Hello Jonas, David, Tobias, and Jon! It’s such a treat to catch up with you all and to find out more about you and your upcoming album. For those who don’t know, who is in the band and what instruments do you play?
Hello Jen! Northern Lights: Well, we’re a bunch of guys who want to create something energetic; who want to express ourselves. Jonas plays the keys and sings the lead vocals, David plays guitar and does back-up vocals, Tobi plays bass guitar, and Jon plays the drums.
From what I’ve read, you’ll all from Lübeck, Germany, and maybe Hamburg too. Were you all friends before you formed Northern Lights? When did you start the band?
We’ve known each other for a long time as friends and the band and our creative process developed over this time period. We’re now more or less all living in Lübeck.
From what I understand, some or all of you were in a previous band called Concerted. How does this tie into Northern Lights? Is Northern Lights a completely different band or did you just rename the band?
It’s been almost all of the same people playing together, but there’s been a change regarding the style of our music. Concerted used to be a singer/songwriter-based jazz/funk band where the music, as well as the lyrical messages, were more about the fun aspects of playing live. We all were still in school, we enjoyed hanging out together, and the songs that developed were mainly rooted in what we were interested in at the time. After a while our former drummer left and was replaced by Jon, who we also knew from school. During this period, the style of our music started to change due to our instrumental progress and our growing up and have to deal with more serious live circumstances. After the sax player left the band and our new songs suggested a different direction, we reached the point where we decided to give the band the new name “Northern Lights”.
How is the creation of your upcoming album coming along? Do you have a title for it yet? Do you know how it will be distributed?
At the moment we’re enjoying the whole recording progress. It’s really exciting to finalize and record all the songs that we’ve been working on. Afterwards we’ll focus on other aspects, like the album name and how to get our music listened to, etc…
There’s an easy flow to your sound which you describe as a blend of “pop, soul, funk, and hip-hop”. Who composes the songs and who writes the lyrics?
Usually David starts the whole process. He comes up with the melodies or chord progressions that we jam with. After creating a rough scaffold, we talk about the mood the song should have and how to realize our ideas with the given possibilities. Jonas writes the lyrics.
Your song “Party Pusher” has a strong R&B vibe and fast, “hip-pop” sing-talking vocals like on the lyrics “…I ain’t got no doubt / what life’s all about / so I keep on hopin’.” What R&B and/or hip-pop artists are you fans of?
There are a lot of artists who are worth a mention! Here are just a few: Robert Glasper Experiment, Erykah Badu, Hocus Pocus, C2C, Foreign Beggars…
What other artists or albums or genres inspire your musical style?
Due to the numerous genres we listen to, there are a lot of other influences like Muse, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Mutemath, Incubus, John Mayer, Nerve, Nirvana… There isn’t always a direct connection to these musicians, which means our ideas may be related to their music, but it’s not our intention to sound like them.
It sounds like someone has had his heart broken based on the lyrics of “Lead In My Veins” (“It’s so easy to give up now / to give up and fall apart.”). Is this song written from personal experience? If so, do you find that writing lyrics about your problems is a good way to solve them or help you through them?
Yes, this song tell a true story and that why its lines are so emotional Writing this song was the best therapy.
While your lyrics seem positive overall, I was wondering about the lines “I’m leaving all the past behind / Life’s too short / Ain’t go the time.” from “I Go Away”. Where are you going to in this song? Do you feel it’s better to escape a problem or confront it, or does it depend on the situation?
Fleeing from problems is not what “I Go Away” is about. It’s about looking for a new horizon. If the world you live in seems to be covered with dust, then you need to break free. You never know what you will find. Maybe problems too… But “life’s too short” for repetition and fatuity.
Your instrumental base is guitar, bass, and drums (and sometimes piano) where you create quick-changing tempos and engaging grooves that keep the pace lively. What has the experience been like playing live?
Northern Lights is definitely a live band. For us there is nothing more fulfilling than performing our songs on stage. Only at a concert do you really get to connect with the ones listening to your music. As musicians you need the interaction and you have to make people listen to your songs, otherwise your music is worth nothing.
You do a cool live rendition of “Man On The Search” which is at your official YouTube channel. I love how you alternate between funky verses and a dreamier chorus, cram in a ton of lyrics, and build up more emotion by the end of the song. Will this song be on your new album? What about “Farewell”?
We’re still working on the recording arrangements for the tracks “Farewell” and “Man On The Search” because we only want the crème de la crème on our album. “Man On The Search” for example has always been a very energetic song when performed on stage and now we’re trying hard to capture that on record without the audience. That’s the challenge in creating records.
I actually found out about your band because I saw Jonas’s riveting performance in the powerful, but bleak film Homevideo. Jonas, are you still performing as an actor or is Northern Lights what you’re focused on now?
I’m still performing as an actor. It’s my job, I earn my living like that, and of course I really like acting! But Northern Lights is still my heart and my home, and if I’m not working, I throw myself into Northern Lights completely. I work on writing the songs and helping to produce our music, or I just rehearse with the band starting in the evening and ending in the morning.
What you’re not involved in the band, what are you all up to? What do you do for fun?
Simply what all people do for fun – meet friends, watch movies, listen to music, read books, etc…
When I was younger, I visited certain towns on the Western border of Germany and had a wonderful time there. I remember enjoying the atmosphere of the towns, the bucolic landscapes, eating great food, and buying thin, leather-strap bracelets that Morten Harket of a-ha used to wear, and the entertainment magazine Bravo. I was wondering if Bravo is still sold in stores these days.
Yes, Bravo is still very popular, even beyond young teenagers, and the magazine hasn’t changed that much since the nineties. Only the stars are different ones now.
What are your plans as Northern Lights in the near future? Will you be releasing a video or playing more shows soon?
Well, we have a new music video out for our song “Party Pusher” featuring us with Jörn Knebel, a great German actor and the Kingstreet Production team. We are all very satisfied with the final product.
Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) so we can find out more about your band?
Of course! Take a look around on: https://www.facebook.com/NorthernLightsBandpage