Schabel is the main force behind Radio Citizen and in addition to the sampler and mixing desk he plays alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, kalimba and small percussion, plus rhodes, flute and synthesiser. He is regularly assisted by vocalist Bajka, double bass player Klaus Janek, and flute and sax man Wolfi. Bajka was born in an Indian temple and grew up in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan and on a catamaran in South Africa. She has traveled the world with a music commune called Embryo that her uncle founded and father was a member of, and which coincidentally Schabel was also a latter day guest. Bajka has recorded with Compost act Beanfield and released solo records on the Jazzman label. In addition Schabel has played and performed with the Niko Schabel Quartet, the Express Brass Band , the Poets of Rhythm, Jojo Kuo (ex-Fela Kuti), Nik McCarthy (Franz Ferdinand ), the Last Poets, and many more.
1: The night is near.
2: Lost my mind for one second.
3: Clear cut radio days.
What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
For The Night & The City: Old obscure flea market records, african field recordings, dub echoes. Lofi and hifi. A beautiful Winkelmann piano from 1906. Cycling at night and taking pictures. The track “Moth” by Burial/Fourtet. Going out.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
Lessons on instruments: recorder, clarinet and saxophone. And at the age of 11 I got a microphone as a gift from my uncle and recorded sounds together with a cheap Casiotone synthesizer on cassettes. Selfmade mixtapes, mostly cut up out of radio shows. Later I started a band with my best friends, trying to be the next Beastie Boys on acid, without the rap parts.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Let´s keep it simple; All my favorite Charles albums of all times:
Charlie Haden, Carla Bley – ‘Ballad of the Fallen’
Charles Wright – ‘Doing what comes naturally’
The Charles Mingus Quintet – Live in Europe I & II
Ray Charles – ‘What´d I Say’
Charles Lloyd – ‘Sangam’
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
A field near the railway tracks where I can practice saxophone and bass clarinet without bothering someone.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Just make sound. How was the proverb, people think they listen to music, but what they really hear is sound?
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Narciso Yepes – ‘Spanische Gitarrenmusik’
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
A really good string quartet.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
In 2015, the most spectacular as a performer was a meeting of Krautrock/World music legend Embryo and Deborat and Prashant Mishra from India.
It felt like stand ing between two ocean waves in a little rowing boat.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Most of the time it slows me down.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a sister living in London, she likes my music a lot!