Instantly in love were we when we first heard Normal Love's music. Based in Berlin, the trio makes pleasing minimal melodies that sound like bursting colours. Charmingly seductive, their rich artistic approach to music creates energy beyond amazement.
What brought you all together and start Normal Love?
Pauline P Love: Ink and I were playing together in our former band, Rhythm King and her friends. When the band split, we decided to form a new band. No idea what would come out of that, but we started to rehearse very often and write new songs.
Ink R Nation: First there was love, just drum and bass and Pauline singing along. We took the time to figure out a new sound for our nameless band. When the songs were ready for harmonies we started looking for a guitar player.
Ben Kaan: I received a phone call from Ink. We were sharing a rehearsal space together, with different projects, though. She gave me recordings from Pauline and her, just bass and drums, really minimalist and I liked it. I worked out a couple of ideas for guitar and it sounded quite well.
On your MySpace you wrote that you named your band after a movie by Jack Smith. Can you tell us why?
Ink: Pauline came up with the name and she dragged me into the film. We were sitting in the first row and the sound was incredible loud. It was disturbing and fascinating at the same time.
Pauline: Normal Love is my favourite film. Jack Smith never ended it. There is a version of it that you can see now, but during the time he was living, he used to project the rolls every time in different orders, putting his records as a sound track. It was really a live experience, which beauty was due not only to the incredible performers, the particular style of filming of Jack Smith, his so queer interest for details and references, but also the fragility of the performance, its perfection being so close to failure.
What are the elements that categorize the band?
Ben: For me, it's Pauline's remarkable voice and Ink's beat. The songs are often based on bass lines and it's my job to come up with some harmonic textures.
Ink: With all three instruments we try to be as minimalist as possible but still have a composition that is powerful and multidimensional. There are the driving forces of the bass, the melodies of the guitar, the beats, as a mix of disco and electronic with the sounds of a live drum set and the voices of Pauline and Ben that range from melancholy to demanding spoken word.
Could you describe to the readers « the sounds of queer Berlin underground » as mentioned on your MySpace?
Ink: We are queer and we practice ‚under ground’. No, honestly, for me it’s more an atmosphere that evolves in a lifestyle and the other way around. When I find myself in a smoky run down cellar club with glamorous creatures like out of a Jack Smith film flirting with a girl punk band playing its first gig, then I’m surrounded by the sounds of queer Berlin underground.
Is there a flourishing queer music scene in Germany today?
Ink: Unfortunately not...
Pauline: ...enough. Working on it.
How is the German underground music scene? *
Ben: Talking about the underground means to be talking about a local thing, so it's hard to tell for Germany. Moreover, when you start thinking about the underground scene, it's usually gone: into mainstream categories or simply disappeared. Let's hope, we can avoid that.
What is the influence of cinema and film in your musical work and live performance?
Ink: This is a very complex matter. Cinema and film is an important part of my life as well as music and therefore influences each other. Many of my musical icons materialized through moving images. It’s a source of inspiration for me.
Pauline: We have all sorts of influences, books, films, or art. Lately underground cinema from Jack Smith or the experimental work of Warhol has been influential, the Theatre of the Ridiculous, as well as No Wave filmmakers like Vivienne Dick.
In terms of inspiration and artistic experience what does Berlin bring to you?
Ben: In its good moments, Berlin is more like an idea than a fixed entity. As a city, it's a ready - made, not a museum.
Ink: Talking about Berlin I have the tendency to exaggerate. I love it, I hate it, I’ m grateful to have lived here the last 15 years. It’s the soil for many crazy ideas that made me to who I am.
Pauline: Berlin has changed a lot and it is still changing. Every month there is a new building in the centre that is just being finished, or a new club in our area. There is a lot of gentrification, which pushes working-class and migrant communities outside of the new hype areas. So lived from inside, it's not always great, because we can't avoid being part of this process. But it's a city where a lot of interesting people live at the moment, so it gives us the opportunity to have a great exchange.
What are the common feedbacks you have been receiving after your shows thatyou could share with us?
Ben: In Paris, people came over and kissed me. I guess, they just wanted to get some glitter from my cheeks...
Ink: In Bern I was saved by my band from being kidnapped by a Swiss country girl who wanted to play Holzstöckeli with me.
Is there a message you’d like to send out to your audience? For instance, is there a central underlying theme to your work?
Ink: I’m socialized in communist Germany; I’m very sceptical when it comes to messages.
Pauline: As a band, we don't have one central message, but many, and I think the messages lie between the music and the words, so it's difficult to express it only with words. But I think the name of our band describes well our attitude: reverse descriptions, be playful, turn around what's expected, you are normal lovers, not the others.
Could you tell us your greatest asset as a band?
Ben: Communication. We have worked hard to find out, what the others in the band are about. That makes the sound.
Ink: I totally agree, it’s very essential to know and to understand what's going on.
Pauline: And the ability to work a lot together: take the project seriously, we have things to say and we know that what we are doing is important for us.
Like most bands, do you also have any particular rituals before going on stage?
Ben: We had this idea of using glitter for our press pictures. Now we put it on before shows and afterwards, it's everywhere.
Ink: Yeah, we leave a trail of glitter wherever we go.
What is next in the pipeline of Normal Love as a Band?
Ben: We'll finish our album this year. And we are probably going to release a single in France.
What is on replay?
Ben: I'm currently listening to Bonaparte.
Pauline: Men and Hercules and the Love Affair.
Ink: I’m on shuffle.
Catherine Ceresole at Belleviloise, Paris, Vernissage "Echoes" - Centre culturel suisse in Paris , 28 January 2011.