In Conversation With: Tim Freitag
We had a humorous and in-depth chat with Janick Pfenninger, the lead singer of Swiss alternative outfit Tim Freitag about their fun visuals for their upbeat yet emotional indie pop tune, ‘By Your Side’. We also grabbed a little back story information to get to know the band a bit better!
How did Tim Freitag get together? When did you find one another?
I met Severin Graf – our bass player – 2013 at Dynamo Zurich at my rehearsal studio. He was practicing just next door with another band, and people told me that he’s one of the best bass players of the city. I knew that I needed the best people to get a great band “haha”, so I watched him for a few days and what was pretty obvious was that he always drank coke. One day I went up to him, offered him a coke, and invited him to my studio to listen to some demos. He liked it; I asked him to record on a few songs with us and play live. He said yes. That’s why he’s in the band. To keep him in the band I sometimes still give him a coke … but I guess that’s not necessary anymore.
Daniel Gisler is our keyboard player. He was the latest that joined the band in spring 2017. He actually told me that he has no time and could only join us for one concert. I didn’t really believe him but to make sure that he stays I organised a photographer that took a band photo before the soundcheck of that one concert that he said he was gonna play. After the concert I told him, “Sorry Daniel, you can’t quit; you’re now on our official press photo.” He said that’s cool and since then he’s been loyal to me.
Lorenzo Demenga is also a founding member. He was in love with a song that we never released called «Dream Again». In every rehearsal he says, “Let’s play that song”. He believes that it’s gonna be a world hit and told me once that he’s not quitting the band before he can play drums on it. That’s why I will never record that song, so he will never leave the band.
Nicolas Rüttimann is our guitarist. He was there from day one. Actually, our first producer showed him the song «Another Heart Has Lost Its Place» and that was the tipping point. He said that if we’re recording the song he’s gonna be in the band. I did just that. And he even organised the shooting of the music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKL8WeI_qmk. Also one of his dreams is to be on a poster with Tim Freitag in a music store. Let’s hope that never happens! I fear that if he reaches that goal that he’ll think he’s achieved everything now and can retire.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourselves, please?
We're a band of brothers (from other mothers :) ), totally on our own, surrounded by a small patch of friends that help us out, steadily and continuously building up a growing, loyal fan base. We're trying to create a unique sound that levitates somewhere between melancholy and euphoria. Some say reminiscent of Bono and his band, probably because of our track «Bruises». Others compare us to Tom Odell or even Phoenix. Journalists and people in general try to put things in boxes; I like that it's kinda hard to do that with our sound. Every song stands on its own.
If I were to travel back to your childhoods; what sort of music would I find in your collections?
I was a big DJ Bobo fan. For Severin, our bass player, I know that he only started making music because of Celine Dion. Lolo, our drummer, still secretly listens to Kylie Minogue when he's feeling sick or down. Guitarist Nicolas never listened to music before Tim Freitag, and Gisi, our keyboarder, only listens to Harry Potter audiobooks in a permanent playback loop.
Could you tell us about the ideas/ themes/ imagery used?
A driven, obsessed guy and his accomplices leave their comfort zones knowing that they will never ever know what it feels like to be a dolphin. A spiritually senseless, moisty wet effort for wimps and wussies and Janick's video evidence for his desperate sortie into an element that could not make him more uncomfortable and uneasy.
Do you have any interesting behind the scenes stories?
I really don’t like to swim. Never did. This year I had a date with a girl; she wanted to go swimming. I said, “I’m cool with it”; she went into the river of Zurich, and I just sat there and watched. It was so embarrassing. After she was done, we had a drink and said goodbye to each other. She never called or texted again. To defeat my swimming trauma, and to finally get a girl, I decided to do a music video in the water. The boys staged it like a group therapy, chose the smallest spa and told me to go into the water with them. It helped: After the shooting, I started to go to the lake of Zurich almost every day, at night, all by myself, to decompress. It’s actually quite beautiful. But hey, Mick Jagger’s daughter said in an interview that she never saw her father dipping even a toe into the water…so it’s actually not that embarrassing anymore for me.
Does the video connect with the song?
Not really. The song itself is a classic love song, and the muse isn’t reciprocating with the same feelings. The music video is, too, in a way, about love, about our bromance in the band, but that’s about it. I don’t like the kind of music video when the singer sings, “and she opened the door” and in the video you see a girl opening a door. I like to play with contrasts in music videos. Instead of drowning and suffocating in our own feelings, we splash around in an effervescent whirlpool, slip into slinky silk bathrobes, titillate each other with ostrich feathers. Luscious, languid decadence...
Is there a message the video is trying to convey?
With a little help from your friends, you can overcome your traumas.
Where was the video for 'By Your Side' filmed?
Band scenes were done in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Shots of singer at fluxif AG in Zurich.
Interview Feature by Karla Harris
Additional info for ‘By Your Side’
Location Hotel Simi, Zermatt
Production fluxif GmbH
Director Achille Lietha (www.fluxif.com)
Camera Patrick Betschart
Styling & Props Jeanne-Vera Bourguignon
Color Grading Jürgen Kupka, Unsere Farben (www.unserefarben.ch)
Idea & Concept Nicolas Rüttimann
Lyrics Janick Pfenninger, Vania Sousa
Music Janick Pfenninger, Nicolas Rüttimann & Lorenzo Demenga
Arrangement Beat Jegen, Giuliano Sulzberger, Janick Pfenninger
Production Beat Jegen, Giuliano Sulzberger, Tom Hessler
Mix Giuliano Sulzberger
Mastering Flo Siller & Chris v. Rautenkranz, Soundgarden
Guest Vocals Vania Sousa