Talking with Get Well Soon (Konstantin Gropper)

·      How did you go about creating Get Well Soon? Did you have a defined vision of how you were going to express yourself? Has it changed at all? Do you see it as an evolutionary process and if so what are the triggers to change?

I can’t say I actually “created” GWS. The sound and imagery assemble all the musical and artistic influences on me and my life, I guess. So I think it was an actual vision, more like something that came naturally and therefore it has definitely been changing and it still is, constantly. I’m only partly in control of that. It’s my private little universe of topics and sounds. I try to be open to any influence and everything can be such an influence. But I guess that only a few work in the GWS context. That is very subjective – well, it’s basically just my personal feeling and taste. So GWS is not a project that always incorporates the latest fashion. I just keep on building my own private “theme-park”, metaphorically speaking of course (unlike Michael Jackson).  

·      How possible is it for Get Well Soon to present a work that will be totally different from what we’re used to?

I sure hope that I will do something different with every record and even every song. That’s definitely my aim. So far, I think it all makes sense in the “GWS Universe”, but as I said, that is constantly expanding. So to answer you question: I’d say it’s very possible and at some point I will try to do something completely different. Repeating myself is one of my worst fears. But I guess I’m not the one to tell if I succeed.

·      Going back in time. What was your musical background? What or who do you see as your main influences and inspirations, both musically and personally?

I grew up in a musical family. My father’s a music teacher and therefore there was always music ever since I can think. It was always the main thing at home. And that was only classical music. So that’s the one major influence: Classical music. Of course as a teenager I listened to punk and grunge music, but ever since then I try to have an open ear for all kinds of music. From electronic to folk, from rock to avantgarde. I even did my share of hip-hop. Therefore artists that incorporate many different styles and constantly reinvent themselves are those, that I respect the most. Like Bowie or Björk for example. Eclecticism is the word. I think it’s Greek.

·      What motivates you at the moment? What have you been listening to lately?

I was really busy finishing my third album. In that period I hardly listen to current music, because that always confuses me. But I do a lot of musical research until a sound idea forms in my head. In that case it was a lot of 70s and 80s B-Movie Soundtracks.
At the moment I’m working on an opera adaptation of Bulgakow’s “The Master And Margarita”, so I’m trying to work my way into Russian culture and folklore.

·      What is your compositional process when you write a song? Music or lyrics come first (you are strong bonded to both of them)?

I can’t really say. I always say that “an idea” comes first. Musical or lyrical. But I guess in most cases it is musical. On “Vexations” I spent way more time writing the lyrics than writing the music. On the latest album the lyrics came along pretty fast. But that doesn’t mean they’re less important. On the contrary. Most of the time, the “fast lyrics” are my favorites. The ones on “Vexations” were just really heavy and complex. I think a song only works, if the lyrics do too. A lot of people don’t care about lyrics at all. But I’m at least bothered by very stupid lyrics. They don’t have to be deep, intellectual and meaningful. But a lot of pop lyrics are just plain stupid and a bunch of clichés. I’m putting at least that much effort into it to avoid that.  

·      Both your full length albums have been very well received garnering much critical acclaim. Do you now feel the swell of expectation and public consciousness rising as your audience grows ever bigger?

I would be lying, if I said that there was absolutely no pressure. I just hope and I already feel it’s getting less. Because it’s a growth of experience, too. I’m not thinking about enlarging my audience when I’m writing songs. And even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to do it. I don’t know what to expect from myself, let alone what people expect from me. 

·      What do you think about the media that promote music (websites, magazines) and to what extent can they have an influence on a band’s sound?

I know that the media coverage was very important for GWS. But I think it’s a big mistake to think about what would please the critics while making music.
On the other hand, music magazines were a major influence to me as a teenager. I grew up in a very rural area, so magazines were the only way to know what’s going on in the musical world. And today with the internet, I think that’s happening even more and even faster. The hype of this week is so over in the next week. It’s simply too much work to keep track. So I guess, I just have to be fine with the fact, that some people call my music “old-fashioned”. And I hardly read music magazines today. I find other fields of art more inspirational. 

·      Were you ever tempted to sing in German and why you haven’t done it till now?

When I started to write music and lyrics I was mostly influenced by American bands and wnated to sound like them. Since then, it just became my «routine». Everytime I try to writ ein German it feels very weird. The language is very rough and edgy and doesn’t really work with my rather melodic musical approach. 

·      Your last album ‘Vexations’ had many references to writers (Seneca, Sartre, Marx) and philosophical questions. Are you considering this to be the basis of your next or a future album as well?

Since I just finished the next album, I can assure you, it is not a topic. It’s “philosophical” on a much rather personal level. But I can’t assure you that it won’t be a topic in the future. It’s just what I’m interested in. It’s kind of a hobby. Again, it’s not the most fashionable one. But I don’t care.

·      In ‘Vexations’, you are talking about fear, sadness and negative energy in people’s lives. Since then, things have gotten worse, because of the financial crisis and the climate change. What could save humanity today?

I have no idea. I was so tempted, and I guess every artist at the moment is, to make an album about the apocalypse. And in some way I did, I’m sure.
Maybe it seems strange for me to say that, but: Humor helps a lot. I’m trying very hard to take myself and things less serious. I didn’t make a “haha-funny” album, but there is definitely way more irony and self-irony to it than to “vexations”. Maybe Humor’s the last resort. But I’m not the first one to come up with that. 

·      You have studied Philosophy. Do you think there could be new Enlightenment that would wake people up and maybe guide them back to all the things they’ve lost (and this is something useful for Greeks and for Germans too)? Could that happen through music?

I don’t think a very theoretical and academic thing like the historical Enlightenment is what we need at the moment. We need action. And there is action. Things are moving. If it’s in Greece, in North Africa, in the whole damn financial world, even in spoiled Germany. Things have gotten into motion, that can be abstracted to one topic: people are no more willing to accept every bullshit that “those in charge” decide over their heads. This is a fantastic thing. It is a state of public awareness and disobedience. That is real enlightenment. Of course it is very dramatic in some cases, but the tendency is very welcome, I think. And of course music can be an organ and a voice for that. It has been in the past. I’m not a political songwriter, but I strongly believe that music has a power that shouldn’t be underestimated.  

·      You have a close relationship with cinema. Your songs for Wim Wender’s ‘Palermo Shooting’, ‘Music For and From Films’ in ‘Vexations’ , Xanadu and more. What initially inspired you foray into film music? Any favorite directors you would love to work with?

I always loved movies and soundtracks. “Once Upon A Time In The West” by Ennio Morricone was one of my first records as a kid and it still is one of my favorites. So I always wanted to do music for films. And after the release of the first GWS Album several directors came to me and asked me to write music. It was like a dream come true: I didn’t even have to ask. The list of directors I’d like to work with is very long. My favorites (Kubrick and Hitchcock) are dead. Alive ones: Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson or Polanski or… I could go on forever.   

·      You are cover lover. Do you choose favorite artists or songs? Or both? Any song that you would love to ‘transform’?

Some sort of “transformation” is important. If I choose a song, I would like to add something to it or take a different approach on it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a favorite song or artist, that makes it even harder to transform. It just has to feel like it’s going to work and that it means something to me. I played a lot of Beach Boys songs lately. But they’re very hard to play. I’ll have to find something simpler. 

You’ll be in Switzerland this summer with Sigur Ros. How do you feel about that?

I always admired Sigur Ros for being so Avantgarde. What I mean by that is that they’re one of the very few bands in the last 10 or 15 years that created a truly original sound. They’re very unique and the music is just plain beautiful at the same time. They’re the proof that original music can be harmonic and “easy” (in a positive sense). I remember, I took my mother to a Sigur Ros Show 12 years ago.
Although I have to admit that I lost track of their work a little bit after their first three albums. But I remember them as one of the best live-bands ever. So I’m very curious and nervous. It will be tough to keep up. 

Give us some hints about the upcoming Get Well Soon album.

Well, I think, I already did. It is definitely my most summerly-feeling Album and it is definitely my Cinema-Album. That means mostly B-Movies and a lot of Italian ones. It is less serious than “Vexations”, which I would describe as the most Classical influenced one.
I tried to establish a sort of “classy trash aesthetic” on this third one. And it is very vintage sounding. I hope that’s enough to get you curious and I am looking forward to an extra Interview on the album. 

·      You are back in Greece again and we are really looking forward to see you in Athens and Thessaloniki. Any teaser for your audience?

We are very exciting to be back. We’ll be playing some new songs, but also the smash-hits of our back-catalogue, of course. We welcome spontaneous song-wishes as long as they’re out of the common-knowledge-karaoke-catalogue and we also welcome guest performances on stage. Those that show up dressed as the German Minister of Finances Schäuble will get free admission.  

Get Well Soon @ 8ball Thessaloniki (26.04.2012)
Get Well Soon @ Passport Athens (27.04.2012)

1 comment:

elafini said...

Η συνέντευξη στα ελληνικά δημοσιεύθηκε στο avopolis.gr οπότε προτίμησα να βάλω το αγγλικό εδώ.