„We have come together from two different worlds“ – Lea Porcelain im Interview
The Berlin based band Lea Porcelain is going to release various remixes of their stunning debut LP Hymns To The Night in the next couple of weeks!
“How would you name your daughter?”, has been the main question which lead to the naming of Lea Porcelain, a young, avantgardistic and forward-thinking band originally from Frankfurt in Germany. They have just released their debut LP on their own and self-titled label, went on tour with the well-known band alt-J and even made a cover of the boss himself – Bruce Springsteen. We met Markus and Julien before their gig in Lehrte at the Fuchsbau Festival and chatted about the famous Robert Johnson in Offenbach, Hymns To The Night and future projects amongst other topics.
Besides the musical aspects, the Fuchsbau Festival also has an exciting art and culture program. How do you like it here in Lehrte?
Beforehand, we read an article in the Crack Magazine which we appreciated a lot. The concept of combining different art forms and disciplines is always very exciting. But we especially liked the personal booking. They saw us live and thereupon asked us if we wanted to play at the festival straight away. This procedure gives us a special feeling, also because we saw them trancing out in front of the stage during our performance. It is very authentic and we like that a lot.
Your debut LP Hymns To The Night contains various facets and can hardly be assigned to any specific genre. Where do you take your inspirations from?
It feels very interesting because we have come together from two very different worlds. There is the singer-songwriter component of Markus who takes his inspiration from poetry and experimental music. Julien is affine to technical stuff and likes big productions as well as special club music. We would like to find sounds that can carry and trigger emotions. It is rather unattractive to use the same guitar riffs or effects on the vocals again and again. It just does not take your breath away as much as a Radiohead album does for example that creates a whole new world in every song. We wrote about 40 songs, tried out a lot of things and picked the ones that take you on a journey. New elements should trigger different emotions and hold surprises but should also make a concept visible.
The night seems to be a compelling motive in your work. Why is it so special for you?
When we wrote the album, we nearly always met at night. We felt like being in a perfect bubble after some time, there was no post man ringing the doorbell or someone calling us on the phone. We needed this special atmosphere to write and to create something new. At the end of the process, Markus came up with the title Hymns To The Night which we demonstratively wrote on the wall during our last session. When we went through the whole album and listened to it with full volume, everything made sense in a way. Moreover, our music fits perfectly into a darker setting. There is a difference between playing at a festival during day time with no interference with light and shadow and a huge warehouse for instance. After all, we have our own light concept on stage which supports the music and is controlled by Julien as well. This shall become even more elaborated in the future when we will be playing bigger shows.
How did you curate your album?
In the end, it is all about the right feeling. We tried to channel different vibes and thought of what happened when one song followed the second and the other way around. We prepared around 10 playlists and decided for the one which showed a good balance between strain and relaxation. It gets even more exciting when we are creating a setlist for one of our gigs as it has to be adapted to the duration, the playtime, the sound system and the circumstances in general.
Why did you decide to release your music primary on your own label?
It is true that we are running our own label but we are under exclusive license of Kobalt Music. We recommend this approach to all the bands as we are enjoying all the positive aspects of a major deal but still have the full control over any issue we are facing. We can decide autonomically and Kobalt puts together a very professional team. The biggest difference regarding this approach is that if we released on Mute for example, there would be a larger fan base. We still have to build our audience and to start from scratch but this way feels more natural and organic. It is the perfect deal for us.
Keyword alt-J. How was the connection to the London band made?
We met the drummer Thom in the legendary Strongroom studios in London. As we have the same manager, he brought us together very quickly and we went on tour with the band. Originally, there were only the two of us but we more and more wished to work with a drummer. Thom’s request came in coincidentally, he asked us if we were willing to play some gigs with him and we happily agreed. We even managed to recreate the whole setup with a slot for him in two days. After spending time together we went back to Berlin and decided to form a real band as soon as possible.
How do you realize your music on stage?
Our management have been asking us to play our live shows with a band for some time now. We also wanted to take this step but we were quite frightened because of the huge effort. The time spent with Thom has been groundbreaking for us, though. We implemented a bass and a guitar player which opened a lot of new opportunities. In contrary to the past, the setup is now a hybrid consisting of live-played instruments and a few layered tracks such as the synthesizers which are responsible for the pompous sound. Plus, there are drums, bass lines, guitar lines and the keys are triggered by a pedestal organ. The live aspect lends our sound bigger dynamics and it is so much more fun to realize everything together with a band. The tension is also higher as we do not want to use a lot of backing tracks.
Is it important to you to play unreleased songs as well?
Normally, we are only playing songs from our album. We are still in the situation that hardly half of the audience knows us. When we have been on tour with alt-J for instance, only a handful of people checked our music beforehand. But it is really exciting to notice that the people are totally digging it after the first 10 minutes of performance which happened quite often during the tour. There is a funny anecdote regarding the show in Luxembourg. We went to the merchandise area afterwards and the people have been literally snatching the stuff out of our hands. Even the management told us that this situation was quite remarkable. The alt-J seller was simply standing there and watching us giving away our merch. A very bizarre situation. But if you look at us in the context of the bigger masses we are still an insider tip of course.
You got to know each other at the Robert Johnson in Offenbach. What does the club mean to you and did the decision to release your first EP on the in-house label have something to do with it?
Originally Ata Macias wanted to release the whole album on the Live At Robert Johnson label. He and Roman Flügel were the first persons who listened to the full album as well. Roman is an old friend of us and offered to make a remix for ‘Loose Life’. We also played our first concert in front of 80 invited guests there, the whole atmosphere was super pleasant and familiar. Everyone was able to go to the bar and get whatever he or she wanted.
What significance have clubs to you today?
The connection to clubs is not that important to us anymore to be honest because we are now doing something different, but we are still quite interested in it. For example there will be a remix of our song ‘Similar Familiar’ from Amin Fallaha and Ruede Hagelstein coming out in the middle of August. At first, we did not take their request seriously because normally we want remixes to happen in an organic way. On the other hand, Amin was the first person who brought our music to the radio. We then sent him the files and they poured their heart and soul into it. On top of that Dixon got hooked with the song as well and played it in several of his sets. The feedback has been amazing so far and it is safe to say that this remix will be our biggest one.
What kind of projects have been planned in the near future?
Alt-J asked us to do a remix for their song ‘Deadcrush’ from their latest album Relaxer. Thereupon, we had a three-hour depression shortly after the first mix was done because were just not satisfied with the outcome. Thus, we deleted everything, pretended to rewrite the song from scratch and are extremely happy with the result now. Furthermore, we asked Thom who is also a producer under his alter ego Thom Sonny Green and has released his debut High Anxiety in 2016 to make a remix for one of our songs as well. Plus, Julien interpreted one of our songs in a new and fresh way. This will hopefully enlarge the picture of Lea Porcelain when the producer of the band will make some changes to the original material as well. Finally, there is another great story to mention. The Midi-engineer of alt-J asked us if he was allowed to fabricate a remix of our song ‘Out Is In’. He is a highly respected veteran producer with a sick studio who has been working in the industry for more than 30 years now. Back then, he did a lot of Krautrock as well. The feeling to know that there is a white-haired 60-year-old guy tinkering a remix of our music is indescribable and makes us very proud.
Die nächsten Termine:
29. August 2017: Sebright Arms in London, UK
01. September 2017: Bingley Music Live in Bingley, UK
02. Oktober 2017: Bühne 602 & Mau Club in Rostock, Deutschland
30. November 2017: Keine Bewegung Festival in Hamburg, Deutschland
01. Dezember 2017: Keine Bewegung Festival in Berlin, Deutschland
Lea Porcelain – Hymns To The Night (Lea Porcelain)
VÖ: 16. Juni 2017; 12″, CD und digital
Lea Porcelain – Warsaw Street (Scuba Remix) (Lea Porcelain)
VÖ: 12. Juli 2017; digital
Lea Porcelain – Similar Familiar (Ruede Hagelstein & Amin Fallaha Remix) (Lea Porcelain)
VÖ: 18. August 2017; digital
alt-J – Deadcrush (Lea Porcelain Remix) (Infectious)
VÖ: 23. August 2017; digital
Interview: Tim Schulze, Henry Schwarz und Jannis Damitz
Text: Tim Schulze und Jannis Damitz
Fotos: Jannis Damitz, Helge Mundt, Micki Rosi Richter
Diese Episode wurde veröffentlicht unter der Creative Commons Lizenz Namensnennung 3.0 Deutschland (CC BY 3.0 DE).