25 May 2024

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Frau Knotz - Frau Knotz Newsletter Interview

28 Sep 2022 // An interview by Shade

The original songs of singer, pianist, producer and composer Lauren Nottingham have touched down on Earth under the moniker Frau Knotz. With avant-pop tracks which simulate echoes of an extra-terrestrial yet power-packed video game soundtrack, Frau Knotz toggles between whimsical fantasies and dark truths, switches propulsive rhythms and expansive balladry and tunes glamor with gameplay to concoct elixirs of dance. We caught up with Frau Knotz recently, and this is what was said:

How did you come up with the name Frau Knotz?

I have lived in Mexico City but a few years prior to that, I did a 1 year stint in Berlin. Therefore I guess I could be considered ‘tri-lingual’ as I am now fluent in Spanish, German and English. German was the first foreign language I learnt, but I learnt both languages by immersing myself amongst the culture and the people. 

When I lived in Berlin I worked in a bakery and on my first day I got my uniform which included a badge. The badge said ‘Frau Nottingham’ which means ‘Ms/Mrs Nottingham’ and underneath it said ‘Brotberaterin’ which means ‘Bread advisor’!! 

We all referred to each other in this very polite way; Mrs/Ms and then the surname. So at work I was ‘Frau Nottingham’. In my family, the nickname for our surname was Knotz so I thought what better than to call myself Frau Knotz? 

To me, when I learn a language and live in another place for a while, I adopt some of the culture forever onwards and it becomes a part of my identity. I now consider myself part-German, part-Mexican and… mostly Kiwi.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?

Frau Knotz’ original songs are a combination of Eurodance, Synthwave and Electro-pop. Think of the early electronic soundscapes of Kraftwerk and Jean-Michel Jarre with Robyn or Grimes singing fairy tale lyrics sprinkled with vocal effects. 

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

Supernova. The song wrote itself, chords, melody and lyrics in 45 minutes – the quickest time I’ve ever written a song in! I wrote the song to myself as though I was writing a letter to a friend during a time in my life when I felt like I had lost everything. 

Supernova was written in June 2020 and I had been living in Mexico City for three months, through the pandemic. Mexico was one of the worst-hit countries during those early stages of the pandemic. I had initially moved there for 6 weeks to start rehearsals with a jazz quartet who I was about to embark on a cruise ship as the onboard entertainment. It would’ve been my dream job! But three days after I arrived it was cancelled. I found myself in a new country with a new language, no friends, no job and no opportunity to go out and meet people. Thankfully, I was living with a lovely Mexican family who taught me Spanish, showed me their way of life and cooked traditional Mexican food (they also had 27 cats – my Mexican mum was a bonafide crazy cat lady).

Supernova is a song of empowerment and encouragement. It describes the journey we go on to reach that point of having confidence in ourselves. It encourages people to be fierce, overcoming their insecurities to celebrate their strengths and share their gifts with the world. We never know the heights we can reach - but if we believe in ourselves we will find out! 

Where do you get your inspiration to create music from?

Most of the time I have to be in a certain creative mood in order to write a song. This mood is usually triggered by any strong emotions I may be feeling. In these moods I sit down with a notebook and a pen and start writing poems, or a stream of consciousness pertaining to whatever’s on my mind. I then compose music around those words. Otherwise, if there are no words I’ll start playing the piano or turn on my synthesizer and start playing chords. 90% of the time, chord progressions are my foundation. Melodies and lyrics stem from that. My song topics are derived from books I read, my lovers, the state of the world, the digital age and the Notre Dame burning down – that was a huge hit of inspiration. 

What rumour would you like to start about Frau Knotz?

There exists a wall of twelve locked cubby holes with glass windows, each lit with a golden light, at a certain Indian restaurant and bar in New Plymouth. Inside one of them, on display is the finest Umeshu (Japanese plum wine). Underneath the cubby door is a gold plaque inscribed with the name ‘Frau Knotz’. A mysterious, leather-clad figure with gelled back short hair and thin sunglasses enters the bar. All heads turn as she saunters to the bar, extends her hand to the bartender and says ‘key please’. Conversations stop and all gazes follow this elegant figure who unlocks her alcohol safe, retrieves her bounty and begins her evening with exquisite Umeshu in a short glass with a large spherical ice cube. That, my friends, is the elusive FRAU KNOTZ!

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Never sacrifice your musical integrity for the mainstream. With the loss of musical integrity comes the loss of meaning and sincerity in a performance. Make sure the music is excellent, make sure you are a good musician. With a solid product, the rest will follow! Build a good team behind you and work together – As John Donne wrote – ‘no man is an island entire of itself’.

Who are your favourite NZ bands and musicians?

LMS Projekt, Miloux, Ludus, Wallace, Missy.

What local albums have you been listening to recently?

Three albums by Taranaki bands! The Orchid Thief by Andy Bassett, Once The Show Begins by MultiPlayer and Lies and Lullabies by Trip Change.

What can we expect to see from you in the next year?

The prototype Frau Knotz will evolve into a fully-realised vision. I have some very exciting festival gigs before 2022 is out, such as performing as a featured artist at the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust’s ‘Spiegelfest’ with Barnaby Weir (The Black Seeds, Fly My Pretties), as well as my own 1 hour show at the TSB Bank Festival of Lights! My debut single and music video Supernova is out on September 16th, with two further singles ready to release after that. Then I will look to release an EP. I have 4 days at Rhythm Ace studio here in Taranaki to finish new material before the year is over :)

How did you become involved in music?

I started learning piano as a kid, and as a teenager joined the school choir and jazz band. I was also a member of NZ Secondary Students’ Choir and NZ Youth Choir and through that I received all my vocal training. The national choirs took me all round the world too - I got to visit South Africa, France, Singapore, England and Czech Republic! Representing New Zealand in choirs definitely cemented my work ethic and approach to music, being taught by the best and holding myself to a very high standard.

Check out Frau Knotz on Muzic.net.nz


About Frau Knotz

The original songs of singer, pianist, producer and composer Lauren Nottingham have touched down on Earth under the moniker Frau Knotz. These avant-pop tracks simulate echoes of an extra-terrestrial yet power-packed video game soundtrack in which La Roux, Grimes and Robyn are characters With lyrics that draw from daring, playful scenarios to heartfelt, ubiquitous musings faced by modern society, added to dramatic synths and driving rhythms, Frau Knotz is not afraid to expose all sides of her three-dimensional character. Her voice is powerfully emotive and futuristic, often juxtaposing human tenderness and fragility with a post-apocalyptic, synthesized alter ego.

Complex modulations of harmony glitter throughout her music from a university degree in jazz and over a decade of fangirling over progressive rock legends such as Devin Townsend, Frost and Dream Theater.

Channeling rave nostalgia and Eurodisco, Frau Knotz toggles between whimsical fantasies and dark truths, switches propulsive rhythms and expansive balladry and tunes glamor with gameplay to concoct elixirs of dance. Get ready; Frau Knotz vows to take you on a deep sonic odyssey beneath her blissful blonde brain.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Frau Knotz


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