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When did you start making music and what was the contributor factor that made you to do so?
Nico: Around the age of 13 everything started, when an old friend of mine handed me out his guitar, that was plugged into his small 15 watts VOX amp. I couldn’t play a note or even did I know a guitar chord, so I turned around those potentiometers until there was a loud, distorted noise coming out of his amp. Feedback. That was the sound that made me start. My father’s music collection had also a big influence on me in my early days, think of classic rock like Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, JJ Cale, Lou Reed, etc.
Niclas: I think I started with three of four when I got my first child snare drum. A few months later my plastic guitar with four electronic buttons on the neck to go on people’s nerves. After successfully learning guitar and drums I started to love the trumpet at the age of – don’t know – about ten. With all that classical education that I had over my early years I started to sing in a hardcore band and then played bass in a black metal band. Why I still do music after all those long years, you might ask? Because I’m still interested in new ways to speak within a musical context.
How hard was it for you to create, record and release your first material?
Nico: Very. I never was satisfied with anything that was “song structured”. I felt too limited and restricted. In 2011 I discovered the sounds of a band named The Cosmic Dead and one of their rites called The White Rabbit. I felt like I just listened to the holy grail of music. And it still feeds my soul and veins. From there I started a music project called The Space Spectrum. Its first EP came out around the end of 2011. In another perspective this was also the start for Father Sky Mother Earth, because around the production of The Space Spectrum’s first LP I got to know a guy called Niclas Gerull.
Niclas: We are from the same city in the north of Germany where Nico started The Space Spectrum. At this time the only way I could participate and be creative in this context is by doing their album cover artwork (for The Red Eyed Queen, Drone Jams Vol. I + II).
I haven’t released any music until Father Sky Mother Earth. Before that it was only doing what other musicians did, playing it in the same way. Or learning stuff, that is not interesting or relevant to yourself. The first time I had the feeling to develop something was with a friend whom I worked on a hardcore song. During this process I learned to set yourself goals and to finalise something by recording it (semi-)professional. This was the first recorded song and from there I learned, it’s really important to be yourself whatever you do and to go out there and stand in for yourself and your creative work.
What is the main art form that influenced you in creating? Was it only music or did movies and other forms of art influenced your creative process?
Nico: Mostly emotions, the melancholia of the past, and art in every form that could somehow reach my inner ocean, but I guess the biggest part of influence for me takes nature. There is a magical, deep connection to water, trees, all those branches of mother nature, that fascinates me.
Niclas: I wouldn’t say we listen to XY type of music and say: let’s do that. Or watch a movie and then immediately say: That’s inspiring! Basically everyday life inspires. All forms of creating can be inspiring. To me it’s music obviously but visually speaking also painting, photography and movies. Although I own a few of the last, there are sadly only a few classical movies that I own. But visually speaking you can’t go wrong with Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky and Alejandro Jodorowsky. There are plenty other directors I could name. In terms of arts I like many illustration artists in the field of tattoo art. Calligraphy can also be very inspiring (and relaxing), especially blackletter, also Arabic art form. As painters I like Alfons Mucha, Salavdor Dalí, Hieronymous Bosch, Kasimir Malewitsch. Seriously, I could go on for ages about this. Let’s have the next question.
What are the steps that an idea takes before becoming a fully fledge song? And how does that idea affect the way you build an album from the ground up?
Nico: I guess there’s no particular way for Father Sky Mother Earth in the writing process. It’s like with everything creative, it starts with a spark. Anything. But in particular we mostly start with a rhythm, something that is kept in our heads for a while.
Niclas: Mostly the drums laid out help us developing on the strings afterwards. It’s important to have a continuity in the sound but also some nice accents in the rhythm. This also refers to the bass guitar. In that way both parts need to work together. And it’s important for us to have something in mind when we experiment with the drum patterns. Nico is mostly the guy with the scales and notes in his head and we build around this to have a drony, floating-kind of vibe. The songs come together and mostly if we feel, we have got the right mood, atmosphere and caught the right moment it’s easy to chose the songs in the right order for the album. Song titles could be either a starting point for a track or be chosen afterwards. In general we like to progress on everything we do as we grow older. There are always new things that we try to implement like instruments, production, software, amps, effect pedals, field recordings, sound walls.
What do you consider the most important traits that a song and an album must have before you consider it to be completed?
Nico: It needs to catch and release the emotions that we put in our sound. Away from sound quality, production technics or mixing/mastering, for myself this is the most important part. It’s the soul and heart of sound.
Niclas: Don’t think about stuff too much. Let a special moment speak for itself and be kept for someone to listen to it months or years after it has already passed.
What are the actual steps that you take when you are creating? Do you need to enter or go to a certain setting in order to get creative?
Nico: I take the train to Hamburg, and then we’ll rehearse in Niclas living room ’til the neighbours call the police. That’s most of my part.
Niclas: Maybe I was just too much kept within our drones but I have never heard the police ringing. Did you?
We started off as a normal duo with a rehearsing room and amps. With the drum backing track in pre-production we felt pretty limited in that non-private room. We like to be spontaneous and develop new ideas in the valuable time we share together. So if we meet in either city it’s just a natural feel of sharing new ideas and to develop onto the drums. We can easily change patterns around until we found the moment is kept in the right way.
Except art are there any other external or internal factors that influence you when you create, if so what are they?
Nico: As I mentioned before: nature. I often get a lot of inspiration and ideas while walking through the forest or at the ocean. And our different tastes in music. Have you seen Niclas vinyl collection? Man, this dude owns some special ones.
Niclas: In reality I don’t have many special ones like all the vinyl gurus out there. I’m not in for first pressing from Russia or East Germany or whatever. I am happy if I find a record that I like.
Beside all the interest for movies, art, photography etc. I still like to cook if I have time. If I do it’s just a really relaxing, somehow casual way of express yourself. It doesn’t have to be a recipe from beginning to end. Be creative and change stuff around. Be spontaneous if you don’t have key components around. Change parsley to chives and see what happens. It’s also challenging to see what you can create with minimal stuff that you have at home. And you know for sure the best meals are the ones that aren’t overly creative with 1000 spices and herbs. Often it’s just pasta that fits nice with fresh small tomatoes meshed with butter and fresh garlic and a little bit of onions in olive oil. Top that with basil. Can you go wrong with this?
What is your main motivation to create and be creative?
Nico: Leaving footprints. I’m just a stupid human being like everyone else, I just try to last longer then infinity.
Niclas: Same to me. I want to create something that will be there after I’m dead. So my children can hear what my generation was like, what my father was like and how he felt about nature, life, the earth. My motivation is to create something that people can listen to and relax. Music that inspires to do meditation and enables humanity to find a path within yourself.
How long does it take to go from a song to an album from scratch to the fully recorded version?
Nico: If there’s already a demo of sounds, it is just a matter of time.
Niclas: It depends when we have the idea or mood to start with a new album. It can be anything. A few months of anticipation or just a short period of a few weeks. This also refers to the time we have with work, families and friends. Usually if we have build up around some stuff the recording process doesn’t take that long. But so far the production and working situation is pretty similar. There may be a change in progress and the development in new software and amps soon.
Do you take multiple takes of the songs before settling on the final version or do you go with the flow and just do one take?
Nico: As I mentioned before, it needs to have the soul and heart. There’s no particular way, but sometimes the process lasts longer, until we’re satisfied with a sound.
Niclas: But then again, even if we’re in for a longer process on concentrating and nailing everything, giving an image in the current mood we are in that moment, it’s most of the time one of the first takes where our spirits together create something new for the first time. That’s the case because we live far apart and not in the same city. So coming together after a few weeks and be ready to track something, enables you to express in emotions, feelings, moods, daytime, weather etc.
During live shows what do you like to do more, experiment and improvise on the basis of the existing album and songs or you are more likely to recreate the recorded material as faithfully as possible?
Nico: Expect the unexpected! We like to experiment and improvise but the listener still has enough space to recreate the sound that he once heard. They differ somehow but your heart will always be there. It is an ongoing process in every part.
Niclas: I would say with each live show we still develop the song more and more and finetune.
What are the main ingredients that makes a live show special for you?
Nico: The atmosphere of all things we catch up during travel and time before the show. And technical problems. Mostly fighting with my guitar.
Niclas: The journey, the city, the weather, the daytime, the people, the food, the mood, the booker, crews and the technicians. Basically the build-up before we play. And of course afterwards the relaxation, watching other bands play and having a chat with you guys. But the live show itself, what Nico means is: The way you work yourself out in new environments and new technical circumstances. All this can be heard in music. It’s not perfect each time. There is always a fight with yourself, your instrument, your gear, the stage, the climate, the light etc.
Do new ideas appear during live performances? If so how to do you proceed in order to materialize them?
Nico: For my part, ideas mostly appear due rehearsal time.
Niclas: We have this basic structure in the form of the drums that guide us through our live show. This help us with the tempo and rhythm. The last one to me as a bass player is key to improve on different patterns. New ideas come up if I feel ready to let myself go and dig deeper into the sound walls. If I listen to the drums I often have the feeling that the bass could accent stuff more and that’s why I like to experience with rhythm and partial accents to help the song develop and give it a more vibrant and versatile vibe; all in the context of minimal drone though. Most of the time these experimentation helps characterizing the songs identity and to nail it in recording (If it takes place after some live shows, for sure).
What is the perfect time of day and weather that makes you creative?
Nico: The morning hours. 4am-10am. Getting up early, coffee and cigarettes, a walk through nature and then pushing the record button.
Niclas: Creative in general I would say after a nice breakfast where you put your daily goals on the line what to do for this day. Many goals might not be reached for this day but there is always another one. So there is always room for improvement. This helps me to organize and concentrate my energy on the things I want to realise. For me it would be 8am-11am, 6pm to 8pm.
What are your future plans and what advice do you have for people that want to get into creating music?
Nico: Be patient with yourself. Don’t give up on those days where no sounds are coming out! Believe in yourself!
Niclas: … And trust yourself. If you feel it’s something special what you do and you think that people will like it, go out there and present yourself. If you’re yourself out there, follow your imagination and instincts.
Regarding future plans: We just have released our first record on Dirty Filthy Records as vinyl. We did a complete re-rerecording of this. Also our second album from early 2017 will be re-recorded. Let’s see what happens. We’re always on the look for touring Europe. So if you’re into drone, doom, psych, space, post we would be really happy to visit your city! In 2018 you can catch us so far in Hamburg at Droneburg festival VIII, dunk! festival 2018, at Sneaky Snake Festival in Berlin and in the Netherlands.