Echo me is a young, brave and talented danish singer playing guitar and harp. The last 18 month he traveled all over Europe and parts of the U.S. to promote his new album “Echo me” coming out in October 2012. The label Für Records from Berlin signed him a couple month ago. I met him in June. We were sitting at the canal in Kreuzberg, Berlin, having coffee and cake, the transgender CSD passed by and people relaxed while playing boule. I wanted to know more about the personality behind these kind of sad and touching songs. I guess I was quite curious but he answered everything!
In 3 month you will release your first album, but you already played half Europe. How come?
Last year I thought I should create some attention before releasing the album. At first I tried to get some gigs by contacting different clubs in Berlin and Hamburg, but no one got back to me. Therefore I decided to just go and see what will happen. The first time I came here by car, later I traveled by train. I had never been to Berlin before and didn’t know anybody. So I just went to different places, not knowing which areas would be good. In Hamburg I ended up in a cinema café at Jungfernstieg and then continued to Berlin and played at Tacheles. For about 10 days I played there almost every day, a set in the afternoon and a set in the evening. With this experience in Berlin I figured, playing would be possible in any city. As soon asthe album was finished, I just started traveling around Europe.
My first stop was in Malmö. I had a little wagon with me to transport my amplifier, my guitar and a suitcase. And so I traveled by train to Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Brussels, Paris, Bremen and back.Later, I went to London and New York (e.g. Balcony TV), Madrid and Barcelona. Unfortunately, in Barcelona my wagon with all the equipment was stolen! I left it in the entrance of a cafè to talk to the manager.. one minute later it was gone. My guitar, my clothes, everything I had with me.. gone.
[the stolen wagon covered in snow]
What did you experience on the road?
Well, in early 2012 I traveled again. That’s when I met Bernd and Mads from Für Records. By then, I had a new wagon (laughing), but a tire was flat. So I had to pull the wagon around for about 2 weeks. I traveled almost every day to a different city so there was no time to get it repaired. My schedule was pretty packed, all the shows were booked before. Playing, sleeping, driving to the next city, playing, sleeping… And then I experienced some strange things. For example that one place in Kreuzberg, I played outside a cafè, the people were sitting around me, enjoying their coffee and cake, they seemed very happy. But then there came this girl towards me while I was singing, saying something in german I couldn’t understand. I continued, but she and her friends came back talking to me again so I had to stop playing. She said “We all hate you!”. I laughed it away, played 2 more songs but then actually had to stop because they kept complaining. Although all the other guests enjoyed my music and bought many of my CD’s I left the place. But at that time I rather played at a shitty place then not playing at all. Traveling and playing my music like that was a very deep and important experience for me. I couchsurfed a lot, lived on the money I got for selling my CD and met a lot of interesting people.
When being away from home how do you get used to a new place, a new city?
When I travel alone I spend a lot of time sitting in cafés, watching the people around me to get a feeling for the city I am in. I like to see how they talk to each other, how they behave. I usually don’t look for something specific. I guess it’s more about the vibe of an area I am new to.
[photo by Carolin Kraft]
How do you write a song and how do you decide what it will be about?
It’s very rare that I write a song that is only about one thing. I guess I am always trying to bring in a lot of different things. It’s similar to all the different emotions you can feel during just one day. Beinghappy, surprised, sad or disappointed. Maybe I get inspired by something I read and then I bring in my own experiences or stories my friends tell me about. So my lyrics are not necessarily a 100% about me. I have been reading Paul Auster a lot. He writes about perception, the balance between what is real and how do we unconsciously change reality. My choice of language is very inspired by a certain way of thinking. I believe that we only use a very small percentage of our senses. We always think we know and see everything but actually see and understand very little. These thoughts I try to bring into my lyrics. If I want to write a lovesong, I think a lot about many different things I see and feel and then try to connect them.
Do you need a certain amount of melancholy to write?
Yeah, I guess. It’s difficult for me to write something up tempo and happy. I need a kind of dark touch to write and to be inspired. But that doesn’t mean I am sad while writing. Actually I am happy in the process of writing. But the way I perform and sing a song has to be a bit mellow I think. I can easily do both at the same time, be happy and play a song in a sad color. I have to be glad or happy to be creative. When I am in a bad mood I cannot write. But when I am happy it is much easier to think about the bad things and make something good out of it. I love writing music. In that process the darker experiences are definitely more inspiring to me.
Your lyrics are mainly about love, loneliness, longing, being heartbroken. Are those your own experiences?
Of course they are. During life you go through a lot of different phases. My songs always belong to a certain period I was in back then when I wrote them. You go back and forth in your relationships to other people. So sometimes a song can be about longing for something and the next one is about getting away from it. I try to write songs out of the situation I am in, right here and now. So each song, each album is and will be different.
How do you fall in love?
It’s different from time to time. But I guess often I can feel if there is a connection right away without knowing the person. Without knowing where the attraction is coming from. Sometimes when you are with someone you know the day after you won’t see each other again and then sometimes you definitely want to see her again. I think I often fell in love when the situation was complicated because we lived far from each other. So I knew it might not be a very smart situation but still that attracted me. But then, when I liked a girl living right next to me I soon lost interest. Maybe it was just too easy. It’s very simple to fall in love with someone who is very far away and then when it doesn’t work you can just blame it on the distance. Whereas if you find someone living close to you and everything seems perfect it’s more difficult to deal with relationship issues.
[photo by Carolin Kraft]
When was the last time your heart was broken? What happened?
Hmm, I think that was at least 2 years ago. I had a longer relationship. We have known each other for some time and then suddenly fell in love. First we lived apart from each other then in the same city. Right after we broke up after 4 years my mind was already busy with another girl. We came together but this new relationship just lasted for a couple months. After that I guess I got the whole package and just then realized what had happened before. At first I thought I got over my long-term relationship pretty fast but soon realized it only was temporarily. Although we agreed that separating would be best, I was asking myself a lot of questions, went through many different phases. Wondering if we did everything possible to save our love, if I gave up too quickly and so on. Many of my songs deal with my feelings from back then. Today I am good friends with both of them. What is only possible I guess when you leave your false pride behind and accept that the other one continues life, sees other people and stuff. If you stick to your pride you get angry and lose people who once have been very important to you.
Could you imagine yourself having a typical long term relationship?
When meeting a girl I like the thought of playing around with the possibility that this might be something what could last for many years but it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. I also like short encounters where you get to know each other quite well till you find out that you don’t want to take the bus to something big. In a long-term relationship I get used to being a part of something else. But then after recovering from a separation I love the feeling of being complete and whole just by myself. Without knowing exactly whyI usually can tell right away, where something is heading. I can easily see myself in a relationship but I am not looking for it. It sometimes scares me to end up in a relationship where your family means your whole life and you don’t get to do the things that make you to who you are.
[Echo me in New York]
Do you think women see you differently because you are a musician?
Definitely! There is this phenomenon I sometimes think about. What at least some women are attracted to is my kind of driven lifestyle by my longing for playing music. But then after some time it’s exactly that what makes them uncomfortable and feel left behind. They want to get all the attention. And when they get it, I suddenly am not that interesting anymore and only a semi ambitious guy with a guitar. It’slike a game, back and forth. I am dreaming of finding a way where I can be playing music but still can have a family at the same time and not be lonesome while all my friends already have children. So maybe I have to earn so much money the next 10 years I can fly in my family to wherever I am (laughing).
While performing on stage how do you get yourself into the right mood for your sad music?
That can be really difficult. Especially when I don’t want to get into that specific mood I was in while writing a song because you are on a stage and you want to entertain people. When I do a concert, I am very happy and I want people to be happy. I can always remember what my songs are about but that doesn’t mean I have to go back mentally. “Left from the fire” for instance is about a relationship that crashes and you stay behind with nothing. But the fire can also be so many different things like working on an album for a year or so. The meaning of words can change, 2 years after finishing a song I might interpret it totally different. On stage I try to get into a similar state of mind but through different thoughts and different subjects. Sometimes when I play small intimate shows I can see people being touched by my music. I can see that they can feel the emotions I had. Moments like these are a chance to perform a song even better. Usually, when you listen to a song you have no idea what specific situation it is about. Maybe you think you do or you make up your own version of the story. I would say if you are touched by a song it often relates to something you have experienced yourself and therefore it is not important for you whether the song was written to a girl or my uncle. So you make my lyrics fit to your own situation.
That’s true. But don’t you think people can feel your vulnerability and are touched by that, too?
Of course. When people can hear how you can touch yourself by singing it makes them listen. They want to feel what you feel. And also the fascination you have for a song or a singer or an actor can come from your own wish to be able to express yourself like that.
[photo by Carolin Kraft]
Are your songs therapeutic for yourself in a way?
Hmm, I think people who write very emotional songs are maybe not so good at talking about their feelings. When I write a song I am in a good mood. It is therapy but it’s not like I have to write a song about thingsI struggle with otherwise I cannot live on. Everyone has a way of expressing himself, for me it’s music, for others it’s taking pictures or to paint. I think everyone is driven by the same thing. Everyone wants something back from other people. And all of us find different ways to get exactly that. I think if you want to be happy you have to find a job where you get feedback from the people around you. That’s the same recognition I am looking for when I do a concert or write a song.
I wanted my name to reflect that all I do is a part of me and full of my history, my feelings, my thoughts. And also if someone listens to my music it’s an echo of emotions and thoughts that were there before recording. Only the song stays behind like an echo of something already gone.
Do you worry about future sometimes?
I think everybody feels like giving up sometimes. But then the next day you grab the guitar again and it’s the only thing you want to do. It’s been quite some time since I actually felt that way but I remember me having doubts and asking myself where this will be heading. Now many new things are happening in my life and I am happy about releasing my album in Germany soon. I already work on my second album.
[photo by Carolin Kraft]
What else is going on in your life?
Well, I am about to move to Berlin soon and will also start studying to teach music to children in Denmark at the same time. I used to play hundreds of gigs a year in Denmark on weddings and covered songs from other bands just to earn some money. It was a good practice but at some point music became just a job. Now I want to find a way to make my own music without worrying how to pay my bills. And at the same time inspire kids to experiment with music. This way my whole life is filled with music.
Well, what can I say? I had a very good time with Echo me. For all those of you who made it through this long interview until here, watch the video below and see it as a gift! It’s a song Echo me covered from The Freudian Slip. The little dancer Ludwig Af Rosenborg is just amazing!
There are many concerts planned later this year. Go see him if you have a chance:
18.10.2012 DE-Hamburg, Grüner Jäger 19.10.2012 DE-Berlin, Antje Oeklesund (Release Party) 24.10.2012 DE-Hildesheim, VEB Club 26.10.2012 DE-Wuppertal, Bürgerbahnhof “Endstation Sehnsucht” 03.11.2012 DK-Odense, Kansas City 04.11.2012 NL-Groningen, Melodica Festival 17.11.2012 DK-Kopenhagen, Huset i Magstræde 22.11.2012 DE-Berlin, Lido + MARDI GRAS.BB 23.11.2012 DE-Dresden, Ostpol (PPZK Songwriterfestival) 24.11.2012 DE-Stutgart, Café Galao 06.12.2012 FR-Paris, Pop In 18.12.2012 DE-Hannover, Glocksee 20.12.2012 DE-Berlin, Aufsturz