february 2002

MERGE - Lost Heroes

I had the chance to interview Andi Friebe of MERGE. MERGE are a new signed Electro/Wave/Pop band from Bielefeld (Germany) that produces sophisticated melancholic SynthPoP.

(SP:) Where do you live?

(Andi:) We all come from different towns. Thomas lives in Cologne, Björn in Schwerte, Holger in Paderborn and I live in in Bielefeld.

(SP:) What is your main job, or are you professional musicians?

(Andi:) We are still students, but since music occupies so much time at the moment, I feel that music is our main job. We are very anxious to see how it develops in the future.

(SP:) „Merge“ means in German „verschmelzen“. What were the reasons for that band name?

(Andi:) Our aim was and still is to merge electronic sounds with 'handmade’ elements to create a homogeneous whole. During songwriting, we always thought about how the music of the good old eighties may sound today. We were really surprised that we created our independent style, but also happy that we did not copy any sound by other SynthPoP bands. (SP:) Tell me something about the beginning of Merge? Where did you meet?

(Andi:) I had known Thomas a long time before. We both played in different bands. Thanks to a suggestion of a friend we decided to team up. As a result we instantly started with the production of our debut album “Lost Heroes”. Pedro played in my band before and I couldn't imagine Merge without him. I met Holger through a newspaper advertisement. This was really a stroke of luck! (SP:) What are the reasons for producing SynthPoP?

(Andi:) SynthPoP enables us the opportunity to be very creative. We all love electronic sounds but also ‘handmade’ music. Our Challenge was to successfully combine both influences. The most important things are the songs because if they are not effective, the best packaging won't work.

(SP:) Your songs sound very melancholic and dark. Do your song-lyrics consist of your experiences?

(Andi:) We embrace daytime trauma. As we did with the music we try to combine past with current experiences. We lump together those experiences which creates a mixture where we have enough space for our own interpretations. Your lyrics should deliver the opportunity to find yourself within.

(SP:) What aims do you try to reach with your intelligent music?

(Andi:) Our main aim is to create music that is unique. But that does not mean that we always try to reinvent the wheel. Music should put you in a certain mood, create fun and should be something particular. We are all happy to hear that our music is as important to the audience as it is for us. I think to accomplish this, it is required that you are a fan of your own band.

(SP:) Merge is a less electronic SynthPoP band, that combines electronic music with guitars. What part does guitar music play in your compositions? Do you describe your music as „Progressive Pop“?

(Andi:) Guitar is a very important element which has to perfectly fit in with the electronic ‘scaffold’.

(SP:) Who are your influences?

(Andi:) We all have different influences – from Abba to Zappa !

(SP:) I got in touch with Merge via Audio Galaxy. How do you think about File-Sharing (especially for MP3s) systems like Audio-Galaxy? Andi: Well, a very different subject! In my opinion it is a good opportunity for bands without a deal for finding listeners throughout the whole world. But for an artist who has signed a contract it will result in losing money. And he will be dropped by the label, as he did not sell enough discs. You do not have to forget, that a CD production costs money. A CD has to be treated like an entire work of art – just hunt for it instead of copy it.

(SP:) Will you have some gigs and new releases in future?

(Andi:) We recently released “Autumn Leaf” from our album “Lost Heroes” in the USA. This Maxi delivers exclusive remixes by US-SynthPoP Bands like IRIS or Echoing Green. It also includes a non-album track. We will release this single here in Germany in April this year. Meanwhile we covered B-Movies “Nowhere Girl”, which got remixed by well-known DJs and which we are going to release on vinyl within the next few days. The original Merge-Mix for this cover version will be released on CD. We are also at work on our second album, which we will probably release in autumn of this year. We will also have a tour in autumn / winter 2002. Well, I think it will be a very exciting year for Merge!

(SP:) That was it. Thanks a lot for the interview. Also many thanks to Gary Flanagan who corrected the English translation.