It’s not so common that I get to interview interesting newcomer bands… and so as soon as the chance to chat with Beton Braut came into question, I was beyond excited. But you may ask “Who is Beton Braut though?!”
Beton Braut is a two-piece formation, originating from Germany. It’s hard to describe what kind-of music they make (hence, this interview) but to generalize it a bit, one could say that they make some form of bizarre electronic music with the concepts revolving around sex and violence. Despite being rather young, the band has been actively touring, in particular as a support act for Grausame Töchter.
Enough introduction and chit-chat though… Let’s get to the point! We managed to finally catch the freaks behind the band, Henrike and Lars, to talk about the formation of the band, the sound, the live shows and much more! Here comes Beton Braut’s first interview!
How was Beton Braut formed? Could you tell us a bit about the story of the band?
H: Beton Braut was formed officially in 2018. Before that, we composed some music but in 2018, we put together some pieces where we thought this would work. Of course, it’s debatable whether the music that we first put out is really ‘good’ since we are basically just starting but it seriously didn’t matter to me whether it sounded good or bad. I just wanted to musically exist.
The idea to form a band is not a new idea for me though as I have wanted to make music for a very very very looong time, ever since I was 16 years old. But all these years, there was always something that kept me from accomplishing this dream and I also didn’t have the support that I wanted. I had a certain vision of how I wanted to make music and my biggest inspiration in that sense has been Die Ärzte; the way they make music and how they make it. It took a bit of time for me to find out what kind-of music I wanted to make, since when I first started composing, the pieces that came out were rather… ‘emo’ stuff *laughs*… “Everything is shit, the world is shit”… I didn’t wanna do this! But then I wrote more stuff… On the other hand, I actually find the first pieces I composed not that bad, I also listened to the advice of some musician friends of mine. So, my motto has just been to just do it and to carry on doing my stuff.
The first song that we released was “Loch”, which also came out as a music video and for the new album, we also decided to re-make this song and make it a bit better!
What are the bands that inspire Beton Braut?
H: In general, there are 5 bands that inspire me. Emilie Autumn, Rammstein, Die Ärzte -they shaped my personality and how I want to be-, Grausame Töchter, Akira Yamaoka – who is not that known, but he composes the soundtrack of Silent Hill. He has this hard industrial style, like metal noises, which are also inspirations or elements for Beton Braut.
The band is getting more active with live shows and an EP-trilogy (or Epi-trilogy), in which the first part Neue Deutsche Kälte [Morgenröte] was already released last year. What are your plans about the rest of this trilogy this year? How is it going?
We are currently planning the second EP slowly. If everything goes well as organized, then the second EP will be out on March. Shooting for the music video of a cover song as well as the setlist is planned as well. With these EPs and this trilogy, we want to be more active and also play more live shows.
In general, more than half of the demo is done, and for the cover, we are working with a very interesting person. We already played this cover song live and can’t wait it to be featured on this EP as it is a song of a well-known band. We are waiting for the permissions for a while and let’s hope that all will go well with it so that we can organize the next steps!
You have interesting concepts in your music and the songs; are these concepts personal? What are the lyrics based on?
H: Well, it is high-quality emo bullshit! [laughs] The ideas are all my ideas, Lars also has a bit of input as well though and we do the songwriting together but in the end, the music comes from me. So you can say that the concepts and the music is really personal; they are based on my own experiences or the experiences of the people around me and what they have been through; mental health issues, confrontations…. Normally, the society’s approach to these issues would be “Shut up, don’t talk about it!” but with my music, I want to give the chance for the listeners/audience to be able to talk about it and confront it.
On the other hand, there are a lot of ideas flowing as well. For instance, with the song “Prinzessin”, there was the idea of “emotional coldness”, a person who is emotionally cold and who shows no empathy, or “Ein guter Witz” is based on my own experience about being mobbed. Surely I don’t want to sing about these themes all my life but I feel that now is the right time. I can’t change the world but I can offer my music.
Would you consider yourself part of the “Schwarze Szene” [a general name for the gothic/electronic/darkwave/EBM scene in Germany]?
L: I don’t know if we actually belong to the scene. I don’t want to judge people of course. People who gladly listen to these genres are welcome to listen to our songs. Surely our music overlaps with the style in the Schwarze Szene; for instance, we tour with Grausame Töchter and in our live shows, we can see the people from this scene as well.
H: I wouldn’t put ourselves in the scene and I actually think we have a pop-approach. I am always surprised when people come to us saying “Your music is really ‘tough and hard’”. I find our music disturbing but not ‘unconsumable’.
L: In general, we get positive feedback after the live shows regardless of whether the audience is into the scene or not.
H: It’s a bit funny that people also categorize us as “Art project” or “art band”. I find it nice but it doesn’t matter to me in the end and I actually don’t put ourselves in that category. I think that this categorization could also block one’s visions; I applied to an art school and my experience was that you don’t really have the freedom with your art then. If people want to categorize, it’s completely fine, but it doesn’t matter to me personally.
L: The perfect example for this are the comments on YouTube under our videos as in most of the comments, the people write “Oh it’s not my music but do what you want to do” I don’t get why people would write that. It’s kind-of like you are at a live show, you watch the band and you tell them to play something else *laughs*
One highlight of Beton Braut is the live performance of course. You have bloody concepts. Do you plan your shows or is it mostly improvised?
L: Not improvised at all [laughs]. When you actually think about the fact that we are a newcomer band, our live shows are pretty much well-organized.
H: I am actually someone who is spontaneous when it comes to that.
L: Not me! 😀 We are different in that sense.
H: I wouldn’t call our shows ‘gore’y but we have ‘splashing’ and ‘splitting’ elements. This comes with the fact that you have to take care of some aspects during the live shows ,e.g. front rows. We don’t want anyone to complain. I actually asked Aranea Peel (mastermind behind Grausame Töchter) about this as she is an expert on this, and she gave me the advice to take a look at the people in the front row before planning it; if someone has a white T-shirt on, then it’s best not to do splashing.
Is there a reason why your live performances have these elements?
H: That is a matter of gut feeling for me. I do it because I feel like it. Violence and sex are two important aspects in big masterpieces and works and this is also the case with us. My inspirations in that sense are Emilie Autumn and Rammstein. When I experiment with blood or use blood, I really feel whole, and I love to play with the ideas. For our live shows, we design and bring these ideas to reality and it feels really good!
L: A highlight in our performances is also the combination of the projector and the screen.
H: But that didn’t get the attention of many and we are working on that. So it looks as if we are interacting with the screen and the screen is interacting with us. We couldn’t improve that aspect but we are working on it. We are also learning from our live shows so far as to how to work with it as sometimes we plan everything but it might be that it doesn’t work out due to the miscommunication regarding light effects at the venue. Normally, at our shows, we want as dim lights as much as possible but it might not always work [laughs]. We always have to communicate properly and in detail with the light technicians in general.
What has been one of the highlights when you take a look at your live shows?
H: Definitely our gig last December where we had to perform spontaneously. The other support act, Twins in Fear, had to cancel shortly before the gig and we were asked to jump in. That was an interesting performance because we were spontaneous; I normally always worry about what could go wrong but that time, we just did it and it was a great feeling despite the audience being a bit reserved.
Do you win fans after shows in general?
H: Yes! After gigs, we have this little group who always come to thank us after the show.
L: It’s funny because let’s say there are 100 people watching us live. 90% think “meh” and the rest 10% is totally into our music!
H: I don’t captivate the audience at the first impression but rather in the second. And that’s why we wanna play more live. “Virus” has also been our highlight song in gigs in general.
Since you are getting active in live shows, are you planning any merch?
L: Definitely. We are going start with the physical copies of the first EP and bring some T-Shirts.
H: We know that it’s pretty important especially for our live shows since its an opportunity for the people who get to know us to connect with us.
But hopefully the EP will be available in physical format in CD soon, in the next live shows. We have soo many ideas but we are gonna start with little steps. Interesting with CDs is that it’s relatively easy to press the CD on your own. The challenge is doing the promotion, that is, promoting and spreading out the word.
Beton Braut is also active in Patreon. I know from some bands/artists like Aesthetic Perfection or Eric13 (Combichrist) that Patreon really works for them. How are your impressions with Patreon?
H: Definitely positive. Whatever we get from Patreon, helps us to do our music and to continue.
L: I would have never thought that it would help us to be honest, especially since we are newcomers and not a lot of people know our music. Even though half of them are there because of NSFW photos!
H: Yeah, most of the people are there for the naked photos but they end up liking the music [laughs]
Right now, things are going OK as they are. Actually there is an interview with Daniel Graves from Aesthetic Perfection where he says “The industry is feeding off from the artists who have no idea”…That’s why I understand the hype and the positive experiences with Patreon, where you wanna take control. It would be a nice thing to improve for the future.
What was the biggest challenge during the last year? I know that you have had some issues with social media. How do you handle it? Do you see challenges as a discouragement as a newcomer or fight it?
H: In general, there are a whole new opportunities for musicians in the Internet; like, there used to be MySpace where bands would get famous. But nowadays, there is no right way. Social media is also not that easy. Capitalism seems to have taken over. If you have a bit of controversial ideas or images, then you have a problem.
My problem with the social media was in Instagram and during the performance of the song “Wildes Tier” with Grausame Töchter where I ‘shoot’ myself with a ‘gun’ on stage. A while after posting this picture on Instagram, I got a warning indicating that I was suicidal, and IG deleted the picture right away.
L: Also with an additional question of “We detected you are suicidal, do you need help?”
H: For the ones who are curious, I wrote a blog post about it on Patreon. But generally, my first reaction was to write a song about it. It’s this rage that gives me the creative energy in general. This whole attitude and censorship also means that suicidal people or people with issues don’t deserve to earn money. It is almost like they are punishing you for being suicidal. Interestingly, IG differs from Facebook in the sense that you are ‘shadow-banned’, so you won’t be seen in the feed. I also know bands who went through this.
Lars: I know bands who used e.g. hashtags that were not ‘preferred’ and it lead to these consequences.
As a newcomer band, what would be your advice to other newcomer bands?
H: Just do it! Most newcomers have these big visions and ambitions. They wanna bring out big masterpieces from the beginning and have big expectations but if one is stuck with these aspects, most bands seem to split up before they even get bigger so my advice would be just do it and carrying on instead of putting big ambitions and expectations from the start. Otherwise, it would be just too much challenge and load!
L: Do not want everything at once.
H: Just small steps. And depending on the progress, go on with that. Use the chances that you have, like with social media. Be creative and active. Like if you have only 3 photos on Instagram, do not expect big labels to contact you.
Coming to the end of the interview…. What are Beton Braut’s plans for this year?
H: World domination! *laughs* We hope to release the remaining two parts of the trilogy this year and also plan to release our debut album. In general, we plan to play more live shows definitely! I will find a way to make it work and I believe that it will go smoothly if you believe and work on it.
Special thanks to Lars and Henrike! The band is currently on tour in Germany in various dates and is more than eager to play live! So catch them live and/or book them if you can!