Track By Track: Jennifer Touch - Behind The Wall

The Riotvan regular takes us through her debut album on Brighton's Fatcat Records...

Track By Track: Jennifer Touch - Behind The Wall

The Riotvan regular takes us through her debut album on Brighton's Fatcat Records...

Berlin-based producer Jennifer Touch draws influence from the music that soundtracked her childhood; the likes of 80s pop and new wave introduced to her through her father's extensive record collection.

These may have laid the foundations for her musically, but it was singers like Karen O and PJ Harvey that motivated her first production efforts, which found their way to Lunatic Rec. and Pets Recordings. Following these outings, Liepzig's Riotvan became the label that would be a home for her next two records, 2016's Feeling C and 2019's Chemistry, and now she's made her way across the channel to Brighton's Fatcat Records for her first ever long player. 

Equal parts brooding and uplifting, Behind The Wall matches vintage synths and electropop influences with a post-punk attitude, each track the result of lived experiences and emotions. Here Jennifer guides us through the album track by track...

Imaginary Boys

This song is a very important one, because it opens the album. It took me a long time to decide which track should go first, and a good friend helped make the final decision, because he said It's like a message me to the world. After a long, winding intro, it finally turns into a straight beat and opens the whole record for the listener. As I worked on the album around the clock, I took the train to my studio every day. The train passes a lot of Berlin as it takes me from my home to my studio, and this is the soundtrack to that journey. For me this song is dark but powerful. Somehow like Berlin.

Attic

The second song of the album, a handshake, a greeting after the introduction. My parents used to have parties with the other families in our building up in the attic. It was a place where they had space and they could sing all their favourite Krautrock songs, and all the children danced. My parents were happy and young. I often dreamt about it and my 6-year-old brain took a picture of the scene. My parents were GDR flowerpower kids who were forced to live in a very repressive society, behind this wall. The song just came out of me like a laugh or a tear, and it is the driving point of the whole album. I realised why I make music. And where it comes from. It comes from my childhood in East Germany. It comes from that attic. 

Daria

This song is about a woman who sticks strictly to her own reality and yet hopes to be seen in all her illusions by a loved one and subsequently saved. She is locked up and lost in it, but also somehow happy. In the video, the abstract animations and forms symbolize this special world. The forms are more present than she is and she seems to be like a hologram on it, not the other way around. In this world, she is the illusion as a person. I recorded this song down in the basement of the Fat Cat Records Studio in Brighton, and it was so much fun playing the guitar sounds at the end. This song seems simple and repetitive, but there are many little things that you only realise when you listen to the song carefully a lot. 

The Wall

This song went through many different versions and ended up like this. Something beautiful and bright in a heavy and dark world, something kitschy, but also serious. It was very intense for me to record the vocals. Most of the time I just start singing, depending on my mood, and I don't change it again, but just leave it as it is. So it sounds very real and intense, and never forced. It's about the pain we all carry inside of us, and that pain will probably hurt the people who love us, because there is this wall between us and them. We all know what it feels like to love a person who lives behind their own wall. But when we really love, we try to accept and not expect. Maybe we embrace that wall and prove true love. Or maybe we have to give up because there's nothing to rely on.

Teflon

Also a song from the Fat Cat cellar in Brighton. I was playing around with the drum machines and came up with this heavy, marching beat. I had already used the lyrics in another very slow and emotional song, then I had the feeling that these words fit to an angry, driven beat, because that's the way we go through and in society. It's about capitalism. We run, we fight, we are not gentle, we don't know what it means to be gentle with ourselves or with others. And to focus on one detail. We are confused, I feel confused so often. And I don't feel like I have enough time... I didn't want to bring a tune. Just noises. And a screaming, somewhat tormented voice. It's a club track, but I think it would be funny if this track was to be played as a background melody in hotel elevators or supermarkets.

I Love You, Let's Go

This song was supposed to be the opener for the whole record, but it now closes the A-side. It is a song about loving someone or something too much. Being too serious in a relationship. Being too far away from yourself. But we like that, we love being on this drug, like lunatics. For a long time I wasn't quite clear about the mood of the song. But in Devon Analogue Studio, where all my songs were finished mixing, we sent my vocals through an FX which gave the whole song a trippy mood. That was exactly what it needed. This was more of an experimental track before I decided to make it into a song. The whole work on the album was about giving structure to my ideas, it was dedicated to the forgotten art of making a cool, interesting pop song. I'm trying to create my own pop cultural space, which contains experimental and weird parts, as well as open and clear structures. To create a good record. A record that is timeless, just as it is modern, but without being fashionable. 

Iggy's Sight

I already had the song idea ready, but with a completely different bass line. I played and experimented with my bass guitar, and when I got to the final one, I noticed that it was almost the same melody from the song "I wanna be your dog" by Iggy and the Stooges. I kept it because it creates a cool vibe. And Iggy also took that bass line from somewhere else. I think that's creation, that's punk rock. It's about respectful art. And Iggy Pop. I love this song.

Flatlands

In the last 2 years I have spent a lot of time in Brighton. It’s a wonderful place by the sea and I have met amazing, nice and creative people there. This song was written and recorded in Berlin, but the guitars were recorded in Brighton, beautifully played by Tobin Prinz. This song introduces the two worlds in which this album was written and recorded. It is a very tender song and my favourite song of the record. I've tried to shorten it, but it takes space and time for all the little parts in it, like a very intense memory. When everything was mastered, this was the toughest song because I wanted it to sound different, like behind glass. 

Chemistry

Actually the basis of all songs on the record. It was made 2 years ago and Riotvan already released it on an EP. This song opened the door to Fat Cat, and it was my very first real song, the first step to real songwriting. It was written one Sunday in my studio, when I was feeling kind of depressed about everything, useless and alone. I knew I had the music inside me, but it felt like it was stuck. I just made this song and experimented with some sounds from the Nordlead that I had borrowed from a friend. Later I bought one. I love to combine the Nordlead sound with old synthesizers and drum computers.

Supersize

Heavy, slow and wide. A song that is extensive. I wanted it to sound annoyingly roomy and dark, nothing tight. I sing about the feeling of being bold and tall, oversized. Don't expect me to be pleasing and slender. Not physically. As a person. I'm big as hell, my soul is fat and breathes life. And I don't fit. The song had to be on the record because it's about me personally and my desire for space.

Your Dawn

This is the only song with no beat on the record. It's a floating boat. A lifeboat. I wrote this song for a very close friend who had some sad and difficult experiences at that time. I´m saying: You can tell me things or not, I'm just here and there for you. It is an invitation to dance with me. Love teaches dancing. It's a minuet.  This song is a hug for everyone out there. It's a lullaby and a consolation. I repeat my verse like a mantra. It gets bigger and brighter, but it's still just an offering. It was always the final song of all the songs on the physical record. The protective fog light, tail light. The perfect farewell for the listener.  

Digital tracks

Cans

This song already existed before I started to concentrate on my album. I used to open my live sets with it because it offers a mixture of sensitivity and coolness, like the essence of all my tracks. I love the lead synth line and how the mood of the song changes at the end, it gets emotional and a bit sad. I had this line in my head: "I was born on the day you died". It wonder what would happen if we could meet a person who leaves the moment we enter life. Shake hands, like high five. Could that person give me some advice? I believe that everything belongs together. Somehow. So why not imagine an encounter of life and death?

You Rising

This track was born out of a dizzy Detroit acid feeling I had on a Sunday in Brighton. I was playing around with the Moog and the Arp and these tunes came out. It was the last song I did at Fat Cat Studio in Brighton. I felt a bit exhausted and sad that I had to leave to go back to Berlin. And I wondered why, because everything I experienced was great, making this record, being in England, travelling, concentrating... but I was sad. I couldn't handle all those great experiences. I realised that happiness is something you have to learn. You have to choose it. So I said to myself: I want to see the happy things. And I also want to see you rising. I want to embrace happiness. This track is my soundtrack to, albeit hesitant, lightness.

Rogue Cop

This song reminds me very well of my mixing week at Devon Analogue Studio in England. I had the greatest and most intense time ever! Tristan and I worked 8/9h per day and after the sessions I had walks through the fields and the most beautiful landscape in Devon. Tristan and Elley were so nice and we became friends. And the track used to have a different bassline, more like a funk bass. In Devon Studio we played around with the Oberheim Xpander and Tristan suggested this strange but cool sound called Rogue Cop for the bass, which feels like metal. The crazy thing is that the name of the sound fits the theme of the song exactly. It's about someone in my life who tried to control me. The guitars were recorded on the earlier, funky bassline, so they sound more open and give the track a more relaxed vibe, while the voice is accusing and the bass is rough.


Follow Jennifer Touch. Buy Behind The Wall.

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