To herald Konstantin Gropper – aka Get Well Soon – as “the new Patrick Wolf” (or “the new” anything for that matter) – as many publications did upon his mainstream appearance back in 2008 – is something of a misnomer. His previous two LP’s were very much products of his own unique and often startling visions, to such an extent in fact, that any comparison with other another artist is somewhat vacant.
Engrossing and wholly fascinating; his brand of experimental, flourishing folk-rock drifted between the serene and the haunting in equal measure. However, his new LP, The Scarlet Beast O’Seven Heads, has already been described as his “Summer album” ahead of its September release, so it seems right to, once again, expect the unexpected.
We caught up with Konstantin to find out how much of a departure the new record is and the origins of that wonderful album title…
Welcome back. How is 2012 treating you?
Very good so far, thanks. Pretty busy, but busy is better than bored, right?
Your new record is out at the start of September; what can you tell us about it?
I’m very excited. I never know what to expect, I never know what people expect and I am trying to keep things a bit mystical this time around. So you’ll have to wait and listen.
How does it compare to your previous work? We’ve heard it described as your ‘Summer album’…
Well, you’re right, it’s probably only a summer album in comparison to my other albums. Don’t expect a Caribbean vibe. But I would say it is my most colorful album. And maybe it is the lightest one too. I can’t even tell you why. The times aren’t exactly sunny. But maybe I was trying to work against the Zeitgeist this time. Melancholic times need different measures.
Where does the album title come from?
I tried to make it sound like the title for an Italian thriller from 70s, like for a Dario Argento film. The beast itself comes from the book of revelations. So, to answer already the next question: the two main influences are Italian B-Movies and the apocalypse.
Were there any specific influences on the album either musically or lyrically?
Musically this is definitely my movie-album. There’s a film-reference to almost every song. And, as I said, the biggest influence were soundtracks from the Italian 70s and 80s. So therefore I tried to have a very nostalgic sound, but I wouldn’t want to call it retro. Lyrically, it’s probably my most personal album. I realized only afterwords that I am singing mostly about myself and about life as an artist, especially in these days, when it’s oh so easy to be inspired to be melancholic. I tried not to go down the easy road. That’s why I tried to keep it “sunny”.
How does your song-writing process usually work and has that changed much since you first started writing songs?
Not really. I’m still a loner when it comes to writing. I just need time and space on my own. It doesn’t really matter where it is. I just need the concentration. Of course over the years I have found a pool of musicians that I work with, but they join the production very late in the process.
Where was the new album recorded and did it all go to plan?
About 80 per cent of the production is still a home-recording thing. Only when I’ve finished the demos, I try to replace as much of the programmed material with real instruments as possible. Ideally you hear only humans playing in the end. But that’s not always possible. I always try to come up with a schedule and a deadline for myself, because that helps me coming to an end at some point. And it works. That’s probably a German thing…
Do you have a personal favourite track on the new album?
No, not really. For now, I am happy with all of them. Maybe in a few years I’ll look back and realize with which ones I was barking up the wrong tree. But for now, they’re all equal.
You’re playing a one-off show in London to celebrate the release, can we expect some more UK dates at some point?
Sure, if the UK wants us to play, we’ll play. We’ll see how it goes and if there are going to be some invitations.
The Scarlet Beast O’Seven Heads is released on September 3rd via City Slang.
Words and interview by Tom Johnson