Music_ Me And My Drummer
Text by Shanna Keetelaar
Me And My Drummer. The name says it all. Charlotte Brandi (vocals, keyboard)and Matze Pröllochs (drums) recently released their debut album The Hawk, The Beak, The Prey, on Sinbuss. Charlotte’s voice takes us straight into a world of strength, pain, love, hope, and everything (and everyone) in between. I met them in a cafe in Berlin to talk about the faces behind this dreampop music duo.
NOU: You guys met in Tubingen while working as stage musicians for theatre productions. From there you moved to Berlin to concentrate on making music together. Was this a hard decision to make? Was there anything holding you back?
M: First of all, it was a personal decision for both of us, because we both wanted to live here. We just really like Berlin. On the other hand, of course made more sense to be a musician here on account of the connections we’d had. Tubingen is a really small city, and it was clear that we wouldn’t fit well there.
NOU: Your first record is written mostly in Berlin. Was the city itself an inspiration for you?
C: Actually yes. As newcomers we were thrown into icy water, so to speak. It took us some time to develop a solid network and find our niche; there was much tension wondering whether things would work out. I remember that first winter was insecure and exhausting, so it surely influenced the general mood of the record.
NOU: Matze, could you describe Charlotte as a person and what music is for her?
M: Um, I can try! First of all, she is very serious, a perfectionist. Working together is not always easy; we argue a lot about certain topics. Music is something that comes naturally to her; her parents are musicians, so she’s been in contact with a lot of different kind of music her whole life. It’s simply a part of who she is.
NOU: Charlotte, in what way does Matze complete and fulfil you in a musical way?
C: Actually we’ve been asked whether Me And My Drummer could be Me and another drummer; it’s unthinkable for me. Matze has so many qualities that I not only appreciate, but need: he’s open-minded, he trusts me, he’s talented, critical, accurate. This is a beautiful journey we are on together; it’s about getting better and developing a sense for what is good for us musically and personally. I don’t think that the band would be possible without him just as he is.
NOU: I saw your performance here in Berlin a few weeks back and I noticed that you give a very basic and raw performance. There is no one else onstage with you two. Did you decide together to give such a clean performance?
C: It was a conscious decision; we didn’t want to cover everything up with visual effects and costumes. For some certain tunes it would have been very nice to have backing musicians on the stage, though, especially the choir we’d been working with on the record. All in all, it’s a nice challenge. For this debut album I think it’s the right way to arrive on the scene and say, “Hey, this is us.”
NOU: Do you prefer giving small concerts/living room shows or to play in big festivals?
M: It depends on the situation; we’ve had great living room shows, but we’ve also had fantastic festival concerts. Naturally, it also depends on the audience; there can be a friendly atmosphere with 2,000 people, while maybe no one is listen to you in a living room show. But in the end…I think I prefer the bigger shows.
C: For me it’s the same. We had a very intimate unplugged session in London once; I didn’t even have a microphone! It was one of the most challenging situations I’d ever been. Even though we weren’t too satisfied with our performance, the audience loved it, and it remains one of our most memorable shows. So it really depends.
NOU: I suppose being in a two-person band brings safety and clarity, but also short tempers. Can you tell us when you get on each other’s nerves?
C: Let’s make this short…
M: Charlotte is extreme in her reactions, so she can be pretty emotional before a show, maybe worrying about whether it’ll be good or bad, or something. That gets to me, because then I always have to calm us both down. But I guess that’s not too bad.
C: Um, how can I put this delicately… Matze is very much in his head and irritatingly sober and rational with things. Sometimes a bit too much for me because I feel like I’m running around and screaming and exploding and he doesn’t see my point. But I do have a point, even if I exaggerate a bit! He’s right, though, that I’m not always calm before a show, which drags the mood down. But all in all we manage each other just fine.
NOU: Charlotte you have a very characterized voice that seems to come from your heart without much concern. Are you professionally trained, or do you just do what feels right? And Matze, do you ever feel overshadowed by her voice?
C: I’ve had some lessons, but not regularly, so I’m not sure how much that counts. I did one year at the pop academy in Enschede, and there I became familiar a bit with the techniques, but I’ve forgotten everything, to be honest. So I think I’m leaning towards ‘from the heart,” as you said.
M: I love her voice as well, and I hope that everyone says the same thing.
NOU: Everything has been moving quickly for you both. How do you cope with it? Are there a lot ups and downs?
C: That’s a pretty sensitive question because we hadn’t expect the amount of work we’ve encountered. We’re good at playing music, but no one ‘s ever coached us in doing interviews, or in traveling.
M: Or in acting.
C: Yes, and acting! So it’s taken us by surprise.
M: We’ve had to get used to it, of course. Before we released the album we had managed the whole “band thing” by ourselves. We didn’t have a team. I’d thought that having management meant our only job was to play our tunes; but now there’s even more stuff to do! It’s hard work.
C: In hindsight it’s logical, but when you’re starting out and in the midst of it all, it’s a lot to take in.
NOU: And the future? Any big dreams or hopes that you would like to share?
C: Yes, many! We want to make a beautiful second album. We want to tour in many different countries, and get to know different places. We want to evolve, to get better in what we do, and to explore our job.
M: I hope that someday we’ll have more time for jamming together. We’re planning some time blocks for next year when we will lock ourselves in the studio or rehearsing room and work on new material. That’s what I really need now. I mean, it’s great to play all the songs we already have, but it’s there’s nothing like the feeling of putting fresh material in the setup.