Rockcor 01/2014

Rockcor in Germany

Sven Friedrich is a remarkable figure on the German dark scene. He is the frontman and the mastermind in Zeraphine, Dreadful Shadows and Solar Fake, which are known and loved not only in Germany, but also on the Russian-speaking territory. The musician was born and grew up in Berlin, that’s also where he took his first steps to the world of music, and he is still creating. Anticipating the Solar Fake gigs in Russia, we decided to talk to Sven personally! And, as there was a possibility to meet him in his hometown, a simple interview was not enough. We decided to have an exclusive report! Dear readers and fans, Sven Friedrich will make an excursion around his favourite places in Berlin especially for you!

It’s worth mentioning that Sven took the meeting under his control with the whole responsibility: he had planned the route, warned me that we would travel in his car, and even asked me if he should pick me up!

“I spent my childhood in Pankow. It’s a quiet and peaceful district. I don’t like noisy crowded streets… Many political figures lived in the neighbourhood,” says Sven. “I used to walk in the park Schönholzer Heide, where we are going to now. There is a soviet military memorial there.”

During the walk Sven showed his brilliant knowledge of history (or perhaps he had prepared before the meeting?)

“A couple of years ago I moved to a new place, now I live in another part of the city, but Pankow remains a part of me. I went to school there… In general, I studied well. By the way, one of the subjects was the Russian language! But I didn’t use it in conversations and didn’t practice at all, no wonder I’ve forgotten everything. I remember only some basic phrases and can read the letters.”

Sven used to go to a music school, which is situated not far from the park. The future musician studied there the classic guitar, the piano and also the drums. Later he started his vocal lessons. He even entered the university, but soon left the studies.

After the park we went to Schönhausen palace. Sven played the role of a historian again: “This palace was the residence of the East Germany president Wilhelm Pieck. Khrushchev and Gorbachev were also on a visit here. And when they came to Berlin, they lived in my district. I’ve never been inside the palace, but I liked walking around the nearby territory. In summer it’s especially beautiful here. Next to my current house there is also a park, I always walk there with my dog.” It seems my companion really prefers calm walks in the nature to noisy parties. I had to slow down the pace, as Sven walked slowly enjoying cloudy weather.

Sven suggested walking to an old church. “I’m not religious; I like only church fonts and architecture. By the way, next to the church you can see a very-very old tree, a sad beech. I have no idea how old it is. All the people in this district know this tree…”

“You know, I would love to show you and the readers the very first cinema in Berlin, it was built exactly in Pankow. But, unfortunately, there is just a supermarket on this place… It’s a shame that such a historic place was destroyed.” Sven sighed sadly. “Oh I’ve got an idea! We can go to Buch now; it’s in the suburbs of Berlin, a part of Pankow. We filmed a video for the song Still with Zeraphine there. Do you think it will be interesting for the readers?” Sure, my answer was “yes”.

Sven said the video had been filmed in the old hospital where his grandmother had died. He never visited the place after the filming, so he couldn’t remember the path clearly. But the memory didn’t fail, and about 15 minutes later we were there! Sven couldn’t believe his eyes: “Wow… Everything has been restored; it looks like an élite housing estate now… When we were making the video here, everything looked quite different. Amazing. There were old buildings with ragged walls, a run-down clinic… But you still can recognize some shots from Still, for example, this place near the arch next to the tower. I remember we found a broken wheelchair and used it in the video. This episode was filmed right here. Well, making a video is an expensive affair. For some of our videos, we used the service of professional companies. Sometimes you have to pay about 50,000 Euros minimum to make a video. But Still was made all by ourselves. I had got a filming permission by myself and paid my own money to rent this area.”

“Well, let me show you and the readers the recording studio where we worked on most albums for Dreadful Shadows and Zeraphine,” Sven suggested. We went to Kreuzberg and were met there by Thommy Hein, the owner of the studio and the producer. It seemed, Sven and Thommy hadn’t seen each other for a long time already, so the meeting couldn’t do without enjoying the lunch together. The conversation turned into the discussion of guitars and continued with trying to read a “Rockcor” issue. (Sven promised to refresh his knowledge of Russian.) In conclusion the musician made a short excursion around the studio. “May I just stand near the microphone for a photo? I haven’t used it for so long…” he asked. Of course, you may, Sven. We are going to hear you singing in Russia soon anyway.

So that was the day spent together with Sven Friedrich. The musician and, as we could see, a wonderful guide has showed us his favourite places in Berlin and now he is looking forward to going to Russia!

Author: Olga Ledovskaya
Translator: Torrie