It’s Saturday evening and I’m trying to reach Mr. Lotze, Peter Heppner’s manager. Nobody answers the phone except for his answering machine! I try to understand what the message says, but it’s…all German to me!! After a while I call once again. Still no response.
In the meantime, I’m listening to Heppner’s songs and I find myself thinking how familiar his voice sounds. The third time I call is my lucky one! Mr Lotze picks up the phone and I ask for Peter Heppner.
“Just a minute” he says. “I have to look for him!”. I can’t help smiling while I imagine that Peter Heppner is playing hide and seek!!
Seconds later, he is on the phone. “Hello?” He says and his voice sounds so deep, clear and gentle that I hardly resist asking him to sing to me!! I pull myself together and say….
LOST ECHOES: Hello, Mr Heppner. My name is Fanilia Kouki and I’m calling from Greece, representing LOST ECHOES.
HEPPNER: Hello there!
L.E. : First of all, a big part of your “Solo” album was produced in the U.K. since you worked with Peter-John Vettese and several songs are written in English. Your performance is always moving no matter if you speak German or English but how is it for you? Can it be an equally intense and touching experience?
HEPPNER: For me it can be the same, although German is my mother language and I feel at home with it. It’s naturally stronger singing in your own language but over the years I have developed a loving relation with the English language. While I was producing the album in the U.K., I had to talk in English all day, not only about everyday stuff but also about complex music relations… So yes, it can be a really intense experience singing in English.
L.E.: Listening to the song “I hate you” from your Solo album, I caught myself wondering: Can you forgive and forget? Or are you the vindictive type?
HEPPNER: I can forgive and forget, certainly…You can’t really forgive unless you forget. However, I do feel that some things have to be remembered, because everything we decide to do has certain consequences. The consequences of our acts characterize us so, they can’t always be forgotten. What we do is who we are.
L.E.: Interesting answer… Anyway, is there a song of yours that you’ve gradually got tired of singing over the years, though the audience adores it?
HEPPNER: (pause) No..Not really. Of course there are songs that I don’t play live because they can’t be heard in the way I feel about them or because they are too personal.. Apart from that I’ve never felt tired of playing a particular song of mine, no matter how many times I’ve played them!
L.E.: Which song could be the soundtrack of your life?
HEPPNER: Only one song? That’s difficult to find! I think that, in a way, the soundtrack of my life is the songs I work on, the albums I produce. Every album I have made is really important to me, so there are always some parts that could constitute the soundtrack of my life, so far.
L.E.: Is there a question that you’ve always wanted to be asked, even though none, no journalist, has ever asked you?
HEPPNER: (laughs) No, not really! I can’t think of a particular question that none has asked me, even though I would have wanted to. In fact, in my life the questions have been far more than the answers!!
L.E.: You certainly have a very special voice, but is there someone else whose voice you really admire?
HEPPNER: Yes, of course there are, such as Peter Murphy and David Sylvian. The latter was the frontman of the group “Japan”. He’s an avant-garde artist. As for Peter Murphy, he is widely known as the “Godfather of Goth Rock”!
L.E: There’s an older song of yours, of Wolfsheim, that is called “Kein Zuruck”, which means “No Return”, if I am not mistaken.
HEPPNER: That’s right!
L.E.: So, do you believe in that? Or would you return to someone or something from your past, under certain circumstances?
HEPPNER: I’ve been thinking about it a lot, even when I was writing this song.. The thing is that I’ve always tried to live my life in a way that I don’t have to think so much about the past. There’s no moment that I’d like to change..
L.E.: You are a lucky man!
HEPPNER: (laughs) You know, when I think about my life, I come to the conclusion that I know why everything has happened so far, so when you already know the reasons, there’s no use of going back.
L.E.: One of your songs is called “Being me”. How is it, really? Is it easy being you?
HEPPNER: It’s not so easy being me. Actually, it’s not easy being anyone! No one has an easy life, myself included. I do like my life but there are always things that put us down and there should be, because that’s the way life is! A combination of good and bad moments.
L.E.: What do you find most inspiring?
HEPPNER: Life itself!
L.E.: So you are mostly inspired by things you have already lived or by things that you have yet to live?
HEPPNER: Actually, it’s a mixture of both. Some lyrics are about special things that I’ve lived, I seal things and put them in my lyrics. So, yes, they are concerning my experiences. However, not all of my songs are autobiographical. I mostly write about things I see, or imagine. My life alone is not so interesting as to fill whole albums!!
L.E.: Which is your wildest dream? And which are your plans for the future?
HEPPNER: My wildest dream? Let me think…No, it’s too personal, I can’t talk about that! As for my future plans, I’ve been writing a new solo album, I’m working on it with a couple of friends and I’m really happy about it.
L.E.: So, are we going to listen to some new songs here, in Athens, on the 15th October in GAGARIN?
HEPPNER: No, I’m afraid not! I can’t do that because they haven’t been produced yet.
L.E: Lastly, is there a song that you wish you had sung first? Or a song that you are planning to sing, to do a cover version?
HEPPNER: A cover version? Actually, it’s funny that you ask because recently I have done a cover version!! I’ve worked on it with another German singer (ed: female??) and it will be released later this year. I can’t reveal which song it is, because I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise!
L.E.: Ok, then! Thank you so much for your time. Let me just say that even when you sing in German, which, to my opinion, sounds a bit rough, you still manage to deeply move me!
HEPPNER: Oh, thank you so much, that really means a lot to me!
Interview by Fanilia Kouki