It’s been a while since our last “swinterview” and now we have three coming up over the next couple of weeks. As I said below I am new to Pupkulies & Rebecca and from the opening bars of “One” I had a feeling I was listening to something special. The songs are warmly organic, playful and inventive. Moods and tempos change like shifting sands on a windy day but the strength of the songwriting never waivers.
Bente is Rebecca Blaul, Janosch Blaul, and Sepp Singwald and this is their first new music since 2013. These nine songs from last year were produced in a small, 60s style bungalow between dunes and lagoons, on the Baltic coast in Denmark. The album has just been released on Normoton.
I was delighted when the group agreed to answer some questions for us.
Firstly, I am new to your music and I wanted to say the record is a delight from start to finish.
Really happy you like it!
How did it feel to be back together again after this extended break? Did you fall into old ways of working again or was it different this time?
Janosch: We haven’t made music together for a very long time. But two weeks on the Danish Baltic Sea coast, equipped with two cars full of analogue gear, finally led to the album Bente. We had no expectations and then it was just like in the early days.
Do you find your concerns, your way of writing songs changes as you grow older?
Rebecca: The way of writing does not really change; it is still for me a quite intuitive way of developing new songs. Yet as you grow older you deal with different issues for sure. The way of writing does not change while you yourself do.
The press blurb talks about “Dadaist vocals” – please tell me more.
Janosch: Repeating and layered vocal passages can be heard in various songs. In the production process we like to get lost in such vocal fragments and the words then just transport the mood and become rhythm and sound.
What music are you listening to during this bizarre period? Have your listening habits changed? I know I am going back to old favourites I have not thought about for years.
Janosch: To be honest, not much has changed in my listening habits. I often listen to great songwriting, like Nick Drake or Feist, as in all phases of life, but maybe I actually need it more than ever.
Sepp: These days many artists do live streaming and living room concerts on social media platforms I very much enjoyed in the beginning of the lock down. Now I’m a bit saturated and am looking forward to play a concert hopefully soon.
The LP cover reminds me of the end of “Inside Out” – is it a reference to the film? Having three young kids myself I am an expert on this movie!
Janosch: To say the truth, I don’t even know the film, but now I should definitely watch it with my kids! The buggy with the three passengers was assembled by my daughter in the house in Denmark and Sepp took a picture and actually wanted to make a joke when he said, „the perfect front cover!”
Did the location on the Baltic have a big influence on the record?
Janosch: At least unconsciously, the place of creation has an influence on the music and thus also on the album. However, this already starts with the room in which the temporary studio is set up.
Rebecca: When you choose a place to record an album you somehow build a frame for the new music. You take time, you take a spot and then you can really fall into a creative process.For us it is mostly important to build up such a frame since in daily life it can be harder to become creative.
Do you have a favourite song from the album?
Rebecca: I think The Beginning is one of our favourites. For us it creates a very specific mood.
Sepp: One is also one of my favourites since it was magic and joyful how easy we developed this track. But I also listen a lot only to the beginning of The Beginning or the epic end of Pieces.
Do you think you will work together again soon (or as soon as things can happen these days)?
Janosch: I think the break until we look for a place to make music again will be shorter this time. But now we hope to catch up on the cancelled tour as soon as possible and in this phase, we will work together a lot.
Sepp: It was important to see that despite this long break we still can be creative and furthermore spend a great time together. We will definitely keep it up.
What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you recently?
Janosch: There are so many crazy things happening around us at the moment, that we try to live a very grounded life in which we are out in nature with our children quite a lot. There are not so many weird things that I could tell you about – more beautiful ones.
Having listened back to “Looking For The Sea” and “Tibau” is it fair to say that the music has moved away from the dance floor to some extent and become more open and organic? If you think so was that deliberate?
Janosch: Yes, club music has not taken place much in our lives in the past few years and this is of course also noticeable in the songs – more a phase of life than an intention I would say.
What’s the best phrase you’ve picked up in another language?
Rebecca: It is hard to declare a best phrase yet I can give you a funny one. The French song called “Fou de toi” is grammatically spoken out by a male person since the female version is “folle” which means crazy. Yet “fou” is just the better sound in this context I think. I know that some French speakers think that this is quite funny.
What question would you like to be asked that you never are and what would your answer be?
Rebecca: “What makes you really happy?” An honest question that no one wants to ask:)
I think we all strive for a real and deep happiness. And if we try to find it, we can find it in so many little things. When we are aware of the present moment and put our focus on thankfulness, we can find happiness in watching the trees, listening to the birds or admire the blossom of the trees in spring. A simple deep happiness.
Did you have any strange habits as a youngster?
Sepp: I opened almost every device or instrument out of curiosity, but it became less.
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