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Xul Zolar – “德国流行乐有种趋势就是把重点放在’德国’上”

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采访、文字:Chris Poppy
翻译:Vanilla Lee
(English Version:See Below)
文学、艺术、与哲学,德国科隆乐队Xul Zolar的三位成员在音乐之余分别有着这三门学科的学术背景。这样的背景赋予了他们谈吐间的深度以及洞悉周遭的敏锐。从阿根廷的文人画家到德国诗人,从硬核朋克到麦斯米兰,Xul Zolar广袤的视角和旁征博引把看似简单的独立流行音乐包围在了复杂深刻的外延之内。举例来说,在他们看来,音乐在德国并不仅仅是音乐那么简单,德国的音乐常常被升格到民族主义的高度。尽管Tim在采访的最后自嘲说自己是个一无是处的艺术生,但这组年轻人对现象所做出的深刻哲思不得不令人刮目相看。这组高谈阔论的理想主义音乐人来自德国的科隆,他们的乐队Xul Zolar值得牢记。

问:Xul Zolar 这个名字有何含义?又是来源于哪里呢?
Marin:Jorge Luis Borges是我十分崇拜的一位阿根廷作家,在他的一篇短篇小说里我偶然读到了这个名字。那个时候我们的乐队刚刚成立,还没有起名字。我以为这仅仅是小说中虚构人物的名字,但之后才发现真的有一位阿根廷超现实主义画家的化名就是 Xul Solar,还是Borge最好的朋友之一。这个名字还带有一些文字游戏的味道(Xul是倒转过来的“lux”, 在拉丁文中表示“light”,“solar”来自于拉丁文中的“sol”,也就是英文中的“sun”,这个名字的意思也就是类似于“belonging to the sun”,属于太阳)。我立刻就喜欢上了这样一种意象以及它的外延,并向其他人提出了这个名字,他们也很喜欢。我把这个候选乐队名字告诉了一位朋友,他说:“听起来像是一支奇怪的酸菜摇滚乐队。”这番话更加鼓励我们用Xul Solar作为乐队名字。之后我们所做的,就是把“S”换成“Z”,使这个名字看起来略有不同,我们认为这样看起来效果也更好一些。

问:哪些乐队激起了你们对音乐的热爱,你们又是怎样成立自己的乐队的呢?
Tim:哦,那一定是我12岁左右听的Slipknot了(笑)。基本上那些拥有好的鼓点节奏,能打动我的音乐都会引起我的兴趣。
Marin:起初我喜欢上的都是朋克或硬核乐队。我11岁左右的时候玩滑板,大约那个时候我姐姐给我听了Refused。这支乐队成了我最喜欢的乐队之一。我把他们的专辑带到了我们那个小村子的滑板公园里,那些很酷的家伙们就喜欢上了我。哈哈。另一支在我少年时期有重要意义的乐队就是At the Drive-In。Tim和我在16,17岁的时候成立了我们的第一支乐队。那是一支带点硬核和朋克感觉的乐队,受到了我们刚才提过的乐队的影响。这支乐队在2009年解散了。在那之后Tim和我还继续做音乐,但我们并不知道我们真正想做的是哪种类型的音乐。我们唯一明确的就是我们要做和之前乐队不一样的音乐。我们在2010年底,2011年初左右遇到Ronald的时候,事情开始步入了正轨。其实在此之前我们就通过朋友认识了,但关系一直不是很亲密。我们很快就能很好地相处,并发现我们喜爱的是同种类型的音乐。之后Ronald告诉我他能弹吉他也能唱歌,我便告诉他我们应该在什么时候合作一下。因此我们就合作了几次,大多数是演奏民谣或者不插电音乐。后来我们也让Tim作为鼓手加入了我们,Xul Zolar就这样诞生了。

问:你们从什么时候开始弹奏乐器的?在科隆,是否有一个彼此支持的音乐场景?
Ronald:16岁的时候我在圣诞节愿望清单上写下了“吉他”,很幸运,后来我得到了一把。
Tim:我也差不多是在那个年纪开始认真对待打鼓这件事的,尽管在那之前我就已经学打鼓了。
Marin:起初我也想要学弹吉他,但十岁的时候我偶然去上了贝斯课,因为那时候我不知道吉他和贝斯有什么区别。后来我明白了, 但在改弹吉他之前还是弹了一段时间贝斯。科隆确实有一个彼此支持的音乐场景,也很有意思。 在科隆,音乐圈子并不是一个个独立存在的,而是一整体,圈子里的音乐人都彼此认识,做着从独立到硬核或者电子乐的各种音乐。给我的印象就是,在科隆,每一个做音乐的人都认识其他所有的音乐人。可能这并不是实际情况,但在我看来有些时候确实是这样的。

问:“Hex”是你们的最新单曲。这首歌的灵感来自哪里?你们又是怎样定义你们音乐的声音的?
Marin:我想我们的音乐反映了我们在音乐上的个人口味。我们喜欢旋律上口的音乐,但都不会缺少深度,也不会遵循标准的流行音乐定式,尽管在广义上,我认为我们做的是流行音乐。

问:相较于你们之前的音乐,我认为“Hex”有一种情绪上的转变, 它比你们之前的歌曲要更阴暗,感情要更强烈一些。作为“Xul Zolar”, 你们仍在摸索自身音乐的可能性吗?
Ronald:是的,我们在排练室里一起写歌。大多时候我们的歌都是由一段吉他重复段和Marin的模糊想法开始的。Tim和我也会加入我们自己的东西,但歌曲的整个情绪在某种程度上是由Marin决定的。但“Hex”是不同的,它由我创作的和弦和歌词开始,所以可能是我的思想比Marin要“更阴暗,感情要更强烈一些”,哈哈。
Marin:我对此可是表示怀疑。我内心可是很黑暗哦。哈哈。不过说真的,“Hex”确实相比于我们以前的作品是个另类,因为它确实更黑暗,也更流行了。但如果乐队里有人想到了大家都喜欢的点子,我们就会为之努力。“Hex”就是这种情况。通过不断探索新的音乐可能保持自己对自己创作的音乐的兴趣,这对我们来说是非常重要的,而且我们非常喜欢尝试新的东西。但这并不意味着我们还不确定我们想要听起来是什么样子的,也不意味着我们还在寻找“我们的声音”。我认为这一点我们已经找到了,尽管我们不想对乐队的创新加以限制。如果我们听起来很喜欢,我们就会去做。最终,它听起来也会符合我们的风格。
Tim:是的,我同意。“Hex”在某些方面和我们之前的创作有所不同。但其中也有不少典型的“Xul Zolar”元素。它与我们之前的作品相比并非格格不入,反倒给我们的音乐增添了另一面。同样,如果我们所有的歌听起来都是一个样子那也会弱爆了。我们愿意拥有欢快热情的歌曲,也想写出更黑暗一些更忧郁的歌,比如“Hex”.

问:“Hex”与“Eternal Love”的MV风格也有很大不同。“Hex”使我想起大卫·林奇的电影中的一些场景,比如灯,比如空空的走廊,以及银河系的黑暗;但“Eternal Love”呈现出一个更温暖的意象,你们三个人走向了长满绿色植物的树林。大家能不能讲一下MV背后的创意,以及MV的制作?
Tim:MV之间的不同是有多方面原因的。首先,像你刚才提过,两首歌传达的情绪就很不同。这种不同也体现在MV中,因为我们认为MV首要的目的就是传达出歌曲的情绪。另一个原因就是MV制作的环境也很不同。我们在一些好友的帮助下,一天之内就完成了Eternal Love的MV拍摄。而拍“Hex”MV的时候,我们多了两位制作人, Benjamin和Stefan Ramirez-Perez,他们也是我们的好友,也拥有完全的艺术自由。他们喜欢我们的音乐,我们也喜欢他们拍摄的MV,所以我们决定在适当的时候我们应该合作。但是这一次我们并非真正参与到了MV制作中(除了帮忙布景之外)。
Marin:是的。我们在某一个周日有了“Eternal Love”MV的构想,那次我们一起在Tim和我家聚会,喝得酩酊大醉。那是一个自发的想法,因为我们已经计划了要发行这首歌,Tim和他的女朋友在学习媒体艺术,知道怎么用摄像机,所以我们认为应该为它拍一个短片。我们考虑过了所有奇特的东西,但始终不能达成一致,所以我说道:“好了,我们就拍些愚蠢的东西吧,比如说砍倒一棵树。”然后大家都说:“啊,那会很有趣的。”所以我们就这么做了。我们想要这个MV看起来老套一点,但又不失一些美丽的意象。这就是“Eternal Love”的MV背后的一些不起眼的故事。要想了解“Hex”的MV的幕后故事你应该去问制作人。哈哈。不过,大卫·林奇也是我第一个能联想到的,我认为这很有意思。

问:关于你们的首张唱片,你们已经有计划了吗?
Ronald:今年乐队还会出一张专辑,我们已经录好了。但我们现在正在忙我们的首张唱片,希望明年会发行。

问:很多乐队现在都趋向于一首一首发新歌。如果其中一首火了,这支乐队也就红了。你们对于这种营销策略是怎么看的呢?
Marin:我认为如果一支乐队能不断创作出足以使他们走红的歌,这也是很酷的事。但是长远来看,乐队必须证明他们有能力创作出一张全是好音乐的专辑,而并非仅仅一两首好歌。否则,他们很快就会出局。

问:你们都是怎么听音乐呢?逐首歌听完一整张专辑,还是跳着听?
Ronald:两种方式我都会用。
Marin:我也是。这取决于所听的音乐。我听了很多网上的音乐,大多数时候都是一些单个的歌曲。但如果一首歌能吸引我,我就想听整张专辑。

问:你们为什么要用英语唱歌呢?是因为受到其他英语歌手的影响,还是因为目光瞄准了国际市场?
Ronald:事实上这并非一个有目的的决定,我们不觉得用英语唱歌就会吸引更多歌迷。更多的还是因为你提到的第一个原因。我觉得一个人喜欢的东西往往会决定他正在做的事情,即使那听起来令人难以理解。昨天我听了Rolf Dieter Brinkmann的一个访谈,他是一位德国诗人,在我们的家乡科隆住过一阵子。他说,一位以德语为母语的诗人如果想用德语写诗,那这简直是一种诅咒。他说德语只适合表达长篇大论的仇恨,或者无所作为和颓废至极的心态。这番话起初听起来像是奇怪的激进言论,但也许他就是对的。我不知道这对我们来说意味着什么,但听起来很有趣。

问:谈谈你们对德国乐坛的理解好吗?有没有哪支德国乐队让你们感到尴尬的?
Marin:德国流行乐有种趋势就是把重点放在“德国”上,这种趋势过去存在,现在还有。一些乐队甚至尝试创作出贯穿着“民族主义自我意识”的流行乐。我们不喜欢任何形式的民族主义,尤其是在德国,所以这件事情确实比较尴尬。除此以外,德国乐坛充斥着许多垃圾音乐,也有很多优秀的音乐,这一点和别的国家都一样。

问:你们是否听过麦斯米兰的音乐?他是在中国最成功的德国独立音乐人。人们将他描述成德国的奇迹,拥有一颗天使的心,在中国取得了巨大的商业成功。
Ronald:实话说我从没听过有这么一个人。但我们会去查一查。你认为中国对他的评价是恰当的吗?
Marin:我们一定会去查一查,了解一下他是怎样在中国取得成功的。哈哈。

问:在音乐人这个身份之外,你们过着怎样的生活呢?
Ronald:我在科隆学习哲学和文学。
Marin:我在波恩大学学习哲学,也在那里工作。
Tim:我是没有用的艺术生。哈哈。

 
1 What does Xul Zolar mean? Where did this name come from?

Marin: I stumbled upon the name in a short story of Jorge Luis Borges, an argentinian writer whom I greatly admire. We were just starting with the band at that time and were still looking for a name. I assumed the name to just be the name of a fictional character in the story but later found out that there actually was an argentinian surrealist painter who’s pseudonym was Xul Solar and who was one of Borges’ best friends. The name is some kind of word play (Xul is reversed “lux” which is latin für “light” and “solar” comes from the latin “sol” for “sun” and means something like “belonging to the sun”). I instantly liked the imagery and the associations I had and proposed the name to the others who liked it as well. After telling a friend about this as a potential band name he said: “Sounds like some weird “krautrock” band.” This encouraged us even more to take Xul Zolar as a band name. All we did then was to replace the “S” in “Solar” with a “Z” to make it a little different and because we thought it looked even better written like that.

2 Which bands initiated your love for music, and how did you start your own band?

Tim: Oh that must have been Slipknot when I was 12 years old or so.Hhaha. Basically bands that had good drumming or moved me in a way caught my interest.

Marin: The first bands I really got into were punk and hardcore bands. I used to skateboard when I was 11 years old and I my older sister showed me Refused around that time. They became one of my favourite bands. I brought their record to the skate park in my little village and instantly the cool guys started to like me. Haha. Another band that was really important to me in my teenage years was At the Drive-In. Tim and I started our first band when we were 16 or 17. It was some sort of hardcore/punk band influenced by the just mentioned bands amongst others. This band broke up in 2009. After that Tim and I continued making music but we didn’t really know what kind of music we wanted to play. All we knew was that it had to be different from what we did with our former band. Things started getting a shape when I met Ronald in late 2010/ early 2011. We had known each other through mutual friends but were never really close mates before. We instantly connected really well and found out we were into the same kind of music. After Ronald told me that he plays guitar and also sings I told him we should jam at some point. So we did that a couple of times playing mostly folk/acoustic kind of stuff. Later we asked Tim to join us as a drummer and Xul Zolar was born.

3 Since when did you start to play instruments and is there a very supportive music scene in Köln?

Ronald: When I was 16years old I wrote ”guitar” on my christmas wish list and fortunately I got one.

Tim: I started to take playing drums seriously at around that age too even though I started taking lessons earlier.

Marin: Originally I wanted to learn guitar but then by accident took bass lessons when I was ten because I didn’t know that there was a difference between guitar and bass guitar. After I realized that I kept playing bass for a while but later switched to guitar. The music scene in cologne is definitely very supportive and interesting. It’s not like there are isolated scenes but more like a huge scene of people who all know each other and do all kinds of music from Indie to Hardcore or straight Techno. I have the impression that in Cologne everyone who plays music knows everyone else who plays music. That’s probably not exactly true but that’s how it seems to me sometimes.

4 “Hex” is your latest single, what is the inspiration of this song and how do you define the sound of your music?

Marin: I think our sound reflects our personal taste in music. We like music that is catchy and comes with a good deal of melody but that doesn’t lack a certain depth and does’t follow a standard pop formular even though I consider the music we make to be pop music in the broadest sense of the term.

5 Comparing with your previous songs, I noticed a shift of mood, “Hex” sounds darker and more intense than your earlier songs, are you still trying to explore different musical possibilities with Xul Zolar?

Ronald: Yes, it’s something like that. We write our songs collectively in the rehearsal space. Mostly it starts with a guitar-riff and vague idea Marin comes up with. Then Tim and I add our stuff, but the mood is in a way determined by Marin. In case of “Hex” it was different. It started with chords and lyrics I wrote. So maybe it’s because my mind is “darker and more intense” than Marin’s. Haha.

Marin: I would doubt that your mind is darker than mine. My mind is very dark. Haha. No but seriously: “Hex” was always a bit of an outsider in our set since it is definitely darker and also way poppier than most of our other stuff. But if someone comes up with an idea everybody likes we work on it. That was also the case with “Hex”. Keeping yourself interested in the music you make by exploring different musical possibilities is definitely very important to us and we like to experiment a lot. But that doesn’t mean that we are not sure about how we want to sound yet and still have to find “our sound” in a way. I think we already found it event hough we certainly don’t want to put any constraints on the creative process. If something sounds good to us we’ll do it. In the end it will sound like us anyway.

Tim: Yeah, I agree. “Hex” clearly differs from the stuff we released before in some aspects. But there are also a lot of typical Xul Zolar elements in it. It doesn’t feel alien compared to the rest of our songs at all. It rather adds another side to our music. Also it would be really lame if all our songs sounded the same. We’d much rather like to have happy and enthusiastic songs as well as darker and more melancholic songs like “Hex”.

6 There’s also a huge contrast between the music video of “Hex” and “Eternal Love”as well. “Hex” reminds me of some scenes from David Lynch’s film, such as the lamps and the empty corridors, the noir of the galaxy; but “External Love” presents a rather warm image, where the three of you heading to the woods that is filled with green plants. Could you tell me the ideas behind the videos and the making of?

Tim: The contrast between the videos is due to various reasons. First of all, as you mentioned before, the mood of the two songs is pretty different. That is reflected in the videos of course because we think that a music video should first and foremost reflect the mood of a song. Another reason is that the circumstances of how the videos were produced were also very different. We shot the video for Eternal Love by ourselves in one day with help of some good friends. In the case of the video for “Hex” we had two producers, Benjamin and Stefan Ramirez-Perez, who are good friends of us and who had complete artistic freedom. They like our music and we like their video work so at some point we decided that we should collaborate. But we weren’t really involved in the video making process this time (apart from helping to build the scenery.)

Marin: Yeah. We had the idea for the “Eternal Love” video on a sunday when we were hanging out really hungover at Tims and my place. It was really a spontaneous idea because we had planned to release the song and since Tim and his girlfriend study media art and know how to handle a camera we thought we should do a little video for it. We thought about all kinds of weird stuff but couldn’t really agree on something so at some point I just said: “Okay let’s just make something really stupid like cutting down a tree.” And everyone was like: “Yeah. That could be funny.” So we did it. We wanted it to be really cliché but to have some nice imagery in it as well. That’s the rather unspectacular story behind the video. For the story behind the video for “Hex” you have to talk to the producers. Haha. But David Lynch was my first association as well which I think is really a good thing.

7 Do you already have a schedule for your debut LP?

Ronald: We will release one more single this year which we already recorded but are also currently working on our debut LP which will hopefully be our sometime next year.

8 Bands nowadays tend to put out tracks, one track after another, if one song luckily worked out well, a band would quickly rise to fame. What do you think about this kind of marketing strategy?

Marin: I think it’s cool if bands come up with individual songs that suffice to make them popular. But in the long run bands have to proof that they are able to make an entire record of good music and not just one or two good tracks. Otherwise they will quickly become irrelevant.

9 How do you listen music? To listen through the entire album or skip from one song to another?

Ronald: I do both.

Marin: Me too. It really depends on the music. I listen to a lot of music on the internet and then mostly to individual tracks. But if one son really catches my attention I want to listen to the entire album.

10 Why do you sing in English, is it because of the influence of other English singing musicians or more of being international and aiming at a bigger market?

Ronald: Actually it wasn’t a conscious decision, like we could reach more people if we sing in English. It was rather the first reason you mentioned. I think things you really like always shape the way you do things event hough that might sound a little esoteric. Yesterday I listened to an interview with Rolf Dieter Brinkmann. He is a german poet and for a while he lived in Cologne, where we live as well. He said that it’s a curse being a german native speaker if you are also a poet who wants to build something with the sound of your language. He said the sound of german is only working for tirades of hate or it stands for inactivity and weed-mentality. At first that sounds like a weird radical position, but maybe he is right. I really don’t know what that means for us, but it’s quite funny.

11 What do you think about the music scene in Germany? Are there any German bands that made you feel embarrassed?

Marin: There was or still is a tendency in German pop music to put the emphasis on the “German” in German music. Some bands even attempted to create some kind of new “national self-consciousness” mediated trough pop music. We are very critical of every form of nationalism especially in Germany so that’s something to be really embarrassed about. Apart from that Germany has a lot of shit music as well as a lot of great music just like every other country I guess.

12 Have you ever heard of Maximilian Hecker, probably the most successful German indie artist in China, he is described as the miracle of Germany, has a heart of an angle, and has achieved massive commercial success over there…

Ronald: I honestly never heard of him before. But we’ll check him out. Do you think it is true what they say about him in China?

Marin: We will definitely check him out and try to find out how he made it big in China to achieve massive success there as well. Haha.

13 What kind of life do you live, beside being musicians?

Ronald: I’m studying philosophy and literature in Cologne.

Marin: I study philosophy and work at the University of Bonn.

Tim: I am useless art student. Haha.
 



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