When Earlyguard turned me on to Entertainment for the Braindead‘s Hypersomnia, I was knocked out by it. It’s full of beautifully fragile, drowsy tracks. I immediately started badgering her for an interview. Unfortunately, that fell down the back of the internet. So when she released her latest EP Hydrophobia – which you can download for free on Aaahh Records – I took the opportunity to have another stab at it.
How long have you been making music? What got you interested in making music?
Since music was in some way everpresent in my life and especially in my teenage years I started to build up an intense relationship with the songs I listened to, it came naturally for me that at some point I wanted to try this myself.
I had a sparse but present musical education as a child, including recorder lessons and a children’s choir membership so I was not entirely unfamiliar with the aspect of not only consuming but also playing music, but it was only when in I picked up a borrowed guitar to teach myself a bit that I actually started the attempt to make my own humble songs. That was a first tentative step I made about four years ago.
What made you pick up the ukulele? What appeals to you about it?
Picking up the ukulele was a surprisingly spontaneous decision, mainly inspired by some travelling plans for summer and the urge to take a light, portable instrument with me. Later the travelling plans were abandoned anyway but getting to know the ukulele was an epiphany to me. It should remain an important point in my musical development. The ukulele conveyed the feeling of immediate familiarity, which is something I had never experienced on the guitar. It was utterly inspiring!
But also apart from the mere playability and direct relationship to the instrument as such, I also like the ukulele as an overall concept. It manages the balancing act between being unobtrusive, modest yet still extraordinary. A ukulele player may attract attention with this unusual choice of an instrument, but doesn’t necessarily claim to be taken seriously. The more surprising it seems to be for the audience to experience that this somewhat toy-like thing can in fact be a serious instrument. Besides, it also appears to have an interesting influence on social behaviour among fellow ukulele players – there’s a kindness within the community of ukulele players that I rarely have experienced elsewhere so far.
How did the name Entertainment for the Braindead come about?
I am really bad in coming up with names for anything. When I started this music thing and had to find a name for it, this expression, that I had heard a while ago, came to my mind. I already had the web domain anyway and it struck me that in a way it would also fit the music project – at least it might keep the audience’s expectations low. And I’d rather go for a slight hint of sarcasm than choose something that sounds too pathetic…
Do you start with a theme in mind for your albums or does it emerge as you went along?
Maybe it’s a mixture of both, to some extent. But there are times when my life circles around a certain theme or idea or I keep some sort of leitmotif in mind that helps me verbalize the experiences I made over a certain period of time. So basically it just happens, at least it’s not artificially constructed.
What’s in the future for Entertainment for the Braindead?
That’s a good question. I don’t know, I will see where this leads me. It’s funny because this development is turning into a recursive process… Up to now it was just my personal development influencing the musical one.. now it starts to work the other way as well, which is quite exciting for me. And since this has just begun, I have no idea where it might end.
One of my questions in the batch that never made it to you was, “Hypersomnia feels like a lonely album. How does that fit with the theme of sleep?” Unless I’ve got it wrong, Hydrophobia feels a lot less lonely. It’s not really a question anymore, just an observation.
But this is a good observation, yes.. Hypersomnia is in fact a an extremely self-centered, introverted album. The notion of sleep as it is dealt with in these songs is mainly a means of isolation. The sleeper avoids confrontation with the world, the sleeping body is the shell into which he withdraws. It’s mostly about resignment and escapism and thus, loneliness.
Now while Hypersomnia focuses on the Self, Hydrophobia is about the others. It’s basically the next step, going out and giving up fortresses and facing the world in all its ambivalence.