German Virtuoso Christian Löffler Talks Festivals, Art, & New Album ‘Lys’ At Cityfox Live
Leap Day 2020 opened the doors for a new all live electronic extravaganza at Avant Gardner in Brooklyn, New York. The four-room takeover featured 19 different artists all of which used live machines and instruments instead of the traditional DJ setups. A special night filled with many surprises, firstly the debut of Schwarzmann as a duo composed of artists Frank Wiedemann from Ame and Henrik Schwarz featuring legendary Chicago house vocalist Robert Owens, breakout producer and artist Christian Löffler performed songs off his new album Lys.
Cityfox is known globally for their rich lineups and incredible production and this night was no different. The Great Hall featured a sophisticated lighting rig which put the artists in the middle of the spotlight. The Lost Circus was transformed into an intimate sonic playground where the audience and the crowd could enjoy each other’s company. Kings Hall provided a quintessential music experience for those looking to let loose. Lastly, The Ambient Lounge provided drinks and food for those that needed a break after the omnipotent tunes.
The production crew worked overtime to bring this beautiful display of lights and live music together. The Cityfox team has been bringing many popular acts into the United States from all over the world shaping the music scene where thousands can enjoy a special music festival on a chilly February night. It is a beautiful time to be part of the ever-growing scene that creates more fans by the day. The strong bass resonates through each person in the venue, their dance moves and fist pumps coordinating to the beat of each track.
The variety of stages and sounds allowed people to go and explore the different vibes and music that were ready to be seen. The main stage held the most people but in between, there were many promising acts and rising artists waiting to make their break.
As time flew by into the late-night the energy remained at a constant. One of the most vivid memories of the night was the display created by Paul Kalkbrenner who had a two-hour slot in The Great Hall, each tune connected to the audience as they unleashed their energy into the dark warehouse.
We had the great privilege to interview Christian Löffler, a rising force in the industry, on his new album Lys coming out at the end of March. Prior to the Cityfox event, there was a brand new video released for his song “The End”. The crowd packed in The Lost Circus for his performance which hit the spectrums of intimate and powerful. The crowd cheered in excitement as he took the stage which was a part of the dance floor and the next hour and a half was a special treat.
Sensible Reason: What is it like to play in an entirely live lineup with so much talent?
Christian Löffler: I’m very excited because I recognized the cityfox event a long time ago. It’s cool to be here finally for the last few shows. I was more focusing on concert shows. I was playing Music Hall of Williamsburg for example here in New York. I usually play club shows with a more simple setup so it’s good to have a bigger setup in a more clubby environment so I am excited for that.
SR: Are you excited to see anyone tonight?
CL: Yeah I definitely want to see Paul Kalkbrenner, we never crossed paths. I also know Jon Charnis, he’s from the US. I also want to walk around and catch a few more ones, what’s going on stage. I know a lot of artists and want to see what they prepared if they did something special for tonight.
SR: As a foreigner, tell us about your experience or view of NYC and it’s music scene.
CL: That’s a good question, I only know New York music for my own shows. I never went out to a concert or something but I saw many different venues so it’s very interesting. I’m used to playing concerts but for this concert it is a very different scene. For example the Music Hall of Williamsburg it’s so different setting up there for the sound check it’s like a real stage. You are close to the people and it is really exciting.
SR: Read a lot about your studio in Germany, would you consider yourself a minimalist? And what influence does nature have in your work?
CL: The studio is very simple, when I started my first album I made it mostly on a computer to be honest. Then I bought a few synths and effects and I also used the piano. I like to not have too much stuff to get lost. It is important to me to understand one synth or software fully than just pack everything up in the studio and get lost. I try to keep my music minimalistic in a way so really I only want to have a few paths but those should be really on point. That’s also for my other art and photographs, I try to keep it very minimalistic and try to concentrate on one thing and try to make it stick out.
SR: What is your favorite thing about performing?
CL: I usually like playing live music because it’s fun because my set is open to improvise. Which can be good and not good at the same time. Usually I like to connect with the people sometimes you have show nights where you are really close to the people. That’s what I really love and it gives me confidence to try something new and pushes you to another level sometimes. Something you only have when you play live. The big plus of electronic music is that it is very close to the audience.
SR: Let’s talk about your art. Do you envision certain landscapes of supernatural images when you create music?
CL: Usually I have a picture in my mind or a color when I am making music. I try to go through my photos and when I have a sketch I connect it with an image so I have a library of music and sketches. Especially for this record when I started painting again at a certain point I got inspired by the music again. For example yesterday Noah came out with the new single and the painting came before that it was the first thing I did and there is a strong relationship that connects the art forms. It is usually a natural landscape but if something sticks out that is not really real or a part of it so I try to combine natural sounds with synthetic styles to have both worlds creating something new. I try to create a new sphere in between.
SR: Do you plan to incorporate live art into your show or have it separate at a gallery?
CL: I plan to after releasing the new album, to do exhibitions with the paintings. So we have a show in Berlin and we want to do it in New York as well as London. There are no dates yet but the plan is definitely there.
SR: Being a producer for more than half your life, what are some of your fondest memories?
CL: I remember how much fun it was when I started. Music was such a huge route which opened up so many possibilities and also very frustrating in a way to get a sound out of the software, it took me days to get it done. There was no youtube or something to look up anything so I had to find out everything by myself. But it was also very rewarding to find out how it works and what you can do with it. I realized I don’t need to go to music school to learn an instrument every day, you can just put a note here and go from there and create something that’s actually pretty easy in a way. The results may not be good but you can be creative and I really enjoy electronic music from the beginning because it is such an open field. Everyday there is something new coming up and how you can combine it with traditional instruments and combine it with effects.
SR: Describe your philosophy in terms of your albums, do you want the songs to take people somewhere?
CL: It’s kind of a story I have, the first album was called A Forest where my dad took me at the time. It is a very inspirational place to me to focus on my work or make it possible actually and then with the second album Mare I moved up to the sea where I live now. It is about 200 meters to the sea and it is a coastal forest and beach, a very beautiful landscape with wood and all these forests around. That was part of my life when I was moving there and that’s why I called it Mare. I want to show that light is very important especially when I got back into drawing and just the daylight and exploring different light is interesting, we all need light to be alive. It is something I really need and very important to me.
SR: The video for the end is very interesting, did you direct it?
CL: It was made by a friend from Norway. I met her a few years ago and she is a videographer and photographer and we are kind of close when it comes to creative work. I was showing her my new music when I was working on this record and she was like I have this idea of a very minimalistic video and I said it fits perfectly. She is riding a bike in the video.
SR: The music scene in Europe is so rich with talent, where do you scout your artists for your label or do they come to you?
CL: Usually, it is people we know and friends, everyone is very close in the label. We started as a group of friends and made everything by ourselves. Let’s give it a try and produce a record, I have the music and my friend knows the business and another friend who does parties and has a booking agency. Luckily we have people around us making great music and it’s good to have everybody close and everybody is open. A friend of mine is a photographer and a friend from Japan is doing drawing and they are coming together.
SR: Have you considered throwing your own festival?
CL: That is something for the future, that would be great. Sometimes we do label nights in Berlin or London. A festival would be great to show off different art forms.
SR: Shambhala is one of your favorite festivals, what do you like about it?
CL: That was great, I did not know about it before and it was one of my favorites. One of my favorite spots was very beautiful there. Everybody was very friendly and it was super beautiful there.
SR: Do you like intimate shows or big festivals?
CL: Open air most of the time is better for me but it depends on the people. It depends on the energy and how you connect with the people. It really depends on the energy and I am excited for tonight and it is easy to connect with the people closer.
SR: What is one message you would like to translate through music?
CL: There is so much but everything that touches me in life and what is going on to express in music. To make this visible or healable for the people. Things we are going through in life and it is difficult to focus on what’s important. Work and what you want to achieve. There is always family and it can be overwhelming. Everyday life, I want to express the beauty in all these things.
SR: Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years as the scene is changing rapidly?
CL: Hopefully still making music I enjoy, that’s the most important thing to me. As a teenager because that’s exciting and I want to try new things, new synths and stuff that is really fun. There are so many places I haven’t played. I just went to Japan for the first time and people are so supportive, I wasn’t expecting it to be honest. There were so many fans and it was great. I also want to play so many places I haven’t been before but I also want to come to New York. I have people messaging me to come to Chicago or Toronto. The great thing is to meet the people and have them enjoy the music.
SR: Tips for new musicians?
CL: Try to keep it simple, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t try everything in two weeks. You don’t have to be a super producer in a month checking out all these youtube tutorials. Be easy on yourself, try to find your style and have fun. Everything will go from there. If you are having fun it is the best you can do. It is good to take a break sometimes.
SR: Anything you would like to say about your album and the story behind it?
CL: The album is coming out on the 22nd of March, I am very excited for it. I am focusing more on my own vocals now and writing my own lyrics. I also worked with artists I really admire so it is a collection of things I have been doing for years. I am excited to show the artwork and what people say about it and if they can follow the messages and connect.