SOHN – Interview

Der Heimathafen Neukölln ist zum bersten voll und die Karten für das SOHN Konzert schon seit Tagen ausverkauft.  Als Christopher Taylor vor seinen  Synthesizern Platz nimmt geht euphorisches Jubeln durch die Menge. Der gebürtige Londoner hat bereits 2012 mit den Singels ‘Oscillate‘ und ‘Warnings‘ Erfolge gefeiert und nun sein langerwartetes Debutalbum ‘Tremors in die Läden gebracht. Wir haben den gebürtigen Londoner vor seinem Konzert in Berlin getroffen und geklärt, was sich hinter dem Albumtitel verbirgt, warum seine Texte so melancholisch sind und anfangs solch ein Geheimnis um die Person hinter SOHN gemacht wurde.

© ST.Weicken

Teresa: There was a lot of mystery around ‘SOHN’, how comfortable are you with finally showing your face? 
SOHN: I’m fine with it. It wasn’t really meant to be a hiding thing so much. It worked out that way until we had pictures and came to a point were we were organized, because we literally put a song out with just one other song written. It all happened so quickly that we just where not prepared for this whole thing and getting ME out there. 

Teresa: Do people recognize you on the street? 
SOHN: It happens yes. Now, I am much more comfortable with the idea. Maybe something about the way I present myself makes people approach me very respectfully, but most think I don’t want to talk. 

Teresa: Why did you name the album ‘Tremors’? 
SOHN: It was something that occurred to me after I finished recording the album. Tremors really stud out to me. I didn’t write the lyrics in a constructed way but very subconsciously. When I looked back at the process of doing this album I was like ‘That’s what it is! Tremors!’ it’s about the sort of left over Vibrations of things that have gone on in your life, not about the earthquake itself. That was the thread that I could find throughout all of the songs. 

Teresa: The Single ‘Artifice’ seems the most cheerful, upbeat song on the Album but the lyrics are still melancholic. Is that a way for you to build up tension? 
SOHN: I guess. For a start: it’s not in my instincts to write lyrics that are cheerful and happy. Dosn’t mean I’m not a happy person but when I have something happy to say, I say it. I don’t sing it. I think generally the things that come out of your mouth are the things that are unresolved in your mind. Happiness is a kind of resolution in itself. Tension is really important throughout the whole album. In a way ‘Artifice’ is a piece of a whole crescendo, which releases rather early, in order to make you feel like you’re open to what is gonna come in the next hour. It opens the way for some of the tougher moments of the album. A lot of that is just down to the instinct that I want to feel goosebumps when I listen to music. That tension has to be there to feel the release. 

Teresa: You work with analogue machines to produce electronic sounds, also ‘Metronomy’ recorded their new album in an analogue studio– do you think that’s a trend emerging? 
SOHN: The thing is that a lot of people like me, have learned to make most of their music in software. It comes from being a teenager and not be able to record a whole band. That’s how I learned to do music. Doing it on a computer makes it sound almost as good as something that was really put out but then you realize, all that you are is your tricks, are the things that you know how to program or even worse, how you construct the music. Especially as an electronic musician it’s very easy to construct the music specifically and say, ‘I need more hi-hat there, you are building very square blocks. When I started working with this analogue synthezisers that is impossible because you can’t decide what you want it to sound like. So before you even get to the point where you know exactly what you want, you try things and think ‘wow that’s cool’ and then you just do it. Music suddenly became a much more reactive thing for me rather than a proactive designing thing. I am not designing anymore music, I’m physically making it which makes it more fun, makes it faster, makes it more inventive. A small gap opened up for me about a year ago in terms of what was different with my sound compared to other people’s sound and I think the analog machines where literally what it was. I was making music in a much more human way and other people are doing it in a more computerized way than I am. 

Teresa: How do you preserve your vision of SOHN when you play live with two supporting musicians on stage? 
SOHN: I’m really, really though. I say NO a lot, I say ‘don’t do that’ and I say’ That’s not what I would do.’. I think I am really lucky to have two musicians that are very sensitive to my needs but I also am very though on them. 

Teresa: What is your biggest fear going on stage? 
SOHN: The room being empty. 

Teresa: That is not gonna happen tonight the show is sold out. 
SOHN: I still have this thing that I always imagine that I will go on stage and there are only 45 people out there. 

Teresa: I am always wondering if musicians can even see the crowed with all their light on stage. The rest of the room must seem pitch black. 
SOHN: I don’t open my eyes for at least 3 songs generally till I feel like ‘Ok, I’m now in the place where I need to be.’ so then I start to see what else is going on and enjoy what is actually happening. 

Teresa: Is that your routine to get into the mood to perform your songs as emotionally as on the album? 
SOHN: Generally in the first three songs I try to find my place where I am comfortable and then I allow myself to open. There is so much around playing a show and touring and it is very difficult to be consistent in the way you feel when you play. Sometimes the room is different and you need to play differently. The good thing is, since I started making music and songs, everything I do adds to the ritual to get back to that place. It’s the clothes I wear, the calmness that i feel before I go on stage, just the fact that we are sitting down reinforces the ritual for me that it’s gonna be the same as yesterday. And I guess the only things that can change that is if you are playing a festival midday, outdoors and it’s just a totally different thing. 

Teresa: You are also producing music for other artists like banks. How is your emotional connection to music you produce as opposed to music you create? 
SOHN: Definitely different. A lot of it comes down to what I feel the person I am working with is portraying it. For example when I did ‘Last stand’ with ‘Kwabs’ I felt it deeper than anything I have done by myself because I was so happy to be a part of that and I also had written some of the lyrics and got to hear them sung that way. It’s a different vibe because I am there to facilitate them instead of doing my thing. I have to be less important which is a good exercise to go through. 

Teresa: In what way? 
SOHN: It reminds you that it is about the music. It’s important to give space to the artist and nudge them in the right direction. You always nudge, you never push. You have to be able to say: ‘I am making this decision for the music and not for any egotistical reason.“ I love doing it! 

Teresa: ‘All this fuss over nothing, reinventing the wheel…’ is SOHN the wheel you reinvented then? 
SOHN: Definitely and I am it actually. ‘All this fuss over nothing was actually a reaction to me, tearing myself in pieces thinking about it. Then I realized it doesn’t matter, nothing matters. Just do it. 


Foto-und Videographin, Fotoredakteurin und Bedroomdisco-Lover

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