Sven Friedrich from Solar Fake
Sven Friedrich is definitely the artist who needs no introduction. Creative and versatile, he finds his way both is atmospheric, melancholic sounds as well as energetic and dancy ones. SOLAR FAKE, his most kicking and dynamic baby, had been very active recently and as a result, we may enjoy a brand new release: ‘This Pretty Life’. It was released on 13th of November and thus I took the chance to ask Sven a few questions.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Sven, have you read ‘Brand New World’? Do you think that our society is more and more like what Huxley described with anti-depressants being an equivalent of soma? Are we starting to live in societies deprived of emotions?
Sven: Well, it’s hard to say but you can clearly see frightening parallels. I think people are still emotional, but they are trying more and more to control emotions because it’s better to feel good rather than to find out why they don’t. Especially, when it’s not obvious or easy to find out. And if you want to get to the bottom of a problem you’re totally left alone by most doctors and specialists, because it’s so much easier to prescribe some drug, rather than take the long and complicated way or just do the job…
RoD: I’m asking this because the new single ‘This Pretty Life’, which was out on the 13th of November 2020, explores the topic of mental health. It’s especially up-to-date these days when so many peoples’ health has deteriorated due to isolation and anxiety. Do you think people got weaker or life become harder that we need so much chemical support to bear it?
Sven: Oh, I’m not sure if I’m the right person to answer this question, hahaha. I’m not very active, socially. So I never go out much to meet people, I basically work all the time. So I don’t really suffer from social isolation at all. But probably there are people who do, but it’s hard for me to imagine how someone could suffer from social distancing, especially because I have the impression that nobody really cares about other people. As I said, I’m probably not the right one for this question…
RoD: I’m asking this also because the name of the medicine in your video is “felicaerulum” - do you think the drive to be happy is overwhelming, that the society and images that surround us somehow impose it? That some emotions such as sadness or even grief are pushed aside and perceived as awkward, unwanted?
Sven: Well, probably. Of course, people want to feel happy. But I think it’s also necessary to have bad emotions from time to time, even if it makes you extremely uncomfortable, to see and understand the real value of good emotions. I think intervention in the psyche is a highly complex thing with lots of interactions and reactions and I think it’s hard to get back to “normal” emotions with their “normal” amplitudes if you start to manipulate this system. And I think people, but also doctors, deal with that far too naïve and careless.
RoD: Is the issue of mental health important to you? Or maybe I should say ‘You win. Who cares’ released in 2018 also touched the topics and ‘This Pretty Life’ seems to move forward in that direction, explore the topics related further?
Sven: Yes, sure. When you walk along the streets you see so many idiots and assholes and I just wonder how they got so “far”, haha… But honestly, it’s interesting and very disturbing to see how people act and why they act the way they do. It’s a boundless source of ideas for song lyrics.
RoD: ‘Pretty’ in the title obviously brings ironic connotations to mind, it seems to be a general comment to life as it is now. Not sure about you, but I have the feeling - with Photoshop, filters, and the overall fake that starts prevailing in the mainstream message, the reality is created rather than experienced. Why do you think people go for unreal images, lies so easily? Is the truth about life so hard to take that people prefer living in illusions?
Sven: I think it’s just the same as with pills or drugs. People want to feel good and they want to show everyone that they feel good and that they’re pretty. And well, this creates a strange image of the world that’s just not real and people, especially kids, are so desperate because they can never reach this fake ideal in reality, unless they use the same filters and stuff… Always a good choice to use the own brain instead of watching some influencer on YouTube who just tries to sell some crappy overpriced products…
RoD: Some say that our times are a bit like a combination of the said ‘Brand new world’ and ‘1984’ by Orwell. Would you agree? Or do you still find life beautiful?
Sven: Well it depends on what you do with it. I think mankind is lost and all chances have passed by to repair the damage we have done. And I can just do small things not to make it even worse myself by trying to avoid plastics and by not eating or using animal products and by trying to reduce waste as much as possible. And in the state the world is in at the moment (let’s say without Covid), I can live a perfect life, I have a wonderful job and I can do what I really love. So it’s a bit more complicated. I love my life, but I think life on this planet, in general, will not last so much longer…
RoD: The new single represents something that I personally associate SOLAR FAKE with - dancy, energetic, strong melodies, and an important message. Do you still find yourself more comfortable working with dark electro rather than softer, more melancholic melodies? Would you say it’s a continuation of a certain cycle presented by your albums or a brand new creation?
Sven: Hahaha, well, I think if I start to write only melancholic and sad songs, I will form another band for it. No, I couldn’t imagine a Solar Fake album without dance-y and energetic songs. And there will be more on the album, of course. So yes, I definitely see the new songs as a continuation of the previous albums with some new influences, like all the other albums. And I also love this dark electro stuff a lot. As long as I’m angry and need something to put my energy into, this won’t change, and I’ll go on developing the sound of SOLAR FAKE.
RoD: What was the work on the single like? The production process etc. - was it more difficult due to restrictions?
Sven: Not at all. I’m doing all the work by myself, I have my studio, there’s nothing more that I need. And I also do the artwork by myself, so no need to see others to get this done.
RoD: Could you tell me about the making of the video for ‘This pretty life?’ How did you feel acting as Dr Sven advertising pills for pretty life? What was the concept behind the video?
Sven: Well, the concept is more like a short story… An evil psychiatrist makes a woman kill her husband with the help of a drug. He wants her for himself, keep her in the basement. The drug makes her apathetic, doing strange things, her husband trusts the doctor, wants him to treat her, but he’s not aware (nobody is until the end of the clip) that it all belongs to his masterplan. When he has locked her in the basement, he starts his new “project”, the next woman. I just play those cheap TV ads for the drug… The only way to get me into the clip singing, hahaha… We shot everything in Berlin, except for my scenes, they were shot here in Spain. And well, I did all the camera work and postproduction, Jennifer signs responsible for the story, the props and the editing. She had this sick idea. But she’s always the priceless mind behind our video clips.
RoD: What does the cellar the protagonist is locked in at the end represent? Can our mind be our own prison?
Sven: Actually, it’s just that he wants to keep her for himself…
RoD: Now, change of subject - You have quite a history with the alternative scene - ZERAPHINE, DREADFUL SHADOWS, and SOLAR FAKE, which, with time, became your major project. What keeps you being creative and how would you like to develop the project?
Sven: Well, the fun I have with SOLAR FAKE keeps me being creative, keeps me wanting to continue. It’s the motor. I really love the music I create for SF and I still have lots of ideas about how to proceed. And it’s also quite successful which feels like a confirmation that I’m doing the right thing. There’s also a lot of pressure, but it doesn’t feel bad, actually. It’s more like a challenge to get better from album to album… I don’t look too far ahead in future, so I can’t say how exactly I want to develop SF, but I think we’re on a very good way and we’ll continue like that. I think live on stage we are a perfect family and as long as the guys are willing to go with me, I’m happy.
RoD: About more current things - how are you actually doing during the times of the pandemic? I feel I was asking this question to all the artists I was interviewing for the past six months, but it seems everyone is handling it slightly differently and every person has a different way of approaching the isolation and restrictions imposed. With concerts nulled, how do you spend your time, and do you find the isolation hard?
Sven: Hmm, I kind of answered this before I think... No, social isolation doesn’t affect me at all. I was busy the whole year through, actually. We played gigs until the end of February, then I worked on the live album and then focused on the next studio album, which I’ve been working on since fall 2019. I’ve had almost no day off this year. Of course, it hit us hard not to be able to play gigs. Not only financially, but also mentally, but as a little substitute we started our podcast so that we can talk the same bullshit like in the tour bus, but with an audience. Actually, people love this podcast so much that I’m afraid we will continue with it, even after the pandemic is over, hahaha. And in summer we were privileged to play four open-air shows, two in Munich, one in Leipzig and one in Hanover, plus one club gig in Switzerland. That’s more than we could dream of when this disastrous time began. Many bands could only play one gig this year, most couldn’t play at all… And we also played the CUBESession, some streaming event in a special location. It’s still online, people can buy a ticket and watch it.
RoD: The new album by SOLAR FAKE is announced to be out in 2021 - can you tell me a bit what can we expect of it in terms of music line, content, or the concept?
Sven: Well, it’s gonna be the best SOLAR FAKE album so far, hahaha… As I said before, it will basically be a continuation of the last albums, with some new influences. I totally love the new songs, even though I’m right before finishing the final mixes and I was probably listening to each new song about 5,000 times within the last four weeks. But I still love every song. Today I finished tweaking the songs, so now only the very final touches and I’m done with the music. But then I have to sing and mix the acoustic album, which will be part of the fan box edition, as always. Then artwork… I think I’m still busy for quite a while until everything is finished. But I’m pretty sure our fans will love the new songs. And we’ll have 2 nice cover versions and totally great remixes, e.g. by BLUTENGEL, IRIS,LORD OF THE LOST, FAELDER, SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS, MASSIVE EGO and many more…
RoD: And the last question - what was the last pretty thing you saw?
Sven: Just 10 seconds ago, my dog putting her head on my knees, telling me it’s time to go for a walk...
RoD: Thank you very much
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)