How do I sing breathless songs
Annett Louisan: "Lockdown with a two-year-old was not easy"
Annett Louisan initially spent the lockdown in Vienna to record her album "Kitsch". In an interview with t-online.de, she talks about her job as a mother and singer, her youth and why she now sings "breathless".
Annett Louisan is one of the most successful German-speaking singers. But despite many of her own hits, she also likes to sing by other artists. With "Kitsch" she presents her second cover album. The 43-year-old took this on in Vienna, far from the family, as she reveals t-online.de. In addition, the singer talks about the music of her youth, what music is playing at home and how her life with daughter Emmylou Rose is getting on.
t-online.de: With "Kitsch" you publish your second cover album. Where did the idea come from?
Annett Louisan: I published my first cover album "Berlin Cape Town Prague" in 2016. Originally the idea came from "Sing My Song", where I took part at the time. It's exciting to see where you go yourself when you sing the songs of other artists. It's so much fun to record such great songs in your own version. It was a challenge because this time the songs are mostly English. After eight German albums, it was exciting to hear my voice like that. People in my generation grew up with these songs, it's in my musical DNA.
How did the recordings go? Certainly they couldn't make music in the same room as they used to be.
It's a lockdown album. We had a big house, the former New Zealand embassy, in the 13th district of Vienna. We worked a lot and ordered a lot of food. Unfortunately, I couldn't see that much of Vienna then. (laughs) Everyone involved was happy and grateful to be able to work on the album because it distracted us. We recorded 14 songs in 14 days. We were a team of five people. Everyone had their own workplace or room. It made it possible to work much faster. If one has recorded, another has already edited.
What does "kitsch" mean to you? That's actually a rather negative word and the music isn't that cheesy at all.
Kitsch is nothing negative for me. I have a very cheesy side to me because I'm very emotional. I've always been more feeling than reason. Somehow I manage to do this better with the English language than with German. It is different to say "I just died in your arms tonight" than "I died in your arms tonight". (laughs)
And then you sing "Breathless Through the Night", which is more party than kitsch. How did that happen?
It was really exciting to sing a song like "breathless through the night". A song that is so successful and loved and hated by so many people. I wanted to get to the bottom of the song and see what's on it. It is a luxury to acquire such a wonderfully written song like "Atemlos". Covering is kind of like drinking cola. It's cute and the kick comes right away. I didn't have to struggle with this or the other songs. Because that's the exhausting thing when you make an album and review your own material for months or even years.
The tracklist consists largely of hits from the 80s and 90s. Is that the soundtrack of your youth, so to speak?
Total! The songs should be a little ride. There are songs from the 70s like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", some 80s and 90s hits. I'm a 90s kid and grew up with "Torn" or "Bittersweet Symphony". That was when I was a teenager.
What kind of teen were you? Which group or scene did you belong to?
I was a freak then. (laughs) I wasn't a nirvana girl. I heard more trip-hoppy stuff like Portishead, Morcheeba or those home recordings in the early 90s. But I've always loved pop music. But I also liked German hip hop. But even then I liked to hear old things like Elvis or The Doors. I tried to discover music. There's so much to hear when you're 14 and interested in music. For me it was Neil Young or Aretha Franklin. I can still remember today what it was like to hear these artists for the first time.
What kind of music was going on in your parents' house?
My mother and grandparents listened to hits and listened to a lot of the radio. I didn't have a big brother to bring Revelation to me. I had to discover music for myself. I've always been drawn to music enthusiasts and met so many bands. As a young person I listened to music very differently than I did as an adult. Everything became mentally and professionally. Sometimes I was more concerned with the recording techniques than the songs. Now I am listening to music more again.
Which song could not be missing at teen parties back then?
That "La Boum" song. That was my first love and I've always been a big Paris fan. That just suited me. I always wanted to have a grandmother like the one on the show. (laughs) But back then it was mostly the Backstreet Boys who went to our parties. I still hear them as an adult. But to see a concert from them at the time was something completely different. I saw them in Hamburg a few years ago and every song is still a burner!
What was the first love soundtrack?
Lenny Kravitz. The first two records were running all the time. When it was lovesick it was "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc. That ran on repeat. It is also a long song that made you cry. (laughs)
How do you listen to music at home today?
My husband and I have a record collection and we like to play vinyl. But we have to be careful that our daughter doesn't determine too much. (laughs) She develops her own taste there. She likes to hear Elvis, but also a lot from her films. She especially likes the music from the old Disney films like Aristocats or Bernard and Bianca. I like to listen to jazz to relax, but I still haven't gotten to Spotify and playlists. That actually only works when jogging or going for a walk.
What are you singing to your daughter?
Currently she prefers to hear stories. But of course I also sang a lot to her. I particularly enjoyed performing the very old nursery rhymes. She will discover her own music soon enough.
Annett Louisan at a concert in 2019. (Source: imago images / Matthias Rietschel)
How do you manage to get your career and family under one roof? That is definitely difficult, especially when touring.
If the tour goes too long, my daughter would come with me. We did that last autumn too. We were on the road for six weeks and had our own little room in the Nightliner. My mother was there too and took care of the little one. You just have to improvise. It always turns out differently than you think. That is also the case when one of the parents becomes ill. There are caregivers with whom we try to manage. Lockdown with a two and a half year old wasn't easy. We were without a daycare center, without playgrounds, without grandparents, without other social contacts ... that was harder than anything else.
How was it then with the recordings? Was the family there too?
No, I was alone in Vienna then. I made a conscious decision to do so. I wouldn't have had time to take the pictures. Those were the first two weeks that I was separated from Emmylou. That was hard. But I swore to myself that I would dive into it and enjoy it. I did that.
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