In 1872 Peter Nicolai Arbo painted his picture "The Wild Hunt", which shows a scene from Nordic-Germanic mythology with dramatic light-shadow contrasts. Sebastian Lee Philipp, producer and songwriter from Berlin, was so impressed by this painting that he named his musical project after it. That was around 2015, and after the untitled debut, in which Die Wilde Jagd still consisted of the duo Sebastian Lee Philipp and the Düsseldorf producer Ralf Beck, "Uhrwald Orange" (in which Beck was only co-producer) followed in 2018. "Haut", the new, third work of Die Wilde Jagd, is as rich in contrast as Arbos picture: electronics, medieval sounds, krautrock, avant-garde - all this comes together here in four long tracks, in a magical triangle of subtle melodies, hypnotic rhythms and indefinable sounds. eclipsed spoke with Sebastian Lee Philipp.
eclipsed: The new album "Haut" seems to me a bit calmer, more thoughtful in mood than its predecessors. Do you agree with that? How did it come to this?
Sebastian Lee Philipp: I approach album productions very intuitively and usually can't judge how the music affects others. The new album was influenced by two things in particular: the death of a dog I loved very much and pictures and memories from very special perceptions I have had over the last two years
eclipsed: "Uhrwald Orange" was named after Ralf Beck's studio where you recorded the second album. Where does the new album title "Haut" come from?
Philipp: For me, skin represents the border between the inner and the outer, the physical and what you might call the soul. With this album I have tried to describe a migration of this soul. In French the word also means "high" - a nice coincidence
eclipsed: Your music is hard to define. I use the term "neokrautrock" for it. Do you see yourself influenced by the 60/70s Krautrock and/or the later German underground of the 80s/90s. Where is your "musical socialization" at all?
Philipp: I was born in 1982 and as a child, like every child, I listened to contemporary pop music. Some of my first Maxi-CDs when I was about ten years old were for example "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" by Sting or "Man On The Moon" by R.E.M. I was also a big Guns N Roses fan. In the car my parents listened to Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, but also NDW bands like Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung. My paternal grandparents lived in Berchtesgaden, directly at the Watzmann. We often visited them at Christmas and I remember long car journeys there, listening to the radio play "Der Watzmann ruft" by Wolfgang Ambros, Manfred Tauchen and Joesi Prokopetz. Later my father introduced me to Pink Floyd, among other things. From "The Wall" I was at times like obsessed. At the age of sixteen I discovered the album "Ende Neu" by Einstürzende Neubauten and from there I worked my way backwards through everything that had to do with Post Punk, Industrial, EBM, Gothic, Synthpop, New Wave and the like. These influences I then processed with my first band Noblesse Oblige, together with Valerie Renay. I also have a great passion for medieval church music like the Libre Vermell de Montserrat and Georgian folk music. In recent years, I have been particularly interested in music from friends and acquaintances, where I have been able to follow the process of creation a little. This often leads to an even stronger connection to music. And of course I always try to discover new and old again. At the moment I have for example: Catarina Barbieri, Robert Wyatt, Carter Tutti, the new Philip Glass album with the Third Wave Percussion Ensemble, Land Of Light, Bohren & der Club Of Gore and Colin Stetson. And I'm also doing a little bit of Miles Davis right now, because I'm watching the movie "The Birth Of Cool". I watch a lot of movies over long periods of time in 15-minute cycles before I go to sleep. I also like Krautrock. I love Michael Rother's sense of melody and romance and Jaki Liebezeit's sense of the importance of repetition and restraint in his drumming style. And of course I also like the studio sound of classic Krautrock productions
eclipsed: The Wild Hunt is highly rhythmic on the one hand, but also very melodic on the other. All this interspersed with many strange sounds. Where is the emphasis in this triangle of rhythm, melody and sound?
Philipp: There are actually no priorities for me, they are all equally important to me. And usually the core of all pieces emerges very quickly from a combination of these elements. For example, I wrote "Himmelfahrten" for the most part on an acoustic guitar and then recorded and produced it classically. In "Empfang" I worked chronologically, i.e. I didn't start with a main idea, but intuitively developed the piece from the first sounds onward. With "Gondel" I did the least, that's always my favourite. The less I have the feeling that something has to happen, the better. After I had designed the basic framework with a few dynamic developments, the piece unfolded more or less by itself and I only had to get my drummer Ran Levari to play the percussion. With "Sankt Damin", on the other hand, I wanted to describe a very personal feeling, which was mainly dependent on the lyrics and the vocal presentation. So the approaches are different. But the place from which the pieces originate is the same and that must be a place of meaning, honesty and transcendence, I'm no longer interested in anything else, at least as far as my own productions are concerned
eclipsed: Your texts are in German. Yet they are not clearly understood. Is it absurd humour? Philosophy? Psychology? Naturalism? Art? Mythology? A bit of everything?
Philipp: In my texts I bring my thoughts, fantasies and memories to word. But I do not like to go deeper into their meaning or try to explain them. Because I'm much more happy when people can take their own interpretations from them and create their own stories and inner journeys with the album
eclipsed: You have a guest singer with you now. How did this happen?
Philipp: This is Nina Siegler, a good friend of mine. Shortly before she moved to New Zealand in 2019, I wanted to record her voice. For certain lines I had a different voice than my own in mind from the beginning and I asked her to record these passages. When she did that, it seemed to me as if the lyrics were only meant for her voice, a really magical moment
eclipsed: On the first album Die Wilde Jagd was still a duo consisting of you and Ralf Beck. After that Ralf Beck was "only" there for production and mixing. Why this separation (or better: new distribution of tasks)? How is the cooperation going now? Would you now call Die Wilde Jagd a solo project?
Philipp: Ralf and I founded a project called The Robber and the Prince in 2006. For us, this was a side project for years, alongside our other musical and non-musical activities. We met once or twice a year and in a period of about five years we recorded four pieces, which were all released. After a break of several years, I wanted to revive the project in 2014, with the intention of completing a complete album and making Der Räuber und der Prinz a "main project". At this point, however, it also turned out that our cooperation was not so easy for practical and time-related reasons - Ralf had meanwhile started a family, and we also lived in different cities - Ralf in Düsseldorf and me in Berlin. It became clear to us that the project would now be a different one, and we decided to change the name to Die Wilde Jagt, even though the first album still contained recordings from the days of Der-Räuber-Und-Der-Prinz, including the already released tracks "Jagd auf den Hirsch", "Der Elektrische Reiter", "Torpedovogel" and "Durch dunkle Tannen" (previously released as "Moogwalzer"). The presentation of the project as a two-piece band was still very important to me at that time, since we had written and recorded most of the pieces together. Since it was not possible for Ralf to be part of the band at live gigs, I founded a live constellation consisting of myself and drummer Nico Rommel, who was a friend of mine. The project Die Wilde Jagd now became more and more the main occupation in my life. I started to develop new ideas and pieces on my own and committed myself to put all my time and energy into a follow-up album. Ralf supported me in this project by handing me the keys to his Uhrwald Orange Studio, where I could work on the second album from 2016 on. I spent many weeks and months there, in which he also came to me very often to help me in decisive moments, to gradually familiarize myself with the operation of his studio, and to finish pieces together with me. Due to the fact that I was now the "driving force" in the project and also took over the live realization alone - or at that time with the new drummer Ran Levari - the project was redesigned accordingly with the second album, for example regarding the visual representation on photos and the like. I recorded the new album "Haut" almost completely in my studio in Berlin. Ralf lent me a great mixing console and other equipment with which I could make high-quality recordings, similar to his studio in Hilden, in my place of residence, Berlin. In addition, as on the previous album, he then did the final finishing and mixing of the record with me in the Uhrwald Orange Studio. In the meantime, I would describe the project as a solo project, as far as writing and performing the music is concerned, although always in close cooperation with Ralf, whose advice, help and studio "Uhrwald Orange" I always fall back on
eclipsed: Do you see yourself more as a guitarist or a keyboard player? Or as a multi-instrumentalist?
Philip: Neither, and both, and. In the studio I try out many instruments, live I prefer to play guitar than keyboard. As far as playing the guitar, I'm mainly interested in effect pedals.
eclipsed: Live you only play with one drummer. How do you manage to reproduce the more complex structures? The tour should start at the end of April. I guess it will or has already been cancelled. How painful is that?
Philipp: In any case, it is always a challenge to convert the pieces into live versions. At the same time, it's not my aim at concerts to reproduce the music one to one like on record. I prefer to find new and interesting ways to present the pieces with my drummer Ran Levari. At first, I was very disappointed that the album would be released in the middle of the Corona crisis, and gradually all upcoming concerts around the release were cancelled. But I make sure that my mind and my feelings are not only dependent on my music, its release and the processes involved. I currently direct my thoughts in positive directions, cook and read a lot and think a lot. Everybody is affected by this event - and after realizing that the consequences related to oneself are, by and large, of a rather meaningless nature, all of a sudden, completely new trains of thought and priorities take shape. And of course I am looking forward to the publication of "Haut" and hope that people will find something good for themselves in it.
*** Interview: Bernd Sievers