circus maximus

There are other Worlds

Abstraite mais esthétiquement plus proche de l'écriture classique que des données algoryhtmiques, la musique de Niobe nous propulse dans une dimension où l'expérience du réel s'effectue à travers les dérives mentales de sa génitrice, Yvonne Cornelius. Sur Tse Tse, son dernier album, les ectoplasmes de sa voix croonée ou murmurée percutent les fantômes électroniques lo-fi de son post-cabaret aléatoire, tandis que sur fond d'atmosphères versatiles et de pérégrinations entre passé et futur, ambiances de musiques de films âbimées et fragments de jazz synthétique outré se mesurent à des arrangements à l'acoustique cisaillée. Dans cet entretien, Yvonne Cornelius évoque Cologne, sa scène musicale, le rôle de ses amis ainsi que son authentique et troublante faculté à glisser dans un monde parallèle habité par d'étranges figures, comme autant d'illusions et de faux-semblants à l'image de son art musical.

I do not know much about you. How would you introduce yourself ?

I'm someone who's working everyday for the own world of music and a refinement of the possibilies of what a singer can do with the own voice. It is a hard work that needs me over a decade.

What is your musical training ? Are you a multi-instrumentist ?

No, i am not a multi-instrumentalist, i only play my guitar and piano. I work with my sequencer, which has that special, famous, warm sound: the eps (with only 2 megabite.) This nice keyboard is a magical wonder with its jungle of possibilities. I also use an 8 track machine, a wonderful old tascam that has a warm sound. I record my guitar and vocals, my strings........ i only sample my own voice.... with my band echo i can "polish" the pure sound. I compose all the string-arrangements myself sometimes with my stringperformer from Hohner otherwise with the asr 10. Drumcomputer and bass, effectmachines doing the rest.

Why choosing the name Niobe ? In reference to the Greek myth ?
Yes there is a reason for the name niobe, from the greek mythology. I don`t see the bad side of her. In general i don`t have much interest in mythology and religion, but in this case i would really like to say something. I dislike the continuing moral opinion that everthing which is ugly, serious, sad and suffering is of greater value. In the sense that it is more valuable and realistic than the beauty of nature and peace. I call that, like niobe, catastrophic fatalism. I think that niobe is a good example of what the church and mythology have done to humanity. The sense of beauty is confused with vanity, consoling frightened people with self glorification. and for such a reasons the 14 children and her husband were murdered by apollo.

According to me, your musical work seems to be associated to the exploration of memory...

I prefer to say, it`s laying down my dreams or favourite films, which run through my head and let me fall into a parallel world with a network of ten thousand figures and scenes with building-stones, wild plants and different lights.....

Tom Steinle said he cames to discover Penguin Cafe Orchestra through you. Is it an important influence for you ? What are your strongest influences ? At first glance, one could think they are numerous, there are so many differents styles, genres, textures in your music...
Penguin Cafe Orchestra is an important influence of my music, they played in Frankfurt it was the first concert in my life and the best i ever had seen. With Caspar Brötzman massaker at first (he was the part for the war-theme) and then Simon Jeffes and his "combo" orchestra, made the peace; this was really a sensation. I'll never forget. I was very young and start with the idea to make my own music if i get older. and begun to work, approach to become a composer.

On your latest album, a great number of people are thanked. Are collaborations with other people necessary to your inspiration ?
Not so much inspirations. This people i thanked, are good friends of mine, who believe in me and did good work to cheer me up, in bad times. and some did bravourous work for my cover or the mastering, for example; Leif Trenkler painted the fantastic cover and aquarelles, Josef Suchy had a big fun to make the effects on my Black It Out, Steffen Lindemer played the guitar for Little Things Of Frenzy, i'm very thankfuly for this nice play and wonderful evening. Janeta Schude my long-time good friend and a poet who writes the lyrics for my songs, helped in so much difficult times, so that's the reason i dedicate this album to her.

Could you talk about your working process ? Is there a rule? I would readily think of you in a spontaneous process of creation but maybe I'm wrong...
First of all: no archivs ( my own rule). It is a long process till i finished a song. like a sisiphous; i can work hours and suddently i see the song is not to rescue, and need to erase the whole work with one fingertip -off. Sometimes till in the morning i stand in my studio, and forget the time. If i am too tired to creep home....i sleep there.

Are lyrics important for you ?
Lyrics are important for me if they are great and precious, like Janeta Schude`s. We have a mutually perceptive and understanding way of working together. My choose of tunes and sounds tell the same stories as Janetas and her words.

Could you talk about the use and treatment of your voice that sometimes makes me think of an ectoplasmic feeling ? And with the stylistic associations/oppositions that caracterise your music, you manage to subtly create sound illusions... There is a magical dimension...

I am very impressed by David Lynches strange figures. the film ''Twin Peaks'' with the little man who is dancing in the dream of seargent cooper, is unforgettable. Or Gilliam`s film "Brazil" the one and only film i saw 11 times. Jean Cocteaus images films and " Vertigo" by Hitchcock are great influences. "Orphee Negro" everytime i need to cry, or James Bond`s voodoman....etc etc

You seem to be particularly close to the Cologne's musical scene ? Is it a scene where people are close to each other ?

Yes, everybody concentrates to work for his own music and after the long day, meets with the other musician in a bar or make birthdayparties or dinners together.... `are good friends. really friendly people, i mean. If you need something, you'll find helpful hands everywhere.

How do you proceed when you play live ? There is such a richness and such a sonorous variety in your tracks...
There are different ways to play, for example my last concert was with two friends of mine. we made a kind of interpretation, new and strange covers of my songs. One played guitar and the other friend played minimal percussions and used a lot of sound toys. cause i need to concentrate completly in singing. When i am on stage i am so busy with my vocal difficulties... my songs have always diffrent key of tune, that is sometimes to complicated so i can`t play guitar or piano parallel.

Future plans ?
My next records and i hope in collaboration with two good violinists.

Your favourite records ?
1. Stabat Mater by Pergolesi
2. La Pulicinella of Strawinsky
3. everything of Penguin Cafe Orchestra
4. everything of Fela Kuti
5. soundtrack of Visconti's "Death in Venice"
6. Grace by Jeff Buckley
7. some songs of Ricky Lee Jones
8. Bach Cantate sung by Janet Baker
9. everything of Yma Sumac
10. Yiddish Masterpieces


Radioersatz (Tomlab) 2001
Tse Tse (Sonig) 2003

réalisée par Frédéric Foreau en août 2003.
Remerciements à Frank Dommert.