16 August 2018

She plays at Berghain, released her debut album at New York cultlabel DFA and on August 22 she will be a guest at the SCHIRN summer party. A conversation with the Berlin based artist Perel about taxi drivers, her favorite melody and Schlager music shows.

By Florentin Schumacher

Annegret Fiedler’s life reads like one of those wonderful stories where a girl from the sticks makes it onto the stages of the world. She grew up in the Ore Mountains, when the Berlin Wall was still standing, sang in the church choir and as a teenager fell in love with the Backstreet Boys. During her studies she played in bands, Indie Rock as well as Punk, and then made a name for herself as a House DJ in Berlin. In the spring of 2018 she released her debut album “Hermetica” as Perel with New York cult label DFA, a record somewhere between Techno and Pop. Before she performs at the Schirn Summer Party on August 22 she tells us which melodies work, why she sings in German and what her favourite song is this summer.

I was wondering how best to describe your music. It sounds a bit like something you might hear on a dark dancefloor in a club, something pounding, electronic, and then there are these snatches of song and melodies drifting over.

Well, that sounds like neither one thing nor another. But my music makes sense to me. I sometimes find it hard to categorize, but that’s the beauty of art.

It is something in-between. How do you explain to people who have never heard your music what you do?

The classic situation is in a taxi. You start a conversation with the driver and at some point he or she will ask: ‘So what kind of music do you make?’ Well. And I always say: a mixture of Techno, Depeche Mode and The Cure. And there’s also a bit of Giorgio Moroder. Then they always ask where I do that. In Berghain. Ah. Then Berlin taxi drivers have a bit of an idea.

I always say: a mixture of Techno, Depeche Mode and The Cure. And there’s also a bit of Giorgio Moroder.

Perel

PEREL

Alles

You work as a DJ, producer and singer and have tried out all kinds of music genres. From the church choir in the Ore Mountains to performing with an Indie Rock band and as a House DJ to a debut album in the spring with those difficult-to-describe songs between Techno and Pop. Is there a genre that you find awful?

Not really, that’s the funny thing. Recently I even found myself watching the show ZDF-Fernsehgarten. At the same time there was something with Stefan Mross on ARD. It’s such a different world, and I find that fascinating. What makes people listen to that? How do they tick? Naturally, it’s terrible but at the same time I find it so fascinating. Educational.

Photo: Nora Heinisch

You once said the melody is all-important. What constitutes a good melody?

I don’t differentiate between good and bad melodies. For me a melody is useful if it moves me. If I feel I’m revealing something about myself at that moment through this melody. Primarily I play music for myself. Only if it’s authentic and touches me a melody is useful, in quotation marks “good”.

Of all the melodies you’ve come up with, which is your favourite?

I think my most personal melody is the one from the song “Alles,” one of the singles from my album. I have no idea why exactly. Sure, it’s A minor, a classic, moves everybody. But it’s not just that. It’s because I say something with it that I didn’t understand for a long time, but is more meaningful to me than most other things. It was late summer, August or September 2016, and I wasn’t feeling too good. I sat in my bedroom and composed “Alles.” It was the first song I’d written for some time and in which I felt like putting in vocals in German.

I don’t differentiate between good and bad melodies. For me a melody is useful if it moves me.

Perel

The vocals are a nice contrast. You speak rather than sing them and there is a hardness about them that contrasts with the lightness of the production. Did you decide to sing in German because the language sounds harder than English?

Yes and no. First of all, I noticed that I can’t write deep poetry in English. I just can’t do it. I am fluent in English, but as songs it sounds like the worst Schlager music. I’m a big fan of German poetry. And I thought: You have to dare to do it again. However, for a long time I felt uncertain: Is this cool or is it crap? But I trusted my feelings. Because you are right, the production is a little bit smoother; I guess I’m a softy. But I also have a tougher side, and then English is too soft for me. The contrast between the smoothness of the production and the hardness of the German language is much more like me.

Your voice is hard, but it also has something unreal and celestial about it. As if it were struggling to reach us through clouds of smoke. How do you manage that?

I  honestly don’t know either. I just go along with the mood, use my voice as an instrument. My most personal instrument. Then it embeds itself automatically in the music. I guess my voice unconsciously adapts to my mood. Or maybe I’m just lucky that it sounds cool.

Will you tell me your favourite song this summer?

This sounds awful now, but it is actually “Alles.” Because I play it so often and it still doesn’t get on my nerves. And there’s another one: “Sylvia Says” by Charlotte Gainsbourg, the Mind Enterprises remix, such a wonderful summer song.