Interview: Florian Zimmer of Jersey

PTV talks to the laidback German indie band's keyboard player, ahead of January 25th's Akropolis show with Bratři Orffové

Hailing from nearby Germany, indie-rockers Jersey are one of the many acts on the Lok-Musik label pursuing a highly crafted version of pop music.

Sometimes reminiscent of early Brian Eno, at other times sounding closer to Durutti Column or New Order, Jersey's avant-garde edges aren't likely to bring them a mainstream following anytime soon.

Regardless, many regional fans are finding Jersey's sound a bright spot on the 21st-century musical landscape.

Darrell Jónsson: I hear a bit of shoegazing, indie/noise/pop and other influences but I can't pin them down. I also hear some possible Roxy Music, Eno, Love, and other baroque rock influences. Perhaps even some experimental Brian Wilson and George Martin/Paul McCartney. Are any of these suspicions justified?

Florian Zimmer: Well, we definitely have a pop influence but maybe more Saint Etienne than Roxy Music. Experimental Brian Wilson is also very charming, but the [other] ones you mention... Hmmm, I wouldn't quote them as an influence. The truth is that we are five people with very different backgrounds, which range from SST Records over to Captain Beefheart, to The Feelies, over to The Beatles, back to Basic Channel, up to Anticon, over to Gorillaz, not to mention the weather and all our friends and, yes, Max has quite a lot shoegazing records at home.

DJ: Tell us more about recent influences and/or any general scene or genre you may be in or perceived as being in?

FZ: Right now I enjoy listening very much to the new album by Mike Ladd. Also Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are a recent favorite. Along with that I listen a lot to "old" music - like 60s jazz from Ethiopia, [music on] the Soul Jazz label, or the music of Joe Meek. And the albums of Why? and Fog - I like them a lot. And the more I think about it, the more come to mind, so I'll stop quoting bands here, but these are all influences right now.

I don't know really if I would say that we are part of a certain scene. I would describe us as being good friends with bands like Marsha Qrella or labels like Monikla Records or MORR Music.

DJ: What influences are distinctly German?

FZ: The accent when Marion or me are singing.

DJ: How about Bavaria?

FZ: Mountains, blue sky, snow, good food, Hausmusik [ a record label], The Notwist, Console, Alien Transistor and many others…

DJ: Do you feel any connection to Prague or the nearby regions?

FZ: I've never been in Prague, unfortunately. Max was there with Contriva and The Notwist. And Marion has played there in the 90s with her former band Fred is Dead

DJ: Can you tell us something of the origins of Jersey?

FZ: Well, Marion played in Fred is Dead and Borrowed Tunes and released several recordings on Hausmusik. Unfortunately, those bands stopped about four years ago.

Max also plays guitar in the instrumental band Contriva and has released several records with them and right now they are recording a new album that, hopefully, will see daylight this year. Also, Max is part of The Notwist, who have also started recording their new album.

Noel has his solo project running - simply called Noel - and releases an album on Lok-Musik in 2006.

I played in Fred is Dead and Lali Puna, and was also a member of Iso68, who released four albums on Hausmusik. We are now working on a new album as well. I'm also a member of Saroos, an electronic project with the drummer of Lali Puna and - hello again! - with Max as part of the live band.

Jersey released their first song on Hausmusik's 10th-anniversary compilation, followed by a remix for Ms. John Soda. As a "real" band Jersey has existed since 2005.

DJ: Jersey is currently based in Berlin but what countries/provinces are the members from?

FZ: Marion and me, we are from South Bavaria. Noel comes from the very north of Germany and Max is a natural-born East Berliner.

DJ: Clearly you are in a genre that puts a strong emphasis on studio work and song-craft. How would you describe your creative processes?

FZ: We are not a band that gets song ideas through jamming. Most of the songs are written and recorded before we play them live, so either someone comes up with beats and sounds and then someone has a melody or a guitar part for it. And then we record it and record and record and then we listen to it together and throw out what we don't like and mostly arrange the songs together too. Also, we spend a lot of time searching for sounds and beats. It's important to create most of it from recorded material or samples. I like it most when we sample ourselves and then work with that.

DJ: Can you tell us about your approach to live music?

FZ: Live should be different than the record but the listener should still be able to recognize the songs. So, as a set-up we have three vocalists, two guitars, bass, keys, drums, some electronic stuff and a computer on stage. We adjust the song list as we like.

DJ: What is the future of Jersey?

FZ: We are working on new stuff and hopefully, in August, we'll have everything together. Recently, we released a single with Broadcast.

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