Name: District Five
Members: Paul Amereller, Tapiwa Svosve, Vojko Huter, Xaver Rüegg
Occupation: Musicians, performers, composers
Recent release: District Five's Burnt Sugar is out via A Tree in a Field (which has also featured release by, among others, Odd Beholder, Antoine Chessex, and Papiro). As they reveal in this interview, their next full length record is slated for release in 2023. District Five were one of the artists performing at 2022's Reeperbahn Festival which took place in Hamburg, Germany, September September 21st-24th.
[Read our Odd Beholder interview]
[Read our Antoine Chessex interview]
[Read our Papiro interview]
If you enjoyed this interview with District Five and would like to find out more about the quartet, visit their official website. They are also on Instagram, and Facebook.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
We usually write the music together by playing, jamming, trying to practice something etc. It’s very much a social thing for us.
When we like something, we record it ourselves. Next time time we play it, nobody remembers quite how it was. We listen back and relearn the structure / groove / part of a song we would like to play. This constant recording and listening back kind of determines our workflow.
Everyone writes their own part and it all grows and comes together over time. There is nothing written down except lyrics. Sometimes it’s also more concrete and for example Vojko brings a complete song or someone else a fragment or an idea.
But yes - I think we have a basic need to play music together, no matter what.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
A track can come from anything. We just meet, play and follow the paths that feel good to us.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
Our rehearsal space deep underground is where all our tools are and it allows us to meet, play music whenever we like.
Most songs of us go through many versions. Some change again in the studio process or might be played differently live.
We are notorious for changing setlists and song arrangements all the time. We like to stay flexible.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
We need time together more than anything else.
If a rehearsal starts on the wrong foot, we go eat something, joke around, tell stories, update each other on our lives, try to navigate ourselves in a space where we feel relaxed and open; this usually works out.
I guess it’s mostly about letting go of everything not related to the moment or to music. No fixed rituals.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
We mostly start with a spontaneous improvisation at the beginning that just starts naturally and is a great way to get everyone into the same space, musically and emotionally.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
I feel like the lyrics come from more individual experiences that get shared with the group at some point later. Like „hey I‘ve been playing with these texts / lyrics maybe it fits well with this song?“.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Good lyrics just hit you differently.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
This is especially a big thing for us during studio work.
During recording and producing a record our songs take many different iterations until we are happy. In our rehearsals and the writing process this is also a factor but less nerve-wrecking.
But we all also have a background in jazz and improvised music, so we are used to such situations or are even pushing ourselves into them. It’s an exciting state to be in, when multiple things / pulses/ideas can exist at the same time. Yeah I mean … improvisation.
I don’t know if this answered the question.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
There is definitely an energy there that we all can feel and be connected to, which could be regarded as some form of spirituality.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Since we are a band that always keeps moving forward and tries new things, it seems easy for us to not get stuck with the old.
You can feel when something is done.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
A song definitely has its own life. Sometimes the moment just isn‘t right for a song and you put it on the backburner. Then someone might bring it up later again and we get into it again, playing it differently maybe, and it turns into something else we then put back into the setlists.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
This is super important to us.
Luckily, Vojko (Huter) is absolutely amazing at production, mixing and mastering. Everything we do live that gets recorded goes through him, to make sure that it sounds the way it should.
Our next album coming out in 2023 is one that we recorded ourselves, thanks to Vojko and his expertise.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
As mentioned earlier we don‘t linger in those feelings, but are eager to move on and try new things.
Maybe our label (A Tree In A Field Records) feels that emptiness more than we do. (laughs)
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I think music is the main force in our lives and we go where it takes us.
Personally I don‘t think there is anything that could be considered mundane, really.