One of the things that I like the most about trip-hop is its diversity. It leaves room for exploration (and freedom to apply the term to whatever I feel like). Discovering new horizons and making the journey so exciting that reaching the destination really doesn’t matter anymore – this is the feeling I get when listening to the music of this project with a beautiful and meaningful name Botany Bay. The band’s history is as adventurous as its music (which changes its stylistic course not just from album to album but from one song to another) and it hadn’t always been a smooth sailing. Stephan Kleinert, the founder of Botany Bay, talked to trippin’ the rift about his project’s difficult past, inspired present and hopeful future.
tipkin – The project has a pretty long and quite eventful story. I wouldn’t ask you to go over everything, but what would be your most favorite and least favorite moment in Botany Bay‘s biography from 1995 up until now?
Stephan – There are so many most favourite moments… it’s difficult to pick one of them. However, I think a definite high point was our concert at the Blue Shell Club in Cologne in November 2009. We played an audience of 300+ people, and such a number was unheard of for Botany Bay until then. I mean, on the internet we are constantly struggling to attract an audience, and suddenly there’s a cram-full club, dancing, enjoying and reacting to our music, having a great time, even singing along and giving this really fantastic response… that was quite something!
As for the least favourite moment – back in Heidelberg, when I started recording Grounded in 2003, I had great difficulties finding support for Botany Bay; at times I had the feeling that this town simply doesn’t want me to make music. I constantly had to fight for acceptance of what I was trying to do. Colleagues, co-workers, inmates, even close friends, they just couldn’t see the sense in it, in the eyes of most of them I was just wasting my time producing objectionable noise. Eventually, we really hit rock bottom when the landlord of our then rehearsal room locked in our instruments and recording gear and exchanged the cylinder locks because the day before we hadn’t agreed to the 200% rent increase he suddenly wanted. Said rehearsal room was a filthy, cramped little compartment without any sanitation or heating, and all of a sudden this moron asks a price which would have paid a luxurious two-roomed apartment… and there we sat, late at night, locked out, in the rain, in the middle of a down-and-out industrial area of Heidelberg, and I thought it was the end. I know it sounds kind of romantic now, but it wasn’t at the time.
But looking back, I’m rather proud of having survived the difficult time in Heidelberg. And as for said landlord… well, I’m sure that Karma is going to get him eventually. And that won’t be a pleasant experience.
t. – I think you picked a killer name for the band. How did the idea come about, and is there any significance to it?
S. – Actually there is. When we started the project in 1995, we took a world atlas and looked for a location that was as far away as possible; eventually we chose Botany Bay in Australia. For me, it’s still signifying yearning, longing for something distant and out of reach.