Fenster’s Playfully Morbid Universe

“Aesthetically, we are into playfully morbid universes – Zombie flicks, Philip K. Dick, the Museum of Natural History – witches, bad dreams, Jesus, old gambling towns, gangsters, and creepy small towns,” explains Fenster, a Post-Pop trio whose methods and inspirations would seem to be as conceptually intellectual as their sounds are avant-garde-ily enjoyable.

“We are really into cities and the way they sound – but really the way things sound in general. We always carry a zoom recorder with us to capture sonic gems and accidents.  Musically, our influences range from 50s ballads to Brian Eno. We all love the Velvet Underground and Nico, Broadcast, White Noise, Johnny Cash, Why?, and Aphex Twins. We love the Kinks, rock and roll, and even cheesy 90s music, like Ace of Base. We like to dance, but we are all also nerds with big record collections, always on the hunt for obscure tunes.”

 Fenster is a Berlin-based band but, between them, they’re actually of international origins.

“Jonathan grew up in Berlin, Remi is from Reims, a city near Paris, JJ is from New York City, and our producer, Tadklimp, is from a small city in Greece, near Athens, but we all met in Berlin. It’s not beautiful like Paris or super fast-paced, like London – it’s a unique and affordable capital city in Europe – the kind of place where lost people and artists and dreamers move to escape something or find answers.  We all have our different reasons for moving there, but we all call it home at the moment.”

My chat with Fenster came as they were more or less wrapping up the first half of 2012 and beginning to plan the second half.  They release their debut LP, Bones, this March.  They recorded the album in eight days in a basement studio before they had ever even played a gig together.   Bones is a perfectly titled album.  It’s minimalistic, rings of a former era, and is a little bit scary.  The album offers no surprises after you familiarize yourself with opening track “Oh Canyon,” not that it needs to.  It embodies the same psychedelic folk of The Velvet Underground and Nico, except a little more whimsically polished.  After completing the album the band did a five-week tour of the US throughout March and April, which they seemed to enjoy quite a bit.

“It was pretty much five weeks of non-stop mind blowing American majesty. We had a lot of unexpected adventures and encounters –  in New Orleans we stayed at a magical little house in the bywater called the Music Box which is a collection of hand-made musical installations in a backyard – like a staircase leading to the sky with pedals on each step creating a different note, a wall of loop pedals, and a special contraption by Quintron which creates sounds based on the weather – the sun, wind, and rain. We slept in lots of warehouses and met a lot of really amazing characters – the Soft House in Baltimore was a particularly beautiful collective living and concert space where we played a show with Dead Mellotron and Spanish Prisoners… Hot Springs Arkansas was an unexpected delight – we played a festival there called the Valley of the Vapors, and ended up playing two more shows than expected – we got treated to homemade pancakes, a day of soaking in the mysterious hot spring waters, great bands. and some of the most fun and kind folks we met in the States. And, of course, New York steals everyone’s heart – JJ grew up there so we got to chill a lot with her friends and explore the city. Our show at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn was super fun.”

Fenster followed their trek through the states with a six-week European tour, which is just wrapping now.  However, they do seem to have much in the works for the rest of the year… with details coming soon: “We have secret plans to return to the US this fall! We want to stay fresh, stay alive, and find time on the road and back in Berlin to work on new songs. Some other groovy goals for 2012 include riding our bikes, taking lots of pictures, teaching JJ to speak French, working on some new video projects, playing music at old folks homes, and getting real jobs and/or hustling.”