Interview with Alev Lenz
With Jane Porter
Presented by Song River
Jane Porter: Technology is allowing us to progress, even though it can have its moments of digression, overall how do you view your art and its positive side in the 21st Century?
Alev Lenz: I think expanding your knowledge can be easier with the access that technology offers. The technology and the simplicity of it allows you to access different parts of the music making progress, other than just the songwriting for example.
In my case, having the technology allowed me to really express what I thought needed to be happening in the music and not having to rely on someone else to have as a sort of middle men, if you know what I mean.
JP: Your latest album, Two-Headed Girl, has notably offered a mix of your musical range and songwriting. What went into the process of some of the storytelling you pulled from in this album’s creation?
AL: Being fed up! I had longings and sounds in my head and heart that I really wanted out but I kept hitting walls, not achieving what I was envisioning. Not just for songwriting but in life I was experiencing limits and pushing boundaries, exploring myself, my feelings and my heartache in order to move on, to grow.
JP: On this album you had Finnish drummer, Samuli Kosminen come in. How did the two of you meet and connect?
AL: Loooooooong story… We actually never met in person until after the album was finished! I had my songs ready and pre-produced; I had the beats programmed and I liked what I had done, but I am an analogue musician after all.
So, in search of how to create the drum sounds I was looking for, I was browsing ‘piano music and drums’ and was watching this Hauschka live video from Joe’s Pub in New York. Samuli was playing on it and I knew that that was exactly the kind of drumming I needed for my songs. Jas, who I had brainstormed my ideas for beats with encouraged me to get in touch with ‘that guy.’
I emailed my friend Kaapo Kamu (who takes all my photos) who I thought might know him. But only seconds after I hit the send button on the email I remembered why Samuli’s name sounded so familiar!
Kaapo had actually already put us in touch years ago and I had completely forgotten about it! So when I wrote Samuli “again” he already knew my music and said he would love to work with me on my second album. It was really a ‘meant to be’ situation.
JP: Any regrets? Elations? That you took over the role as producer for this album?
AL: No regrets! And yes, I am very proud and it made me very confident. It was a great process.
JP: What were some of the most valuable things you learned by taking this control?
AL: Keep on doing what you are doing. Pain and frustration are not the end but the beginning of growth. It took time; patience and persistence is key.
The most important lesson from this album I think is that it is my very subjective choices and standing by them what makes me the artist I am.
Your choices, your feeling, your aesthetic can’t be judged by anyone. And you’re the best at what you think is the right aesthetic. Everyone will make different choices and not one is better than the other, but one of them is you and all the others are somebodies else art.
JP: Your home country is Germany, but home for now is London. Is London the heartbeat central of Europe’s music scene?
AL: I think so, yes. Music here is really everywhere. Everyone shares it, has a passion for it, people try out new venues and listen to new music, generally listen to all kinds of music, take part in all kinds of experiments and all with such open ears. It is fantastic to be fueled by the understanding of the whole culture that what you do has value.
I am not sure how that all will change now however. A lot of the music made here, the exchange of music and also the abundance of fantastic indie labels and their great artists, the funded venues and production of for example vinyl worked greatly within the frame of the EU. Have a read here. I thought that was very interesting.
JP: On your site you briefly site the Brexit. As you sit back and really view the politics locally, then wider Europe, lastly internationally what do you think?
AL: It’s terrible and I am in shock. There is an aggressive brain virus that seems to have attacked so many humans everywhere. Economical fear and the actual fear of death has made a us vulnerable humans loose the barriers that keep our hands from slaughtering our brothers and sister, our children and parents. But I see greatness and good everywhere I look, we just need to love our love more that we fear our fear and I am working on it every day.
The Brexit itself was a terrible signal to send out in these times. It made me sad and I was very disappointed. Disappointed that angry and hateful language has poisoned people’s ability to think, more: TO FEEL.
JP: In some ways… do you not agree that unrest is perhaps one of the most important gifts songwriters can receive?
AL: I can’t perceive anything as a gift that leaves only one soul behind frightened or worse, dead.
It is probably a gift to be able to let go of fears and perceive and take in the changing times. I am hoping for a song, a movement, a creation that will unite us all in spirit and move the world forward, but just today I read this great article on how difficult this will be.
I don’t mean to paint a dark picture but I think it is important to realize how serious the situation is and how big the tasks are that lie ahead.
All Photo Credit: Kaapo Kamu