Interview: Freakish Atlantic

Freakish Atlantic - Photo courtesy of Freakish Atlantic

Freakish Atlantic – Photo courtesy of Freakish Atlantic

Freakish Atlantic may have plucked its band name straight out of Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” but one shouldn’t allow the dark subject matter of the poem to inform what the music actually sounds like. Certainly, the lyrical content isn’t entirely uplifting, but the aural landscape is a particular treat, laden with sweetly crafted melodies and dulcified with an assemblage of enchanting textures.

So it might be surprising that such lushness comes out of the collected efforts of merely two individuals: Marius Gutowski and Florian Sekula. The two have lived in Berlin since October of last year, but originally come out of North Rhine-Westphalia, and first met up in Bonn while studying at the same university.

They shared similar interests – musically at least – and hung out from time to time, but the thought to collaborate never occurred to either.

“For some reason we didn’t team up,” Sekula said, pointing to various other responsibilities, including the fact that Gutowski was involved in other musical projects.

Yet in Spring of 2011, the two found themselves at a party, bored out of their minds, drinking and chatting. This was what they consider the birthplace of Freakish Atlantic, a partnership that grew out of working together on some music Gutowski had written on his own.

And once the first song was complete, the rest came easily.

“[We realized that] this might really work,” Gutowski said. “We could really do something together.”

Over the span of the next four months, the work on their EP, “Siren Songs,” was completed and Gutowski and Sekula then put it out under New York homegrown label Housewarming Records.

(Interestingly enough, the artwork of the EP is a photo taken of the Pacific Ocean by a friend, but somehow the two still found it fitting to grace the cover.)

Then, upon completion of their studies, the two packed up their belongings, alongside their hopes and dreams, and headed for the big city: Berlin.

Gutowski went to pursue an internship with 11freunde, while Sekula opted to begin a master’s degree in film studies.

But of course, relocating comes with its perks and its downsides, one of the latter being that the two have been so busy settling in, working, and studying, that it doesn’t leave as much time to write and record.

Luckily, this doesn’t mean the two are short on inspiration. In fact, this whole catch-22 scenario inspired a new song idea, akin to LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.”

“I really love the song, and I really wanted to do some sort of, like, my own version,” Gutowski explained. “It’s not a cover and I wouldn’t say that it’s as great as [the inspiration], because that’s one of the greatest songs of all time, like to me…but I really wanted to do like, a song about a city which is so big and so confusing but great as well.”

As matches made in heaven tend to do, things between Gutowski and Sekula have, for the most part, worked out seamlessly. That doesn’t mean, however, that the two have been without their challenges. In fact, the main problem has involved figuring out how to turn their act into a successful live show.

What seems like the easiest solution – adding additional members to the mix – is something neither is keen on doing, unless it they were to find someone who fit their style.

“I think we really don’t want more people in our project because we…work pretty well as a team,” Sekula said, reinforcing the bond between him and Gutowski.

That leaves another option, which is playing with excessive gear to fill in the gap that can be achieved on a recording but not on stage.

“But I don’t really like this band or musician sitting in front of a laptop and all music is coming from the speakers,” Gutowski said, stating his objections. “I’ve never been to a concert which had that kind of style and was really good. Never.”

So it seems that the likely avenue is something in between.

“Either it will be everything live and sampled, or it will be me playing the drums and just acoustic guitar,” Sekula said with a laugh, before adding: “Marius wants me to play the drums and I’ve never played the drums before…[but] I was awesome at rock band.”

Whatever the decision, it will most certainly be revealed in due time.

Freakish Atlantic plays tonight at Roter Salon in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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