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PICKS: Tobias' Musical Therapy

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PICKS: Tobias' Musical Therapy

The electronic artist behind Berghain's most melancholy night, whose name translates as 'sad and undanceable', gives us a rich musical insight into his musical world, along with a prelude contextualising the playlist.

I met [Loose Lips editor] Will in front of an old industrial complex. It was day two of the 'Berlin Atonal' festival and I was handing out flyers to the waiting crowd. Everybody was dressed in black. A colourful subculture-mix from Goth to casual Alternative. A quite grim setting at first glance - but the moment I handed over the flyer, most of the people started smiling. Some of them read it out loud 'TRAURIG UND UNTANZBAR'. 'That sounds funny', they said. And I liked it: My event' Traurig Und Untanzbar' makes people smile.

The story behind the title is a deeply personal one. It basically mocks the feedback I got regarding my DJing and productions. Receiving negative feedback on my love for niche-music made me think. And one day, I decided to glorify instead of hide my passion. This was the birth of the concept, a kind of friendly invitation to face usually ignored feelings, it is nothing but an aural trip from sadness to madness.

The music forces you to deal with otherwise suppressed thoughts and feelings: The sombre, drone tunes prepare the ground: they let suppressed emotions surface within your conscious mind. Neo-classical tunes nurture and spiral on what has surfaced. Dark Ambient adds energy. The Inner tension that lies in all of us: the unanswered questions, the 'Whys' and 'Hows' must now be addressed. And most likely, there won’t be a satisfying answer. Accepting and embracing the helplessness - and venting it through angry music - is the climax of this trip. Facing instead and dealing with questions instead of avoiding the confrontation: This is the best way to come to terms with unrest and doubts.

The music I chose to present here is deeply linked to my current personality, my childhood and my gothic teenage years. And although I don’t wear black on the outside anymore, a deep sense for the temporariness of life, of things… (of basically everything) shapes my feeling and guides my actions. And it will do so forever. It’s my guideline in moments of doubt; Traurig Und Untanzbar is nothing but my very personal therapy.


Erasure - Always

Shortly after the German reunification, the range from TV-Channels you could choose from was quite poor. But, there was this 30 minutes music video show on some local channel (and it was not MTV! - It was 'Hit Clip' with host Thomas German on WDR-Station). I was about 8 years old when Erasure’s 'Always' left me staring at the screen. I didn’t speak any english back then, so all I could do was to call for Mom the next time the video was announced by the host. And I remember vividly pointing at the screen, enjoying the bitter sweet ballad and saying (in german): 'Mama, was ist das?'.

And for Xmas of that year, Mom and Dad got me a CD Player and a compilation with Erasure on it.

Years later I discovered the link between Erasure and Depeche Mode...

The Magnetic Fields - Why I Cry

Does anyone remember 'Pete & Pete'? The show on Nickelodeon about those two brothers living in that average US-suburb, experiencing remarkably strange, almost bizarre adventures (measured on a kids-show-scale). The music featured in this show was more than eye opening: Not only did Iggy Pop perform AND act, but songs from the Magnetic Fields played when one of the main protagonists had to say goodbye - forever - to his best friend. I cried a little back then. And I’ve since seen Stephin Merritt and his band play live twice!

Depeche Mode - Only When I Lose Myself

I remember it clearly. This intro. This sweet, sweet, inviting darkness. Dave’s voice trenched in reverb. And an outro more beautiful than nightwandering through abandoned factories with a full moon shining through shattered windows. The track was revelation at a time when everybody else started listening to the Backstreet Boys. And I wondered: was this music really soundtracking the other people’s lives?

I began to actively search for more Depeche Mode and likeminded tunes - and by doing so, I opened Pandora’s Box - and over the next ten years I slithered into an intense world of Wave, Industrial and Goth.

Wumpscut - Soilent Grün

I could talk about this song for ages but I’ll cut things short: The track stands for itself. A hymn to me and so many fellow people. There’s an entire playlist on my Spotify account if you fancy this kind of music.

Laurent Garnier - The Man With The Red Face

Fast forward. It’s 2011 and I visually don’t qualify as 'Goth' anymore. In a few years from now I’ll be a producer, DJ and promoter, but I don’t know this yet. Back then, I worked in a Techno club as light-jockey. Listening to a variety of Techno and Electro-Genres shaped my love and understanding for the years to come. Especially the warm-up and after-hour tunes with their more organic approach to electronic music - this appealed to me.

Subheim - Red Ridge

It was in about 2016 when I saw Subheim performing in Berlin. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect - but what I was confronted with left me crying (in a positive way).

His music instantly made me feel introspective. All of a sudden I was ready to allow myself to think about topics I held concealed from my inner self.

Losing control over my thoughts was the best thing that could ever happen to me. And it marks the birth of the intentionally crafted trip from Sadness to Madness.

Tobias Lichtmann - Ne Personne

This is how 'I' sound: When I’m in a good mood, my tracks are laid back and loungey. When I’m tense, things are techno. 'Ne Personne' was in between.

And in case you happen to be in Berlin on September 14th, you might want to join our Therapy“-Session :-)