Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Photo: Elena Savlokhova
“More soundcheck. It never stops. Now I’m tired, I just slept 3 hours, and now I ate, and now the energy is low. But no problem, I can still talk. I can’t have another Red Bull because I already had one and I only allow myself one a day. I mean… a day when I work normally, I don’t drink that stuff.”
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What have you learned through all your projects?
Can’t you just start with something easy, like “hey, how are you?”. My projects are all so different, I’m doing so many different things and I’m quite happy about that fact. I think I would be crazy if I would just be a DJ or just a band guy, or whatever. I think one thing that I definitely learned and something that I had to learn was to work with other people. I started by myself in a studio and then got involved with the band thing more and more, and with Moderat, of course. And lately I’ve started working on music for film, which is totally different – suddenly I’m not the most important person anymore. There is always a director and you’re trying to work (in the best case) with him. So you always have to create the director’s vision, to work on what he wants and needs. Yet it’s a good lesson to learn and it was
the main thing that I had to learn and adjust to: figuring out how to work with people, how to accept other people’s opinions, how to respect people.
It sounds easy but if you’ve been making music on your own for a long time then it’s a long way to get there. Now I think I’m finally there and I can be with the band and it’s totally easy, it’s like the most natural thing in the world, yet it took a long time.
You’ve mentioned that you love refurbishing old cars. If you were a car, which model would you be and why?
I have a car – an old Fiat from Italy, it’s like 40 years old. It’s not a fancy one but it would probably not be me because it’s too small. I look a little funny in it as well because I’m very tall and the car is tiny. So I wouldn’t be an old Fiat. By the way, this is a nice interview for someone so tired! You know, I don’t even know that much about cars, it’s not like I’m a total nerd. I just have my car and I love it and I have to work on it now to maintain it. If you would ask me what kind of dog I was I could give you an answer. I just adopted a greyhound from Spain and I’m really similar to him. First of all, I’m also very skinny and tall, I look like him and we have the same character. He’s usually very shy and kind of insecure among people – and that’s everything I feel. My wife told me,
“Dude, don’t complain about that dog, you got what you deserved, you got your mirror.” I can’t tell you what car I would be but I would be a greyhound if I were a dog.
You’ve also mentioned that the worst thing you can do is to make everything sound perfect. Do you follow the same rule in other aspects of life?
I mean, people always tell me that I am some sort of a perfectionist, but I don’t really like to hear that because I always feel that whatever I do is far from being perfect. Of course, being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you achieve perfectionism. So probably I am still a perfectionist, and yes, it’s quite a burden. For example, when I cook I’m never satisfied and I’m always excusing myself afterwards like, “Oh sorry, is it too salty?” It’s just wrong, you should be proud that you did something nice for your friends to enjoy. Like in Italy – “enjoy”. This is really hard for me, I don’t really know where that comes from. I probably need to see a psychotherapist for that. But yes, it’s a whole topic in my life.
What were some of the most bizarre rumors you’ve heard about yourself?
I don’t really know. It doesn’t really happen that people come up to you and tell you that they’ve heard something about you. People have respect, usually. It could only be something I read and I can’t really remember. The fact is, and that’s not really a criticism on your line of work, but whatever I read about myself is very rarely right. It’s probably stuff that gets lost in communication or people understand it in a different way, so it’s always slightly frustrating to read stuff about yourself. I don’t really know about any rumors. There are some probably, but no one ever tells me.
If you were a woman for 24 hours, what would you do with that time?
That is definitely an easy one because I would just walk around and figure out what it’s like to be a woman. As a man it’s so easy still being in a sort of privileged position, acting like feminism is already done. Yet it’s not. There are still so many things that are unequal. The way you are raised as a boy – you’re already raised into that profile. I would try to do it differently if I would have a kid, but fact is, very often it’s not the case. I actually read something very interesting about someone who had a sex change from a girl to a boy and then it became very interesting to observe how suddenly women would feel uncomfortable around him when he passed by at night on the street, or whatever. He didn’t have that feeling when he was a girl because the girls just perceived it as safe, but suddenly being a man changed the perception completely. If you as a girl walk down the street and a man comes your way then you always feel uncomfortable and it gives you a shitty feeling. The trans person said that it was very crazy to experience the shift of how people see you as a man and how it suddenly makes women feel uneasy.
What is one thing about you that would surprise us?
I don’t know… I like gardening, but that’s not surprising.
Maybe you have some weird habits?
I have all sorts of weird habits. But nothing really surprising. I could tell you some secrets only people I know are aware of, and they always think that I’m a little crazy. But lots of people do such things; when I’m in a subway I don’t like to touch metal because other people have touched it before haha.
I also don’t really listen to music and I don’t know if that’s surprising, but seriously…
Too much music in your life as it is.
Very often you get asked in interviews what you listen to currently. Nothing. The sound of silence haha. The wind.
Could you share some awkward or bizarre stories from your tours?
A lot of those shouldn’t be known to the public. These days everything is quite tame, actually. There’s one that is not even a secret, but still, not many people know about it: last year I fell off a stage at Roskilde Festival in Denmark. I guess it was quite dark, as our stages normally are, so not too many people noticed it. I fell down fucking 3 meters on a camera guy. After that I went back on stage and finished the concert, there were 2 more songs left. And it was a huge show, by the way, there were around 50 000 people. When I went behind the stage I smoked a cigarette just to calm down and then I just fainted. Later people told me that everyone screamed: “Argh, he’s dead!” haha. So that happened last year. My drummer Jörg 5 years ago or so fell off the bed in a tour bus and broke his arm and we had to postpone the show. All kind of shit happens all the time.
Oh, I thought of a good one: in my rock’n’roll days we played in Korea (South Korea, of course) and I got stuck at the afterparty, which I did very often and suddenly everyone was gone and I went back to the hotel. The hotel guy told me that these fuckers went to the airport already. It was a Moderat show but 10 years ago, so they went to the airport without me and thought it would be nice of them to take my suitcases with them because they thought I would just follow them. But everything was in my fucking suitcase – my phone and my passport. So it was me in South Korea at 8 in the morning totally drunk with no fucking passport and no fucking phone. At some point I almost started panicking at the hotel but then my tour manager called the hotel from the airport asking if I came in and I was there at the moment. So then I drove to the airport and it all turned out ok. I had the worst flight in my life though being super drunk on a 6-hour flight to Hong Kong or wherever. But yes, I was almost left in South Korea by my nice bandmates.
What was the last exciting thing you’ve done or felt?
I try to do some exciting things from time to time. It’s all not so new anymore. I told you about adopting a dog and that’s kind of nice because it’s the first time in my life I have responsibility. It happened a year ago but I still love to take him out for a walk even in the late night when I’m the last one and I just have to do it. Sometimes I feel like “oh no, fuck it’, but then I’m outside and I’m really thankful that my dog gets me out of my flat because otherwise, I would just be in there the whole time. It’s kind of funny because it feels like he’s my emotional support and there is even a term for that in America – emotional support animals. But otherwise, I’ve done all the boring things other people do: I bought a house, I renovated it, but who wants to know about that shit haha.
From all the artists you’ve met, who struck you the most in terms of individuality?
Usually, I met artists in the backstage area while being totally drunk, so I don’t really remember their personalities. It’s also a bit similar to the question “Who would you love to collaborate with?” and I always say that I don’t really feel like I need to collaborate or admire people that I don’t personally know. I happen to know a lot of great people I can already work with because they are my friends. It’s not necessarily that artists that have the most interesting personalities, you know. Very often they don’t and that’s why they make music, that’s just what they are good at, and they probably might not be the most entertaining or the most thoughtful people. Sometimes the old hippie guy next to LA in a house on a hill is way more interesting and has much more to talk about than someone who spends his life on tours and on stages.
Recently we interviewed Jan Blomqvist and he mentioned you in his answer and said hi.
That is funny. I met him in Romania once. But yeah, I was drunk haha. As usual. I’m not anymore while doing this, because you can’t really do this when being drunk, but that was a DJ show and DJ shows I can’t do sober. I never learned that and I don’t want to. It’s my hobby where I turn tables, party, drink and go ‘aargh!’.
What is your perception of love?
I never really thought of myself as a romantic person, even though you could kind of think that when you listen to my music. But that is also probably because of lack of experience. Lately, for me, everything that I’ve experienced that I thought was love was just probably some short term excitement that faded away over time. Love is just the one thing that is lasting, years and years. Maybe it changes in some way: the way you appreciate the person, but there is still this really strong bond. That’s what I recently figured out. There’s just one person in your life with who you can totally do all your stupid things, like not wanting to touch metal haha. And all the 500 other things and not feel stupid about it anymore, because that’s what you are.
You want to be the person who you are with the other person. That’s very very rare and I think that’s love.
What was the wisest thing you’ve ever heard?
I’ve ever heard? Goddammit. I could get my phone and read a Dalai Lama tweet because I always read them, but they are always about compassion and at some point you’re like, “OK Dalai Lama, I understood the concept that compassion is a very basic and important thing in life and you have to be a better human being”. Very often it’s the simple things that are very wise. Like capitalism doesn’t work. I don’t know, next one.
Who or what inspires you to be better?
I don’t need someone else for that at all, because I told you about the perfectionism problem I have – I am my biggest critic. Actually, it’s really annoying sometimes and I do have to switch that off if I want to be productive at all. It’s some sort of inner censor that keeps telling me that the things I do are not good enough, or that it has been done already. I always find an excuse to throw something away. I try to not do that anymore, yet it’s tough.
What is beauty to you and how do you integrate it into your work?
I am a very visual person. Maybe something people didn’t know about me is that I was a graphic designer when I moved to Berlin. In the beginning, I was doing old school graphic work. Those were the times when the Internet was still a small thing. I think I still have that eye in everything I see and everything should be ‘der Goldener Schnitt’ [golden ratio]. If everything is well proportioned then it’s pleasing my eye, and it’s quite annoying as well because it’s part of the perfectionism. I think, in general, over the years I really started to appreciate nature. Many many things in nature are very well proportioned and many of the best things are also just copied from nature. These days I just leave my house and go into the woods.
You know, you wouldn’t think that, but Berlin’s woods are full of nice things. You would even see a deer walking by, which is kind of shitty because my dog is a hunting dog, so I’m in a bit of a complicated situation there: appreciating the beauty of the wildlife and hoping my dog looks into a different direction haha.
What about the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life?
All these questions are really difficult for someone who has a really shitty memory you know that? Seriously!
That’s the point.
It’s also really hard to pinpoint such things to just one because I’ve been to so many places: I’ve been on volcanoes and under the sea and whatever, and everything is beautiful in its own way, so it’s really hard to pick something. I think if you would ask all the other people they would be like, “my child when it was born”. But I don’t have a child, so I don’t have that answer. And I’m glad about it. I would imagine there are so many beautiful things. You just have to open your eyes and walk around. And you don’t even have to walk on a fucking volcano for that. It can be very close. In fact, it’s even much better if you look closely because
it fucking sucks that everybody these days fly for 10 hours to find themselves in beauty.
I mean, I grew up in East Germany and we couldn’t even leave that fucking country, and it was still nice, there were still nice things around to do.
What do you think the next stage of your life will be like?
It’s already slowly shifting and I think I might do more movie soundtrack work. Stuff like that probably. But I also get bored very quickly and I think if I do too much of one thing then I end up wanting the complete opposite of it. So probably once I do studio work for too long, for 2-3 years, then I might call Gernot and Szary and feel like we need to do another Moderat record or something like that. It’s great to have all these different opportunities and options and to be able to switch back and forth. Yet it’s also pretty annoying because once you’re focused on something then refocusing on something completely different takes a lot of energy, time and work. Whenever I do it I think, “why am I doing this to myself?” But also it’s kind of worth it once it works. This is our seventh show and it just slowly starts to work and now it’s more of an “OK, cool, we’ve done, I’m glad, it was a good idea”. Though on the way I asked myself many times:
“Why, Sascha? Why? Why don’t you just get a fucking residency in Ibiza? And get drunk every night because otherwise, you could not stand seeing that shit”.
Is there one ultimate question you would like to know the answer to?
What was the ‘Ultimate Question’ in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? Wasn’t it a number 49 or something? That’s a very frustrating answer haha. I had a talk yesterday with my bandmate Philipp who grew up very religiously and at some point he sort of got out of it. I never really asked him if he’s still religious. So we got into the whole “what’s the sense of life” discussion and
I realized that I don’t really want to know what’s the sense of life or if there is one at all. I think that’s something you have to do yourself – you have to give your life a sense on your own.
For example, by trying to make some people happy with creating music. It could be sense enough. It could be something else as well. You can just adopt a dog and give him a home. So it’s not something that I need to know because I know the answer. Everything that would be the answer to that would sound too basic. Let’s not get philosophical and skip that.
What question would you like to be asked it an interview and what would your answer be?
Honestly, I don’t know. Normally the best interviews are those that turn into a conversation and are not totally question based because in that case you start over and over again all the time. Basically, I’m not the biggest fan of questions anyway. It’s also that I don’t really need people to know something about me. I myself actually prefer a bit of mystique around characters. I’ve mentioned this in a previous answer somehow: I don’t need to know things about people whose art I admire because you admire them on a different level, and you don’t necessarily know that you would admire a personality. Sometimes it could also be something that you just don’t want to know. That’s why I don’t really ask too many questions.
So what questions do you hate answering?
“Where does your name come from?” or “What kind of music do you make?”. All that really basic shit, and you have no idea why people still ask you these questions since the Internet is full of it. As I’ve mentioned, it’s hard doing this type of interview when you’re that tired, because you really have to dig in your memory and get the right shit out of it, and I don’t have all that available right now.
Lastly, what is your dog’s name?
Rayo. He already had that name.