There was a band in Berlin called The Echo Vamper, made by multi-instrumentalist James Brook and actress-singer Iza Freund.
They recently disband and this was a true bolt from the blue. James and Iza are still performing together in a Berlin theatre’s production though.
Reykjavik Boulevard met James to talk about this professional and private break up, future projects and to discover more about his love for Berlin, music and visual art.
CHECK THE STUNNING DEDICATED GALLERY by Jessica Wolfelsperger
Well I moved to Berlin in the late summer last year and immediately began building a production studio. To start work on various projects, mostly music and video work. I was then offered by Lars Eidinger (the german Actor & Director) to make the music for his production of “Romeo & Juliet” at Schaubühne and it seemed like a natural choice to do it with The Echo Vamper. So once again its been a period of intense song writing and ‘rollercoaster’ emotions!
After your “Romeo & Juliet” shows in Berlin, are The Echo Vamper going to disband? Do you already have other plans like a solo career or a new collaboration? Are you working on new material?
As it stands now The Echo Vamper no longer exists outside of the theater. So while the production continues this will be the last chance to see us performing together. I’m currently working on my new project ‘Technicolour Shake’, it’s uncertain what the constellation of this is going to be, but my music aesthetic is strong… I’m very happy with what I achieved musically with The Echo Vamper and I wish to continue exploring that style of writing and presentation for the moment.
We were incredible as a band together and it’s such a shame that we had to go our separate ways. ‘There is a season, turn turn turn’… ‘Don’t fear the reaper…’ etc. Change is such a violent thing, but in many ways it forces us to grow as people and as artists sometimes, and I wish Iza the best of luck in everything that she does.
You still give a lot of importance to the visual part of your job. Together with this interview we have the chance to feature your new pictures taken with Jessica Wolfelsperger: what kind of photography you like and how will you invest in this?
Photographs are little snap shots of reality… That’s one way of looking at it. But they will always remain an interpretation of reality, in reality! They are vastly ‘open’. So one has the choice and opportunity to be or push whatever you wish in a photo. It’s a massive dynamic to play with. Generally speaking, I prefer photos that aren’t too ‘clean’… I like rough out of focus photos, with exaggerated colors. Faded hyper reality stuff.
I have started working with Berlin based swiss photographer called Jessica Wolfelsperger, she takes the most amazing Polaroid pictures… And has loads of great old cameras.
You played a lot in Berlin’s theatre and clubs: what is the difference of these two very far dimensions? What do you prefer?
That a question that often fills many a backstage room. Theaters have a great atmosphere, steeped in history… Potential hangs in the air. They are amazing places to be on a daily basis… And actors despite their eccentricities (lets face it, we all have them) are wonderful people to be around. There is of course a certain distant that you have from the audience when you play at a theater, which affords you different opportunities as a performer, for good and for bad sometimes.
Then again, I will always get a kick out of playing in a small club, it’s the intimacy I guess. Having the audience so close to the action. To be honest I just love playing… And the only thing I prefer, regardless of location, is decent sound.
Are you going to leave Berlin or do you think this is the best city to play your music? What does it mean to be an artist there? Can you suggest us the best places in the city, the ones making this place different from anywhere else?
I love Berlin. There are so many oppertunites here, and that’s something I really want to explore. Being an artist in Berlin is a struggle like any other place. It’s a ‘Mekka’ for the weird and wonderful and if you know where to look you can find them… And if you’re not looking they will most certainly find you. The atmosphere in Berlin really suits my music and the response I have had here has been overwhelming, people really get it in a very honest way.
It’s an empowering thing to be in the midst of so many artists and actively creative people and there is a sense of unity amongst them that I haven’t felt in any other place.
Mauerpark – is basically a huge outdoor market selling everything from second hand furniture to great designer clothes. It happens every Sunday and is always packed with people. You can always find a bargin there, in fact last Sunday I found a 1930’s Typewriter for only 10 Euros.
It’s a hang out for loads of musicians and artists and there is always something to see and do.
Mein Haus Am See – my regular coffee place in Mitte. Located on Rosenthaler Platz this place is also a hang out for many Berlin people. It’s like a train station in reality… So many different sorts coming and going, it’s a good place to people watch.
During the evenings they have Dj’s and it’s always filled with interesting people.
Muschi Obermaier – Located on Torstrasse in Mitte. Another hangout for the weird. Great atmosphere with a real Andy Warhol ‘factory ‘ sort of feel to it. To be honest I’m a total lounge lizard, preferring seating and polite conversation to clubbing any day.
So my debauched evenings generally gravitate around sofas, endless talking and Muschi Obermaier is great for that.