Skiing – “You become a city person, whether you want to or not”

The interview originally aired on KWVA’s show “Umloud Radio” hosted by Julia Mahncke aka DJ Almost Exactly like Julia.

Everett Darling is an elementary school teacher by day and a fabulous musician by night. He is based in Berlin, Germany and his latest EP is named after his band and another band he collaborated with: “Skiing & Mother of the Unicorn”. Darling grew up in Olympia, Washington but made his way over to Europe 10 years ago. He lived in a small town in Estonia and from there took a trip to Berlin. He fell in love and decided spontaneously to move and be with his new boyfriend. When he arrived back in the German capital, however, his love interest never showed up at the place they agreed to meet at. Darling stayed anyways.

What made you stay in Berlin?

I lived in a village of about 250 people before and I was ready to party, to be part of life. There is so much light and so many people everywhere. I had never lived in a big city before. The people here are real city people, sort of unfriendly and quick.

Have you become one of them?

Definitely! One moment I think we should all be nice and get along and the next I’m ready to kill someone because they are walking to slowly on the escalator or they are not obeying the German rule: stand on the right, let people pass on the left. You become a city person, whether you want to or not.

When did you start making music?

My parents gave me a drum set when I was six, aber lange Rede kurzer Sinn, I started the Skiing project in Berlin six years ago. I’ve always made my own music but never released it, never really stood up for it. Six years ago I was playing music with my friend Diana, who is also from America, and we were kind of irritated with the Berlin scene. It’s really serious. Everyone is super serious all the time. It’s also dudeville, everyone is a straight, white dude. We were really excited to present something different, if not to just have a really good time with each other making a lot of noise. So, it started as a punk project and it has gradually become more melodic. Diana moved back to America and I played with a lot of people in the meantime. I got better at playing instruments in general and now I just do everything myself pretty much. I invite people to sing, friends from Berlin or Italy, Russia…When I think of the music scene in Germany, my impression is that it’s much harder to get your foot in the door than in the US. Being a musician is sort of an outlandish idea.

How do you feel about the scene?

I agree with you. Growing up in Olympia, I always felt like everyone was a musician. It’s so easy and it’s not so serious. Getting a show in Berlin is not easy. It’s a lot of work. At the beginning it was very difficult. In Olympia, when your friends were playing a show, you could just say: Hey, I have a new band. How about we do a show next week? In Berlin there are not that many quality bands. They are really derivative, they sound a lot like 90s American indie bands. Sometimes it’s fun, it’s like going back in a time machine, other times it feels really lame. Everything’s already been done or said. But people should do what they want – if they love the 90s, more power to them.

How did you choose the name “Skiing”?

I used to always listen to music while skiing and there is not a lot of music that fits to skiing. There is my music and there are The Bats, a really cool band from New Zealand. The Replacements have a few songs that sound nice while skiing but not every song. So, I thought the music I make should fit well to the sport. It’s smooth, a bit like flying. There are intense moments with an adrenaline rush, there are moments of beautiful gliding and sometimes it’s stressful. The body hurst, there are feelings and emotions involved. Also, skiing is a sex move, when you give hand jobs to two men standing on either side of you. That’s called skiing. That’s actually an afterthought. That was not the original idea behind it.

You record mostly by yourself. What is a live performance like?

Right now I’m working on this video project. I play live with the bass and I sing and behind me on a projection screen are recorded videos of myself or whoever was playing on my album. So, it’s a mixture of playback and live performance. It has some limitations, I can’t improvise, but on the other hand it’s freeing. I don’t have to find the time to practice with people, which is difficult because of my busy schedule. It also brings people closer to the performance because there are subtitles on the screen. People can read them, understand the lyrics, which are really important to me, and the third thing is, it’s really easy to travel when I go on tour. I just have to bring my computer – or even just a chip card – and my bass and voilá! Most clubs have a projector or someone can get one, plug it straight into the PA and that’s it.

Are the subtitles in English or German?

They are in English and in different colors. It’s a little bit Karaoke style and people can sing along if they want. At my last show it was really cool. Some people start to know some of my older songs and at one point I stepped back and and was like, this really feels like a live show. And the disadvantage I had felt, that it’s missing the live energy, sort of corrected itself because of the audience participation which is really nice.

Photo by Skiing