Johnson, who owned East London´s most notorious Pub ” The Two Puddings”. In the 60s the pub became famous for its music nights, which attracted a wide range of disparate characters. A great look back “upon a lost world of East End eccentrics.”
BILLY BUDD - Herman Melville
I just discovered an audio book read by one of my favourite speakers, Hans Paetsch, who was a well known stage actor and who spoke on almost all of my favourite fairy tale tapes when I was a child. So, listening to his characteristic voice and skillful interpretation brought back many memories, yet also gave insight into this wonderfully written, biblical story about right, wrong and moral that until 2012, had passed me by.
DAVID HOCKNEY - A bigger Picture
great exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne. I always thought that I didn´t really like David Hockney. Also not really disliked him, just…you know what I mean. Yet this exhibition totally changed my perception of him. I immediately read loads of books about him and his conversations. His latest landscape paintings are brimming with colour and light. They are huge and he painted almost all of them out in nature. His sketchbooks and scrapbooks are full and overfloating and wonderful. I hope, I can be just as alive and passionate about my job and life when I am 75!
LOW- The Invisible Way
produced by Jeff Tweedy will be out in March 2013.
I adore LOW. and this will be the thing I am looking forward to in 2013.
The Torstraße is a street in Berlin, actually it’s a Kiez, a neighborhood, with lots of bars and restaurants and creative people. The Torstraßen Festival took place in several locations spread all over the place. Some “unofficial” locations joined in as well, selling beer on the streets and having bands playing, too. For the official festival were about 32 bands/artists playing in 8 different locations - you see, it wasn’t easy to choose who to see when you don’t know most of the bands. So, I decided to start at one venue where the wonderful Miss Kenichi played and the hop from one venue to the next going west and in the end all the way back to the White Trash. That was a rather fabulous choice if I may say so myself.
The whole Festival started on the evening beforehand with Dad Rocks! playing the warm-up concert in St. Oberholz. It was the second concert of a rather long tour (find the dates at the end) and he’ll be back in Berlin on the 5. and 21. of September - I hope he plays an encore on the 21., I want to hear a Metallica cover so badly. As always I loved his set - I love the complex guitar play, his lyrics, the folk, the irony and all that. Especially “Funemployment” got a lot of plays since I submitted my Diploma thesis and I am still working on a plan on what to do next and it was so nice to hear the song being played live. I think it was actually the first time I saw him on his own. Just a tiny bit distracting was the noise of the bar and talking people in the background.
For the Germans: in case you don’t already have his album, it is going to be released on the 7th of September on Sinnbus Records.
Miss Kenichi started at 3 pm in Kaffee Burger and while she was playing the room got absolutely crowded. A wonderful surprise when you think of the time of day. As always her wonderful, thoughtful songs resonated through my body throughout the whole day and night, like an underlying rhythm to everything I did. The audience was very quiet, listening and seemingly as amazed as I was. You can read one of my little love letter to her over here. I think at the beginning there were some weird technical thing going on, some buzzing or so, but either it disappeared or I was caught by her music so much that I didn’t noticed it anymore. It was probably the latter reason.
Next up was The Townhouses at Gaststätte W. Prassnik, a bar with a very oldschool, slightly rundown charm. The Townhouses is a project of Melbourne artist Leigh Hannah. I am not quite sure if I like him or not. The main problem I had was that most parts of the melodies were played from a computer and he sang over them and played guitar or “made” beats. He has this electronic sound with a lot of layers, fine melodies and such. His vocals were a tad too quiet for me. However, I couldn’t help but thinking about Will Samson who creates his songs with all the layers on stage. That of course needs a lot a patients from both sides - the audience and the musician. The audience was again very attentive. I think I would have liked him a lot more when he would have tried to do more live instead of playing half playback to his computer. Especially since quite a few beats and sounds in the songs seemed to be on loop anyway. I guess I like it when songs are actually played live in full and only the minor part is coming from a computer.
While walking to the next venue, St. Oberholz, I passed several bars, selling beer on the street and having their own band playing in front of it. The festival had something of a street party as well even though the streets weren’t shut.
I’d like to apologize in advance for the next sentences. The singer of Jack Beauregard, Daniel Schaub, is just as handsome as I remember him. His eyes when he smirks are just way too wonderful and even made me forget why I ignored the band for a couple of years*. But putting this rave over his eyes (and beard) aside and being serious again, I can say I like their electro pop a lot. It’s fun and invites you to dance - it is music that generally puts you in a good mood. That’s what I liked about them a couple of years ago and got me right away again. Their music is pretty infectious. Eventually they have me back on their side.
Daniel is playing guitar or bass (certainly not often enough**) while Pär Lammers plays all sorts of things but all of them had keys. It’s so nice to watch them having fun on stage, exchanging smirks and all of that. And watch other people around me being caught by these tunes as well. The St. Oberholz was filled and even the sidewalk was full of people listening.
Next on my list was Norman Palm but when I arrived at the Schokoladen it was full and no one could get in anymore. Luckily I can say now because I went to a venue just one block away called Z-Bar. A cosy little bar with a cinema in back. I found my favourite artist of this festival there. I haven’t heard of Berlin based musician Tristan Brusch before but he was stunning - I just don’t know why it caught with such surprise. He played delicate melodies on this Fender and added wonderful vocals to it. The vocal range he uses is wonderful and pretty nice. I mean he can sing very, very well. Oh, I am repeating myself.
He just added some beats to two of his songs but for me it seemed the words “less is more” were rather fitting for him. That could have been because the beats were just a bit too loud swallowing his vocals and guitar play. His music is so gentle and so is his voice - seducing you to loose yourself in his songs, drift away and leaving you kind of fuzzy. The first song he played was “My House, My Home, My Life” and there is this line stuck in my head. "If you wouldn’t always pity yourself then I would have the chance to pity you…" Don’t know why but I just fell in love. He played an encore, too. Without amplification and on acoustic guitar. Just wonderful.
On my way back east to the White Trash, I has to stop twice. First I had to watch the spectacle Die Orsons*** were making with feather filled pillows. They had a bit of a Frau Holle thing going on - spreading feathers all over the audience from windows of the upper level of the St. Oberholz. I was initially happy that I didn’t went back there or waited when I noticed some younger people being hyper excited about them after/during Jack Beauregard. In addition I really don’t count German Hip Hop with electro beats to one of my favourite things in the world but it was really busy there. So, quite a few people really liked it.
Leaving Die Orsons heading further east towards the White Trash I stumbled over Dan Bodan playing in Gaststätte W. Prassnik. It was as all locations at that time absolutely overcrowded. I stood outside in front of an open window next to the stage listening a bit. I just could see him, crouched on a table and seducing people with his voice. I think in the few minutes I listened to him he melted parts of my brain. He has this schmaltz in his voice you just don’t find very often and which surely should be forbidden (no, not really). He is like a 80’s schmaltz song but good and a bit more Punk as well. I haven’t checked out his lyrics so far but I assume they are not really as sentimental as his voice makes you believe they are.
Leaving him behind I arrived at the White Trash to catch Mittekill which I have so far ignored. It’s the project of Friedrich Greiling. Their music is somewhere between electro and Deutsch (German) Rock - they sing in German. I am not quite sure if Friedrich called the band a rotation band but I am not quite sure if he meant that all members of the live band rotating their instruments or if the members change a lot. I haven’t been listening to them before. I noticed Hannes of Pitchtuner playing with him and I think I saw the drummer years ago with Nachlader. And I am pretty sure I know the bassist from somewhere but can’t recall from where. Anyway, they make music to dance to and lyrics to think about.
The first rows danced, I danced and I still wonder where I should have shouted during the song “Wasser oder Wodka” (engl. “Water or Wodka”) - despite the singer called the audience to do so. I guess no one really knew it as the people didn’t shout too much. Nevertheless the crowd was enthusiastic throughout the whole concert. The set was certainly too short and not only because they still had the time to play two encores but also because Friedrich dropped a comment that they have 6 minutes left before starting the second encore with the song “Schlange”. What can I say? I quite enjoy a band that just uses all the stage time they have to play songs rather doing a short set and then play the encore game. A waste of time game. However, perfect ending to the day.
Torstraßen Festival was super overall. Good people, music and everything - some of the most attentive audiences I have seen in some time, too. Everything was wonderfully relaxed. I really hope it will be repeated next year and the year after and so on because it just fits so well here.
As aleways you can find more photos on my flickr.
Thank you for reading and have a good day,
*reasons don’t matter anymore. I shall better myself and be less of an idiot.
** I love bass.
*** For the English speaking people: “Die” is a German word and means “the”.
Tourdates of Dad Rocks! - I know you want to see him:
02.09.12 CZ – Prag – Rubin Club
04.09.12 DE – Göttingen – Pools
05.09.12 DE – Berlin - Berlin Music Week
06.09.12 DE – Hannover – Feinkostlampen
07.09.12 DE - Menden – Casa-Phil
08.09.12 DE – Solingen – Cobra
09.09.12 DE – Bonn – Das NYX
10.09.12 BE – Liège – L’an Vert
11.09.12 DE – Mainz – Schon Schön
12.09.12 CH – Zürich - Bar Rossi
13.09.12 FR – Lyon – Periscope
14.09.12 CH – Nyon – La Parenthese
15.09.12 CH – Delémont - 200 anniversary Collège of Delémont
16.09.12 CH - Porrentruy - House Show
17.09.12 DE - Münster - Café Muffathalle w/ Rue Royale
18.09.12 DE – Offenbach – Hafen 2
19.09.12 DE – Münster – Telichen & Beschleuniger
20.09.12 DE – Hamburg – Reeperbahn Festival
21.09.12 DE – Berlin – St. Gaudy
24.09.12 FR – Paris – TBC
25.09.12 FR – Rennes – House-Show
26.09.12 FR – Lille – La Malterie
10.10.12 UK - Cheltenham - Frog & Fiddle*
11.10.12 UK - Kingston - New Slang*
12.10.12 UK - Brighton - The Haunt*
13.10.12 UK - Norwich - Sound & Vision Festival
14.10.12 UK - Birmingham - The Rainbow*
15.10.12 UK - Leeds - Brudenell*
16.10.12 UK - Middlesbrough - The Keys*
18.10.12 UK - Glasgow - Art School*
19.10.12 UK - Sheffield - The Bowery*
21.10.12 UK - Manchester - Carefully Planned Festival
22.10.12 UK - London - XOYO*
23.10.12 UK - Nottingham - Bodega*
24.10.12 UK - Bristol - The Croft*
Two weeks are already over and the second concert of our Kisten Konzerte row is happening on the 21. July (8 pm)! And it again in the Kartoffelkiste im Europa -Center in Berlin (look here). I am well excited for having the amazing Miss Kenichi. I love her. And I keep on wondering why she isn’t more famous to be honest. Miss Kenichi or Katrin Hahner how she is really called, is the daughter of a trucker and born in a small village in German. Is there a reason why I mention that? Absolutely not. Maybe what makes a bit more sense to mention: she went to an actor school, then to an art school and after that she started to make music as an outlet when there weren’t paintings coming to her.
Whenever someone asks me what she makes I get into my “thinking for minutes saying nothing” mode. I don’t find it easy to describe her. She has this mix of blues, country, rock, fine spheric melodies which can lift you out of reality. Her lyrics invite you to build your own stories out of one or two sentences. She uses her guitar very sparse or accentuated and sings almost a capella. Her songs are like a reduced painting - they leave enough room to develop your own stories while you can completely sink into them.
Here is a video for “Arrived” from her first album “Collision Time”:
Kisten Konzerte is a row of concerts me, Sam of Sofa Salon and others are organising together to bring the finest Berlin music to West Berlin.
Feel free to come around and say hi,
Another month is over and this means I have been to another Clusterfuck at White Trash Fast Food in Berlin. This time Elyas Kahn played two sets with “a band” and this was one of the best shows I have seen of him. He had two drummers on stage and just like everyone else who has been there I want him to have two drummers at every single show he plays from now on. I am not saying this because I love a lot of drums (and bass) in general. I just haven’t realized until this evening how much his music demands a lot of percussions. And he also had Peter D’Elia (The Beez) on Banjo and once on Bass when he swapped instruments with Elyas…well, actually Elyas played guitar most of the time, once banjo and then drums once as well and bass. And he had invited Chris Lastelle for bass. Eric Durso (Budzillus) who played more often with Elyas took over one of the drums and the other one was in the hands of Romain Vicente. Romain pretty much just moved to Berlin and Elyas and him had one rehearsal. It was amazing. I feel like repeating myself. I am not sure how often I have tried to put Elyas music and the way he sings in words and it feels like failing every single time. It feels like a fusion of his roots - New York, London and India or something like this. Maybe this helps:
And on Saturday I was at Erik Penny's Sofa Sessions - an slightly different environment but again friends sharing the “stage”. I think in UK everyone would call it a house show. Well, this time it was more about the wonderful Miss Kenichi and Earl Harvin. She makes beautiful sad music and has such a beautiful voice and plays guitar. And Earl plays a bit of drums, harmonica and such a little casio thing. What was the most fascinating for me was how Earl played. He played very gentle, he made this almost silent little sound to underline the mood. And then when he touched his instrument he always seemed to be so respectful to them. After they played I overheard* Katrin Hahner talking to others saying how she writes her music with space in it to leave room for the listener and also her band mates, just not to overload a song with lyrics. When I sat there on the couch, listening and watching her for the first time it felt like a perfect balance. And I remember to think of something thick like honey but warm during the concert.
Katrin Hahner studied stage acting and art, is doing exhibitions with her painting every once in a while and has already released two albums “Collision Time” and “Fox”. I think she is currently working on the third one. I need to get my hands on these and see Miss Kenichi again (which is not difficult because they are from Berlin and will play here in August again).
Erik played a few new songs before and after Miss Kenichi and that made me well excited about his new album even though he is still writing for it and we will have to wait quite a bit for it. He is a singer-songwriter and I think he is in this Americana genre. To make this waiting time shorter I bought his newest live album from last years sofa session. I have been at one of the dates and it was amazing. He played with his band (incl. cello), showed how awesome his music is and also how funny he is. I think the more often I see Erik the more I fall in love with his music. I am not sure when “Live at the Sofa Sessions” is going to be released officially (it should be soon) but I’m well happy to have a physical copy at home since it is going to be digitally release. The only problem is that I want to see Erik playing a full set again - missed a few opportunities in the last months (stupid me).
A photo from the first Sofa Session I have been to in August 2010:
Thank you for reading,
*For some strange reason I have been even more shy than usual and didn’t say much and I was just agreeing/listening.