Multi-instrumentalist and composer Valentin Mayr – otherwise masquerading as experimental artist Lichtermeer – released his latest record Floating Mind back in January, and, needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed.
Having reviewed his most recent album earlier this year, we were eager to find out more about his creative process. We speak with the native German about his experimental solo project, his songwriting technique, and how he’s learn to master his craft through years of dedication to it.
indieberlin: Could you tell us a little bit about your musical background?
Valentin Mayr/Lichtermeer: I started playing drums when I was six or seven. My parents are both musicians as well, so I grew up with a lot of music and instruments around me. Mostly they were playing Celtic and Scandinavian folk, and my drum teacher introduced me to rock. None of the styles that I’m playing today…or at least, not professionally – but I loved it, and still do! Later, at the age of twelve, I got into playing piano and composing. That’s were the whole creative world in music started for me.
IB: How did you come up with the project and the name Lichtermeer?
VM: The project wasn’t actually planned to be something serious – it was like my little experimental toy, trying out new things in a different style. I never did electronic music before, and in the first place I wanted to create something new for me. The name Lichtermeer is my own description of my music. For me, the vibe of the music and all the details are like an ocean of different colours, flying through each other.
IB: How does the songwriting process work for you?
VM: Oh…good! Not really electronically, actually – there’s no creation of instruments and tones happens on the laptop. For me, producing a song starts by just playing it in, like with non-electronic music. I’m recording all the instruments, melodies and grooves. It’s quite fun as I’m improvising, soloing and jamming over my basic ideas; later, I work on the recorded stuff in the program, put effects on it, creating new ideas by cutting some recorded stuff…that changes it to electronic music.
IB: If you had to describe your music to a deaf person, what would you say?
VM: That’s a really difficult question. I’m listening to all different styles of music and so I guess I’m also influenced by a lot of different styles. Maybe it’s progressive electronic music with influences of pop, folk and fusion. Or pretty much like the style downtempo, but with more speed.
IB: What happens beside Lichtermeer?
VM: Me and my friends are living in that beautiful adventure called Neukölln, I work with my bands Kloudfall and Waleh and enjoy my life and time with my girlfriend – she is a musician as well and we’re playing in Waleh together. Ah and I’m sliding into all different kinds of soccer – watching it, playing it, playing table football and also Fifa with a friend.
IB: You collaborated with other musicians – how was that process?
VM: For this album, I needed more their sound than their creativity. So it wasn’t much of a collaboration in a way as my songideas were already done. I still wrote almost everything but worked and collaborated with their instruments and voices. I created a lot of new stuff with their recorded files, so that they were sometimes surprised about what comes out in the end haha.
IB: Where do you get your inspiration from?
VM: The thematic inspiration comes from my own experiences, dreams and memories. Musically it just starts by having something in mind like a melody or a groove, and than jamming and experimenting it.
IB: How do you feel about covering a song?
VM: “Geocentric Confusion” is the first song I covered as a recording. Usually I don’t like covering but in this case I felt attached to the long ending theme of that song and really wanted to work with it. So I’m just covering the second half. I had the freedom to create a lot of new stuff with it, so it’s actually an interpretation.
IB: How do you think the audience in Berlin is different to the audience where you actually come from?
VM: It’s really countryside-ish, where I grew up. Beautiful nature, but no scene. All young people are escaping and I feel the music of Lichtermeer is mostly quite weird and modern for older generations. Mostly not always. The audience in Berlin is young, multicultural and is craving for new music, innovation in music and experiments. Me too. That fits to this album perfectly.
IB: Do you see your songs in colour or in black and white?
Definitely colourful! As the name Lichtermeer can tell you. The vibes are quite uplifting, dreamy and euphoric. That’s colourful for me.