Back in August at For Noise Festival I had a friendly chat with Niklas Stettler, singer of Labrador City, an alternative rock band from Bern that in its songs create a colourful and ever changing atmosphere ranging from melancholy to happiness. Thanks to Nik for taking the time to answer my questions and thank you to Eline Müller of Irascible Music for organizing the interview.
The Liberation: Your last EP The Kiss Hello was released in October 2014 almost a year ago. What are your projects right now? Are you planning a new album already?
- Nik: Yeah we did two albums and then this EP and we felt like we had to do something different (laughs). And so during the last few months everybody started working in new projects. Like me I’ll start working with a girl singer whom I already recorded a Labrador City track with but now I want to do an album with her. So maybe it won’t be totally different than Labrador City. We all just felt as if we are up for some change because we’ve done music together for 8 years now. But maybe we’ll try some things and then later come back as Labrador City.
The Liberation: Yeah.
- Nik: We don’t know.
The Liberation: So do you think that playing with someone else have new experiences may help?
- Nik: Yeah. But we will still work together or like share our inspirations. It’s not that we don’t want to know… we’re still in touch with each other and maybe help each other in the projects. But yeah the members will maybe change a little bit.
The Liberation: Your music is sometimes described as cinematographic because when you listen to it many images come up in your mind. Is this also the way you see it and conceive it?
- Nik: Yeah, like when I write a song like pretty quickly I have some kind of image or some mood and then I start. It’s not that I have a clear message that I want to pack in a song. It’s more like a mood or I don’t know… the imagery is very important. Most of the times I have something in front of me and it goes from there.
The Liberation: Ok. Do you happen to have many bands who inspire you? And if you could choose with which artist would you like to collaborate?
- Nik: Ehm. I was just talking with Marc before about who are the most influential bands of the 2000s, of about ten years ago and we thought that LCD Soundsystem was really a start of something new combining rock music and electronic music. And working with someone like James Murphy would probably be a really hooch thing, very spontaneous. (laughs)
The Liberation: Interesting.
- Nik: Also when he works with other bands I always really love what he is doing.
The Liberation: Does he also mix electro and rock?
- Nik: Yeah not only. I like that it has these stand bys but it doesn’t sounds too synthetic, but it sounds really natural it doesn’t sound too electronic even though it has these elements.
The Liberation: Cool! How does your composition process work? Do you think about lyrics or music first?
- Nik: No it’s mostly the music, almost in every song. But like a lot of things happen first. Like I need to have the song almost pretty ready in my head before I can go to the guitar or the piano. I can’t just sit in front of the guitar and try, I need to have an idea first before I can write it.
The Liberation: Ok it makes sense. What do you think about the Swiss music scene? Do you think it’s easy for a band to have success and find its place?
- Nik: For Switzerland?
The Liberation: Yes. I’m not gonna judge you. (laughs)
- Nik: Ah yeah (laughs). I think if you do something very specific and that not everybody does I would say it’s not so hard to get recognized you know. If you want to do pop music like Coldplay then it’s harder for you to get around. But if you find some small niche if you’re not too bad you can maybe get… cuz you can get to know all the people, it’s such a small scene. Like for us we connected really quickly with all the cities, Lucerne, Basel, Zürich. So if you really wanna do something I think in places like New York where there are thousands of bands and everybody is doing really good things I feel like here is maybe a bit easier. But then to go out of Switzerland that’s a different story.
The Liberation: Yeah… Have you ever written a song in Swiss German?
- Nik: Not yet. (laughs)
The Liberation: Not yet? (laughs)
- Nik: But that’s also a new project I’m thinking about.
The Liberation: Really? That’s cool!
- Nik: Because I don’t know sometimes I feel like all the Swiss German music that I hear I always think that the music is so terrible, like the style of the music.
The Liberation: Yeah.
- Nik: I’m convinced that you can do like really nice music with the Swiss German language. So this will be something I’ll have to try! (laughs)
The Liberation: I’m gonna wait for it! (laughs)
- Nik: It will take some years but I’ll do that.
The Liberation: Nice! Do you have a dream in the drawer related to your music?
- Nik: Not really. You mean to get somewhere?
The Liberation: Yeah to get somewhere, play a certain festival.
- Nik: I don’t know at a certain point I stopped dreaming too big. When I’m in the mood of doing music and I like to get together with people and do things. Yeah of course it’d be great to tour and play big festivals but I don’t want to focus too much on this I just want to make music.
The Liberation: Yeah, with your feet on the ground.
- Nik: Yeah. Playing here at festivals like this… I’d like to do more. (laughs)
The Liberation: You’d like to do more?
- Nik: Yes, of course.
The Liberation: And how do you think it was when you played just before [at For Noise Fesival]?
- Nik: We were like the first band to play. I guess it was kind of everybody was a little bit shy, everybody was just arriving, also us. But it turned out really nice. We were all really relaxed playing, I think that is sometimes better when the pressure is higher and you think “Oh all these people are waiting for us”. I kind of like this situation. (laughs)
The Liberation: It was a small room and all of that so cozy.
- Nik: And you know that all the people who are here they are really here to listen to you. Like if you play later maybe at 10pm I don’t know people just come and go somehow.
The Liberation: Yeah exactly. Thanks a lot for your time and your answers.
- Nik: Yeah, thanks!