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Viva Music - Artist of the month
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Sven Friedrich - An exercise of sincerity



Sven Friedrich
is not a regular musician, at least not in the way we tend to see musicians today: with a bundle of projects across which they move with versatility, and an image campaign behind each and every social move they make – add to that the implicit self-praise that is triggered by the multitude of self-promotion tools and you get the picture you see with hindsight in many artists. Are they forced to embrace this social destiny or is it simply an engagement strategy they learn on their artistic path? It’s a question to which VIVA MUSIC’s Artist of the Month, Mr. Sven Friedrich replies to elegantly by being one of the most cherished artists of the scene – and so since the early 1990’s, and a modest, self-assured and objective assessor of his own work. Sven Friedrich, whose name has total resonance to Dreadful Shadows, Zeraphine and Solar Fake fans, chose to be himself through his entire artistic career – and we are sure that we can place our bets on his being so in the future as well. Asked about his influences, Sven Friedrich mentioned in an interview a wide range of music spanning from Fields of the Nephilim to Joy Division, from Siouxie and the Banshees to the Smiths, from Philip Glass to Arvo Pärt, not circumventing mainstream acts such as Placebo, Garbage or the Smashing Pumpkins. It is in this mashup that Sven Friedrich must find balance – the balance a musician needs to give out three wonderful acts.
 
Dreadful Shadows was a wunderkind of the scene: already in 1993, the year of their get-together and of the finishing touches to the band layout, the band were working, and releasing within months, their debut “Estrangement” and were touring Europe with Love Like Blood, Nosferatu and The Eternal Afflict. Festival dates ensued, and this helped increase the hype of Dreadful Shadows in Germany and elsewhere, but the true exposure of their performance came on tour with Paradise Lost. Several covers (New Order, Tanita Tikaram) also gained them exposure and air time. After not so many band changes and replacements, the band decided in 2000 to part ways and several other projects and collaborations ensued. Dreadful Shadows stay together as a live group, and in close contact with their fanbase, who can request songs for their live dates.
 
 
Zeraphine was the second choice of a name for the act put together by Dreadful ShadowsSven Friedrich after the latter band’s dismissal: “Dreadful Shadows split up, because all of us wanted to go into a different musical direction. We started writing new songs for a new album and none of us was satisfied with the results. So we decided to finish the work on Dreadful Shadows and so three new bands were formed.” Initially called Helix, but giving up on the name because of a dispute, they took the name of Zeraphine – redolent of the divine biblical creatures from the Book of Isaiah, who were singing praising songs to the Lord. However, in an interview, Sven Friedrich set the score straight by saying, “On the other hand we are quite critical concerning religion.” Not only of religion, but of human nature as well, he clarifies in a later interview: “(…) strong incursions of light in a snow landscape blur the contours up to a level where you can't tell a difference between the skies and the earth anymore. I found this was a very fitting picture. If you're putting it in a different context then external circumstances immensely change perception. A lot of my lyrics are about such things, about individual perception which is quite real but not necessarily reflects reality.”
 
Human nature is not the only candid camera target of the music of Zeraphine. In their understanding of showbiz, a wysiwyg policy was proving long-term benefits. Not losing confidence at all in their powers, they did not overexpose their egos to success. An ingénue reaction like “We've given a concert together with The Cure once - it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.” is not something many artists can own up to, leave alone achieve. Initially an agreement between Friedrich and studio musicians, the bond of members of Zeraphine brought up creative output into the concept of the band. Unlike Dreadful Shadows, Zeraphine debuted with an all-German album “Kalte Sonne”, that, in Sven Friedrich’s words meant that “I simply tried to transfer my style of writing to my mother tongue and I liked it quite a lot. I always thought it would be impossible”.
 
The tour with HIM, their album “Traumaworld” (in English this time), the awesome single release of “Be My Rain”, as well as a very alluring cover of the Depeche Mode song “In Your Room” boosted the Zeraphine effect on the masses and cemented their notoriety as a studio and live act. Starting 2007, Sven Friedrich resumed his live activity with Dreadful Shadows and put up his third act Solar Fake, but the end of Zeraphine is not near, with a new album, “Whiteout” coming in 2010 and various live dates ever since.
 
A recent act of immediate success, Solar Fake was created by Sven Friedrich in 2007 and it rose to glory with VNV Nation support on tour and a wonderful debut entitled “Broken Grid”. Add to that the notoriety SVEN FRIEDRICH had himself by that time! With an always more intense interest in acts such as Dreadful Shadows and Zeraphine, Sven Friedrich must have put aside his own project if the second album of Solar Fake did not see the light of day until July 2011. With driving beats and dance floor fillers enough for a playlist in itself, the latest from Solar Fake, “Frontiers”, also includes an awe-inspiring “Such a Shame” from Talk Talk, continuing therefore the tradition Sven Friedrich set ever since the dawn of Dreadful Shadows to pay tribute to earlier inspirations. Asked about the influences and genre drive behind his project, Sven Friedrich replied: “I simply like too many styles within this giant field of electronic music to limit myself to only one of them. It would be a shame and somehow it would be bore me. I don’t want to compromise. The only restriction I impose on myself is to use synthetically generated sounds only, apart from my voice.Solar Fake is also an exercise in sincerity – one that Sven Friedrich explains as being able to be himself no matter what the act he plays in is called like: “I just want to show my emotions and feelings as accurate as possible. Writing lyrics for a specific band in which I sing would be very false and insincere. I live my life the way I do and I show it in my work, regardless the project in which they will be performed in (our note: Dreadful Shadows, Zeraphine and Solar Fake).
 
Sven Friedrich’s artistic propensities do not stop here. “Your Hell Is Here” is a book with lyrics by Sven Friedrich and photography by Christian Ruhm which was released together with the SOLAR FAKE album “Frontiers”. The widely visual and lyric book includes 118 pages with more than 120 pictures from Christian Ruhm and more than 50 lyrics by Sven Friedrich, including original handwritten notes and rare material.
 
The energy and diligence put by Sven Friedrich in these three acts would have been of course in vain without the input and the output of numerous musicians. But if the keyword of these acts is success, and he is the common denominator, one can only wonder: does the man know the recipe of success? If so, the definition must definitely include a seamless love of music, integrity, hard work, gratitude to the forces that bounce within the music sphere, and definitely a permanent self-awareness that does not leave room for moments, however minute, of self-glorification.
 

Dreadful ShadowsOfficial website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs
 
 
 
 
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