BONAPARTE

Chengdumusic (CDM) : Hey Tobias. Many thanks for doing the interview


Tobias Jundt aka BONAPARTE (Tobias) : you're welcome!

 


CDM : First question's an obvious one. Have you ever toured or been to China before?


Tobias : no, we have never been to China! i probably have been standing in an asian airport on my way to New Zealand, but we have never ever performed a concert in China. we are very excited to experience a new culture and people. 

 


CDM : What do you feel is special about Chinese crowds?


Tobias : basically playing the same music in front of a different crowd in a new country, can change a song into something new. if i play the same song in Berlin, Germany or Casablanca, Morrocco or Wellington, New Zealand or New York, USA - it will become a different song, a different lyric, a new beat. not because we play it different but because every crowd reacts different. some are loud and sing along or shout and dance wildly, others just stand still and listen and clap in the end. i am very curious about the reactions of the chinese audiences.

 


CDM : How many languages do you speak? You speak any Chinese?


Tobias : i speak english, german, swiss-german and french perfectly. then i can fake a lot of spanish and italian and some other languages but i literally do not speak one single word of chinese. i wish i could, because there is a whole new culture hidden like a treasure box. and i hope that one day i will be able to read your books, sing your songs and order a meal in chinese. but it will be a long way. i will definitely try to write a first little song in chinese, if i find someone who will help me.

 


CDM : Could you tell us a little about the relationship between the music and your performance live shows, how do they come about? Do the performances drive the music or is it the other way around?


Tobias : the music is the core of everything. i have been consciously writing music since the age of six. my way of communicating  with the world, my way of making people laugh or contemplate is through writing songs. sometimes a song is exactly what i mean, sometimes it is just a role-play - i try to meander between art and entertainment, between comedy and statement. so the music is there first and i tend to record it alone in the studio. but when i go on tour and perform live, and it is what i like doing a lot, then i want to bring my friends, members of my family and other performers with me. it is more fun to travel together and we can blend different areas like music, dance, fashion design, a.o. into a live show. it becomes more all encompassing and visually stimulating. and to me a live show has to be stimulating and moving the senses - whether they are simple or opulent does not matter.

 


CDM : Do your costumes and roles follow any specific band mythology?


Tobias : i'd say there is a wide variety of reasons for each costume. some have a deeper personal meaning to the performer, others are created out of fun on the road. i usually have a vision before a new tour and then try to build around these ideas with the dancers. in the beginning i was just wearing masks because i wanted to hide and did not want to be seen by anyone. on this chinese tour i will actually be the most natural i have ever been in a bonaparte show. i go back to my roots because i am in a good place with myself and my music at the moment. i will try to wear simple clothing in my own style and just throw myself into the performance of the songs. but i am sure my dancers will bring a few suitcases full of costumes.

 


CDM : Have you ever played a show where nobody's moving and everybody's just kinda staring?


Tobias : we were very fortunate that the energy hidden in this music is normally sparking a flame to the audience. but i do remember some awkward shows, where people did not physically move but then applaud after a song. i never blame an audience though - even if it is extremely hard to play when there is no immediate reaction from the crowd. but i see it as my mission to make that connection, so it is my job to perform and play until everyone in the house is connected and moving within the same beat.

 


CDM : We heard recently about a German "pirate party" talking about scrapping the copyright rules in favour of a "Kulturmark" tax system. What are your thoughts on this and copyright in general? 


Tobias : i am a songwriter, i create songs. as long as brands are allowed to patent objects and make a profit of it, i will want to have a copyright for my songs. it is hard enough to be economic as an artist and the copyright to your own creations is like the last bastion we have. but at the same time everything should be available all the time to everyone, that is one of the achievements of our time. we will have to find a way to walk this ridge, to make sure art is in constant flow because art is always based on something that was there before, everything is a cycle, nothing is ever completely new, it is always an answer or continuation to something, that has been there before. at the same time, artists work very very very hard forging to create something original, something that moves the word, something to hold on to when times get rough - and that should have a higher value than it currently has in the world.

 


CDM : Does the failure to recognise copyright make you angry as an artist?


Tobias : i find it quite ignorant that people treat copyright with contempt - just because they can and certain things are easy to copy these days - but they accept that they have to pay for an airplane ticket or food or shoes, because there is no way to get these things for free. it is an odd misconception. but at the end of the day, all i can do is write more songs and better songs. i have to concentrate my energy on creating. every period in time, had different laws of what was considered worth something or not, what is considered worthy of a law. a copyright in music basically exists only since 1851. women can vote in Switzerland since 1971. we can't take anything for granted. we can only try to make the world a fair place by creating great content and make people feel that it is worth fighting for.

 


CDM : Where's your favourite place to play in Germany and in which cities have you had the best response outside of the country?


Tobias : berlin is the best... the audience is peaceful but wild and physically dancing and engaging in the concert. it is a lot of fun. we also like Hamburg and Munich and most other German cities. in general the music of BONAPARTE works better in bigger cities. we also enjoy playing for Russian audiences or back in my homeland of Switzerland and one of my personal favorite is New Zealand i love touring these islands and playing for the kiwi people. playing in the USA is always very interesting because people are not used the the kind of show we play.

 


CDM : Being based in Berlin, a city thats known for it's "Duft", did you bring any extra mask protection to combat Chengdu's record breaking air quality readings of late?


Tobias : look, i am from Switzerland - the best air ever! so to me Berlin is somewhere in the middle. you scare me a bit now, maybe i should bring a breathing protection... well, we will see!

 


CDM : Your 2012 album "Sorry we're open" had a lot of collaborations with other big German electronic artists such as Housemeister and Siriusmo. The title suggests this was part of the album concept, true or just a coincidence?


Tobias : it was just a concidence. Siriusmo and Housemeister are both very good friends of mine since the days i arrived in Berlin. we are friends and this third album just provided enough space in the concept to do collaborations. the first two albums "Too Much" and "My Horse Likes You" were records i pretty much recorded myself. this third one was supposed to be a bit of community effort, so i invited my friends to the studio.

 


CDM : What sort of stuff do you listen to to relax at home?


Tobias : ha! if i listen to music at home it is things very different from what i do in BONAPARTE. i listen to old vinyl records or current artists i might have heard the name of curious to hear what they sound like. but in general i like older music... i like the fact that a blues record can make me travel to 1920 and a jazz record can transport me to 1940 and a japanese artist can make me travel to the east and a hiphop record can catapult me to brooklyn. music is like food - if i feel like chinese soup dumplings i will not go eat a burger. if i feel like a dub-step record, then i won't listen to folk music.

 


CDM : In your opinion, who's the best frontman in music today??


Tobias : well, that must be myself of course! haha. that is very hard to say, because it depends if you are looking for a frontman who is all about action like iggy pop or someone who is all about emotion like bjork or someone who is all about lyrics. i hardly ever go see other shows because we play almost all the time... so in my world, i have to be the best frontman and entertain myself every night... 

 


CDM : Sex, drugs or rock n roll, which and why?


Tobias : rocknroll is music and it is a chemical reaction in your brain and we do it because we feel love - so it is everything all the time. these words can be taken literal or they can be looked at as metaphors - and as such, they are the motor of almost everything people do in the world.

 


CDM : One final question.....If you'd had the chance to interview Chairman Mao, what would you have asked him?


Tobias : let's jam a song together! do you want to play the drums or the bass?

For more info on BONAPARTE check the following links:

Weibo http://www.weibo.com/u/3800570610

Douban http://site.douban.com/223014/

BONAPARTE play Chengdu's Little Bar on Saturday 16th November. Tickets are 50 rmb presale and 60rmb on the door. Doors open 8pm.

BONAPARTE | ChengduMusic.com

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