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thedarktenor Today our guest is the mysterious and fabulous THE DARK TENOR. I like his music very much and when I saw the pictures of his tattoos on Instagram, I couldn’t resist doing an interview at the next possible date. In January we met before the show at the Batschkapp in Frankfurt. Now I can share the results of our interview with you here…

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: The first question. When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time to decide to get it done?
The Dark Tenor: My very first tattoo was a hasty reaction. At 16 came the earrings and then I turned 18 and was allowed to make my own decisions. I went out and got the tattoo done. Of course, I had no idea and just chose something from the templates the tattoo artist had and that tattoo still can be seen. The tattoo on my shoulder, exactly.

RoD: You can’t imagine how often I heard that with the first tattoo at 18. How many tattoos do you have now?
The Dark Tenor: Let me count fast. Six, seven... there are seven tattoos.

RoD: I’ve searched on your Instagram but have found only pictures of tattoos on your arms.
The Dark Tenor: Yes, I still have one on the neck, one on the forearm on the left side, the right arm is almost full and one in the groin.

RoD: Could you tell the stories about your tattoos?
The Dark Tenor: Yes, so I have a story that is “No Face”. I had that tattooed on my forearm when I was in L.A. two years ago and started writing the third album. At that time on the private level of my life everything was very, very mixed, not really nice, not really good… just strange, with my girlfriend too. This “No Face” can feel into the characters he has at his side and strengthen their emotions. So, he himself can become a monster or a nice companion who helps you. That describes pretty well that time when I said to myself: “Okay, you’re always torn between good and evil somehow”. It was like that in April 2017 and my producer, with whom I worked on the music, had tattooed him at the same time.

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RoD: Pretty fresh. And are you done with tattoos already?
The Dark Tenor: No, you’re never really done.

RoD: Who are the tattoo artists that tattooed you, how many were there and who did the sketches?
The Dark Tenor: Well, that were almost all no-name tattoo artists. But except for my first tattoo, I already looked at the things they did before. But I was also at “Blut und Eisen” and Liz Vegas in Berlin, who already did things for people like David Garrett and... What’s the name of the guy who played the pirate?

RoD: Johnny Depp?
The Dark Tenor: Yeah, Johnny Depp and a bunch of other people, of course. She tattooed me and also made sketches.

RoD: How long was your longest tattoo session?
The Dark Tenor: Oh, I think the longest one was actually the one by “Blut und Eisen”. I don’t know why, but it took so much time. My left forearm went very fast, Liz did that in three hours, although it’s quite a lot. Neck tattoo was my most painful experience. I had it done in Bali. I was there with my girlfriend and it was very funny. The room was completely tiled and looked very clinical, similar to the one we are sitting in right now. I sat on the floor and the tattoo artist behind me, with a cigarette in his mouth held the drawing in his left hand and tattooed it with his right hand without putting the motive on it first. That was a bit adventurous, but it turned out good anyway.

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RoD: That’s the most important thing. About the pain, getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
The Dark Tenor: That only hurts in the beginning, this initial pain gets to the point where the body gets used to it. It’s something else when it hits exactly the nerve points you have in your neck or shoulder, when it goes over your bones and everything vibrates or where the skin is a bit thinner. But I think tattooing is a different kind of pain, not in the true sense of the word, rather a different kind of feeling. The actual pain for me only takes place at the very beginning and then I get used to it ultra-fast.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
The Dark Tenor: No. I think that every tattoo is a testimony of the moment, just like the songs on an album are always somehow contemporary witnesses - of the moment and the life situation I was in when I wrote them. With the story on my shoulder, I actually think if I should cover it, but with all the others I have no regrets.

RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
The Dark Tenor: For example, I’m not a big fan of antlers anymore.

RoD: No more?
The Dark Tenor: Yeah of course, in the past it was all kind of in. All the girls had them, and you always had something to look at as a boy, as a teenager. I remember exactly when H&M came out with pants that were cut higher in the back and had a white tribal sewn on them, because the kids weren’t allowed to get it tattooed, of course, but still wanted to have it. That’s not my hobby now, it doesn’t have to be.

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RoD: It is said that it is addictive to get a tattoo. Once you’ve started it, you can’t stop. How do you see that?
The Dark Tenor: It’s not like I can’t live without it.

RoD: But you don’t want to.
The Dark Tenor: Well, I definitely want to have more tattoos. Definitely. But it’s not an addiction.

RoD: Now a little bit about fashion and trend... at the moment tattoos are really in. Is it the case that many people get tattoos because they just want to look cool? Many people don’t associate their tattoos with anything and use ready-made templates. I feel sorry for the tattoo artists because they are turning from artists into producers of mass goods. What do you think about it?
The Dark Tenor: Well, first of all, any tattoo artist can say “no, I’m not doing that” if business is good enough. On the other hand, it’s a business, of course. You shouldn’t forget that an artist also has to make a living from something. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. And we’ve all done jobs that we didn’t really like, right? But for me a tattoo must mean something. I have never done a tattoo because it was fashionable, except when I was 18. That was actually more of a revolt against my parents because I grew up in a classic home. My mother is a violinist, my father - a conductor. Of course, there were no tattoos. We are coming from America, my mother from the Southern States, my father from the Northern States. Especially for my mother that was terrible, because she was educated very conservatively. But she quickly got used to it. So, I think everyone has to do what they want. If a tattoo is only made out of fashion, I just don't think it's so cool. A tattoo remains forever and everyone who has it removed by laser has just not understood the meaning of tattooing. There should be a story about it and then it’s nice to immortalize it on your skin. I like that.

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RoD: But there is another social aspect to tattooing. This thought that tattooed people and tattoos are antisocial. Do you still feel these prejudices in your life?
The Dark Tenor: I live in Berlin, it’s not like that. That’s also where you find tattoos when you take a look at the hotel business. Probably you will see neck tattoo less often there now. But of course there are also establishments that are high quality and look at the hip Berlin and then accordingly hip, hire tattooed boys and girls. It has already become much more accepted and it has become much easier. But Berlin is its own bell. I don’t know what it is like elsewhere. In any case, I believe that it has become better. But exactly what you just said is something my mother told me that only criminals and unemployed people and sailors are tattooed. She used to have a very similar attitude. But I think that in the meantime this seaman and criminal number in particular is no longer so present in people’s minds.

RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
The Dark Tenor: Look at the work of the tattoo artists, how does he or she make tattoos? I’m a big fan of getting tattooed by women. I have several tattoos made by women and I feel like somehow it hurt me less. I don’t know why. Pick a motive that fits a story that belongs to you. And if you can’t tell a story about the tattoo that has something to do with you personally, let it go. I am, in contrast to it, rather a very impulsive person. I like to keep things simple, just decide immediately and then do it. Don’t try to do it that way, but here very funny stories can come up. And apart from that I recommend to just watch a lot, be it on Instagram or Pinterest. I am looking very much at Pinterest and find new tattoo artists who I think are cool, who have their own brands and styles. I find that very, very interesting. Just look around a lot and become aware of what’s trendy at the moment, e.g. that everything has to look geometric. And then think: “ok, do I want to look like everyone else of my generation or do I take something that isn’t trendy?” I also recommend bringing colours into play - yes, absolutely.

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa, Ira Titova
Pictures by Daria Tessa (

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