Balduin Interview (10 Questions to…)

Balduin are one of my favourite Electro Swing artists. Their music always puts me in a great mood, plus a lot of their songs are on my holiday playlist. I’m sure you know many of their hits such as ‘Wimudo’, ‘Mister Mister’, ‘Hep Cat Boogie’, ‘Magic Man’ and ‘Dizzy’. It is with great pleasure that I present to you my new interview in the series ’10 questions to…’. Martin and Benedikt from Balduin tell you about their work, their favourite musical genres and their upcoming musical plans. :)

01. LadyDot: Oh, Benedikt, Martin, you don’t even know how much I wanted to do this interview with you! We’ve exchanged some messages with each other before and I’m very curious to know how you founded your musical duo Balduin? Where did you meet and what made you decide to make music together as a duo?

Martin: I had been searching for a producer partner for years to make music professionally. But all the people I had done sessions with until then had many other priorities alongside making music and were not as enthusiastic about it. Then, when I moved with my girlfriend to Frankfurt after graduation, I posted an ad in a Facebook group titled ‘Looking for a producer partner, and that’s when Benedikt reached out.

Benedikt: At that time, I had developed tendonitis in both hands from playing the piano too much as the musical director of a musical and I thought I would never be able to play any instruments again. When I read Martin’s ad, it was an opportunity for me to make music again, even if not with acoustic instruments, at least with the computer. So, it gave me a lot of hope back then, even though the beginning was a bit rough.

Martin: In terms of musical upbringing, we came from two different planets: I played the violin as a child, later dabbled in piano, and eventually started building Hip-Hop beats with samples from old Jazz and Funk records. Benedikt spent a lot of time with Metal, but also explored German brass music and Classical music. It was both exciting and challenging to find a common musical language and vision.

Benedikt: Haha, true! At that time, I was studying music in Frankfurt and had a pretty clear idea of what “well-crafted” music should be. Martin helped me a lot with his sound design and a pop approach in learning how Popular Music works. I had never really delved into Pop Music or sound design before. So, we spent a long time experimenting with different styles, synthesisers, and acoustic instruments.

Martin: Eventually, we made the Saxophone House track ‘Wimudo,’ which we initially released on SoundCloud, and as a result, some labels even approached us with offers. Neither of us had any previous experience with the genre of Saxophone House. I was more familiar with Parov Stelar’s work because he also sampled music from old records. I thought ‘Catgroove’, for example, was fantastic. I also had a rudimentary idea of ‘Mister Mister’ in the drawer for a long time and showed it to Benedikt, who came up with melodies on the clarinet right away.

Benedikt: During that time, I was able to play instruments again, which made me incredibly happy. It also became clear that I play saxophone and clarinet both live and in the studio. So, Martin and I complement each other well because I’m usually responsible for playing the instruments while Martin takes care of sound design and mixing.

02. LadyDot: You have recorded a lot of songs in collaboration with Wolfgang Lohr. Can you briefly tell us what your work on the songs is like? Do you brainstorm, or do you each contribute a piece and then put it all together?

Martin: Working with Wolfgang is a great honour for us every time because he has propelled the genre of Electro Swing forward like no other, both musically and through his label and public relations work in recent years. It all started when he asked us if he could remix ‘Mister Mister’, which of course thrilled us. This led to an intense exchange, and we started working on other songs like ‘Dizzy.’

Benedikt: Usually, we create a demo of a song, often with vocals, and then Wolfgang produces the final version of the song. However, he also brings in a lot of his own musical ideas, both in terms of melodies and arrangements. We constantly exchange ideas throughout the process, which is always fun!

Martin: Wolfgang is simply amazing because he’s not only an incredibly talented producer but also incredibly fast. We’ve learned a tremendous amount from him, and maybe he’s picked up a few things from us too 😀

Benedikt: There are producers who like to keep their knowledge to themselves, but Wolfgang is someone who always shares his knowledge. He’s just a great guy, and we love working with him!

03. LadyDot: I know that the work of composing songs is not always easy. Sometimes it happens that you get an idea, but then it’s very difficult to finish the song. Your singles are always very polished, but do you also have a song that took months or even years to work on?

Martin: You’re absolutely right, sometimes songwriting and producing can be more of a struggle than a joy! We’re good at carrying some songs around with us for years 😅

Benedikt: We worked intensively on ‘Wimudo’, for example, for over a year.

Martin: We also had the acapella of ‘Sie Will’ in the drawer for three years, even made several versions of the song before we finally had the breakthrough idea to finish it.

Benedikt: We have a big folder titled ‘Inactive,’ which we revisit every few weeks and consider whether we can turn those sketches into awesome songs after all 😀

04. LadyDot: As well as creating your own tracks, you also do remixes of other artists’ songs. You recently released an excellent remix, full of your unique vintage vibe, of one of my favourite songs by the band Lamuzgueule – ‘ASCENDANT BRASIER’. I also know that you are very keen to have other artists do remixes of your songs (e.g. ‘Wabababa’ or ‘Whoopedoo’). Why do you like remixes so much?

Martin: All the remixes of ‘Whoopedoo’ were made by friends and acquaintances of ours. Looking back, those remixes may have helped us less in shaping our musical profile. From an economic standpoint, we also paid a lot of tuition fees, but the musical exchange was a lot of fun at the time.

Benedikt: The “Swap” with Varrick Frost was cool too: we remixed his track ‘Fever’, and he remixed ‘Whoopedoo.’ We appreciate the carefree approach Adrian takes with things.

Martin: Regarding ‘Wabababa,’ there were two versions, and we found the VIP version (which was essentially the version we had produced ourselves before Roman from Masha Ray worked on it) too good to discard.

Benedikt: In general, we love to see and hear other ‘views of the world’ through the remixes of other people and learn from them. We also hope to convince some of our other favourite artists in the genre to remix our songs, such as for example Klischée or Pisk.

05. LadyDot: ‘Vintage Vibes’ is your first full-length album, containing as many as 15 fantastic compositions (I reviewed it HERE). You have invited many artists to collaborate with you, not connected to electro swing. How do you look for artists to collaborate with? I’m most curious how you reached out to J Fitz, with whom you recorded some of my favourite tracks, namely ‘Yato’ and ‘New Ground’, and later, after the album’s release, the single ‘Magic Man’.

Benedikt: We always keep an eye out wherever we are looking for voices that fit to our music. But we also spend a lot of time searching for perfect singers online, and that’s how we found J Fitz. He has that smoky, bluesy voice that fits perfectly with Electro Swing.😎

Martin: We collaborated with Sue on ‘Mister Mister,’ whom we found on SoundCloud back then. She is a trained Jazz singer, and we had been wanting to do a revival with her for a long time. I randomly discovered the singer Marisabelle of ‘Feeling my heart’ at a backyard concert in a small village while I was on vacation. Marisabelle was sitting there with her ukulele, singing – I got goosebumps and had to ask her if she was interested in making a song with us. Even though the song wasn’t successful at all, and it’s not Electro Swing, her voice and singing style are simply touching.

Benedikt: And then there’s Sebastian Daws from ‘Whoopsy Daisy’, who is a friend of mine. He comes from a metal background, so it was quite amusing to work with him on ‘Whoopsy Daisy’ because he had little previous exposure to Electro Swing.

Martin: Basically, we’re fans of all the singers we collaborate with, like Annella, for example. Many of her songs have been in our ‘Favorites’ list for a long time.

06. LadyDot: Let’s talk about ‘Vintage Vibes’ for a moment more. The songs you have included on this album are totally diverse. Here, for example, we have the fantastic, perfect in its simplicity “Hep Cat Boogie”, the Slavic-inspired rhythms of “Wabababa”, the pop-soul “Better Off”, the incredibly melodic, danceable “Melody” and very many jazz interludes (e.g. “Cat Jazz”, “The Pink Cat”, “Gloomy Kitten” – haha, cats everywhere!). How did the concept for combining these diverse pieces into one cohesive album come about?

Benedikt: As you already said our musical tastes are very diverse but we want to have ‘something organic as a whole’ so it’s the vintage vibe and acoustic instruments fusing with electronic beats which are connecting all these songs. And the “cat” topos is a homage to my jazz guitar professor Michael Sagmeister, who always used to call other jazz musicians “cats”. (And if you didn’t know: it’s indeed a common term for that in Jazz!). That’s also how I came up with ‘Hep Cat Boogie’ by the way 😄.

07. LadyDot: I really like to ask this question in my interview series: what genres of music do you listen to on a daily basis? What music plays in your speakers or headphones most often, and of course, which artists or bands do you like the most?

Benedikt: Martin’s and my music tastes are quite different, but we both listen to every new Electro Swing release and, in addition to that, every well-produced pop and dance song. Usually, we then talk about how they are made and what makes those songs special. Personally, I almost always listen to music with a professional ear, it’s almost impossible to switch that off 😅 Since I studied Jazz (guitar) and Classical (clarinet) music, these genres fascinate me a lot in general, and I’m very open to artsy and experimental stuff from 1600 until now. Apart from that, I still love some metal bands like Disillusion (with whom I also played for 2 gigs) or Katatonia – some of my favourites are HERE.
But I’m also fond of and also listen to a lot of electronic music since I am a full-time DJ & musician. And Electro Swing is a really nice mixture of Jazz and electronic music – almost like the best of both worlds.

Martin: In my youth, I mainly listened to Rap and Hip-Hop music like Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, and also German Rap music. When I started making Hip-Hop beats and wanted to understand where the samples used by beatmakers came from, I went digging for vinyl at many flea markets and started getting excited about Jazz, Funk, Soul, and other obscure stuff. Electro Swing appealed to me because it also uses old Swing and Jazz samples. Nowadays, I listen to music across many genres. You can find a selection of my favourites HERE.

Benedikt: Martin and me share our favourites of every year on our Spotify profile, for 2023 it’s HERE.

08. LadyDot: I usually talk to artists about music in my interviews. But I am very curious (I think our blog readers are too), what are your passions besides music?

Martin: In my daily job, I work as a psychotherapist, so I’m very interested in the human psyche. And then I spend time with my small family; we have a 6-year-old daughter 😊

Benedikt: I immerse myself a lot in philosophy, psychology, and progressive forms of relationships and identity. And if I ever have free time, I love scuba diving – I’m a divemaster. I still remember when Esbjörn Svensson (one of my biggest jazz idols!) died in a scuba diving accident in 2008. I said to myself, “Who could be so dumb and go scuba diving if you can die that easily from it?” It was only 7 years later that I started with it, haha😂.

09. LadyDot: Most of your songs have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and some even over a million plays. I take this opportunity to congratulate you on such success! 😊 Can you tell us in which countries you are most listened to? I would guess in Germany, but certainly not only there. 😊

Benedikt: Thank you! We are also extremely happy that we can express ourselves musically in this genre and that our music ends up in playlists and is being listened to so much. The top 5 listeners are from: Germany, USA, France, UK, and the Netherlands!

10. LadyDot: You’ve released a lot of singles, an album, you currently have over 230,000 listeners a month on Spotify… What’s next? You don’t play gigs very often, so maybe now is a good time to change that? 😊

Benedikt: Nowadays, I do all the gigs alone as a DJ set with live saxophone. And since music is my main job (from live shows to music teaching to music production), I would love to tour worldwide. So, bookers and organisers, if you’re reading this, write to us 😊 (booking@balduinmusic.de).

And what’s coming next? We will release a lot of awesome music this year! We will try something new musically to bring some fresh air to the Electro Swing scene and probably introduce new singers again, as we already did with Alanna and J Fitz.

Martin: Exactly, we want to continue making music with ‘Vintage Vibes’ 😊 And this year, there will be at least four more singles…

Interview by LadyDot (Ja, Wizeruk) Date: 2023-06-26


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