Name: Cari Cari
Members: Stephanie Widmer (vocals, drums & didgeridoo) and Alexander Koeck (vocals, guitars).
Occupation: Producers, composers, songwriters
Nationality: Austrian
Recent release: Cari Cari's Welcome To Kookoo Island is out via Perla Nera.
Recommendations: A: As we talk about it in this interview, I want to recommend 'Do Not Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas.
S: And I would recommend checking out Vienna-based painter Nam Kim. There’s something about her paintings that speaks to me!

If you enjoyed this interview with Cari Cari and would like to find out more, visit the duo's official website. The band are also on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

S: We both picked up a guitar when we first really got into music, probably around age 12. But we were drawn to films and soundtracks earlier.

A: I remember my dad putting on Pink Floyd’s The Wall when I was a kid and being blown away by it. I didn’t understand the concept of an album and was absorbed into that world. You could hear plane crashes, babies crying and the music. I loved it. I always asked him if he could ‘put on the plane sound’.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

S: It’s definitely a very visual thing. I always see little short movies. For us that’s how we know if a song is finished.

A: Yeah, once there is a music video in our mind we know we’re on the right track! I also see colours. For Cari Cari that’s all in technicolor (laughs).

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

S: We’re both not trained musicians. I think that really helped us in finding our own voice.

A: Yeah, nobody plays drums like Steph does. Sometimes when we play with properly educated musicians I am surprised how interchangeable the music gets. The Cari Cari sound really is all about the special creative relationship we have with each other.

S: There are way better drummers than me out there. But I think I am the best drummer for Cari Cari.

A: 100%. We’re really careful not to lose this naive perspective on music. I can hear it immediately if music is someone’s ‘job’ and they just want to clock out.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

S: I think it’s all about what we just said: Being naive, never treating music or being in a band like a job. Embracing mistakes and weirdness and last but not least … never listening to music business people (laughs).

A: Yeah, we both never really liked classic pop songs. When we started playing together we kept on talking about Ennio Morricone, movie soundtracks and electronic music. It’s all about creating an atmosphere that our listeners and us can immerse ourselves into. That’s why the Kookoo Island concept makes so much sense to us.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

A: We believe in the power of ideas. It’s not about being the best singer, having the biggest label or the most expensive music video. I think a powerful idea overpowers all of those things.

S: And we’re very cautious to create a coherent audiovisual concept. I want every interaction our listeners have with us to be 100% Cari Cari. That includes our music, the mix, album artworks, music videos, stage design just as much as our social media platforms.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

S: We’re definitely always looking for new angles in making what we do feel and sound fresh. We both love electronic music and love to play around with different production techniques. At the same time we love the human touch of old rhythm and blues records.

A: Sometimes I feel like we’re modus operandi is recording to sample ourselves (laughing)

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

A: Ableton Live, my Höfner guitars and our voices.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

S: That’s a tough one. Almost every day is different. At the moment it’s a lot of interviews, preparing our new live show, rehearsing and building a submarine for the shows.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

A: I think the album is a good example for that: At the beginning we just wrote a few songs without any goals. We just let creativity flow and on a subconscious level.

After we had around six songs we took a step back and realised that all of them were based around the same lyrical themes. That’s how we came up with the concept of Kookoo Island.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
S: We’re quite private. We have our own studio and for 90% of the time work there on our own.

But we want to bring on more people going forward. There’s a lot of power in collaboration.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

A: I think it can be something people immerse themselves into like I did as a kid. Spend hours listening to albums, going through liner notes and wanting to find out everything about my favourite bands.

But it can also be a 5 second tiktok snippet that is the perfect soundtrack for everyday experiences. I think both ways are  cool for us.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

S: We wrote our song ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ after my grandfather passed away. It was my way of dealing with the whole situation and helped me get closure. The title is a reference to the Dylan Thomas poem that was his way of expressing his grief.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

A: Wow, good question but I don’t really know how to answer.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing 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?

S: Actually I am very intense about making a great cup of coffee (laughs).

A: That’s what we always say. For us it’s about creating in general: Building a set, learning stop-motion techniques, writing music, mixing, painting. Being in Cari Cari is a great way to stimulate every aspect of our creativity.

S: I love our fans and it feels like all of them are creative in some way. You can make collecting art into an art form. You might be into growing avocado trees or making the perfect cup of coffee and I love talking to people about their passions.

To me this passion is one of the best things about humanity.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

A: No, it’s magic isn’t it?

I’ve been making music almost everyday for the most part of my life and when I get home from a one-month tour the first thing I do is grab my guitar.