Over the last eight years, Fantomacs, born in Berlin and currently working in Switzerland, released a number of singles/EPs/albums, cover songs and even poetry songs. In his songs the borders of the genres of electro, ambient & chillout, jazzy or funky to rock styles melt together, classical elements up to excerpts from political speeches are skillfully woven into the innovative grooves, whereby much surprising elements reach the ear. Other talented musicians and singers are added as "featured guests" and enrich the songs with their skills.
Fantomacs began his musical education at the age of 8, first in the classical field, later on jazz, blues and other styles were added, which laid the musical foundation for his current forms of expression. The musical possibilities of expression grew continuously from the initial instrument piano, the jazz organ to keyboards, synths and work stations. His favorite instruments for many years is Roland`s flagship workstation - the Fantom-series. For music production he`s using the Apple Mac platform, together these two systems formed his stage name - Fantomacs.
Fantomacs creates non-boring electro- /jazz, ambient & chillout music since more than 20 years, but more recently he brought his music projects to a broader audience on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Bandcamp, AUDIUS and many other streaming platforms. To the quality of his musical work, Fantomacs brings in a profound knowledge of midi & audio sequencing, mixing and mastering that has grown over the past decades. In context with his photo and cover art a complex whole is created that holistically reflects his personality.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and about your debut album 'Fade out Lines'.
I'm born in the western part of Berlin quite a while ago (1963, laughing) and, after my parents moved to West Germany in 1968 for professional reasons, I grew up in Düsseldorf. This city is famous for it's down town and the yearly 'Jazz Ralley' taking place, where Klaus Doldinger - one of the most famous Jazz musicians in Germany - is the sponsor. Therefore, I got in contact to lots of excellent Jazz musicians and their way to play music, which was quite shaping my way of making music.
The title song 'Fade out lines' of my debut album was composed as early as 1980 when I was playing music in a school band. It remained unpublished until 2019 - can't imagine! The other songs on this album cover a spectrum of my ambient/chillout jazz compositions between 2011 and 2019.
How did your music journey begin?
Music was in my life quite early on, my father played keyboards, organ and even accordeon, my mother played classical piano as well. My sister and I got a classical piano education as well. After some years, however, my interests developed to Jazz / Improvisation, training of making music by ear rather than stick to music printed on sheets.
During the late 80th, computers became available, and I was very much interested in producing and recording of electronic music - so I'm very much into these topics from the very beginning of their introduction. However, there were big hurdles releasing own music and big labels were dominating the music industry, a contract hard or impossible to get. Nowadays, with all the dramatic changes in the music industry, it became much more accessible and, therefore, I tried a new start in this direction in 2011/2012, when only the iTunes Store was available.
Who influenced your way of playing and composing music?
Well, I think my teachers, most prominent Svetozar Radic, influenced me quite much in the early days. After some years of classical piano playing, I learned from him playing organ with both hands and both feets (!) at the same time. He was so enthusiastic and inspiring, doing everything himself from sheet music production with his Mac and publishing software (Ragtime) to running music schools at three different locations and being on stage as well - wow, he got so much energy (and still has it).
Next, hearing rock, pop, jazz rock (among other genres) certainly influenced quite much: Genesis, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Steely Dan, Mezzoforte - you name it - all contributed.
What inspires you?
Oh, there is a broad spectrum of things that can trigger my inspiration: starting from hearing music of others, online jamming with other musicians from around Europe, listening to rhythms in the environment - there are plenty of them around us - up to working in the studio, exploring phrases and chord progressions on my workstation, or even travelling into other regions of the world is a huge ressource of inspiration for me. Being alone, at least for some time, makes me also more creative.
How do you hope to inspire others?
Music is clearly one of my biggest passions and working together with other musicians, developing ideas, putting them together during recording sessions and getting a "product" out - that is what other musicians I'm working with is triggering the most.
What does your songwriting and production process look like?
Once "inspiration kisses me" I need to sit down at my workstation immediately and capture this idea, often I record these crude ideas alongside as I'm writing. Due to the new life sequencing capabilities of both, my Fantom workstation and Logic Pro X, I use these features to capture the ideas and grooves from the very beginning. One creative aspect to this workflow is that these phrases / sound / groove elements can easily be re-arranged multiple times giving even inspiration to more ideas - this is really a great thing about life sequencing and supporting the workflow very much.
What are newsworthy topics and achievements related to your personal brand?
In 2019, I published my first album (LP) called "Fade out Lines". Since then, numerous singles, EPs and additional three albums (LPs) have been released. The next EP is currently in final stages of mastering and will be released in early Q2/2023.
Last year (2022), my songs exceeded the first 1 Mio streams on the Spotify platform and many songs got on algorithmic, some even on currated playlists.
I'm doing all steps of the process, starting from the creative work, technical steps (playing, recording, mixing & mastering), the release and marketing processes up to the coverart, video- and photographing - hence, music production all under one roof.
Any quotes that match your personal brand?
The quote "Good Vibes for YOUR Day" is representing the kind of music (upbeat, positive, lightful) I would like to bring across.
Therefore, I've chosen "Music is the shorthand of the feeling" (Leo Tolstoy) as a quote of my branding strategy.
What is a life lesson you would like to share with the world?
Even if there seems to be no promising path, trust that new opportunities will open up and maintain your positive outlook on life.
What's the part of your work you love the most?
This is clearly the creative part of the work, starting from rough ideas, develop them further, combining them with ideas of collaborating musicians, up to the creative process of coverart, video- and photography production.
Has Covid-19 impacted your career? If so, how was your response to the pandemic?
As for most musicians, Covid-19 impacted at least some of my work, especially meeting with my bandmates of my coverband (D!kS) doing F2F sessions and rehearsals or gigs - all this wasn't possible during that time. However, I strongly pushed towards online rehearsals via the Internet, invested into this technology and got it to work. In order to share these experiences, I published several blogs on songwriting and production over the internet as well as a series of articles related to online music jam.
How do you plan to position yourself in a post Covid-19 world, and prepare for similar economic disruptions?
Clearly, online music jam and even interacting with people across the internet during online concerts is the best option we currently have to deal with such situations in the future, though this is not replacing being on stage and interacting with people more directly.
Economically, it is certainly wise not to be fully dependent upon gigs and selling music. One should look for other job opportunities to become economically more independent while still be able to do all this in parallel. Of course, this is a big challenge in itself!
Why did you choose to work with AMUSE?
Earlier, back in 2011, I started with TUNECORE, I must admit. However, in the meantime, AMUSE developed an even better approach to getting new music to the online platforms. The basic version, completely free of charge, offers a great opportunity for Indie's to bring their music to a larger potential audience and that's how I also started off. Once the requirements increase, a PRO subscription is possible giving access to more options at a quite affordable pricing. Hence, the development of the Indie and the AMUSE platform are a perfect match.
What's your best advice to other new, up- and -coming artists?
Looking to other musicians and what they do can be a great inspiration, but on the long run, the focus should be on finding a way of creating music in our own personal way, style and sound. Music is pure art!
However, writing and creating music nowadays is by far not sufficient for an Indie musician to be successful. 60 Million songs, steadily increasing, being available on the streaming platforms immediately shows that there is so much to dig into like beyond songwriting and production. Marketing and promotion, presence on social media platforms - a moving target by itself! - this is all equally important for Indie musicians.
However, being able to live from the revenues in these times has not become easier as in the "good old times" of the music industry, simply because they catched up!
What is one song that you wish that you had written?
Oh, I mean there are plenty, I must admit! But, when I should point to a single song, I would choose 'Dark Flame' from Klaus Doldinger / Passport, certainly. Especially the live version is exceptional to me.
Who are your biggest idols, and why?
Actually, I have two to choose from, I guess. It's again Germany's most-famous jazz musician Klaus Doldinger, Mezzoforte from Island, Steely Dan and the canadian electro-jazz band Four80East. Their music is so inspiring and interesting, going straight to my heart triggering deep emotions.
What are you looking forward to right now?
Finishing more songs that are already in the pipeline is certainly the next thing to do. I'm planning the release of a single each month on the average. And certainly, publishing further EPs & albums is certainly one of my wishes for the upcoming years. I also work on a combination of my music and a virtual exhibition tool called ARTSTEPS. First results have already been integrated into my homepage (link).
Moreover, I'm currently working together with an US-based singer songwriter, developing lyrics and new musical ideas. Another project is doing some re-mastering project together with an US-based mastering engineer. I'm now finishing an upbeat summer reggae song together with my bandmates that has been fully produced over the internet - this song will be released in July this year. A mid term project has also being started where multiple singers will contribute as well as a rapper from Germany - a very interesting and complex project. Moreover, digging into new options for promotion / marketing is interesting me very much right now. Here, I'm collaborating worldwide with different marketers in Europe, middle east and Canada. There is a series of Blog articles available giving insight to my latest Indie music marketing experiences.
Last - not least, I love making music together with my bandmates from D!kS - the coverband with the exclamation mark - and we are using KOORD.LIVE as a tool for connecting to musicians all over Europe. KOORD was certainly one of the discoveries during the COVID-19 shut-down phase and is working quite well for us. There is a Blog article available on how we configured soft- and hardware to perform online music jamming with KOORD at low latency.
What are your carrer dreams?
Well, this is a good question. First, I would love to further expand my gobal fan base by continuing producing and releasing my musical ideas on a regular basis. I love to stay as an independent artist in order to further develop the broad range of musical genres that I'm into. Second, expanding the ways to collaborate with other musicians and artists, even across the internet, develop new ideas, produce and release is certainly one of my most important goals. Third, I'm striving to combine my music with exhibitions (even virtual exhibitions) of art produced by myself and other artists.
Where can your fans see you LIVE on stage?
Across the year I'm doing gigs together with my bandmates from D!kS and these gigs are announced via Songkick and through my homepage and social media channels (Instagram, Facebook) and via email / "Zeitraffer" ahead of time.
However, a good amount of my time I'm working in my LakeView Studio or collaborate with other musicians either face-to-face or via the internet, composing, mixing and mastering new music projects and organizing all the promotion work alongside. This keeps me busy already quite a bit.