KODAMA
Elli Brandauer
Luna Redondo Campiglio

Paradise Foam

In his living room, Ringo Lukas tells us about the process of creating music and what it’s like to be an artist in Berlin in today’s climate. The lively and powerful musician gives an insight into his beliefs and convictions, and how he manages creative crises.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RELEASING YOUR LATEST SINGLE? WHAT IS IT ABOUT? HOW AND WHEN WAS IT CREATED?

The release has been postponed for a while now so I’m happy it is finally happening, and in this way. I declared Paradise Foam done some time in December but kept reworking it since. If the finishing of a song and its release date are too far apart, the whole thing can lose its momentum; I want to still be excited about my works when they are released, it’s a bit childish but that’s what I enjoy. Plus that’s one of the main benefits of doing releases without a label.

MAKING YOUR OWN MUSIC AS “KODAMA”, WHICH MEANS TREE SPIRIT IN JAPANESE- I WANTED TO ASK, WHAT INFLUENCES YOU IN YOUR DAILY LIFE IN RELATION OF CREATING SONGS?

I don’t necessarily think there is an explicit, direct link between what and how I write, record etc. and my daily life since most of the recordings end up being very hypothetical, blurted-out fictions and I get the feeling my imaginary processing has a rather loose grip on my immediate reality. But of course, since I work with field recordings and film skits and skits from video games I happen to play, if you put these together, you’ll get a more or less coherent idea of what I have been occupied with during the making of an EP, besides that EP. Plus there is always accidental noise (a church next door for example and its ambitious bells). But no, in the end I try not to use Kodama as some kind of reflective diary.

HOW IS BERLIN TREATING YOU AS A YOUNG CREATIVE?

I think it is a good place to spend time on projects and experiments without necessarily having to aim at economical / financial benefits: Berlin offers the luxury of time to waste; or use. As long as I’m good at isolation and not getting distracted, I might stay here. Besides, there is a very welcoming and open music scene here, at least in my experience.  

 

DO YOU SEE A DEVELOPMENT OR CHANGE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT ALBUMS YOU RELEASED SO FAR?

My interests and focus changed and so did my (technical) skills so yes I think there is a pretty drastic change especially from the first to the latest release. I don’t find it problematic to release a certain spectrum of output under the same name though. Maybe it is comparable to leveling up.

MAKING MUSIC ALWAYS MEANS TO OPEN UP TO STRANGERS, IT IS A VERY INTIMATE PROCESS. WHAT DOES IT DO TO YOU TO PERFORM IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?

I never really enjoyed playing live shows; I am generally more interested in recording, which I can do alone, at home, without having to explain or justify or even define anything. Working on music this way has a certain kind of pleasant secretiveness to it that I miss in the bluntness and factuality of a live performance. I’m also just shy though. But of course there also has been live shows that I liked.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE SO CALLED “CREATIVE CRISIS”, WITH WHICH EVERY CREATIVE PROBABLY HAS TO DEAL WITH AT SOME POINT ?

I try not to think about it too much, simply because I noticed I can’t force anything anyway (although of course some discipline is of great use and sometimes I have to pull myself together) and because I feel like concentrating on, reflecting over and evaluating a “creative crisis” does never really solve it; it’s not like you’ll find a cause, it’s just too psychological.  On the other hand I am great at overthinking so ha don’t really know. I definitely never had an “ohh ok that’s why” moment.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SPIRITUALITY? WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A KIND OF SPIRITUAL PERSON?

It’s hard to talk about spirituality without further defining and contextualizing the very term first – there is so many different approaches and connotations to it and most of the ones I am confronted with I think I oppose. To me, there is a lot of danger especially in the watered-down, westernized versions of spirituality, a lot of it having to do simply with trying to avoid responsibility or trying to find a way to give meaning to something meaningless. There is a lot of desperation in this, without trying to sound to harsh. But then again I frequently immerse into fantasies and make-believe myself and these parallel worlds strongly influence my reception of reality which I assume is yet another way to understand being spiritual. If they don’t get imperial with it, I feel like everyone should just prepare escapisms as they see fit.

DO YOU THINK FASHION AND MUSIC HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON?

Thinking about internal motivations of creating something, I think they shouldn’t have too much in common. The external, expressive sphere is something else of course. And again, I can only speak for myself.

ARE YOU WRITING A LOT AND IF YES, WHAT DOES IT DO TO YOU? 

I definitely make a lot of notes (I have lists for everything: everything). In terms of actually creating texts, whether prose or lyrical works, I think it comes in waves. I never really sit down thinking “I am going to write now”. I have a lot of long 5am notes on my phone that I am afraid to look at. When I need a text for a song, I listen to the fake-languages I sang to remember melodies and transfer them into existing words, so they usually end up being rather surreal. But as said, vagueness and secretiveness over factuality and cause and effect chains.

YOUR MUSIC IS VERY LO-FI, DREAMY, BUT IN A WAY ALSO ORGANIC. WHEN I LISTEN TO THE SONGS, I HAVE THE PICTURE IN MIND, THAT A HUGE SPACE AND A SPECIAL ATMOSPHERE IS CREATED. DO YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN OR IS IT MORE OF AN UNCONSCIOUS PROCESS?

On the one hand that’s just the technical part of course (I use a lot of reverb and delay which creates space/volume), but this technical part of creating space, a space, runs parallel to the pleasure of creating a room, a hideout, something like that. I think it is cool to listen to something that sounds like it is resonating through a place that could not exist physically. There always is a lot of trial and error involved in the creative process as well and I like this shared authorship.

ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE TOPICS OF TRANSIENCE AND ETERNALITY WHILE CREATING SONGS AND MAKING MUSIC?

Not consciously; or at least that’s not words/phrases I have in my head. Time and its alterations somehow are on the radar though I think.

TELL US ABOUT THE WHOLE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING YOUR SONGS: WHAT COMES FIRST, WITH WHAT DO YOU END? OR WHEN DO YOU KNOW A PIECE IS FINISHED?

That really changes from song to song; and I have songs that I released years ago on which I still do changes (especially when playing them live) so it can always happen that a project gets reopened, a body unearthed etc. I think I actually have the tendency to not realize when I should stop.

YOU ALSO RELEASED THE NEW SINGLE “DEFANGED” WITH YOUR FRIEND AND MUSICIAN PAUL AKA. “GHOST, I”. HOW DID IT ALL CAME UP? CAN YOU IMAGINE TO COOPERATE WITH OTHER ARTISTS IN THE NEAR FUTURE AS WELL?

I did not do any collaborations in a while (I am usually not good at compromising) but in this case Paul and I just decided to try it out, we spend some time together and Defanged developed pretty effortlessly, becoming something that neither of us could or would have done alone, which is the beauty of collaborations. It also can be kind of calming to work/rework other people’s creations; it’s about angles in the end. We are still working together and yes I can imagine to cooperate with other artists but it’s not something I am actively looking for at the moment; it’s a bit like playing life, it can be just too factual.

YOUR LAST WORDS TO THE READERS OUT THERE:

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Interview and Styling by Elli Brandauer

Photography by Luna Retondo