Interview: B. Fleischmann

B. Fleischmann - Photo courtesy of Morr Music

B. Fleischmann - Photo courtesy of Morr Music

B. Fleischmann has been absent from the Berlin club scene for far too long.

The Austrian-born electronic musician has been visiting Berlin regularly for the past decade, due largely in part to his connection to Morr Music founder Thomas Morr. However, it has been nearly three or four years since his last show in the city.

“It’s definitely time for me to come back,” he said.

Compared to his hometown and headquarters of Vienna, Fleischmann said there is a refreshing and new feeling to a place like Berlin, the facade of which he feels is continually being remade and renewed. In particular, he referenced the club scene, which is alive and continually evolving, compared to Vienna’s static approach.

“It was always nice to see all those little clubs [open] for…several months and then close again or move to another places, because that’s something that usually doesn’t happen in Vienna,” Fleischmann said. “In Vienna, clubs open and they stay or they close forever afterwards, but they don’t move, they don’t explore the city.”

One of the reasons why he feels this continual moving and shaking up of things is good, is because of the tendency for Berlin residents to stay put in their own districts. Fleischmann said he noticed that, because Berlin is so large, many people are reluctant to regularly go see shows that aren’t happening in their own neighborhoods. Therefore, clubs moving around the city is necessary to draw in different crowds.

As for his live shows, regardless of where he plays, Fleischmann said he never has a particular plan for his performances.

“Usually I come with my good old friend, the Groovebox, and the laptop, and some other small machines,” he said.

Additionally, he shared that he also tries to incorporate guitar and vocals in his live set, but that it can go any way, something which is dictated by the energy of the audience in question. This openness and spontaneity helps keep things interesting and fresh, both for him, and those in the crowd.

“I usually decide on stage in which direction the show is going, so I have prepared or I have in mind usually the first one or two tracks I would play a night,” Fleischmann explained. “But then, depending on the crowd and the mood in the club, I decide if it’s more quiet or if it’s more danceable or more abstract or whatever. So I never have a fixed playlist before.”

He shared that intense moments have come out of various types of crowd, and acknowledged a certain kind of power in silently captivated groups of listeners. Yet given the choice, Fleischmann generally favours playing to people who are dancing.

“I prefer…the more active people so that they move with the music,” he said. “I mean, it’s not a dance show, or a rave or something… [and] not-moving people can be very active too…but if there’s a kind of wave going through the crowd, that’s a perfect feeling for me.”

Fleischmann also talked about the idea of a live performance of a song, and how that varies from the recorded format. In particular, his most recent release was “For M / Mikro_Kosmos – Two Concerts,” a two-song album put out in early 2011.

Combined, the two tracks extend beyond 45 minutes of sound, with the first one, “For M,” lasting nearly 17 minutes. It serves as a tribute to Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, with whom Fleischmann corresponded for years. The two had hoped to eventually collaborate, but it never occurred, and in March of 2010, Linkous took his own life.

“I decided I would love to write a piece for him because his music was, [and] is…still very important to me,” Fleischmann said. “And therefore I wrote this very long track and then invited some friends to play it with me.”

The live experience was just as Fleischmann expected: powerful. But after subsequently listening to a recording, he realized that it was one of those songs that is just better in a live atmosphere. Still, although he acknowledged it could be boring in some places for listeners at home, he doesn’t regret the length of the recorded version.

“I personally love very long, very repetitive tracks, and that’s what I want to send to him,” Fleischmann said.

The album, however, was not a typical solo release, and although Fleischmann came out with a new Duo 505 album three weeks prior to “For M / Mikro_Kosmos – Two Concerts,” it has actually been more than three years since he’s released a full-length solo record.

Suffice to say, fans won’t have to wait much longer, as he is working on his next project, a follow-up to 2008’s “Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung.” According to Fleischmann, the album will feature more beats and more vocals than past releases, although this isn’t something he necessarily planned.

Rather, Fleischmann likened the songwriting process – and in a larger sense, the album writing process – to building a house.

“I never see the finished house when I start,” he said, sharing how starting with a foundation and building up makes for the addition of windows and doors in the most unlikely of places. The music, then, only becomes apparent once it’s actually done.

Furthermore, that kind of principle can be applied on the whole to the music Fleischmann makes. Instead of over-thinking it, he merely acts upon intuition.

“I learned how to play the electronic instruments just by doing it,” he said.

B. Fleischmann plays tonight at Gretchen in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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