Leipzig 2012 Revisited (1): AudioFeels
via Festival für Vokalmusik Leipzig (GER), 2012
Leipzig’s a cappella festival is a true work of art – for many years this 10-days event has presented almost every vocal star you can imagine from Bobby McFerrin to The Real Group and The King’s Singers. Hosted by Germany’s pride in classical a cappella, amarcord, the 2013 programme is fantastic as always presenting Sjaella (GER), Graindelavoix (BEL), Postyr Project (DEN), Orlando Consort (UK), The Magnets (UK), Huun-Huur-Tu (Tuwa), Latvian Voices (LAT), Naturally 7 (USA) and as the traditional opening concert, amarcord themselves. Yes, this is only ONE festival…
But before we will introduce you to this year’s line-up, we want to look back to the 2012 edition. Leipzig’s programme book is as premium as the festival and its founders and included interviews with every group performing at the festival. Vocal Blog is happy to present a series of interviews with the 2012 vocal groups who came to Leipzig and haven’t been featured on the blog yet. Thanks to Friederike Frieler and Wolfram Lattke for sharing this with the a cappella community.
First of all, would you please introduce us to your group: How and when did the group form?
The group was established in 2007. We were singers of Adam Mickiewicz University Choir, when our conductor suggested to basses and tenors, to prepare one special song for the annual New Year’s Concert in Poznan. About twelve men from our choir, including us of course, arranged a song and performed it during the concert. The strong audience reaction made us think: How about singing more songs in an all-male ensemble? How about doing it seriously, more professional?
The concept of AudioFeels is to create the complete sound of a band by imitating all instruments and sounds with your voices (Vocal Play). How does one acquire and adopt the sound and the “language” of an instrument?
The best way to create a veritable vocal-sound of an instrument is to improvise. Trying, rehearsing, giving a sound to the microphone, listening to it in front of a speaker, recording, and of course – listening to the original sound of an instrument.
You met at Adam Mickiewicz University Choir, but had to leave the choir after you started AudioFeels. Why exactly were you dismissed?
Dismissed is not an accurate term. After our first small performance, we were talking a lot about our future, we were writing new arrangements, rehearsing, testing microphones. Finally we came to a point, where we posed ourselves a question: what should we do, to have enough time to do it for real? The only way to sing on a professional level in a small ensemble was to focus exclusively on this particular ensemble. We decided to leave the choir.
Your group consists of eight persons – that seems to require discipline and a good management of how to share all the work. Do you write songs and arrangements together? Is there someone who is the conductor while rehearsing? Who takes over which task in the group?
Indeed, it requires discipline and some management skills, but not more than in other groups. Mostly, Marek Lewandowski and and I write arrangements for our group. Sometimes we improvise, we try to „jam” and arrange songs during rehearsal. We do not have a conductor. We switch our functions and tasks. We have very natural division of competence – the one who writes the arrangement conducts reading and rehearsing of his arrangement. Simple and efficent.
Were there any songs or even sounds that you found a hard nut to crack to make them suitable for your concept?
All „contemporary”, electronic sounds like for example synthesizers are hard to imitate.
Obviously you’re huge fans of rock and pop music. Nevertheless you can handle sounds of more classical instruments, too, like strings (as can be heard on ‘Lux Aeterna’ and ‘Bittersweet’, for example). Could you imagine doing a piece of classical music, too – something like Bach’s Brandenburg concertos or a string quartet by Beethoven? (These pieces may not be suitable for your line-up, so please take them as pure examples of classical music.)
Of course we can imagine doing a piece of classical music. We grew up on classical music, we listen to classical music all the time. A week ago we took part in an opera show, based on polish movie „Dzien Swira”. We perforemed there as a traditional „greek choir”, commenting thoughts and psychic of the main character. What’s more, we recently recieved invitations from Polish opera singers, to make a concert where they would sing solos, and we would do the orchestral background. We definitely want to try it!
You already toured throughout Poland, where your first album received a Gold record, too, and took third place in “Mam talent!” – have you already become rock stars in your home country?
It is not a question for us to answer. You should probably aks audiences in Poland. Vocal music is and always will be a very sophisticated and rather alternative genre of musical expression. It will never touch the mainstream. If someone wants to become a pop star, performing in an a capella group is not the easiest way to achieve it.
Please tell us something about your new album that consists of cover songs as well as original songs by members of your group. What were your goals with the new cd?
Our new album is called UnFinished. It consists of 2 CDs, one with covers and one with our original compositions. From the begining we wanted to write our own songs. For us it is a normal and natural consequence of forming a vocal group. Nevertheless all the time we listen to all kinds of music – pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop etc. We are inspired by different music genres and we liked some of the songs, that we listened to so much, that we decided to write arrangements and include them on our album.
The album is called “UnFinished” – are we to conclude that this isn’t yet the end of the road you’re travelling on? What are your next goals?
Our second album is called UnFinished because it is just another stage in our evolution. He have numerous ideas how we can use our voices in different, unusual situations. We are still beginners, we have been singing as AudioFeels for 4.5 years until now. We try not to sum up our achievements, this project is still under permanent development.
What do you expect from your concert… your return to Leipzig?
We expect excellent atmosphere, great audience, nice and competent festival crew. Last year was a very special year for us in Leipzig. It was the first contest we took part in and fortunatley we did pretty well. We are very happy to have the honor to perform this year.
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