I am a Singer/Songwriter.
I was born in Germany, but write in what is essentially an American idiom. Growing up with British forces radio, my first influences were already British and American music as presented by Bob Harris, John Peel and the wonderful Alan Bangs with his Nightflight program, which I listened to under the covers at night on a transistor radio with a tiny ear-piece.
When I was old enough -and had a music degree under my belt- I moved to England in pursuit of fame and fortune in rock’n roll. After 25 long years I came back with neither fame nor furtune, but with a perfect command of English, a lot of musical experiences, many stories and a personal style to my singing, playing and songwriting.
I sing over a guitar backing, like most singer/songwriters. However, I play the guitar differently. It has been said that I play like a drummer, which was my musical training, and that exactly sums it up: I play acoustic (I love the sound of steel on wood) with a flat pick and a lot of power. I have had an acoustic guitar built by the wonderful Lakewood company with an extra wide neck for my clumsy fingers but also for added sustain. Once I let a chord ring it just won’t die down. All my songs and my adaptations of other’s songs are played in the open position to allow the guitar to ring as freely as possible. I do a lot of stopping of notes with the left hand to achieve a heavily percussive effect to my playing. “The funkiest acoustic in the West” as a punter recently described it after a gig, and I have nothing to add.
Over this solid basis I try to sing with as straight and open a voice as I can manage: No artifice, and no holding back.
I also have developed a clear understanding of how I can express myself as a white, northern European in an American musical form. I can not and will not write about specifically American experiences, like rodeo or pickup trucks or motels, I do not have these experiences and don’t want to pretend I do. There is enough universal ground that I can cover (heartache hurts the same whereever you are from) and personal relationships also have universal truths that anyone can relate to.
As I have said, I am a singer/songwriter, and as there are so many great songs by other writers out there, I sing some of them. But here I also have to be very careful as to my choices: I once saw a very pale blond Danish musician, by day an accountant as he later told me, trying to inhabit the “Hoochy Coochy Man”. I cannot possibly pick a song that deals specifically with some aspect of the black experience in America. There has to be a universal truth in the song, one that I can legitimately identify with.