I missed Copenhagen Popfest in April. No, the volcano wasn’t in my way. I just couldn’t go. The line-up looked fantastic and I really wanted to go. Many close friends were going and I felt very jealous that whole weekend. I know some bands from UK couldn’t go and play there because of the volcano ash, but still, judging from the photos and videos it seemed like a fab time. But to confirm me how good it was, I asked Danielle, one of the organizers, to tell me a bit more about it. Thanks again Danielle!

++ Hi there! How are you doing? Any special plans for this summer?

Hi Roque, I’m great thanks! Well, were all seriously considering coming to Indietracks again this year, I just have to get used to the idea of sleeping in a tent again.. Brr..

++ Let’s talk about the festival, who are the people behind the Copenhagen Popfest? And how did you know each other?

The people behind the Copenhagen Popfest this year was basically Michelle (who’s been one of my best friends for 10 years now), Stefan (of Northern Portrait, my husband) and myself. From now on we’ll have some extra help from our good friend Morten and maybe a couple of others, after realizing how much hard work this Popfest-business is!

++ How did you all get excited and decided to organize Copenhagen Popfest? Was there something in particular that inspired you?

Well, it all started as a suggestion from Stefan. We’d been to the Hamburg Pop Weekender, San Francisco Popfest, Indietracks and numerous other indiepop events in 2009 – because Stefan was playing. Everytime we got home, we’d both have new favorite bands and bought so many new records – we were generally just really blown away by how many great bands there are out there! So Stefan and i started talking about doing some sort of event here in Copenhagen, and Michelle who had just finished her bachelor in Performance Design was instantly up for the idea.

++ Was there any special reason to do the festival in April?

Theres several reasons.. For one, Copenhagen is really nice in spring. Then we also heard from our friend in Hamburg that they weren’t gonna do a Hamburg Pop Weekender this year (which was the best weekend ever) and we thought that it would be a good idea to do it before the whole festival-season started.

++ How is Copenhagen indiepop-wise? Are there many fans? Or bands? From the distance it seems there is only a handful… do you think the scene in your town is growing?

No, there aren’t too many bands.. Or fans. At least not many who share the same idea of what “indiepop” is. But we’d done this club night The Banana Hold-Up also to see if anyone would show up, and the place was always packed with people dancing, and had a loong queue outside.

But personally, i think Copenhageners are just extremely picky and spoiled, even the people i know who might be interested in indiepop don’t regularly show up at these events. Sometimes it seems like the danes is just not that interested in discovering new music.. I could go on about this.. The bottom line is, haven’t lost my faith in them yet!

++ And what about you? How did you start to like indiepop? What is THAT band you call your favourite? Is there any great pop bands you like from Denmark? Myself, I love Gangway!

For me, it all started when I was a young teen and everyone at school where either into Blur or Oasis, and I was offcourse really into Blur – but also The Spice Girls! I had no idea what was cool or not, I just really liked popmusic! So when I was 15 or so, I’d sneak along to this club night in Aarhus, called Club Drive and dance along to stuff like Belle and Sebastian, Razorcuts and Another Sunny Day.

One of the guys from Gangway used to host a TV show here in Denmark in the 90’s, sometimes he’d just sit there with a big glass of red wine, wearing a suit and trash all the terrible 90’s music. Great show. There is a couple of really good indiepop bands here in Denmark (I’m a big fan of Ampel, they are fantastic live) most of them played the Popfest this year – but oh, do we still have some aces up our sleeves for next year..

++ You were so unlucky, that same weekend, you had that stupid volcano ash all over the place, making the airports close. So many bands couldn’t come, many attendees couldn’t come either. Honestly, what crossed your mind at that moment? Did you ever thought about postponing the festival? Was it an easy decision to continue?

It was a complete nightmare! But we didn’t know if they would open up the airspace in 2 hours, or 2 days – thats basically why we didn’t cancel it all. Anything could happen. But along the way, as we realized that neither our longdistance friends, or the British bands we’d booked (and so looked forward too) where coming, we just had this feeling of “the show must go on”. It also made us really apprecciate every single person who showed up!

++ You said that there might be a second part of the festival this year for those who couldn’t attend. Any news on that?

No, not yet. We are trying to figure out if we’ll do it at the same venue, or maybe try something different. All we know is that it will probably be in fall/winter sometime.

++ The posters, the flyers, are all very pretty giving the festival a different look and feel to other festivals. Who designed them? And was there some sort of concept behind this branding of Copenhagen Popfest?

I just recently started studying media graphics here in Copenhagen, and was really fascinated by these vintage vacation posters. They have such a fun and happy feeling about them, so i just thought I’d draw something like that for the festival.

++ What was the best moment for you of Popfest 2010? Do you think you’ll do it again next year?

The best moment? Oh that’s hard to say, all the bands where really great, and I was just really happy when people showed up! But sure, we’ll probably do it again next year.. If no one else will :)

++ I heard, and correct me if I’m wrong, that some DJs started playing britpop and mainstream indie! What was that all about?

Oh, please don’t remind me.. It was just a bad call of judgement on my part. The DJ’s in mention had turned up ten minutes before they were on, so they really had no clue what was going on, they had written down a non-discussable playlist that made everyone leave the dancefloor in protest. And I mean, everyone. It was very awkward for both the DJ’s, the audience and us the organizers. But as soon as it was time for the next DJ, the dancefloor got filled again. So it was all ok.

++ I also heard the venue was pretty nice and central, that it was a great choice. Care to tell me a bit about it? You also have a club, right? The Banana Hold-Up, do you host it in this same place?

The venue is right next to the Central Station, and is called Råhuset – which means something like “Rawhouse”. Its basically a big empty house. Normally they host alot of “underground” stuff – Death Metal, African music and also Northern Soul. By the way – they loved us and all our indiepop kids, and they really want us to come back.

The Banana Hold-Up is usually held at Jolene – where the Popfest afterparty was held. It’s a great little venue in the meatpacking district.. Not too far from Raahuset.

++ I think what you are doing is really fantastic for the scene. Do you feel any sort of bond or relationship with any of the other Pop festivals around the world? Have you been in touch with their organizers perhaps?

Yeah, in the beginning we had a really hard time finding a good name for the festival, so we asked one of the organizers of the London Popfest what we needed to do to call it a Popfest, he just told us to go right ahead. So we did.

Since it was our first time organizing anything like this, we have in general had great use of our network in the indiepop circles, asking people all kinds of stupid questions.

++ I had many friends going from Sweden and Germany to Copenhagen Popfest. But one of my bestest friends was crazy enough to cross the Atlantic and take buses and rent cars, to eventually reach Copenhagen as airports were closed. Well, that’s love and dedication for indiepop, for sure. It must have been something special to see Jennifer coming into the venue. Were you expecting that? How did that feel? You must have been proud that someone did all that to be part of the Popfest!

That must have been my favorite moment! Nothern Portrait were playing a fantastic set, when i looked over the audience and spotted the beautiful Jennifer there in the middle. I teared up, and had to really pull myself together! That was when all the hours and stress thats gone into this event, really made sense.

++ Tell me about Denmark. I know you are famous because of your pastries, but I’m not a sweets guy. What is a typical dish in Denmark? I’m planning to go in September (crossing fingers!) and I’d love to try something ace!

Oh, you should definitely try the Danish smørrebrød, it’s like an open faced sandwich on rye bread. Almost every Danish restaurant serves them, but the best place in town is “Café Fremtiden” – give us a call when you’re here, and we’ll take you there!

++ Anyways, let’s wrap it here. What are you listening right now? Recommendations?

Right now I’m listening to the new Cats On Fire – Dealing In Antiques. And always, always The Siddeleys.

++ Thanks so much, anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you!


Northern Portrait – A Quiet Night in Copenhagen


Thanks to Werner for this interview. If you’ve never heard about him, he is one of the most important activists of the indiepop scene at this moment by running his record labels Vollwert Records and Edition 59 as well as distributing many indiepop records from around the world on his store of the same name.

++ Hi Werner! I can’t say long time as we are in touch quite often as you are a big supporter of my label, and I can’t stop thanking you for that. How do you feel about this indiepop community that you help so much distributing records in Germany? What do you think makes it so special?

It is actually a great feeling to philosophize with nice people about the music you like. And often friendships develop on the basis of the predilection for a certain kind of music.

++ I know there is no money to be made by doing what you do, so what is the main reason to do what you do, Werner?

There are so many idealistic people in the indiepop community and I like to support them by providing interesting artists an opportunity to release their music and by giving the customers a bit of guidance in the world of indie music.

++ When and how did you get into indiepop? What was that first record that blew up your mind?

Since the mid-sixties, I have been into many kinds of music such as Beat, Glam-Rock, Punk, Wave, Post-Punk and particularly Britpop. Like probably for many of us, it was the SMITHS who got me enthusiastic about Indiepop and especially the C-86 sampler of NME.

++ What about German indiepop? Do you have any favourites?

Germany is more a rock and electronic than an Indiepop country. Much of what is called here Indiepop appears me somewhat petty. One of the great exceptions is Andre Daners. He has great ideas and is absolutely authentic in what he does. His project MY LAUNDRY LIFE is terrific!

++ Your first indiepop “project” was the Indieopa mailorder many years ago, care to tell me a bit about it? When did you start? when did you close the store? what were the best sellers? where in the world did you send more records?

It was about 2002 that I started Indieopa as a sales platform on eBay. But I realized soon, that it was only the mainstream Indie stuff that sold well, especially when it was new and cheap. And I found it more and more boring that my main task should be to satisfy those annoying Depeche Mode buyers. I definitely wanted more than that. Moreover, Indieopa first and foremost aimed at the German market which turned out to be too limited for the Indiepop community.

++ After that you started a new mailorder, Vollwert Records. How come after closing one mailorder you decided to start a new one? What made you excited about pop music again?

I wanted to be be more than a specialized local seller for mainstream Indiepop and thus decided to distribute interesting music on an new label that I called “Vollwert”. Due to the internet and the enormous progress it made at the time, I came more in touch with Indie music worldwide and it was – and still is – exciting to see what splendid music is being made for instance in Indonesia, Mexico or South America.

++ And you didn’t just stop there, you started a record label alongside the mailorder. It started with a compilation that had the Fernsehturm on the cover photo, which makes me wonder what are your other favourite landmarks in Berlin?

For me, like for many Berlin people, the Fernsehturm, the television tower, is more than just a landmark. Built by the eastern German government in the early seventies, it became a symbol of the division of Germany as well as of its unification in 1989. Its equivalent in West Berlin is the so-called Funkturm (radio tower) near where I live. As the Berlin wall was still existent, it was the first thing you saw when reaching Berlin from the free west. So for me, it is connected with many personal memories.

++ Continuing with Berlin, and as I will visit in September it seems, I wonder which restaurants would you recommend me?

Hard to say. Each quarter has its own excellent restaurants, many of them remarkably inexpensive. So there is no risk trying it on your own as long as you avoid the touristic quarters alongside the Kurfürstendamm in the City West and the Hackesche Markt in the center. I personally like to go to “Honigmond” in Borsigstraße in the center (”Mitte”) and to Romagna, a good cheap pizzaria in Stresemannstraße in Kreuzberg, not far from Potsdamer Platz.

++ Let’s get back on track. You then started a new label, Edition 59 which releases 3″ CDs in a limited edition of 59 copies. Why this odd number? Is there some meaning to it? Also what about the format of 3″ CD, why did you choose it? I also release in that format, but I’d love to know what do you think are it’s pros and cons.

I love that number. It came into my mind when I was on an escalator in a department store in Berlin. As to the format of 3“: I like it because it is quite uncommon and you don’t need many resources to produce it. It thus allows you to be very flexible with your releases. In my view, these advantages far overweight the disadvantage of having too little space for printing information on the booklet.

++ So far you’ve put out more than 60 releases, is there some point, like reaching #100, where you will stop or will you just continue until you run out of energy? What is there in store for the future of both Vollwert Records and Edition59? I read there might be 7″ releases?

I will continue as long as people like to buy new releases. There is no 7“ release project fixed yet.

++ How do you usually discover bands?

Some bands get in touch with me spontaneously. Additionally, I search networks as Myspace for interesting bands and then address them myself.

++ You’ve been doing a lot of Creation Records reissues now, how come? Is Creation Records your favourite label ever? What will you be your top five releases in Alan McGee’s label?

I loved the energy of the first Creation releases. The music of Creation records was a part of my youth and thrilled me. Hard to say what the Top 5 singles are, maybe these:
The Loft – Why does the rain
Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside down
Meat Whiplash – Don’t slip up
Bodines – Heard it all
Weather Prophets- Naked as the day you were born

The Top 5 albums:
Biff Bang Pow – Girl who runs the beat hotel
Bill Drummond – The Man
House of Love – s/t
Jamine Minks – 1,2.3,4,5,6,7
VA – Wow wild summer

++ By the way, for those of us who don’t know German, what does Vollwert mean?

It has a double meaning: literally it means „full worth“, but it also denotes wholefood.

++ Would you recommend to start a label these days where mp3 blogs offering free mp3s are the norm?

In my opinion, free mp3s can provide additional promotion for your label. So there is no real competition.

++ What has been the best thing of running a mailorder and a record label? And I’m wondering, how much time a day do you invest in them?

The best thing is that I can connect young gifted artists with an interested audience. That takes me some hours every day. And it is worth while.

++ In Germany, when you talked indiepop you would always think of Hamburg, never Berlin. Do you think that can change? Why do you think Hamburg had a bigger indiepop scene even though it’s a smaller city?

Berlin is rather a rough ROCK city. But Berlin is sophomoric, too. So it boasts about his electronic and indiepop scene. The Hamburg scene, however, is cooler and more grounded, not running after every superficial trend.

++ I do have a tricky question, what do you prefer in a German pop band, to sing in German or to sing in English, or it doesn’t matter?

There are only a few German bands that are able to convince in English . Therefore I mostly prefer them singing German.

++ One last question, roughly, how many records do you have in your collection?

At the beginning of the nineties, I had some thousand 7“, some hundred albums and a few dozens CDs. But as music at the time began to bore me, I sold nearly all of them. I kept a fine collection of about fifty singles and a couple of dozen CDs and LPs that I really appreciate.


The Motifs – Just an Echo
(From the Edition 59 3″CD)


Long time ago I wrote about She Splinters Mortar, trying to get in touch with the members. I was lucky enough that Harald found the blog somehow and got in touch. Then I got in touch with their label Die Schwarze 7 and even with fellow labelmates Shampoo Tears. It was a matter of time to get an interview with She Splinters Mortar, one of the first German bands that embraced C86. Thanks so much Harald!

++ Hi Harald! Thanks so much for doing this interview. How has been 2010 so far?

Hi Roque, it’s a pleasure for me to do this interview and it makes me very happy that you show so much interest in She Splinters Mortar, the bands history and music! 2010 has been quite busy for me so far. As you know I’m working as a photographer and hope the year will go on like it started.

++ So let’s get on the roll. Who were She Splinters Mortar and what sparked you all to start a band?

She Splinters Mortar  was a band founded by Alfred Vorbrodt and me in the mid 80ies in Wiesbaden, which is a town close to Frankfurt.
Alfred and me meet first during a football match where we both played for the same team. This was during a turnament organized by friends, where some bars and clubs in Wiesbaden set up football teams to play on a saturday afternoon against each other. During this tournament we found out, we had the same taste of music, independant music, which was a very special thing in these times. Not like today you had to go to special record shops to get the records of these bands, or even order them in the U.K. or New Zealand. There was one radio emmission a week to listen to new records and article you about new bands and records you could find in self copied fanzines or magazines like Spex.
Alfred was a real enthusiast about indy music and a record collector. So, he bought the records and after he made Cassette Samplers for me. That was the way you did it these days!

My knowledge before I met Alfred about this special kind of music and the bands playing this music, came from a friendship to Stefan Lutterbüse who was also an enthusiast about Indy Music and made Cassette Samplers for me before I first met Alfred. Stefan later founded the label Die Schwarze Sieben with another friend of us Volker Buch. This label first off all was founded to publish the first 7″ from She Splinters Mortar, Straight from her heart.

++ What was the creative process for She Splinters Mortar? How did songs shape up from start to finish for you guys?

After Alfred and I met, we decided to start a band! We didn’t have instruments or excersising room and decided that the most important thing is to have a good name first! The name of the band was found by me in a Oscar Wild poet during an English Class in my school. After that we started looking for an excercising room, which we found over a friend and could share with another band from Wiesbaden. The good thing about it was, that we could use the instruments and amps in the room. So Alfred decided to play drums, and I had to by an Electric Guitar, because I’m lefthanded. After that, we started playing together. The first songs we played sounded very much like Eyeless In Gaza and Young Marble Giants.

After some months playing together, we decided we needed a bass player to make a better sound and a real set up like a band. That was the time Christian Lorenz joined us. Alfred knew him, because he was a record collector also and they met in the certain record stores. Meanwhile Alfred and me had moved to or own excercising room, which was a huge concrete cask where whine was stored years ago. We just had to put an entrance into it and could start playing there.
All songs we played at this time and can be listened to on the Compilation Tasty Tapes and Cassingles where composed by me. At the time I had a half english girlfriend, which helped me with the lyrics. The songs I developedat home on an accustic guitar and introduced them to Alfred and Christian in our excercising room, where Alfred and Christian found there ways to play drums and bass to it and we arranged them together.

One could say it like this: songs written by me and coloured in by the band! It stayed like this with all songs also after Walther Muscholl, the second guitar player joined the band and till we split up in the early 90ies. With Walther we won a lot of music skillness, because he was the only real musican who really had learned to play his instrument. The rest of us where more like enthusiasts giving their best and always excercising, even during gigs on stage!

++ Where does the name come from?

As I said already from an Oscar Wild poet, which I had to reed during my college time in an english class.

++ All of your releases happened in the Die Schwarze Sieben label, how did you know them? What was the relationship between band and label? How did the first deal between you both happen?

The label Die Schwarze Sieben was run by two friends of us Stefan Lutterbüse and Volker Buch. In these times the people who listened to indy music where very few and recognized each other by dressing and knew each other from shopping tours in the same record stores. I knew Stefan long time before Alfred and he introduced me to independant music, by making samplers on cassettes of all the nice bands in the late 70ies and early 80ies like Joy Division, The Fall, The Comsat Angels, Young Marble Giants etc. He actually set the virus for this music in me, positivly ment of course!
Volker was, as far as I know, a school mate of Stefan and so we all got together in the mid 80ies. Funnily over football as I explained. Football always played a big role in the whole thing, because later we played in a team from the label Die Schwarze Sieben on fun tournaments with big success all together, Stefan, Volker, Alfred, me and some others.

++ Though you released a couple of tapes right? A cassingle for “A Pretty Head” and an EP called “Tasty Tape”. Were these self released? And why did you choose the tape format?

The first samplers on tape format were more or less live recordings in the studio on a four track recorder in the excercising room. We recorded them and mixed them by ourself and made copies we sold in a record store in Wiesbaden. The store owner Laiky later organized concerts of bands like 1000 Violins and Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub in Wiesbaden, which we played the support for. One of these gigs with 1000 Violins actually was the first gig for us.
The tape format we chose, because there was no other format to choose. In these times, there was no possibility to record on computers and burn cds like nowadays. It was really independent! ;)

++ Your album Jaguar is FANTASTIC. Where did you record it? Was it an easy thing to do? What do you remember from those recording sessions?

Thanks for this compliment!
We recorded it in studio in Wiesbaden and it took us about two weeks to finish. As the studio was used by us for the first time and more or less never had made records with independant bands we had to almost all sound mixing and arrangments by ourselves. Not easy, if four musicians and the label guys sit behind the sound engineer giving instructions! Poor guy, but in the end we did quite good, I think. For this record we had a change in band line up also. Christian left the band to play in another one and Jörg Heiser, the singer and guitar player from Shampoo Tears, another band from Mainz a town just beside Wiesbaden, joined us as bass player. Shampoo Tears later used the same studio to record their first single for Die Schwarze Sieben.
The recording session was quite easy going, because we excercised a lot in advance and where really prepared, which had to be like that because it was quite expansive also. The costs for the recording where payed by Alfred, who was the only one working in a real job. All the rest of us where students at the time. The two female voices on the record are performed by my sister Nicole and my girlfriend at the time Judith Ochs. They just came to the studio in the very end and had to sing before ever tried before. Poor things…

++ I always wonder and guess, but how does it work writing lyrics in English when it’s not your language? Is it an easy task? Are there any tricks?

As the lyrics are not that complicated and dealing with almost only one issue ;) it was not that difficult to write them. Also I mentioned above that the first lyrics where very much influenced by my girlfriend at the time who was half English. To write English lyrics also is an easy thing to do, if you only listen to English music. But still you’re right and today I would write and sing german texts.

And, if we would have had German lyrics on our records I’m quite sure, that I wouldn’t have to give this interview. It made the records more international!

++ How was Cologne back in those late 80s? What was the scene like? What other bands from town did you like?

I don’t really know how Cologne was these days, because I still lived in Wiesbaden. We only recorded our first 7″ in Cologne and I moved to Cologne in 95, that’s maybe why you think I lived there. Cologne at the time was quite a center of the scene, because the most important german magazine about indie music called Spex was produced in Cologne.

++ I’m wondering what were your influences? You are among the first German bands that seem to have that c86, guitar pop, sound!

I also think so. As you can hear on the compilation I made we were very much influated by bands from the c86. Also from Flying Nun label in New Zealand. C86 was a very good thing for us, because you didn’t have to be a very skilled musician (which we were not!) to play this guitar pop in the way we played it. Maybe you can compare it with house music, idm, electronic today. You also don’t need to be a great musician to produce music like this. You only need ideas!

++ How were the gigs for She Splinters Mortar? Which are the ones you remember the most and why?

As I said our gigs were more or less excercises on stage. You can hear that on the live recordings on the compilation. Some people liked it, some not! ;)

The people who knew what will expect them on our gigs because they also listened to C86 records etc. really enjoyed our gigs. The others couldn’t understand what we were doing and didn’t understand why we got the opportunity to do it in public!

++ So when and why did you decide to call it a day?

The development of the different band members went into different directions, music wise and also job wise. I started a photography design studium and concentraded more on this.

++ Were any of you involved with other music projects after? Are you all still in touch?

As far as I know Jörg Heiser is still making music and has a very new project out right now. Unfortunatly the contact between me and all the other people involved in the She Splinters Mortar history had been cut after I moved to Cologne.
As I found your blog about the band in the internet some months ago, I contacted Volker and Stefan again to get some records of the band and tapes to make a compilation.
I also contacted Christian, who lives in Dublin. The sad thing about it is, that nobody has the address of Alfred. He’s some kind of invisible man nowadays. But maybe he reads this interview some day in the web and feels like getting in touch again also…
Would be a good thing you have brought to roll by your blog! Thanks for that, Roque!

++ You put together, for your friends, a CD with 28 songs on it. Is there any chance this will be released one day? Are there any other tracks that didn’t make it to this CD?

No. I wouldn’t know who wants to make a release out of it… If there are people reading this interview and getting curious about the band and it’s music they can contact me and I will provide them a copy of the compilation for a production price. Guess, it won’t be to many… ;)

On the compilation you have all official releases from She Splinters Mortar and some bootlegs and tape releases. There are some more live recordings and tapes of the band, but the collection on the compilation is fine and enough.

++ So, the question falls by it’s own weight… which was is your favourite She Splinters Mortar track?

My favorite track from She Splinters Mortar is Poor Me, Slave from Jaguar. I like it most, because it’s a nice combination of the bands start with only two guys and the bands development to the end. The bands start is to be heard in the record by Alfred playing of the chimes in the beginnig and the trashy guitar played by me, and the development is to be heard by the very nice lead guitar played by Walther. I like!

++ You are a photographer nowadays, right? What kind of photography do you usually do? And do you see any relation between music and photography?

I’m a car photographer stayed in Cologne. 50% creativity, 50% routine.
To me there’s no relation between photography and music, because one can be a lower form of art with a lot of luck, and the other is the highest form of art, because it opens peoples heart the most easily and is the only kind of art that surrounds us all of our live.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for having so much interrest in the band and it music and for giving me the opportunity to discover it by myself again!


She Splinters Mortar – Man Ray


Original photo by: Janna Bissett

One perfect album on Le Grand Magistery and one perfect single on Sunday Records was what Shoestrings left behind. Mario and Rose have been very quiet since the late nineties but they promise to return this year with their new project “Invisible Twin” (check it out! it’s great!). But before going onto the future we decided to do a small interview and review the past: Shoestrings!

++ Hi Mario! Thanks so much, I’m really thrilled. How are things in Michigan? How has 2010 been so far for you?

Hi Roque. So far, not bad. Hopefully there will be some good concerts and more recording for us.

++ Let’s talk music now, on your small bio on Last.fm it says you are a multi-instrumentalist… so, what instruments do you play? And how did you learn to play all of them?! Does your life revolve around music?

Mario: Multi-instrumentalist is a very generous term for me. I am ok on a few instruments, but I don’t consider myself excellent on any of them. I guess the main instruments that I’m ok with would be guitar, bass, drums and computer/sequencer/drum programming. I’m self-taught on everything. I know just enough to get by and make the sounds I want. I learned drums as a kid when I had a toy drum set and I would play along with 80s MTV videos. I learned guitar by getting chord diagrams for Depeche Mode’s “Violator” album in the early 90s. After that I got a couple more books with chord diagrams. I can’t really do solos unless I get lucky. Once I knew what the notes were on a guitar, I just kinda figured out bass guitar. I’ve always had a love of computers and math so sequencing/drum programming, etc. came pretty naturally.

++ Was Shoestrings your first band? How did you and Rose decide to start this project?

Mario: Shoestrings was not the first band. I don’t recall the name of the first band, but it was something shoegazery/depressing sounding like Drown, Down or Dive or something. It was just me and my friend, Mario. It was a little strange having 2 Marios in the same band, but that was the situation. He was the singer/bass player and I was the guitarist, but neither of us could really play our instruments. It was just a mess of guitar effects set to a drum machine with Mario’s vocals. We didn’t even know how to tune our guitars!

I was friends with Rose and we knew she played piano/keyboards so we asked if she wanted to join us. Then our friend, Brian, got a drum set and became our drummer and we had a full band. We changed our name to Clerestory Window and then later to the Hazle Room. After a while we figured out how to play our instruments a little and we weren’t all that bad. We even added a violin player at one point. We evolved into more of a Red House Painters vs shoegaze vs Bark Psychosis vs Blueboy sound? I think we even sent a demo tape to Sarah records and 4ad thinking we were actually going to be signed! It’s funny thinking about it now, but we were young (18-20 years old) and naive.

Mario was always the band leader during these projects. He had good ideas for the most part, but since I was really getting into Sarah, Factory and indiepop at the time I wanted to try to make different music that wasn’t really right for the Hazle Room. That’s when I started Shoestrings as a side project. I had Rose help me with vocals and some extra keyboards on a couple songs and we worked pretty well together.

++ Was Shoestrings always a duo? Why did you prefer it that way instead of having a full band? How did you both meet by the way?

Mario: Shoestrings started as a duo, but we expanded to a 4 piece for some of our live performances. We were even a 5 piece for 1 show. The reason why it stayed a 2 duo most of the time was that we wanted to keep it as friends playing music together. We were limited on the number of friends who had mutual musical interests and could play instruments. Our friend Brian played drums on 2 songs for our album and played live with us a few times. He got too busy with other things to stay on though. Our other friend, John, who played piano on “Oceans in the Seashells” played bass with us live a few times. Then we met Scott Bridges and he was a music fanatic. It also turned out that he was a really good drummer. Scott joined us as an official 3rd member and we worked with him towards the end of Shoestrings. We only ended up recording a couple songs with him: “Theme from ‘Kiss Me Goodnight’” and “Forever”.

Rose: Mario and I met and became friends in high school. He was a whole grade above me and I always felt like a kid sister back then. We lost touch for a few years but ended up going to the same University, so we happened to run into each other. We restarted our friendship and had a lot of shared interests, one being music. So I think it was just natural for us to start a band.

++ How did you come up with the name Shoestrings for the band?

Mario: I was just brainstorming band names with a friend at a data entry job that I had at the time and I think she suggested Shoestrings at some point. I liked the sound of it for some reason. Not much of a story there. Sorry. :(

++ I don’t know if it’s too much or too little to say, but among the great releases Le Grand Magistery released, yours is by far my favourite! But your first release was a 7″ on Sunday Records where the brilliant “Some Things Never Change” was included!! Care to tell me a bit about this single? about each song?

Mario: Thank you Roque! These 2 songs were included on the 5 song tape we had sent to Sunday and a bunch of other labels. They were the 2 songs that Albert from Sunday Records liked the most.

“Some Things Never Change” was heavily influenced by an acoustic Everything But The Girl show that Rose and I went to. It was one of my first shots at songwriting/singing and at the time I only knew to write about things happening in my life. It’s pretty much about the tumultuous beginning of the romantic relationship between Rose and I.

“Afterthought” was heavily influenced by the song “Understand” by Brian aka Ken Sweeney. It’s kinda funny because our friend Kat was in contact with Ken in the mid-late 90s and she had sent him our music because she thought he’d like it. Afterwards, Ken wrote to us and we exchanged some really nice emails.

++ How did you end up on Sunday Records? Did you send a demo or something? Why did you decide to move to Le Grand Magistery after?

Mario: We sent demos to a lot of labels including Sarah, Sunday, Elefant, WAAAAAAH!, maybe Slumberland? Richard from WAAAAAAH! sent a nice letter back written in crayon, but I don’t think he was all that interested. Sunday responded and Albert really wanted to work with us. Elefant wanted to release something, but they got to us too late and we already had stuff going on with Sunday.

We finished the album and Sunday was going to release it. The main condition we had was that we wanted to be able to do the artwork for the cd. Our friend, Keith D’Arcy had suggested a friend named Matt Jacobson who was a graphic designer and lived in Michigan. We met with Matt and saw some of his work. We were extremely impressed and we wanted to see what kind of artwork he could come up with for our album. We gave him a tape of the album so he could get a feel for what we sounded like and come up with an appropriate concept. He ended up listening to the album and really liking it. At the same time, he was starting up a record label and offered to release our record. We were torn at first because we had already agreed with Albert to have Sunday release it, but in the end, I think we ended up making the right decision by choosing to go with Le Grand Magistery.

++ “Wishing on Planes” is such an evocative name for an album. And then it’s a beautiful name. But I’m wondering why you name it like that? Are you afraid of planes perhaps?

Rose: Thanks, Roque. That is really kind of you to say! I can’t really recall the true back-story of how we arrived at that name, and I don’t want to romanticize it too much. The actual line comes from the song “Naked”. I think the idea was that this person in the song was so unhappy about not having her feelings reciprocated, that she just wanted to escape any way she could. Preferably by plane since that’s the fastest. Generally, I’m not afraid of planes but turbulence is another thing all together.

++ This record is so beautiful, all of the songs are lush! But I do want your opinion, your biased opinion. What do you think of it? It’s been 10 years now, how do you think it has aged? What are your favourite songs from it?

Mario: I’m still proud of about 1/2 of the album. Some of the songs sound really dated to me, especially the drum machine we used. The songs that I still like are: “Timeline”, “Whipped”, “Smiles & Light”, “Understand Me”, “Yesterday’s Advice”, “Naked”, “1st Grade Love Affair” and “Walking Away” from the Japanese version.

Rose: By nature, I’m my harshest critic, and I tend to cringe whenever I hear my own singing from years back. That being said, and considering what stage of our lives we were at during that time, I am proud the positive responses we received. I felt like our message got to just the right people. Our fans tended to be the kindest, gentlest, most sensitive kids ever. I’m so grateful that the album brought us to Japan where we got to meet a lot of them in person. It was the best time!

++ Are there any more unreleased recordings by Shoestrings? I found some “unreleased” tracks once: “Untitled Demo”, “Song Six”, “The First One” and “Nothing”… can’t remember where I got them from!

Mario: I think I know what song “Untitled demo” is and I thought we released that for a cassette-only release that Cowly Owl in France released. I didn’t even know we recorded “The First One”?!? Is this a live recording or something?

There was a song called “March of ‘79″ that was for another cassette release called McBain. Not sure if you have this.

As far as unreleased songs go, there are 3 songs from our original 5 song demo that were never relased: a demo of “Timeline”, “Nothing” (which you mentioned) and an instrumental called “Skyway Church Road”. There are a couple songs we did for the Le Grand Magistery El Records tribute about 12 years ago that may see the light of day this year. One of them is a cover of Marden Hill’s “Oh Constance”. There are a lot of bits of songs and really rough acoustic demos and stuff, but I don’t think we would ever release those.

++ How about gigs? Did you gig much? Any anecdotes to share?

Mario: We did not play too many gigs. In fact, I could probably name each and every one of them if I wanted to. I estimate we played maybe 20 gigs total.

The most memorable was playing at On Air Nest in Tokyo. The Japanese fans were so wonderful and actually made us feel like real pop stars for a couple days.

We had a few nerve-wracking gigs in New York at Fez including one where the capo fell off of my guitar right in the middle of an acoustic song and I had to start over. Very embarrassing!

++ You were an active supporter of the indiepop scene, I think I’ve even seen photos of you both at the NYC Popfest of 97. How cool is that! I plan going again to NYC Popfest this year, and of course I’m excited, it’s always great there. How do you remember those days? how was that Popfest in 1997?

Mario: You’re lucky to go to the Popfest this year. It should be fun. I think we played at the one in 1997. We also went to the one in 1995. I think it was the first one that was set up by the indiepop list. We met a lot of wonderful people and kept lasting relationships with many of them. I think the 1997 one was where Holiday played their last gig? That was a great night and they put on a remarkable performance.

Rose: That was a great time! It really felt like something special was happening. We were wide-eyed kids back then and there was no shame in liking things that were twee or cute. We’re still in touch with many of the Popfest pioneers and it’s really fascinating to see how everyone has grown into adulthood.

++ So how did you end up doing and liking pop music?

Mario: I grew up on 80s new wave stuff: Flock of Seagulls, Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins, etc. That’s what was on MTV back then when MTV actually showed music videos and I was in love with it. By the time I was 15, I started getting into some industrial/dance music like Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Severed Heads, etc. Then I discovered some of the 4AD bands like Clan of Xymox, Dead Can Dance, and Cocteau Twins. I was also listening to some Factory records stuff. The record that changed everything for me was The Wake’s “Here Comes Everybody” LP. That became my favorite record and at 1 point while record shopping, I saw a 7 inch by The Wake and it was “Crush The Flowers”. The guy at the record store assured me it was the same band that was on Factory and so that was my first Sarah records release. At another record store, one of the guys that worked there was playing Shadow Factory. I bought that and my appreciation for Sarah records exploded from there. Then I just started finding all of these 7 inch only labels through the various mailorders that were around at the time: Parasol when Brian Kirk worked there, then Mousetrap Mailorder, Mind the Gap in Germany, etc.

++ This one is for Mario… what was Zapato? Do you speak Spanish like me by any chance?

Mario: Yes I do speak Spanish. I was born in Michigan, but my parents came from Cuba in 1972. I recorded 1 song by myself for a compilation cd made by indiepop list members. The double cd was called The Family Twee. The song was called “Take me with you to Japan”. I needed a name for the band quick, and I didn’t want to use Shoestrings because I recorded it without Rose so I thought “I’m 1/2 of Shoestrings.” I ended up using the Spanish translation of shoe: Zapato.

++ Why did you call it a day as Shoestrings?

Mario: I don’t think it was really a conscious decision. Unfortunately, life just got in the way. Rose and I got married and moved into an apartment. We unpacked our recording equipment after about a year and recorded a song or 2, but then we bought a house and moved again so the same thing happened again. Before we knew it, 3-4 years had passed. We both had started our regular working careers during this time too. Once we finally got to work on music on a regular basis, so much time had passed. The way we write and record the songs has changed drastically and I think the style has changed. We felt we needed a fresh start.

++ You now have a new band called Invisible Twin. Care to tell me a bit more about it? When will there be a new release by you?

Mario: Originally, I was going to have my own project with Rose’s help and then Rose would have hers with my help. It might seem strange, but we had different ideas of what kind of sounds we wanted to explore. So far we’ve only worked on Rose’s project, Invisible Twin. She’s writing the songs and I act more as a producer/session musician.

I don’t know why, but I’ve had writer’s block for quite some time. I guess I haven’t really tried to sit down and write a song in a while. As a result, I may not do my project anymore. I’m pretty happy with what we’re doing now as Invisible Twin.

Rose: I always wanted to do my own music based on what I’m inherently drawn to as a listener. I’ve always loved smart, dance-y, electronic music. That’s the goal. So we’ve been sloooooooooooowwwly working on songs over the past couple of years. I wanted the songs to have a darker, driving feel with really strange/quirky stories about really unusual people, or just people that are in these really compromising situations. For example, one of our more recent songs called “the Art of Forgetting” is about two people who go around stealing from Trust Fund babies (BTW, Mario and I don’t know anyone like this in real life!). I’m the kind of person that doesn’t write draft papers. If it doesn’t feel right from the beginning I abandon it. I guess it’s kind of my downfall, but I have this notion that things just need to naturally come together on their own. Hopefully we’ll get to share Invisible Twin with others soon. Everyone cross their fingers!

++ What do Mario and Rose do when they are not making music

Mario: Nothing too exciting. I work as a software developer. When I’m not working, I listen to music, play Xbox 360, watch tv, etc. Also, Rose and I love to go out and eat at our favorite Indian and Ethiopian restaurants.

Rose: Yes, I’ve turned Mario into a little bit of a Foodie. We love travelling! I wish we could do that for a living. It’s funny because whenever we reminisce about going somewhere, we always have a predominant food memory attached to it. We loved Italy (particularly Rome) for just this reason. I like making funny cards and lists of things that I still want to do in life.

++ Thanks again so much for this interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Mario: Thank you for asking to do the interview. It made us think about some wonderful memories. Also, be on the lookout for new music by Invisible Twin in 2010.

Rose: Thanks, Roque for being so patient waiting for our responses. Hope everyone is as patient waiting for the Invisible Twin album!


Shoestrings – Timeline


Thanks so much to Jörg Heiser for this interview. It’s been a pleasure to find about them as I’ve been recommended his band by so many friends, and at last I could get to know more about them! Please check Jörg’s new band, La Stampa here.

++ Hi Jörg! Thanks again for doing this interview. Hope I find you fine. I hear you were just on a small tour with your band La Stampa, how did that go?

It was great fun! 5 silly chaps in a car.

++ So let’s get back in the time machine. When did you form Shampoo Tears? What do you remember from those early days, the first rehearsals?

We formed Shampoo Tears in 1987 I believe. We were three guys from school – me on Keyboards and Guitar, Thorsten Schinke on bass, Christian Krämer on guitar, and Christian’s neighbor and early childhood friend Martin Ignatz on percussion, and later full drums. We rehearsed in Christian’s cellar (when there was still no full drum set). We had no clue how you make a song. The early stuff was more like tracks, we used a cheap Yamaha drum computer. “Pearl in Vinegar” was one of our first “proper” songs.

++ Was this your first musical project? What sparked you to start a guitar pop band? What music were you listening at the time?

Yes this was the first thing. We were inspired to form a band by stuff like New Order, The Cure, The Smiths, and the C86 bands (the NME-Sampler C86 and bands like Wedding Present and Stump). Wimp pop. The old punk idea that anyone could form a band, but with an effeminate wimp twist.

++ Why the name Shampoo Tears?

A track by Scottish pop band Win had that title. We liked the ironic romanticism of it.

++ Your only release was the “Pearls in Vinegar” 7″, care to tell me a bit about the songs on the record?

It’s kind of crazy and absurd, but I still can’t find the single. It must be in one of the boxes I haven’t opened yet after I last moved. So to be honest I only remember the title track, and especially the line “boredom is the death of love”. And Christian’s guitar solo afterwards, which I do think has a very good hook.

We recorded the tracks in a basement studio in Wiesbaden, and the same studio had been used by Thomas Anders, singer of Modern Talking.

++ Tell me about the artwork of the single, who is the guy in the photograph?

Klaus Hartmetz, a friend of the band. He was a fan of both Bruce Springsteen and Einstürzende Neubauten. Got me hooked on the latter.
Photograph by Bernd Bodtländer, who continues to be a great photographer, also of music bands.
Where is Klaus today? I should try to find out.

++ Why weren’t there more Shampoo Tears releases after it? Maybe there were some compilation appearances or demo tapes?

No… We renamed to Svevo when the music became more indie-rockish (we discovered distortion… in the wake of Mudhoney and Dinosaur Jr…)

++ How was the process to get signed to the Die Schwarze 7 label?

We played some gigs in Wiesbaden, and I was also a bass player for a while with She Splinters Mortar, another C86-type band from Wiesbaden.
Stefan saw us live and like it, and there weren’t so many bands at all at the time who did that kind of music.

++ How was Mainz back then? What were the best venues to play gigs or hang out? What other good bands were in town?

Mainz – that was not least Brückenkopf, the early days of electronic music in Germany, with people like Ian Pooley etc. We were the only guitar pop band from Mainz really (correct me if I’m wrong), though there were some in Wiesbaden like aforemention She Splinters Mortar.
In Wiesbaden-Schierstein was a great club where I saw stuff like Spacemen 3.. Wartburg had concerts by F.S.K. and Sonic Youth that I remember dearly… And then of course Frankfurt with Batschkapp (a great Felt concert) and Negativ (Nirvana before they were big..)

++ Stefan from Die Schwarze 7 said: “they were a real band, which means that they rehearsed intensely and followed a clear plan: they wanted to play as often as possible”. How often did you play? Did you play all over Germany? What were your favourite gigs you played?

Well, we rehearsed maybe once a week. Not really that nerdy. As Shampoo Tears we did not SOO many gigs, we were essentially still a school band -stuff in the region, like, say, a festival in Oppenheim, or support gigs in KUZ (Mainz Kulturzentrum).

++ When you called it a day with Shampoo Tears, you started Svevo, which I hope we can do an interview about it some other time. What were the differences between these two bands?

As said, these were essentially the same band. The main difference was that we switched to German lyrics – impressed mainly by Kolossale Jugend from Hamburg. We did a tour with Blumfeld in 1994 when our first album was released. That was great, we played in front of audiences of around 800 people and were well received. Still our label was small (Peace 95 from Offenbach, they also released the first Stereo Total) and distribution was poor (Semaphore) so we only sold maybe 800 CDs or so.

++ And what happened after Svevo? What are you doing nowadays?

Well during Svevo I had already started to write mainly as a music journalist, for Spex and tageszeitung etc. Then I gradually became an art critic. Today I’m co-editor of frieze magazine. And I play in La Stampa.

++ As you live in Berlin now, and I will visit your city again in September, I was wondering if you could recommend me a good place to get a beer? And which beer should I get, what’s your fave?

Any Schultheiss in any corner bar. That’s downhome Berlin style. Many people hate that beer, I think because of preservations against its main clientele (lumpenproletarians). A really nice bar is Altberlin on Münzstraße. You can have a nice Kölsch at Bar 3, but beware the moody waiters..

++ And a before a beer perhaps I should get some food, any good restaurant recommendations?

El Reda, the best lebanese food in town, in Huttenstraße (a bit off the way in Moabit, but you can
also look at Peter Behrens’ great AEG industrial building from 1908 nearby). It’s a ten minute taxi ride from Tegel airport though.

++ One last question, how do you see Berlin as a music town? Is there much going on? How would you compare it to Mainz from Shampoo Tears days?

Berlin is extreme when it comes to music: loads and loads of Bands playing in town. But to be honest
there are not so many Berlin-based bands that I’m excited about. I like Jens Friebe and Doctorella,
Christiane Rösinger is great, and there’s good electronic stuff by the likes of Jan Jelinek for example.
But my musical tastes are not based on where a band is from. Gunjasufi is great and he’s from Las Vegas, but that’s not important. It’s just great music. Mainz was a provincial nothing against this. That’s why we wanted to get out.

++ Thanks again Jörg, anything else you’d like to add?



Shampoo Tears – Frozen Weekend
(thanks so much to Krischan for the mp3)


Thanks so much to Jenny and Leonard for such a lovely interview. So many nice details I’ve learned! Wish I was around DC and Philly during those late 90s! Please enjoy!

++ Hi! Thanks for being up for the interview! How are things going? Any plans for the summer?

Jenny: Things are good, thanks. Our plans for the summer consist of waiting for fall. D.C. summers are hot.

++ Let’s get into business, first came the Moonlings, but that is another story for another day. What I’m wondering is why the name change? What is the difference between both bands?

Jenny: The Moonlings were Mark Powell, Lara Cohen, Leonard, and me. Mark had a few songs that the Moonlings didn’t do, for reasons I no longer remember. Our friend Josh Feldman invited him up to Connecticut to play them at a show with Josh’s band, the Best Wishes, and our friend Ian Schlein’s band, Musical Chairs. Mark was trying to avoid being onstage alone, so he invited us to play with him, even though this meant he’d have to teach me how to play guitar note by note. And so Bella Vista was born.

Leonard: It wasn’t really a name change. Although the Moonlings and Bella Vista shared three members, they were different bands that existed at roughly the same time. The Moonlings began in the summer of 1996 for the purpose of playing Mark and Lara’s songs. Jenny and I didn’t write anything whatsoever in that band. Bella Vista began in the spring of 1997 for the purpose of playing that one show, at a sort of gallery/performance space/bookstore. But it continued because Lara was away at college, Mark had songs that didn’t fit into the Moonlings repertoire, Jenny began to write her own songs, and we were offered a few other opportunities to play out, as well as some to make records. I got to write a bass part or two, even though I didn’t even own a bass.

++ Why the name Bella Vista?

Leonard: Bella Vista is the name of a neighborhood Mark had lived in in Philadelphia, in a group house so punk rock it had a giant painting of Ian Svenonius hanging in the living room. By the time Bella Vista the band was a going concern, Mark had moved into a different group house in the suburb of Bryn Mawr, just a few blocks from where Jenny and I were living. Bella Vista used to practice and sometimes record in Mark’s room or in the attic, although we occasionally took a trip through Bella Vista the neighborhood on our way to Bitar’s Pita Hut, whose sandwiches and Mediterranean pizza were obsessions of ours.

Jenny: I think the name managed to trick people into thinking that we would be much more sophisticated sounding than we actually were. We were much more akin to Bubblegum Splash! than, say, La Buena Vida. Case in point: We spent just as much time tuning our cheap guitars than we did actually playing songs at our live shows.

++ How was Philadelphia during those late 90s, were there any like-minded people? Any pop lovers? Any pop bands? Where would you hang out usually?

Jenny: Leonard and I were just passing through the area for a few years, having moved up there in 1994 from North Carolina for graduate school. The two of us never got too deeply into the Philly scene because we pretty much stayed home in Bryn Mawr. Luckily for us, Mark worked at Repo Records in town, so it was loaded with lots of great indie pop. Just speaking for Leonard and myself, we saw several bands play at Repo, as well as at Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges. We hung out a lot at diners, drinking milkshakes and eating bagels.

Leonard: Philadelphia is a very large city, so there were certainly a few pop lovers and bands in the area, although we didn’t necessarily know many of them. Our friend Ben Kim had a sort of post-Galaxie 500 band called Clock Strikes Thirteen, and Neal Ramirez, whom we knew only through online discussions on the Indiepop List and brief encounters in the grocery store, would go on to be in the Skywriters and the Snow Fairies with Rose Bochansky, one of Mark’s roommates in the Bryn Mawr house. That was after our time, though. Josh Feldman, who was in school in Connecticut but came down to visit a lot, was probably the most like-minded person we hung out with very often. He loved Subway and Slumberland stuff as much as we did, and he was absolutely smitten with Television Personalities and Whaam! Records.

++ Two 7″s and one split 7″ is your whole discography. Was there ever plans to release an album? Are there any more Bella Vista songs lying around on tapes or that was all?

Jenny: I’m not sure there were really ever plans to release any 7″s. Those came about when we had almost ceased to be a band. There are a couple songs we did that never saw the light of day, including a great one of Mark’s about moving to Scotland and hanging out with the Pastels. We have only a live version of that. We also did a number of covers–of My Bloody Valentine, Snowbirds, the Carousel, and, one time, the Orchids. According to the insert that Matinée mastermind James Tassos wrote for the Bella Vista single that he put out, we recorded 13 songs, which is kind of surprising, and we probably had one or two other songs that we didn’t record.

Leonard: We weren’t especially ambitious, so we never planned to make an album. We basically did recordings for our own edification or to give to people who’d expressed some interest in putting out our music. We did contribute to a couple of compilations, a cassette called Suspension Set that came out on Low Voltage and a CD called Just for a Day that was originally supposed to be a cassette, too. Jenny wrote a song about an amusement park that we have only in a skeletal live version. But that’s everything, unless Mark has some dusty old tapes of things I’ve forgotten about.

++ On the 7″ sleeves there is barely any information about the band, was this on purpose? Where were the recordings done? Who did the nice artwork for the singles?

Jenny: Jimmy’s insert has our whole life story as a band on it, including the facts that we had bangs and wore shiny black shoes, in addition to our own insert which has a bunch of info on where things were recorded. What do you want from us, Roque?! Or maybe you’re missing those all important inserts? The Bella Vista 7″s were recorded by Ben Kim in his bedroom. The songs on the split with Best Wishes were recorded by Mark in his bedroom. I picked the cover and insert images and came up with the layouts for the Bella Vista 7″s, but Jimmy and Ara and Leonard made them happen. The image on the sleeve of the Matinée 7″ is an old ad for floor polish from a ’50s home magazine. The original is in beautiful Technicolor-y tones, but Jimmy told us that full-color printing would have broken the budget. The image on the Orange 7″ was discovered in a book on the history of photography. It was black and white from the start, so there were no budget issues.

++ Haha, I got the 7″ on ebay and there were no inserts! Maybe the previous owner kept the inserts for himself! Gah! Oh well, now I’m just listening to “My Boy and his Motorbike”, did any of you had a motorbike? I’ve only been once on it, and I felt like I was going to fall any minute! What are your motorbike experiences?

Jenny: That’s a Carousel song that we did basically because I figured out I could play an approximation of it using the three chords that I knew. Neither Leonard nor I have ever been, or ever desire to be, on a motorbike.

Leonard: The original version of that song, like pretty much everything by the Carousel, has a very folky vibe. I suggested recording it in more of a shoegazer style. Of course, we did this on a four-track in Mark’s bedroom, so it ended up sounding like the dinkiest noise-pop song ever–like Black Tambourine in a tin can. A friend once played it at a DJ night in D.C., which completely cleared the dance floor but also momentarily fooled a former member of that band into thinking he was hearing his own music. So it was both a great failure and a great success.

++ How did you get in touch with Matinee and the Orange Label for them to release you? How did it work during those years? Was it still sending your demos on tape to the labels or was it like now, sending your songs through email?

Jenny: Jimmy attended our second show ever, at the Black Cat in D.C. As I understand it, he was impressed by the fact that we covered the Snowbirds, which I believe was at the time available in the United States only from his mail-order, Roundabout Records, and possibly another place or two. This was before Matinée even existed. Some time later, he got in touch with us and asked whether he could put out a 7″. Ara Hacopian, who did Orange, had seen us play once or twice at Pam Berry’s house, also in D.C., and asked if he could put some songs out.

Leonard: Ara DJ’d at the University of Maryland-College Park’s WMUC and asked us to record a session for the station’s Third Rail Radio program. It was one of our more inspired performances, and I think that some of the recordings we made then are better than the ones on the 7″s. He had little packets of the previous Orange releases that he’d put together for each of us to try to convince us to be on his label, but I don’t think we needed even that enticement.

++ Even though the two singles were released in a span of a year, they sound a bit different. Like the Was the Last 7″ is very much upbeat, with clearer guitars. The Midway 7″ gets much more fuzzed up and the songs are slower. Was there any particular reason for this? Or I’m just imagining things?!

Jenny: I think that was just a first-come, first-served situation. Jimmy asked first, so we pulled together what we thought were our four best songs for that 7″. Then when Ara asked, we basically had a few other songs that we still liked a lot but weren’t maybe quite as energetic as the Matinée songs. Poor Ara. Jimmy had to repress his 7″, but Ara eventually handed over to us a sizable stack of our Orange 7″s that no one wanted. Oy, the guilt.

Leonard: Bella Vista existed for only a few months, so it didn’t really evolve musically beyond Jenny’s getting marginally better at guitar and Mark’s getting better at the drum machine and the four-track. All of those songs were recorded at the same time. Jenny, especially, was a big fan of fuzzed-up pop, so even some of the earliest Bella Vista songs had that “My Boy and His Motorbike” sound.

++ I admit never seeing or listening to the split single with the Best Wishes. Which song was included? And tell me a bit about this label who released you Turn Up the Treble! Records, I’ve never heard about them!

Jenny: Our two songs included one Mark song (”Un Ours Mal Léché”) and one of mine (”I’ve Only Ever Dreamt of You”). Turn Up the Treble! was run by Josh from the Best Wishes (and lately of Cause Co-motion!). He put out the Moonlings 7″ and the split. In exchange, our label, Secret, put out the Best Wishes 7″. Which was fitting, since we seemed to be the only people who wanted to hear each other’s bands.

Leonard: The Bella Vista songs on the split are the first one Jenny wrote for the band and the last one Mark wrote. The Best Wishes cover, “Beautiful Morning,” was also recorded by Bella Vista for a Snowbirds tribute that never got beyond the planning stage. I believe that both bands were supposed to be on it, and that we accidentally picked the same song to play. The Best Wishes also did an original for the split, “I Never Wanted Any of This.” There were only 300 copies made, so it’s not surprising that you’ve never seen one. I believe there were only 300 copies of the Moonlings single made, too.

++ Did you play many gigs? Do you remember any in particular?

Jenny: We didn’t play very often–maybe a half dozen times. We were more of a practice band. (We sounded great in practice!) Again, the first show was supposed to be a one-off. But then Pam and Jeff Gramm asked us to play with their two bands, the Castaway Stones and Aden, at the Black Cat, just because they’re supernice people. After that it’s just a blur of house parties and a couple other shows. The Black Cat was the most memorable for me. Pam had just cut my hair (!), it felt like a real show, and people seemed to like us. I also remember my brother showing up mid-set and waving at me as he walked across the room.

Leonard: I remember the last show the three of us played together, at Ed Mazzucco’s apartment in New York with Coloring Book and, I believe, the Poconos. I’m not sure that many people there liked us, but the sound was really good and it was the only time we ever played “Un Ours Mal Léché” live, as well as the only time we ever got paid for a show–although we managed to spend our entire earnings on tolls before we even made it onto the highway.

++ Why and when did you call it a day?

Jenny: Mark moved to England in the fall of 1997. We did a rush of recording before he left, but we really existed only for about six months.

++ I know after the band split, Mark went to form Pipas, and you two formed Honeymoon Dairy. But what about today, right now, do you ever pick up your instruments to make any music?

Jenny: I haven’t really touched a guitar in 5 years or so. It’s on my to-do list, though.

Leonard: I’m a terrible musician, and I can’t write songs, so I’m almost entirely dependent on Jenny for music-making experiences. It’s probably been even longer since I picked up a bass.

++ Leonard, many don’t know you did two releases on your own label Secret Records. Care to tell a bit about it? Do you recommend to start one?

Leonard: Secret was actually run by all three members of Bella Vista, including Mark after he’d moved to England–he was our European distributor. We started the label to put out a career-spanning CD by the Rosehips, who were a great favorite of ours. I had heard, possibly through the Indiepop List, that the band was interested in doing a reissue of some kind, so we got in touch, signed a licensing agreement, and proceeded to encounter a series of production disasters. The Best Wishes 7″ came together much more easily. In fact, I can’t remember doing much work on it all besides selling every single copy to distributors within a couple of weeks of release. Apparently there was significant demand for the record in Japan, but we never bothered with a repress. None of us is a businessperson at heart, and running even our tiny indie-pop label meant dealing with bookkeeping and invoices and so on. Secret is the third and last label that I’d had some involvement with, going all the way back to a cassette label I ran in high school. My favorite part of doing them by far was getting to hear new music. The rest was much less exciting. As a music fan, I love having someone impassioned and trustworthy to guide me through the vast world of sound. It’s something that I miss since indie label bosses have become eclipsed by bloggers as taste makers. My life wouldn’t be the same without the people at Cherry Red, Creation, él, Esurient, Postcard, Rough Trade, Sarah, Slumberland, Subway, and so forth. But it takes the right temperament to make a label work in the long term.

Jenny: In a strange bit of foreshadowing, the Secret logo is from a little vintage knitting-instruction book I had picked up somewhere for the fab illustrations. More than a decade later, I’m now a mediocre but dedicated knitter. Coincidence?

++ This might be a terribly silly question, but I’ve heard that Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurants are very very popular in DC. Is this true?

Jenny: Yes. Those places are everywhere. But because we’re vegetarian we’ve never experienced them firsthand. It is fun to say “pollo” aloud as we drive by, though.

++ Okay, so what is your favourite restaurant in DC? If I go there, what should I order? Ah! And what about Jenny’s chocolate poundcake? Is it really true that it is out of this world?

Jenny: Did I mention we’re vegetarian? D.C. doesn’t really like our kind. The one nice vegetarian place just closed (and it wasn’t really all that). How on earth did you hear about the chocolate poundcake?! #Poundsign# was playing on the East Coast, in Philly and at Pam’s in D.C., and I made a chocolate pound(sign) cake in the band’s honor. I’m not sure they noticed, though it was pretty good–there was a ton of butter in that thing.

Leonard: The chocolate pound cake was out of this world, although there used to be some serious cake competition at those house shows. I got a headless-bass cake one birthday, in honor of the endlessly embarrassing instrument that I borrowed from Mark for Bella Vista, and long-time indie-pop/sugar fan Stephen Wood used to whip up some pretty spectacular cakes, too. These days we eat out most frequently at Udupi Palace, a vegetarian Indian place in Langley Park, Maryland. The only way to go is the lunch buffet on a totally empty stomach, preferably when there’s some form of paneer on offer.

++ Time to wrap up our interview if not we’ll all get hungry, any anecdote about the DC indiepop scene you can share with us? you know, any Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, Saturday People, etc, etc?

Jenny: Unfortunately, we never got to see Black Tambourine play (sigh), although we did see Velocity Girl a couple times in the days before we knew any of the members (once in Hoboken, New Jersey, and once in Chapel Hill, North Carolina) and the Saturday People probably too many times to count. As for D.C. indiepop, Pam was the hub and the scene here pretty much collapsed once she moved to England in 1998. Her house parties are legend–too many great bands to name, tons of great food. I think the Bella Vista show was burrito-themed. I miss those days.

Leonard: Although we’ve both been Slumberland fans almost since the beginning, we’ve experienced most of the D.C. bands on the label from a distance, when we were living in North Carolina or Pennsylvania. I did see a great Ropers/Henry’s Dress/Rocketship show on a boat in New York ages back, and we’ve witnessed two absolutely incredible Lorelei performances over the years, one at the Indie Rock Flea Market in Arlington, Virginia, and one at the recent Slumberland 20th-anniversary show at the Black Cat. I’m convinced that that band’s best work is still ahead of it. At one D.C. indie-pop party, Jenny and I were sitting on the couch when Stephin Merritt, who’d played earlier that night at the Black Cat, suddenly plopped down next to me and said, “I love that sweater. It just screams, ‘Autumn, autumn, autumn!’ Wherever did you get it?” After too long a pause, I went with the most inadequate response possible: “T.J.Maxx.” Naturally, Stephin lost interest immediately, got up, and wandered off.

Jenny: Our life appears to be woefully anecdote-free.


Bella Vista – Was the Last


Last time I was in Berlin I was surprised by a fabulous gang of popsters that run these fantastic dance parties and organized gigs. They were the Let’s Kiss and Make Up gang. Laura, Jule, Kat, Silke, Luise and Andi are bringing pop to their city with love and passion. I thought it was a good idea to learn from them and perhaps someone who reads this gets inspired and starts their own indiepop nights in their city! Oh! And so looking forward to the festival in September!

++ Thanks so much for being up for it! How is Berlin today? Is spring already in town?

Laura: It’s coming back to the city, it’s getting warmer and people go outside. They put their sunglasses on and sit outside in cafés, parks.. That’s what people love to do here as soon as the sun hits the sky.

++ So why start an indiepop club in Berlin? I bet it’s not because you are going to get rich out of it…

Laura: No way! To become rich in this city you need to be lucky. Most people have a low budget to spend, I guess the tourists leave the most money in this city.
So we started this club as we missed seeing bands we love. You have plenty of choices every day, and even good ones. But still there is a slot to fill for the indiepop underground. You have lots of club nights who play “indiepop”, but it’s a huge and wide open name for anything, we know all about it.

++ LKAMU starts when Pop Assistants and p!o!p Kombinat merged. Care to tell me a bit about your past projects and why did you decide to join forces?

Laura: Pop Assistants started their first night at Bang Bang Club with a total unknown band from Glasgow, absolute shoegaze sound – Galchen. After that we had Secret Shine and The Domino State and it continued. Our idea was to bring all these amazing new and even older shoegaze and dreampop bands to Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, so we contacted other promoters and venues in Hamburg, Munich, Regensburg. The night was first called Drive Blind. When we continued we gave it the name Pop Assistants. That was Andi, Markus and Laura.
Around the same time Jule, Silke and Kevin started p!o!p kombinat berlin. They had the same thoughts about missing music in this city, as they were missing their beloved bands from the indie pop scene. Their first band was Fosca and Friday Bridge at Café Royal followed by Labrador and Action Biker at NBI.
When we got asked by a friend from Hamburg, Andreas Hering, to promote the gig of Liechtenstein, Crayon Fields and The Motifs in Berlin together, we met each other and since then we continued promoting gigs like The Bats and The Lucksmiths.
And as everyone got confused about these two names and we thought there is to much pop in them we finally went for “Let’s kiss and make up”. That was just before some of us went to Indietracks together where we got even more excited about our club night and all these bands we wanted to bring over here.

++ Tell me about the LKAMU team. Who are you all? And if there’s like a particular thing each of you have to do? Also… do you call each other nicknames? :)

Laura: Nicknames, good idea! I guess we could do that, but no, not yet.
We started with four of us and we grew up to 6 since then. Andi, Kat and Silke are doing the booking. Jule, Laura and Luise are responsible for promo/press stuff. The rest, like chosing bands, flyer designs, handing out flyers, posters, organising the nights – from catering to DJing – we do it all together. Sometimes it feels well organised, sometimes there are problems. But that’s alright, in the end we’re always satisfied when the bands come and play a great gig and when they feel happy to be here. Also when people who come to our nights like to come again, as they know we always bring good bands and play records they wouldn’t hear elsewhere.

++ How did you end up listening to indiepop? What was that band or person, or I don’t know, indiepop blog, that introduced you to the community? How do you feel about our community?

Laura: I was first introduced to indiepop back in my childhood. It was my sister who made tapes that where played in the car on our journey to Italy. As I remember it was The Smiths, The Cure, The Clash – all that 80s Pop and then came the mid-90s with radio bringing me back into indie pop and onto the dancefloors in Berlin.

Luise: I have to admit it was Belle & Sebastian who got me into indiepop. At least I remember it like this. There was the typical Smiths obsession when I was 14/15 followed by getting into aforementioned band. Somewhere inbetween a friend introduced me to The Field Mice which led me all the way into indiepop fandom.

Kat: Indiepop blog? Do you mean fanzine or did we keep really well? Puttin’ on the Fritz, a local radio program run by Trevor and Des and Nightflights on Fritz made me passionate about music. I used to tape them and listen to them the next day as they were on from 1 to 4 in the morning. Jarvis was my first love.

Jule: In my last years of school – I loved to watch Viva 2 – a brilliant TV channel for underground and independent music (of course the channel is dead by now). At this time I also got a tape from a friend with a live-recording of “Anorak City” – a show broadcasted on a community radio in Kassel. I used to listen to this tape everyday on my way to school on my beloved walkman. Because of the name and the starting track I got introduced to The Field Mice and so the lovestory began.

Silke: I think my love for indiepop inflamed during the uprising madchester indie bands in the late 80s. I immediately fell in love with the music of The Charlatans and blur. After some of these bands became really big during the 90s I got more and more into that music and became a big fan of the English culture.

++ Do you feel the scene in Berlin is progressing? How do you see it compared to Hamburg?

Laura: It was quite a scene in the 90s when Britpop was popular, but most kids from then are not interested anymore, some are busy with their everyday lives. In the last year it seemed to come back, new club nights and some older ones are still around or reviving. But it’s still a small scene, it’s still for people who care for music, care for going to gigs and who buy records in record stores…..

Luise: I moved to Berlin only one and half a year ago so I can’t say anything about the past. Nowadays I wouldn’t call it a scene. There’s a bunch of people you always meet at certain clubs and gigs and we at LKAMU have our secret tea party meetings once every week. But it’s more like a crowd of dedicated music aficionados than an indiepop scene.

++ So you take the name from a Field Mice song that was covered by St. Etienne. Which version do you like the best? And, do you think the name Let’s Kiss and Make Up keeps a close relationship with what you are trying to do in Berlin?

Laura: I prefer the song by The Field Mice as that band always meant much more to me than St. Etienne. They made some really great songs, but not as many as The Field Mice. It’s quiet a great name for a song and it’s the band that may represent all our music tastes and what we like about this kind of music the best. But this name, well everyone can make up their own thoughts of it.

Silke: As a big St.Etienne fan I also love the cover version and we actually have chosen the title because it was played in a café during a meeting of Pop Assistants and p!o!p kombinat!

Kat: It’s a great name to tinker with. Our next party might be called “Let’s kiss and make out” and the next one after that “Let’s dance and shut up”. We have to discuss this.

++ So apart from you are there any other indiepop clubs in Berlin? If so, care to tell me a bit about them?

Laura: There is a wide range of “indiepop” nights in Berlin. Most of them play electro pop, all that music with “nu”, “new” in their name…. But there are some DJs we do like who play different tunes. These are for example Sonic Pop Allnighter, Ship Shape Club, Natalie Stardust, Posh Pop… all of them have been running their nights since the 90s in Berlin and some of us used to go there.

++ You usually host your nights at the King Kong Klub. What are the pros and cons of this venue? What other venues do you like in your town?

Laura: We started to DJ there last year in october when Camera Obscura played in Berlin, that was with you! Since then we started to DJ there once a month. It’s a nice venue, it’s rather a bar/pub than a proper club. But there is a small dance floor and lots of comfy sofas to hang out. The crowd is always a big mix of tourists, friends, people who always hang out there. It’s a place where people stop by for a drink or two after or before going somewhere else or some just stay there all night ‘till stumbling home in the morning after 6am.
Most of the gigs we put on at Bang Bang Club, a venue just in the centre of Berlin. It’s known for it’s good selection of live indie bands. But there are plenty of small clubs, bars, cafes in Kreuzberg and Neukölln these days that are nice to hang out and where you always can find nice music to be played or see a performance of a good band. Oh, and not to forget about Schokoladen . One of the oldest venues for live performances in Mitte where hardly any old independent clubs still exists. But they keep on going always hosting good bands. The audience as much as the musicians seem to love it.

++ Okay, so what are your top 5 songs to make people go crazy in the dancefloor?

Laura: Good Question! Ha, we still need to find out and it’s hard to tell as we always have a different crowd to please. For the indie kids it’s always Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and The Field Mice.

Luise: Everytime I’m djing you’re likely to hear something by Pulp, Blondie, probably Belle and Sebastian, Shop Assistants and my newest favourite band. If I had to make a top 5 of songs that make me go crazy on the dancefloor (I know this doesn’t answer your question, sorry!) it would look like this: Stornoway – Watching Birds, Blondie – Contact In Red Square, Chin Chin – Dark Days, Blind Terry – Long Ride In The Metro, Go-Betweens – Spring Rain

Kat: Crazy dancefloor action has been witnessed during Cats on fire’s Draw in the Reins a couple of times. The Field Mice – Sensitive and Another Sunny Day – You should all be murdered always do the trick when you want us to dance.

Jule: Yeah Cats on Fire and The Field Mice are steady kings in every Indie Pop Club. And besides the good feeling music of Dent May and T-Shirt Weather on the dancefloor – I also love to play some tunes of rather unknown Indiepop Bands like Bears, Kisses and The Tartans.
Silke: It’s like Laura already said, there are always different indie kids coming to our nights and we sometimes have special events like our 80s night at King Kong Klub in March. There I played a lot of Factory and Creation Bands. That was awesome! But my favourite song at the moment is definitely Johan Hedberg’s “Svedmyra“!

++ This is a question I have to ask, because you have such great beer. What are your favourite beers in Germany?

Luise: I have to disappoint you: I prefer Cider and Polish beer!

Kat: Jever and Duckstein (or Ducki as I lovingly call it). Mmm.

Silke: I do love “Radler” -a mix of Sprite and beer, especially in summer the best thing.

++ Let’s keep on the favourite subject… what about your favourite German bands ever?

Laura: Lali Puna, Ulrich Schnauss, Malory… mhmmmm and the old heroes from the youth Tocotronic, Blumfeld … Kraftwerk, a band you don’t need to mention, cos everyone knows them.

Luise: If I had to make a top 5 again: Superpunk, Tocotronic, Honeyheads, Tripping The Light Fantastic and The Marble Man

Kat: Aeronauten. Swiss does count, doesn’t it? Ok…Germans…hm, Marsh-Marigold probably had the best releases of German bands. But I only like certain songs. My newest mini obsession is My Laundry Life. He is great, as you well know having released a split single with him and Kevin McGrother.

Jule: Oh that’s easy to answer, for me it’s BUSCH, Miniskirt (there are also Japanese band members, but the singer has a sweet German accent), Brideshead, Elegant and of course the beloved Lassie Singers.

Silke: I think Stereo Total are fun and still do a great job! When I moved to Berlin I loved the sound of Mina because they sounded so much like Stereolab. Since we had Der Elegante Rest on our night in February (with the Burning Hearts) they are my favourite German band.

++ In the early nineties there were so many great German indiepop bands, now there is maybe just five or less. What do you think had happen?

Laura: I don’t know if we really had that many indiepop bands at all. There were some, but to be honest I think there are hardly any, cos we don’t have a tradition of indiepop as in the UK and Sweden.

++ At the same time most German indiepop labels have called it a day. I feel GEMA has a lot to do with it, but maybe I’m wrong. But I would love to know how do you feel about GEMA and it’s absurd way of taxing culture?

Laura: One big absurd thing about GEMA is that they act as if they were a state institution. They are not and they were just about to raise the prices up to 200%. Venues and club nights couldn’t afford to put on bands and DJs legally anymore. For GEMA you have to name the bands and songs they play in a set. Depending on how many songs they play, how big the venue is and how much people have to pay on the door you as an organiser have to pay GEMA lots of money. They act like the mafia. All the bands who don’t appear in the top 100 won’t get any of the money, but the intention of GEMA is to “protect” the musicians. It’s a farce!

++ In this long run, what have you learned doing the indiepop thing in Germany? What are the dos and don’ts?

Laura: Do what you like, do what you think is right, even when people tell you it won’t work. We only feel good when we continue putting on bands we love. What’s the point of putting so much effort and passion in it when you are not interested in the band?

Luise: I learned that you can’t do everything you want to do. It’s important to have priorities. You should always be honest and fair to everyone if you want others to treat you the same. Think big, don’t lose your ambitions and have fun with whatever you’re doing!

++ So far what has been the biggest highlight of the club? Which have been your favourite nights?

Laura: All nights had something special for sure. For me the highlights for Pop Assistants have been Secret Shine, Ulrich Schnauss and Television Personalities. The highlight bands we’ve done together with p!o!p kombinat berlin are The Lucksmiths and Eux Autres.

Silke: When we organised our first concert with Fosca it was a highlight in several respects. On the one hand it was our first concert ever, on the other hand it was the last concert of the band Fosca. Besides it was the first time Fosca played in Berlin! And it all took place in a very small but cosy cafe where we could not really turn up the volume and it all ended up very quiet. Of course our biggest thing has been The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. But to be honest I regard all of our concerts as highlights as they had a unique character. Especially the Allo, Darlin’ night at NBI I loved very much. So it is hard to make a decision…
Let’s kiss and make up’s highlight so far could have been Epic45.

Kat: I personally thought the evening of the Christmas party with Je Suis Animal playing my favourite set of the year was pretty good. Even if the tree was a bit lopsided.
Jule: I have to agree, our X-mas Special with Je Suis Animal in a cosy atmosphere with hot punch, cakes, cookies and lots of decoration was one of the highlights for me as well.

++ And tell me what is in store for the future? Are there any projects the Berlin people should look forward to?

Laura: All the bands we have playing soon are something to look forward to, yes! After last weeks Blind Terry from Sweden – we are presenting A Sunny Day In Glasgow from Philadelphia 10th of May – And after the opening game for the World Cup we’ll have the German indiepop band Brideshead on the 11th of June.
And we have our first festival planned for the 3-5thof September in a backyard of a beautiful water tower in Kreuzberg. We already have a list with lovely bands and maybe it will be a three days festival.

++ Thanks again so much! Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for your patience waiting so long for the interview to be answered!


The Field Mice – Let’s Kiss and Make Up


People change. And they do it too often. People change like the weather. People change because of the weather. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m assuming many people I know are swept by it every winter. When it’s bleak and dreary, when rain and gray skies wake you up with a gloomy face. But then, what do I know living in a sunny and bright, all year long, place.

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD first referenced in print back in 1985 just when indiepop was starting to brew, and is known to bring depressive symptoms as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter, with symptom improvement as spring returns. At higher latitudes more people are diagnosed with as they are exposed to less sunlight and colder and harsher winters. Women are more often diagnosed with this form of depression than men. Earlier research has shown a strong link between SAD and other lingering forms of depression.

Turn to Flowers penned this wonderful jangly song called “People Change Like the Weather” in 1987 and released it on Imaginary Records (home of The Mock Turtles and Cud). It was a 12″ that included on the B side the songs “Listen to the Dead Man” and “On Her Own”. I’ve never heard these other songs. I wonder if there is some cryptic message, saying the girl is on her own against SAD? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Another calm Sunday passes by and while remembering lost friends, friends that became silent out of the blue, that suddenly vanished from the face of Earth and the world wide web. Music reminds me of them. This song flashes back memories of laughs and conversations driven by complicity. Whatever happened to them who were looking for the perfect song, for finding the elusive record. Did the weather, did depression, devour them? Where are they now?

Perhaps, if they heard this song, if they turn to flowers, they’ll be alright? Have you ever heard of the Bach flower therapy? Bach flower remedies are dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach, an English physician and homeopath, in the 1930s.The remedies are intended primarily for emotional and spiritual conditions, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress. Perhaps that’s what this is all about? Is this the solution? To put it bluntly, Edward Bach thought that dew collected from the flowers was more potent on those grown under the sun.

Coincidences or not, imaginary or not, people do change like the weather. If the horoscope tells us that people are affected by planets, why can’t they be affected by the sun or the light it emanates? Clearly sunlight help us to produce melatonin and vitamin D. Why can’t it affect the brain? Don’t know if Turn to Flowers, this great long lost guitar pop band had any chemists or researchers in their ranks to unlock the secrets of this mystery. All we know is the first names of them. Matt on vocals and guitar, Steve on bass and vocals, Dave on keyboard and vocals and Paul on drums.

But, if in any case, this can’t be ever be solved, and long lost friends from higher latitudes are to be forgotten, can the mystery behind Turn to Flowers be unleashed? Who were they? Did they record more songs? Whatever happened to them? And if anyone out there has a spare copy of this 12″ for me?


Turn to Flowers – People Change Like the Weather