Why does Germany love Antifolk*?
Dear greater Olive Juice Community,
As many of you know, I am living in Berlin on a Fulbright Journalism fellowship. I've decided to write a (big) article with the working title, "Why does Germany love (or used to love) Antifolk*?" It will be a history of the scene in Germany that will touch on the mainstream success of Adam Green and to a lesser extent the Moldy Peaches as well as the DIY success of artists like Phoebe Kreutz, Schwervon!, Toby Goodshank, Dufus, Jeffrey Lewis, Ching Chong Song, Stanley Brinks, Huggabroomstik, the Wowz, and any/all of our friends who have toured in/spent time in Germany.
If you have toured in Germany, I want your stories. Why did you decide to tour in Germany? How does touring in Germany compare with other European countries? With the US? What is your personal connection to Germany/German culture/German people if you have one? If you have toured in Germany more than once, what has changed over time? Have the shows gotten bigger/smaller, the reception better/worse? How do merch sales compare with other countries? Why do you think touring in Germany is more financially possible than in the US, if you think it is?
If you haven’t toured in Germany, but have theories about why Germany loves (or used to love) Antifolk, I want to hear them. If you are German, I of course want to hear your thoughts too. How did you first hear about Antifolk? What did you like about it? What is your role in the community? If you are from a different country and have something to say, I want to hear it too.
I plan schedule interviews on the phone, Skype, email or in person. If you want to be included or if you have something to say that you don't want to write on the message board, please send an email to dee3nah @ gmail.com
But I started this thread because I am interested in a discussion. Do you think Germany has had a stronger reaction to Antifolk music than any other country? And if so, why?
Thanks for your thoughts,
*I'm using Antifolk as a very broad term because it's used here in Germany, but I know all of you might not identify with that label, but that's a discussion for a different day.
As some folks know, my theory is that it's strictly business/economics related, more than culturally-based.
Around 2001-2002, when Rough Trade Records first released albums by The Moldy Peaches, Jeffrey Lewis (that's me!), Antifolk Vol 1 compilation, and Adam & Kimya's solo stuff, it was during a time when Rough Trade was partnered with Sanctuary Records. Sanctuary was a big label with a big infrastructure in Germany at that time, big offices in Berlin, etc., so all of those albums got better PR in Germany than in European countries where Rough Trade/Sanctuary didn't have as many employees.
Rough Trade stopped working with Sanctuary by 2007, and it seems to me that RT haven't had as strong a presence in Germany since then. Even if they have a strong German infrastructure with their new partner the Beggars Group, it is a new partner who is of course most concerned with the newest artists, not the artists who debuted in 2001-2002. Although I've operated mostly independently, as far as booking and organizing, it was certainly the case that when I'd organize my own tours of Germany around 2002-2005 there were sometimes official label people getting in touch to set up interviews in German publications, appearances on German radio stations, stuff like that, and that hasn't really happened as much in the post-Sanctuary days. One might be tempted to say that this anecdotal-evidence of less German PR interest is just based on the fact that I've personally gotten less interesting since the early 2000s, even though I would say that my musical quality, my fan base, and my album sales have all grown rather than declined since the early 2000s (but who knows, maybe I AM less interesting - plus a mid-30s musician is maybe not as exciting to the press as a mid-20s musician). There seem to be at least the same number of people interested in my music in Germany now as there were ten years ago, but back then there was more of an official PR presence.
(So my theory would mean that if Sanctuary in 2001 had happened to have these big offices in Rome instead of Berlin, we'd now be talking about the "antifolk scene in Italy" instead of in Germany.)
I am curious why you think Germany "used to" like antifolk. What are you considering as evidence of a declined interest?
Curious to see how this project turns out! Curious to hear other people's experiences!
I'm going to think about this more but here are my first reactions:
I believe Germany is one of the richer, larger, countries in Europe. So, more people have more disposable incomes for culture. From my experience, I find a lot of Germans speak very good English. So, I'm sure this helps since Antifolk is typically pretty wordy. To me, Germany's infrastructure resembles the US the most of any of the European countries I've been to. A lot of the roads and landscaping remind me of The States (especially around the midwest). Post WW2 US relations and the ever growing East German immersion into "The West" probably has a lot to do with that too. Maybe it's just a coincidence but some of our best German gigs are in the East.
On a personal side Schwervon has been touring Germany since 2003. Every headlining tour we do is better than the last. There is a lot of diversity in Germany with many different towns and different scenes. It's great for touring, very much like the UK in this way. The roads are typically well kept with no tolls. Dating back as far as the Beatles, and I'm sure before, Germany seems to have had a unique relationship with Rock and Roll and Western Pop music as well.
There is of course the huge popularity of Adam Green in Germany which probably has as much to do with this as anything. And sometimes it's just chance. Someone told me once that the Adam Green song "Emily" very much resembled a classic German pop hit from many years before, you might want to look into that?
This is controversial territory but, perhaps, (maybe due to their history as a country?) Germany is less likely to stereotype and more willing to embrace the unique qualities of "American Culture" (Which, I'm sure many Europeans would argue is an oxymoron), of which I think Antifolk is very much a part of? I guess that could lead into a discussion about how, inherently, "American" Antifolk is? Okay, I'm speculating quite a bit here... and I'm not totally comfortable generalizing the consciousnesses of entire countries but it's interesting stuff to think about. What I can tell you is not many people know or care much about Antifolk in Kansas. But there's still some good stuff going on here.
(This is great Deenah. Thanks for posting this. Obviously, I could talk a lot more. I'm down for a Skype! We're heading out for a little 3 day tour but I'll try to write more later. Hope you're doing well. XO, MMM)
First off, just a side point on Deenah's points about anti-folk and its continuation or lack therof--Ive been feeling the "lack of new blood" as she puts it, at least in NY for a little while, despite my affection for (and involvement with) my little part of the "scene". But there is a feeling of the clockwork starting to wind down, at least in NY. Maybe the "mainstream" of even the rock underground is going in a different direction and we are just not following? Ive been thinking about it a lot lately but I dont have a worked out opinion yet (everyone will know about it when I do have one, ha ha). Food for thought, anyway.
But as for Germany--Jeff is right that these things always involve some luck and "right time/right place"--and there are two aspects of Germany that relate to that--one is the hipster/artsy/slacker thing that seemed to have started, especially in the big cities like Hamburg and Berlin, not long after WW2 and continues to this day. Its funny how each generation of artists--from the British bands in the 60s (most notably the Beatles but they weren't the only ones) to people like Stew in the late 80s-early 90s, to the Trance, House, and Big Beat DJs in the later 90s, to our antifolk friends today seems to discover the same thing about Germany.
And there is also an "America thing" that the Germans seem to have. Jazz musicians I know have been saying for years that they would rather play there (and some have moved there) and when my friends The Schramms and other "Americana" bands were touring there in the early to mid-80s, they told me the German audiences couldn't get enough--any band playing "American" music could get a good gig.
Other than that, who knows? I guess you'll find out when you ask the Germans.
Considering there have been at least 20 acts to come through the Sidewalk during my tenure alone who have come through the festivals and established themselves as regular members of the scene, I'll take the "lack of new blood" theory as a sign of my personal failure to excite the old guard into getting out of their house and attending anything that doesn't involve someone they know. I was never much of a carnival barker.
I never saw this film, but that scene is fucked up.
there is no lack of new blood, just a lack of the old blood being aware of it?
But are they Antifolk?
Sure! Just a few names:
Bird to Prey
Crazy & the Brains
Ray Brown (old school, but completely rebooted)
I think one reason that the new blood has gone unnoticed is that the infrastructure of the scene crumbled a bit. When I got there, it was very clear that there was a disconnect between Sidewalk, which is where pretty much all the newcomers still pass through, and the BTP, OJ, Huggabroomstock camps. I won't speculate on all that, but I think the strongest thing that kept things going was the presence of a 'zine. That seemed to keep alumni in the loop about everything that was going on, and often placed newcomers and oldcomers together in CD review sections, feature articles, etc.
Lach never ran the zines, and likewise I don't have the energy to do it. I've had powwows with some people over the past year or two about starting something up.
Thanks Ben! I'll check out some of these I don't know. My only wish is that these artists felt comfortable enough to share here as well.
Some immediate thoughts...
There's always a disconnect between the new and the old. I always remember people, I'd never seen before, just drop in, give Lach a high five, and he'd put them on early to promote their show. And then at some point I became that guy... I know how that feels when you've basically been spending every Monday night there for the past 6 months and you see someone just walk in and walk out. It's like a stranger just waltzing into your house and raiding your icebox. I also know how it feels to walk into the place and hardly recognize a face and wonder why everyone is singing along to that totally lame singer on stage. That's like going back to the house you grew up in and finding it inhabited by aliens acting out your childhood, badlly.
I think some of this disconnect that you are talking about might have something to do with the times as well. Social media makes it quite easy for individuals to do things that I think we felt the need to employ the power of the group for back in the day.
There also used to be kind of an underground punk/counter-culture aspect to the Sidewalk that I think is naturally going to diminish as it's popularity and the cost of local real estate rises. I think the renovation really changed things more than I think I realized for me. It used to be a shithole and now it's just of a nice bar. But I'm kind of glad that it happened, in a way.
Clearly the Sidewalk has done what it feels like it has had to do to survive. And it has, which is more than you can say for most of the venues that were around in that neighborhood 20 years ago. It's a pretty far cry from the place I first stepped into 18 years ago but I bet the spirit is still there. I think you really have to give the place credit for maintaining the kind of consistently cool stuff that it does. And I think you, Ben, have had a lot to do with that. You should feel good about that!
I always like to think of the Sidewalk as more like the training grounds vs. the arena. I think it's very cool and unique that way. Noone is going to set the world on fire playing at the Sidewalk cafe but it's certainly a good place to hone your fire starting skills. I think it's better as a living breathing thing than some kind of dusty over romanticized CBGB's bullshit or whatever....
Now when is someone going to make a REAL full on kick ass documentary about the place already!?!?!
First of all, There Will Be Blood was just a laughably bad movie, I almost walked out of the theater, then was shocked and appalled that people considered it one of the films of the year. i thought, hmm, maybe I missed something and it's not as thoroughly bad as I remember. But then I watched that milkshake clip above and it all came back to me. Goshdarn but that movie is soooooooo bad. I just have to laugh watching that guy.
As for Sidewalk and new blood, it always seemed to me that you get out of it what you put into it. If you are living the Sidewalk life, hanging at the open mic every week, seeing shows regularly, etc, the life-pulse of it becomes very alive and thriving and there's lots of fun to be had and people to be excited about. But if you just casually pop in once in a while then that layer of real living energy isn't so apparent, and it can look like nothing much is happening, from an outside perspective. It's like a TV show - if I were to just tune in to The Wire for a few minutes now and then, I might be like "this is wack, nothing exciting happened in the 20 minutes I happened to be watching" but if you watch every episode then that same 20 minutes might be very compelling, a minor character's appearance takes on a lot more drama, etc.
(I'm saying this without ever having watched a second of the Wire in my life, I just know that other people like it, but I've never put the time into getting immersed in it, I'm sure if immersed it's probably very good.)
Okay, The Wire is amazing and yes There Will Be Blood is over rated but I thought it looked cool and I'm such a PT Anderson fan that I think I could enjoy watching 2 hours of the back of someone's head if he directed it.
Since moving to KC Nan and I have discovered 2 weekly showcase/open mic type formats that create a very similar vibe as the Sidewalk. There's just fewer people in general. If you go regularly you see the same people. People start getting influenced by others. A friendly almost competitive nature of support begins to emerge. I think it's great! Not that anyone did, but I think it might be a mistake to say that it's something unique to the Sidewalk. The Sidewalk is unique because of it's size and the fact that it's been around so long.
There is also a side to this experience that can be quite frustrating. If you are really trying to make a living playing music it can be hard to stay up to date on these scenes. People in a scene can turn on an artist who gains success and doesn't appear to give the proper credit to his/her roots.
"what I always liked about the Sidewalk is that no one ever asks to see your papers."
I think that's what always appealed to me when I arrived and something that I always tried to encourage. There have always been groups of songwriters who eventually left the open mike in order to play places that, however they managed to do it, promoted a certain amount of exclusivity. That's fine. There should be some open mikes that are only kooks, or only Rockwood-y writers. At Sidewalk on a given night, Debe Dalton might play, Adam Green might slip in late, Jon Berger might nearly kill himself performing on a table, a school teacher with the same three songs might get up and let off steam for 8 minutes, someone else who never plans to quit their day job gets up and plays one of the many songs they write as a hobby...every motivation for taking the stage is valid and important. A songwriter might have some songs that the world needs to hear. The world needs the teacher/janitor/lawyers/librarians to do their job, and having a place where s/he can play her songs and be treated with respect is important.
Those values definitely aren't exclusive to Sidewalk, but they are pretty rare in NYC. The Hotel Utah in San Francisco holds a Monday open mike that's huge. It's almost like the West Coast Sidewalk. I couldn't help but notice that they use "on deck/double-deck/batting cleanup." Lach has really left his mark.
The Wire is definitely antifolk, Jeff.
At the very least, if you are not there for hours and hours every week you don't have the knowledge/experience to assess the situation.
That guy would be able to tell you better than me since he's been around long enough.
Deenah. I know nothing about the German scene (never been over there, barely met the players than have come here), but it sounds like you may be talking more about your relationship with AntiFolk and the cohort that you identify with, less than the state of AntiFolk in Germany. If there's stuff happening in clubs with acts that you're unfamiliar with, then it may be dead from your point of view, rather than actually dead.
Every time I see an old-timer experience the new crop of AntiFolk kids here in the City, s/he finds it nowhere near as good as when they were regulars. People on the scene (also known as "human beings") prefer the familiar over the new, so never get into what's in front of them, when compared to their memories. It happened when the class of '96 saw the class of '99, when the class of '89 saw the class of '96, when the class of '99 saw the class of '03, and so on and so forth.
Personally, I've seen enough to know that I have very subjective feelings about the quality of the different periods, and also know that what I appreciate in my 40s is different than what I appreciated in my 20s. Someone said you never dip your toe in the same river twice.
So I question your premise - having heard the same about the Sidewalk scene, the AntiFolk scene, the East Village scene, and the NY live music scene. I don't know ANYTHING about the German scene, but I do know a little about Scenery.
"Ways of Seeing Antifolk" by Jon Berger!
Since I wrote my thesis about Antifolk, I feel like I have to chip in here a little bit, too. I agree with Jeff that the PR campaigns that Rough Trade/Sanctuary invested in definitely lead to Antifolk being present in the German mainstream media.
But another point has been overlooked - the more "academic" reception of the Antifolk scene by music journalists and cultural studies acadamics, mainly by the late Martin Büsser and the team of the Mainz-based publishing house 'Ventil Verlag' and their cultural studies magazine "testcard".
After 9/11 and the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a major wave of Anti-Americanism (even within Leftist movements and political parties) sweeping all over Europe, while at the same time, the German mainstream pop music scene openly embraced a new "patriotism," re-branding Germany as a "hip and cool" nation that - in the light of the wars and the Bush administration - should distance itself from English-language, American pop culture.
Büsser and the Ventil Verlag tried to counter this nationalistic narrative by providing examples of the "other America," which at the same time, was exemplified by the resurgence of New York indie rock (The Strokes etc.), free/freak folk (CocoRosie etc.), underground hip hop (Anticon), Canadian avant-garde post-rock (Constellation Records, etc.) - and the Antifolk scene. Büsser and his friends praised most of the Antifolk scene's music because it represented exactly the opposite of the "new" German patriotic pop scene - it wasn't interested in the nation, the romantic, or any other "traditional" narratives but instead valorized DIY aesthetics, failure, sloppiness, a certain naiveté and (to a certain extent) instances of queerness.
Büsser was also able to spread the word about the scene in bigger mainstream publications like the free widely distributet music magazine 'Intro' but I think that the biggest "mark" he left was on the readership of testcard and other Ventil Verlag publications: independent promoters and music fans who then decided to book Antifolk musicians who decided to come to Germany to tour. Most of these promoters (myself included) come from an academic background and see their jobs as promoters or bookers as unpaid "community work" - a big difference to the UK, where the job as "promoter" is seen more like a "regular" job like being an accountant or a mailman.
Since most of the promoters invested their private funds into setting up shows, they could/can pick whatever they like and don't really have to worry about the size of the audience. The Antifolk scene can - to this day - rely on a big network of niche independent promoters and venues. But I don't think that this network is limited to Germany, France for example also has a great network of non-for-profit 'associations' that also continue to put on shows. France also has a similar theoretical groundwork for an academic reception of US underground scenes, e.g. the weekly magazine Les Inrockutibles.
At the same time the first Antifolk acts were touring in Germany, journalists and critics writing for the 'feuilleton' (culture) sections of big newspapers (FAZ, etc.) also reviewed Antifolk shows very positively, even using critical theory (Adorno!) to praise the scene's aesthetics, routinely comparing and contextualizing the scene in a bigger American folk music context. This high culture reception also led to an instant "musealization" of some Antifolk musicians - while they were of course still active. I remember Martin Büsser finding it quite hilarious that a reading of his book on the scene in Berlin was immediately followed by a show of the musicians he had just theorized a few minutes earlier. Even the very high culture government-funded venue Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of Cultures of the World) in Berlin invited Jeff to co-curate a musical program dedicated to New York folk scenes that also involved a couple of Antifolk musicians. This development is something quite European (but not limited to Germany) - certain American scenes and subcultures that don't get a lot of praise in the US get picked up, re-interpreted and, like a "toolbox," are used to comment on the "host's" own national popular culture.
While in the UK, a specific "British" Antifolk tradition emerged, I would say that Germany never really saw its own "German" Antifolk tradition. On the one hand, this is of course due to the Nazi's co-optation of anything 'folkloristic' during WWII (for Büsser, Antifolk wasn't only anti-folk, but could also be read as anti-Volk, against old and new nationalisms), basically making it impossible to create a progressive folk music culture. Germany never had a comparable leftist folk music scene like the US experienced pre-WWII with Woody Guthrie etc. On the other hand, lots of artists in the German 'indie' scene have been employing very similar methods and approaches like the Antifolk scene, e.g. the 1980s West Berlin subcultural scenes revolving around Wolfang Müller's band 'Die Tödliche Doris' (his manifesto, 'Geniale Dilletanten,' written in 1982, praises the amateur, the dilettante, and any kind of 'musical failure'). Another precursor is the so-called "Hamburger Schule," a loose term to describe a scene of indie rock musicians defining German indie music from the 1990's on, largely drawing on the ethics and sound aesthetics of the US indie rock scene of the 1980s while at the same time writing very specific and local German-language lyrics that drew partly on poststructuralist and queer theory of the 1980s/90s. A lot of the smaller indie bands somehow loosely connected and influenced by the Hamburger Schule scene (Woog Riots, Locas in Love,...) later also became friends with touring Antifolk musicians.
While it's true that Nazis came from Germany lets not forget that the White Rose Society did too.
I find their memory hugely inspiring.
for all of that really interesting and insightful commentary, that really "shades in" the picture in a great way.
Among a lot of other things that it makes me think about, the first thing that comes to my mind is to wonder what the German reception was to the new-folk artists who were more embraced by USA/UK cultures at that same time? Will Oldham I wonder about primarily. And then perhaps Smog, Songs: Ohia, Devendra Banhart, or any of the "New Weird America" stuff that got VERY big in indie scenes in the USA and UK (Neutral Milk Hotel, Sufjan Stevens, these guys had HUGE-selling indie albums in the west). Was any of this modern-folk-oriented stuff somehow LESS popular in Germany (than the Moldy Peaches/Adam Green)? Did Antifolk really get as much (or more?) German press attention than those other acts?
the German reception of 'New Weird America'/freak/free folk was also quite positive, but at the same time, Martin Büsser also wrote a few reviews/articles criticizing the problematic "exoticising/fetishizing of the 'other'" aspect of some freak folk artists. Judging from a commercial standpoint, none of those artists were less popular in Germany, but for a few years Antifolk artists were maybe "en par" with them, e.g. playing the same-size venues. Most of the artists you mentioned like Will Oldham, Songs:Ohia, Smog etc have a far older (and more male) audience in Germany than they maybe have in the US since Germany has a very big "alternative country/Americana" network with magazines, labels, record stores, venues that will only book Americana or "traditional" blues/folk.
"Germany never had a comparable leftist folk music scene like the US experienced pre-WWII with Woody Guthrie etc."
Maybe not, if you narrowly define "folk" in terms of the American trademark instrumentation of guitars or banjos, etc.
But...but....what of the German cabaret scene of the 1920's??? I can't think of a single historical music community that is more in line attitudinally/politically/ethically with the New York antifolk scene, as it orbited the Sidewalk Cafe/the Fort/etc, than that scene.
I know very little of that music, to be sure. and sadly, I do think much of it was actually destroyed by the Nazis. But a friend once played me an album of these songs. I read translated lyrics as I listened, and it blew my mind. The stuff was so good, so truly poetic, so outrageous, so angry, and so funny. Out of coincidence, or out of a human hunger coming back from hibernation, I think we are their unconscious offspring and they are our ancestors, and homies. I wish I could remember the name of that album.
I recommend the albums of the late, great Agnes Bernelle:
"Fathers Lying Dead On The Ironing Board" and the more modern and fun "Mother, The Wardrobe Is Full Of Infantrymen." Her father, Rudolph/Rudy Bernauer, with his business partner (co-writer?) Carl Meinhard, was one of the great leaders of the German cabaret movement of the first few decades of the 20th century (as both a songwriter and a theater owner). Much of Bernelle's late-life creative blossoming was a successful attempt to preserve the feeling, and sometimes the actuality, of this awesome old stuff.
As "Wardrobe" is criminally out of print, find it and more info here:
or, if you have no facebook access:
"...Ironing Board" is mostly re-settings of lyrics by Joachim_Ringelnatz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Ringelnatz
Steve, you're absolutely right about the cabaret scene / Brecht & Weill etc., but I think that the cabaret scene was more of a "popular" music, meaning that it never had the connotations of a "folk" scene in the sense of being "authentic," "rootsy," or "untainted by modernity." Cabaret as well as jazz in the US during the same time were definitely modern genres and scenes that the purist folklorists hated with passion. White folklorists loved to create supposed "authentic" narratives around blues singers like Leadbelly while at the same time disdaining more "commercial" African-American music like Louis Jordan or Fats Weller.
The cabaret scene actually has experienced a "comeback" in Germany in the last years, with a few (mostly nostalgic) mainstream movies about the scene having been released in the past years as well as the huge popularity of the combination of swing/cabaret music and techno, labelled "electro swing".
My statement about Germany having no "folk" tradition untainted by Nazi co-optation was of course a generalisation, but I would still say that German "folk" music is still a "problematic" term.
To clarify and go into details: after WWII, there are maybe four different approaches to "folk" or Volksmusik in Germany:
1. The popularisation of Volksmusik on mainstream television = the birth of so-called "Schlager" music in the 1950s/60s: escapist, nostalgic, reactionary, nationalistic, homophobic, mysoginistic; the music that presumably old Nazis listened to in order to "forget" the war.
2. The folk music festivals at Burg Waldeck in the 1960s (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burg-Waldeck-Festivals); for a short period, this was a time when Germany had a "songwriter" culture similar to the era of Pete Seeger in the US, but this was a quite dogmatic / "68er" scene that didn't really experiment musically.
3. The German indie scene of the 1990s/2000s (which I already had mentioned) that loved new US "folk" like Bonnie Prince Billy or Cat Power, basically trying to copy the leftist Americana/Alt Country aesthetics and bring it to a German context (e.g. Nils Koppruch, Lassie Singers, Fink, Zimtfisch, Element of Crime; later: Gisbert zu Knyphausen, and his label Omaha Records: http://www.omaha-records.de/).
4. A "new" Volksmusik that takes a punk approach against all the reactionary elements of Schlager and tries to reclaim traditional instrumentation and regional dialects for a new (mostly left-leaning, and a little dada) Volksmusik. This approach is especially present in Austria, Switzerland, and Bavaria. The German label Trikont (that also released Martin Büsser's "Sidewalk Songs & City Stories" Antifolk compilation CD, www.trikont.de) has been very active in releasing compilation CDs featuring non-Nazi German (or dialect) language Volksmusik from pre-war times (Brecht, Weill, Loewe, but also of unknown "amateur" musicians, e.g. http://trikont.de/shop/all-worlds-alle-welten/american-yodeling-1911-1946/ or http://trikont.de/shop/compilations/populare-judische-kunstler-berlin-ha... or http://trikont.de/shop/compilations/rare-schellacks-bayern/) PLUS the new bands. The most prominent are the anarchist reggae singer/songwriter Hans Söllner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1AiKenBg0Y - check out the great anti-German image in the YouTube video) and the band La BrassBanda (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb15ACt2P_U) but my latest favorites are the amazing Kofelgschroa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VI5hF7ME68) whose debut album was produced by Micha Acher of The Notwist (> link to the 90s indie scene!).
Nice! Thanks!!! Wow.
Too bad I'm too busy to be in it right this minute. Maybe later. I hope Deenah can fit some of this academic stuff in her article. That is what we were originally talking about, right?
Matt, it's not that those artists Ben mentioned are not comfortable sharing on the OJ board,.. they've never heard of the Olive Juice Music.
When people ask me what the scene was like in the 80's they are always surprised when I say "exactly the same, just smaller".
Last year I tried to book a tour of Germany and felt not one bit of love. Fuck Germany.
Fair enough! Thanks so much for chiming in Ray. I know a lot of musicians/people who are aware of the site but don't really participate in discussions here. But I'd say if they are looking for a place to network and learn about what it is to be a working musician, or even just participate in an interesting discussion, this might be a good place for them to check out. It only gets better the more people take part.
Germany is a very big country. I'm sure there's someone there who can help you. How did you go about it trying to get shows? Who did you talk to. Quite often we get no responses from people who have appeared to be very helpful with other Antifolk people or even us in the past. Sometimes, they're busy or sometimes they just don't like our music as much. We move on and find the people who do. If there's one thing we've learned about booking it's you've gotta be persistent.
I agree and learn from Steve's post which already addressed this... simply put, Germany loves antifolk because Germany is the country that produced kurt weil and bert brecht...
going off as usual...
The cinema of Visconti and Tarantino reminds me of the bisecting, and the divergence, of the German and Italian mind.
My rather worn way of thinking about this is that ...
German composers are at the center of the development of western music, combining emotion and feeling with rules, form and structure. Italians apply German form and rules but musical emotion rules. Germany calls for the restraint of emotion under pressure...
The familiar folk example is the reductive composition in Mack the Knife...(melodic hovering around the 6th note of the tonic scale) through repetitive minimalism it smashes emotion through barriers of communication. (???)
kurt weil and bert brecht's intelligent development of the emotional mysticism in folk music continues to inspire.
The best of antifolk applies do-it-yourself minimalism to form, precision and intellect to express emotional wildfire, and German audiences are first to be open to the possibility of appreciating this...
I sent very professional requests, with a press kit and links, and all that stuff, and got zero responses from the club bookers from all the places that you, Phoebe, Speaker, Toby, etc play. It was kind of a gut punch after everyone saying how easy it was to book Germany. I give up.
Thanks for being honest. Easy is a relative term. You're also not directly connected with this particular wave of Antifolk so much so people probably don't really know you as well. I do know you and I know that you are talented. You would be amazed at the amount of work that we do to book one gig sometimes. And often that gig turns out to be a dud. Sometimes we have to send 3 or 4 emails just to get a "No." You should really play upon your connections. Think of the most famous person you know and name drop them heavily. I know it feels lame but I can guarantee you that every musician you love does it! That being said DIY touring isn't for everyone. Perhaps this isn't what you should be concentrating on now at the juncture in your musical path. But like Jeff said, you're here talking about it and that's a step in the right direction.
I mean, at least don't give up just because of your experience so far (there may still be plenty of other perfectly valid reasons to give up!)!
It is NEVER easy to start. Going from first gear to second gear is WAY easier than going from zero to first gear. THat's the magic of Sidewalk - it is the most open, easy, welcoming way to start playing music, meeting songwriters and musicians, with no barriers (or at least way less than 99.9% of other music venues). If I had started out having to do some kind of press kit, demo tape, cold-call stuff, I would never ever have started doing any of this. It was the same with touring... one thing just slowly, slowly lead to another thing. Mostly it started with relationships, come to think of it... like "relationships" in the make-out sense! There was a girl I wanted to visit in the UK so I went to visit and figured, heck, while I'm there I should play some small shows... same thing for playing on the west coast US... well, the saga ends there i suppose because there were totally different reasons why I got started touring in other areas. But it mostly did start with stuff like very small house shows, open mics, pub shows, and of course that very crucial other thing, which is playing opening sets for acts you're friends with (whom you usually only meet in the first place from having played lots of open mics and hanging around etc).
Maybe this is all because seeing somebody play live is WAY WAY better than hearing their demo, or their album, or reading their press kit, or any of that stuff. The more that people actually see you play, regardless of how crappy the place or the pay or whatever, that's the way to start "establishing yourself" or whatever you wanna call it.
Well, I've never seen your band and I don't know who you are, so maybe it won't help, because maybe you're terrible or mean or boring or something! (But you're here on the OJ board so you've got to be cool to some extent!) Chances are if you believe in what you're doing then you just gotta give other people a chance to believe in it too. Remember how many times you had to hear about ________ (insert artist's name) before you FINALLY heard a song and then you were like "oh, that's actually pretty cool, no wonder I've been hearing about them for so long..." If one chance was all you ever were given to open your ears to an artist, you probably wouldn't be listening to 81% of the artists you listen to, somebody had to give you a whole lot of different kinds of chances. SO, I think if you keep giving people chances to hear you, eventually they might!
And as far as Germany being "easier" to book than other areas, I'm one of the people who is not on that side of the argument... I don't necessarily think Germany differs much from France or other such countries in that regard.
Jeffrey has reposted what I had here in a thread he started so that this thread can be kept more in line with deenah's inquiry.