Camera: noise against the system


Those who know the band Camera also know that they are not exactly willing to behave and package themselves into an easily consumable product, or for the typical music consumer. I say that because not only do they continually change band members and invite guest players, but they also have a way of operating their social media that can come across as alienating.

Camera out and about. (Photo credit: Andreas Miranda)
Camera out and about. (Photo credit: Andreas Miranda)

On top of that, their shows consist of entirely improvised music. This means that gritty disharmony, by nature, can’t entirely be ruled out. They pride themselves in this honesty and vulnerability in front of their audience, and for the most part, the public finds this lack of pandering refreshing.

Camera have made a name for themselves playing spontaneous concerts on the streets of Berlin, with some having dubbed these DIY performances “guerilla concerts.”

Meanwhile, the original band members have continued leaving their marks in the music scene even after leaving Camera. Franz Bargmann (guitar) has continued on as support to krautrock legend Michael Rother of Neu!, while Timm Brockmann (synthesizer) has been involved with projects such as the Tiger Lillies and Einstürzende Neubauten.

Currently, the band consists of guitarist KB Nazca of Chicos de Nazca, keyboardist and movie composer Steffen Kahles – his latest involvement being with the film Der Nachtmahr – and original member Michael Drummer playing, fittingly, the drums.

Upon hearing they will be playing at Leipzig’s UT Connewitz in March for the first edition of Trip, I took the opportunity to get to know Camera a bit better. I sat down with Michael to learn more about this fascinating band.

Camera chilling. (Photo credit: Barry Memphis)
Camera chilling. (Photo credit: Barry Memphis)

Jasmin Schreiber: You started off ignoring the traditional route of trying to get gigs in venues and caught the public’s attention by simply playing in the streets with a full set. Does this way of approaching the industry still reflect your general attitude towards music?

Michael Drummer: For sure. I still busk from time to time when we’re not on tour, and recently got into pretty deep trouble for it, because the regulations concerning street music in Berlin are getting very strict.

JS: What kind of trouble?

MD: Well, we played in the tunnels of U-Bahn stations a lot, which is officially private property of the BVG. We got chased off very often and I received many warnings from them, but I kept ignoring them. One day, I get a letter from the city prosecutor sentencing me to either paying 3,000 euros or sitting in jail for a month.

JS: For playing music?! Insane! So what did you do?

MD: I couldn’t pay that kind of money and obviously didn’t want to got to jail. So, I asked around and was told that because I don’t have a previous criminal record, I have the option of doing community service instead.

Luckily, our rehearsal room is in an old industrial complex where the spaces are now legitimately being used as studios, event halls, offices, all sorts of things. I asked the woman who ran it whether she’d be willing to enlist the complex for me to do community service. To my relief, she agreed!

So I told my prosecutor that I would do community service there, which meant that, as my sentence, I just went to our rehearsal room everyday for a month, which is what I would’ve been doing anyway! (laughs)

It ended up helping me to be more productive during that time, because I had to be there from 09:00 – 17:00, like in a real job. I needed to always be there, in case anybody called or came in to check whether I’m actually doing my time.

JS: That’s absolutely amazing. I wish everybody had such luck tricking the justice system.

MD: Me too.

JS: Care to wrap this up describing the kind of music you guys play?

MD: I don’t know, just buy our album!

After having gone on their first lengthy US tour last fall, Camera is now back playing shows in Europe. If you are in any way interested in experimental, instrumental live music bearing traces of kraut and with psychedelic influences, make sure to catch them at UT Connewitz on 4 March, where you can also catch Mamuthones and Wert.

By Jasmin Schreiber

(Jakarta / Leipzig / Berlin) Jasmin has spent exactly half her life in Indonesia, and almost half her life in Germany, with a one year stint of island life in Cyprus. She is currently wrapping up her bachelor’s degree in English literature at Universität Leipzig. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, and in longer periods of free time she travels – sometimes in the form of joining bands on tour. She finds decribing her entire life in a few sentences a bit depressing, but also funny. She thinks some of the funniest things in life are funny because they are also very sad.

Cover shot: The guys from Camera. (Photo credit: Ford Transit Camera)

Hiking Lions Head in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo courtesy of Claudi,
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