Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I don't really have a set schedule. The most important thing for me is consistency and focus, so I try to do a little bit of everything I have to do every day.
Ideally, I'll work on my music for a few hours in the morning and take care of administrative things, rehearsals, and finding new sources of inspiration in the afternoon, but it really depends on where I am in the project cycle. Before a deadline, I usually compose all day until late at night. I also try to do the usual things that they say are good for you, like exercising regularly, going for walks, and getting enough sleep. It really makes a difference for me, but I always seem to forget about it before deadlines.
Since my partner is also a musician and our days are usually filled with making music and thinking about the world in which that music is supposed to take place, life and art very much intertwine.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I think the work where I found my ideal way of writing music is the ongoing project with violinist Teresa Allgaier that we started mid-pandemic.
The idea was to create a cycle of violin solo pieces in close collaboration. A year ago we released a video of the first completed piece, and I thoroughly enjoyed being responsible for every aspect of the work, including the presentation, along with Teresa. As I mentioned earlier, this is usually somewhat difficult in classical music, as the composer is often commissioned by an ensemble or institution, which then determines the production. So it felt good to be able to fully think through the development of a piece from conception to performance.
Also, it's wonderful to work with such a great musician and friend as Teresa over an extended period of time and explore the instrument together. More music from this collaboration to come!
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
It is important to me to be fully present and having enough energy to be resilient when I start composing. I don’t really have strategies how to enter an ideal state of mind, even though I think meditation and less screen time before bedtime help.
What is important for me personally though, is not having too much on my mind overall. If there are too many things - other projects or a lot of admin tasks - I can’t get into the state of focus I need to imagine music. I also need a lot of space time wise, time to day dream, to let the mind wander and let the ideas come in their own time. Time pressure towards the end of a project is okay, but never in the beginning. I need to find something, a musical idea, I feel strongly about.
Sometimes it happens very quickly, sometimes it takes longer, but when it happens it feels like magic. And magic can’t be rushed or pressured.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I am not really familiar with the healing power of music. There is this whole scene that uses sound waves and certain frequencies to heal people, I have heard. I can’t say much about this.
But I think on a psychological level music you love, you know really well, you have fond memories of, can help to bring you in a better place on a bad day.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
An exchange on the basis of mutual appreciation certainly is something the world can benefit from. Everything else is, or touches on, appropriation.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
During my undergrad, I took a lot of time to prepare for the ear training exam that everyone who wants to graduate from a conservatory has to take. This kind of listening requires a lot of concentration, you can't do it for that long at a stretch, so in the 30-60 minutes that you can actually work on it, you have to make sure that you're very focused and present.
What I noticed during that time is that I was able to taste a lot more. Everything just tasted more intense and I recognized the individual components of my food better. It was the craziest thing!
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me being an artist means being an involuntary glitch in a capitalist system.
In order to make my best art I can't act in a way that capitalism qualifies as efficient. I have to give things the time they need to develop. Furthermore, there is no functioning system for art music to determine its value in a monetary sense. Thus, artists remind the system in which we live of its own limits through their presence alone and represent a strong contrast to what apparently works in this system.
Music and art in general, can of course also clearly name social and political issues and thus serve as a strong vehicle. However, my approach so far has been more to achieve this purpose through aiming for a strong artistic integrity. It is important for me to say that it is not about fulfilling the role of the "starving artist" or that I support artists being pushed into serving as moral role models.
All these problems and challenges that one experiences as a musician in our existing economic system show that it has weaknesses and should be fixed, not romanticized. I wish there was much more discussion on this topic!
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
It is magical to me how music can reach you in such a personal deep way beyond words. Especially when words are used in a piece, it becomes apparent what music can add to their meaning. Music is energy, mood, and somewhat like a connector to something mystical, that words can’t quite catch.