It’s been a bit of a secret that Mainz has developed into a hub for Swedish bands – mainly from Göteborg. The bands Dofhiort’n, Easy October, Mira Aasma and Flaws have all performed at Café Annabatterie in recent years. On Sunday November 26th, another Göteborg band will perform in Mainz: Two Year Vacation. This column will introduce the Fauves readers to the bands that have already been here and give an insight into the music scene in Göteborg and their connection to Mainz. Next week we will put our focus on Two Year Vacation.
Yesterday, the Indie/Folk duo Dofhiort’n, consisting of Julius (vocals, guitar) and Manfred ( have released their single “Every day is Saturday”. When listening to their music, the most striking is their playful and creative lyrics.
Julius, could you tell us a bit about the process of writing “Every day is Saturday” and “Winter Wonderland”?
Well, these two songs were more or less the two songs that ignited us to start Dofhiort’n (together with the song “Where The East Coast Ends”) and were both included on the setlist at our very first concert in Sant Feliu de Guíxols in Spain back in 2013. I remember writing “White Winter Wonderland” in the kitchen in the house where I was living at the time in Spain. Christmas was approaching and that was to be my first Christmas celebrations away from my Swedish family, and I just thought: why not make a little song out of this and the way we celebrate the festivities differently in these two countries. I’ve always been a fan of Swedish artist Annika Norlin (known as Hello Saferide and Säkert!) and how she just translates really Swedish settings and linguistic phenomena into English. It’s just amazing. She also, when she writes in Swedish, does lyrics that are more talkative than really typed settings which thrills me. She’s really a poet. I’ve always wanted to capture this with our Dofhiort’n songs as well: to sing about important and trivial themes but to twist it with some rhyming or word-playing. It makes the listener stay awake and hopefully laugh, or at least smile, while listening.
How was your Mainz experience? How did you like the audience?
Mainz has a great music scene! I’ve been in the city three times now and every time it’s been due to music. It started in 2014 when I was on tour together with Swedish alt-country band Easy October who played at schon schön. Great scene, great people – we met Kevin (sound technician, Melody Connor, d.Redaktion) from schon schön and he was one of “them good guys” over there, I remember. The two other times for me in Mainz has been because of the fantastic founder of this blog – Philipp – who I’ve come to know for many years now.
Our first concert with Dofhiort’n was held in his shared apartment with his roomie Sebastian and other friends who showed up for the gig. I still think back of this concert we had; it was in Philipp’s room and the feeling was great. Such an intimate night and I felt real unity to the listeners. Just great. Hope we can do it over again some day…
The third time in Mainz and second for Dofhiort’n, in 2016, Philipp & Max had organized so that we could play at the beautiful cafe Annabatterie in Neustadt. It was August, it was really hot and it was a nice summer’s evening. A lot of people showed up and it felt like it was good vibe in the air that night. People listened carefully and we enjoyed it all. After the show we hung out with a lot of people and came home some few beers way too early in the morning, haha… Combining all my three times in Mainz and it summons up to a great impression I’ve gathered throughout these last years. I think there’s something special with this old town by the Rhein… Stick to it. Rock on!
How would you compare the music scene Mainz to the one in Göteborg?
Well, I don’t know that much about the Mainzer music scene, more than what I’ve experienced myself those times I’ve been visiting, so it’s hard to make a reliable comparison. Göteborg has a good music scene, I’d say. I’ve been to a lot of concerts there and played in the city myself but I’ve never lived in the city which makes me maybe a “not qualified respondent” for these questions. It’s obvious that Göteborg is bigger and has more to offer than Mainz, but there are definitely common things, of course, things that I cannot answer on though… One thing that I like with Annabatterie for example, and that I would like to see more of in general up here in the north, is the combination of cafe and cozy concerts. We have a lot of cafes and coffee places all around Scandinavia and we have fantastic bands and artists but to few venues and stages for them to play. There are many cafes that combine these two things already, but I’d like to see it happen more frequently – and everywhere! Like in Germany, for example. It’s both easy, cheap and really chill to have an acoustic session beside you while sipping your espresso macchiato at the local cafeteria, right?
Easy October also has been playing at schon schön and at Café Annabatterie in Mainz. Kristoffer, head of the band, has also been producing songs with Mainz-bound band Melody Connor.
With you it strikes me the most that your guitar skills, your sound and vocals are almost perfection. Where did you learn how to play the guitar? What made you start to play?
First of all, thank you! That’s very kind of you to say, but I don’t see myself as a guitarist and a long way from perfection.
In my childhood and early teens I was only into sports. Playing football and ice hockey all the time, but when I reached the age of 15 I started to listen to Nirvana and that sort of music. And there was just something about that music that struck me, really hit me deep. I went to the library and borrowed a book of sheet music with Nirvana songs. I learned to play the intro to ”Come as you are”. From that moment I instantly knew what I was supposed to do with my life. It might sound like a cliché, but it’s the truth. Plain and simple.
The most important thing is for every individual to find their own inspiration, that little something that strucks them and makes them want to create and express feelings, thoughts and ideas.
What do you say about the fact that fewer young people buy instruments in Germany? What has to happen that people over here start to play again?
I couldn’t really tell what lies behind the fact that fewer young people buy instruments, but I guess it could be connected with the big electronic music scene. All the Djs that are standing behind a desk with their headphones on and with one hand waving in the air, in front of thousands of people. I can’t really understand that scene, but it’s huge and the likes of Avicii and Swedish House Mafia our the heroes of the new generation, I guess. I believe kids these days are more looking to become famous than to express something genuine, and being a DJ might seem like a faster way to reach this. You don’t have to learn an instrument you just need to sit by the computer, and that’s an instrument all the kids have been using for their entire life. But everything comes and goes, so hopefully ”guitar bands” will be back in the spotlight soon. The most important thing is for every individual to find their own inspiration, that little something that strucks them and makes them want to create and express feelings, thoughts and ideas.
Talking about “Rocket man”, your most popular song: There is a line that I know by heart because it is so catchy and just stuck to my head: “Be your most sparkling self but at least try to save some space in yourt heart for someone like me”. How does the one thing (sparkling self) play with the other (save space)?
That’s actually the first time I get that question. I guess the thing I’m trying to say with that line, that song, is that a person in a relationship should be allowed to express himself and be the one he is, not compromise too much, but at the same time see and take care of the other part in the relationship. It’s a sort of balance act that can be a bit tricky to manage. Maybe I mean something completely different, but for the moment that’s my explanation. Does that make sense?
How have you experienced your time in Mainz. How would you compare a place like Mainz to play music at to a place like Göteborg?
I really really like Mainz a lot! I’ve been there a few times, but I haven’t really had the time to see that much of the city. But from what I’ve seen it feels like a city with a rich cultural life and with a lot of great people. I love schon schön, Annabatterie and especially the magazine/book store “One In A Million” (located at the Kunsthalle). That’s the kind of places that really matters to me and gives that extra to a city. In many ways Mainz feels a bit similiar to Göteborg when it comes to taking care of the culture, a living music scene and great, artistic, interested and friendly people. And that’s all I need!
The new album, “Tangled up in black”, will be released in spring, April/May. First single in February!
When listening to “Ghost” or “Whale song”, there is a whole new world of sounds opening up to the listener. What is theintention of that? Could you describe how these sounds come to be?
Those were actually the first songs I produced myself after learning from youtube tutorials so I was very excited about finally getting to work with choirs, drums, ambient spaces the way I’d wanted to. I just spent day after day that summer by myself in the cultural center’s studio not getting any impressions from the outer world, so I guess it’s the sound of a mad eremite getting her hands on a computer.. I’ve always been addicted to choirs, maybe somehow from my Estonian roots or listening too much to Enya, and to drums maybe from being around my parents’ samba group and playing percussion myself.
How would you describe your experience playing in Mainz and how does our scene differ from playing in Göteborg and their scene?
I had a great time playing in Mainz with my band! The audience was really focused and respectful, since all the boring people i Mainz were away watching some football game that night we were lycky to only have all the best ones watching us haha! It was our most intimate gig on that tour so it was interesting and very nice to play our set that way, great midnight food downtown and Max tucked us in very well. In Stockholm there aren’t so many places I know of that do that kind of more ambitious gigs at cafés, in Gothenburg I’ve maybe seen a bit more of that but it reminds me more of live sessions like Sofar that I’ve been to and played at both in Sweden and in Germany.
Music. Yeah, I guess it really has something. Its the only interest I’ve ever had. It’s the only thing that can make me focus on something for more than maybe 20 minutes or an hour. Music has this thing. It’s funny, it can be very ironic, aggressive, it can be sad and yeah, a whole bunch of other things.
Two questions: The first is about your relation to music in life. Could you tell us about how music accompanies your life? How did you get there, what phases did you go through and what reason keeps you going?
Music. Yeah, I guess it really has something. It’s the only interest I’ve ever had. It’s the only thing that can make me focus on something for more than maybe 20 minutes or an hour. Music has this thing. It’s funny, it can be very ironic, aggressive, it can be sad and yeah, a whole bunch of other things. For me, it’s the perfect mix of nonsense and seriousity. Music live is the perfect entertainment, music recorded is the perfect way of escape from life, or a gate to a dream. On a more personal note, I’ve studied music for almost all my life, and I’m the best me when I’m around it. For me, music has gone from being an interest, to being school, to being profession, to something closer to ”sports”, to now being something that I really enjoy more than ever. It’s exactly as meditative as stressing, and apart from the physics of performing or acting music, the industry is a real killer. Yeah, I guess that I love it. I love the diversity, I love the humor, and I love the people.
The second question relates to your live performance. As i have seen you perform live many times i know that you dive into your sound and completely become one with what you sing. Your single “Prove me wrong” makes me think about you being in a state of total unity with your piano. Could you tell us what you are going through when you perform this song?
I’m glad you feel that way! When performing live, I need to find some kind of tension, some kind of new relation to a certain song or part of one. The music and performance, for me, should be based on creativity. I love to improvise and makes songs shorter, longer, different or just ”new” live. The least fun scenario for me would be to just perform the same songs over and over again without making them live. So many bands and artists are obsessed with performing their songs in the exact same shape live as it was recorded. For me, that might be to underestimate the audiences musicality or interest. I think that a lot of the people visiting my shows like to hear me, and how I perform music, it’s not about problem solving, it’s about taking on the challenge and make the best out of every situation. I don’t know if this makes sense, but I feel like music should be as active as the musician, all the little impulses that keeps coming during a live set should be taken care of, they should be there and make the perfect imperfect, make the music take turns and live in new directions.
Thank you my dearest Göteborg friends. Please come back to Mainz, you will always be welcome. For now, your friends Two Year Vacation will rock at Café Annabatterie on November, 26th.
Photos: (1) Ewelina Nilsson ; (2) Nils Atalado (Dofhiort’n big); (3) Dofhiort’n ; (4) Kristoffer Hedberg, (5) Mira Aasma Press; (6) Fauves