Philipp Poisel is a street musician on the way to becoming a bona fide star. The guitar bard is back with a sophomore album that strengthens his reputation for crafting unpretentious poetry in song.
Singer-songwriter Poisel finds inspiration for his music while driving a car
A wandering minstrel by nature, Philipp Poisel's days as a struggling street musician took a turn when German music legend Herbert Groenemeyer signed him to his label, Groenland Records. After cutting a successful debut in 2008, the up-and-coming guitar bard now delivers a sophomore album that strengthens his reputation for writing down-to-earth but poetic tunes. Named "Bis nach Toulouse" ("All the Way to Toulouse"), the album is commanding critical acclaim.
Click on the link below to listen to DW-RADIO's Hits in Germany, featuring Philipp Poisel.
Deutsche Welle: Your sound doesn't easily fit into any one musical category. Do you see yourself as a kind of pioneer in Germany?
Philipp Poisel: It's not at all my aim to carve out a new niche or characterize my music as such. If someone says otherwise, I'd disagree. The music is a product of everything - my voice, lyrics and feelings. This is simply what has come of it, call it what you may.
Herbert Groenemeyer has been topping German charts for decades
What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?
I like original things. I have an old CD I like a lot and listen to often. Funny, it's by a Sardinian men's choir. I have no idea what they're singing, but they do a lot with their voices: very original, raw and deep. That’s just one example. There's quite a range and no particular emphasis in any one direction.
You're signed to Groenland Records, the label founded by Herbert Groenemeyer. What's it like to work with him?
We chat on occasion. And his whole heart is in it. But he doesn't watch me like a hawk. He gives me a lot of freedom, partly because he's also familiar with the standpoint from the artist's perspective.
The title of your second album, "Bis nach Toulouse" ("All the Way to Toulouse"), and your last name, Poisel, have a Francophile touch. Do you have French forefathers?
There are some French roots way back in my family history, so that's where the name comes from, but the title of the album has nothing to do with my name. It could have been another country really, but I think France is fantastic. France has such extremes. It's so different from North to South. My parents often took me there on vacation so I have a lot of childhood memories. For me France is synonymous with simplicity and light-heartedness.
Poisel has a soft spot for France - especially for Toulouse
For some, the name of the record might sound like a soundtrack to a catchy road movie, but listening to the music on it is more reminiscent of a reflective road trip...
Absolutely! Often I can best reflect on my life, my past and my future while I'm driving. With the car going down the road my thoughts take flight. And if I'm at home and my thoughts start to go in circles and get tied up in knots, I need to get out on the road and leave everything behind. That gives my life a new horizon.
Last year, you thought you were terminally ill when doctors discovered a tumor. Fortunately the diagnosis turned out to be wrong. How did that impact your album?
That experience wasn't the linchpin behind the record. It played a role, for example in writing the track "Froh dabei zu sein" ("Happy to Be Part of It"), but that song is the result of a story that goes back even further. I'd never been in such an unfortunate situation before and forced to come to terms with life and death. But even before that I'd asked questions like, "Where do I come from? Where am I going, and what is life all about anyway?"
The notion of being gone when you die - I don't find that so terrible. I think it's much worse to be separated from the people you care for. The converse side of that is that I'm incredibly glad to have been able to meet these people, that they're a part of my life and that I could have that experience. I wouldn't want to have missed it. So, I'm happy that my life exists.
Interview: Marc Muehlenbrock (df/gsw)
Editor: Rick Fulker