Swiss singer/songwriter Biggles is something of a veteran on the indie music scene in Switzerland. He released his first album in 2004, quickly followed by another three albums that firmly established him as one of Zurich’s finest purveyors of melancholy, other-worldly pop. His fifth album, the dreamy, acoustic Cloudspeaker, draws inspiration from his continued fascination with ‘Life On Mars’- era David Bowie, and the dream and mystery of outer space, in his typically imaginative, thoughtful way.
Fresh off the release of Cloudspeaker, Biggles recently took a few minutes out from his promotional duties to talk with Bandplanet about his formative musical influences, what gets him out of bed in the morning, and the buzz of hearing your own songs on the radio.
Congratulations on your wonderful new album, Cloudspeaker. How do you feel now that it is out there in the world?
I feel great. The process of making an album is different every time and every time you’re feeling anxious about how things are going to develop. This time I’ve been lucky: Everything just fell into place.
You recorded Cloudspeaker in a beautiful old stone manor house on the shores of the Breton coast – how much did the surroundings influence the album?
Very much. Not necessarily in terms of song structures, harmonies or lyrics but definitely in terms of atmosphere and sound. We tried to capture the feeling of standing at the end of the world.
Tell us a little about your creative process – how do you write the lyrics/music? Do you write/arrange with your band or work alone?
For a long time now I’ve been writing the songs on my own on an acoustic guitar. I simply sit around in my apartment and wait for a good line to come. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer, sometimes everything starts to gear up pretty fast. Once the song is more or less defined I start to work on a home demo. Then I show the songs to the band and see what they think.
What was your creative inspiration for Cloudspeaker?
I don’t really rely on having a creative idea when I write material. I just write the songs one after the other and in the end they define the overall topic themselves. Creative inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. Mostly it’s just something that happened during the day, which starts to come to life in a song more or less obviously.
You are getting a lot of airplay recently on Swiss radio stations, which is great. Do you think radio airplay is still important these days for musicians?
In any case yes! A lot of people still listen to radio, and you also earn a little money for every play. Airplay can still give you a boost in promoting your music. It also gives you a moral boost when you happen to sit in front of the radio at the moment they play your song.
Actually we released the official video for «Let a New World Begin» just a couple of days ago. I’m very happy with the mood Zweihund have created there – I can’t stop watching my own video! Watch it here:
You released your first album in 2004, and Cloudspeaker is now your fifth album. Do you feel the music industry has changed over the years that you have been writing and recording, and in what way?
I have never been a part of music’s big business, so I can’t say much about that. For me it always meant a lot of effort to put out an album. I guess that the comfort zone for many big artists has changed in a drastic way, however. I guess it was easier for some artists and companies out there to make their money a decade ago, compared to today.
As an independent musician, what are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? Is it easier or more difficult to be an independent musician these days?
I think for an independent musician, things haven’t changed that dramatically. You still work mainly for the music and not for the money. When people download mp3s and torrents, they usually take those files from big names and companies, not from small indie artists.
Best live performance?
Just a couple of days ago in Zurich. We played a lot of new songs for a big crowd. It was bliss.
What brought you to music?
I don’t know. Music itself. It was there before I can remember.
What are your key musical influences?
David Bowie, Radiohead. Recently I’ve been very much into French stuff like Sebastien Tellier, Air or Benjamin Biolay
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
All the things that are on my mind. If there’s nothing on my mind I’m a very good sleeper. I can easily sleep for 13 hours at once.
Now that Cloudspeaker has been released, what are your plans for the future?
To play a lot of gigs and yesterday I’ve been thinking about writing new songs. I’m like a little hamster, I can’t stop running.
Thanks so much for talking to Bandplanet, and best of luck with the new album!
Cloudspeaker is out now on Chop Records.
Catch Biggles live here.