interview Music

Ben Böhmer from Germany brings his ‘Breathing’ tour to south Asia

Kicking off Ben Böhmer’s latest album is the precipice for his worldwide tour

Kicking off Ben Böhmer’s latest album is the precipice for his worldwide tour  

The popular DJ and producer chose south Asia to kick off his first tour, and shares a few of his landmark career moments from Berlin’s underground scene

As the standards of pop and EDM started to tragically sink in the 2010s, a new breed of musicians came into the mix. Active since 2015, Ben Böhmer is one of Germany’s must-see talents in the alternative music space and he is currently on tour, having just completed a leg in Mauritius and in Mumbai. He recently performed in Mumbai (Kitty Su), Hyderabad (Block 22) and Delhi (Auro).

In an email interview before his India gigs, the rising star says the tour has been exciting so far, the gig in Mauritius being wonderful. “I’m really excited about the next gigs in Asia, North America, Australia and Europe. It is the biggest tour I have ever planned. It is nice to see...that many cities were sold out within a short time. It is an indescribable feeling to reach so many people with the album Breathing.”

Dialling back a bit

Ben reminisces the value of his music-dense education, which commenced with a tryst with a synthesiser. But things really took off when he moved to Berlin from Göttingen. “It was the entry into the big world of electronic music, it was the playground to explore and learn more about the music and to make contacts. I was fortunate enough to play my first live shows in the iconic clubs Tresor and Magdalena. Little by little, I started my own label, Ton Töpferei, on which I released the Promise You EP.”

He says that at the time he did not know how a label works, how to market music or how to reach listeners. Promise You caught a few ears for its mellow and bass-heavy melodies. “After this, larger labels contacted me,” he recalls. “Then Anjunadeep (a UK-based record label) contacted me and the first tracks were released on this label,” he says. When BBC Radio 1’s disc jockey Pete Tong’s released the 2018 Essential New Tune playlist which featured Ben’s track ‘After Earth’, it soared in popularity.

Ben Böhmer performing in the United States

Ben Böhmer performing in the United States  

Anyone who thrives in Europe’s underground music scene would know ‘After Earth’ for its chart-topping placement. But Ben looks at the release of his November 2019 debut album Breathing as his biggest career landmark so far. On Spotify, he has 8,79,783 monthly listeners, if that offers up some perspective on his popularity. Tracks such as ‘Maelstrom’ and the eponymous track ‘Breathing’ remain favourites even months later, a triumph in the fickle music industry.

Musical magnetism

What about being a modern, young musician in the 2010s and 2020s? “A very good quality of a young musician is to have a lot of energy and passion for knowledge, which is very helpful for travelling the world,” he says, adding that we live in a diverse musical era. “Everything is possible and every sound is accepted. Many musicians no longer try to fit into a genre and focus on their own sound. This creates clever and creative ideas. I think that is great!”

Perhaps the fact that Ben often finds himself truly opening up to the world when he gets musical explains why he is magnetic. It is no secret that Berlin’s underground scene is a multi-sensory experience. If you are a musician in this realm, you are also an artiste. Ben says he usually adjusts his sets to his shows, though the list of tracks and the order are fixed.

“The room for improvisation is with each individual track, because I can work on the individual elements of the track separately; there are changes in the arrangement, in the effects and combinations of different tracks. In addition, I play a synthesiser, with whom I play melodies or improvise melodies.”

But it is not just opening up to the crowd; it is also opening up to the world’s different cultures. “It is a symbiosis that is important to me. By playing live I experience the emotions of the listeners live. A give and take arises and connects with the listeners. Playing live is also important to gather new impressions that can be poured into the music. Without this exchange, it would be harder for me to create.”

But being on tour around the world can be very challenging sometimes, in order to find the energy to create music across time zones. “So I like to take breaks to gain a focus on both elements. A great learning was to stay focused on myself. I learned a lot about making music for myself. This gives me emotional authenticity that the listener can feel. This focus helps immensely to find your way around the world and not to get lost,” he says.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:52:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/interview-ben-bohmer-german-dj-and-producer-comes-to-india-for-breathing-tour/article30783381.ece

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