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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Schmidt

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Under the name of Schmidt lies a newly discovered young German singer (to Australian audiences at least) who has great talent and very appealing musical tendencies. The name may be harsh-sounding to some people but you will love her debut album “Femme Schmidt”. The tracks bring the Twenties and Sixties back to life - combining pop, jazz and swing - and are wicked and playful. The record was produced by none other than Guy Chambers, who has been responsible for the success liaison with Robbie Williams, amongst others. Schmidt's music is well suited to the small, smoke-filled rooms like the 100 Club and Ronnie Scott's.

Schmidt's potential is so strong that Sir Elton John asked her to be the support act for his recent Australian tour. During her tour, I had the opportunity to have a chat to Schmidt about her sudden rise.

Q. Tell us about growing up in music?

A. I started at a fairly young age, learning piano at age ten. I got involved in school plays and musicals. Then I went to a music boarding school in London when I was sixteen. I started to write my own songs and it wasn't long before I was signed up to Warner Music. I've always had the ambition to be a singer and performer.

Q. Did you make any early recordings?

A. I produced an album before and it has never been released. I didn't really want to, as that was just a way of finding myself musically.

Q. What will you do with those songs?

A. I'll keep them in case other singers want to use them. They were just done to bring me to a certain point.

Q. Tell about the beginnings of this debut album “Femme Schmidt”?

A. The songs were mostly written around December 2010 and done with Guy Chambers. It was a special time for us. Then it was released in May 2012. I had been performing in clubs all the time and it was important to take the necessary time with these songs for a debut album.

Q. My favourite track on the album is “Alain Delon” - after the famous French actor. Tell us about that track?

A. This song was sampled from the music of the old TV show The Persuaders and we just put words to the chorus. It's a favourite of mine too.

Q. You must have been very happy to work with Guy Chambers?

A. Yes, I met him through the record company. We did the song “Shadowman” and it went so well we had the idea to go on and do the whole album together. I'm looking forward to keeping the relationship going. He was the one who came up with the idea to call me just Schmidt. He kept calling me Schmidt as if it was a nickname and it just stuck.

Q. To support Sir Elton John on his tour here must have been a real thrill and surprise?

A. Yes, it is hard to describe really. It was a mind-blowing experience for me. Everyone in his entourage was so nice to us. I was treated like a Queen and that's a very good thing to experience. Normally, support acts aren't considered that important but it was a special feeling to feel part of the whole tour.

Q. Who are some of the singers you admire?

A. I like Norah Jones, Carole King and Billie Holiday.

Q. Image can be an important factor in the making of the overall music persona. How do you view it?

A. Image is important for very artist. It comes by itself. I just do what I do and I am what I am. People have tried to manipulate other artists' image to bad effect.

Q. How important is the Internet for you at this stage?

A. I love to communicate with fans on the Internet. It's very important for artists now. It's great to get good reactions to my music through Facebook fans. The word gets out quicker about what I'm doing and it's good to have that platform.

Q. Where do you see yourself being based in the near future?

A. At the moment I see myself being based in Berlin. It's a great city with great movement, with some good underground music to see.

Q. What are your plans for 2013?

A. I am having a break over Christmas. Then I have 25 shows booked in Europe from January to March. I hope to be back in Australia for headline shows later next year. I want to bring the Schmidt experience to your country and take people away from their daily routine and blow them away musically. As far as the album goes, it is being re-released in Germany with three new tracks added, and another video for one of those three songs.

Femme Schmidt is out now through Warner Music

For more information, visit

www.femmeschmidt.com