Interview With Bert Fenber
Have you always been interested in music? What is your story and how did you start making music?
Since I was 16, I played the guitar and it all started the year I went as a foreign exchange student to a High School in Michigan, USA. My guitar went with me, and I played in an Afro-American band as the only white person. Over the years, I composed songs time and again, had small gigs in bars. In 2001 and 2002 I published some on YouTube, already produced in a recording studio. I travelled to the United States several times and stayed longer there again for a period of research at the University of Pennsylvania (American Studies).
In the 90’s, I was for several weeks in the USA and drove down Highway No 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles where I visited a friend. During this drive I listened most of the time to a hit radio which played a “Who-is-Who” of American pop and pop rock. All this shaped my own music. Not forgetting live concerts of Paul Simon in South Bend, Indiana and of Joe Jackson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Form the very beginning, I never wanted to do cover songs, I only wanted to write my own music.
It then took quite a few years – and a “normal” life – until I finally put as much energy as I can into my music. One trigger, so to say, was Covid 19 and the lockdowns in Europe when my work in my own firm as a coach came to a longer stop. For others it was stress, for me it was a gift. I finally could ignite the full power in my music.
What are you working on now? Any future releases we can look forward to?
After being in public only with my studio recordings, I recently started to build up my band, the “Bert Fenber Band” . There was a first live performance last summer in Germany and there will be several more this year in 2023. So, the work on playing live will take a good deal of time and work this year. The new song I plan to release at the moment will probably be called “When the Cranes Are Leaving”.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal in The Music Industry?
Well, as any musician probably will say: I would like to be listened to by as much people as possible, on an international scale. When I get from people positive reactions on my music this makes me happy. My goal in the music industry is not to earn money, this is not the most important thing that is driving me.
What Has Been the Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
Well, it was not the recordings in the studio which are now more or less routine. The biggest challenge for me so far is to form my live band and to develop my live performances to more perfection.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then write the other music for it or what’s Your typical songwriting process?
Well, composing tunes at home, bringing melody lines into existence and writing the lyrics, is the first thing I do. The music, the melody line so far always comes to life first, only then I write the lyrics and then latter I work quite intensively so that it fits to the melody line. So far, I could do this quite easily. For me, the work in the studio is the most exciting part. Even though I have been recording now so many songs I am each time under tension. It is always in a way like the first time. Which is good because then you are awake. It is also an adventure. You might have distinctive ideas and you give “instructions” to the musicians – still, the song can come out completely different to what you imagined. It is a piece of living art.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
This is a complex question as there are both sides to it. On one hand, social media and the internet as a whole have multiplied the channels to put out music. On Instagram you can reach the whole world with one post. On the other hand, it is platforms like Spotify and others which have a degrading effect on most musicians because of the low financial return to the artists is very low. The digitalized market makes it easy to put out music for so many people but at the same time also makes you a small voice among endless others. The times that a producer walks into a club where you play and offers you a record contract are over.
List some famous musicians currently on your playlist?
Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Adele, James Blunt
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I worked at the university in the further educational department, then in European projects triggered by the German government like digitalization. I also worked 20 years as a journalist for big German media.
Would you have any advice for young people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Stick to your own style, don´t let people drag you into styles that are not yours. Keep up your courage because the music industry is one of the hardest, even more when it takes time to progress in this jungle.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Social media like Spotify should definitely pay more money for each streaming to the artist. Producers and influencers who have a strong impact on playlists should put much more attention to music that is not on the radio each day. Sorry to say, but very often the music you hear on the radio is mediocre.
How do you feel about originality?
To me, this is the center of a career as a musician. I myself never had much interest in playing covers.
Is there anything else we should know about you? or Something that you would like to add?
Well, it may sound strange – but I would wish that people – who listen to songs in YouTube which they like – should take the time to “like” them. In order to “like” one has to be registered on You Tube….For the artist, the likes are important for being noticed by radios, influencers, producers.
Links to Where Your Music Can be Purchased