Lördagen den 3 december 2011


Fantastic journey in music and mind
Interview made for Kafé K with Raffael Otte

I consider myself having a rather wide range of music genres I like, but you seem to have an even wider musical landscape. Where does this openess for different music genres come from?
 I think it has to do with the fact that I was lucky to grow up in a time in where so much fascinating music was just "happening". I was born into a musical family in 1961, that helped of course. My father worked as the head of the music departement of Radio Bremen and organized two festivals in an annual change. One was Pro Musica Antiqua (a festival for ancient music, where fascinating ensembles cared about how that music really must have been played - on original instruments etc. - the so called "Historically informed performance" and presented J S Bach for example in a new fresh way, without the dust of a rather classical way of presenting it). 

For the second festival Pro Musica Nova my Dad invited the musical avantgarde of the time (John Cage, David Tudor, Karlheinz Stockhausen, La Monte Young and many, many more) to Bremen to introduce completely new ways of understanding and performing of music and art. Along with them he invited outereuropean musical traditions, Whirling dervishes from Konya/Turkey for example, or Japanese Drummers etc. At first he was close to getting fired for that, in the end the small radio station in Bremen had become famous because of these festivals. Although I was just a child, I absorbed the whole atmosphere, wonderful and crazy people coming to our home for dinner for example. One of those indian guests once brought a Tamboura as a present for my Dad, and of course it was fascinating for me to pull the strings and enjoy the exotic indian sound of it (& to sing to it a little...). 

As I was just a kid at that time, I was more fascinated though by the popular music that exploded back then, especially by the Beatles of course... And so with 6 or 7 I listened to wonderful songs like Within you and without you from the Sgt. Pepper album, deeply touched by the wonderful, mystical sitar sounds....As we had a TV very early, I was able to watch the first german pop music programme (Beat Club) with all of those psychedelic bands, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Traffic, Doors, Julie Driscoll and all the others. As the music of that time was much more experimental, than a lot of the pop music today, that sort of enhanced my understanding of and curiosity in music. Later at school most of my friends were music lovers and we always exchanged LP`s, went to concerts together, read music magazines, tried to bring the latest fascinating music to our parties etc. And when I was 16 - still living in Bremen - Pop music made this change into Punk and - what had a greater fascination for us - into New Wave, with all those experimental bands searching for new expressions. Despite all that however, my deepest affection always belonged to simple poetic, intelligent singer-songwriting (Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Neil Young were early icons to us), to folk music, good country stuff, bluegrass, blues, gospel, jazz etc... I remember a day when I went to an ethnological museum with friends, and had to stop in a little darkened room in which they showed films of balinese gamelan ensembles playing. I stood there deeply enchanted and after that tried to find out more about it... . 

One of my most loved concert of classical music for example was the fantastic indian sitar player Imrat Khan at the metamusic festival in Berlin in the late 70ties. We all sat on the ground on cushions, meditating into that awesome music....becoming one with the sitar sounds.. Part onePart two

Do you play any music instruments? Which ones? Do you like to sing? Have you ever been a member of a band or a choir?
I play guitar, both folk- and electric guitar. I love to sing, but sadly have a slighty Dylanesque voice. At school a few of my friends had guitars, and we played all those hits of the time, from Knocking on heavens door to Scarborough fair together, both in the school breaks and on school trips (vi har oftas sjungit omkring elden i skogen där, vackert mysig.) Later I joined a band of friends, that had a celtic name. Fflewddur Fflam The girl who played flute with them in their first year, had come up with it. It`s the name of a celtic troubador. Every time he said or sang a lie, one of his strings was breaking... Our band however was more of a romantic rock band melting a lot of influences together. A side effect I disliked was, that suddenly I was a prominent person at my school. Folks that I had never seen stoped me on the street: "Aren`t you...?" One morning - I had come to school 15 minuits early, an unknown girl came to me with tears in her eyes, telling me that she saw me on stage and that I`m so famous, so maybe I could tell her how to win her boyfriend back.... Stuff like that made me smile, and after telling her that my own love stories were rather sad as well, we got into a warm friendly conversation. Don`t know if it was helpful to her. But somehow I was too much of a quiet friendly family person to really enjoy being a public figure...

Give us a musical pearl or two from north western Europe, from Brittany (Bretagne) and/or Ireland!
Mats, that question`s a little cruel, as there are so many awesome musicians and bands really worth to be discovered. To name just a few, so whoever reads that, can start his/her own journey, there are the early bands of the folk revival of course. The Pentangle and Fairport Convention (with their awesome singer Sandy Denny, an icon of folk) in England, Planxty (with Andy Irvine) Paul Brady , The Bothy Band (here`s a marvelous solo from their singer Micheal 0'Domhnaill  & Clannad  from Ireland, & Julie Fowlis  from Scotland. And I haven`t even mentioned the Bretagne (with folks like Alan Stivell or fine bands as Denez Prigent or Gwalarn etc.) now. I suggest that, just in case a lot of you should be interested, I could do another little special here soon, and reveal what I`ve discovered so far (thanks to a few wonderful FB friends of mine, as you know...) Really there are so many more and so many real brilliant folk musicians just now. Not to mention beautiful songwriters like Nick Drake, John Martyn and Paul Weller for example). Still there`s one rather unknown singer, that I`d love to present for you here. Swedish folk singer-songwriter Esbjörn Hazelius recommended him in a web article and he enchanted us all. His name is Iarla Ó Lionáird from Ireland. Here he is with an old lullaby. Play this to your children tonight.... 

Let me conclude with one wonderful act from the new world, symbolic for the other fine artists waiting there. Kate and Anna McGarrigle 

I know that your father, Hans Otte, was a well known composer in Germany. In what way did he influence you, directly or indirectly, in your taste for music, and otherwise in life? Please tell us also a little bit more about your father and his career.  
My Dad lived, breathed and worked music and art in all their fascinating aspects. Highly talented on from his childhood days, he soon occupied the piano that his Dad, a pharmacist, had got from relatives for my Dads older sister. It was soon discovered that he had absolute pitch and from age 8 on he started improvising and composing and by and by became a skilled pianist.As it would propably make this interview too long to mention every facette of his rich life as an artist and composer (for those interested a little deeper, here`s his Wikipedia in english, should you be able to understand German, switch to this version which is more detailed), I`d still love to share his swedish side here with you. One of the first of his compositions I had a real access too,
seeing him work on it (I was 12 at the time) , was a piece called minimum:maximum. In  the early 70ties my Dad had bought a little moog synthesizer and we were all fascinated by the sounds and noises that were possible on this instrument. As he started to work on minimum:maximum he explained to me, that what he had in mind. He planned a simultaneaous concert celebrating the 20iest anniversary of the first europeanwide aired radio live transmittion in 1953 (the crowning of Queen Elisabeth II.) by the European Broadcasting Union. Two organ players (Karl-Erik Welin in Stockholm and Gerd Zacher in Bremen) were playing live at the same time, brought together by the radio transmittion of Radio Bremen and Radio Sweden. They played along to tapes of moog sounds and of repeated french, german and english word patterns. But while one of the organists started to play the piece at the beginning to play it to the end, the other started at the end to play it to the beginning at the same time. While the beginning and the end were both rather quiet, the piece culminated in the middle in a fascinating jam of synthesizer colours, organ sounds and voice patterns. As far as I know this was one of the first concerts where two radio stations interacted live over such a distance. In the interactive times of today it might seem normal, but back then it was certainly fascinating pioneer work for all those both in Bremen and in Stockholm, who took part in it. The original recording of that broadcast is available on CD along with one of my favourite pieces of my Dad orient:occident where two woodwind-players (one oboe and one clarinette) play marvelously meditative lines over a tape-carpet of moog sound....

Under the influence of a Cancer operation in the mid 80ties, my Dad - with the great help of my Mum - changed his life around to a healthy almost macrobiotic diet, that kept the Cancer from coming back. A lot of people back then changed their lifestyle, looking for deeper spiritual meaning and a new more responsible way closer to nature. Here the wonderful modern composer John Cage shares how John Lennon and Yoko Ono inspired him to change his diet.  At the same time my parents met the japanese Zen-Master Harada Sekkei from Obama near Kyoto in Japan and started Zen-Training there.

Harada Sekkei

Under the influence of these changes, my Dad started to work on a meditative piano piece that was to become his "greatest hit". Das Buch der Klänge (The book of sounds). He was almost surprised by the way it became popular even among people, who normally didn`t listen to modern avantgarde music. His intention was to offer 12 little meditative pieces to allow the listener to be with and melt with the sounds, to make his/her own expieriences and find his/her own access. But we all were fascinated by how many people fell in love with this work. My Dad got letters - that touched him deeply - from people who told him that his music lifted them up again in difficult periods of their lives. Even today it`s propably his most played work worldwide. Here`s the first part, played by Hans Otte himself... As The Book of Sounds has been played and recorded by other important pianists as well (like the wonderful Herbert Henck, who became known for his fine John Cage recitals, there`s a CD version from him), here is one more example. Part 2 of the Book of Sounds played by Bobby Mitchell

In the early 90ties my Dad was drawn into another fascinating Sweden adventure, when Björn Nilsson from the Konstmuseum Borås came to Bremen to interview him. They agreed on an exhibition of his soundobjects and other aspects of his work - including him performing his Book of Sounds live - in Borås in early September 1992 (Klangrum-Rumsklang). My parents and my sister drove up to Borås (I was too ill to come myself at that time) and my Dad told me on the phone how beautiful the exhibition and the concert went for him and how welcomed he felt. As long as I knew him, he had the habit of keeping little notebooks, which were not actually diaries, but he noted all kinds of little things in it, from dates, to addresses, to quick first drawings for projects he planned, to quotes he had heard or read and wanted to keep in mind. Years later, on christmas 2007 after he had "travelled on", following a year of sad decay, of losing his eyesight and his ability to hear, of lung infections, I opened one of these books and started to read. It was the part where he describes how beautiful this time in Borås was for him, how welcomed and loved he had felt by Björn Nilsson and his wonderful family, and how much he had liked the swedish landscape....here`s a beautiful piece of meditative harp music he wrote for me. Wassermannmusik means Aquarian music (and I`m Aquarian - from my star sign....)

Hans Otte -
Photo: Slivia Otte

I have noticed a nostalgic and romantic side when you choose music, art, films, photos and so on. Rather far away and long time ago than here and now. Describe your feeling about nostalgica and history!
I don`t know, really. I `d probably describe it as a preference for meditative music, folk sounds, for warmer, careful music played with love, dignity, awareness and a certain spiritual approach behind it. (And that goes for art, photography, aesthetic on all levels in general) To me the music I love is very here and now actually, while a lot of the new pop music - not all of course - which is concidered modern seems to be merely a weaker imitation of what has already been there. Or does not help to survive this difficult life. In this sence when I look over to Sweden and to what`s happening there, I look with a fascinated, emotionally enchanted view - as there`s not much German stuff just now that I see coming close to what`s happening in your country in abundance. (And it`s so sad that when Germans think of Sweden musicwise, it`s merely Abba and Roxette. Most of the wonderful stuff that would surely find an audience over here, sadly is unknown yet....) 

And still when I listen to swedish music, I feel a stronger appeal to those artists, who bring across something originally Swedish (like your folk musicians) or something that in terms of singer songwriting is unique, because it brings different cultures together and blends them in a unique, poetic way. I got to mention my door opener to Swedish music. Laleh, of course. I heard her on swedish am-radio over here one early morning and was so touched and fascinated by her voice, that I needed to find out more about her. She`s propably the greatest young swedish musician and songwriter at the moment, and I hope and pray that she keeps on believing in her unique way of songwriting and doing things and doesn`t fall for the trap of a more commercial sound or appearance. I`m deeply grateful to her, because her music at some sad point made me believe in my own life again. And singing in Swedish, she made me fall in love with that beautiful language, that`s like a sibling to German. To choose a song from her is so difficult, because it means to leave all her other gems out. But as christmas is close and soon snow will be everywhere, here she is with her fine band live from The Tivoli in Helsingborg with one of my heart songs, a live version of Snö  

Of course I like a lot of the old stuff I grew up with, music that has been the soundtrack of my life, if you want...I personally do not really think that the past was ever glorious. I`m not really nostaligic, maybe just inspired by all kinds of stuff that is closer to nature. And by the simple beauty a lot of old stuff had in times that weren`t as commercial as today. But I do appreciate modern things as well, like the Internet and a certain medical progress at my dentist for example... I think it very much depends on whether things develop a depht that comes out of a rather meditative, present, aware, loving, compassionate way to deal with ourselves, with those close or far to us, and with the world. 

What do you dislike most in the modern world and why? 
A lack of deep spiritual search and the unconciousness that results from it.

Give us a musical pearl from South America or Latin America!
Astor Piazzolla 

I know that the tradition with the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) we have in Sweden comes from Germany. Is there any scandinavian Christmas traditions you have noticed which you never heard of in Germany? 
Luciadagen is a fascinating light-celebration I think. Although I haven`t fully understood the mythology of the Tomtes (the boys with the white hats) yet. Over here in the night from the 5th to the 6th of december we celebrate "Nikolaus". The little children put their clean left boot (or both of them) before the door of their room and in the night Santa Claus comes and puts in sweets, chocolate, christmas cookies, nuts, little oranges. In that night children await the morning impatiently to open their door and find their boot with all the goodies in it, and later in school they tell each other what they had, or share some of it....

Give us a musical pearl from North America! 
So sad, I`m running a bit out of time. But apart from the great heroes, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell etc. there are a lot of fine folks from the folk/country departement. Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris etc. But as we`re running into christmas time, I`d like to introduce someone I really like. James Taylor

Do you paint? Do you write stories or poems? Do you do anything else artistic?
I write a lot of poems, but as they are in German and most of them based on a structure that uses rhymes, they would be a little difficult to translate here.

Give us one musical pearl from eastern Europe and one from your home country Germany!
I`m not too much into east-europan music, I must admit. But I saw Le Mystere des voix bulgares in an old church in München in 1986 and it was a brilliant concert. At the same time Kate Bush worked with a Bulgarian Ensemble on her Sensual world album. The title song itself is actually a medieval bulgarian melody that Kate adapted. 

One of the most popular young bands in Germany are certainly Wir sind Helden (We are heroes). Here they play two of their greatest hits unplugged in a hotel lift in Amsterdam.

Any favourites in classical music?
As I`m 50 now I`ve listened to so many wonderful classical music in my life that it would be difficult to mention all the expieriences. My favourites are perhaps Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Buxtehude, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Telemann and many more but also many of the earlier and medieval masters, John Dowland, Tomas Tallis, William Byrd, Guillaume de Machaut etc., even the wonderful chants of Hildegard von Bingen or Gregorianic chorals. Not to forget the modern masters mentioned above. But as I`m writing this here for a swedish blogg, I`d like to introduce Lisa Rydbergs and Gunnar Idenstams wonderful and charming "Bach på svenska"-Project. They imagine what would have happened, if Johann Sebastian Bach had made it to Sweden and had met Swedish folkmusicians there to jam with them. A lovely project that - as far as I have heard - will be continued. Great music for the christmas time as well.

Imagine that you are accidently locked in an elevator, after delivering newspapers, for a week. What do you wish you had in that elevator to survive that week? What to eat? What to drink? What book to read? What music album to listen to (just one)? What person (dead or alive) to talk to? What movie to watch on your cell phone? What game to play? Then you have to choose between having a piece of paper and a pen OR a comfortable chair! 
Fascinating question, but as I`m in a little time pressure at the moment, just for fun I`d say I`d like to be in the elevator with the German Band Wir sind Helden

In which way did you get in contact with scandinavian and swedish folk music? 
I call that "my poetic sweden mystery". Sweden somehow always was present in my life, without me taking much notice actually. My sister and her friend had been great Abba fans, when they were 11 and I was 16. (My first live concert was Abba, when my Dad accompanied my little sister and her friend to make it possible for them to see their heroes. He asked me to come as well to keep him a little company. We were quite humorous sometimes, so I told him: "I do everything for you, as you know, of course, but if my friends at school see me going to an Abba concert I`m socially dead ! ") 

At that time we spent a family holiday on the small island of Samsö in Denmark (with a day trip to wonnderful Kopenhagen), and despite of the language which sounded maybe just a little bit funny to us :-) , we really loved the beautiful place and the friendly Scandinavian mentality. 

I was born and grew up in Bremen in Northern Germany, a maritime city open to the world, a free city, and proud of it, but also humble, intelligent and deeply human. Bremen was part of the Hanse in the late middle ages, with connections to other Hansecities like Visby on Gotland for example, and therefore had early contacts to Sweden. In the 30 year war the swedish troups reached Bremen - actually welcomed by the protestant citizens - and it was agreed to build relations, to work together, so the swedish influence was seen as very fortunate in Bremen. The photo of the marketplace in Bremen I add here, was taken during the football championships 2006 in Germany. The Swedish national team actually had to play their games in Hamburg (one hour away from Bremen), but - out of sympathy - took a hotel in Bremen. The citizens of Bremen were so touched by this that they flagged out the whole inner city with Swedish flags to welcome them. 

Still when I grew up, other discoveries seemed to be closer to me, to see Paris and France for example, to discover the British isles. I even turned down the invitation of a new girlfriend in 1984, to fly to Stockholm with her, because she had already booked most of the trip before we fell in love and it would have been quite complicated to squeeze me into these fixed plannings. 

My Sweden adventure actually started when i zapped through our TV channels one afternoon, and - on kids tv - saw a little swedish girl balancing on a rooftop. I held my breath fascinated because of the way they had filmed it. It looked soo real. And still I couldn`t imagine that they had endangered this little girls life. I kept looking and was drawn into one of the most beautiful and charming childrens series i ever saw Madicken (called Madita in german). As friends of mine had children of that age I videotaped it for them and really enjoyed watching it myself, fascinated not only by the little adventures and the awesome acting of these young girls, but by Astrid Lindgrens loving social comment. 

In the time that my Dad became more and more ill, and it was forseeable that he would depart sooner or later, I felt sad and empty. One day in a CD store I saw the drawer "Scandinavia" and looked through it. One CD promised swedish folk songs sung in 4 part harmony chant. I sometimes risk to buy CD`s without knowing them, if they look somehow promising to me. The 4 young women called themselves Kraja. And their album Under himmelens fäste became my deep solace in an almost unbearable, painful time. It is my deep pleasure to introduce them here and to thank them for their wonderful songs.

After my Dad had passed away, I had to move to another place. A while I felt deeply uprooted, thrown out, sad, sick, without any motivation to go on. What for? In that time I discovered www.images.google.com (the new picture/images- search engine of google) and as a lost, helpless, intuitive part of self therapy I started to search for things close to my heart. Like good photography, art I loved, photos from artists or writers close to me, pictures from places I had been too etc...and collected them into little mails to myself. To look at them somehow was solace to me, held me, warmed me. As a part of that search one day I discovered immensly charming old photography that swedish people had put on the web, to keep it alive. Wonderful pictures of happy families more than 100 years ago. Some of them were poor and you could see how they must have dressed up in their sunday best because the photographer was about to come to take a picture of them. Among them were the awesome portrait pictures of Ida Klintman (*1863) and Selma Perman (* 1857) two photographers from Strömsund in Sweden. I`d like to introduce a few gems of them here, as I think they belong to the very finest photography made in that time, made at all. Still I post them out of deep affection and do not mean to take anyones copyright. So if anyone who holds the copyright should not like to see these photos shared here, just send us a short note and we`ll delete them again.

Mats when I introduced you to these photos, you`ve replied with a wonderful and important sentence, you said "they are all dead by now". Just that was the message to me when I saw them. At first they instantly seemed like solace to me, beautiful people in happy moments of their lives. Each of them must have lived a long life with highs and lows, after these pictures were taken, unless they withered and departed from their bodies. As I had sat by the side of my Dad in the hospital for about an hour after he had gone, I realized that this huge life energy which is not easy to describe, the electricity, the breath that had grown him, had breathed him, had made his heart beat, had digested his food, moved his arms and hands and legs and made his nails and hair grow, it had left the tired body, leaving him - who had suffered a lot in the end - with an utterly warm smile on his face. I understood that this deeper spiritual quality that grows us all, and every plant and every animal seemed to whisper to me: Trust. You are, we all are beeing lived by Godliness. The godliness, our true self, is our true nature herenow already, but we (our minds) are lost in all those life dreams and thoughts and interpretations, and cling to the phenomenons which have to change, to die. Instead of looking inside, in silent sitting, in prayer, in awareness, in love. To finally come home to where we never have left. A bit like a sleeping man has always been lying safely in his bed, even if in his dreams he was fighting with lions. That showed me a way to live my life deeper than I propably had before. I do not think that we die. My ego will die of course. But the ego I was when I was 18 has long since died, changed completely. As life is always death and new beginning....Looking at it I think it`s just this life energy that after death takes us either into deep understanding, or giving us a fresh body to dwell in the dream one life longer. - propably depending on the way we`ve lived our momentary life.

Because of all these beautiful swedish influences I bought myself a book and started to learn a little swedish myself. Plus I listened to Radio Sweden on AM, where one day they played Lalehs Bjuröklubb and I started to discover her, first on youtube, later a nice person ordered her CD`s for me. As I was fascinated to find a charming young musician and wonderful songwriter like her, I tried to look for other swedish stuff and came across a video - that sadly has disappeared since - in which a blonde woman, her hair was falling over a dobro guitar so you could hardly see her - sang an awesome unplugged version of a song called Dina Händer. Sofia Karlsson of course. Friends of mine who have no idea of swedish music at all went on a daytrip to Malmö and managed to bring me her awesome Visor från vinden album, which started my little love story with that fine, warm, poetic, intelligent music and my journey to discover all the other wonderful musicians as well, who are such a blessing in sadly rather overcommercialized times (with all that designer pop etc. ). To listen to Sofie Livebrants song From here to here was a wonderful moment as well. As if our godly nature is love, that helps us immensly if we turn towards it in unbearable times (instead of taking drugs or concidering suicide). As if my godly nature had lured me into this little poetic mystery here to get me in touch with healing music, healing art.....

Give us one scandinavian musical pearl! 
Oj, Mats, that`s unfair again :-) ! I know that there are a lot of fine artists that would deserve to be mentioned here, but I`d probably suggest the Jul i folkton circle and their friends. They are a cultural and musical treasure of Sweden, I think. With all the fine pioneer work that Lena Willemark and Ale Möller did for swedish folk. Here`s Lena in the legendary Groupa. And in my part of your blogg Ale Möller has a booked seat as well. My favourite CD at the moment is Agram, by Lena and Ale, released on the german jazz label ECM, if you love swedish folk in a jazzy coat with fascinating excursions into other regions (one piece features the arabic Lute "Oud") and medieval sounds, Agram is an awesome listening expierience. Another legend of Swedish folk certainly is the group Väsen with Roger Tallroth on guitar.  He`s part of the Jul i folkton circle, just as is Lisa Rydberg. As I like her stuff a lot, may she have a second chance here please ? Esbjörn Hazelius needs to be here of course. And - I suppose she`s the most known of that circle - Sofia Karlsson. Here`s a beautiful live video from her current Levande-Tour where she sings the fine song Till havs . A great personal hero of mine is the woman, who plays the harmonium (?) here. Sofie Livebrant. An awesome songwriter and singer. Her melody contributions to a lot of Dan Andersson songs that Sofia Karlsson sings are marvelous, of the finest quality and touching. Here Sofie at the piano accompanies Sofia Karlsson (& wonderful lap steel player Gustaf Ljunggren) singing harmony vocals on a Dan Andersson poem. The deeply beautiful music hers. Sofie Livebrants own solo CD From here to here is a gem that I warmly recommend. I`ve found these audios here on the web. My favourite of them is the jazzy Helicopter and From here to here a song about our true Zen nature. Finally Sofie and Sofia in a charming duett, singing another beautiful Dan Andersson song.

When I discovered current swedish music I was fascinated and emotionally touched by the abundance of marvelous voices. A woman that definetly must be mentioned here is Sara Isaksson. I first heard her sing on Esbjörn Hazelius song Stjärnspegel and her deeply fascinating voice lingered on my mind the whole evening. Check out her beautiful Steely Dan covers with Rebecka Törnqvist. A song I definetly love is this one here: Anders Widmark & Sara Isaksson To open up my heart for you. I hope I haven`t carried too many owls to Athens here, but inspired a few of you to discover swedish folk for yourself....

Give us your favourite Christmas music! 
A lot of the music I presented already fits perfectly well of christmas I think. But just to add three pearls here, I`d like to start with Sting, from his wonderful If on a winters night album here`s Christmas at sea.

My second recommendation would be Jul i folkton with Trettondagsvisa here with marvelous harmony vocals by Lisa Rydberg. Lord, she should sing more often, really :-)  To give another wonderful swedish band a chance, here are Ranarim with a song from their marvelous christmas album Allt vid den ljusa stjärnan

Finally - with wonderful bass work from Olle Linder - here are Jul i folkton again, Sofia Karlsson singing, with Gläns över sjö och strand 

Again the wonderful Sara Isaksson. Followed by impressions from one of the most beautiful medieval christmas markets in Germany in Esslingen near Stuttgart. The video is in German but just enjoy the impressions. So may I wish you all now a wonderful christmas time with one of the most beautiful german christmas songs in an instrumental version. Max Regers Macht hoch die Tür, die Tor macht weit 

Tell us more about your education, career and search in life!
I was born in Bremen in 1961 , where I went to Gymnasium (high school) as well. After school and civil work I started studying German and Ethnology at the University of Göttingen (where I finished my middle exams as the third best of my course) and continued in München, where I felt like in the wrong flower pot from day 1. A deep life crisis followed from a long time undetected coeliaks disease (kind of a digestion allergy for the gluten of grains) going on with life threatening problems and fired up because of my habit of eating healthy whole meal stuff, until it was diagnosed correctly. The sad breakup of an important relationship because of my health problems in the year of the nuclear catastrophe of Tschernobyl ( which had effects even in München) made me doubt in the way I had lived my life. And it made a long time recovery necessary, in which i took jobs, like showing films & collecting tickets in little cinemas etc. 

Later I worked for three years as a journalist and local reporter for the spiritual new age magazine Connection, writing articles on musical and spiritual events & films happening in München, as well as about fascinating people like writer Hermann Hesse etc.. That way I was lucky to get to know fascinating people like Ole Nydal, the former danish hippie and now Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, who on his honeymoon trip to Tibet got to know the 16th Karmapa, one of the great awakened masters of the time. Ole and his wife Hannah played an important role in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. (Ole Nydals Wikipedia) (about the 16th Karmapa). 

Another man that deeply fascinated me when he came to München at that time, was the awakened Korean Zen-Master Seung Sahn  

At the end of my München time I was lucky to see a concert by one of the finest english singer-songwriters John Martyn, who sadly passed away in early 2009. Here`s how he was in 1992 when I saw him in a little club in München along with 200 (a shame !!!) other folks. I was standing right before the stage, John was in a fantastic humorous mood and played a great set. Certainly one of the finest concerts I`ve ever been to.

After I had recovered I moved close to Stuttgart were friends of mine lived, and instantly got offered a job delivering newspapers from 2 in the night till morning. I decided to keep that healthy job to concentrate on healing myself, on meditation, on following artistic interests i had (mainly photography and writing). Since then my health has always been frail but mainly stable, but I see my whole life as a kind of teaching. To me the attempt to spiritually understand where we are here and what happens, always has been important. As a child in our protestant religion lessons at school I was deeply fascinated by Jesus, not because of his wonders (my childrens doctor was actually pretty good at doing little wonders as well...), but for his love and deep human kindness. Plus I had the chance to get to know very rich people who still felt lost and unhappy. Even without hope now, because only the poor hope. To me there are so many ways to use this life - and we`re lucky to live in rich countries just now - for a deeper search, instead of just wasting it. Instead of beeing sad later when we see what a chance we had and have wasted. It`s not sure that it always stays this calm and peaceful and rich where we live now. My life is ok as it is, probably to call my difficulties difficulties is just an interpretation of my dualistic mind. Sometimes I see people who have to deal with a lot more difficult problems. Without emotional pain a lot of the finest love songs never would have been written. I do not look at what I don`t have, instead I look at what I have and take strenght from it for the next day.

Here are two examples of my art photography. They are not reproduced very good here but they give at least an impression I think. A wonderful tree landmark in the village I live in the night snowfall..... 

Just for those of you who feel they want to write me. I might not be able to reply, depending on how many feel like commenting this. As I have no PR departement working for me, no secretaries etc. and am just a friendly humble overworked human beeing with a rather frail health and a day that`s not much longer than 24 hours. I do however invite people who love to share a little exchange of good music etc. to become my Facebook friends. Tack så mycket. Kära hälsinger och kramar. Raffael

P.S. I`d like to leave you with one of my favourite songs, a wonderful tune by George Harrison, the former Beatle, who sadly died 10 years ago this december. Yes he`s the one at the beginning of this interview, who brought indian instruments into pop music. This here`s from his beautiful solo album Living in the material world  Hej då! R.

  Raffael Otte

Born in Bremen, Germany 1961. 
Son of famous composer Hans Otte.
Studied german and ethnography at university.
Cinema worker, journalist, photographer, newpaper deliverer, writer, translater, poet, musician, spiritually searcher and with a passion for a wide range of music from all over the world.

Interviewer: Mats Klasson, Kafé K.

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