Markus Reinhardt together with Peter Heppner will be always linked to WOLFSHEIM. The successful German Electro/Wave-Pop duo split after their last –and probably best, album “Casting Shadows. Seventeen years after this brilliant opus, Markus Reinhardt is back on track unleashing the debut album “Waking Up In A Different World” (released by Metropolis Records) under the name RENARD. The project name is directly linked to Markus name; Reinhardt being basically the German name for ‘Renard’. But Markus Reinhardt also explained that he likes the French author Jules Renard. He even used his quote ‘Paradise does not exist, but we must nonetheless strive to be worthy of it’ to promote his album. The album is a fully accomplished piece of Electro-Pop with some extra Indie influences. Markus Reinhardt got the help of guest singers Joseh, Marietta Fafouti, Pascal Finkenauer (JAW), Sarah Blackwood (CLIENT), Marian Gold (ALPHAVILLE) and Elisa Hizcox (ROYALCHORD). This is what Markus had to say about RENARD.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: I think it’s impossible to start this interview without getting back to WOLFSHEIM. A lot of things have been said about the split, but I’m more interested to know how difficult it was to leave this band behind you and especially after the last album “Casting Shadows”? How do you look back at the accomplishment of WOLFSHEIM?
Markus: The end of WOLFSHEIM came as a surprise to me at the time. I was shocked because I assumed that WOLFSHEIM would be with me until the end of my life. So first I was a little lost, but if life has other plans for you, then you have to accept it. And sometimes you don’t understand why it happened until many years later. When I founded WOLFSHEIM at the time, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to be a musician to achieve a short-term success. I had the hope of being able to write music with some shelf life. Even if nothing is eternal, it seems to me to have succeeded to a certain extent.
Q: I can easily imagine as a musician/composer you felt the need to compose new songs. What have you been doing all over the years and how did you finally come to set up RENARD?
Markus: Sure, I felt the need to compose most the time and I guess it will never end. But often I felt a kind of void, even while WOLFSHEIM was quite successful. I was puzzled and for a while I thought I’m not thankful enough, but soon I realized I had to find out why I felt this way. So it was a time of self-reflection and I ended up writing scripts for TV-shows among other things. Music and writing is a great combination!
Q: What can you tell us about the writing and production of “Waking Up In A Different World”? Did you had specific ideas in mind about the sound and its production?
Markus: Some of the songs on the album I’d composed for WOLFSHEIM, so they are a bit older. But that’s never a problem if a song has a certain quality. Around 2005 I finally managed to work only on a laptop without external devices. I’d dreamed about it back in the early 90s. And I believe that this technical development is one of the reasons why compositions became bit more organic. And ultimately, I wanted to get to the core of every song in the studio. My songs have a certain fragile mood that not everyone knows how to deal with. A wrong sound or beat can ruin everything. So it took a long time to find the right producers.
Q: I now and then recognize some specific WOLFSHEIM arrangements, but globally speaking I get the impression you ‘renewed’ yourself revealing another side of Markus Reinhardt. How would you define yourself as composer and how did you see yourselfevolving throughout the years?
Markus: Such questions make interviews interesting, because I’m forced to think about my own work and that’s doesn’t come easy. On the whole, I believe that I can now cater the needs of my songs even better, if you can say so; which singer could fit perfectly and which instrumentation would then best to emphasize the mood? And I guess I think even less about a commercial success during the whole production. Only the songs are important.
Q: You decided to work with guest singers and especially the collaboration with Marian Gold from ALPHAVILLE and Sarah Blackwood from CLIENT caught my attention. Tell us a bit more about the different singers? Did you’d specific criteria in mind about the choice of the singers and how did the collaboration happened (lyrical- and production wise)?
Markus: Marian is definitely one of the best singers in the world and I couldn’t imagine that one day he would sing for me. But it soon turned out that he is a WOLFSHEIM fan and that’s how we started working together. And of course, I’d a certain idea of, which song could be a perfect match. I gave him probably 10 and only 2 of them worked out though.
Sarah I met through a label guy. I knew her voice from DUBSTAR and CLIENT and I was surprised that she knew my work too. I’m thankful to her because she was the third to join RENARD, at a time not many people believed in the project.
Q: Because of the pandemic 2020 became a rather strange and terrific year to release a new album, but at the other side, music and arts generally speaking, have the power to make forget all bad things around us. How do you look back at 2020 and what means music to you –especially in hard times?
Markus: It was shocking to see how quickly the world around you can change and what is possible when people act out of a certain fear. Of course music can be like a safe haven and I hope that my album can comfort the listeners. Now and in the future.