Interview: We Invented Paris

We Invented Paris - Photo courtesy of We Invented Paris

We Invented Paris – Photo courtesy of We Invented Paris

While most musicians who play together consider themselves to be a band, We Invented Paris prefers the term “artist collective.”

It’s not just semantics, you see, but a philosophy–a way of being. The project, which is the brainchild of Swiss singer Flavian Graber, is less about who and more about what. That’s namely because the members are interchangeable, but also because music is more than just the people who play it, but also the behind-the-scenes individuals.

“It always changed a little bit, so we called it more like an artist collective, because there are some people involved that aren’t musicians,” Graber said.

So when it comes down to it, We Invented Paris is not just Graber. It’s also Michael Rückert (bass, keyboards, vocals), Matthias Rückert (guitar, vocals), Stefan Schneider (drums), Timm Markgraf (camera), and Julian Butz (management). And that is only the roster on any given day.

“We’re kind of mixed all over,” Graber said, referring to the fact that musicians will switch in and out of the band–sometimes even mid-tour–depending on availability.

The beginnings of We Invented Paris as a collective date back to when Graber was simply a solo artist, a career that began three to four years ago. But when he went to record his batch of songs, he felt something was amiss.

“I decided to record a record and during the process of recording it, I realized that it cries for more–the project–and so I decided to quit the singer-songwriter solo thing and initiate a bigger project,” he said.

He immediately recruited some friends from Switzerland and Germany to join in, and in 2010, We Invented Paris was born.

A year-and-a-half later, the self-titled full-length came out, released on Nov. 4, 2011. And although it was actually the album Graber had recorded on his own, the release was pushed back in order to allow time for the project to play shows and gain exposure.

Anyone familiar with We Invented Paris can likely understand what that entails, as the band has been touring throughout Europe nearly non-stop for the past two years.

And while We Invented Paris doesn’t have any unrealistic goals about becoming a worldwide sensation, one of the reasons Graber pens lyrics in English is to avoid limiting an audience.

“You can travel more and you can reach more people with your music,” he said of singing in an international language.

Although he considers his grasp of English to be limited, he shared that it provides a unique interpretation. In particular, Graber spoke of his time spent in the English-speaking countries of Canada and Ireland.

“What my experience was…people said that I say things different, like they would never say it like that,” he said. “And sometimes it’s maybe even a little bit wrong, but it just gives another point of view, kind of, how to tell things. And so that kind of encouraged me as well just to go on with English.”

As for the songs themselves, ultimately Graber explained that the intention and execution of his lyrics matter very little, both when compared to the idea that the songs are bigger than his words, and that they will be interpreted and reinterpreted on each successive listen, whether by a member, a fan, or a total stranger.

This idea applies to the musical end of the spectrum as well. Of course, the songs someone hears on the album and at a live show are the same songs, but because so much has changed in between the two, they still have lives of their own.

“They always move and they always evolve,” Graber said of the songs and the intention behind them. “I think it’s mainly that it’s a bigger sound…and it’s getting more and more focused on the sound as a band and not just this song on the acoustic guitar with a voice, you know? So it’s more the whole picture you want to give and create. And I see it more as the song is where it starts, like the guidelines, and what we try more and more is to create out of this song a picture that has a characteristic as well.”

With the addition of other members, the direction of We Invented Paris has undoubtedly changed, and continues to change with each new song and show. But the idea that the music has a quality which speaks for itself stays the same across the board.

“I’m a songwriter myself,” Matthias Rückert said, referencing the band he and his twin brother Michael play in, Listen to Polo. “I want to shape sound…but I think it’s all about the song still. Like, I don’t want to play solos just to play them. It has to fit. So that’s basically the main goal for me as a musician, is to be part of the song and not just the guitarist.”

And that’s basically the overall philosophy of the We Invented Paris artist collective, as well as the meaning behind its name.

“You create something in your head so that you get associations. When you hear Paris you have a picture in your head and you haven’t had to been there in Paris to actually create an imagination of Paris. And that’s the same with songs,” Graber said. “You invent the song every time…that’s what I believe what a song is supposed to be.”

We Invented Paris play tonight at Comet Club in Berlin. The show begins at 20.00.

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