Interview with Joel Montagud the singer of Lion Sphere

Cristina Benzi: How did Lion Sphere start?

Joel Montagud: In 2013 Dominik, Karim and myself were still studying together in Berlin. We instantly had a good connection with each other and started jamming together after school. At the beginning it was something very spontaneous, we started playing music together without really knowing that we would end up as a proper band. For about a year and a half we met almost every day and got to know each other musically whilst experimenting with different influences. After this time we got our drummer involved, Fabian, he studied Jazz Drums. I still remember when I wrote him an email asking if he would like to join us. He came and we played together for a couple of months before starting to play our first shows in 2014 as Lion Sphere. That´s how the band kicked off. We played in literally every little club or party in Berlin for the first two years, just trying to be out there as much as possible and form as a live act. Since then the band has become a full-time project for us.  

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Foto credit: Lion Sphere

CB: How would you define the musical style of Lion Sphere?

JM: We all come from very different musical directions and I think that is kind of the concept for our band. We all bring something individual to the collective. Fabian comes from the Jazz side, Karim our guitarist comes from Funk & Hip Hop, Dominik our keys & Synthbass player comes from a Rhythm & Blues and Indie background and I from the Soul & Pop music world.

If you look at it from the outside you may think, damn, that’s a pretty crazy compromise. But when we make music together, this combination is our musical intersection at which our ideas come together, and that has resolved in our neo-soul style with Jazz elements and Hip Hop ideas. You could say it’s Future Soul, that describes it pretty well, Future Soul with a Jazz attitude.

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Foto credit: Andrej Russkovskij

CB: Tell us about your Single ‘Alice at Once’ and the video clip.

JM: Alice at Once is the first single from our debut album ‘A Moving Sun’ and a song that was written in Mallorca, where I grew up and where parts of my family still lives. It is a place we often visit with the band to write songs. Most of our album was written there and we also shot the video for the track on the island.

With ‘Alice at Once‘ we want to convey the ease and euphoria from a lush summer day that you know is going to be archived in your memory as some of the ‘good days’ of friendship. When we were writing the album we had one of those days. We went out on the boat and spent the whole day by the coastline swimming, scuba diving, climbing around, having a pretty incredible day outside and as friends. When shooting the video we wanted to capture exactly this feeling of playfulness and spontaneity. My childhood friend and film maker from Spain, Bruno Jubin, shot the video. We actually made it in a weekend when it was still quite wintery, in February, luckily the sun played along for the days we were there.

Crazy to think that the song came out a year ago now, it was the starting point for the album. It reached a lot of people and it was very cool for us to see how people turned it into their own summer soundtrack. 

CB: What about the „A Moving Sun“ Tour?

JM: The Tour is coming up in April, and will be our first proper headline tour. It’s super exciting for us, we’ve been preparing it for a few months now and are bringing a lot of new ideas and surprises along with us.

We‘re touring through Germany for two weeks and are super excited to be on the road again and to connect with the people that we have reached with the music that we make.

When playing a show we want to create a communal experience, bringing every single person into the same boat during the show. As a band we’ve always been very open about our process, giving our fans an insight into our journey through tour vlogs on YouTube and Social Media. We think it’s important to eliminate the myth that often exists between artists and fans and playing a concert is where this translates into reality. As a singer especially I want the show to be entertaining and relatable. I am in conversation with the audience both musically and personally, telling little stories in between songs or simply sharing anecdotes from the tour life. It brings everyone closer together.

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Foto credit: Lion Sphere

CB: How is the creative process in the group to create songs?

JM: We write our songs collectively. We play together a lot and often start playing anything that comes up as a jam. We record everything and when an idea comes up we take that idea and try to spin it further into a song. The majority of our tracks have been written like that.

That’s why many of our songs don’t follow a typical pop format and have their own character. The song structures are a bit different because we avoid following a formula. Sometimes we just leave an idea exactly how it first came up. As the singer I write the words and give the music their stories.

A big part of this creative process is dedication and persistence. Its not always easy and you have to sit your ass down and write or play your instrument even though some days you might feel nothing, its about finding a creative routine and being ready when moments of inspiration come to you, although most of these moments are created by you. It’s also important to stay playful and not take it too seriously, love the process, don’t stress about the outcome too much.

As an artist you need to have an extra pair of eyes open all the time. Sometimes I´m in the train and hear someone saying something that has nothing to do with my life, it can be a random sentence, but I write it down in my phone and a few hours later I re-contextualize it and use it for an idea of my own. I have my feelers out and collect experiences, stories, from friends, strangers, anything that triggers an image or emotion. Songs are very good vessels for these feelings because they can be a snapshot of a moment.

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Foto credit: Andrej Russkovskij

CB: What topics do you like to talk about in the lyrics of your songs?

JM: One topic that I find very important to talk about is masculinity and how between guys there is often a lack in communication or a fear of showing your love for each other. Being half Spanish and German and having grown up in both countries I noticed from a very young age how different people express themselves emotionally. I’ve always been encouraged to be open and communicative in my upbringing and its something that I’ve found to be crucial for any relationships. Our song „Keep dreaming“ aims at encouraging other guys to express themselves, open up and believe in each other rather than competing.

Special thanks to Andrej Russkovskij & Bocci 79 Berlin

https://andrejrusskovskij.com/

For more about the band:

http://lionspheremusic.com/

momaworks

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