What does ‘German’ music mean to you? To many people, both here and abroad, it means brass bands playing traditional marches, polkas and waltzes. Few would first think of Kraftwerk, Wir Sind Helgen or Die Toten Hosen. Even fewer would think of the trailblazing musical wunderkind Shantel.
As the Frankfurt-born musician told me for this month’s artist interview, ‘I’m a German musician. My music is an expression of a lifetime’s feeling. It’s a part of the new German culture.’
Shantel is a 21st century phenomena. His single Disko Partizani!, with over ten million hits on youtube, shot to the top of pop charts here and in Turkey. His Bucovina Club has helped to enflame worldwide enthusiasm for the Balkan beat. His effervescent energy and euphoric, self-spoofing irony has electrified audiences across Europe. No pop video has made me laugh so much as Disko Boy. Yet for years most of Germany’s cultural elite ignored his work, considering it to be peculiarly foreign.
Why? ‘English’ music doesn’t mean madrigals and Northern brass bands alone. ‘American’ music isn’t just Woody Guthrie’s ballads. Both ‘English’ and ‘American’ music are understood to encompass everything from pop to classical, by way of Morris dancer’s ankle bells and twanging Country and Western guitars. Hasn’t the time come to revise the definition of ‘German’ music?
Off-stage Shantel is thoughtful, reflective and inquiring. ‘I never wanted to make something that was “correct”,’ he told me, talking about his unique sound. ‘I want to put this music into a genre equal to pop culture.’
Once on stage he becomes boyish and irreverent, thrilling his audiences with playful Balkan brass, dynamic electronica, wild stage-dives, hip-hopping belly-dancers and unadulterated fun. His music – as he says – ‘goes immediately into your body, into your system, into your heart, into your stomach; it moves you and puts you into the situation where you have to show your emotions. This is the secret of the sound. It turns you inside out.’
To me, Shantel is contributing to the sound of a new Europe, crashing through old borders and prejudices in the process. Over the next months – on his ‘Anarchy and Romance’ tour -- he will be performing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, Finland and France. His next UK date is at Koko London in November. Why not drop by or click on and discover what it means today to be a German musician?
Donnerstag, 16. Juni 2011
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