Lukas Lauermann image

“I N does not start with the first work.
The end is at the beginning.
The music on this album began with listening on my part
…and it ends with you dippINg your ears into it.”

By these words Wien-born cellist and composer Lukas Lauermann (and collaborators of a considerable number of local artists of the interesting Viennese scene such as Soap&Skin, Donauwellenreiter, Andr Heller, Der Nino aus Wien, Alicia Edelweiss, Saint Genet, Gelitin as well as the Hamburg-based rock band Tocotronic) introduced his second solo-album (released last September by col legno). Let’s sink INto it and its forger by Lukas’ words!

Lukas Lauermann image
courtesy of Julia Haimburger

Chain D.L.K.: Hi Lukas! How are you doing?

Lukas Lauermann: Kind of hard to tell… unsteady, uncertain. But we all share those feelings right now, I guess, which makes it much more easy to deal with. I miss playing live a lot.

Chain D.L.K.: Compliments from your recent album “I N”. Before focusing on it, can you introduce yourself to our readers by highlighting your traits as a musician and as a person into music in your own words?

Lukas Lauermann: Thank you for the compliments and your interest in my music. I would describe myself as a pretty calm and open-minded person. At least that’s how I want to see myself. As a child I used to be really shy, but making music, the creative process with other people, the exchange with the audience, definitely let me become less introverted. There are topics on which I not only want to express myself artistically, but sometimes also feel the urgency to do it verbally on stage or raise my voice in a discussion. For example, when it comes to how terrible people often treat each other or when somebody spreads one’s sexist or racist ‘ideas’.

Art in general and music in particular to me are of essential importance for human beings as individuals, for their social existence, and for a critical examination of present-day life. With this comes a big responsibility as an artist. I’m coming from a classically trained background, but first and foremost I learned how to deal with that responsibility through my many encounters and experiences with other people both in an artistic and in a personal context.

Lukas Lauermann image
courtesy of Julia Haimburger

Chain D.L.K.: How did you fall in love with the cello? Any listening, composer, or performer that was the sparkle for this passion?

Lukas Lauermann: To be honest, I really don’t know. I can remember trying it for the very first time in the local music school, but that wasn’t an overwhelming love at first sight.

It feels more like one of those stories where two people share the same circle of friends, do a lot together, already know each other very well, and then one day suddenly fall madly in love and live happily as a couple until the end of their days.

Chain D.L.K.: So can you do an INduction to “I N” in your own words?

Lukas Lauermann: It is an attempt to create something, in which in the end what you hear, feel and think plays a much more important role than what my thoughts are.
I’m not telling stories. I N is an experience that becomes your own story.

Chain D.L.K.: The focus on particle ‘IN” sounds like a sort of obsession to the point that someone can surmise your release is more a connection between musics and linguistics… would you agree with such an interdisciplinary link?

Lukas Lauermann: I definitely see the album title – you can read it as the particle, two separated letters or one word – and its connection and interaction with the titles of the tracks, as part of the composition as a whole and not as a characterization in terms of musical content. Working on the titles was the first step of creating this album, giving me the formal structure and connection between the pieces, but of course also narrowing down the topics. There is a lot to discover in the relationship to and with one another of titles and music and their quality, I think.

Chain D.L.K.: “I N does not start with the first work.
The end is at the beginning.
The music on this album began with listening on my part …and it ends with you dippINg your ears into it.”
What did you mean by these words?

Lukas Lauermann: For me, the pieces on the album form an organism that you can enter in different places. It is closed in itself like a circle. What felt for me like the closing piece is the first track on the record. Also, the numbering of the first group of tracks starts with 2 and the last ends with 1, which is meant to be a little hint to what I described before. I’m constantly listening to what’s going on around me, in the world, and that’s the foundation of my artistic work, finding expression in my music. Now you are listening to the result and express your thoughts and feelings about it. We become both part of this circle and the same as with the pieces, there is no definite beginning or end, I think.

Chain D.L.K.: I saw the clips related to “I N”… pretty nice and somehow weird… for instance why did you choose that desolate peripheral setting for the video of “finite_distinct”?

Lukas Lauermann: It’s the setting where I recorded the live session INprogress – we will talk more about that later. A disused 500 meters long cable tunnel beneath an old factory site. Sound engineer Oliver Brunbauer suggested the location because of the interesting acoustics. The seemingly endless depth of the room also fits the album very well. ‘finite distinct’ is the only part of this live recording I also used on the album and therefore works as link between INprogress and I N.

Chain D.L.K.: I imagine you can expect a similar explanation related to the clip of “trusion_clusion”, one of the most heart-warming track in spite of that clip! 😀

Lukas Lauermann: Totally different explanation 🙂
The idea to that clip and using the mouth locks came from Mimu Merz and Markus Zahradnik, who also produced it, after I told them about what the title and piece mean to me. It’s the interplay between intrusion and inclusion. What do we find disturbing? Why do some people find it threatening to integrate people from other cultures into their familiar living environment? Can’t the unfamiliar also be something good, something valuable, and enrich us? In the music, the additional, sparsely appearing synth and tuning fork tones stand for this. The mouth barriers restrict in a certain way, distort the actors face, and at the same time they release a lot of carefree joy in playing.

Chain D.L.K.: Any word about the interesting live recording INprogress?

Lukas Lauermann: As an intermediate marker while working on the album, I went to this special location I already mentioned above, to improvise with material that had been created up until the. So everything still was in progress and I wanted to combine the initially intellectual, conceptual approach to the album with purely intuitive play in order to continue working on the pieces with a different perspective.

Chain D.L.K.: I saw that tracks are divided into kinda of blocks in the booklet. Is there any specific reason for this way of sorting and organizing them?

Lukas Lauermann: I mentioned the idea of an organism with different entry points before – the groups kind of mark those.

Lukas Lauermann image
courtesy of Julia Haimburger

Chain D.L.K.: Is there any track that immediately ignites some particular memory that you want to share with us?

Lukas Lauermann: I once had the amazing opportunity to play in a Rothko exhibition. An improvised, rudimentary version of ‘finite distinct’ (working title ‘plum and black’ after a painting) emerged there. Especially when I play it live, the poignant experience of sitting in a room full of paintings by Mark Rothko and making music next to them, somehow with them, will always come back to me, I guess.

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Lukas Lauermann: Yes. What I’m currently working on is still meant to be strongly related to I N – title: processIN.

I have established the following sentence for myself as a basic idea for composing it:
Detail becomes an entry point from where to reconstruct larger process. So right now I’m focusing on electronically processing cello signals, single notes, in a certain way, experimenting with a lot of different effects pedals. I’ll let you hear where this is leading me to!

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