Thomas Fehlmann

For Böser Herbst, Thomas Fehlmann returns to the sediment of ages, drawing from a similar lexicon of sounds to that used on 2018’s ‘1929 – Das Jahr Babylon’. Like that album, Böser Herbst was produced as the soundtrack to a documentary made by Matthias Luthardt, ‘Herbst 1929, Schatten Über Babylon’, which offers historical insight to the third season of the television series Babylon Berlin. It adds yet another string to the bow of this most forward-thinking and creative artist, whose history takes in NDW (Palais Schaumburg), techno (3MB) and psychedelic ambience (The Orb), plus a clutch of gorgeous solo albums that explore wide terrain, from the dancefloor through supine home listening to compelling soundtrack work.

Fehlmann’s approach here was to ‘capture’ samples of contemporaneous music, “picking up the dirt and dust of original 1920s archive sound and music excerpts and shaping the essence into this selection of tunes,” he recalls. After delivering the material to the editing room, Fehlmann “threw all the pieces up in the air, deliberately lost the overview in consequence, researched the atmospheric thread and assembled it for this album.” That explains the singular nature of the material here, and its ability to sit together so neatly and discretely, as its own entity. For Böser Herbst is a music box of possibilities, shadowed by its historical provenance, but never crudely beholden to it, rather “keeping the references only as a distant nod, a scent.”



2: the music is not in your gear, it’s in your head.

3: i’m a feminist


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Making music is my way to articulate observations about the life/mess we are living in. inspiration and motivation are blurred in that scheme and i have no idea how i would have ended up, wouldn’t there be this massive mountain of interconnected occurrencies to discover and pick from. in case there’s a lack of inspiration – motivation jumps to the front and vice versa.
in art i’m attracted by the bits i don’t understand. finding possible solutions keeps me going.

2. How and when did you get into making music?
After accompaning Robert Fripp for a week in january 1979 whilst he was touting his frippertronics, i bought a MS20 synthesizer and started experimenting at home along with a reel to reel tapemachine. a few months later in april, the kraut legend Conrad Schnitzler popped up at the art accademy and in his little studio workroom my first recordings took place that were later released on a compilation called ‘das ist schoenheit’ that documented schnitzlers open studio semester. i was 21 at the time and i guess i was very absorptive and curious and within half a year ‘Palais Schaumburg’ were founded with Holger Hiller and my academy subject of fine art shifted towards music.

3. What are 5 of your favourite works of all time?
Miles Davis – bitches brew (columbia)
Wolfgang Voigt – love inc – life’s a gas (mille plateau)
Scritti Politti – cupid & psyche (virgin)
TEEBS – ardour (ninja tune)
Joni Mitchell – hejira (reprise)

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I’m here since 1984 and i take it as a blessing to have had the chance to experience the fall of the wall – the mingling with the as yet unexplored other half of the city, to share the music with the culture-hungry-people in inspiring places. that helped to decide NOT to move to london and i never regretted that. did i mention berlin’s my favorite city?

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Heard that question quite often and am always puzzled as to why i don’t have a quick answer? i like the ‘old school’ recordshop at walter benjamin platz and the stroll to get there through my hood of charlottenburg. but the center of it all would be my kitchen.
How about a favorite romantic moment in my town? it’s midnight at savigny platz, and the moscow-paris expresstrain passes the bridges…

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I would paint or grow vegetables.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I got MADLIBS – Sound Ancestors on vinyl. it’s a collab between him and Four Tet.
and i downloaded Huerco S – QTT4 from bandcamp

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Would like to do some beats for german hip hop artists.
with Albert Oehlen – the painter – he also works the violin.
with Patrick Gleason – he was the synth-player with herbie hancocks mwandishi band
with Terrence Dixon – again ;)))

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Led Zeppelin live in montreux 1973 (as a spectator)
playing open air at mutek montreal in 2008 (as a performer)

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a younger sister and a much younger brother. what career?

Seriously, they look forward to the new records, they come to the concerts but we don’t loose much time talking about careers. I guess they are pleased to follow new music in a way they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Photo © Maria Von Kummer