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Phillip Boa - between schizophrenia, ups and downs

Phillip Boa is raring to go with his new album „Decadence & isolation“. STALKER met the survival expert who is always reinventing himself in high spirits, super laid-back and very talkative. Once again the blond singer had plenty to reveal.

After the interview STALKER did with this great artist of indie and avantgarde music in STALKER 03/05, in which exciting revelations, interesting insights and surprising stands were made revealed, the opportunity presented itself to continue the conversation and delve even deeper.

Caught between the pressure to succeed, insecurity and self-doubt, yet decadent enough to brush off the whole media circus. That’s the Phillip Boa we have come to know. Read for yourself how Mr Boa deals with all this, living with schizophrenia, highs and lows, and how rather than lose sight of his goals, he „cooks“ himself breakfast to relax.

Here he is again, Phillip Boa. You never really left, but still people like to call it a comeback. Does that bother you at all?
Over the last 20 years I’ve had 3-4 complete downs and as many comebacks. I don’t even notice it myself anymore. It’s completely normal to have highs and lows when you’ve been making music for 20 years. It’s hard for me to really have an opinion about that. If people want to call it a comeback, I’m fine with that. I agree my new album is... well... good...

That came out rather unconvincingly. We talked about this in the last interview, how your own expectations of your music, the constant pressure to be better, is something that weighs quite heavily on you. Was it the same this time and if it was – how did you deal with it?
You are always dealing with the impossibility to attain the quality of the old songs, which is really an absurd goal – times were so different then. I don’t know how people get it in their heads to compare the new material to those old records. To me those are history! I am of course very proud to have written those songs, but they are in the past...

Are you someone who enjoys looking back at their old material?
Good question... Let me think about that for a moment... It makes me melancholy and sad. When I look back, all the good memories come to mind first. There were of course also a lot of bad things that happened, but one tends to push those memories away. And the good things are also linked to desire and lust. That’s why I try not to go back to those old situations and places...

But your last record „20 Years Of Indie Cult“ is so nostalgic! 20 years of indie music, 20 years of Phillip Boa… A true anniversary – how does that feel?
Do you want me to be honest?

Yes, please!
I am glad it’s over (laughs). It wasn’t exactly my idea. The management and everyone was very excited about this „retrospect-album“, but I was afraid to deal with the past. The present and the future are what matters.

Has your attitude towards music changed over time, have your priorities changed?
Everything changes with time and I am just afraid to get stuck in one direction. That’s why I always have these phases in which I feel something new, something different has to happen, so I can keep developing myself. There’s nothing worse than stagnation...

What are those phases like? Does something click and you feel you can’t continue a certain way or is it already clear before the new album that you will take a completely new direction?
The process isn’t a conscious or analytical one, it’s more like a slow metamorphosis, that I don’t even notice at first. It’s a strange kind of schizophrenia, that I have to live with (laughs). When we met for the last interview, I was partly a completely different person. The stress before the gig, the excitement... Now I am sitting here totally relaxed and I am probably a lot more human than when I am on tour, where you present yourself as an artist in the whole media circus.

Does it bother you that people see the artist Boa and forget about the person behind the artist? Or are you glad that you can hide the private person?
In general, I feel that... Oh dear, difficult question...

A lot of artists are afraid of being too open and they prefer to merge with the artist they present through their work...
Yes, but I also have fears like any other person and the stage is a completely different world - there are very few people who can really be themselves onstage. But it becomes a problem when you really believe what the media write about you as the artist and you start projecting that onto your own person.

What ever happened to your idea to write a book or a biography?
I wouldn’t write a biography as such, more like a novel with a lot of autobiographical elements. But before I can start that project, I have to focus on the music 100%. At the moment I have a lot of ideas in my head, but I am not at peace enough to write anything down. Besides that, I am not sure I have the capability to do something like that. (grinns)

Is it difficult for you to integrate in this fast moving business? Or is that not something you aspire to do at all?
I don’t think about that... I try to do my own thing and to distance myself from the masses.

How do you deal with people who recognise you in the street?
It all depends on where I am. In the city I mostly live in at the moment, Dortmund, I don’t like it when people recognise me and stare. It makes me very insecure and I put on an arrogant front. I hate that about myself! But in Berlin it’s a completely different situation. People are a lot cooler about fame.

What do you do on a totally normal day to relax?
If ever there is such a day, I usually get afraid of doing nothing and quickly book a flight to Malta (grinns). I do the same things other people like to do. I like the cinema. I also like to read, especially biographies...

But hanging around doing nothing is not your thing?
It is for about 2 – 3 days, after that it gets difficult.

Are there moments when the business is just a nuisance?
Yes of course, at the end of the tour I am usually so done with the whole thing.

What would be a reason for you to give up music all together?
If I wouldn’t sell anything anymore... It’s not important to me to be in the top ten of the album charts but a decent amount of success is necessary to motivate yourself.

What does personal happiness mean to you? What makes you happy?
I don’t want to be truly happy at all, I wouldn’t be able to do a rational job...

That sounds too rational!
Being happy is irrational (laughs). Oh, I don’t know...

Oftentimes it’s the little things – a kind word, hearing your favourite song on the radio, a good meal... do you cook?
I used to be able to make spaghetti...

Nothing else???
Yeah! I can „cook“ breakfast.

„Cook“ breakfast. British style?
Yeah exactly, baked beans and wedges, yum! No one makes those like I do (laughs).

Photo: hfr

Well, those are excellent last words, thanks a lot and have fun cooking!

Author: Jasmin Froghy, Photos: Melanie Haack, Translation: Sanne Peeters & Kathleen Gransalke
Date: 2005-09-13

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