Berlin based musician and artist Katrin Hahner is Miss Kenichi. Her third album The Trail was released on Sinnbus late last year and is a personal journey into a quiet, magical place where memories and experiences echo hauntingly through each song. I asked Katrin to explain bit more about her inspiration and process.
A trail is described as ‘a series of signs or objects left behind by the passage of someone or something‘, ‘a track used in following someone‘ or ‘a beaten path through rough country‘. As an artist as well as a human being I am trying to find my way through the thicket of life, beating down my own path, but at the same time I am walking an ancient line, following a trail that is already laid out for me.
What is said is as important as what is not said. The pause, the blank spots, they are just as valuable. Once you know what needs to be said you don´t have to say much more. It translates. You have to be quiet to listen. It´s like standing still in the forest and letting the animals come out into the opening one by one.
When writing songs I see a movie scene, a landscape, a story unfolding in my mind and I illustrate the scenery with the music. I switch between the characters of the scene, taking on different views. Sometimes I am the observer, sometimes I am part of the story.
I am inspired by all kinds of things: stories, books, films, landscapes, nature, people. It’s all out there. Nature is so merciless and rough and so endlessly beautiful and perfect at the same time. At the time I wrote the song Bobby Bacala I was reading the stories of Flannery O´Connor and simultaneously watching The Sopranos. O´Connor’s stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque, almost always dealing with matters of violence, pain, faith, grace and salvation. Both formats deal with the same questions of morals, fate and violence and Bobby Baccalieri with his childlike innocence, who could very well be one of O´Connor’s characters is born on the wrong track and loses his life on it.
The album is co-produced by Earl Harvin, a unique and very inspiring musician, who worked with many a great name and who is currently the drummer of the British band Tindersticks. When we started to work together, I instantly knew that this was something very special, intuitive and rare. We recorded the album mostly at Chez Cherie Studios in Berlin, a big recording room with no booth, so everybody who is in the room has to remain silent during the recording. It is as if you record the awe and the held breath of the people in the room as well.
We played most instruments ourselves: guitars, drums, organs, vibes, harmonium, bass, percussions. If a song asked for an instrument none of us could play, we would ask friends to come in and record with us. So Satch Hoyt played an incredible flute solo on the song The Night. This solo is like a flock of birds winding up onto the skies. Terry Edwards graced us with a beautiful horn arrangement on Dream and Chris Bruce´s guitar pickings on this song wove it all together. The song is called Dream because Earl saw me play the song in his dream on a little paper accordion in a certain club in Los Angeles. He got out of bed and recorded the pieces that he could remember and I built the rest of the song around that. A person is witnessing her own funeral in a dream and gets the chance to turn her life around into what it was actually meant to be. The magical thing about this is that I played in this very club a couple of months later, but we didn’t know that at the time of the dream.
I wanted an album that is dark and full of shadows and gloom, yet filled with light and beauty at the same time, because that´s how I perceive life. So fragile and fleeting and also incredibly powerful, full of magic and wonders.
“Just wrap yourself in light and don´t you frown…” (The Trail)
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