Artist Interview: Johannes Sigmond of Blaudzun

As Blaudzun prepares for their release of Heavy Flowers in the United States, Johannes Sigmond took a few minutes to chat about their future in the US, the inspiration of being on tour, and how a great live show is like making love.

What is Blaudzun up to in preparation for the US album release?

Well, we’re on tour in a couple of weeks. The first two months are in Germany and Belgium. Then, we’ll be in the United States for a show in [The Bowery Electric] in New York City and South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.

I saw that SXSW date. What are you most looking forward to with that festival?

We got to do CMJ in New York last year, but that was just for one day for us. We’ve heard good things about SXSW and how they love new bands in Austin. Festivals are good for us to get a chance to check out other artists, too, because when we’re on tour we don’t get a chance to watch other bands very much, so that will be a lot of fun. I haven’t gotten a chance to see the lineup yet.

What is the big difference between Heavy Flowers and past Blaudzun releases?

The songs come from a lot of the same places. I’ve played a lot the past two years. Touring and playing a lot has made the songs more upbeat in character, I think. I get a lot of adrenaline from playing live and do a lot of writing on tour as a result. It’s a natural illusion. Being live in front of a big audience contributes to my writing.

So you do a lot of your writing on tour. Are you doing much writing when you’re not on tour, then? What does that look like?

It’s something of a hard labor, writing songs. When I’m not on tour, it’s more like an office job. I just came back from Barcelona, where I do a lot of my writing. I’m in at 10am to do a day of songwriting. I’ll get most of my ideas when we’re on tour, then go back and finish writing the songs. Nothing ends up finished when we’re writing on tour.

You get a lot of your inspiration and adrenaline from being on stage. What makes for a great live music experience, as a musician and as an audience?

A great live music experience can be like good love-making or sex; both people have to pull off their clothes. You want everyone to give their all on stage and for the crowd to do the same. You want to generate excitement and adrenaline with the performance, but the best performances are the ones where the crowd is responding with the same excitement.

Those magic nights where everything fits and works well together are the most memorable. Some people want to start a party and some want to stand and listen. Everybody comes together. There’s room for laughter and crying, dancing and stillness.

Your album has been on NPR’s First Listen, so it seems like there’s potential for some real popularity in the US coming up soon.

For anyone who listens to the album, the real popularity comes from seeing it performed live. You have to see it live to truly appreciate the music, which is true of most bands. The eventual goal in the US is to play as many shows as we can. That’s what has worked in Europe, playing all over the continent.

Do you have a favorite song to play from Heavy Flowers?

When I play the smaller club shows, I’ll play all of the songs from Heavy Flowers. “Flame on my Head” is one that is received really well. It’s a song that people respond to immediately. “Elephants” is another one that is well-received.

Any words you have for an American listening to Blaudzun for the first time?

I’ve never been much of a salesman! I’d say just let the music speak for itself.

Heavy Flowers releases on January 29, 2013. Check out the full album stream below.

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