How did existentialism affect society?
The indie guitars have disappeared, trap beats are now rumbling from the computer. After the end of the Austrian band WE WALK WALLS, SILVIO LENGLACHNER took his time and reinvented it as NEW WELLNESS. On his solo debut "Lexicon Of Untold Stories" he leads into a world between emo rap and synthesizer maximalism. In an interview with Christoph Benkeser, SILVIO LENGLACHNER explains why he rediscovered an interest in making music in Kosovo, how existentialism and Netflix fit together and why the answer to fear of emptiness can also be visual over-affirmation.
You had your successful band project four years ago We Walk Walls dissolved and then spent a long time in Kosovo. What have you done there?
Silvio Lenglachner: I stayed in Prizren with that Lumbardhi cinema worked together. This is a group of young people who are appropriating culture and trying to bring the film format into a society that has distanced itself from it. In Kosovo, especially after the war, the film wasn't really relevant. The medium initially served propaganda purposes, later there were mainly erotic films. A young generation wants to change that.
How did you get in touch?
Silvio Lenglachner: That happened by accident. After the resolution of We Walk Walls I wanted to get away from Austria. I wrote to friends and made contact with Prizren. The people welcomed me with open hands.
How did this time affect your interest in music?
Silvio Lenglachner: I went to a film festival in Kosovo that made the documentary about the singer M.I.A.["Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.", note] has shown. For me the film was a sticking point. I suddenly knew that I wanted to follow music seriously again. Before that, there were a lot of issues that I wanted to get rid of. The drive and the fun of the music only came back when I saw the film.
"I didn't want to produce a social analysis."
Your solo debut on Living room records is called "Lexicon Of Untold Stories". What untold stories do you tell on it?
Silvio Lenglachner: I tried to be more aware of my surroundings and to derive insights from it that flow into my personal story. Some stories lead back to personal experiences with people around me. Others relate to general observations which I give in my own words. But I didn't want to produce a social analysis. This is not my task.
The New wellness-Sound is a mixture of melancholic emo trap and maximalist pop choruses. Two different poles, which in your case do not repel each other. Did you find the best of both worlds?
Silvio Lenglachner: That is the rationale behind album production. You are talking about emo trap. It's a new genre that I find interesting, also in connection with lo-fi pop. That's why I wanted to let these influences converge. This development manifests itself in my music. I hear and know more - and try to combine this knowledge.
"I know that this is a topic that concerns a whole generation."
While listening, I had to listen to the late US rapper's music Lil peep think. Not just because of the production, but because the big issue on the album is survival in a world that doesn't give us as many opportunities as you talked to FM4 said. From what perspective is this “us” articulated?
Silvio Lenglachner: I take it from myself, but I am aware that this is a topic that occupies an entire generation. Lots of people my age can relate to this feeling. You know the situations that I try to capture in my songs. Above all, I am thinking of the opportunities and the outlook that we lack.
New Wellness, In this respect, your project name can also be understood as a subtle reference to a management euphemism for Generation Y - fit, networked, flexibly-optimized, but without a fixed job and in a permanent one struggle with yourself.
Silvio Lenglachner: That sums it up. If you google “New Wellness” you come to a book called “The New Wellness Revolution. How to Make a Fortune in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry ". This book describes a new wave of wellness in society and how to get rich from it. It refers to self-optimization, even in an area like wellness. This is completely insane.
“That brings with it an escapist moment, but it's not bad at all. Rather, it is a form of therapy. "
The album is turning, however, as you write in the announcement on Instagram, in addition to these fears and the personal struggle with all the "shit" out there Netflix-Films and high waist jeans. How does that work for you
Silvio Lenglachner: Pop culture, too Netflix, serves the purpose of numbing us. That may sound like an exaggeration, but aren't we all looking for a way out in conversation so that we can feel satisfied and have fun, at least for a brief moment? We can find these moments in a Kevin James movie, which has a simpler story but makes us laugh for two hours. And that's what it's about. You can feel bad and still - or precisely because of it - notch out for the duration of a film. That brings with it an escapist moment, but it's not bad at all. Rather, it is a form of therapy.
The cultural theorist Mark Fisher described the existential emptiness in a late capitalist society as "depressive hedonia". Unable to pursue anything other than your own enjoyment, there is a vague idea that something is missing - but you cannot name this "something" because you are always looking for the next "click", the next "like", the next "dopamine push" are.
Silvio Lenglachner: I would subscribe to that to a certain extent. On the other hand, I find it problematic because it downplays Generation Y's problems. We are often referred to as “snowflakes” who have everything, but are still sad because they don't know what they want. That may be partly true. But: While Generation X [people born between 1961 and 1980, note] could still benefit greatly from their training and motivation, we look through the fingers. We are ready to work, motivated and well trained, but we don't get anything in return. The career ladder is steeper for us - and therefore more difficult to climb, because the positions are occupied by people who have been socialized in another society. We hit a glass ceiling that we perceive as a border. A limit that can lead to disenchantment and depression.
On the song “Original Characters” you sing: “I got everything I need, this shit is motherfreaking right / Now we are happy all the time.” This unites an almost schizophrenic way of thinking. On the one hand, we own everything. Still, we're not doing well.
Silvio Lenglachner: You're right. The narrator is unlikely to be really well off claiming that he has it all. The context is crucial. I often tell several stories at the same time in my songs. Sometimes - as in this case - these are just short phrases or two lines. When it comes to songwriting, I let Alex Turner do it [Front man of the indie rock band Arctic Monkeys, note] to inspire. He is the emperor of the two-line, says a lot in a few words. And that's where I start: telling a story and having fun by capturing maximum emotion with individual sentences. In my texts you will always find passages that seem to break out of context - but then make sense.
“Lexicon Of Untold Stories” reflects the attitude towards life of Generation Y, writes FM4. Do you mind that you are now classified as the mouthpiece of millennials?
Silvio Lenglachner: I still have to process this process myself in order to be able to classify it. But of course: If you write an album that draws a common thread, you have to expect that people will frame it based on this thread. The attitude to life, and here I speak for myself, is a central theme on the record that touches me emotionally. But I did not think that the reporting would push me in this direction. I definitely don't want to be the poster boy for a generation.
"At some point I consumed his music so often that I actually liked the sound."
In the video for “Treat Yourself” you can see donuts, colorful pills and bundles of money spinning over pastel-colored backgrounds, on which pixelated dolphins hover between palm trees - the instagramized over-affirmation, compressed in three and a half minutes. What aspects do you want to convey with it?
Silvio Lenglachner: I have to go back briefly: Did you have music from then Money boy belongs? I didn't take it seriously at the beginning. At some point, however, I consumed his music so often that I actually liked the sound. I learned to appreciate the culture of the trap that was created at the time. Suddenly it was serious, the irony disappeared. This enabled me to understand the artistic context. The aesthetic I chose in the video for “Treat Yourself” takes up this transition, this development between irony and seriousness. That's why it seems so exuberant.
At the same time, the indie guitars are from We Walk Walls disappeared. Trap beats and synthesizers come from the computer. How was it for you to work without a band?
Silvio Lenglachner: It was the first time that I worked without a band. That's why it took me to get used to the new work environment. Above all, the technical implementation of the production turned upside down. Suddenly many questions arose: Which tools do you want to use? How far do you go with the unlimited possibilities offered by the laptop? The biggest challenge was not to overdo it. That means: not to make the songs too long by laying synthesizers on top of synthesizers and adding even more beats. That's a challenge at the beginning. Especially if you've worked with a band before that gives you feedback, food for thought and criticism during the songwriting process.
What possibilities do you see in working with the laptop?
Silvio Lenglachner: The contemporary sound, programmed beats instead of recorded drums, is the biggest difference to all We Walk Walls productions. The beats are programmed on the computer. You don't hear real drums on “Lexicon of Untold Stories”. That dominates and changes the sound extremely.
In addition, the Austrian producer and musician Wolfgang Möstl mixed your album without you getting to know each other in person. Internet collaboration - somehow symptomatic of the current situation, isn't it?
Silvio Lenglachner: [laughs] Yes, the record has already been called the “Corona album” because it was produced in isolation. Wolfgang and I have actually never met, we only communicated via email. The collaboration worked well despite the lack of personal contact. I sent him the sound files and he emailed me his opinion. It was a pleasant process.
"The lack of direct exchange creates time for reflection, which leads to other decisions."
Perhaps it was even essential for the subject of the album to limit personal contact, or would you classify it differently?
Silvio Lenglachner: I haven't even thought about that yet. You may think longer if you provide feedback in writing and via email. If I had sat right next to Wolfgang, I would certainly have expressed some things more impulsively and directly. The lack of direct exchange creates time for reflection, which leads to other decisions. Simply because emotionality comes across quite differently on a communicative level. As a concept for album production, this kind of collaboration was really cool. For the next album I would still be happy to produce in direct exchange.
Actually you would have played the release concert for your album on March 26th. Social life has now been at a standstill for two weeks. What effects does the current situation have on you?
Silvio Lenglachner: We have never seen anything like it. At the same time, it's an interesting time for people who work creatively because they always long for unusual input; for events that inspire. But of course: the situation is difficult. My texts are often written outside, in the subway, when I pick up snippets of conversation from people. That falls away. I only have the internet for inspiration [laughs]. The preoccupation with oneself becomes more present. Maybe that's just fine for all of us.
Crises are always opportunities for breaks. At the same time, the hope for change is a privileged perspective, one has to be able to afford this thought.
Silvio Lenglachner: That's true. I am in the privileged situation in which I do not have to fight for my economic survival. I work in a precarious environment, but also have a background that protects me from the worst. That's why I think it's important to reflect on this privilege. If something changes in the system, then this change will probably come from people who had thought about it during the crisis. This can lead to elitist, unfair changes. Perhaps the situation will also lead to more people worrying about their consumption behavior. But I am skeptical.
Thank you very much for the conversation.
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