You could say Mark Boombastik is something of a general ordering his troupes to get in line and march to the beat. A Berlin-based beatboxer, lyricist and singer with an intense, commandeering and hypnotic vocal presence, his recent collaboration with Eduardo Delgado Lopez (also the bass player in Caspar Brötzmann Massaker) on their joint effort Adiós Berlin (Shitkatapult, 2011) firmly places Boombastik in the indie big league – that stage in your career when you’re comfortable enough to go from hand-holding ballad to head-banging banger without even batting an eyelid. True to form, the nine-track ode to a Berlin of the past levitates between punk, beatbox and rough-around-the-edges electronica, with Delgado Lopez’s gritty and minimal bass-playing perfectly suited to Boombastik’s knack for belting out the most melancholic of wordplays off the top of his lungs. At its core, the truly-refreshing thing about the record is the myriad of possibilities its track list offers. Most often than not, you just do not know if you’re meant to cry or conquer. Opener Funkgeraet is the trance-like tribal call to arms, tracks Putzen and Kophoefer are clear rallying calls to bring the motherfucking ruckus, Arbeit and Plastik/Lieb are the love letters of the LP, whilst 1000 brings the action back to the dance floor. Powerful, peculiar and sometimes painful, it is Adiós Berlin’s energy which really seals the deal. We caught up with the pair via email about two weeks ago to ask them about the studio sessions, the meaning behind its name and their touring plans for the summer.
Where are you right now? What time is it?
Mark: It is 16:58.I am in Hamburg right now…We are shooting a video for one of the songs from the album…
Eduardo: Berlin – sitting at home. Its 7PM
What is the first thing you see from wherever you are?
Mark: The first thing I see while I read your question is your question… if a question is a thing…I also see a playground outside the window. Kids are playing…
Eduardo: A black desktop computer. I also hear thunder.
Can you describe the recording sessions for Adios Berlin? How was the vibe in the studio? Who was there? How long did it take to record? What kind of place is it?
Eduardo: We just played and recorded at the same time. We felt quite free… No headphones, no clicks, no complications. The vibe was very nice. Three people: Thomas Stern (engineer) Mark and myself. Having no guests also means a better concentration so the record is more one whole thing. We recorded at Thomas’ place for seven days straight, in his messy guest room. But with the possibility to play loud…
Mark: Yes, the record was recorded mainly in one week. But we worked in three studios…At Studio Babuschka in Munich (Hitze and Funkgeraet), at Daniel Nentwig’s (Whitest Boy Alive) Butterama Recording Center in Berlin (Kopfhoerer and Angst vorm tanzen) and at the end with Thomas for the rest and most of the record. All studios had a good vibe. All of them are classic studios except Thomas’… Eduardo was playing bass on the guest bed. The only visitor we had was Michaela Kühn because she is making a movie about me and my work.
Can you tell us a bit about the album’s name? What does it refer to?
Eduardo: Bye Berlin or the Berlin sell out. The change of the City from a place with plenty of freedom to a usual clean and expensive capital.
Mark: Adiós Berlin means the dying underground art, the raising rents…. I really saw this years ago in Hamburg – a lot of people who lived their whole life in Berlin can’t pay the rent anymore.. old pubs are closing… you can see how bad capitalism is in Berlin right now with an arty farty make up… I’ve lived for more or less eight years now in Berlin… a place or a city is always as good as you make it. I hope people get the title right. It is the start of a form of radicalism if you want… more in the sense: if people dont fight for free spaces they’ll soon be able to say “adiós” to Berlin’s spirit: Dont move in my area where it’s been loud at night for the past 30 years if you call the cops and kill the freedom people fought for for more than half of their life! It’s called Adiós Berlin because we live there and we see it, but you could call it Adiós New York, Adiós Paris, Adiós Germany. This record is about my or our life in Berlin. We chose a title which makes clear that it is a subjective and angry record. Oh, and it is Spanish/German like Eduardo and myself.
Your record label, Shitkatapult, seems like the perfect home for you…can you talk to us about your relationship with them?
Mark: I know some secrets on Shitkatapult’s owners… they have no chance. No but more seriously, Shitkatapult is a nice playground for us. They let us do what we can and this is making good music which is coming out of our heart and momentary situations. We chose Shitkatapult for the different music they release. It is allways a sign of taste if a label is bringing out different stuff with a good quality. Aparat, Soap and Skin, etc are not making the same music…when a label works like this it is a sign that they really like what they release. Shitkatapult is a good example that it is possible to do things a little different from others.
Eduardo: Until now the work is very effective and good. We like each other, we all are broke. We have a good relationship, especially since Marco (T.Raumschmiere) did the mixing, which we are very satisfied with.
Shitkatapult’s website describes it as “like a speech, between accapella and beatbox, punk and rough cut – techno and experiments for a special audience.” How do you get to such an eclectic and some might say ill-suited blend of influences?
Eduardo: That’s life.
Mark: I just make music… every mood has its sound. My influences are everywhere in life… my lyrics often find a beginning in pubs…I hear music without a music player. Everyday I find something interesting and good amongst all this crap we have to listen too…it can be a song or even a cat screaming at night. It is the nature of us you hear on Adiós Berlin. We are sons of our surroundings. Life is a big mix of different impressions – music is my ventile to scream it out.
The album definitely has an overriding sense of Angst and Stress that pervades it. Are you generally a rather tenuous and stressed out person?
Mark: angst and stress are part of my life such as love and hate. My life was quite colorfull until now, and fast… from having the dreamflat to being homeless for a while. From heartjumping until heartbroken. From being completely broke to nearly rich. From having to much to do to fit in one day to having no job at all. I have a calm soul and a stressfull life. And angst (fear) is a big part in life. See me as a streetcat: every second i can i lay down… but i have to keep my eyes allways open…
The minimalism of the formula you found with Edouardo is really refreshing. A beat, a bass line and a barely noticeable melody. The complete opposite of the current craze for layers-upon-layers of synth, chants and other kinds of electronic noises. Why do you think you opted for a less-is-more approach to music whilst most of the industry seems to be going for ‘big is better’?
Eduardo: Keep it minimalistic and simple. We don´t have to prove how good we can play or arrange or what one can do with the newest electronics. I hate music for musicians…
Mark: Also, there is good music and bad music. It doesn’t have something to do with how many layers or how minimalistic it is. Our music has nothing to do with the industry – fuck them! Mc Donald’s is not selling you food – the music industry is not selling you music.
What do you make of the current hype surrounding Tyler, The Creator and his odd Future cohorts? Hype or substance?
Mark: he is very talented and young. That is an explosive and often poisoned mix. It is possible that he will be a superstar for lifetime and it is possible that he will fall faster then he can say “bastard”. For my part, I am addicted to his song “Yonkers”. What a video and what a fresh new sound! Hype or substance… let’s see what he will sing about when he is older as well. Definitely a zeitgeist document of now.
Eduardo: Who? I dont know. Never heard this name.
The album’s third track, Putzen, packs a punch. You could just as well head nod to it as you could mush pit to it. Can you describe the vibe in the studio when you were recording it?
Mark: the word Putzen meens cleaning. Lyrics-wise it starts with the usual things everybody knows: wash your hands, clean the floor, wash the hair etc…and then it goes further: money laundring, brain washing, polish the bullets, clean the government. You can use it as a party song or as a political song or as something making fun of the German obsession with beeing clean and sober. The history of Putzen is that I wanted to explain to a friend how beatboxing worked… I explained: ” if you say the word Putzen in a loop – “putzenputzenputzenputzenputzen….” without using your voice, it is a techno beat.. my friend said to me I should make a song with this but I thought it’d be a bit of a gag… later on I had to give an encore after I played all my songs so I had to improvise… I played Putzen for the first time directly on stage. Everything was improvised and it worked. Putzen was my last EP on Khan’s label i´m single. It became a club hit, especially the remix of Nerk & Dirk Leyers. Now we made an album version of it which is more aggressive then the original… it feels allways strange, funny and a tiny bit scary when i sing it.
Where are you based at the moment? Can you describe the city you live in and, more particularly, ‘your’ city? Where do you hang out and meet friends for drink? What is your favourite spot to find/buy music? Where do you like to perform the most?
Mark: I am based in Berlin and since a few months also in Hamburg again. Berlin is my music base – Hamburg is my teatre base. Berlin is big whilst at the same time also being small because people treat their areas as litlle cities. Berlin eats you and spit you out sometimes. It is a place where the people let you do whatever you do… but no one really cares when you fall. Hamburg plays big but it’s fucking small for people like me. Give a stranger like me two weeks and he nearly knows everyone. I was born in Hamburg and know every single point here. I like it here and i hate too… like youngsters and their parents.
Drinks in Berlin: i like to go to Trödler; it is a pub I like a lot. Peter the owner is an oldschool Kreuzberg guy and a friend of mine. He is a person like my music: a golden heart but not easy to take. I also go to different places, often to cheap pubs where the people let you be as you want as long you take a drink there. I’m in a lot of different places…and often just straying like a cat in berlin.
Drinks in Hamburg: I am a pub-child, i’ve known pubs since I was five or six years old – maybe even younger – because when I used to visit my father he took us to soccer games of Sankt Pauli and after we’d go to the pubs. Pubs know me and I know them. In Hamburg you can find me often in the Yoko Mono bar because the owner Gesine is a friend of mine. There is another cool bar in Hamburg called Egal bar, but it will close down soon to make another crap office building or a shop nobody needs.
Can you recommend any local acts we should check out?
Mark: Yes, many… On +brr from Hamburg are a good example of non profit musicians… they do it because they love it. Mueran Humanos – I produced their last LP… Namosh – he is such a good one… Angie Reed – you know her right? Driver & driver (Patric Catani and Chris Imler)… Taprikk Sweezee – Nikolai Oppel von Sallwitz, someone important for the Hamburg underground… Gina Dório from Cobra Killer – she also wrote the lyrics for one song on the record.
What is the last album you bought/listened to?
Mark: an LP of “Alexandra“, which is one of my german idols in music on the fleemarket .
Eduardo: I found the first Wire album, Pink Flag, yesterday in a second hand shop. That was the second time I bought it.
If you had to chose, which musical tribe would you say you belonged to?
Mark: This is allways the question when I have to make the clicks on myspace and the other sites…We are punks in a way… but to call it punk is not enough because our influences are in a lot of different genres. We are breaking the rules of making genre music accidentally because we are not conceptual musicians. In Adiós Berlin I can hear 80s punk roots, a bit of hip hop, electronic roots, dub, noise, experimental, march and a bit neue deutsche welle…Ok, if I had to choose, I belong to jazz in the sense of no rules.
What is your summer looking like? Lots of touring for the album? Any festivals? Plans to come to Belgium anytime soon?
Mark: The summer looks hot. Our record is out now. I will make a music-theatre piece with our production team “KRRK-KRRK Produkt”, that’s me and Jessica Broscheit. And I will also make another theatre-piece as a musician on stage performing with “Norton Commander Production” from Dresden this year. We will play concerts as much we can. Belgium – yes book us! We just startet with the booking now. We’re chaos like 9 out of 10 artist are. The next concerts are our release-parties (09.06. in Hamburg, 18.06. in Berlin) and after this the next big gig is a festival called “dockville” in Hamburg.
Eduardo: I play with Caspar Brötzmann Massaker in Oostende on the 5th August. But that’s another story…
If Adios Berlin was a movie, which would it be?
Mark: E.T. because the lyrics are subjective from my eyes… not about a totalitary truth… but an E.T. which can’t go home and is a prisoner in a world he didn’t choose.
If Adios Berlin was a lady, what kind of lady would it be?
Mark: a sweet, self-destructive smoking prostitute. A young angry woman fighting for her rights and loosing herself regularly. It would definitely be a woman I can’t take my eyes of…
Watch the video to Plastik/Lieb
Watch Anders, a track made for the compilation ‘snuff trax for japan’
Adiós Berlin is out now on Shitkatapult
Available from iTunes here