Listening to the new Me&Mobi release, a sonically multifaceted post-jazz LP called Agglo, is a beautiful and challenging undertaking. Their brand of jazz is not lightweight stuff, especially if you’re used to safely formatted material with recurring verses, choruses, and bridges.
Listening to Me&Mobi’s music, on the other hand, is a bit disorienting. But not to panic – The best course of action is to go with the flow of this musical adventure, and you’ll realize how strangely beautiful this place called Agglo truly is.
Me&Mobi are Philipp Schlotte on keyboardss, Fred Bürki on drums, and Lisa Höppe on bass. Agglo was recently released via Prologue Records.
The Record Stache is pleased to share the following conversation with one- third of the outfit, the First Lady of low-end, Lisa Höppe.
Hello Lisa! Let’s jump right into this interview. How important is improvisation to you and the other band members?
Well, I would say it’s irreplaceable for us. Improvisation is the thing that creates new ideas, glues things together, and keeps things interesting for us, even after playing the song a hundred times.
Would you say that improvisation is an intoxicant that you need more of?
Hmmm, I would rather say it’s a state of mind and a concept that requires training and knowledge like any other musical craft. And it’s fun and playful, so you might get a bit high on it.
Was it also a predominant part of the process in creating Agglo?
Yes, I’m happy that finally somebody asks that! Indeed, the songs “Cheysar” and “Mount Ninja” had their origin in a collective improvisation that we recorded and listened back to. Other songs like “Biosphere”, “Beijing Bolero”, and “Totalsanierung” developed into really different directions through improvisation and took surprising turns.
Is it hard to transform ideas that come from improvising into fully fleshed out songs? Is there a method that you used?
What we found very helpful was to record improv sessions and then we got back to it later with fresh ears. And sometimes it’s really hard to bring a good idea into a frame that will make a whole song – so we try endlessly different arrangements, instrumentations, and parts, until it feels good to us. That is definitely a process that we invest in a lot time-wise. Also, it happens many times that we change a song a few months later again – we have absolutely no constraints in always looking for improvement.
Do you ever have an irrational fear that you’ll go on stage and that it won’t work?
I don’t think that this fear is irrational, because if it works or not starts in your head… but lucky us, we have so many rational fears on stage that if something will not work (the downside of having tons of equipment), at least I don’t have much time to think about it. And as a double bass player that plays with amplification, mostly everything is unpredictable, depending on the venue’s PA, the room, the engineer, the instrument, and so on.
Was it hard to sequence this record? Or did you keep an eye on the big picture while writing the songs?
Since we spent so much time together during the recording process, there was a lot of discussing and reviewing, and everything developed almost simultaneously – the songs, the videos, the artwork. So the big picture was always present and we were puzzling all the parts into it.
How do you feel, now that the record is out?
Excited, happy. A little triumph that we produced this record pretty much independently and it actually sounds like what we had in mind.
What’s next for Me&Mobi?
More shows, a few festivals in summer, and another long tour in fall. And we are already working on new material, so there is always something keeping us busy.
Written by: Jen Dan