Entrevista en español: http://www.tarjargentina.com/entrevista.php?id=32
A month prior to the first Tarja live CD/DVD/BLURAY, we’d like to introduce you to one of her talented musicians: Christian Kretschmar.
Before we conducted this interview we didn’t know a lot about Christian, and as we did, we hope that you will get to know him a little better! His other projects, his family and his love of music!
How did you meet Tarja? How did you end up in a band with her?
That’s very easy, she gave me a call! (laughs). Actually not a call, it was an email, from Marcelo. But maybe you know that I play in a band called Schiller…
Schiller, yes! You did that song with her…Tired of being alone.
Exactly! And from there she knew me somehow. And there’s another connection through a friend of Marcelo, who is a guy I know quite well, and she was looking for a new keyboard player, so she gave me a call. And of course I said yes! New adventure! I didn’t know anybody there, it was very exciting. I remember totally coming to the first rehearsals because I’d never met anybody in person. Just had a couple of phone calls with Marcelo and…nobody in the band, I’d never met Alex before, though he is German, but there’s no connection…there was no connection…
There is now!
Of course there is now! Or Max, or Kevin…Mike…so that was my beginning in the band. The first tour was in 2009, it was quite a long tour, 6 weeks, through Europe completely. And after that…she called me again!
And now she keeps calling you.
And now she keeps calling me!
What’s it like being in a band with people from so many different countries and backgrounds?
Hmmm…I was already quite used to playing with people from different countries, but not with Finns (laughs).
Are they very different?
They are diff…they are special. There is only one Finn in the band, so…it’s only Max. but he’s a Finn, he’s a proper Finn. No, that’s just a joke, I’m just kidding. I was already pretty used to dealing with different characters from all around the world…but of course every band is very special. The whole kind of music was very new to me, that was the biggest adventure for me, to get used to that kind of playing, it was kind of different from what I did before. So that was my biggest challenge there…rather than dealing with the Finn (laughs).
You are still playing with Schiller, so how do you manage being in both bands at the same time?
I pray for a good schedule to God! (laughs). No, but I try to arrange the things, you know, there are some landmarks, like big tours, album productions and stuff, and you try to advance that early enough, if that’s possible, but of course there are some crossovers that you cannot avoid. So then you have to make a decision. Maybe send somebody else who is playing for you, if it’s possible, but it never happened in these both cases, so…
Very lucky!…so far (he knocks on the table).
What can you tell us about Schiller, for people who might not be familiar with the band?
It’s actually not a band, it’s a project. Actually it’s one guy! (laughs). His name is Christopher and he actually is Schiller. And he invites people to play with him, to sing with him, but he writes the songs, he’s the mastermind. He’s a keyboard player as well, and he…how can I put it…there are different versions of Schiller. There’s a big version with different vocalists from all over the world, which Tarja was a part of in one album, and that’s changing all the time, then there are instrumentalists invited, like Mike Oldfield was there one day…and there’s a core band with 2 drummers, 2 keyboard players, where I am the second one, Christopher is the other, and a bass player and a guitar player…and that’s the core band, and we invite singers, make tours…sometimes it’s only instrumental and purely electronic, we did that right now, it’s only 2 drummers and 2 keyboard players, both drums are purely electronic…so it’s a variety of different versions, and very interesting and very challenging as well, because to play 2 hours of purely instrumental electronic music is something very different from what I do here.
It’s like ambient, electronic music, I like it very much. I really enjoy being part of that project.
So, you play keyboards, you also play cello, what made you choose these instruments?
(Sighs). That’s very easy. My parents are musicians both. My mother plays piano, she’s a professor in a music conservatory…she was, she’s retired now, my father’s a singer, so it was very obvious that I had to..not had to but that I wanted to learn an instrument. And I wanted to play piano, because there was a piano around. I went to my first piano lesson with a piano teacher who was not my mother, because she didn’t want to give me lessons in the very beginning, and I played and he said “You are extraordinarily ungifted for the piano, so you should learn something else, not piano”.
Oh my God! Wow! That was harsh!
Yeah, well…I was about 5 or 6…and he said to me “Why not cello? It’s a nice instrument. It has a nice singing voice and it’s very beautiful.”
And I said “Here’s one…cello!” So I started with the cello and, obviously I returned to the keys not so much later. And I hope I’m not that “extraordinarily ungifted” (laughs).
We don’t think so!
No, but it’s a lot of fun to…actually, I play a lot of instruments, so…I play bass…and I started in my first pop band I was a member of, I was a percussion player. And I sing quite a lot. So, I cannot play saxophone, guitar, but I love music, that’s the key, so whatever instrument you give me I try to play it and if it works…
Which one is your favourite? Keyboards, or…?
Hmmmm actually, the most fun for me to play is bass. But by far I’m not a good bass player like Kevin is, or something. I had a couple of bands where I played bass, and it was a lot of fun, but I cannot tell what’s my favourite instrument. Keyboard playing is for sure the main thing for me. And cello, because I did it always, and some people discover that and they say “Hey, Max has 2 cellos!” But I play one of them! (laughs). So that’s the way it is.
So, you’ve been here in Argentina before…
Last year, that was my first time!
So, now it’s the second time…what do you think about our country? Have you been able to see anything?
I didn’t see too much of the country. Last year I just saw, in brackets, Buenos Aires and Rosario, and Buenos Aires I am still deeply impressed by this beautiful city. For me it’s like…I would have never expected a city like this outside of Europe. It’s not that I think it’s European, it’s a wild mixture…for me, the first impression after a couple of days here, it’s like an extraordinary mix of Paris, London, New York…antiques everywhere, explosions, ten floors of wild, then some New York buildings in the middle of it, the Parisian street café next to a “parrilla”.
By the way, Marcelo, I head him say when we were in Spain a couple of weeks ago, he said “They speak a weird accent here, in Madrid”
Yeah, it’s very different, the accent here.
Different words! A lot of different words.
You don’t have “pequeña” here. It’s not “pequeña”, it’s “chiquita”.
It’s both, actually.
People always look at me like “What…?”
We use more “chiquito” than “pequeño”, but people will understand…
Yeah, people will understand what you’re saying. But “cerveza” (he pronounces it with the accent from Spain), nobody would like me to say that. You don’t lisp here. You don’t to that, I find it very nice, because it’s very hard, “Gracias”. This “shhh” is very funny to me. “Un pollo para ella” (he pronounces that in a “rioplatense” accent: un poshho para eshha). (laughs). That’s really weird! As a European, I really like Spain, I’m quite used to being in Spain, that’s very good. But it’s nice, it’s very Argentinean.
Every language that has spread has different accents, German as well…
And yeah, when we hear people from different parts of Germany, or Austria or Switzerland, and it’s different, different words, different accents…
Of course, if you go to Bavaria, or to Alex’s hometown, it’s very…the area where I come from in Germany, they speak a very clear accent…
You’re from the north, right?
I’m from the north.
I live in Hamburg, I was born a little bit south from there, like 250 km south, that’s the area where you don’t talk any accent, it’s very clear German. But the south, especially the area where Alex is from…he has a very nice accent. I really like it a lot. I envy him for that, because I think it’s a nice regional attribute to have an accent. But to come back to your question, I really feel extraordinarily well in Argentina because I have a big favor for red wine, and…
Yes, I eat, I love food in every variety, so I’m quite…I fit here. And the weather’s nice. It always has been friendly to me here, when I was here. I am a little bit sunburned in Argentina, from when we were in Costa Rica the last couple of days on the beach, so…that’s from there!
And, before you came here for the first time, did you know anything from our country?
Of course, a lot of football…
Yeah, of course! No, but actually not too much. Not too much, I just knew where it was. I don’t know…yeah, but of course the basic information, of your history, not too much but basic things…of course that Buenos Aires is the capital, but I didn’t know the details. Of course, after these short visits I don’t know much more, but I’m starting to gather my Argentinean knowledge.
But it’s a different “feel” when you are in a country…
Totally! Last time I was here for 4 weeks in South America, I really promised to myself that I gotta learn Spanish a bit more…but I failed totally (laughs). The last year was…my private life was a little bit, it’s quite exciting, because I have a couple of children in my home, so there was no time to really learn Spanish. But next time I come again, I will improve my Spanish.
I really like Germany, I think you have very beautiful things, very beautiful things from the past…
But the thing is, it’s a very small place! because when I didn’t know about South America, the distances you have here, if you see…of course, there’s a whole continent, but in Europe you are used to, let’s say, you enter the plane in Hamburg and 2:30 hours later you are in Spain. But if you fly from Bogotá to Sao Paulo, it’s 6 hours. And you’re only in a little bit of the continent, there’s lots more to go in the end, so that’s things you don’t know as a European when you’ve never been here. Maybe you can, in theory, you can say “Uhhh, ohhh!”, but to experience how big Brazil and Argentina are, if you fly over to Chile, pfff, 2 more hours to go from Santiago to Buenos Aires. Unbelievable!
Are you guys nervous about the DVD recording?
Yeah, nervous and very, very excited! Because there will be a couple of new things…guests…surprises…and we don’t know what’s actually gonna go down…
Yeah, not really! So it will be all very exciting.
Have you played for a DVD recording before?
So you know the drill!
Yes, a little bit, but everyone is different, of course, so…and it depends on the night, every show is different, there are shows like this, and there are shows like that, shows where everything is fine, technically, shows where you have some problems…that’s usual! It’s a complex animal, a rock show.
You are recording 2, this time.
I don’t know if that’s better or worse…
We’ll see! That is something I never did before. Two nights being recorded. It’s something new to me, so…
Kevin was telling us that the shows are very different, one night from the next…
I think so, yes!
He said that brought the nerves because you’re not doing the same set list every night so you feel the pressure to get it right…
Yeah. Because usually you know the set list very, very well after so many shows, but we keep changing it everyday, quite a lot sometimes, so you never get used to it very much, and that keeps it very exciting!
It keeps it interesting for you guys!
I like it, actually, for me it’s totally OK if we play every night the same, because I never get bored playing the same songs. You can always try to improve what you do no matter what song it is, so for me it’s more the flow between the songs, and you know exactly what’s next, it’s like…I like it very much. I’m not at all bored playing 50 shows with the same set lists.
Do you have any plans after the shows are over? Either with Tarja, or with Schiller?
You mean after this tour is over?
Yeah! When you finish touring…
Hmmm…first of all, I’m gonna get home. That’s point one of my schedule. And then, there will be another tour with Schiller at the end of the year, November, December, big arenas in Germany…I don’t know, maybe Switzerland and Austria…until then, let’s see, I don’t know, actually.
Are you recording with Tarja for her next album?
That’s the plan, yes. But that, as a keyboard player, I can do it very good at home, working with the internet. So I don’t necessarily have to come here. Maybe I come here for a couple of days, I did it last time, but it was just for saying hello, and we recorded in Finland…
I think that Mike said that the recordings are going to be here, this time…
As far as I know, that’s the plan, yeah.
Finally, we ask all of her musicians this…what do you think about Tarja, both as a person and as an artist?
As I said before, the music is very challenging for me because I never did that kind of music before, and for me my favorite parts of playing keyboards together, there’s piano work, as well as synth, sounds…big symphonic orchestra arrangements…it’s the best of all worlds joined together. After a couple of years working with her, I can’t say a bad word about her. I feel very blessed to be invited to this still. See the world, play music, meet nice people…eat good steaks, have nice wine…could be worse! (laughs). Being away from your family sometimes is hard, of course, but that’s the deal. You can’t invite everybody to Hamburg to come to see the shows.
Does your family go to see you when you play in Germany?
Yes, of course! My son is a little bit young, he’s only 9 months, but my daughter visited us last year. She was in Berlin, sound check, in Hamburg of course, and we got her this huge ear-things…protectors, for her…pink! I guess they had a Hello Kitty logo on them, I don’t know…she loves to run around…of course she’s a little bit scared of Mike…nah, she loves to come, and my wife of course, she’s a frequent guest whenever I pass through. That’s one of the advantages of Germany, it’s small enough. And we always play in Hamburg, there’s no way out! You have to play a show in Hamburg.
Do you sleep at home when you’re in Hamburg?
Ahhh, that’s a very good question, since my daughter is a little bit…she’s very sad when I’m away from home, and I’m only there for one night, or not even for that because we travel to a town and we’re there in the morning, and then we play at night and then we drive away with the bus overnight, then I don’t go home. And we keep it secret from her, and then it’s better to return after four weeks…
And then she’s really happy!
Yeah, and we don’t have to say goodbye after just 4 hours. or just for one day, it’s a little bit too short. She’s too small. But usually of course I go home! To do my laundry…(laughs)
Thank you very much for talking to us!
No, thank you for coming here!
Interview conducted on March 2012 in Buenos Aires by: Erika van de Staaij and Soledad Diez
Transcription: Erika van de Staaij
Editing: Milagros Pérez
Fotos: Soledad Diez