“I guess I am at this point of my life where I found my true self. Well, it´s a constant process. I am not lying to myself anymore. So I am trying to be honest with what I have or what I don´t have anymore.” tells us Fritz Kalkbrenner when we speak to him about his new album release”True Colours”, whose title refers to showing one true self. And while we immerse into the fantastic sound of the 13-track-piece, we wanted to find out more about that certain feeling when he knows a song is ready, saying good-bye to things in life and his passion besides music.
Hey dear Fritz, „True Colours“ is your 6th studio album. Which song on it was the „easiest“ one to create and which one was the „hardest“ and why?
I guess the easiest one was the track Golden and that was actually the first one that I had drawn as a sketch. That was the first one that I ping-ponged over to my good fellow and colleague Conrad Hensel and that he worked on. He was starting with his take-on on that what I had drawn as a sketch. And actually his first attempt to provide to that track was the one that turned out to be final. So that one was surprisingly pretty easy to make. That happens sometimes, you know. The hardest, I guess was A Change Is Gonna Come. It is the track on the album which turned out to be 9 or 11 minutes of duration. We do have a version of 15 minutes somewhere in the studio lying around so there are a lot of versions of it. And it got some sort of an overture which is something like 5 minutes long. So there are a lot and a lot of details going on in that track, therefore that was a lot work.
How do you know when a song is ready? When it gives you a certain feeling?
Good question. Because if you are really, really honest you are never able to finish a track on a 100%. There is always a tiny possibility that you could change or you could also turn it into worse. That kind of certain feeling, when you see the composition is saturated and you are on thin air with that track and you could get tiny peaks higher, but would it improve the whole feeling? And that is uncertain. Yeah, in a certain moment when you feel it is saturated and the arrangement is right you just let go and decide that the track in its current state is the right and final one.
“Because if you are really, really honest you are never able to finish a track on a 100%. There is always a tiny possibility that you could change or you could also turn it into worse.”
The title refers to showing one true self. Which you already said is sometimes not completely possible. To me it is very much dependent on who I am surrounded by if I can be really myself or not and I feel it´s anyhow a life long search. Are you at a point in your life where you feel you have found your true self?
I can go with what you say that the surrounding can sometimes shift who you are or how you behave. I don´t say that all the people are like semi-schizophrenic but yeah, human beings can adjust and it is not something of dishonesty. It is within the possibility of range of what a person can have or do.
I guess I am at this point of my life where I found my true self. Well, it´s a constant process. I am not lying to myself anymore. So I am trying to be honest with what I have or what I don´t have anymore. I am being honest about things. I mean I am 38 years right now. So life is, in tiny portions, is a farewell and a goodbye. You have to say good bye to be able to drink the whole night and being up all night. You have to say good bye to all that kind of stuff that you could do as a young guy. From a certain day on, and that day will come, you have to say good bye to your head hair, you will have to say good bye to life one day. So yeah, and you have to honest about that. I think I am on my way to that point.
You said as a musician music is a very intimate process and gives you the opportunity to show your true colour. What are the main things about yourself that you want people to know about?
I am a musician and I make music and then my music is out there and I can bring across feelings through my music and people they can make their own take-on that music. Beyond that I am not really keen to share things. Because all else is my private life. Just because I share music doesn´t meant that I necessarily have to share things out of my private life. And just because someone likes my music this person might anyway not be interested in knowing all about me neither.
I loved what you say about that an album release is really something for the moment, then there comes another moment and another one. So music can be timeless, but is most effective at its own time. What will „True Colours“, tell about our current times to someone who discovers it after many years?
Oh. laughs. It will be a glimpse of how I interpreted music. Because I would say it doesn´t really follow some sort of electronic music trends. The album will tell you of how I wanted my music to sound like and what my inspiration was and the artists that I liked.
“So life is, in tiny portions, is a farewell and a goodbye.”
Are you someone who also lives his life very much in each present moment?
What other choice do you have? I mean, life is a thin path. On the left and on the right side there are incredibly large vast lands, and so is the past and the future as well and none of those two you can live in. So you have actually no other choice than living in each present moment. But that is for every other person on earth the same, I guess.
What did your brother Paul say about your new album? Is he one of the first people that you show new music to or that you ask for advice?
He is actually not one of those hearing the music first. The publishing company is hearing the stuff first and to Paul I actually sent the new album when it was completely finished. Asking for advice is not really the thing anymore. We have both been doing this for 15-20 years plus, so that is actually not a need anymore. And he is also short with words. I was sending him the link of the album and he was sending me back an Emoticon which looked pretty much like him. Maybe he had worked out a personal Emoticon. So it´s a bold headed guy with sunglasses and thumbs up. And I guess that means that he liked it. Laughs.
You took a time out before starting your own label Nasua Music end of 2018. Why did you take a time out and what did you do?
Yeah, I took some time off. The thing is that this is 6th album and I when you go back in time and you have an album done, you are touring the album and actually right at the time when you are touring the album you already start to work on new music, to collect sketches and drafts for the next album. So it is actually an ongoing process and I wanted to break out of that loop for a little while. Therefore I had some sort of a really-off-time, that sort where you say „I take half a year or 9 months and I am really not doing any kind of music. Let´s look how that works out for me.“ It was kind of nice and good but after some time you really want to return of course. And well, what did I do? I did what regular guys are doing. Washing dishes and taking care of the apartment and stuff like that. I didn´t really do any eye-opening experience and visited India or something like that, I didn’t do that. I just had sometime off and that was fine.
Why was it important to you to start your own label?
The importance to start your own label is pretty simple as you need a legal platform to release the music that you do. I could have gone to another label but I wasn´t really seeing that. So the thing is the old contract with the previous label seized and I need to have a legal platform to release my music. So I see it more as a platform than a label. For the start it will just handle that release and with a bit of luck it will handle another release but that is all in the future.
“I was born and raised in Berlin and despite all the changes I still love it and like it. I still have all my childhood friends here. I mean never say never but I don´t see it coming to relocate myself.”
You used to be a culture and music journalist (MDR, MTV, Deutsche Welle). What were the main things that you learned in that time for yourself about the music industry?
That the music industry can be a shady thing and that there are also people in it who are highly devoted. And that this combination does not go very well together sometimes. All that music that had been sent to me and that I listened to during that time, well… when you listen to a lot of music you start to pay attention to all the details that is up in music and maybe I try to translate that into my own music. Being serious about all the details in my music, maybe that is the biggest thing that I took out of that time.
You are going on tour soon. Are you still nervous before going on stage and what are you most looking forward to?
No, I am not nervous anymore when I go on stage. That is long gone. But there is some sort of happy excitement. We have some great shows going on such as in Germany; Berlin, Hamburg. And for instance we got shows in Stockholm, in Copenhagen, in Paris…that is definitely something to look forward to.
Besides music what are you really passionate about?
I am pretty much into older mechanical wrist watches. That´s pretty much the thing for me. The very small ones, between 36-38 mm, which is considered small nowadays, but f.e. that wasn´t the case in the 60´s.
What did you want to be as a child?
I didn’t have this classical thing of „I wanna be a firemen or a cosmonaut“. I didn´t really have a thing in my mind of what I want to become when I was older.
Where can we usually find you on a Friday or Saturday night?
Usually you find me working, playing a show somewhere in Europe or the rest of the world.
You are from Berlin. Could you imagine to live anywhere else or are you very home-loving?
I was born and raised here and despite all the changes I still love it and like it. I still have all my childhood friends here. I mean never say never but I don´t see it coming to relocate myself.
The most important thing in life is… ?
Your health and the well-being of your loved ones.
Fotocredits: Ben Wolf