Interview with Andreas Vollenweider


Andreas Vollenweider is back! The new album “Quiet Places” will be released on October 2nd. He will also release a novel called “Reflections of Venus”. is proud to present an exclusive interview with Andreas Vollenweider, where he talks about the new releases, the LIVE@HOME mini concerts and life in general in the age of Covid19. 

BT Fasmer: On behalf of your millions of fans worldwide: It is so good to have you back after all these years! How does it feel to have new music coming out? Was there ever a time when you thought that you would not release anything more?

Andreas Vollenweider: It feels great to reconnect, after such a long time. In terms of my creative work I do not follow a strategic masterplan, I just follow the music that wants to come out and then if it looks like it could ever become an album, I do what’s necessary. But if in the end it doesn’t feel right, I am really good in deleting it again 😉 To me, music has to somehow write itself…

BT: I understand that you have worked closely with the University of Geneva (UNIGE) on how music may help premature babies. Has this work had any impact on “Quiet Places”?

Andreas: This Geneva project has been something like a reality check: we all know how music can reach deep and touch us profoundly. It definitively is more than just acoustic decoration. But with this project, we could present for the first time the scientific proof, that the experience with music can stimulate and support the development of physiological substance such as cerebral matter. This double blind study, over the course of five years, has made clear, that those children who where daily exposed to this particular musical soundscapes, showed significant improvement in developing cerebral matter and the neural network. As result, it looks very promising, that thesee children are not suffering from the usual severe social, cognitive, emotional deficits, preemies are mostly confronted with. But as I said, it only reconfirmed – music has a very powerful potential, which we should become aware and use much more.

BT: I guess it is safe to say that the circumstances for the launch of “Quiet Places” are not ideal. In retrospect, a 2019 release would have been preferable?

Andreas: The contrary! The virus has brought our extraverted, materialistic outwardly oriented lives to a sudden halt. Now is the time to go within, the time for introspection. For this we need a Quiet Place we can go on this journey to our most important place, the inner space. I would even say, it is the perfect time for QUIET PLACES, which was made for exactly this, a long time before the virus hit.

Walter Keiser, Isabel Gehweiler and Andreas Vollenweider

BT: I know I’m not mistaken when I say that our need for “Quiet Places”, in music and in literature, is greater than ever in the age of Covid19. Was this the inspiration behind your LIVE@HOME concerts?

Andreas: The first LIVE@HOME mini concert was an experiment. The reaction of our listeners has clearly shown, that it is very possible, to connect to listeners out there even in a such a virtual setting. I even think we have to change our perception of what is virtual and what not. Even a love letter is virtual, a book, a CD, even a phone call, because it needs a medium to be transported to you, it doesn’t happen here an now. And we should not forget, that the reader, the listener at the other end, is recreating the content with his or her own personal thoughts, memories, images and emotions, drawn from his or her personal archives. It will never exactly be, what you have sent, in some cases even rather different. I am very surprised, how close I feel to the listeners when I am playing these mini concerts. It is a wonderful and warm feeling.

BT: YouTube comments are not the same as performing in front of a live audience. How have the LIVE@HOME concerts been for you? As a viewer, I’m amazed by your performances, but I guess you would rather have been on the stage?

Andreas: From now on, even once we can travel and play “normal” concerts again, these online concerts are going to always be an additional platform for me to bring the music to the people. We have been reminded by the comments on YouTube, how our listeners are spread out over the whole planet. This way we can bring the music to places, we could never possibly travel to.

BT: You also have a novel coming out called “Reflections of Venus” (German: “Im Spiegel der Venus”). Tell us about the book. When did you decide to write it, and for how long have you been writing fiction?

Andreas: If someone asked me about my profession, I always said; I am a storyteller, so far I told my stories mainly with music. But I also love painting and – also writing, I love language, poetry. But my writing was never for publishing. It has always been more a form of processing a topic for myself, just as something like an extended form of a diary. But then there were this questions, which fascinated me so much that it almost automatically became a story. And – the idea grew to publish this story after all. I’m now at an age when one should either forget one’s dreams, or just – make them come true! I decided for the latter and wrote this novel. There was this complex of questions that had “haunted” me my whole life long; what is “reality” and how does it come about? Where is the beginning of the beginning of the beginning? How must we understand the anatomy of reality? In the natural sciences today, this is a topic of general, burning relevance! With the novel “Reflections of Venus” I have tried to deal with these fundamental questions in an entertaining, hopefully exciting and – above all – non-academic way. The book is currently being translated to English and will come out next year.

BT: Sitting in front of the computer is not the same as being in the studio. Is your creative process different when you write?

Andreas: Not really, I try to follow what wants to come out. It is a such an interesting and satisfying process, to set our intellectual, conscious mind aside, to silent our “I want” and open wide our arms and to gratefully receive what has been waiting for us.

BT: The music industry has changed so much over the last decade. Music is everywhere, and it is “free”. Has this in any way had an impact on your willingness to release music?

Andreas: No! Never!

BT: As a longtime fan I know that improvisations are important to you, and it is also mentioned on the cover of “Quiet Places”. Please tell us about how improvisation shaped this project.

Andreas: We are using the term “thematic improvisation” to describe this particular process of creating music. No specific form with defined sequences is “composed”. Through collective improvisation short melodic-rhythmic anchor points are developed and loosely set, to which we then can refer in an improvisation. Whole parts can thus evolve spontaneously. A piece will therefore always be different, every time it is played, and yet it still contains some parts that sound familiar. This has always been my way of working.

BT: I understand that “Quiet Places” and “Reflections of Venus” is a part of a trilogy. Tell us about that. Can we expect new music anytime soon? And do you see yourself writing more fiction?

Andreas: Working on the album and the novel was going hand in hand and one was a source of inspiration for the other. I wouldn’t say though, that “Quiet Places” was consciously created as the soundtrack of the novel. But during these years after 2010 I also painted a lot at the same time as other music has been created, for about three more albums, which we will release in the coming years. So…you see, while it seemed very quiet on the outside, I was very busy. I feel like a big ship. When it is brought to a halt, it requires enormous energy to bring it up to speed again. So I make sure to never really stop. That works great for me 😉

BT: Thank you so much Andreas for taking the time to answer these questions! It is so great to have you back, and “Quiet Places” and the LIVE@HOME mini concerts are amazing. In a year dominated by negative news, your comeback has made a huge difference for many of your fans. Again; THANK YOU!

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Photo credit: René Ruis