Spotlight – meets Kerstin Bogensee (February 2024)

I am always flattered when there are new, interesting German acts who are releasing country music. This week on is a bit in focus of an album release on Friday., the album Sonne & Zweifel by Kerstin Bogensee. While I share my thoughts about the album with you on release day, I am really happy that I am able to introduce you to the artist beforehand. Here is my interview with the Northern German musician. meets Kerstin Bogensee

FLYC: Hi Kerstin, thanks for joining. If this interview is the first contact of one my readers to your music, how would you describe your style?

Kerstin: I would say it’s Americana with German lyrics. Handmade sounds with a touch of country and folk and lyrics that tell stories for people with a certain amount of life experience.

FLYC: Your first releases are dated as of 2019, your debut single Auf Eis as well as the album Lebenswert. How has your music evolved during these almost five years?

Kerstin: I produced my first releases myself in my small home studio without a producer. I had the songs, but I didn’t think about the arrangements. They just came about like that.
My new album was created together with my producer Boris Ehlers. He made preproduction, so we could try, which arrangements fit to the songs. You can clearly hear the progress in the production. My songwriting has also developed.

FLYC: Your homepage states that a Joan Baez CD changed your life and made you being more interested in music. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Kerstin: Oh yes. I remember that very well. My mother had bought this CD by Joan Baez on which she sings American traditional songs. She had loved listening to it when she was young and told me about Joan’s beautiful voice. That made my curious because I also liked to sing all the time. When I heard the first notes, I was really spellbound. It sounded so pure and so close and touched me deeply. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be able to play the guitar and sing along with it.

FLYC: However, the bio on your homepage also tells that you wanted to be one of the “cool kids” and first rather went for playing handball and pursue a career in pharmacy than being on stage. However, you also worked as a vocal coach. What did finally make you alter the direction and go for a career in music?

Kerstin: I was really the only teenager around me who played an instrument and sang. And as a teenager, you don’t want to stand out. At least I felt I had to fit in.
Besides, I couldn’t imagine that music could be a profession. My father also made music. But alongside his work as a craftsman.
So I also chose a different profession, started a family and continued singing as a hobby. I also took singing lessons. At some point, my friend, who is a music teacher and knew that I was interested in singing technique, asked me if I could teach a few girls. That’s how I discovered my passion for teaching.
At the same time, I started writing songs. I can’t say exactly why. Probably to sort myself out. Then came the desire to share these songs with people.
So there I was. Mom of two small children, a job in a pharmacy and a job as a singing teacher and a hunch about being an artist and sharing my music. I was a little overwhelmed. I had to make a decision and had the opportunity to listen to my heart. So it became music.

FLYC: Your songs are combining country and folk elements. What made you head into country music?

Kerstin: I am influenced by very different styles of music. But what touches me the most is handmade music. For me, the Americana genre combines everything I love. Acoustic instruments combined with electric guitars and often fiddle. And then lyrics that tell stories that are profound. On my new album, I wanted to find out whether it also works with German lyrics. I think it works.

FLYC: Nowadays, what do you especially like about the country music genre?

Kerstin: I think that country music is very close to people. It tells stories that people can relate to and that come along with catchy arrangement.

FLYC: Do you have any favorite artists in country music?

Kerstin: My producer, Boris Ehlers, showed me lots of great female country artists when we were arranging my songs. I really like the latest solo albums by Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley. But those are just two of many. And I also binge watched the series Nashville with Charles Esten of course and love many songs from the soundtrack and the cast.

FLYC: You are living in the very North of Germany. How do people react when you say that you are doing country music?

Kerstin: They are open to it, i think. But until they´ve listened to Sonne & Zweifel they cannot have no real opinion. Let´s see, what happens.

FLYC: Coming back to Sonne & Zweifel. The title translates to Sun & Doubt. In how far does the title reflect the spirit of the album?

Kerstin: Oh, I thought for so long about which title would fit and there were so many ideas. “Sun & Doubt” is perfect for me. There are songs about love, friendship and new beginnings that give courage and comfort. Two are even comedic. And then there are the quiet songs about self-doubt, heartbreak and more heavy topics.
So there are sunny and doubtful components. Just like in real life.

FLYC: Two of the songs of the album, Nur ein Lied and Wieder Wir have already been released as singles. What are they about?

Kerstin: Nur ein Lied was born out of a deep friendship when my friend was going through a difficult time and I wanted to comfort her. Sometimes there is no solution. But maybe a song can help.

Wieder wir is about a lost love that returns for a moment and reconnects the longtime lovers. All that counts, is here and now.

FLYC:  While your debut single Auf Eis did not make it on your debut record, it is now part of Sonne & Zweifel. Why did you pick it now?

Kerstin: To be honest, I don’t like the debut single production that much anymore. As I said, it was my first DIY production and it was important and necessary for me, to do it that way. But I think I’ve evolved over the last few years. But I think it’s a strong song and I needed a more professional arrangement to give it the musical touch it deserves. So I came up with the idea of putting it on this album in an album version.

FLYC: Overall, the album comes with twelve tracks. Are there tracks which you would especially recommend to have a listen – and why are they special?

Kerstin: Hard to say. You can pick a song by mood or situation. I think, each one has something special in it. A song about self-love is Heute scheint die Sonne rein. Then about self-doubt is Lass mich frei. If you are a parent, you should listen to Alles Glück der Erde (There´s a part, sung by a choir in the end, that I really love) and also to Wie erklären wir. When you need some comfort, you could choose, Nur ein Lied or Sicher sein. If you want some more uptempo music, there are Auf zu neuen Ufern and Partyschnecke 2.0, which by the way, is a comedy song about partying as a woman over 40. Or you choose the Western Swing number Zufrieden sein. Take what you need or all at once. 😉

FLYC: You partially funded the album with a crowdfunding campaign. Why did you go that route – and did it finally turn out the way you wanted it to work?

Kerstin: Music industry nowadays for independent artists is not easy to come along with. You want and have to deliver new music in professional quality on one side. But on the other, the income through sale your music is at a minimum, because music streaming, which is not paid appropriately. And if you are on tour all the time to make your income, you have no time to create and record new songs.
So if you have a true fan base already, which I luckily have, a crowdfunding is a great opportunity, to get you crowd involved. This album is a real community project. And I´m more as thankful, that it worked so well. In the end I had more people and money in a shorter time, than I expected. It worked far more than out. It encouraged me and gave me a lot wind in my back. The best is, that they all are looking forward to the new album as much as I do.

FLYC: If you compare the 12 year old Kerstin, who initially listened to the Joan Baez album with the musician Kerstin today – how much does this Joan Baez record still influence you today?

Kerstin: What I heard as a 12 year old, was a woman who sang her songs, who plays the guitar by herself.
And there were no question that this was right where this woman had to be in the moment, when this was recorded. It was just natural.
Now I am a woman, who sings her songs and plays the guitar by herself. That´s how I write my songs and go on stage, too. Me and my guitar. Completely natural. I don’t know what would have happened, if I had heard male singer on the piano. Would I then have been open for this as a girl? I don´t know. I think, Joan Baez is a real role model.

FLYC: Nowadays, you are full time working professionally as a musician and your kids about the same age you have been when you diverted from your music career. What do you tell them about your path in that regard?

Kerstin: I won’t say too much. But I try, just like my parents did, to let them go their own way and make their own decisions. Then there is the greatest chance that they know themselves well and trust themselves. And they hopefully know what their own path looks like.
Because it worked for me, I have faith that it will work for them too.

FLYC: A song which nicely suits to this question is the opening one of your debut album named Lebe Deinen Traum, “Live your dream”. Do you live your dream nowadays?

Kerstin: I definitely do. I make my living with being a musician. That is so awesome, but not always easy. But what is always easy?

FLYC: Part of your life as a professional musician is that one can also book you as a wedding singer. What is the biggest difference for you between a wedding singer gig and a Kerstin Bogensee concert?

Kerstin: My own songs come straight from my heart and my head. I don’t have to learn them and think about how I want to sing them. They are absolutely authentic. It creates a closer connection with myself and the audience than singing covers. At least that’s how it is for me. But I like singing weddings as well.

FLYC: You will celebrate the album release with an album release show close to your home region. What are your plans thereafter with Sonne & Zweifel? Will you, for example, be on tour in 2024?

Kerstin: YES, I´m so excited about that. I already wanted to play with band as I released my first album. But the pandemic didn´t make it possible. So I wait for this show since 4 years. The show will be filmed, so I hopefully get good video material to promote my band show to other festival or location bookers. It´s my big wish to play with my band more often and get known more.
Whatever might happen. I´m really looking forward to it.


All artist pictures have been provided by the artist. They are copyrighted by GrautonStudio, photographer: Heiner Seemann


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