By Rick Perez
Trip-hop artist Mattias Gunsch, under the name Nówfrago, has recently released his dream-like debut album In Love with the Blackbird. Gathering an eclectic array of sounds and moods, Gunsch’s first solo project interprets our most somber emotions into beautiful and alluring concepts that we don’t mind meditating over. “I can`t write happy lyrics,” says Gunsch, “But I think that maybe my lyrics are sort of instructions on how to become happier.”
Check out BoC‘s interview with Nówfrago, where he shared with us his thoughts on working as a solo artist, his childhood songs, and what he did for his last birthday.
Who is Nówfrago and what is your music all about?
Nówfrago: I used to call myself Nówfrago, but over time some kindred spirits joined me for the live experience, so Nówfrago became a proper band. The name itself describes the meandering path that lead to this album – Nówfrago means shipwrecked but it somehow it also sounds positive.
What were you doing 3 hours ago?
Nówfrago: I was in a school doing a workshop kids. It`s my job, it pays my rent but it`s also a lot more. Children are so inspiring and full of life and I get to be exposed to that all day long – how cool is that?
You are getting ready to debut your new album, ‘In Love with the Blackbird’. Why should we be excited for this?
Nówfrago: If I was a Rapper I`d say because it`s some real shit (laughs). But I am just a winy singer called Nówfrago so I`ll say: It`s something different and original. The songs on this record have the ability to fortify you you when you are sad and make you feel comfortable when you have to cope with the heavier things in life. It’s also music that makes you feel euphoric and thoughtful. How cool is it to be alive! And at the same time you think: What the f… am I doing here? All these feelings: Is there anything else, other than music, that can trigger that?
In the past, you were part of bands with multiple members. How does it feel to be working on a solo project? What are the positives and negatives?
Nówfrago: Independence and total freedom in the creative process! I am able to focus on my own ideas and everything I do is my own decision and not a compromise! No more days filled with rehearsals discussing arrangements. I am not dependent on the time and the efforts of others. But then you find yourself dancing alone to your track and you think, damn, how much better would that be to share this with a band? The downside is that it`s tiring to do everything by yourself! But if this is what it means to have your freedom, it`s what you have to live with.
What’s the story behind the song, ‘Pences in Times of Pounds’?
Nówfrago: I was tired of all these heavy and sad songs so I tried to write a “happy song”, but I didn’t want it to be cheesy. I had this simple chord in mind and it worked well with a repetitive rhythm. But as the song evolved I realized that it became a bit melancholic again… The lyrics are about failing, you are depressed and your first impulse is to leave! But then you start reflecting and draw hope, you try again and finally appreciate the small things and focus on what’s good in life. I can`t write happy lyrics. But I think that maybe my lyrics are sort of instructions on how to become happier.
If you can work with a director and write a score for a film, who would you want to work with and why?
Nówfrago: Paul Thomas Anderson! Have you watched Magnolia? It`s all depressing and heart-breaking and then Aimee Mann`s “Save Me” starts! Even after 15 years I get crazy goosebumps and become all emotional when I watch this scene. It`s all about music!!!
What did you do for your latest birthday?
Nówfrago: This year, we all walked to a nearby-lake and with us we had this brand new, gigantic and shiny canoe of my girlfriend`s father. Everybody we met on the way looked at us as if we were silly, because the lake we went was tiny. But we made it there and I had the first canoe-trip with my girlfriend and our 4-months old son! What else could you dream of?
Is there a specific song that you remember from your childhood?
Nówfrago: Nicole`s “Ein bisschen Frieden”. I was six and it was the first tape from the local library. I was totally in love with her. At the age of eight, we listened to Europe`s “Final Countdown” and had a playback show in a friends garden. Later it was Guns`n`Roses “Paradise City”! They are all such pathetic, but great songs.
What was the best advice you have gotten?
Nówfrago: Take it easy, but the thing is I still don`t follow it.
What is next for Nówfrago?
Nówfrago: Playing some gigs, evolving and getting better and more comfortable playing live. And I should definitely take a break… Maybe do something else? but then I’m already longing for all the song-material that’s waiting for me, all these new songs to be written! Who knows, maybe I can finally write a happy song?