Alphamay is first of all the story of two friends. Cris Frickenschmidt and Henning Hammoor were already playing music together before a terrible car accident. Both friends survived the crash, but Cris is living in a wheelchair since this terrible drama. But he never lost the will to move on. Both mates went on making music together and set up Alphamay in 2013. They this year strike back with the sixth full length album entitled “Conformity” (Battersea) revealing thirteen new songs. Alphamay deals with an eclectic electronic style, but which is mainly driven by electro-pop and body-pop influences. Here’s an interview with Cris Frickenschmidt
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Alphamay is already active for a couple of years now. This year you released your sixth full length album “Conformity”, but how do you look back at the past years and previous albums? How did you see your band evolving throughout the years?
Cris: The last seven years have been quite a journey for us. We never planned the sound of an album before we work on it. It was always a surprise for us to hear how the individual albums turned out.
It is also incredible to think back to our first live shows. In the first years we played very small and very few shows. Our equipment went through a lot of evolution before we were able to deliver the shows we intended. In the past three years we played a lot more and bigger shows and started to play different countries. Last year, for example, we played Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Russia.
Q: Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 is a terrible year to release a new album. How do you feel about the situation and how do you try to face the situation as artists/band?
Cris: I don’t know if I would call 2020 a bad year to release an album. Of course it is terrible not to be able to play live shows to promote our new stuff. But on the other hand we feel that the listeners have a huge demand for new music. After all we make music for the people.
But we also suffer from the situation that our music is very danceable and clubs are closed. This put us in the strange position that we have just been ranked eight weeks in the top ten of the German Alternative Charts (DAC), which is a DJ Chart -but we still could not profit from it…
We believe that we can still enjoy performing this new release at live shows as soon as this is possible again.
Q: What were the plans about live concerts this year? Tell us a bit more about this essential part of Alphamay?
Cris: We had more than 20 shows confirmed for 2020 and most of the dates have already been cancelled or postponed. It might turn out we won’t be able to play live shows in 2020 at all. This seriously hurts like hell. We would have played in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Russia and had even more international shows planned. For a self-managed band, booking shows is a seriously, tedious business that takes a lot of time, money and efforts. It is a tragedy to lose it all and epecially with the fact that we are now entering a completely new age for live music. Lots of clubs will not be around when cultural life restarts. Each and every band is dying to play live so there will be more competition for shows and even less places to do so.
Q: Over now to “Conformity”! What is the album all about and what were the initial ideas –and eventually influences, when you started with the writing? What are the different stages you’d to go through to achieve this opus?
Cris: The main difference with all our prior albums was that we took a lot more time to write and to finish it. All Alphamay music starts in the same manner. I constantly compose songs and share these concepts with Henning who can always listen to them and decide to further develop a specific song. Once a song is chosen we move on to the next stage where we both sing to the music. Then we take a look at our takes and discuss which approach is the one we like the most. From this point on we write the lyrics, finish up the musical arrangements and then record the vocals.
The entire recording- and production process of the “Conformity”-album took 10-12 weeks. “Conformity“ was done over a period of 13 months. There are a lot of different reasons why it took so long this time. For example we decided to do a remix album (cf. “Trans/Fusion”) and then we later on had to prepare for our Russian shows. For these we needed to prepare a much smaller equipment to be able to travel by airplane. Finally we decided to release a double CD ‘best of’ for the Russian market (Ретрография). The reason was that we wanted our Russian fans (who’re earning less money) to get the maximum value for money with the two CD’s that are packed to the brim with songs from all of our previous albums.
But let’s get back to “Conformity“. After we finally finished recording we decided to move on a new way and worked with an external producer. We had the pleasure to work with Hilger Tintel (motel-music.de) for this album. After this highly interesting collaboration, “Conformity“ received a final polish when mastering was done by Krischan Wesenberg (Rotersand). We must say we are highly pleased with the result and fans from all over the world have given us very positive feedback.
Q: Alphamay has been always linked with electro-pop music, but I experience your sound –and especially “Conformity”, as much more than ‘classical’ electro-pop music. What are your main sources of inspiration, references and eventually criteria to know when a song is achieved or not?
Cris: The question about music style is always the hardest one for an artist to answer. As I mentioned before we do not set an aim for the sound (or style) of a new album. We never sit down and talk about what kind of style to do next. A lot of artists have influenced us throughout all the years. Both of us are heavily influenced by the electronic sounds of the 80s and contemporary mainstream music. This is quite simply the music we literally grew up with. Later on, in the 90s we got influenced by wonderful ‘dark’ electronic bands like the early works of Deine Lakaien. I guess you can hear in our music that we have always embraced many different styles of music, electronic or not. There is always so much amazing music around to draw inspiration from, and it is a great feeling to be able to contribute to the music world with your own compositions and sound.
Q: The name of your band refers to one of the most dramatic and horrible events you both had in life. How did you recover from such a drama and in, which way music has been the perfect cure to recover and to move on? What’s next on Alphamay ‘bucket list’?
Cris: Alphamay was started after the accident. It was the result of my decision to pursue dreams instead of just dreaming about them. I always wanted to make electronic music, but never got around to it. By the time the accident happened I already made music with Henning for 20 years, and it is great that we were able to step into this whole new realm together. Alphamay has been an amazing experience ever since. We met great people from many different places. We have spent countless hours traveling from and to shows and constantly share thoughts.
When we look at the Alphamay bucket list, there is one entry we would have checked of this year: a full two week tour with consecutive shows. Next month would have been the “Luxfeste”-tour with three bands that are friends of ours. This is such a shame that we had to cancel this one. So yes, this one is back on the bucket list.
Also we had plans to cross the Atlantic Ocean and play the US. This also has to wait. All in all we have a goal that will always be there, no matter what we achieve: To play more shows!
We love the interaction with our fans, many of them became friends by now. Nothing can replace a live show and we can only hope we all get through this pandemic safely.
Please, everybody, take this seriously, protect yourself and the people around you. We will only pull through this one together.
See you on a stage near you, hopefully rather soon!