Germany’s iconic dark music act DEINE LAKAIEN took the time for Torched recently in this new exclusive interview. The legendary electronic avant-garde duo talks with us about their inspiration behind the bands recent release Dual +. We also dive into the technical side of the music and what a typical day in the studio looks like for them, how the COVID pandemic has affected them personally and professionally, and a few of their creative inspirations.. and more!
With Dual +, DEINE LAKAIEN continue to ride the impressive creative wave that their compelling concept for the previous double-album “Dual” has caused. Yet while “Dual” was strictly following a principle of cause and effect that juxtaposed one cover version on the first album with a new song that was inspired by it on the second record. “Dual +” keeps the basic formula, but comes across as more compact, multi-layered, and experimental, while also leaving more space for relaxed divergence.
With their 11th studio album, “Dual +”, classically-educated composer and pianist Ernst Horn and vocalist extraordinaire Alexander Veljanov are further exploring the musical vector that the duo has taken on “Dual” by playfully adapting some of their musical influences and making them their own, but always serious about the composition and respectful towards the original. By ostensibly showing the connection to their own creations and making a part of their artistic process transparent, DEINE LAKAIEN also state that music does not grow out of thin air – as clearly as Beethoven could not have created his symphonies without the works of Bach before him.
DEINE LAKAIEN have created yet another marvelous piece of music with “Dual +”. Their art comes with multiple layers and can be read in many different ways or simply be enjoyed as one amazing song after the other unfolds and the dividing lines between cover versions and original songs begin to blur until they are without meaning to the true beauty revealed.
Deine Lakaien’s latest release Dual + has many layers and can be read in many different ways. It includes original tracks alongside cover songs that compliment each other. What was your inspiration behind your latest release Dual +?
Ernst Horn: “Dual +“ is now the second part of the entire “Dual” project. We’ve been confronted with the idea of a cover album for a long time and when we finally wanted to do it, Alexander came up with the idea of adding a suitable own song to each cover. Stylistic diversity was particularly important to us when making the selection. In the end we had 32 finished songs that we wanted to spread over two albums. Maybe „Dual +“ sounds a bit more experimental than the first „Dual“ album, but the most important thing for us was, that the songs fit together and create a coherent picture.
Alexander Veljanov: I would like to add that we could have recorded much more cover versions — especially because we are trapped in the pandemic with no concerts possible“-gap. I wonder how we would sound doing our interpretations of Bowie, Cash, the Ramones, Nirvana, ABBA or even Lady Gaga… but you never know.
Can you go into a few of the production details during the recording of Dual +? What would a typical day in the studio look like for you?
EH: First I play around on the piano, looking for melodies and harmonies, thinking up rhythms and making rough drafts of it. In this phase I take my time, go for walks, write first song lyrics in the café and communicate with Alexander about my and his ideas. Then we meet in the studio, we continue to develop our lyrics and the music, make vocal recordings, and then the long work begins: trying out new sounds, transitions, instrumental parts and finally, of course, mixing the songs. During this time, I spend almost every day in the studio, working from morning to night, with breaks in between, like any working person.
AV: It is always very interesting to work in our studio in Munich, and because I am living in Berlin, we are always enjoying the precious time together, working maybe more intensively than other bands, who meet more often. It is always a kind of special catharsis to record vocals almost all around the clock. It always shows me how much I love to sing and to try out to express feelings in many different ways.
When and where did it all start for you? Did both of you grow up in musical environments?
AV: I can’t remember when I started to sing. My relatives always say that I did it before I could talk. Growing up under the influence of two different cultures, German and Macedonian, music and singing were very helpful for my inner balance because music doesn’t know any borders.
EH: My parents were interested in classical music and opera and my father played a little piano. I started taking piano lessons at the age of eight and soon became ambitious, listened to a lot of piano music and was interested in modern classical music as well. And then I discovered the new experimental pop music of the sixties, the first albums by Pink Floyd, Cream, Jimi Hendrix. From then on it was clear to me: I want to become a musician.
How have you been affected personally and professionally by the COVID pandemic? How have the few live performances during these unprecedented times gone for you? Will there be more live shows in the near future?
EH: I spent a lot of time in my studio, where it didn’t matter what was happening outside. But in everyday life it was of course the same as for everyone: keep your distance, always be aware of the regulations when you have to buy something, or want to go to a concert or just for a coffee, don’t forget the necessary documents! But we had a few concerts, mostly open-air, and enjoyed it! It was very touching to experience how much music means to people. And you heard: “We can’t scream ‚Yeah!‘ now, so we clap and stamp until we’re thrown out!“ In the near future? We will hopefully play a festival show at the Baltic Sea in May and a tour with our band in October. Let’s hope for the best!
AV: I don’t know what to say. It is so strange. I miss the usual and normal life so much, but now I finally know that we grew up and lived in a very privileged time. People who had to survive wartimes maybe just laugh about our moaning and whining. Where are we going to? I am hoping for a bright and peaceful future.
Who or what are some of your creative inspirations?
EH: Ideas are unpredictable guests, they visit you while you sleep, while you ride your bike or during any occupation. Apart from that, reading novels and listening to music from a different genre than ours is very helpful for me. But then the order must follow: start work, get inspired by your progress — and go on, instead of lounging on the sofa, or fooling around on social media!
AV: The beauty of nature, wise and merciful people, and the happiness of my beloved ones.
You once said in a previous interview, ‘No venue is better than the audience’. Can you clarify what you meant by this statement?
EH: We learned that we can have very different experiences playing two shows in the same venue. There is always a dialogue with the audience. Sometimes we manage to break down the barriers between us and our listeners very early on, sometimes we feel like we’re performing against a wall. But, apart from the volume of the applause: for me the most wonderful moments are when we get the feeling: “Now you just listen to the music, no matter what the band looks like, no matter who is standing or sitting next to you. Your attention and participation carries us away as if on wings.”
AV: A palace becomes a pigsty when the ruling king is a bastard. Sorry, don’t know if this makes any sense in English.
Not only does Dual + include original tracks but also corresponding/complimenting cover versions from a wide range of artists. What was your process like in choosing songs to cover? Would you include these artists as some of your creative inspirations?
AV: It wasn’t my intention to only choose songs of the heroes of my youth. The final choices were a varied collection of songs that I wanted try out. I hope there are surprises for the listeners, and maybe some funny as well as touching moments discovered whilst listening to the results.
EH: At the very beginning, I asked Alexander what he would like to sing because that would be a good start for us. It was important for us that we don’t have to concentrate on one epoch or one genre, but are free to choose. As I mentioned before, I was a big fan of early Pink Floyd, their psychedelic landscapes, loved the aggressive existentialism of DEVO, and of course classic tunes had always been inspirational for me. All in all a huge amount of music to choose from and it was also an interesting experience for me to explore songs that weren’t my favorites when I was young. I learned a lot from it!
Is there anything that I may have missed that you would like to share? Thank you so much for taking the time for Torched!
EH: Of course, the obligatory question: “How about your next album?“ Well, erm, we’re already busy. The title will be “Stonehenge Whisperings,” mysterious songs including signals from Mars, recorded after an infection-preventing oral vaccination with Bavarian beer. But we’re not quite done with it yet. Cheers!“
AV: Thank you very much and keep on discovering music from outer space. 😉
All photos by Joerg Grosse Geldermann
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