... space and mystery, the music drew me in immediately and inevitably.
Just before the Danish musician┬┤s Popkomm performance at Badeschiff Berlin, I had the chance to talk to the woman who created the album about the energy of art, the search for evoking that energy and about finding her own way in music independently. Before releasing ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤ in August 2010 the 34-year-old already lent her voice and songwriting skills to successful techno and house producer Trentm├Şller, with whom she performed at Roskilde Festival 2009 in front of 50,000 people. She has opened shows for Juliette Lewis, Pete Doherty, Devendra Banhart and works closely together with former Raveonettes drummer Jakob H├Şyer.
Soft-spoken and balancing in conversation, it was fascinating to hear Fisker┬┤s strong voice and lyrics enter a different world on stage after the interview. The singer and her band changed the air pressure through their distilled sound. ┬┤Ohne Strom┬┤ (┬┤Without Electricity┬┤) was the title of the event at Badeschiff. The opposite certainly is true for Marie Fisker┬┤s (live) music.
AVIVA-Berlin: In the interview you did with motor.de you said that you always wanted to be a musician. You also have had your own studio in Copenhagen since 2000. Can you tell us about the process of finding your own sound, the key moments or landmarks?
Marie Fisker: I┬┤m really trying to lose my head, not to think too much while I write a song. Obviously, I think it is pretty normal to do that, I┬┤m not writing a lot of songs, I┬┤m writing slowly. When I finish the lyrics, the song and the structure, I go to the studio and try again not to think about any style, like "maybe have this drum like Velvet Underground". I just try to experiment. Sometimes the songs develop like that and sometimes, what I think will be a demo will be a recording that we use for the record. I find it really interesting and amazing to explore like that. Sometimes I get totally stuck and can┬┤t get anywhere, I can┬┤t hear what instruments to put on, so I work closely together with Jakob (H├Şyer), who I share the studio with. He comes and brings ideas, but usually I can just feel what is right. Sometimes it┬┤s really fast building a sound around a song, sometimes we have to redo the songs maybe four times, five times from the beginning, because it doesn┬┤t feel like it┬┤s finished.
Marie Fisker at Badeschiff Berlin ┬ę Evelyn Gaida
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you start with the words and then create a melody or vice versa?
Marie Fisker: I always start with my acoustic guitar, usually at home in the kitchen, singing while I play some chords that I like, trying to find some kind of structure in the melody and then I find more and more chords. Usually I will sing it over and over, try to shut my brain down and just sing whatever comes out of my mouth. Sometimes it┬┤s really surprising (laughs). I always record it with just a little home recorder and sometimes I go like: "Wow, I would have never thought of this word or that line." It develops from small fractures of words and lines. Then I will sit down and write the lyric.
AVIVA-Berlin: I found it very interesting when you told motor.de that it took quite a long time to record ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤, which very much sounds like an entity to me, following a certain theme. Do you think this is a contradiction or is this actually the reason why it took some time?
Marie Fisker: The reason actually. Because I work with these amazing musicians (Rune Kjeldsen: guitar, Anders Christensen: bass, Jakob Hoyer: drums) and we┬┤ve been playing together the whole time during which this record has developed, but I wanted to be alone in the process of finding the sound. They can easily find something to play and make records all the time, but I needed to find my own sound. I don┬┤t know why it took five years, that┬┤s kind of ridiculous (laughs), but I┬┤ve been doing stuff and I┬┤ve been playing a lot, so whenever I had the time I was trying to explore in the studio. I think, it┬┤s been very important for me, I┬┤m not a very solo kind of person. I always worked best in groups, I┬┤m usually not the person who takes the lead. I very much knew that and therefore I needed to be alone. I needed to take the decisions, no matter how long it took.
AVIVA-Berlin: You have been compared to very outstanding musicians like PJ Harvey or Mazzy Star. Do you see that as a huge encouragement or can it also be a weight on your shoulders, that you┬┤d like to break free from?
Marie Fisker: It depends on the review. I totally understand that you need to compare to understand what this musician sounds like. If you never heard of the artist before, you have to mention references, so I┬┤m really fine with that. But of course, if it┬┤s a bad review ÔÇŽ (laughs). You cannot control these things, I don┬┤t mind.
AVIVA-Berlin: You are a very experienced musician. Is it a very different feeling for you to have your own album out now, compared to your other projects or collaborations you did before?
Marie Fisker: Of course it is very special to me. Yeah, it is different, but I see it as just one thing among all the other stuff that I┬┤ve been doing. It┬┤s been really important for where I┬┤m at now. These guys that I play with are very experienced, so it puts me on a level where I have to be sure of myself and I think you need to be sure of yourself to make music, to let it have a life of its own. I need to let go when I sing on stage to make it have its own life. I learned a lot from my musicians and from all the stuff I did before the record came out.
AVIVA-Berlin: Was it sometimes hard for you to be around these musicians?
Marie Fisker: Yeah, of course. But you also get a lot of support. I took my time to build up something myself. I think that was the right way for me to do it. We are all very different and some people like to jam a lot with all kinds of musicians, but we all have different temperaments and ways. My way was to isolate myself.
AVIVA-Berlin: You work together with Trentm├Şller a lot who does techno and house music, whereas your own music is very handmade. How did this collaboration come about? Is there a very close community of musicians in Copenhagen?
Marie Fisker: Copenhagen is very small. I wouldn┬┤t say that everybody knows everybody, but the ones we don┬┤t know, we know through somebody else. I don┬┤t know how he heard my voice because it was even before ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤ was released in Denmark, which was half a year ago, but one and a half years ago he asked me if I wanted to sing on his new album. I said, "Well, yes, just send me something and I will listen to it." He sent me two tracks and I thought: "Wow, this is really different from what I do", but he still has a big love for organic sounds on the new album (┬┤Into The Great Wide Yonder┬┤). He also has a lot of references that I really love, like surf music or rock music, a lot of tempering. So I just thought: "Let me try and do something." It took me some time to do this song (┬┤Sycamore Feeling┬┤) for him, but when I finished it I really felt like it was my own thing, my own sound and it melded very well with his track. So I sent it to him and he was very happy.
AVIVA-Berlin: You┬┤re going on tour with him and will be part of his show. You┬┤ll also embark on a solo tour. Can you tell us what┬┤s coming up there?
Marie Fisker: I can┬┤t tell very much about the Trentm├Şller tour, because he has things he wants to bring to the press himself, but it┬┤s gonna be pretty exciting for me to travel around and play all these great venues, I┬┤m really looking forward to that. I┬┤m going to play Reeperbahn with my band on September 23rd, I very much look forward to do that. It┬┤s really exciting for me to have this release of ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤ in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, so I guess I┬┤m gonna be touring here more and more. We don┬┤t have so many dates at the moment, but we┬┤re working on it. I think we┬┤ll have some good shows in spring 2011 at least. Because I┬┤m touring a lot with Trentm├Şller now, I┬┤ll wait a while, but I┬┤m gonna be around, when I have time off from that.
AVIVA-Berlin: Some musicians claim, they are very different people when they are on stage compared to being off stage. What does being on stage or singing on stage do to you?
Marie Fisker: It┬┤s really hard for me to say. I don┬┤t feel very different, I just feel that I┬┤m very focused on what I do, I┬┤m not dancing all over the place or being some kind of character.
Marie Fisker at Badeschiff Berlin ┬ę Evelyn Gaida
AVIVA-Berlin: It┬┤s the first time that you have played in Berlin. What┬┤s your impression of this, well, very short experience?
Marie Fisker: It┬┤s also my first time to be here! I can┬┤t say that I┬┤ve seen a lot, I┬┤ve seen a little bit of Kreuzberg yesterday, we walked around for an hour. It was incredible, full of life and full of people. It felt like a very creative area, really inspiring.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do these kind of experiences already give you ideas for your next album or is this totally far away at this point?
Marie Fisker: I am in the process of recording my next album, I┬┤m in the studio as often as I can. I think that it┬┤s moving much faster than last time (laughs). It┬┤s a bit different from ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤. I┬┤m looking forward to see what it all ends up to be like, because it┬┤s always the last process that settles: "Oh, it┬┤s this record." I┬┤m gonna play some new songs here tonight.
AVIVA-Berlin: Would you say that you had more of a clear vision of what you wanted the album to sound like while making ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤?
Marie Fisker: No, the other way round. I guess I was stumbling a lot to find the sound on the first album. It felt really good, when we released ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤, I still really love the album, I care a lot about it. With this second album I think something different happened very naturally. It was not designed and I didn┬┤t have any ideas of were I wanted to go, but it is different. A lot of things can happen still. It┬┤s the same inspiration, but I guess I changed myself. I┬┤m very satisfied with that. It feels satisfying, that I moved from the last album. Although I┬┤m so happy with ┬┤Ghost Of Love┬┤, it feels good that now it┬┤s something new!
AVIVA-Berlin: You write very poetic lyrics with a rich imagery. What are your artistic influences apart from music? Does literature play a big role, or maybe nature? There is also a strong sense of space in your music.
Marie Fisker: I don┬┤t have special visions, I don┬┤t tell stories like that. It┬┤s more like pictures or emotions sketched. And I like it to be that way. I like people to reflect immediately with their own stories. It┬┤s not better than writing stories or anything else, but it suits me (laughs), it┬┤s my way of doing it. No, I don┬┤t have special things that get me going in that direction. I love poetry and read a lot of poetry.
AVIVA-Berlin: Is there any artist that has inspired you in a very important way?
Marie Fisker: Yeah, I think there are a lot of artists who changed something in my directions. My father used to play a lot of Tom Waits and I used to think that he was horrible, because he couldn┬┤t sing. When I was ten years old I gave in and ever since, I really loved his music. Nowadays I sometimes find it a bit theatrical ÔÇô and it is. I tend to listen more to other music, but he means a lot to me, because he has these dark stories. I love his sounds and his rusty music. I think he influenced me a lot from the beginning.
AVIVA-Berlin: You have a lot of blues and country elements in your music, as well. Do you approach songwriting rather as a "storyteller" or rather autobiographically?
Marie Fisker: I tend to do it more in a poetic way, so maybe some feelings or stories come from my own life, but I always take the freedom to translate them into something that I find interesting in a lyric, not necessarily true to my own life story. It just has to be strong as a picture. I don┬┤t write really long lyrics. The music and the interpretation themselves, that producing role of working in the studio is very important to me. You can express so much with your voice, that it doesn┬┤t have to be a genius lyric. Sometimes the lyric will be very important, sometimes it┬┤s not so important. I like it to be open. I like it not to give any answers. I like it just to remain pictures for people to walk into or take on with their own life stories. I think the energy of something, whether it┬┤s a book or a play or a film or whatever piece of art, the energy has to be the strongest, not what you can intellectually figure out about it.
AVIVA-Berlin: I think your music is emotionally very intense, but at the same time there is a sense of calmness and control that is preserved. Is that something you decided to keep up?
Marie Fisker: I think that┬┤s something of a balance that I like in my music. Maybe it┬┤s a bit sad and rough sometimes, but I don┬┤t want it to be a pathetic "Fuck you", "I hate my boyfriend" or "Fuck the world". There are always both sides in my lyrics, I think. You can never really figure them out, maybe that┬┤s how I am as a person. I┬┤m always like: "Well, if you look at it from this point of view it┬┤s like this, and if you look at it from that point ÔÇŽ" I like that about my songs.
AVIVA-Berlin: Would you say there is a line that you would not want to cross in your music emotionally, like going to a certain extreme?
Marie Fisker: No, not at all. I listen to a lot of extreme music, like art music or experimental music. Again, it┬┤s a matter of energy. There are so many styles in music and so many things you can do, which maybe I wouldn┬┤t do, like dance music. But apart from that I would very much like to keep it very open.
AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much for the interview. All the best for you and your projects in the future!
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Marie Fisker - Ghost Of Love