Susie Asado

The following is a conversation with my sister, Anja Conrad. In February 2015 she shot the footage of the “State of Undress” video in her hometown of Oberursel. We plundered her closet, which is more like a costume department, and ran around town taking portraits of fictional employment. These portraits are loosely based on a series of photographs of my sister’s called “Men at Work.” The images are of men in all kinds of working situations: construction workers, ice cream vendors, balloon salesmen, and window washers.

JOSEPHA:
How long have you been working on the “Men at Work” series?

ANJA:
Seemingly all along. I was sorting through my old negatives around 2007 and discovered these portraits of men working, and it made me remember what it was like to photograph in the street back in the nineties. Cheerful construction workers would kid around with you and start a fun conversation and eventually ask to be in a picture. But in between these posed images of workers, there were also the ones that caught them in some private moment, not confronting the camera. These were the portraits I started to get interested in and continued to shoot with intent. I like the idea that the workers called for my attention, and now they’ve got it. In 2009 I started to exhibit “Men at Work” and in 2013 I made a portfolio of 15 prints. I still want to do more with this project.

JOSEPHA:
You told me you are calling the stills you took for “State of Undress” “Susie at Work.” How do these images relate to your “Men at Work” photographs?

ANJA:
“Men” and “Susie at Work” are about seeing work as an identity. The “Men at Work” series are portraits of men that I do not know anything about and attach their momentary activity to a work-related identity. By calling them balloon salesman and street cleaner, etc. I am pondering questions about labor, immigration, and the socioeconomic landscape men navigate today. And “Susie at Work” is about your identity, your ideas about work. A personal and psychological journey that is also part of my history. The depth of what we were doing started to dawn on me while we were working on your video. We, sisters from a house of similar dreams, now middle-aged, noticing what we have not become, and what we have.

What was your experience of this? Did you think of my “Men at Work” while you were writing “State of Undress”?

JOSEPHA:
The idea wasn’t there when I was writing “State of Undress.” The song wasn’t much of an idea when I started. Just a list of the things that I wanted to be. I didn’t think it would really work as a song. But when we recorded it, I knew it needed visuals, for the humor to come through, for the tragedy to come through. It was then that I thought of “Men at Work.” I love your images of these hard-working guys. They have changed the way I perceive people at their jobs. Especially the people working out in traffic, cleaning, fixing buildings or selling things at street corners. I guess I started to see myself that way too: loading up the car with gear, packing and unpacking before and after shows, putting on makeup, being a Susie secretary sitting at her desk answering e-mails. Imagining me inside one of your photographs made me work harder. Seriously. So then to actually get to star in all these images of yours is really amazing.

ANJA:
Yes, images can be powerful and influence everyday situations! For example, when I descend large staircases I think: “I am ready for my close-up,” imagining that insane look on Gloria Swanson’s aging face in Sunset Boulevard.

JOSEPHA:
I guess for me the real difference is that “State of Undress” is a list of future dreams and wishful employment and that “Men at Work” are not fantasies. These are documents of men doing their job, although your photographs of them seem highly fictionalized. How do you create this sense of fiction? That a street-flower-salesman in the rain seems like a fantasy job? And some of your construction worker shots: they look like portraits of heroes.

ANJA:
I get to live out my romantic and slightly morbid side with this series. I adore men and I am especially enthused like a proud wife or mother when they work hard. This desire might make these photographs look fantasy-hero-like, wishing for them feelings of pride and that they know that they are needed and greatly appreciated. This adds a bit of glitter and fairy dust. Do you identify with these working men? If yes, in what way?

JOSEPHA:
I always wanted to be hard-working. I liked the idea of getting dirty from work and I imagined myself a kind of hard-working dude when I grew up. I liked the idea of power tools and driving trucks. I didn’t turn out to be one of those guys though. It remained a fantasy. Even power tools are still a fantasy, I am utterly afraid of them. But I love driving and I can get nerdy about my instruments and gear. We only grew up with seemingly traditional gender roles. Our mother always made us aware of gender being a construct and of breaking out of imposed roles. Talk about someone who was never afraid of power tools or getting dirty from work. When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

ANJA:
At art school. I discovered that I liked the method of photography. I was able to take pictures like sketches, until a picture emerged that interested me. This way I was able to find my way into a series, or make painting-like singular works without having to deal with a blank page. Blank pages gave me “writer’s block.” Working in photography also seemed exciting back then and more contemporary. Learning about film and photo theory and what happened once humans were able to fix “reality” in a photograph was completely mind-blowing to me and still is. Also, using equipment and chemicals back then and computers today are a challenge. I want to know how that stuff works.

JOSEPHA:
Are there other things you really wanted to be? Want to make a list?

ANJA:
Groundbreaking architect, film director, painter, scientist, thinker, composer, athlete. The groundbreaking part is key here. Another part of me wanted to be pretty and seen, like a model or an actress. But the need to be masterful with equipment, and be the author of my work, dominated.

JOSEPHA:
In what ways do you think our upbringing shaped the things we wanted to be when we grew up? Clearly the “groundbreaking” comes from our megalomaniac lineage, our privileged upbringing.

ANJA:
Yes, but it’s more complex than that. Our parents came from extremely modest backgrounds and made something grand of their lives. Our mother is from a mill in the countryside of Austria and our father a refugee of former East Germany. He had no consistent secondary education, not to mention a university education. I think he started working when he was eleven. On both sides of our families there is a code of working hard. Of millers, cooks, of fabric merchants and lumber workers. At night we would hear our mother’s sewing machine motor on and our father coming home late from work to continue with the clicking sound of the typewriter. There was always a restlessness, a busyness, and an endless doing and fixing of things.

JOSEPHA:
Yes, I think the image of the hard-working dude came from our mother and her brother. They were always moving things around and our uncle was always using power tools and losing fingers roofing and doing construction work. All the adults around us were also making everything up as they went. Selling china, selling antiques, fixing houses, and our father with his totally made-up career as an advertiser. Ingenious and brave.

ANJA:
Yes, everything was about working hard and being brave about it. No one complained about working, and was too proud to admit that it was existential. Mom as hairdresser, seamstress, electrician, minor surgeries were preformed at home, etc. It was normal to do things ourselves, and there was a general mistrust of professionalism. Maybe not mistrust, more a belief it was a waste of time and money. Why pay for things we can do ourselves. A “problem” I still suffer from today. Time passes with constant busyness around the home instead of freeing time for “masterful art creations.” Also, the notion of relaxing was a no-go at home.

JOSEPHA:
When I look at the photographs and video footage you took for “State of Undress,” in many of the shots I feel like I look like you. Of course there are the direct references of me playing you as the “photographer” or as the “mother” posing with your kids, but I feel like in the other shots I’m also playing you in some way. Do you think that is mainly because we were plundering your closet? Or is it because we are sisters and simply look alike?

ANJA:
I experience this often when I work with people. At the end of the day, when I see my reflection, I am shocked that I do not look like the person I just photographed. Something happens when people work together, and we have worked together a lot! Remember when I made you repeatedly throw your pants up in the air in a Colorado laundromat? The final image I chose of you was about my feelings about laundry. In a way I use the bodies of others to express my feelings about things. It seems normal that images I take look like me, or at least like a wishful me. But you are right, as sisters we started out very different. You blond and blue-eyed, me dark and black. But as we get older, with our gray hair we have started to look like proper sisters. I was shocked when viewing the material at first as well. An out-of-body experience.

JOSEPHA:
When I look at the images I love to see so much of you in me. Damn, now I feel like we should have re-shot that Gloria Swanson Sunset Boulevard moment. We should still do that. Write a song about becoming one in our aging faces and then shoot each other being Gloria Swanson. Something like that. Another question: what about your closet? I feel like your closet is a collection of costumes much more than a typical closet of clothes. Everything looks like it is used to dress up as characters. When you get dressed in the morning, are you dressing up as a character?

ANJA:
Oh yes, let’s plan our next project, I am ready for our close-up. About dressing up, it depends. I do try to choose situation-appropriate clothing, and choose a bathing suit over a raincoat to go swimming. Most of all I prefer clothing I can work and move well in. When photographing, for example, it is helpful to wear something comfortable, flexible, and sweat-absorbing. And it is important that the clothes stay in place when bending around. When photographing in the streets it is also helpful to not look too flashy, so people do not notice you too much. And when photographing a client, it helps to look clean and professional, or even a little modern. Then they trust that you can handle the technical aspects of photography and come up with a contemporary look for themselves. So all this requires a lot of specific clothes.

But yes, you caught me, I love to be different characters and I am a mad collector of clothes. Dressing in pastels, snuggled into the dream of ice cream, wearing shades of off-whites, thinking of white doctor shoes and Catherine Deneuve. And then dress like a surrealist thinker-man and then as the angry villain-queen. This passion has often made me look out of place. I have kept most of the clothes that were given to me by my family even though I rarely wear them, and keeping all these clothes clean and organized is a time- and space-consuming hobby.

I also dream of designing the ultimate outfit. A uniform-like ensemble that crosses all desires and memories. A perfect uniform to work in, dance in, go out somewhere fancy in and sleep in. Then I could get rid of all the clothes and only keep this one.

How do you feel about clothes and wearing them? Is there a difference in how you dress on stage to how you dress every day? Are there situations where you wear costume-like clothes in real life?

JOSEPHA:
Yes, there is a difference between what I wear on stage and what I wear every day. On stage I try to go for the fictional, something I would not put on every day. In the beginnings of Susie Asado I even wore high heels, but then I hurt my ankles and I got too scared to wear them. I did love the alien feeling of them, how they instantly postured me into someone else, something quite artificial. I also wear makeup on stage, which I don’t often wear during the day. But all of this is changing, I’m having more fun dressing up in general. I am also having fun undressing. I don’t mean that literally. Being simple about wearing less. Something to mirror the skeletal pop, the stripped-down songs. I certainly wish I was one of those ladies always taking off her clothes and owning it. I have also dressed up as Susie secretary in the hope I would quit procrastinating and answer my e-mails. It worked! Maybe there is less of a split now between who I am on stage and who I am at the supermarket.

When you take pictures of me, I always feel like you are playing the photographer and I am playing the model. Maybe this comes from having played stuff like this as kids, but I wonder, are you performing the photographer?

ANJA:
Yes, I feel like I am acting the role of the photographer. You have been my muse since childhood and I made you into my subject and object. I used you to represent my feeling. As the photographer I assume the active and director-like role, and you are my submissive beauty, following my instructions, being made into my art. It makes sense that it developed that way, since I am your older sister and often had to take care of you. Maybe becoming the photographer and you the model was the next step to our childhood roles.

And you really do have amazing magic powers that can get caught on film and drug the viewer. Like in Roland Barthes’ Mythologies where he describes the face of Greta Garbo: … “that moment in cinema when capturing the human face still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost oneself in a human image as one would in a philtre, when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced.” You definitely got much of that Garbo face effect!

JOSEPHA:
I’m not sure about that, but I certainly like becoming something else in an image, and drugging the viewer is an interesting idea. We’ve been doing these “photo shoots” since we were in high school, so since the late eighties / early nineties. How do you feel about documenting me as I’m getting older? I secretly hope we will be doing this forever and at some point we can have a huge retrospective. Oh megalomaniacal dreams.

ANJA:
Yes, I am aware of the years and how the dynamic between us changes and continues. And I am mostly so happy that I have an ally in the creative process. I am really looking forward to doing this forever with you. I do think a lot about aging these days and I am secretly very happy that we still have some youthfulness in us. I am not ready to be older yet, but since we both do not color our hair, we seem to be open to it, maybe even shaping it. I do think that both of us will maintain bright sparkling eyes. I love that in older people, when you can still see the child in them.

How do you feel about the stage and how did you start to integrate it with your writing? I often envy you for being able to use your body in your art.

JOSEPHA:
I guess it was the stage that integrated my writing with my body. I didn’t think about it so much when I first started performing songs with Philipp. We were just singing songs. But being up there in those stage lights did something to me. It let me become larger than I initially imagined myself. Suddenly I was doing weird stuff with my body. Becoming more artificial, more playful in my movements and performance. I would let myself act out whatever impulses I was having. That has stayed with me and I keep building on that. I love the unpredictability of performing. That strange moment where you have to run with your mistakes and the audience. And yes, the utter physicality of it. The sweat, the nerves, the heat of the stage lights, and the weight of the instrument.

This takes me back to your photographs though and the video “State of Undress” that we made. I love how the physical gets tangled with the music. I feel like the photographs complete the music. Thank you, Anja!

– If you would like to see the video for “State of Undress” go to the video section of the website . . .

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Suddenly trees are green. Suddenly there is an album at the printers. Suddenly here I am back from a trip to Canada and the States and I haven’t said a word about it. Hello! There is so much to write home about, you being my home. Last you heard from me we were just laying down tracks. It all seemed impossible to finish an album that was barely written in January and now it is done. Mixed, mastered and at the printers. There are even photos and a couple of videos. Because of this blur of events I am a little exhausted. And yes, proud. I can’t wait to share all the details of what we have made. There will be a release date announced very soon and a timeline and then at the end of the year we will go on tour. The new songs are catchy and weird and I feel like I have finally grown into this Susie Asado chanteuse. It is funny setting out to do something with no idea where it will lead. And then there are plans and adventures and growing and suddenly I look in the mirror and I see this grown up lady with gray hair, knowing smiles and electric blue eyes. There is also a voice that sings me; I’ve learned to let her do her thing. Sometimes all she wants to do is watch TV. Lately she has taken up watercolors. Sometimes she keeps the neighbors up all night. Sorry neighbors! Anyways, please write me or Sebastian from Paper and Iron Booking if you want to be part of our release tour. It will be very special. It will be in December. I will have my double AA with me (Ariel and Alicja) and we will sing cool lady harmonies and bring our bass pedals, percussion, violin, clarinet, bass, ukulele and guitars. For the tour we are teaming up with the duo version of The Burning Hell from Canada which Ariel is also a part of. This is an epic double bill not to be missed. Ok, this is it for now. Did I write you the name of the album? It is called “State of Undress”. Seriously. And yes, there will be some undressing, so stay tuned. Don’t miss a thing!

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Wanted to send a message from the depths of my Winterschlaf. My winter-sleep, my state of hibernation. Of course I am not sleeping. At least not all of the time. There are plans brooding and songs taking shape. There is a plan to record at the end of February. You can see me with a butterfly net jumping around trying to catch some of the ideas that are flying around my room. There is little distraction. There is no sun. Berlin is still in its gloomy depths. I am trying to do my Susie job and pull songs out of my mouth, my guitar. I am listening to low hums and the tick tock of the tail from my kitchen kit cat clock. Some days are easier than others. New songs seem rough and frail and bad in ways; they don’t stand up to the tour-weathered songs that have accompanied me for years. If it weren’t for Ariel, Alicja and Marko helping me sound out the details, I would just give up on these baby chicks. But they are growing and there are choreographies and melodies that are ear worming through my day. Earworm is German for a tune that gets stuck in your head. Ok, back to plans. Plans are to make a new album. Ok, I said it, it’s official. It will come out sometime in the late summer. That’s how it goes with albums. They take time. And then at the end of the year we will pack up the car and come visit you. Please write us if you would like to be part of that plan. We would like you to be part of that plan. I will try and do my best to post as other brooding plans take shape. For now, I hope you are all having a lovely winter. Snow sun and songs. Your Susie.

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We are back in Berlin. I can still feel the Autobahn in my bones. A motor rattle. I feel strangely calm. What does it mean? I will try not to think about it and just enjoy the misty Berlin air and the pleasure of clean clothes. Coming home from tour is an art form. To do it gently. To rest, but not crash. To watch some TV, but not fall apart on the sofa with a catatonic stare into a flickering laptop. Or become obsessed with the lady bugs that have hatched in the cracks of my windows that crawl around on my floor. I’ve written down the numbers for the tour and Ariel and I cleaned the car yesterday at the local car wash. We power vacuumed the crumbs from the the road snacks using two giant vacuum tubes going at it from each side simultaneously. I took a long bath this morning and shaved my legs. Are these things you want to know about? Alicja says “Home is where you can take a shower”. Ariel says “Home is where the dirt on your sheets is your own dirt”. I tried to remember the bed where I slept on the first night on tour in Poznan. I can’t remember it. Not the sheets, not the bed, not the room, not the hotel, not the road. I do remember the venue Troche Kultury very well. I think I can remember the other beds I slept in, but not the sheets. I remember arriving in Vienna. Hanging out with my brother Philipp in front of Fluc. Our wonderful show that night. Getting to play Crazy for Jane songs. Crazy for Jane is the band I have with my brother that is all about and for Jane. It is a desperate serenade. It is funny and very sad and well, very desperate. I remember my heart in Passau. The sweetness of returning to a city I haven’t played in for some years. I guess I have been touring for long enough that you see time pass in the cities and in the people. Like seeing our promoter Petr in Strakonice after not having been there in 8 years. Our most playful audience was there. We were all cold in a kind of castle cellar, pretending stage lights are heating lamps and hoping our fingers move anyways. And then this awesome audience sets fires to the songs and they go off like little bombs. We shared the night in Strakonice with an awesome band from Prague: Oswaldovi. Oh Oswaldovi! Now I am sitting at my desk, watching the traffic on the bridge. The tour already has this sense that perhaps I made it up. But there are still the bags with the cables, pickups and CDs and on Sunday we will play a last show at Weserstrasse 58 in Neukölln. Excited to play in my neighbourhood. So things are coming home.

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Last night we drove through a midnight fog to the outskirts of Opole. Roman from the Opole Songwriter Festival drove ahead of us and Berlin’s Sorry Gilberto behind us. A caravan of red flickering lights. Everything appeared too close and too far away. This sense of being in the thick of it. Only a few meters ahead of you visible. No sense of the future, no sense of the past. We arrive at a country mansion. Pehaps even a kind of castle. We unload and stumble to our rooms. We fall a sleep. We snore, we dream, we wake up. Still fog. The colorful trees strangely luminious. Fogy luminous. The misty air smells woody and earthy. The mansion we stayed in right in the middle of a beautiful garden which seems to continue through some rolling hills. I would have liked to stay and explore, but we keep to our tour fog. We pile into the car. We drive to a roadside restaurant and eat perogies and watch truckers eat their morning soup. In our tour bubble fog, this seems to be a proper polish Sunday morning. The place and the people very real. I hold onto this short moment as we keep driving through the fog. We are on the way to Budapest. We have already driven through Czech Republic and are now driving through Slovakia. We have bought the respective vignettes to use the local highways. We watch the languages on the signs change. Trees are trees and roads are mostly roads. The first three shows are behind us. Alicja translated us through all awkwardness of being in a foreign country. I wish we spoke Hungarian, spoke Czech. I wish we were prepared for all countries. Could wink and play between the borders, could properly flirt and order food and ask all the necessary questions. Touring certainly always makes me want to learn languages. To feel less in the tour fog bubble. In the fog everything feels fragmented. The sun has come out. Flickers through the trees. I think hypnosis. I think strobe. I think seizures. We are listening to music in our bubble. Today was going to be the longest drive covering the longest distance and the most countries in a day. It actually feels like the shortest drive so far and we will arrive with time to spare, perhaps eat some local food and watch the light change over the Danube.

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There has been traffic. There has been a whirl of nights. Visits to gothic churches and castles. Everything is mixed up in English and Spanish and I am reading the subtitles to our movie we call the Asado Dacal tour. I am learning new words. I have to learn them again and again each day. Pablo is patient. We play each others songs. I am singing in Spanish. I feel very Asado. My back has been funky, some vertabrea knotted. I walk as if a pole keeping me upright. Somehow it fits this feeling between languages. Yesterday we met up with The Burning Hell in Zürich and I got to dance my body to their amazing songs. Yes, it is possible to dace with a pole. There is a panik that this tour will be over before I have properly settled into songs and the rhythm of packing, car, unpacking, plugging, tuning, eating, packing, singing, walking, unpacking, sleeping. When I first heard Pablos songs I was terrified by their elegance and rhythm. I imagined this Argentinian cantautor surrounded by an orchester, by dancers, by everything that glimmers and glows. But my name is not for nothing and so I guess it was meant to be that Pablo and I go on an adventure. And so we are. Sherlock and Watson deciphering the codes of our travels. Four more shows to go: Schaffhausen, Freiburg, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf. I feel lucky.

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On our way to Prague. Alicja is driving and I’m sitting in the back contorting a bit to write on my miniature keyboard. We are wondering how many kilometers we have put behind us. As of right now perhaps 3200. That seems like a lot when you don’t think of it in bits. Every part of the tour being a bit. Like bites. Everything has been so well paced and just the right amount at the right time. Like when I started to get overwhelmed we ended up in Augsburg at the ambitious Grand Hotel Cosmopolis. A collective housing 60 refugees, offering spaces for artists and running a hotel. It is grand and inspiring and I was moved visiting the house and meeting the people involved with this awesome project situated right in the city center of Augsburg. I wish every city would make room for such an inspiring project that truly creates a space for dialog and brings together people who would otherwise not meet. We stayed in beautifully constructed rooms of the hotel. Each with its own story, its own design. I stayed in the “Frauenzimmer” which is a room inspired by women in crime stories, by female detectives and little feet who got away. It’s hard to explain the little feet, but the legs of the desk each had a little shoe on its foot. It all felt very Susie Asado and I would have liked to spend days there reading the collection of detective novels on the shelf and spending more time to meet the people of the house. Yesterday was another day of entering a strange space and being transformed by it. We had a day off in Vienna and went to see the “Leiblichkeit & Sexualität” exhibit at the Votivkirche. We got a tour by the curator David Rasaf and a whole world of magical symbolism opened up. The contemporary art pieces installed are playful and disturbing dialog with the objects/symbols and spaces of the church. My favorite was a piece by called “Erdapfel”, a solid yet delicate dome-like structure made out of wood. We all climbed into the sculpture and huddled like children in a tent. I got to sit on a chair and felt a little bit like holding court. David Rasaf joked about the piece being perhaps mass produced so people could have such a dome like safe space at home. I certainly would like one. But even being in there for a while was enough to put a sense of quiet in my touring heart and now on the way to Prague it seems strange that this will be the last show before heading home to Berlin tomorrow. Tomorrow. This tour has been grand with my double AA ladies that I’m a little sore about driving home tomorrow. At the same time I am especially excited about playing tonight in Prague and our homecoming show in Berlin at Grüner Salon on the 22nd of May. So still plenty to look forward too and some sweet new plans taking shape in our imaginations and in conversation. To be continued hopefully very soon . . .

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Recuperative Moments

When you play a show every night on tour you learn how to find recuperative moments. To recuperate from what? Well generally from all the impressions, from the many sandwiches we eat, sometimes from lack of sleep and from spending a lot of hours sitting in the car. Like right now hovering in a seemingly not ending traffic jam. My body gets tight and knotted and my stomach bloaty from all the foods I’m not used to. Also eating mostly snacks all day and then a big meal right before the show can do a number on your belly. But with a little help from promoters, friends and playful strangers, what could be an accumulation of stressful events can be quite lovely. I want to tell you about some treasured recuperative moments we have had so far on tour in no particular order.

1. When Silvana from the band The Woog Riots took us to the Vortex Garden in Darmstadt. A private Garden in the back of the “Haus Hubertus” at the Mathildenhoehe. The owner with intention of creating a kind of utopian space of recuperation and possibly attracting a stray UFO or two, built a garden filled with symbolic sculptures, eggs, swamps, springs, beehives, trampolines and endless secluded corners to meditate or conversation in. Here we wandered and contemplated and I made a couple of wishes standing on possible powerful spots marked with seemingly significant geometric shapes.

2. Hiking up to the fortress that is right above Sion and looks straight out of Game of Thrones. We hummed the theme music while we climbed the steep mountain. We were also out of breath and dehydrated because we forgot water, but still, it felt great.

3. Watching an episode of Game of Thrones all huddled together in the bottom of a bunk bed in Freiburg.

4. Going on a jog around the strange landscape of newly built town houses around the KAW in Leverkusen.

5. Sitting inside the suspended rail in Wuppertal cradled by the soft dangling of train.

6. Lying down backstage at L’An Vert while the ukulele open mic was going on. Listening to the sweet ukulele songs and imagining who might be playing them drifting in and out of sleep. Being horizontal, getting to lie down and nap before a show is one of my favorite.

7. Making drawings in my journal of the day’s events.

8. Eating Eritrean food with our Darmstadt promoter Andre.

9. There are many other recuperative meals I should mention: unbelievably tasty italian food in Torino, delicious lentil soup, chickpea smear and homemade bread in Leverkusen, coconut soup and spring rolls at L’An Vert in Liege, the gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant in Sion. I can talk about the subject of meals on tour for a long time. I do believe they are the key to a good show, and being fed well always makes us endlessly grateful and pleasant people to be around in general.

10. Floating in a tub of warm water at the Wohngemeinschaft in Köln.

11. Making eights with our butts in a park in Köln. Don’t ask.

12. Often we have to check out early either because people want us to leave, or we have to start driving to the next place. So getting to stay at a hotel or band apartment for a few extra hours the day after a show can be extremely restorative. Like when we all played house and puttered around the cozy Slow Club band apartment in Freiburg.

13. Doing laundry at Silvana’s house in Darmstadt. Yeah fresh laundry and yeah the ritual of doing something “every day.” Something that makes you feel at home and purposeful.

14. Sitting in the back of the car working on my blog. Like right now right in the middle of a traffic jam. I just asked Ariel and Alicja some questions regarding recuperative moments on this tour.

15.For Alicja her most recuperative moment has been watching the power plant in Waldshut gently puff out a giant cloud. I’ve also seen her mischievously send post cards from every place so far on tour and I imagine that being pretty recuperative.

16. Ariel just said her most recuperative moment was exercizing in the creepy basement gym at the hotel in Waldshut. And reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen when ever there is down time.

17. Also Ariel and Alicja went to a little “Oldie Pub” in Waldshut that was down the street from the hotel. “It’s fun to break up the routine of touring and do something unexpected on tour. And it’s fun to go to a weird old biker bar with christmas lights up front,” says Ariel.

18. One of the most fun and recouperative moments for me on this tour was yesterday playing with the kids in the courtyard of Casa del Quartiere in Torino. There was a charming and handsome clown, oh . . . who was skilfully engineering swords and guns out of balloons. We battled each other and the kids with our colorful blow-up weapons, jumped around and died many times. We made the loveliest little friends. It reminded me of how not knowing a language used to not be a barrier for making friends.

19. And of course playing an awesome show is incredibly restorative. Like our wonderful show at L’An Vert. There is a kind of magic that explodes inside every cell in your body and makes you feel like a super hero.

20. The more I think about it, the more restorative moments accur to me. Listening to Sibsi mixes is a big one. Sibsi aka Sebastian Hoffmann is our booker. He makes amazing CD mixes. I have a whole collection of them in the car. And we got an awesome one sent to us via Sylvana in Darmstadt.

Ok. We are still in a traffic jam. It’s restorative to think of restorative moments. Oh.

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A round stage with a carpet that has white polka dots. The stage mantled by a red velvet rurtain. The Devil is in the details at slow club in Freiburg. Marcus, the sound man walks us around the building right before the show so we can enter from the back of the stage. So we can be behind the curtain and wait for the gong that signals the curtain raiser. Yes curtain raiser. I belive this is our first one. Red velvet awkwardly and glamorously pulled to the side to reveal a small audience and from the perspective of the audience, to reveal us: dressed in black and white in our starship enterprise outfits to fit the white polka dots. And so we meet in that moment of the curtain being pulled aside. I love this effect of surprise. Of a proper stage, of a proper curtain raiser. I feel like we are in a Woody Allen movie. There are even parents in the audience. Alicja’s parents. There should always be parents in the audience. Especially in Woody Allen movies. So we are off to a good start and this single curtain raiser stays with us throughout the show. I would like to take this stage with us whereever we go. The curtain and the raiser. The parents too. Now we are sitting in the upstairs band apartment. Here everything is red and white stripes. We are busy typing away at computers sending out messages and composing thoughts. Very industrious. This is my hello. My conclusion of the day: there should always be a curtain raiser.

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All is packing and unpacking. Our perfect bags and perfect trunk. Doing our best to leave nothing behind. Doing our best not to move into the places along the way. There is always that temptation to stay. Like right now, Alicja, Ariel and I are listening to records in a beautiful apartment in Liege where everything has a place and a story. Sweet recouperation. Sun is shining through the windows, a train buzzes through the green back yard. We had a dreamy show at L’An Vert last night. Some nights it all comes together and we felt so very understood and got to be goofy and smart and sexy sticking out boobs and butts. Yes. I am learning to do such things. L’An Vert is a welcoming collective where all details and people are gentle and kind and so very attentive. It was an afternoon of ukulele playing. A once a month ukulele marathon with a show in in the evening. I never think of myself as a ukulele player so much, but yes, there is that sweet ukulele I like to play. So there was a kind of belonging. I even got to talk to other ukulele players about their ukuleles and perhaps I am a ukulele nerd and I didn’t even know it. Hmmmm, what else . . . We visited that amazing train station in Liege that is like a grand spaceship. Not one of those mall like modern trainstations, but a place for arrival and departure of the epic kind. I would like to arrive there one day. Step out of a train and be welcomed by that gentle roof. Yes, feeling pretty romantic these days. I think it was Leverkusen that did it to me. Those “struppig tanzen”. Or perhaps it started with the suspended railway in Wuppertal. But most of all singing with my lovely double AA ladies. So goes a little report from the bliss of touring . . .

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