Hillman Mondegreen of Ephemerals
The essence of ephemerals is hard to define as they are a band that have continuously evolved throughout their four albums to date… Fusing styles including spiritual jazz, psychedelia, and spoken word, to convey an identity that is unmistakably their own. The core of the work is built from the honest and incisive compositions of Hillman Mondegreen combined with the unmistakably emotive vocal delivery of singer Wolfgang Valbrun.
1: We have a mascot called Genevieve, who is a unicorn.
2: Me and singer Wolfgang are completely different people with completely different life experiences too. And that’s great. We met backstage at a concert both of our other bands were playing somewhere in France, but we often debate which city it was.
3: Our first album Nothin Is Easy was completely rehearsed and recorded from scratch in four days. I’m still not sure how.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
I think probably the biggest inspiration for our music is not music. It’s about togetherness and unity. This feeling you get from being around people and having harmonious relationships is probably most influential on the sound of our music, more than any band.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
My older brother got a guitar when I was about 14. I had always written stuff for as long as I can remember; I’m a writer more than I am a musician. I took the guitar one day and realised I can use it to write songs. I wrote a song about the moon that was based around finger picking Dmajor, Dusus4 and Dsus2 although at the time I didn’t know the chord names. I still have never learned anybody else’s songs the whole way through. I can’t sit down at a piano or guitar and play you a song. My brain doesn’t work this way.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Beatles – Revolver
Beatles – Sgt Peppers
Beatles – The White Album
Beatles – Abbey Road
Simply Red Greatest Hits. (I’m joking)
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Oh probably having an asthma attack or I crashed a bike into a fence once in Berlin too. Still got the scars. Don’t worry, I crash bikes all the time cuz I’m stupid. Shit I just remembered I lost a really nice vintage poncho at a gig in Berlin once. OK now I’m annoyed. Haha. This time though karma will be nice to me in Berlin.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My favourite place in Brighton UK is a pub called The Marlborough. It’s our shitty queer space that all my friends go to. It reminds me of being in the recording studio, it’s not somewhere that is very nice to be. It’s dirty and not comfortable. But it is fucking ours. And it is home. And we keep coming back.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Oh wow this is a dark question. What else is there in 2019? I would probably be much more attentive when people are talking to me! I would dance silently. I’d live in a noisier place. I’m gonna go and look at what your other musician interviewees have said about this answer.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
OMG the last vinyl I bought was Ic3peak’s latest album. They’re a Russian duo that you.need.to.be.aware.of. The latest thing I streamed that was really good was yesterday, a song called “Plastics” by Uboa. They’re a really interesting noise artist making work mainly about trans experience. Please support trans musicians x x
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d like James Blake to produce an album of ours. I think he’d take it in an unexpected direction and it would probably annoy our record label. He produced “Confidence Boost” by Trimbal which is probably my favourite song.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
OK fun question. The best gig I went to was at a Sziget Festival in Hungary when I was 19. I was in a random tent and a guy came onstage with a laptop and a bass guitar. He was wearing an orange Adidas tracksuit with a bucket hat, ten years ago when it was considered VERY uncool. He played some crazy bass to the backing track. This was before people regularly had laptops on stage also! Anyway, it should have been absolutely shit because it was basically bass karaoke but the execution was so wild and amazing that it was just super amazing. The guy turned out to be Squarepusher. (See “Come On My Selector” if you want an idea of why this was so good as a laptop/bass duo.)
For me I’m a loner writer so performing is always like riding a tiger. I try not to look at the audience too much because it is scary. I played a festival in a square in Barcelona city centre once, and there was a lightning storm just before the concert and we had to wait for it to pass before we started. The city was empty because the storm was so bad. We finally got on stage and played a few songs, and then I looked up for the first time and I realised there were thousands of people there. I thought there would be like ten people there haha. This wasn’t amazing because I felt popular or any of that shit, it was just an amazing moment where your reality changes a lot. I just always remember this feeling as being very funny.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Tech is now really important even though I’m shit at it. I used to live on a boat with hardly any electricity, so I wrote Egg Tooth on a Spanish guitar on paper. But then I moved into a house in Brighton and I started to use my laptop to sketch and demo The Third Eye. We record live. Now we are going to tour with a load of laptops and shit. It’s funny how this happened. Sometimes I get down about how my writing doesn’t look as romantic anymore. Living on the river and writing on paper felt like I was a real writer. Laptops can feel less legitimate but it’s just a fucking stigma in my own head and I have to tell myself to shut up and get over it. Writing is writing no matter how it happens.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have three adopted siblings who are really young but I want them to see my concert sometime. Two of them are girls and I want them to see that they can be in bands, and not just be the fucking singer!!! We need more women in studios, tech crews and backing band roles. I have an older sister who has no interest in music. My older brother prefers all my micro-projects that I make for fun on the side rather than my main projects.
Ephemerals will perform in Berlin at Monarch on 14th March 2020! Presale tickets are available here.
Photo © Ephemerals