To coincide with the release of their third album The Scarlet Beast O’ Seven Heads earlier this month, the mastermind behind Get Well Soon, Konstantin Gropper, kindly took the time to talk to For Folk’s Sake about the new record’s ‘cinematic’ influences and more. It is a stunning and grandiose listen; one that ensures Get Well Soon’s reputation in the UK is certain to continue growing, and rightly so.
Hello Konstantin, thank you for speaking to For Folk’s Sake. Can you tell us a bit about yourself for those less acquainted with your music?
I‘m always worst at describing my own music. My third album is being released these days and I would say Get Well Soon is quite opulent, orchestrated indie-pop. There are many influences: folk, classical music, rock, electronic music and on this album what’s very important are film soundtracks.
Your fantastic third album, The Scarlet Beast O’ Seven Heads, alludes to the Biblical story of the end of the world. Does this topic interest you greatly? Is it something that you feel could happen in 2012?
The whole apocalypse-in-2012-story has become more of a joke, of course, and I’m trying to deal with it ironically. But with everything that’s happening these days in ecology, economy and politics, one could become superstitious. I like to play around with symbols, mysticisms and even occult topics, because I find it fascinating and quite frankly, entertaining, not because I believe in it. Maybe it’s my way of criticising all those false prophets, trying to sell “the meaning of life”. That‘s what inspired me anyway. I even tried to found a cult. But we’re still in the recruiting stage.
Much like your previous albums, this album has a very grand, expansive sound, yet is also introspective in feel. Do you feel it necessary when discussing such large topics, or is it more of an instinctive sound?
Well, I guess I’ve always had a thing for the big topics and for the pathos in songs. Same goes for the music itself. I can‘t really explain why. Maybe it‘s my classical heritage. But I like to operate on the threshold to melodrama and kitsch. It‘s risky, but fun. And at the end of the day, it‘s just a matter of taste. The big sound just gets me.
How do you feel it differs to your previous albums?
I personally would describe my first album as the folk one, the second as the classical one and this one as the cinematic one. Although it‘s less classically orchestrated than the others it foremost features influences from cinema. There are some Kubrick and Hitchcock homages to be found, but most of all I was influenced by Italian B-Movies from the 70s. Maybe that is the main difference: it’s a bit further away from the classic topics and has opened the door for trash, kitsch and a bit of easy listening.
You have labelled The Scarlet Beast O’ Seven Heads as your ‘summer album’ – is this at all ironic?
I wouldn’t say ironic. But it’s self-referential. It is a summer album compared to my previous albums, not to those of Katy Perry! And it’s released in summer. Well, late summer.
You recently composed music for a Wim Wenders movie. How does it differ from writing songs for an album?
Very much so. Writing for movies is always a matter of compromise. With Get Well Soon I don’t have to make compromises. Then I’d like to think of music as an art that creates images. So it‘s a very different way of working, when the pictures already exist.
Is this something you would like to pursue more?
I think I need both. The full artistic freedom of my own albums, but also the work for films, where I don‘t carry the full responsibility and can work in a team.
What currently inspires you most, musically or otherwise?
At the moment I am working on a musical theatre play. An adaptation of The Master And Margarita. That’s very inspirational and a completely new field for me.
Are there any artists you can recommend from the German music scene?
There’s a very great new, very young band called SIZARR. I can fully recommend checking out their album, which is coming out this autumn.
You’ve spent much time on the road touring your previous two albums, are you looking forward to touring the new record?
Sure. Touring is always great. That‘s when you see if the album ‘works’.
Is it hard to translate your sound to a live setting?
Not that hard, actually. I don’t really care about that, when I’m writing an album, but over the years, me and my band became quite creative in translating the album sound. The versions sometimes differ a lot, but that’s what makes it interesting, I think.
On September 12th you will be playing in London; do you enjoy playing here in the UK? We’ll be sure to give you a good welcome!
Thank you. I‘m not going to lie: it was tough in the beginning. But over the years, we’ve built up quite an OK audience and the welcome is always good. So now, I do enjoy playing in the UK.
words: Adam Lowe