Five players with invitingly winding life stories in search of orientation, love and success. As individual men and women, and as a complete musical ensemble, they go hell for leather to put themselves out there, whatever it takes. They try out everything: adult education classes on Facebook marketing, reading Eva Illouz’s sociology classic Why Love Hurts, self-experiments on Tinder, many solitary and communal cups of tea, free jazz in the morning and nostalgic choral rehearsals. With and without the aid of coaching, therapy or counselling, they try to find out exactly what their own brand is, to sharpen their profile and professionalize their résumé – to present everything in a modern multimedia setting while somehow staying whole – or becoming whole –
And somewhere between the discarded snippets, a contemplative, delicate, affectionate and cocky little opera is born.
THE RADIO 1 INTERVIEW, 23 MARCH 2016
Why a universal application? We learned that whatever one’s concern might be, whether one is applying for jobs, love, or an audience, as we are right now, the questions that arise are always variations on the same points:
- How can I personally, and we as an ensemble, stay intact between our own independent inner processes of clarification on the other hand, and the necessity of finding a way to outwardly represent and market who we are and what we do on the other hand?
- What are we prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve our goal?
For example, today and at this very moment (!), naked and penniless, we managed to organize precisely two (!!) days on which the whole ensemble could be present. One of them is today and the premiere is tomorrow. Under these conditions, is one seriously supposed to go to the broadcasting studio for half a day instead of rehearsing??!
We couldn’t help laughing when we received your request for this interview and asked ourselves precisely that. And then we said: why not? As we just learned from the research for our piece in the adult education class, one only needs 7% content – the rest is marketing.
And that’s why we’re all here now: this way, we could at least practise in the metro…
‘Learn to show your strengths, talents and skills in a good light and present your achievements effectively by designing yourself as the “me brand”.’ (Berlin Adult Education Centre)
‘Add a relationship’ (Facebook)
‘The special thing about me is…’ (Elitepartner)
‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ (Bandcoach)
‘In a chair’ (Mann aus Obst)
In recent years we have often laughed and cried, especially with Nicolas, about the so-called ‘professionalization’ of bands. We have observed with horror in our respective projects how the machinery of photo/press kit/outfit/slogan etc. can severely endanger the inner dynamic and content of an ensemble and, if one is unlucky, change them for the worse. And that a successful professionalization sometimes leads to the death of a project’s soul. Not necessarily, of course; sometimes it’s extremely helpful. But it remains a dangerous element. Does one succeed in using this element to bring one’s own concerns into sharper focus and clarify one’s identity, or does it cause us to dissimulate for the sake of some outward success – and then to be loved as something that has little to do with ourselves anymore?
I (Maja) was deeply inspired by the book Why Love Hurts by Eva Illouz, because it attempts find a counterbalance (or supplement) to our culture of working on oneself. Illouz describes from a sociological perspective how loving and falling in love have irreversibly changed under the conditions of sexual liberation, capitalism (the primacy of competition and the constant possibility of choice) and digitalization. And she describes the pain over this as a social problem – not primarily an individual one, which is how it is treated in therapy and coaching.
Tearing oneself apart because one is not chosen or does not perform perfectly; working only on oneself and the course of one’s life instead of working collectively on society (which naturally includes working on oneself).
One of my favourite passages is about flirting. Illouz describes flirting as a minimal playful deviation from the habitual. To register this deviation, however, there has to be a convention in relation to which it becomes apparent as such. Even though Illouz, as a staunch feminist, never longs for a return to the time of moral and literal corsets, clear religious allegiances, social classes and arranged marriages, she offers the accurate analysis that without semantic security, we cannot easily switch to a playful, sexy mode; it would simply not be noticed. Instead, we have to present some strange measurable achievements and features (winning model shows, money, likes…).
Here, for example, the point is not to ascribe problems to individual people, but rather to search together for new forms/rituals/games in the face of this great freedom and diversity.
By the way, passion is cool – for love, for making music, for life in general, with all dependencies, vulnerabilities and dedication!
Mann aus Obst