Interview: Vomit Heat

Vomit Heat - Photo courtesy of Vomit Heat

Vomit Heat - Photo courtesy of Vomit Heat

It’s a Thursday afternoon and 20-year-old Nils Herzogenrath – better known as avant-garde, lo-fi, noise musician Vomit Heat – is seated on a bench in a cemetery in Neukölln, rolling a cigarette and talking about his musical upbringing in Essen

After dabbling in bands for his teenage years, Herzogenrath came to a point where he itched for a change. This came about at the age of 17 – something he attributed to watching late night episodes of Rockpalast. The show introduced him to Krautrock, which then served as a musical gateway drug into the kinds of music he is most interested in today.

While still playing in another band with friends, Herzogenrath then began to write music on his own, using anything that didn’t fit under the genre conventions of his band for his solo project.

“There’s a melody that comes to my head, and then I just make something out of it,” he said of his approach to writing songs alone. “It’s not that I can play something on my guitar and it’s art. It happens by accident. Most things happen by accident.”

The creation process has matured a bit though, in that in a short two or three years, Herzogenrath is now much quicker as a songwriter, an ability that stems from practice and confidence.

“Earlier, it was like collecting ideas,” he said, speaking of the initially lengthy process to turn inspiration into complete songs. “And now when I record songs, it’s like recording everything in one day, or two days.”

Naturally, the Internet has served as an outlet for Vomit Heat, and it wasn’t long before the songs Herzogenrath posted online were discovered by media outlets – first by random blogs and then by Pitchfork Media.

Then the show opportunities began rolling in: a German tour supporting Wavves, festival slots throughout Europe, the chance to open for The Big Pink. While not all of these panned out, it signified something big for Herzogenrath. His former band having fallen apart due to members pursuing different things in life, he found himself free to fully commit to writing for this project. Furthermore, he found that there was an audience waiting to hear his creation.

But while Herzogenrath appreciates the buzz he’s received for his music, ultimately he doesn’t write for anyone but himself.

“I’m very happy that people like my music and listen to it. I like it when people like it,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s very important…I’m very honest when I say it’s just for myself…I think [it’s] interesting for me.”

Herzogenrath also shared that he enjoys every facet of being a musician, whether that is sitting in his bedroom writing music or on a stage performing. This is because each task involves a different environment and set of constraints.

“When I’m at home it’s more like a personal thing,” he said, sharing how recording is something that requires him to be alone. “And to perform that in front of people is like another world. It’s like, not in my room, alone, isolated…It’s like…a different kind of fun.”

Live performances themselves tend to vary too; Vomit Heat will sometimes appear as a three-piece, with a drummer and a bass player filling in. But other times, it’s just Herzogenrath and his laptop, and maybe a guitar.

“I just want to kind of make it interesting, “he said. “Through sounds or through mood or whatever.”

In the meantime, Vomit Heat will keep doing what it has been doing. Yet Herzogenrath will keep his fingers crossed, in hopes of attaining the one thing he desires but hasn’t yet been able to nail down: a record label.

Vomit Heat plays tonight at Lovelite in Berlin as part of the Flink Festival. The show begins at 17.00.

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