To be completely transparent, I didn’t get any sleep the night before my interview with German producer Moritz Friedrich, aka Siriusmo. I was scared shitless. It would be my first phone interview and it was long distance. The interview was scheduled for 9:30am and for fear of sleeping through my alarm, I just stayed up and listened to Mosaik (out today) and wrote down some questions.
For the recording, I used some archaic technology probably similar to the wire taps used by the FBI to take down mob bosses in the eighties.
At the moment, there’s no one else making music like Siriusmo. Mosaik is wonderfully bizarre. Since the album doesn’t belong to any specific genre or cling to any current trends, it will age gracefully.
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Joseph: First off, I really appreciate you taking the time for an interview, I’m a really big Siriusmo fan!
Moritz: Aw, thank you.
For the first question, what is your favorite word in the English language?
My girlfriend, she’s from Hong Kong and her name is Friendly. She also has a Chinese name, but when the people of Hong Kong go to school to learn English they choose English names and she chose “Friendly.”
Ya, my girlfriend chose “friendly” from the branding from a pen she told me. She’s really friendly.
So that works out. Have you learned any Chinese since dating her?
I tried but…it’s very hard. I know some words but it’s a really hard language.
You’re in the studio now, are you already working on new music?
Ya, ya! In a couple hours, I’m going to see Alex from Boys Noize. We work on some stuff together.
Are you always working with Alex, or just for now?
I’ve known him for a long time and we’ve tried to work together a lot but we never finished anything. He’s really busy traveling around the world djing, but now he’s in Berlin for two weeks, so we’ll try to finish some stuff we started.
I can’t wait to hear it! Some of the songs like “Einmal In Der Woche Schreien” [I try, horribly, to say this in German]
and “Nights Off” sound like they have a bit of Radiohead in them. Is that band an influence in any of your work?
Well I have a lot of influences for sure. But I have no albums from the guys. Ya, I love their music but in this case with the song, no, not Radiohead. But you’re right when I hear “Nights Off” I see some similarities; the energy of some Radiohead songs.
I’ll listen to them and think that Thom Yorke and you would make a really cool album together. Modeselektor’s worked with him before. I don’t think it’s impossible! That would be my dream collaboration…
(laughing) Ya! I would love it too. But Gernot from Modeselektor gave my music to Thom and he told me, “Ya Thom liked it,” but Thom told Gernot, “Ya I gave it to my kids,” or something like that
(laughing) What does that mean?!
I don’t know which songs he gave him. They were probably older ones.
Are you influenced by any classical composers?
Ya, I love classical music. I honestly don’t listen to much of it but I love the piano music of Chopin and Brahms. You know Brahms?
When I was a kid I played piano and liked the harmonies. They were very touching. But there’s a lot of music I’m influenced by. All the funky stuff. I’m a big Stevie Wonder fan.
One of my favorite songs off Mosaik is “Goldene Kugel.”
Ya! You like it?
I love it! I was wondering what the lyrics were saying.
Ya, It was with my old girlfriend, Donna. She’s not really a singer but I like the tone of her voice. She’s really cool. Really rock & roll. We’ll do songs maybe once a year just for fun while we’re drinking. The song’s meaning is drugs. You know the “golden shoot?” It’s the last shot of heroin someone takes before they OD and die. It’s a bit abstract. Kugel is also a ball, like when you play a game of Roulette in the Casino. We did a mix…like golden ball and…ya…it’s uh..it’s about drugs (laughs)
For me, I like the voice as an instrument. I like that it’s in German because It’s my language and some of the words are touching. The harmonies are, I don’t know how you say in English but in Germany when something is cool we say it’s “chicken skin,” you know what I mean?
No, what’s chicken skin?
When you like something that you hear or see we say “chicken skin,” but I don’t think there’s a good English translation.
I’m bringing “chicken skin” to the states. You’ve talked about your stage fright before. Has this gotten any better?
No, it’s still worse. Now I’ll do some gigs with the Modeselektor guys but we have a deal that I get to play in the beginning.
That way it’s not so hard for me. The whole crowd’s there in the club and they want to dance and maybe the DJ before me plays really good and…oh no! So I play at the beginning and just my own stuff. Then it’s ok. I’m a really bad DJ as well. For me I have to learn a bit more.
What do you use, cdjs or vinyl?
I use CDs because I play just my own songs. I do a lot of edits from my own songs and remixes so I use CDs. Are you also a dj?
Ya. Of course I like vinyl more, but a lot of friends will lose records because of the airport and after a while they’re a little bit annoyed. My friend housi, you know Housemeister?
He lost his records I think…five times or something
He always has to buy new ones. Some you can’t find anymore.
If you could go back to 2000 when you made your first single and give yourself some advice, what would you say?
Hmm. I would say, “Be more,”…whats the word…shit! What’s the word when you when you have to jump but you can’t because you are afraid of jumping?
Uh. Sorry, I can’t think of the word. I have no internet here, otherwise I’d look at a translation site.
[We spend the next couple minutes sorting through English/German translation sites to find to the word “mut” meaning “courage.”]
I would say to myself, “Have more courage.” And not because of the stage freight stuff, I mean it in a music way. At the beginning I think I wasn’t so courageous because I was younger. Now, I just do my thing and my music. I think like art, not like a musician. When I started I was more shy with the music.
When did you make the gun-keyboard?
It was an art piece from a friend of mine. Her name is Anna Makaraov, like the gun. She’s a Russian girl. She’s really cool. Her father is a really cool painter. I also paint for him. I’ve known her since I was a kid.
I would consider you to be an artist who’s making music that sounds different than what’s normally produced these days. Who do you think is an artist that is changing dance music right now?
Oh, I’m not a specialist. I hear things very late when friends show me stuff. I love the English scene with all the dubstep. It’s interesting in the direction it’s going. I’m a big fan of Jackson and His Computer Band. I’m really looking forward to his album. I think it’s been about two years in the making it could be really interesting and good!
I really like the samples you use. Where do you go to find samples for songs?
I have a big collection of drums and a good friend/dj who buys old records every week and we sit in here and we’re surprised how we hear new crazy nice stuff every time. For me the most important thing is the drums. I love all kinds of drums. I collect them and cut them and then I add my synthesizer. My favorite synthesizer is the Korg Trident. Sometimes I use the plug-in synth stuff. It’s a bit annoying when you have too many choices. Sometimes it’s good just to have your one synthesizer or one piano and your drum and you can play like you’re in a little band.
Does Mosaik follow any sort of story?
No, not a story. Some of the tracks are really old. I like the word. It fits because it’s a mosaic of songs from different times that are all really important. It’s really personal. You have to see my studio, it’s just a dirty room with a lot of stuff. Not only dirty but colorful. There are a lot of memories, like a mosaic. I like it. It’s not a real “story” but ya.
And the album cover,
Is that a snapshot? Is your room really that dirty or did you just throw everything in the corner and take a picture?
Ya it’s all laying on the ground here.
(laughing) The album cover is laying on the ground next to you right now?
(laughing) Ya, it’s the ground of my studio here. I have a lot of things around me here, all memories. It’s quite dirty here in my studio. There’s no empty beer bottles in the picture I don’t think and I have a lot here (laughs).
In your bio it says you’re a grafitti artist?
Artist is a big word. It’s my job.
Can you tell me more about that?
Most of the work is not so interesting. I’m not in the real graffiti scene any more. I’m a bit too old and I don’t want to get caught from the police or something. I know a lot of the guys who are still in that work. I like it but my job is illustration. You have no money from music, just a little bit sometimes. Maybe in the future I’ll do more dj gigs and get a little more money from that.
What would somebody ask you to do for an illustration job?
Last year, I did a lot of work for schoolbooks.
Like covers? Pictures?
Ya, the pictures, little illustrations on the inside. Last year I didn’t do this because I wanted to finish my album. I did some other jobs for rent. Do you know Moderat? The Modeselektor and Apparat project?
Ya, that cover is my illustration, with the girl that’s punching her face.
Ya, that’s mine.
How does being from Germany influence your music?
I would never say Germany because I live in Berlin and I couldn’t imagine living in any other city in Germany. I think Berlin is quite special. I hate other cities in Germany. I grew up when the wall came down. I’m from the East. For me it was my time and I love it. And after the wall, the East was like the “Wild East,” you know. There were a lot of clubs in empty houses. Everywhere was really interesting. It’s changed after some years. When you mean the music I would say there aren’t borders anymore because of the internet. It’s all so connected. I’m inspired by so much and so many: African music, American music, all the music. Also German music is nice! (laughing) sometimes even the abstract things like really bad folk music of Germany could be influencing me in a funny way. Germans are always the “ugly people” because of the Nazi thing, so now we can do what we want. When a French guy makes music he is sexy and cool but the German is always the Nazi.
Just have fun playing the bad guy, I guess. For my last question, sort of a silly one, who was the first girl you ever kissed?
You know, my mamma (laughs) No, in this way, ya Anna Makarov, the Russian girl that I told you about.
Ya, we’ve known each other since we were kids and she was my first girlfriend. I think I was six or seven.
Was it a good first kiss?
No, it was just a kiss, kiss. Ya…and of course later…
Some other interesting things…I tried a lot.
Well, Moritz I really appreciate you taking time for this interview. I’m a really big fan and love the album.
Thank you! That’s cool.
Thanks again and tell Alex I said hi.
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