[previous interview working title: “Brezel Göring Is Far From Boring”]
A very Japanese musical & filmic-al 3-day weekend for Mini Mini [including Japan Underground on the Saturday, and the “Underwater Love: A Pink Musical” Premiere on Sunday] culminated in the following interview with a member of, and indeed one half of Stereo Total. Stereo Total consists of Brezel Göring and Françoise Cactus.
Like the producer of Underwater Love himself, Mr Stephan Holl, Brezel Göring is a very pleasant, warming & enthusiastic individual.
Mini Mini M-intro:
I love your work. I have to admit I’m relatively new to it, even if I’d heard your band’s name before.
After hearing about your involvement with this project and upon seeing the Underwater Love trailer, I searched for samples of your work through iTunes. I was pleasantly surprised, being a man of eclectic tastes. Although I didn’t understand it I was intrigued and wanted to see you in action.
MM: I was at the gig last night. I had signed up to the UK Premiere & gig itself as soon as I’d heard the first piece of music relating to the film. How do you think it went? Was it a good reception, considering the size of the crowd and compared to other places you’ve played?
BG: It’s always a different night. We play on so many different occasions. It was definitely not a typical live show, with a proper system… so it was different, but I don’t mind when its different. I liked the fact that you had figure it out and pick up the people where they are.
MM: Do you always do the things with the ladder?
BG: No, that was just like… I saw it… And thought I’d do some stuff on it.
MM: I agree. It went well with the whole night… Christopher Doyle, the dancing etc.
BG: Mmm… He gave gave the whole thing a weird feel.
MM: I hope to be one of the lucky ones to obtain the DVD, ‘PLUS’ the CD Soundtrack. Will the soundtrack be available separately? Will that be worldwide… or just Germany or Japan?
BG: No. We made 500 vinyl copies of the soundtrack there. Also, on the soundtrack there is much more music than is in the movie, because I cut out a lot of dialogue from the film and put it on to the music. I made it more like an audio play. I always like these records where, like in a lot of Indian or Bollywood movies and their soundtracks from the sixties & seventies, you have the dialogue and the music together.
MM: You mention Bollywood. I know of Stephan [Holl] and his involvement with the Distribution of such films. Was he a fan of the music? How did you become involved with him, and the project?
BG: He just asked us. I had no idea what a Pink movie was, so he gave us a pile of CDs and DVDs. I started to watch these and I really liked the idea of the project. I thought, it’s so rare that you get involved with something that’s different. And also the fact that he wanted to make a singing & dancing comedy, I found that exciting.
MM: I understand that you based the songs on the script alone, is that the first time you’ve done that? How many other films have you been asked to get involved with the soundtrack on, or was this your first?
BG: No… We did some songs for movies but only one song on each. We did a theatre place where we showed movies and played a new score for them. We had a screening over the weekend and played new music live, to the movie. We also made these audio plays for the radio, but we never really did a film score.
MM: Did you pick any of the actual dialogue lines to use as lyrics?
BG: No. Imaoka [Shinji], the director wrote the lyrics and we got them in Japanese and English. Then I read the script, the first one… and I thought “OK, this [scene] is in a garage, so this is going to be this sound”. I started with the English lyrics. Then, when the Japanese lyrics came in and we had a translator telling us of how many syllabols there were, we had to change the lyrics. Also, we expected the actress to sing, and so we were really surprised that they used Françoise’s voice… Because it was recorded in a situation like this, where we were just at a table. It’s just a pilot voice. [I comment on the good quality of the sound] Yeah. For the radio people, I bought really expensive microphones & everything… because when they come they just see a normal looking microphone… so I have very good equipment at home, even when I’m lo-fi.
MM: I understand that the final scenes were different to the script you saw & worked from, but what did you think of the film itself overall?
BG: We saw it first in September, two months ago… At the Berlin festival. But last year, we did the final editing in Cologne and wrote all the score music, of which some appeared in the movie. For example, for all the sex scenes I wrote underlying music… Because to me, it was so shocking that I thought it would be good to have some kind of ironical comment on what is happening. But, Imaoka didn’t like it as much so it’s only in one moment.
MM: What appealed to you about doing the music for Underwater Love?
BG: I liked that it’s a sex movie. Musicians always, after a while try to become more high class, do something classical or something more sophisticated, so I thought it to go in the other direction and try the lowest form… like pornography. I mean, I was laughing about the whole project, in a positive way. It’s just really hard to describe it to anybody. Also, sometimes when people are at our house I show them some scenes and play the music. They think that it’s trashy… but it’s so far out. I think my neighbours started to worry that they’re living close to a sex maniac, because I was listening to the film all the time. You know, I’m living in the Turkish area… It’s all these families with a lot of children, they already think that I’m a weirdo.
MM: Stereo Total are known for singing in different languages. Do you prefer German or do you like a challenge?
BG: Actually, because she [Françoise] is French, it was already like that… We had French and German. In the beginning of Stereo Total I thought it would be good to do something that is completely opposite to the way the culture was tending to go, so maybe we wouldn’t use the English language. No offence, but in Germany and in our situation everyone was trying to sing in English, and in the beginning I thought we’d use other languages… but we ended up using a lot of English finally. For me, it was always to break linguistical barriers, to break stylistical barriers & like a metaphor for barriers to go away, politically.
[Mini Mini starts to shared or recommend certain electronic-based musicians to Brezel. He takes notes. What Brezel did with these notes afterwards is another matter!]
MM: Are you fans of Japanese films? Do you have any favourites?
BG: Francois is a huge film film. I don’t like Hollywood movies very much. Some Japanese films… and with the Pink movies I saw, I like the lack of polish and the visual weirdness in the drama. Sometimes when a movie is leaving the usual trace, I start to get interested.
MM: I’m aware that you have done a few covers of songs, but in your own unique style. Do you find these easier, or harder to come up with a different interpretation?
BG: Very easy. I listen to a song that I like very much or which I like the lyrics of, and it’s already there but you just need to emphasise a certain thing that’s not in the original. When you make your own music or compose a song there are a lot of doubts you always have, but if somebody else did it you don’t relate to it, even the silliness of it. If you’re doing it yourself you’re doubting it, thinking “can I do this, or is this too far out?” so I think it’s very easy to do other people’s material.
MM: Your music is so unique but do you have any influences? Do new artists inspire you?
BG: A lot. From the beginning [of Stereo Total], when I met Françoise. I had never listened to Serge Gainsbourg, which incorporated reggae music, garage beat, jazz, sex, pornography in the lyrics all the time… which is also like poetry. I was really intrigued by this. I thought it was a really good cultural mirror. I got very influenced by the idea of misusing and taking things out of context & combining them with something else. Before, I was very much into noise music and experimental stuff & so when I met Françoise pop music started to make sense to me. I’m also very much inspired by younger musicians. Over the years, I’ve started to think that they’re right because they’re going to be around longer on the Earth than me. I can remember in the 90’s, I was never that interested in doing electronic music, which is tracks without a defined beginning or ending. I wanted to make songs and I liked the sounds very much, but and I wasn’t intending to make music to be played in DJ sets. A lot of the electronic musicians at this time had a strong influence on me. For example, from the digital hardcore recordings, which is far out from our music there was one guy who was using Omega computers for his music. It was really brutal music but I felt it was ideal music. It was very fast and exciting sounds which drive you crazy, along with fast speech samples. It’s unbearable to listen to but I was very intrigued by the way this music was made, and so this was an influence on me.
MM: How many times have you played in London? Or anywhere else in UK?
BG: A lot of times. I think the first time was when we were invited by Momus, a musicician from the eighties. Momus was on the Cherry Red label who had started to work with a lot of Japanese singers. He had a record label, Analogue Baroque and he released one compilation of Stereo Total’s, so we toured with him in England. That was the first time we played in London. From then we kind of played regularly, but with Stereo Total we never fall under one type of music, although we’re sometimes connected with electro stuff. In the early 2000’s we somehow got involved, even though we weren’t really representing it.
MM: Apart from London, have you played elsewhere in in the UK?
BG: No, with Momus we toured the whole of the UK. One time we got asked by a band called The Strokes. They asked us because they had seen us play in New York. It was their big breakthrough so they asked us to do the US tour with them, but we didn’t have time so we just did a few dates. They then invited us for the European tour as support. I don’t think they wanted four other guys with guitars so we were like the most alien people for the job. So, we did the whole England tour with them.
MM: Did you realise that there’s a ‘Holiday Inn’ just up the road?
BG: You know, it’s Françoise… She comes out of the blue with “let’s go to a Holiday Inn” – I don’t write lyrics, as I’m always afraid of lyrics – and I thought ‘wow, what is she talking about?’ but… you know, when we were in Japan they booked us in a Holiday Inn every night, and we were like ‘my god, it’s the song!’ We should have sung about the Sheridan, then we would have gone to a much more high class hotel or “let’s go to Adlon”.
MM: Lastly, as a new Stereo Total fan, what able would you recommend to listen to first? Your earliest material perhaps, or a compilation?
BG: There is a compilation of the whole first five records. It’s a double vinyl [“Party Anticonformiste”] – we tried to make it the four sides of Stereo Total. There’s the cute electro, then there’s the garage & punk side, the collaborations & experimental then one side with more far out music. But I think “Musique Automatique” is the easiest for people to get into, because it has the best production. But, I’m always saying that all the albums are the same, as there has been no artistical progress since the first record.
MM: It was nice to meet you – It was a great night…
BG: Thanks. I had a great time.
MM: Do you always do the crowd surfing?
BG: Sometimes I do it. You have to do something with the crowd… especially as Christopher [Doyle] had already made such a fuss.
Link to “Underwater Love – A Pink Musical” review:
Mini Mini’s interview with Stephan Holl from “Rapid Eye Movies” can be found here:
“Stephan Holl – Rapid Ear Movement”
Find this video and other Mini-er Movies [including Trailers] here at: