Close-up: Kristiana Roemer – House of Mirrors

(written by Kristiana Roemer)

“When recording the record HOUSE OF MIRRORS, some of these songs were already as old as 5-6 years at that point while some others I’d written only a week before the recording session. The overarching idea of the record and common thread between the pieces came together once I had written the title track ‘House of Mirrors’ which is one of the more recent compositions. It’s funny how that can go – I had been sitting on a lot of songs of mine, but the way I see it is that the selection really needed that title track for them to come together in a way that they make sense with each other.

Working within a super tight budget, we recorded as much as we could that day – getting through most of the tunes I had hoped to record (though not all). Originally, I had ambitiously wanted to pack a big bunch of musical ideas and influences into the record. This I didn’t succeed in doing, however, because I decided to sacrifice some pieces with the intention of keeping the record whole and coherent in itself as a complete work. In the case of one of the tunes, for example, I had already spent countless hours listening back to the takes and I even finished mixing it, but I ultimately decided not to include it on the record. In the case of another tune, when listening back to the takes I simply felt like it did not carry the spirit that I hoped it would – despite the band having played it beautifully, of course. And so, I decided to re-record it in a different format, after the fact, with Boccato on percussion. Personally, I considered it an incredibly interesting process to be working with the limitations and the flow of things, forcing me to be making spontaneous yet very clear decisions during the production of this record.

Most of the tracks’ lyrics originated as poetry (whether my own or that of others) which I put to music. ‘House of Mirrors’ (which is the title track and the overall concept or thought experiment of the whole record) is fundamentally about self-reflection and our reflection in our environment. However, the idea also arose from the fact that many people often struggle with wanting to keep all their options open instead of committing to clear decisions – increasingly nowadays, so it seems. The thought experiment of a museum in which one can set up, understand, and embrace all potential reflections and aspects of ourselves without having to act upon them can help, I believe, to find inner peace within oneself.

It probably stands out to some that this is a bilingual record. Since both English and German are my native languages, I chose to incorporate both. I found that Hermann Hesse’s poem ‘Manchmal’ was particularly fitting to this record, because it is about a human looking to nature and seeking their reflection in and connection to it. Personally, I understand it as a human questioning how to mend their relationship with it – I understand this in the sense of protecting the environment as well as understanding and honoring our own nature within.

Felice Schragenheim’s love poem ‘Deine Hände’ struck me for its simplicity, and its caring, confident, self-sufficient tone. Schragenheim, a young German-Jewish resistance fighter during Germany’s Nazi regime, lived an extremely difficult and short-lived life, but she nevertheless followed her ambitions and wrote poetry. Her love story with Lily Wust is both tragic and inspirational. When writing the music, I wanted to convey this lightness and positivity, mixed with its depth and seriousness.By the way, in coherence with the mirror theme of the overall record, I personally like to imagine these words as being directed towards the narrator itself as an additional, subtle, abstract second-layer message: By knowing and loving you – my lovers from the present and the past – I am coming to realize that I was truly seeking to love myself, because the two go hand-in-hand, like the two sides of a coin, and cannot exist without the other. (To be clear, I am simply sharing an additional abstract layer of what I personally heard in these words when reading them – it would be a much too far-fetched interpretation to claim that Schragenheim’s poem actually conveys this.)

These are just some additional thoughts that I have not previously mentioned in my liner notes or elsewhere. Please feel free to read my liner notes, if you’d like to read more about the idea behind this record.
You can find the music on iTunes, BandcampAmazon, or at any other record store.”

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The ‘Close-up’ series contains insight provided by artists about their work.

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