Kabinett is a five-piece indie-rock outfit that hails from Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany. We at Indie Top 39 recently heard their single ‘Feather Age’, and instantly fell in love with the band’s style and sound. They’re gearing up for the release of their debut EP later this year, and we were so grateful when Manuel Freund, founder of Kabinett, agreed to be interviewed by us! Chatting about how he connected with his fellow bandmates, the diverse range of their influences, and what the indie-rock scene is like in Germany, please welcome Manuel Freund of Kabinett.
Welcome Kabinett – we’re so excited to introduce you to our ever-growing audience today! We at Indie Top 39 love discovering bands still in their relative infancy, at least in terms of their discography. What brought the five of you together and could you tell us a bit about your musical journey up until now?
First of all, thanks for having us! We’ve been a band since 2020. It all started with me looking for other musicians to connect with online in 2019. That’s how I met Josê, our lead singer. After some jamming, we decided to start our own band, so I went back online and met Lukas and Max and in 2020 Mattis.
So, we didn’t know each other at all but had a lot of time in our rehearsal room to find out where everybody was coming from musically. Our taste in music is very diverse so it took us quite some time to find our sound. We used the pandemic to write a lot of music, create a live set, and decide which songs should appear on our first EP.
‘Feather Age’ was actually the first single I heard from you guys – and I was instantly hooked on your sound. You’ve described the tune as “a danceable disco beat within a dystopian world”. Do you remember the song’s “birth” so to speak and how it came to you?
Thank you! I can remember this one quite well! Josê and I were in my room writing some other song or jamming together when we came up with this stupid idea of some animals taking over the world. We thought it was quite funny and started to write a few lines. We thought what animal would have the “attitude” to actually do that. It seemed quite obvious – seagulls, right? Actually, I don’t know if I wrote the music before or after that, but it was a no-brainer. Bass riff, guitar riff, nice synth chords – done.
I’ve been getting seriously into some of your other tracks from the Feather Age EP and I’m not going to lie, you’re fast becoming one of my favourite acts! I imagine this is like asking you to pick a favourite child, but which tune are you most proud of to date?
Firstly, we should note that Feather Age isn’t actually an EP. Spotify just labels everything with more than 3 songs as an EP. It’s the fourth single of our upcoming EP Not About Us!
But, as you said, it is really hard to pick a favourite song, and depending on who of us you ask you’d get a different answer. It’s possible our favourite songs haven’t been released yet. Maybe haven’t even been written yet! We are really proud of how ‘Blueberry Lips’ is performing though.
Tracks like ‘Blueberry Lips’ and ‘Chloe B’ each have over 22,000 plays on Spotify respectively! How does it make you all feel to know that so many people have been listening to and, most importantly, enjoying your music?
It’s absolutely incredible. Just imagine that many people are in a live music venue. You would need a stadium to fit everybody in! But we will not sit back and relax!
Our goal isn’t to hit a certain amount of streams, but to constantly grow our audience and get our songs out there.
If the people are coming back and listening to the songs again or come and see us play live – that’s just the best thing there is in this world.
I love the eclectic and diverse range of your music, and so I’m excited to hear your answers to this question. Who would you credit for helping shape your overall soundscape? And who did you all grow up listening to?
That’s a tough one. Like I said we all come from different backgrounds musically speaking. While I love indie bands like Metronomy or Glass Animals (you probably can’t call those bands indie anymore, can you?) Max really likes the sound of Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, and Green Day. His musical origin is the most random in our group – his favourite music is hardcore punk and music with loud guitars in general.
He’s also the most sceptical band member when it comes to pop music. Lukas gets a lot of inspiration from German indie artists – Tigermilch is a good example but also real classics like The Beatles. Mattis brought a lot of funk sound to the band but is also listening to more experimental artists like Amanda Palmer.
Then there is Josê. You can hear where he is coming from. He grew up listening to legends like Little Richard or Stevie Wonder. So we put it all together and created that sound that defines us. For all of us, this German band Fewjar is a huge influence – the way they are creating soundscapes and their great, catchy melodies are wonderful and really inspiring.
We really have a ton of different influences, that’s also why some songs sound more like one genre or another – you might even hear who wrote it. In the studio, our sound was reshaped once again by our producer, Manuel Renner. He’s absolutely great – our songs wouldn’t sound the same without him!
Besides music, what other interests tie you all together? Walk us through a non-music day in the life of Kabinett and its members.
Since we’re all working or studying there really isn’t that much going on when we’re not with the band. And every time we meet we’re back at it again – it seems like we always come back to it. When we meet up to have dinner together we talk about the band, when we’re at home we talk about the band and so on. It probably gets really tiring for the people around us but that’s just what we do and what we love doing.
Although we are five very different kinds of guys, we really appreciate each other as close friends. Kabinett is the project we’re pouring our heart into, so at the end of the day, we always come back to this topic.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry? And in a similar vein, what changes would you make to it if you were able to?
Of course, there are a lot of things you could criticise, but in the end, we’d probably have a much harder time if it wasn’t like that. Never before has it been easier to reach out to new people and get your music heard. That means that you get nearly nothing back from big streaming platforms and have to rely more on ticket and merch sales. I wouldn’t say it’s harder to earn money as a musician now, it’s just different than 15 or 20 years back.
The one thing we’d change though – but it’s probably been like that forever – is that huge pay gap between upcoming artists and already established ones. Of course, they had a long way to get up there and they deserve all the recognition they can get but we don’t think that any headliner should get 1000x or more of the amount other bands are getting for the same gig.
OK, if you could, as a band, “steal” one song in the world and claim it as your own, what would it be and why?
Last week, when we were rehearsing, one of those songs came up. I know, there are a lot of people who don’t like Coldplay, but ‘Viva la Vida’ is one of those songs that gives me goosebumps. It just feels like the perfect arrangement and set of emotions.
The same goes for ‘Skeleton’ by Fewjar – that outro is one of the best musical pieces I’ve ever heard so definitely give that a listen too!
But to be fair, that’s only a personal opinion, and everyone in the band thinks differently. When we talked about Coldplay, Max mentioned ‘Yellow’ as one of the songs he would claim as his own. As a band, we probably have to go with a song by Fewjar because as I said, they are a huge influence.
What would you put down as the band’s biggest achievement to date?
‘Blueberry Lips’ getting onto the Spotify Fresh Finds GSA Playlist was a big thing for us! It’s not only because that meant more listeners and potential fans but it also shows that the people working for Spotify like the song. It might be the door opener every band is aiming for!
Another huge achievement is more of a process than a single moment. We played a lot of live shows during spring and the first half of summer and the more we play, the bigger our audience gets. That makes us happy because it shows that people really appreciate what we do.
What is the indie-rock scene like in Germany? Are there any hidden gems that we and our listeners should be checking out?
There are so many really good indie bands in general in Germany. We’ve got the feeling that 2022 is a great year for the German music scene. Never were the festival stages filled with so many great indie artists. That also means that more and more people are listening to your music and more experimental sounds and songs are more widely accepted.
As I mentioned, Fewjar is a band I just have to recommend. Adding to that, Cinemagraph from our hometown Mannheim is a great band. The same goes for Fibel, another band from our town but unfortunately, they split up after their last releases.
What would being successful in the music industry look like to you as a band? And, is it something that you place a lot of importance on, or do you see it as more of a “cherry-on-top”?
Being successful first of all is a state of mind. When we are happy making music we consider ourselves successful.
To reach that state we have to get rid of all distractions, and since we’re living in a world that is revolving around a stiff system where you just have to make money, being able to make music without distractions would mean making music without having to work a second job. If we could make a living as artists we’d probably be happier than ever before, so that is super important to us.
You’re allowed to collaborate with any musician or band. Who do you choose?
Of course, we could tell you that we’d love to make a song with Paul McCartney or some other legend – but who wouldn’t? We’ve always wanted to collaborate with a rapper, to give our songs a different sound texture that we most likely wouldn’t be able to create ourselves. Maybe not as continuous as Gorillaz do but you get the idea.
We would also like to work with a female artist for some of our more peaceful songs – collaborating with Clairo would be a dream come true.
Thank you so much for chatting with us Kabinett, it’s been a real pleasure! What can we expect next from you guys? Dare we dream of a full album?
Again, thank you for having us! There’s one more single to come until we drop our debut EP Not About Us this year! After that, we go straight back to the studio to work on the next songs. In 2023 you’ll probably mostly get singles from us with a debut album coming in 2024. Maybe we’ll throw in another EP before that. Either way, there’s a lot of music being written and recorded by us that you will hear sooner or later. So definitely stay tuned!
Make sure to connect with Kabinett on Instagram
We added Kabinett’s single ‘Feather Age’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!