Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Definitely! First time I tried to play around with a synthesizer changed everything. When I learned how to use a software sequencer too! Then just last year, I integrated a drum-machine in our band-setup and it changed a lot for us. The songs on our new album would have been completely different without it! The machines and instruments I use have a huge impact on the sound that comes out in the end. Sometimes it feels like the machines play me and not the other way around.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Collaborations are very important to me! I love to share ideas with others, Jamming is one of the basic concepts for Christian and me when we write new music with Zement. It wouldn't work without it.
Nonetheless it is important to me to have a good balance between working alone and sharing ideas with others. Often I develop an idea on my own and then show this idea to others, jamming around with it and then working on my own again and then I bring it back in the rehearsal room for example. Often this is the process of how I develop new ideas, back and forth.
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 have a fixed schedule at all! Actually music is there all the time. I'm always running around with new ideas in my head, but sometimes I have to find a balance between my private life, my day job and the time to be creative, working on new music and developing new ideas. It isn't always easy, but I try to keep things in balance.
Often I get new ideas when I'm on my way to work, sitting in the train or just relaxing and reading. I often take a walk in the woods, a lot of ideas come up there. Listening to other music is inspiring too. So, yes, the things I do in my life inspire my music and sometimes it's the other way around.
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 would say the new album with my band ZEMENT, Rohstoff, is an important moment for me. For the first time I have a feeling of being very satisfied with the outcome of the songs and the sound of the finished album. The songs sound nearly as I heard them in my head when we started working on it last year. That's awesome. Like I mentioned before, it took some time to find our own voice as an artist or as a band and I think with this new album we took a huge step forward to find it.
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?
The ideal state of mind for being creative comes, when I have enough time and space. And sometimes it's important for me to be alone as I mentioned before. When I'm working on new ideas I need that time and space to try things out, think about it or just go with the flow in my own world. In the best moments I came in a so-called "flow" state, when time and space start floating. Sometimes it's the same feeling when we play a show and being on stage.
The best moments are those in which you can lose yourself in the music and being really focused at the same time.
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?
Yes, I experienced both. For me music is a healing experience when I feel hurt. After a loved person passes away, music can heal and help to express your feelings. For me this is their biggest potential. When I feel hurt or sad, the music helps me to get better, to understand, to express my emotions.
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?
I think as an artist you have to be aware of which shoulders you stand on and from whom you borrow your ideas and symbols. If you play some sort of Rock-Music you play Black-Music, you have to be aware of that and I think you have to pay tribute and credit to those who developed it in the beginning and later on and what appropriation and exploitation those people and their culture had to endure and still do. You also have to be aware that the words, signs and symbols you use can hurt others and you have to think about where these signs, symbols and words you want to use came from and what they mean to other people and what they do with other people when they see or hear you using them.
As an artist you have to be self-critical with your tools of expression. You have to ask from which position you speak and perform and maybe you have to step back sometimes to let other people speak. As I mentioned before, don´t take yourself too seriously, you don't have to have an opinion on everything. Sometimes you just need to shut up. Especially as a white cis-male person.
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?
Music has the power to touch all our senses simultaneously I think. In a concert situation you hear the music with your ears, you feel it in your body - the bass and all that - and you can see what's going on around you and on stage, what it does with the people around you. Those moments are very inspiring to me. It´s a special feeling that you'll be able to create at special times and when it happens you have the sensation that everybody in the room knows what's going on. Those are awesome moments, not only for the musicians I think, but for everybody attending. All become one with the music.
It's a good example that our senses always work together and what happens when they do it best. And if it happens, music is really an experience to your whole body.
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?
I am a political person and I think it is important to express your political ideas and to show resistance to movements and people who are racists, Nazis etc. As an artist I have expressed political positions in the past and it is important that artists do this I think. This can lead to more engagement at the level of the listener.
On the other hand, I think it's difficult to work on a complex political problem in a 4 minute song. You have to cut things out. This often leads to short answers to complex problems and to short slogans, which sometimes don´t get the point. There are bands who are great at it. There are a lot more who are not in my opinion. It´s very difficult to write good political songs, which are not dumb and have just been written so that the artists could pat their own backs afterwards. I think, your political ideas influence your art and music, but this doesn't mean that everybody should express them directly in their art and music. For me the attitude how you do things and the where and with whom you do it, is more important than to call it out by name in your music. Your sound alone can be political as well.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Feelings and emotions.