Publication: Vents Magazine
Date: May 15, 2023
VENTS Magazine recently had the pleasure of interviewing German musical legend Ute Lemper about her new music video, “Time Traveler.” The interview can be read below!
Your music video has incredibly detailed graphics that take viewers on a journey through time. What inspired the story behind this music video?
The idea was to be a time traveler, through a hundred years of history from the past into the future. I am experiencing time running too fast or sometimes stalling in my own life, wondering about our planet’s evolution and the years marking our faces.
Important human beings appear to accelerate progress and contribute to culture and humanity, others destroy it all over again. Is it a cycle of history, simply the human condition? The video is a fun movie, that takes us on a visual adventure enhanced by AI, a journey through time and into our mind. The song is sensual and offers philosophical ideas.
How has your German heritage influenced your sound?
In this kind of repertoire of soul music with a contemporary edge and my own songs I do not see any specific influence from my German background. It is not theatrical music or chanson; this one is straight from the heart and simply vibey. The storytelling, though, might always have a certain edge and depth due to my heritage. I always search deeper and try to poeticize the mysteries of life.
Has your history in musical theater impacted your music career today? If so, how?
I spent years on stage in shows and theatrical plays, but always was the happiest when I could dedicate my time to my own creations, when I do not have to fit into anything but can be utterly free in my creation. A sparkle of an idea often starts off an entire project and it’s wonderful to go all the way, without any compromises.
How has the theme of change demonstrated in “Time Traveler” affected your own journey in the music industry?
Ha, I definitely have seen the evolution from vinyl in the 80s to CDs in the 90s, to digital distributions over the last 10 years. The change in musical production from tape to Pro Tools and the worrisome disappearance of the human performance in its imperfection in the contemporary pop music. Where will this lead? Will my children still have an ear for raw and authentic performances? I do not mind the minimalist approach of many contemporary pop productions, but I do mind the absence of humans giving their soul into the music.
How does “Time Traveler” differ from music that you have released previously?
The album carries only my own songs in lyrics and music. I had composed many of the previous albums but mainly to poetic literature, like Bukowski, Neruda and Coelho. These songs have my own words. It is not really jazz or cabaret, chanson or lied; they have their own language in a soulful universe.
I just wrote a substantial autobiography, now published in German and soon to be licensed in other languages. I am thinking of conceiving a show with stories about my life from cold war Berlin to Paris in the poetry clubs and New York in many transitions since 9/11, all accompanied by the essential songs expressing those moments in time.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
In the year 2000 I had just found new love with my partner Todd and started a new passage in life after a divorce and a few years in shows in the West End and on Broadway. I was touring with my album Punishing Kiss and was highly inspired to start writing songs myself. I was filled with ideas, lyrics, poetry, and harmonies on my piano. Todd and I recorded the songs on a 16 track analog tape machine in his music studio in Chelsea. Two years later we had switched to a Pro Tools set up and the old tapes disappeared for more than 20 years in the basement… until we discovered them again by coincidence. Now a lifetime later, still together making and producing music, we had the old tapes carefully digitised and could not believe the originality of the old songs. By touching them up, partly re-singing, partly keeping the youthful voice, blending old and new stories, laying a more contemporary sounding groove under it, I suddenly found the inspiration to write music again.
The album shows a time warp, a wrinkle in time and a beautiful encounter with our younger selves, but at the end the new songs dominate as they express my more mature contemporary philosophy of life.
What is your favorite lyric from “Time Traveler”, and why?
In these dark times, the eyes start to see….
If you move the wall sideways it becomes a bridge
Was there ever innocence, I am fine with its loss
I am a time traveler looking for you, here to save you
What have you learned from your time as a musician that has helped you with your upcoming album?
Follow the instinct, make space for the words inside the music and the silence within.
Invite incredible talent to contribute and shine.
Make the music embrace humanity in its beauty.
It is a teamwork, but stay faithful and truthful to your vision.
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Click here to read the article on Vents Magazine website.