Barbara Lehnhoff is a Swiss Canadian singer that expresses herself with different types of sonorities. Active since 2006 in the post-punk band Peter Kernel, Barbara also developed her own creative mind through a completely different path, giving birth to a dark experimental electronic project called Camilla Sparksss. We talked about it, as well as her ideas about music and her new release.
Hi Barbara, welcome to Pandemia. The first question I would like to address to you is the reason why you decided to start such an interesting electronic project.
I play in Peter Kernel for around 10 years, and I tour a lot with it. I love playing on stage and I wanted to start an electronic project, but I was unsure about how to develop a live performance since I never found an environment that emphasizes this type of music. Camilla Sparksss touches different genres but is indeed an electronic project and I try to put in it the rawness, the instinctivity, and the sweat you can see generally in a rock concert.
It is easy to mix different sonorities together, I use different types of samples and I feel I have no limits there. It doesn’t matter which sound catches my ear – if it works I blend it with others without asking too much to myself about which shape a song will take.
How much of your life is in your music?
I am not a political artist. I am not angry about what happens in the world, I just reflect my experience in it. For example, I wrote Brutal in a very complex time of my life, a period with a lot of change – negative but also positive – but it was very extreme. That is the reason for this title: Brutal is a word that can be used to express terrible but also awesome emotions. My daily life inspires me writing music and making videos, I never sit down and say ‘let’s do a hip hop song!’, never is planned but the outcome of my existence.
I would expect someone that plays rock all the life to hear much more rock influence into this project, however, this is not the case…
I play experimental rock and I believe that you can find similarities between the two sounds, but still, this Camilla Sparksss is an electronic project and it is easy to recognize as it is.
Do you have a specific process to write your music?
It is difficult to have some time specifically to create, I basically do it when I am free: in the middle of the night for example. I make 70 shows a year, so every moment I have it is useful to compose, even during the soundcheck or in the backstage…
What represents music for you, for which reason you write and play music?
I like to write songs or perform in my show to make something that expresses myself in a language that somehow creates a reaction in the audience, inspires people, makes to dream about something or thinks about different points of view regarding different topics. The music I do inspires me, first of all, but I arrange it in the way that my intentions can be translated for other people’s eyes. I want to provoke emotions and create curiosity. Sometimes I feel that I have a lack of curiosity and I need something else that lights me a spark.
At the end of February your new album, Brutal Remix, will be released. I was wondering why did you decide to release a remix album.
I am really new to the electronic world, and I like this idea that musicians do remixes of other famous electronic songs. I asked friends – that plays electronic or not – to try out their own personal arrangements of some of the Brutal tracks. It was interesting to see the results of putting different artists from different genres together.