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 It remained unpublished until 2019 - can't imagine!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.
What were the first albums you remember owning?
I think the first album I was purchasing by my own was „Dark side of the moon“ from Pink Floyd, followed by „Crime of the Century“ from Supertramp and „Even in the quitest moments“.
Who influenced your way of playing and composing music?
From an early age, I was drawn to the world of music. Growing up in a big city like Berlin known for its thriving music scene, I was immersed in a rich tapestry of diverse genres and styles. Influenced by the electronic music movement that emanated from Berlin, I developed a deep appreciation for experimental sounds, driving beats, and captivating melodies.
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).
Armed with this inspiration, I embarked on a musical journey, honing my skills as a producer and composer. Drawing influence from electronic music pioneers like Doldinger's Passport, Mezzoforte, Four80East and Steely Dan, I began crafting my own sonic identity, blending elements of ambient & chillout, electronic music, fusion jazz, funk and rock elements into my compositions.
What themes or messages do you aim to convey through your music?
The main message I try to convey in my music is that even if there seems to be no promising path, trust that new opportunities will open up and maintain your positive outlook on life. I always try to make music with a positive vibe that holds on through the entire day - "Good Vibes for Your day!" - that is my basic message.
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?
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.
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.
What sets you apart from other artists in the industry? What do you believe makes your music unique?
I continously try to push the boundaries of my music, I'm constantly challenging conventions and exploring new sonic frontiers. With my commitment to innovation and my unwavering dedication to my craft, I try to established myself in the realm of electronic music thereby combining different types of genres and styles of music.
How do you utilize social media and online platforms to connect with your audience and promote your music?
Instagram and - to a much lesser degree - Facebook are still important tools to connect to the fans, some even prefer writing emails! The online streaming platforms, however, may have the biggest potential since music-interested people are already on them, but these platforms do not yet offer connectivity between fans and musicians as much as would be possible.
Music promotion is currently unthinkable without google ads, facebook ads, Instagram promotions etc. I would be highly curious to see how AI will impact music promotion in the future to get better results with less effort - interesting vision?
One should also not forget printed and digital magazines and media as well as radio. However, for Indie's it is not easy to get ON AIR at a bigger radio station. Internet radios, however, have also quite a big audience and a frequently specialized. Finding the right one interested in the music I'm producing has got a lot easier with a new service called Groover aiming to connect musicians and radio stations / promotors / curators etc.
What is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
My music teacher, Svetozar Radić, gave me the following advice that I found valuable as a kind of north star: „Be always authentic and always try your very best, grow and stay curious throughout your life“.
Are there any particular musicians or bands that you admire or draw inspiration from? How have they influenced your own artistic journey?
When I was young, I was deeply influenced by numerous bands like Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and later Mezzoforte, Level 42, Al Jarreau, Anita Baker and Gloria Estefan, just to mention a few.
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!
What challenges have you faced as an upcoming artist, and how have you overcome them?
As an independent artist and producer, it is a big challenge to establish a fanbase and continuously grow this fanbase - and this is especially true since I'm not touring around performing on stage. The internet, however, is providing some interesting opportunities and since 4 years or so, I'm growing my fanbase even on a global scale. How could this be possible with performances on stage as an indie? One major challenge though is still getting into touch with fans, building up a connection. Most of the platforms and tools are not yet made for it and quite anonymous. But - times change quickly and this drawback will (hopefully) be overcome sooner or later.
Another challenge is marketing and promotion - this is consuming a lot of time which I would love to spent for creative work. The other time consuming area is mastering, but here AI-based tools are already offering a huge benefit and speed up the process significantly providing excellent results. This, I hope, will also become a reality for music marketing and promotion sooner or later.
The biggest challenge, however, is that the revenues of the streaming platforms constantly decrease over the past years. It is nearly impossible to make a living based on this approach. The music industry has overcome its crisis but the creatives suffer more than in the old days with vinyl and CDs,I guess.
Who are your biggest idols, and why?
Actually, I have many to choose from, I guess. It's again Germany's most-famous jazz musician Klaus Doldinger, Candy Dulfer from Netherlands, Mezzoforte from Island, Steely Dan from the U.S., The Evener and St Germain from France, the canadian electro-jazz band Four80East and Elderbrook (EDM) from the UK. Their music is so inspiring and interesting, going straight to my heart triggering deep emotions.
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.
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 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.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
Being creative and interacting with other musicians and artists is certainly to be mentioned at first. I like to be independent and productive in all aspects of making and producing music such as:
I do think this whole package of possibilities to express myself, realizing ideas, putting them into musical pieces, and finally, finding those on music stores and platforms and people wordwide listening to it - this is a truely rewarding part of being a musician.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about yourself or your music? Any upcoming releases or exciting news they should be on the lookout for?
Two exciting projects are currently under way. At first, I'm currently finishing a project where I'm collaborating with young singers and a rapper. Recordings were done all over Switzerland and Germany and now the hard work in the studio is waiting for me.
Secondly, I'm currently composing new songs for my upcoming EP "Harmonious Fusion" and I expect both project to be released this year. As the EP unfolds, surprises await around every corner. Please visit my homepage (www.fantomacs.de) or Instagram profile (@fantomacsmusic) from time to time to stay posted.
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.