German synth-rock on a rise! – interview with SOULIMAGE

Hello guys! I hope you are well and “ready, steady, go!” for these questions I prepared for you.
1
1. As for the beginning I’d like you to share the story of SOULIMAGE. How did that started for each one of you: when did you join the band and what were your first thoughts about the project?

SI_Juergen: I already played several times with Luck in different bands/projects since the 90s. In summer 2014 he asked me if I would like to join his current formation “soulimage”. All the time before I “only” made hand made music and was quite interested in interacting with electronic music. At the end I was challengenged to try something new, which lead me to soulimage.

SI_Burbn: I started in summer ’15 at SOULIMAGE and played in different bands and sideprojects before (unknown for the most). I answered on a posting by Robert at Facebook and now I am here 😉

SI_Stefan: I already saw Soulimage live in 2006 and did the livemixing on one of their concerts in 2010 something. When Robert needed new musicians I called to do guitars or keys, what I ended up with. Before that I did my own gothic rock band from 2000 to 2010 and participated as live musician or sound engineer for several bands in the german gothic scene. Ironically, in my own band I played the bass, but I am nothing against Juergens skills.

2. And I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t add one extra question for the vocalist Robert, about the idea behind the formation of the band. When did you know that you want to form a band and what was your vision about it then and how does it look now? Did that change or is it still the way it was in the very beginning?

SI_Robert: Soulimage was created in my mind in 2005. Even before any music was written, I knew that the band or project should be called Soulimage. Then I started to work on songs. Everything was created on typical electronic pattern, until a few years later the idea of a real band came up. There were many line-up changes and the music sounded different over times. That’s why it was so hard to get some constance in the music. For me Soulimage should just sound awesome, no matter if it was electro pop or hard rock. But that, maybe, was also part of the problem, why it took this long to find the real Soulimage sound. It really took several years, but now we have arrived.
2
3. It’s not that common for a band to describe the performing genre as “synth-rock”. Please explain where did that come from and why did you choose this over other music genres?

SI_Juergen: The term “synth-rock” is the combination of our most dominant music styles. “synth” stands in general for electronic music and “rock” I think needs no explanation 😉

SI_Robert: Synth-rock is only a description of what we unite in our music. Synthetic sounds with some hard but also melancholic rock. We are no gothic-rock band, certainly influenced by this genre, but no way bogged down. Maybe there will be a new style of rock with Soulimage – I don’t know. But no matter what you want to call it – we just make our music.

SI_Burbn: I dont like to put our style in a typical genre like “synth-rock”… We use synths and playing a basic-rock-set, yes, but we are too “unclassified” i think 😉 Sometimes we play metal with synths, sometimes we play industrial-rock, so every guy where listen to us has different explanations for this style. I dont care ’bout that 🙂

SI_Stefan: Synth-rock is a defined term in germany to describe Bands like The Birthday Massacre, A Life divided and so on, everything thats not tough enough to be industrial rock/metal nor “Neue Deutsche Härte”. Technically it’s a spoof, most people forget how much synthetic stuff is common these days in produced music. For me it’s a punctation to point out that the digital parts are as important as the rockish parts, though the mass of the ingredients might vary. Maybe someday, the term will change. It’s just a word….

4. Connection of synth music with strong rock is so intriguing that I need to ask for the influences. What was your inspiration in the creating process and what ispires you in general?

SI_Robert: I hear a lot of different music. Classical music as well as hard metal. However, most affect me “Depeche Mode”. I love the mood of their songs.

SI_Juergen: The biggest inspiration for me was the work of bass player Twiggy Ramirez on the albums “Hollywood” and “Mechanical Animals” together with Marylin Manson. The way he supports the band and song is quite imposing. He’s also the reason why I started using distorted bass sounds.

SI_Burbn: I have a big repertoire on music styles i like, but mostly something with guitars in it 😉 I learned a few instruments, but my favorite instrument was since the age of 9 the guitar. I listened to a lot of bands, but two guitar-players with very significant styles/sounds gave me goosebumps everytime i heard them and they impressed me alot; Richard Z. Kruspe (Rammstein) and Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth).

SI_Stefan: Speaking of electronics, my greatest influence is the work of Bruno Kramm, how he mixes harsh electro sounds and classical tunes perfectly on a very artistic level. Despite that, my favorite Bands is “Samsas Traum”. And I love the stuff Stevie Wonder did in the 70ies.
3
5. Many great music bands and artists come from Germany that gained international popularity, such as Rammstein, Reamonn, Scorpions, Kraftwerk or Die Toten Hosen to name a few. Do you have equal ambition to become globally known or do you focus on your homeland?

SI_Juergen: We definitely do not restict ourselve. The rest is up to our fans and the music society. Try it on yourself, invite us to a Polish festival and meet us 😉

SI_Burbn: I would love to play in the whole world, but like Juergen said; it’s up to the fans and the industry 😉

SI_Robert: We focus on what the future will bring. It is much of the financial resources, whether you reach a corresponding degree of popularity. Money is not everything, but it’s definitely important to get further.

SI_Stefan: I like most of the bands you named, but I’d rather aim for a “cult-band” status, that is not that dominant in the charts but could manage to gain a solid fandom all over the world for decades.

6. On 20th of May this year your debut album “The Whole Universe” had its release. Can you share something from the working process? How long it took to record the album and what music lovers can expect from it? Also, how involved were you during the process of the making?

SI_Burbn: Most of us recorded our instruments at our own “home-studios”. I recorded only the guitar-parts for the album. Most of the work had to be done by Stefan 😀
Expect nothing peticular of this album and you will love it 😉

SI_Robert: Partly, I was really frustrated about my voice and the singing. This is certainly due to my perfectionism. 😉 But ultimately, we have produced a good debut album, in my opinion. Even if it took really much time and nerves.

SI_Stefan: I hate them. All of them *laughs* The whole process took about 2 months, but everyone had about 3 weeks of work on their own, my job was to collect all the recordings, arrangements and ideas everyone had and put them together in one piece.
4.jpg
7. Aside from the album release, you seem to know some other German artists like Florian Grey or Bitch&Chips that you already performed live with. What do you think about these other artists? Are they a serious competition to you or is it that you don’t consider anyone a competition?

SI_Robert: Why should good artists represent a competition? We only can learn from each other. Everyone invests time and money for the success. Florian Grey is a really talented musician and singer and he really deserves it. Bitch&Chips changed their name again to “Darkh”. But no matter how they are called – they fuckin rock the stage!

SI_Juergen: Bands should not be competitors at all. The most important thing is that we and our fans have fun and enjoy our music. Some people(and also bands) hopefully like us and others will not. That’s life.

SI_Burbn: Juergen’s right. It should be fun, so we don’t care ’bout competitions with other bands. I personally don’t give a f*** ’bout that 😉

SI_Stefan: There is no competition in music. You have your occassional divas and “superstars”, fuck them, otherwise it’s important to help each other out, otherwise this whole underground music thing would not work at all.

8. As a band there must be a true bond between the members. What is the most funny memory you have with one another so far?

SI_Burbn: We don’t have fun and we don’t have funny memories. We are the most evil band in the world… I’am just kidding 😉 It’s always fun to play with this guys and i’am very proud to be a part of it! But I could not name a particular memory with one of them, there are so much of it 😀

SI_Stefan: I wanted that cake so badly…. *lol* *

* – What Stefan meant was most likely the cake one FOB (fan/friend of the band) made for one of the gigs that was unfortunately canceled due to bad weather).
5
9. You are the members of the synth-rock (but still rock, though) band. How do you like to spend your time off? Or is there even any amount of time off for SOULIMAGE? Do you spend it together and separately and what gives you relief and calms you after a gig or time in the studio?

SI_Juergen: To be member of a band is a kind of partnership. But beside of the band almost everyone has his own family with childrens. A well balance is very important to keep both partnerships working. Most of the time when we are not busy with tormenting our instruments we are kidding each other.

SI_Burbn: As Juergen said, most of us has a family and working besides the band (we have to). There’s not much time besides that, so we “hang out” at gigs and at our “super-creation-room” 😉 But personally i like to play video-games at home and going out to concerts, cinema, eating at restaurants and so on.

SI_Robert: Nothing else to say! 😉

10. You have a strong bond with your fans. What is the most memorable thing you remember from your live performances?

SI_Robert: Our keyboard-player Stefan has pulled out his shirt on the stage. That has really traumatized me. More than anything else! 😀 Otherwise I remember well in every single show. People give back so much energy.

SI_Stefan: It was at this one show, where I dared the audience to move at least as much as my mother (she’s a 5 time granny) that danced the whole time 😀 And HEY, it was hot on stage!!

SI_Burbn: A complete family (grandmother, mother, children) where’s rockin’ to our songs! It was fascinating to see, that we could animate 60+ and 18+ year old people with our songs 😀
6
11. To stay with relations with others. Do you consider yourselves to be a role model for young artists and bands that are still in a phase of playing in the garages and trying to knock out for a bigger stage? What would be your advice for those young people?

SI_Juergen: The best advice to musicians is: never stop making music and keep your ears open.

SI_Burbn: Play the style you like and never (!) give up! But focus on your school/work! Don’t see it as something you had to do, it’s very important to have a good job… to finance your equipment 😉

SI_Robert: Do your own style! Be faithful to yourself and always listen to your hearts!

SI_Stefan: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try again. In art, everything goes!

12. Going back to your debut album, share with us some of the dates and places where people can find you performing live. How does the tour looks like and what are your plans for the near future?

SI_Robert: You can see Soulimage live: 08/20/2016 – Dresden (Club11), 08/27/2016 – München (Garage Deluxe), 09/03/2016 – Regensburg (H5). We will plan some more shows for autumn 2016. Otherwise we plan to release the second single from the debut album this year. For sure we will work on new songs and on a second album, but we don’t want to commit us still in a date.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview and I hope that soon a group of your listeners will significantly grow!
Iwona “Izzy”

SI: Thank you very much Izzy

The Legend’s Farewell

Today we said goodbye to one of the most important figures in the world music scene. We said goodbye not only to an amazing vocalist or musician, but to a music hero of many. We said goodbye to a legendary David Bowie.
The genius behind Ziggy Stardust, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor. That’s how David Bowie is described all over the world. This, without a doubt, makes him an icon in many ways.

David_Bowie-720x450_1357727290

“His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure.” ~ David Buckley.

His 28 albums were an enormous contribution to music and has become an inspiration for many artists in creating their own artistic visions and became the foundation for progress in the music itself, regardless of genre.

Blackstar_album_cover.jpg

His last studio album “Blackstar” was released only 2 days ago, an January 8th, 2016. The title track was however presented on November 20th 2015 and the second single of the album – “Lazarus” – was released later on December 17th the same year, as a digital download.

Even though “Blackstar” album consists only of 7 songs, David Bowie proved once and for all how to make a masterpiece. With it’s over 41 minutes, the album definitely deserves to be playing during music lessons. Not only for enjoyment but especially to show music students how to strive for perfection.

Bowie-Blackstar-vinylcover.jpg

If I only had a chance to give him my personal message I’d say to David Bowie: Sir, thank you for being the rare gem in the music industry for so long. Thank you for every album you’ve recorded. Thank you for not giving up to that nasty disease that cancer is, and once more gave us a piece of yourself. Thank you and rest in peace, Master.

~Izzy

Unzyme “Override” – REVIEW

Over 4 years of waiting. They released their debut album back in 2010. 3 people in one promising band – Unzyme.
Over 4 years of waiting for the second album. Waiting – with hopes and fears.
I was hoping for progression. I feared that “Override” will be just as the first album. It’s nothing bad about it, but still I feared that they will remain in the point from which they started.
I wished for evolution of the music, the enlargement of the lyrics and advancement of the band itself. Now I can say my fears were unneeded. Unzyme met all my expectations.

I decided to take a listen with mixed feelings. I also decided to take notes while listening to the songs one by one, to describe my thoughts in the present time.
Override_front_preview_2
1. Relay (3:27).
I was lucky to hear few songs in their demo versions and this one was one of the first ones. I was positively surprised how the music grew from a simple plan to the final version. The lyrics came its long way smoothly from a clean idea to a story that fits the band’s style.

2. Step outside (3:46).
This song is simply hypnotizing. If anyone is desperately looking for this magical place where music meets the lyrics – you don’t have to search any longer. This is the point of perfection. I was a tiny bit disappointed that it’s only the second song of the album, but my heart is smiling now. I used to focus on music background or on the lyrics, forgetting the other part. Here I hear everything as one. It’s very rare to create such gem.

3. Mother of all bombs (3:02).
Have you ever thought about mixing electronic music, meaningful lyrics and rocking sound? Impossible? Nope. It’s like mixing tastes and scents. You have to be a master chef in the kitchen to to things like that. Mixing styles that at once don’t fit in music, you have to be genius-minded. Here’s where you find this beautiful mind.

4. Sinking in the past (3:40).
This song is one of the best surprises on the album. While listening I thought like I’ve heard this before. And I don’t mean the demo. The final album version of the song reminds me of something. It’s not the feeling you get nowadays where everyone is coping everybody. It’s like a melody you had in your head for so long and finally you hear it for real. Unzyme definitely know how to perfectly connect electronical music with soft pianos and vibrating vocals.

5. Don’t accept your fate (3:06).
What else can I say? Do I hear cello? Or is it double bass? Violin maybe? My first thought was “Really guys? How could you molest my head like that? Is it even legal?”.
I used to be a major rock fan. Other styles were tolerated. And then Unzyme happen.
If you don’t believe musical miracles – you better do now.

6. I can’t stand this silence (2:51).
And here comes my fears. First tones of the song sounded like it’s going to be plain pop-ish song. But this fear lasted no longer than a neutron impulse. Joona made it sound like a proper and serious successor of Neil Tennant. The song brings me straight into the future of the style. Pet Shop Boys would be proud! The song is smashing!

7. Faces I knew (3:45).
Now that’s the music I like. Gentle vocals of Joona’s deep voice complement the music and create ensemble that is a real pleasure for the listener. That’s what I expected from this album. Wise words in song-lyrics, great not-disturbing music and the vibe. It’s hard to say anything more when you find something that speaks for itself.

8. Bad old times (4:26).
Have you ever felt hypnotized by an old music box from your childhood? I felt like I found that sort of music box in an old abandoned house. When it starts playing I can feel the air filled with dust flowing through my hair. Air brings old photos right in my hands. Dust sparkles in the dim light from the windows…
I might not mean the lyrics the way its author did but it feels magical. And i love to be tackled in my creativity spot!

9. Which way (3:32).
This is the first time I hear this song, so it’s like discovering new places.
I wanna applause to Unzyme again. I can strongly feel the inspiration of PSB, but totally in Unzyme style. I need to be on a gig where this song is played – I’ll be the first one dancing!!!
The biggest mystery of the album – the biggest shock! Can I clap my hands now?

10. Thought of decay (4:59).
So far my only lullaby was sung by The Cure. The list must be extended to this song as well. Lyrics are my kind of sad and moody. Music sooth me after a long day and after a great album that made me wanna move. Having this song as the closing chapter of “Override” is ideal.

To make long story short. Listening to the “Override” album was a pure pleasure not only for me – waiting few years on it, but especially for my ears. All my fears go away now, when I know how amazing it is. I started with a worried mind with a vision of a band that is not evolving. Now I wanna punish myself for how I could even think like that? It’s been a long way in time with a lot of bad and good stuff on the way. It’s shown in this 36-minutes-long album.

It was worth it. It was definitely worth it.
~Izzy

And now the squirrel goes dancing…

Jaani Peuhu “Tear Catcher” – REVIEW

"Tear Catcher" album cover

“Tear Catcher” album cover

The album starts with a song entitled “Lifelines” that at first makes me think about an A-ha song with the same title. But Jaani’s version is – I have to admit it even as a big A-ha fan – more enchanting with it’s drums and dark melody. In addition lyrics sound like an underwater sirens completely catching the attention of the audience.

The second track is sharing the title with the album (“Tear Catcher”) is more powerful. Drums are getting stronger, and Jaani’s voice is getting louder. You can close your eyes and you will hardly notice the break between this song and the one that comes right after it, which is “My Sky”. Both makes your heart skips a few beats to synchronize to the drums. To the weak hearted – it may cause a little heartache, although those who are great dark wave and synth pop fans are going to loose themselves in this hypnotizing sounds.

The fourth song on the album is slower one called “I Believed”. Compared to anything else it’s like a listener decided to take a slow walk after few minutes of intense running. After three Iconcrash albums, Jaani Peuhu shows that he definitely knows how to make a synth pop ballad with an deep dark wave background.

“Unspoken Loss” starts with a heartbeat-alike sound that goes straight into your head – mind wearing in-ear headphones here! The song with Jaani’s vocals will take you from where you are into a place with a perfect acoustics.

“Mercy Kiss” might sound a little disturbing at first but not even after half a minute the song makes you wanna move. Personally it almost made me dance even though I don’t know any dance moves.

The second half of the album starts with the song “Maybe God Is Asleep”. It begins as an acoustic song while after a minute you can finally hear the melodic background to the guitar. In opposition to the first songs on the album, this one is the relaxing vibe to the previous notes.

Once you are calmed and relaxed, there comes “Follow me”. You can hear slightly exotic note within this song. In my head it created few visions of Asia once I decided to close my eyes.

After “Follow Me” there comes “No Regrets”. It surrounds with dark mixture of sounds and vocals like a voile of wondering what was the inspiration to the author. Even though to me it almost caused a headache, I have to admit that it’s mystery attracts like a magnet, even if I try to get away from it. Calm ending makes my heart slow down to a normal tempo and makes me feel like a rabbit running away from a hunter. Weird feeling but it fits the album’s atmosphere more than greatly.

The tenth song is “Did You Ever?” that prolongs the exotic Asian feeling inside me. Personally I think it’s the most magical song on the album. It calms me down and scares me. In makes me feel good and bad at the same moment.

“Desire” is the closing song on the “Tear Catcher” album. It feels like the author is going back to the beginning of it. The tension is building up as the drums are resounding. As Janni’s vocals reverberate – the desire is growing bigger and bigger while the melody gets darker and darker. It’s the longest song on the 11-songs Jaani Peuhu album and it’s definitely the darkest of all.

In summary, the album consists of eleven tracks of dark wave and synth pop atmosphere. Recorded for nearly three years in many places in Europe and around the world. The album was honed by both International producers as well as by the author himself in smallest details.

Lyrics are – as in the nature of Janni Peuhu – deep, and each track has its own individual story in the background. The songs can be listened to by fans individually, but also together as a unified work form a complete picture. On one hand, the songs are like the components of a larger whole, but on the other hand, it does not take away their own individuality.

jaanipeuhu1

Jaani Peuhu – “Tear Catcher”
1. Lifelines 5:12
2. Tear Catcher 4:15
3. My Sky – Single Version 3:43
4. I Believed 4:42
5. Unspoken Loss 6:06
6. Mercy Kiss 3:30
7. Maybe God Is Asleep 3:48
8. Follow Me 3:46
9. No Regrets 5:13
10. Did You Ever? 5:47
11. Desire 7:23
Whole album length: 52:55

Positive attitude, music passion and a great vision for the future – an interview with a man behind the FEEXER

logo
First of all tell me, who is Feexer? Who is hiding behind this artistic name?
Behind Feexer there is Manuel, Italian and 33-year-old. I would like to define me as a songwriter or musician, but as you know modern artists also need to be audio engineers, producers and managers (and many other things!) at the same time. So, being an Indie artist living in 2014, I’m supposed to be a very polyhedric person. I just hope I am.

Now when I know the background of the name tell me please, when and how you’ve decided to create music? Was it a spontaneous decision or did you plan it step by step?
I’ve been playing my own music since I was 13, so that’s always been a fundamental part of my life. I played in many bands and I was the singer of a very interesting project in which I was involved for 7 years. I’m though not interested in talking about the past. Feexer was born after a few years of total inactivity, when my life reached a certain stability (after getting married with my marvelous wife) that allowed me to look at music with new eyes. A few weeks later “Everything”, the future first track of the EP, was ready. It was totally unexpected, but I suddenly felt that that song was going to represent a new beginning.

What do you think is a bigger power in music business: fan base and an artist going out to the audience or big labels, managements and artists being seen as “the golden calf”? How do you see the situation in the music business?
The world is changing so fast. Music is changing even faster. But I think it would be pointless to concentrate our attention only on the crisis of music business as we imagined it. Technology is allowing a huge amount of independent artists and bands to reach the global audience, so this immense expansion of music offer is clearly one of the reasons why we can’t be all considered as “the golden calf” and we all have to struggle so much to emerge. So if you’re an Indie artist the only thing to do is to produce your music at best and to try to reach a small and specific slice of the audience that can really and deeply appreciate your music. Being aware that many very good Indie artists outside there deserve a lot of attention as well.

Are you determined to become as successful and recognizable as Zucchero for example? Or maybe you’re focusing on the local, national audience?
This one makes me smile a bit, as Zucchero is definitely one of those mainstream Italian artists that are a thousand miles from what an independent producer of alternative music would like to become nowadays. I didn’t know that Zucchero was so famous in Poland, that’s very interesting. Talking about Feexer, this project is definitely focused on the international audience. My only objective is to try to be recognized as a decent artist, that’s all.

Minding the big stars, you must have inspirations in your work. Who gives you ideas in creating music? Is it someone from your homeland or from outside of Italy?
Sincerely, I rarely listen to Italian music. I think I’m inspired by many different artists. Radiohead, Fink, A Perfect Circle, Nero. I also like to use apps like Spotify and Deezer in random mode without even knowing who is the artist playing in that precise moment.

Tell me something about where you come from. What does it mean today to be an artist in and from Italy?
I live with my wife and my newborn son in a small city called Modena, in Northern Italy. This part of Italy was particularly interesting during the 90s, when there was a great attention for alternative music in general and many big international artists were used to include my city in their tours. Right now it’s not exactly the “place to be” if you’re an Indie artist trying to get some attention from the global audience, but I don’t care. I consider my city as the place where I want my son to grow up. It’s a peaceful place and it’s my headquarter. Europe is Feexer’s main target at the moment.
EP
At the end of July 2014 you’ve released your EP “Diamonds and Defects”. Tell me how the works on this material were going? How did you feel about it? And of course what you wanted to achieve with the album itself. Tell me something about the message it has to you.
As I told you, after “Everything” I suddenly realized that I was really happy with what I produced in a few weeks. So I decided that the first objective would have been a 5-tracks EP in order to properly evaluate the audience’s reaction. After 10 months spent in my home-studio, the EP was released on July 28th of July 2014 with worldwide digital distribution and in less than 3 months I received an amazing feedback from the online audience, with thousands of plays and thousands of people adding Feexer on the social networks. That’s marvelous. I feel now that the experiment is not a simple experiment anymore. Concerning the message of “Diamonds and Defects EP” and its lyrics, I think that, briefly, the whole work is concentrated on telling people not to get used to life, to always try to get deeper and to never surrender, accepting our limits but not turning our habits into our lives.

What are your plans for the nearest future? Gigs? Recordings? And if the recordings then what is it going to be: second EP or a long play?
I just officially announced that Feexer’s debut album will be released in 2015, probably between September and November. I’m quite excited about it. Right now I do not have enough songs ready in order to play a decent gig, so the project will start touring right after the album release. Luckily, I know a lot of talented and professional artists, so I can’t wait to start touring Europe with Feexer’s band involving many good friends of mine.

Do you plan to record your further material on your own or are you thinking about signing a contract with one of the labels?
I will update you and all the fans about the crowdfunding campaign that I will launch in order to fund my debut album very soon. I will also announce which is the crowdfunding platform I’m going to chose. It will be amazing: fans will be able to become executive producers of my first full-length work and two pages of the album’s artwork will be dedicated to all the people who will decide to contribute to the cause this way. I really believe that this direct involvement of fans is a turning point for a lot of projects far from the mainstream world as mine is. It’s so great to think that the audience has now the possibility to help good artists producing their works this way. I didn’t contact any label, I think this project will stay Indie.

What do you think about live performances? Did you have such experiences already?
I played live in the past with other bands in Italy and abroad for many years and I think that live performances are a wonderful experience, both for the artist and for the fans. That intensity and complicity is unreachable just listening to a CD or to a track on SoundCloud. Feexer is though mainly a studio project, so I will not try to create my fanbase playing live. Touring will follow albums releases.

And finally, what would you wish for if you ever catch a goldfish?
I wish there was peace everywhere in the world. I really mean it. Music will always be there, but that is far more important.

Thank you for your time.
Thank you very much.