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Urban Interviews: Judith Haustein

Much like its namesake, Judith Haustein’s latest record ‘The Flood’ is an unpredictable entity, brimming with explosive tension and high-scale emotional poignance. It’s not something that is easily described in the general terms we use to describe music on a day-to-day basis; it packs a far larger punch. Speaking to the artist herself we had the privilege of finding out how it all came to be…

UR: How did you get into music in the first place?

My nan taught me piano from when I was about four years old. When I was fourteen I borrowed my dad’s guitar and taught myself how to play and sing. My first band I formed shortly after – I had learned the entire Nirvana unplugged album by heart for a band audition so that inspired me a lot to start writing my own songs on the guitar. I bought an electric guitar, started listening to a lot of Hendrix and stopped my piano lessons. Before I went to study music (jazz) in London in 2002 I had various student bands and was performing on a regular basis in and around Stuttgart. I think I have never been as productive in terms of song-writing as then – I must have written more than a hundred songs during that period. 

UR: Did you have other goals/dreams if it wasn’t going to be music?

Yes! I wanted to become an Astronaut, an Astronomer, then a Psychologist and I always  wanted to make music videos. Actually I just recently discovered a new hobby when editing my music video(s).

UR: How do you spend most of your spare time outside of music?

I am incredibly lucky! I have the sweetest two year old princess at home that needs my love and attention. Apart from that I love going into nature, I am a passionate runner and go to the forest very often. I also love hiking and spending time with animals. I am vegan and love cooking delicious vegan food. I also enjoy going to museums or art shows and like painting myself.

UR: If you could share the stage with a deceased music star who would it be and why?

John Lennon, Billie Holiday. I just love the emotional profoundness in their voices and personality and the intelligent, rich lyrics, they are so relevant.

UR: What’s your method for discovering new music?

I used to go to gigs but since it’s not possible anymore in the way it was, I discover music mainly over the internet or through recommendations from friends. Sometimes I read articles or reviews online.

UR: How do you think fans will react to The Flood?

I hope that my audience will understand this record and the way it is meant to be working multidimensionally. You can go deeper if you wish but you don’t have to. I purposely didn’t try to be academic on this record on the surface as it possibly would have made it unattractive for a lot of listeners. I just tried to write as intuitively as I could and tried to be real. So I think I will probably attract a new audience and might lose some people on the way as well. I am aware this album is quite shocking. But anything else would not feel authentic and I don’t think it would be right not to be authentic.

In a world where so many things seem out of control, decisions are often made in favour of economic growth rather than the greater good, fronts are hardening because humans are completely losing trust in each other and millions of animals are being killed while a lot of humans are not even aware to what extend this is happening, I personally found it almost impossible to write music that is not scandalizing in some way.

UR: How did the original concept for the new LP come about?

The majority of the songs I wrote between 2015 and 2017 when I was recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder. So most of the tracks are somehow connected to what trauma victims experience emotionally when trying to reconnect with the world. The more I learned to be authentic the more my creativity and my voice were coming back and I realised that, for me, it was the only way to go on musically. Anything else made me go silent again. Once I managed, it was also the best thing I could do to start my healing journey.

When producing the songs in the studio I would have never thought that I would make an album. All I knew was that I needed to produce something that was not supposed to sound soft and compliant, that there had to be harsh noise and chaos next to sweet melodies and comforting harmonies – not only because of what I was going through emotionally but also because of what I experienced when I was trying to identify my role in society as an artist with an unconventional life model and the baggage and the vulnerability that comes with me wherever I go.

My songs also needed less predictable arrangements, simply because confronting these topics I am singing about isn’t straight forward – so it is as if the song and its structure follow your chaotic thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately I experienced that there is a lot of stigmatization out there, which I think shouldn’t be. I have seen people who don’t go into therapy because they are scared of stigmatisation! I hope I can encourage those who experienced trauma of some kind to speak up and find their voice, or to encourage them to express themselves through their art.

UR: Do you have near plans to take the new material on stage?

In 2019 (before Corona) I formed a new six-piece band that exclusively premiered the album live in Stuttgart, with various guest musicians. I really hope that we can get back together again soon and bring the album and some of my older material on stage again. At the moment gigs in Stuttgart are still kind of rare but I am positive this will change when temperatures start rising. In my wildest dreams I am taking this band to England and Spain to play some gigs abroad. But this is just daydreaming so far…

The Flood is out now and available everywhere!

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