Interview: Urlaub in Polen

Urlaub in Polen - Photo courtesy of Urlaub in Polen

Urlaub in Polen - Photo courtesy of Urlaub in Polen

It’s the end of an era for electronic duo Urlaub in Polen.

The Cologne-based pair of Georg Brenner and Jan Philipp Janzen – which first began more than a decade ago – is currently on tour to promote its fifth full-length, “Boldstriker,” an album which came out at the beginning of the month and serves as a final statement for the band, before the members symbolically draw their 11-year long vacation to a close.

“It’s the last of the band,” Brenner said, confirming the pending split. “[But] it’s not because we don’t like each other anymore. It’s more like reopening the whole thing up to new horizons, maybe in other constellations with other people, and letting [in] more influences.”

One factor feeding the band’s demise is the realization that the name itself prevented certain people from ever listening to the music, because it wasn’t ever necessarily representative or evocative of the kind of music they actually play.

“In the beginning, it was meant as an anti-statement against all the bands who have the pretty names and all that stuff…it was kind of a strange name, you know,” Brenner said. “I think the name is kind of the barrier where you can’t get over.”

Additionally, Brenner said that it doesn’t mean he and Janzen will no longer work together; in the time they’ve been together, they’ve both had the freedom to explore other musical projects, but still enjoy collaborating with one another.

“We are working all the time with different people and having different projects and bands,” Brenner said. “The next project will be, maybe with other people, but [Janzen] and me, we will work together on and on…hopefully.”

Brenner said one reason why not making music together in some capacity is out of the question is because of how well the two work together

“The longer you do something…you get used to it,” he said. “You feel safe when you’re doing [it].”

Not only is playing with Janzen something that comes naturally to him, but Brenner said the past 11 years of making music as just the two of them has resulted in a special kind of connection.

“When you play all the time together you have a kind of…intuition,” he said. “I think we could play in different rooms and it would be on the point.”

That kind of connectedness carries through to the songwriting as well. Although the two don’t always agree on the same ideas or direction of a potential song, Brenner said that ultimately, they both have to like it. Additionally, the result of playing in such close confines for so long is that both he and Janzen instinctively have a feel for what the other will – or won’t – like.

“It’s like two dictators on the same land and there is no maybe or something. It’s two people say yes or it’s one [person] who [says] no,” he said. “So we have the essence of that, we like both. That’s the way it works and when you know each other, you know before you start your idea…[if it will work or not].”

And whereas Brenner said he used to be nervous before shows, now his only concern tends to be whether or not his synthesizers will hold up and work properly.

“For me, playing, it’s like, yeah, like brushing your teeth or something,” he said with a laugh, referring to the comfortable and routine nature of it.

Furthermore, it has become such a part of his life, that regardless of the name or exact makeup of his musical projects, the most important thing for Brenner is that he has some kind of creative outlet.

“Sometimes it’s hard to do but I like it…I would say if I weren’t able to [play music], I probably would get ill or something…[art is] something inside…it’s not that you want it all the time, but you feel that you have to do it,” he said, explaining his drive to make music. “It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling. It’s a kind of feeling that’s difficult to explain. It’s very personal. And it goes very deep down…it’s like a feeling to be in love. A very deep thing. But different in a way. [Or] maybe it’s the same.”

Urlaub in Polen plays tonight at Bassy in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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