André Steinigen (vocals, music, words, arrangements) from Versus
Today's interview is with André Steinigen. Wait, you don't know him? But you should! André is not only one of the nicest persons I have ever met and that kind of person you can talk to for hours but he is also a really great musician. His band VERSUS might still be unknown in the scene but they can compete with the other acts qualitatively nevertheless.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Hi Andre, I will begin this interview with the favourite plea of bad journalists: introduce yourself to our readers! Seriously though, some will look at the picture from above and think “I know that guy!” Please explain before I have to do so with a terrible introduction.
André: A wonderful good day to you! My name is André Steinigen and today I am allowed to be sweetness. A lot of you will know the photo from the category “The Sexiest Man Alive” but some may also associate it with my band VERSUS or my live activity for NACHTMAHR.
RoD: How modest of you! That's the way you are (laughs). You do not only accompany Thomas Rainer and Gregor Beyerle with NACHTMAHR but you are also the emperor of VERSUS' Ahoi-Pop-Empire. What is going on with your band at the moment?
André: It's colourful. But at the moment it's actually rather dark. I am in hospital, worst case surgery in prospect and I am neither allowed to drink nor eat. That's why I am not really in an Ahoi-mood but things will get better.
RoD: We wish you a speedy recovery, Andre. I would personally play wet nurse for you and bring you some bananas and juice and some crossword puzzles but since you are neither allowed to drink nor eat and crossword puzzles are rather boring I will rather leave it as it is. The record ‘Different Twilight Places’ was released a while ago. Time for a follow-up, don't you think?
André: Yes, I think so. But it's good you've mentioned ‘Different Twilight Places’. An incredibly great record which unfortunately didn't really draw people's attention (laughs). But especially with that in mind, it's definitely time for a follow-up even though it rather sounds like a comeback record considering the amount of time that has passed even though we never broke up.
RoD: What's the matter?
André: There are a lot of things that contribute to that. I am not able to live off making music. That means that work on and with the band come after my job and family. On top of that, I have either been constrained creatively or I have constrained myself personally because I didn't know how things should or could move forward. This concerns especially the release of new material. I can't really work on new songs, on demos or new lyrics or with machines when I have that turmoil inside of me. That's surely a flaw but VERSUS was always an output for inner conviction. And I didn't always have that for a 100 per cent even though I have never doubted to work further on the project.
RoD: What do you do on a daily basis when you don't have to answer weird questions journalists ask you?
André: I hope that Dynamo Dresden will make it to the first league.
RoD: Is a person from Dresden automatically a Dynamo fan? I know some people from Saxony's capital and whenever I stumble upon one of them they start telling me about the last game, the next away game or fan events...
André: No, I don't think so. I am a great fan of SGD, I love this club and a lot of it involves Dynamo. But I am not one of those who talk about it all the time or who documents those actions. Maybe that's because I have a critical attitude towards some of the fans. Everyone is pissed off because Dynamo gets condemned harshly in the media or by judgements. I'm not sure whether I am too harsh on this but I believe that some of the fans are definitely responsible for this bad reputation. It's not normal when some throw rockets at other blocks in Rostock. I have no tolerance for that. I think there should be expulsion proceedings as tickets are only available to members and this means that the fan charter has been ignored. The K-block insists on self-control which doesn't really work at home. As long as there is no self-purification process I will consider the fan charter a failure. Have I talked myself into a rage now?
RoD: A little bit perhaps but that's absolutely okay. What do you wish for Dynamo in 2015?
André: An ascent would be nice and probably possible but I don't see that as a must. I much rather wish for peace in this club and that riots remain absent so that Dynamo can show itself as what is actually is: a bunch of great football fanatics with a big cult.
RoD: Let's move from black-yellow to notes. How did you come to music? Basic flute lessons in elementary school?
André: No, through DJ-ing. My father was a DJ. That's how I started. Later I made music with different friends. My first attempts were in Hip Hop, by the way.
RoD: While I am thinking of flutes and remember their terrible sound, what is the instrument that sounds the most gruesome to you and what would you do if someone appeared in front of you with that instrument and began to play it?
André: I have never made up my mind about that. But I don't really enjoy bag pipes so some bands naturally don't appear on my playlist.
RoD: How did you go from being a lovely Dresden person and former Orkus journalist to NACHTMAHR?
André: Doesn't that fit together? (laughs) Actually this happened through Orkus. I was one of the lucky persons to interview NACHTMAHR for the first time. I didn't even know Thomas back then so I was nice and friendly with him and did an interview with him via Skype. This turned into a really great private conversation and later, into a good friendship. One day Thomas asked me whether I wanted to support him on his Russia tour. I must say that I don't regret that choice. It wasn't only the beginning of a wonderful time with wonderful people but it was also the beginning of my love for Russia.
RoD: How is collaborating with Thomas and Gregor like?
André: It's a mix of professionalism, friendship and fun. I think I speak for the both of them when I say that two good friends stand together on stage who don't necessarily have to see each other every day in order to understand one another. Besides, Thomas sets an example of professionalism that I didn't know before. He does everything in order a) for it to be a good gig and b) for everyone to be provided with what they need. And last but not least, he accepts Greg's and my football fanaticism. That says everything, right?
RoD: Does NACHTMAHR or VERSUS get the most female lingerie thrown on stage? And what do you do with all those bras and slippers? Do you wear them yourselves?
André: To be honest, I can't really remember anyone throwing anything on stage at a NACHTMAHR show. We had some stuffed animals thrown at us during a VERSUS show, it was a friend's joke, and we also got a bra at a later point. I put that one on the mike stand.
RoD: As a chronic festival visitor, I always see cliché fans with Austria flags and uniforms at NACHTMAHR gigs. Do they also come to VERSUS shows with Saxony flags or aren't they as flexible? (laughs)
André: Haha. No. But that is not comparable at all. The VERSUS concept is not as home oriented as NACHTMAHR's concept. But I would definitely welcome the sight of more Ahoi shirts or flags at future shows.
RoD: You regularly post about CASPER on Facebook. Please explain to those of us who have no clue who that is. Why do you like him so much?
André: CASPER is a rapper of American descent from Bielefeld and it's been a long time since I have been simply a fan of an artist. That means I don't analyse his songs, rhythms, approaches, etc., I simply enjoy and sink into his music. On the other hand, I love his lyrics. I believe that I could tell a personal story to all his songs. I felt very homely at the first listen and this feeling hasn't left since.
RoD: Tell me about your best concert moment in 2014. Who was really good?
André: I have seen some really great shows, among others SONO, ROTERSAND, CASPER several times, ALLIGATOH, BOSSE, CAMOUFLAGE, SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS' anniversary show and a lot more. My highlights were MARIEMARIE in Dresden, though, because it was so intimate and different and LEGEND at the NCN because I didn't know the band until that day and was immediately impressed by their music and stage presence as seldom before. And last but not least: L'ÂME IMMORTELLE in the Reithalle in Dresden. For months I have observed the comeback of L'ÂME IMMORTELLE with all of Thomas' ideas, worries and visions and that's why I was as excited as their fans in the audience and hoped that everything would go according to the plan. It all went well. (short break) I think VERSUS and MESH on the fortress Königstein was also a fine experience.
RoD: Who was a real disappointment?
André: Next question.
RoD: Okay, let's go back to your youth. What did you want to become when you were 16? Who was your ultimate favourite band and what did your parents prohibit you from doing?
André: I wanted to become a rock star. My favourite band was definitely DEPECHE MODE. I was mocked a lot. The KLF were already very important to me back then as well. Later it would be bands like APOPTYGMA BERZERK, COVENANT, VNV NATION, AND ONE and ICON OF COIL even though none of those really made it into my present. Nowadays it's THE KLF, the already mentioned CASPER and artists like ANGELS AND AIRWAVES, GREEN DAY, MAXIM, DEICHKIND and also SONO who I enjoy listening to privately. And what had I been prohibited from doing? Hm, I had really cool parents and enjoyed a lot of freedom even though I perceived that probably differently back then. But I believe that my parents gave me a good conception of the world on my way. Ah, precisely! Football: I wasn't allowed to become a club member as my father didn't accept football as a sports discipline because he was an athletics teacher. Unfortunately. (Laughs)
RoD: In retrospective, were things better once?
André: Everything is as good or as bad as you make it to be. I don't like looking back even though I am not that sort of person either who can always look forward with positivity. But generally I believe that everyone is responsible for their own luck.
RoD: With whom would you like to collaborate and how would the labour division/method look like?
André: There are quite a few. Vasi Vallis, Krischan Wesenberg, Frank M. Spinath, Daniel Myer and of course CASPER. How would the labour division look like? I have no idea. A collaboration with Vasi, Krischan and Frank would be the most likely to happen as you need mutual sympathy for a collaboration.
RoD: What are the best and worst things about being a musician?
André: The best for me personally is that I can music my own feelings in every possible way, depending on how I feel. The thing that absolutely sickens me is that you don't have many good opportunities as a smaller artist to publicly demonstrate your feelings without selling yourself off or licking someone else's butt. But then again, everyone sees that differently.
RoD: A short interposition: I love hugs. Do I get one?
André: No. I hate feelings. Of course you can get one!
RoD: I will pick that one up personally. You can count on that! The famous last word is yours.
Those who have become curious after reading this interview can check out this lovely clip or read more here: https://www.facebook.com/Versus2 / http://www.versus-music.de
Written by Fee Wundersee, translation by Alex Ultra-Riot
Interview in cooperation with www.depechemode.de. You’ll find the German version here: