Com to Mama!

von Benjamin Gruber

You are right back from your support tour with Kele Okereke, leadsinger of Bloc party now performing solo. How was the tour?

Being Kele’s support act is an empowering role to play, to stand in front of an audience who are there only to see Kele and don’t give a shit about me, but I engaged with them, drew them into my rhythm and every night, by the end of my set they were cheering for more.

You are living in London but you are very often in Berlin as well. Is it your second base? What is your favorite spot in both cities?

Berlin is my number one base now. It feels like home but my heart is in London. London can be draining for creative people but highly challenging and fast paced. Berlin embraces the struggling or upcoming artist but you can easily get away with being so damn lazy so I find the perfect balance between both worlds by living in both cities. Now to answer your question, apart from the monthly ‘Batty Bass’ club night I established with Hannah Holland, London’s night life unfortunately doesn’t do it for me anymore so my favourite spot is the South bank for culture and art. In Berlin, my fa- vorite spot is obviously Berghain.

What are your plans for the next year? Is there a new release coming up?

“Horses” will be my next single out on Batty Bass records with remixes from Simina Grigoriu (Berlin Calling, Sonat Records) and Shaun Reeves (Wolf + Lamb). A bass-heavy, infectious tune, it’s the track that excites people the most when I play it live. About the plans for next year, I’d like to find a genius producer, release my debut album, tour and continue to make music in unusual settings i.e., I sang the entire idea of my next single “Horses” into my iPhone walking from one end of Schönhauser Allee to the other. I recently produced a song on my laptop in my parents’ bed while they were at church.

(personal note proud editor: Horses is awesome!)

Why is your project called Mama? Is there some specific reason?

There are several reasons beyond my control. I have my Grandmothers names so my family had always called me Mama since the day that I was born. It’s so bizarre because I hardly ever introduce myself to people as Mama but somehow people end up calling me that and it’s stuck. Mama in the English language can have sexual connotations; it could mean an Amazonian woman with sex appeal who is NOT to be messed with. I prefer that association. I understand that Mama in German strictly means Mother which is even cooler because it’s totally Ironic.

What do you think about the photo shooting, and the clothes?

I can be a bit blasé about shoots sometimes so I arrived on the shoot expecting to do a few shots then hop on my bike back to Mitte by lunch time but then I was thrown into an exciting movie, a scenario where I was jumping from one character to another. They were a great team to work with and they totally got my style. I’m honored to grace 6 pages of such a high quality magazine, it’s every girls dream.

When I first saw you performing it was on a Monday night in Monster Ronson Karaoke Bar. The attending Party guests were quiet, slowed down and seemed tired from the weekend before. When you started your show, literally everybody started to dance and freaked out. How do you do that?

Well, I don’t know. I tend to get into a trance like state and enjoy myself so much. I suppose that excitement flows into the audience. I enjoy making eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible and by the end of the show I want to hug and kiss everyone. I like my shows up close and intimate.

Is being outgoing and the entertainer a skill you always had?

I’ve always been a performer, writing or singing songs for as long as I can remember. I come from a big family so I guess I’ve had an audience from a young age. When I was about nine, my brother was an acid house dj so if my parents were out of town, he’d throw a house party and prop me up on a stall and have me singing over the beats. I’m so grateful for my studio set up, as basic as it is – it keeps me out of trouble. If I didn’t have it I’d be a hazard to myself and seriously annoying to people with all my humming, tapping, and bursts of madness. My creative desires will never end. I can imagine being 110 in a nursing home, entertaining old people to death.

When can we see you the next time on stage in Berlin?

My next show is at the ‘Support Your Local DJs Party’ on the 18th December at Ritter Butzke in Berlin. The lineup is wicked. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Mz Sunday Luv and Jake the Rapper.

Interview Benjamin Gruber

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Mama Preview for Carlsberg 24 Hours • 18.12.2010 • Ritter Butzke by proud

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Benjamin Gruber

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