Season 2, Episode 10: Julius Bachmann
Note: This is a transcript of a recorded interview — all speech as is, except for common filler words removed. The full episode is available here.
The first question is always the same, and that’s just to briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Julius Bachmann. I am a guitarist and an investor, based in Berlin. I moved here about two years ago now, coming up to the anniversary in an effort to very intentionally take part in the music scene at the same time, and today I’m part of an alternative rock band called The Candidates. We’re based in Berlin, we write and record in Berlin, and we perform in and around Berlin.
Cool. Do you feel like you focus more of your time on music or more of your time on investing, or is it kind of an equal balance?
That’s a good question because what I feel like is an equal balance and what my time stamp tells me is probably much more in investing, but I spend a good amount of time outside of work, meaning my nights, in music or with music and all the things that come with it. So that’s obviously, I’m writing music and rehearsing with the band or without the band, I’m also editing videos now, which I’m not a specialist for, but that’s what comes with it, I’m observing myself spending more and more time, especially over the last couple months in that realm of music and music related tasks.
Nice, so what drives you to the arts, generally? How did you get involved in music, for example.
I got involved in music probably twenty years ago, and it’s been a thing in the family, it was always present and I wanted to start an instrument at the age of seven or eight, probably seven, and so what got me into it was basically that I really wanted to play the trumpet, and at the time, when I was trying out for lessons or I was visiting the music school in Munich, where I grew up, they were telling me, you know your teeth are too short, you can’t play the trumpet, and that was a serious blow, but then they offered me — I could maybe play guitar, and that was the beginning of a love story I guess, I haven’t put down the guitar in the twenty years since.
Nice. So, happy ending to that sad story. Do you consider yourself an artistic person?
Yes, sure. In the first years I had to get over that barrier of creating art myself, in a way, but I started writing music when I was maybe thirteen, fourteen, and also started recording music pretty soon after that. And being an artistic person is not only about creating art, right, it’s also about perceiving and receiving art, and in that sense, I think I’ve been an artistic person for awhile.
Okay. Do you think in order to be an artistic person you need to produce art?
That’s a good question, so I think it’s equally about the perception as it is about the production or the creative part of it. But it’s more about the intent of it. So to intentionally perceive art and to recognize it for what it is, just as much as creating it in an intentional way, so someone who would perceive art, go to museums and perceive art there, go to shows, dance shows, music shows and perceive art there, that certainly would mean also artistic in a way to me.
Okay. Do you have a particularly memorable experience of the arts?
I think it’s the collective memories onstage for me. When I think of the three main pillars of making music, for me which is creating, working on music as in writing and rehearsing, then recording, and being onstage, I think I’m definitely a stage person, and for me the moment that is always the most memorable of any show is when the audience starts to connect and get into the music. Typically you have this little resistance in the first few minutes where the audience is still not sure what to expect maybe, and is still stepping back a little bit and trying to understand what’s going on and trying to get into the vibe, and then at some point, you feel like something just snapped, and people are loosening up, people starting to dance, and that’s really the moment where I feel like multiple elements connected. Recently I was planning at a show and there was a couple starting to dance in front of the audience and that’s what kind of set off the rest of the audience dancing as well and these are the moments when I light up on stage as well, because it’s not only the music, it’s the collective experience of both the performers and the audience that makes it so special in that moment.
Yeah, yeah, I mean I’m also a performer so I can definitely understand that, when you finally get that energy, it’s hard to beat that. Do you think that you experience the arts on a very daily basis? I think you said you’re involved in music every day, but I also mean additionally like walking to work, or just surroundings, do you think you experience the arts?
For sure, I mean I’m based in Berlin so that’s probably one of the better cities to experience art everywhere you go outside of music. There’s so much artistic expression out on the streets here, and again, I think it’s when I recognize that someone intentionally put — tries to express herself or himself in an artistic way, and that could be the way someone is dressed, the way someone moves, the way someone writes, and this is something that I perceive every day, but I need to be careful to actively perceive because I think a lot of today what we could perceive as art has become commoditized in a way in the sense that we don’t realize that there’s art out there that people actually thought about the way they perform certain actions, do certain things, and we don’t realize it in that way, we don’t realize that artistic intent anymore.
Interesting. So directly related to that, in a world without art, what do you think that people would lack the most?
I think it would be pretty mechanic. For me, when I think about art, I always think of texture and plasticity, and somewhat of the glue that holds things together but in a very flexible way. This is what would probably be missing and that’s why I’m saying mechanic, it would be very clear cut, very I think black and white, because if you don’t — and I’ll pull this back into music, if you don’t have art as in music, there is noise, and there is silence, and that’s a very bland way of looking at things. You can intentionally produce it that way, but then again there is a layer that adds on top that makes it a piece of art again, so I think it would be very mechanical.
Would it be better?
Would it be better?
No! I was talking about the intentional artistic expression as art, and I think there’s certainly unintentional expression that can be interpreted as art, for example, an artist makes a mistake, that will still be perceived by someone as meaningful and perceived by someone as art, even though maybe it wasn’t thought that way or planned that way by the artist, but that’s still not having a world without art. That would be pretty bland, I would fear.
Yeah, it’s interesting that you make that distinction, what may not be seen as art by its creator may not be seen that way by someone else.
Yeah it just got me thinking, because when I’m onstage and I make a mistake, that to me is a mistake because I know what we planned the song to sound like, most of the people in the audience typically don’t know, and sometimes I then take it in stride, make that mistake three more times, and then it’s part of the game.
Right. Often in dance it’s similar, even if you make a mistake, very rarely does anyone actually know, it’s just part of the same performance for them.
Then the question is only, how do you — if it’s a collective performance, if you’re not alone onstage, how do you get the rest of your group to realize there was a mistake and to recognize that mistake was not one that should not be repeated, but why don’t we repeat it again, and that’s okay.
Right. Well, with choreography it’s difficult, when you get into improv, the whole point is for these happy mistakes to happen and the group creates literally as it’s happening.
So what’s the point at which the communication onstage or within the group of performers would change from oh this is improv to this is choreography and I’m actually not going to pay attention too much as to how closely my fellow performers follow the choreography onstage, but I’m only going to focus on the choreography itself and I’m following the process.
Well yeah, I think it’s quite — I’ll throw it back to you, with your group, with the band, does this happen that as you’re going along, someone makes this mistake and everyone rallies around it and creates as it’s happening?
All the time! All the time. And this is what I was thinking about, in rehearsal as much as onstage, it’s a highly interactive situation where we look at each other and we realize, oh, um, I just came in two bars early, and I can’t really stop, because that’s when the audience would be like, what, what’s going on now? So I’m rolling with it, and the rest of the group is adapting to it, and there’s a good amount of laughter and smiling going on onstage that most people in the audience don’t understand, because it’s us making mistakes and trying to work it out. And it’s funny because I recently had a performance with the band, and a good friend of mine was in the audience, and he knew one of our songs. And he later reported, you know, your guitar was really out of tune and you didn’t play most of the strings during that song, right? And I was like, yeah, because early in the song I realized I couldn’t play my guitar, really, because it was so out of tune that it sounded awful, but the band made up for it. And he found it really funny, because for us it was an interesting torture for four minutes onstage to try to work around it, and he knew what was going on, but the rest of the people had no clue.
Yeah, it’s amazing that co-creation, it’s just like — it kind of begs the question, we talk about a world without art and we talk about the outcomes of it, the results of it, but it’s so much more about the process and the creation.
Yeah, and the interaction, yes.
So on that token, then, generally the arts are always around us, there’s always something hanging on the wall, but we don’t necessarily see it, we don’t necessarily interact with that art that’s just floating all over the place. So do you think that we would miss — I don’t necessarily mean it’s a world without art, I just mean the constant noise of art, paintings on the dentist wall, music in the shops, do you think we would miss that background of art if it wasn’t there? And, how do you think people could or should engage with it more?
So, I think the question we were discussing before, in a world without art, how would it look like and would we miss it, I think we would certainly miss it, but even before that, with so much art as you say floating around, as I phrased it, commoditized, what would help is creating a free space with less sensory stimulation by art, by the constant flow of it. So what I do every once in a while is I take music free days. Which is that I don’t switch on favorite streaming service to produce just hours and hours of music, at some point I had my spotify statistics sent to me, and it said, congratulations, you listened to 33,000 minutes of music last year, and I was like, that’s a lot of music, and I certainly didn’t realize that I was listening to that much music because it’s coming in the background and it just starts to add to the noise level. So every once in a while, I now just take a week or ten days off and I don’t listen to music and when I come back to it I start to appreciate it much more, and you can adapt this to any art form, it just happens that music and especially popular music and visual art, as against performance art is so much intertwined with our every day lives that we sometimes don’t even realize, so the first step to engaging more, and this just bringing back to your question, the first step to engaging more for me is realizing how much of art and artistic expression and intentional artistic expression is around us, but realizing that it is intentional and that it may be meant to be perceived in an intentional way as well.
Hm, I like that. What do you think it means for you to live an artful life?
I think that’s probably the progression from my last sentence, it would be being intentional and aware in the creation and perception of the arts, in a very general way, so in whatever form it may come our way, so maybe fashion in the streets and realizing that someone has put a lot of thought to how she dresses or someone has put a lot of thought to how she performs a cover song, even if it’s not on a big stage but on a street corner, and I think this is living an artistic way, and that also links back to your question in the very beginning when you were asking is it only someone who produces or creates art, or is it also artistic to enjoy and to perceive art, as long as I think you would recognize art for what it is and for the intention that is behind, I think that’s the meaning of an artistic life.
I like it! That’s all of the questions I have, do you have anything that you’d like to comment on or add?
It was really fun, thank you very much!