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Artist of the Week – Seven

May 30, 2016 by ·

Interview with the Swiss R&B and soul singer Seven
by Dessislava Berndt
Translated from German: Dessislava Berndt,
Proofreading: Polina Georgieva

In the third show of the music event series “Sing My Song – The Exchange Concert” at VOX other stars of the German music scene as Nena, Samy Deluxe, Alec Völkel and Sascha Vollmer from the band “The BossHoss”, Wolfgang Niedecken and Annett Louisan occur next to the host Xavier Naidoo. The R&B and soul singer and musician Seven is the first Swiss participant this time.

Xavier Naidoo and Seven, Photo: Archive Seven

I met the singer before his appearance at the JazzRally Festival in Dusseldorf and was fortunate to meet not only an exceptional singer, but also a very attentive and serious person. In our interview below you can read about the show, his performances, his wishes and views on work, family and life.

Seven, tonight you are playing at the Jazz Rally in Dusseldorf. We know that your favorite number is seven, that your parents are musicians, that you have been making music for 14 years and that you have released 10 albums. What doesn’t the German public know about the artist Seven?

Of course, the German public knows the things shown at the exchange concert. I am very glad that this show had the chance to provide a special evening for every participant. On the second evening of the show my colleagues performed my songs and I was grateful that they selected a great variety of very different songs: from “Lost” interpreted by Xavier and Samy to “Wake up” performed by The Boss Hoss.

These were songs selected from 12 years of work and not just from one album. Further, they chose songs from a catalog that might fit them. I am very happy that they showed a great musical section of my work.

The viewers understand now why I make music: Prince, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, George Michael, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock are the artists who have brought me to music. What is new is that we will play live in Germany a lot. We are staying here this summer for 25 festivals and people will see me now live and get to know every gig and my band.

Seven, Photo: Archive Seven

Is there a difference to the work in the studio?

I think there are many productions and artists who stick to the original when playing live. A good song can be produced with all the tricks and studio possibilities that exist. You can sing it thousand times, add vocals or orchestra. But if I decide to play a song live, then I start to learn it from zero.

We are currently six people on stage, so I look at the individual parts of the song and start interpreting it new. So, my live show is different from the music from the CD. Otherwise it would be boring to play the CD exactly the same. People could listen to it at home as good as staring at my picture

Playing live it is very important to me and it is something completely different from the CD. These are two different ways of working, both of which I enjoy doing very much.

And you are not afraid that you could disappoint your fans doing this?

If my audience expected me to play exactly like on the CD, then they would be wrong visiting my gigs. I find that a concert should be at least a little better than a CD. Better means different because of a surprise or another version, something fresh and happening only in this moment. A CD is like a showcase that you can listen to at home over and over again and that brings you to visit the concert. But the real explosion and our real affair must happen live at the concert.

Photo: Archive Seven

To you, what makes a successful gig?

Both the audience and the musicians make the evening happen.

Photo: Archive Seven

If I notice that the audience actively takes part and makes the decisions with me, for example, when they like a special part of the song, then I -because of my enormous flexible band- I will sing the part a little longer, build something around it or jam along in this direction, and the audience will not be sure if this is planned or spontaneous. This thin line between planned and spontaneous is what I find very exciting. If the audience and I feel the uniqueness of the moment, then it is a great evening. Otherwise, it is boring for us and the people will come once, listen to it and will not come back again.

What is the source of your inspiration?

To me, music is something inevitable. It’s not like I wake up in the morning and decide to take it up.

I have to do it and it’s like someone who writes a diary but with music. I always write and my archive is full. There are many things that I will never bring out or such that need a little more time to be published.

Inspiration is something natural that happens accidentally. I’m not a person who needs to drive to the mountains or elsewhere, to make music. For me, it fills me and I have to then write down quickly in the studio or at my house and pack it into my clever book. The music just comes out with me.

You already know some German musicians. Would you like to continue working with them or with somebody else?

With “Die Fantastischen Vier” we did a song together last year. That I would have never dream earlier. We decided not to make a normal classic video, but several short snippets. After all, who looks now four or five minutes of a video on the Internet? That was a lot of fun for me.

I would love to work with Herbert Grönemeyer in the studio. Or with Kool Savage. I’ve known him now for a long time, but we haven’t worked together yet. With Max Herre and Clueso too. I find Cluso live really great and authentic.

This means that we will still have you a while in Germany?

We play 70 concerts to February 2017 and from that 60-65 are alone in Germany. We will see what this will bring.

You will be the whole time on tour. Is this ok for your family?

When I’m on tour I try to arrange the dates from Wednesday to Sunday in order to have at least two days off in the week for my family. Monday is Papa-day, reserved for my son, because he has only two hours kindergarten that day. I bring and pick him up and play with him the whole day. This is very important to me.

How do you handle your voice during the tour? Is the tour very exhausting?

Yes, it takes a lot of discipline and after the concert you can’t go for a drink and scream or talk loudly. It only goes with enough sleep, healthy meals and sport. But for 80 concerts, it is the highest bid to stay just fit and healthy.

Do you know anything about Bulgarian music?

Unfortunately, I don’t. But if you ask me about other countries e.g. France, I would also say that I don’t really know much about it. The music that has influenced me so far is clearly the Black Music. Maybe I know something about music in England and a bit about music in Germany, but in general I am not that familiar with European music.

When I have the chance, I will follow your tip and take time to hear some Bulgarian music.

What are you dreaming of?

As a father, I wish that my family remains healthy, that my son has a great life with plenty of prospects for development. Up to the date I became father, I had a thousand dreams that suddenly became no longer so important.

We are a spoiled society, because from the first day, we can take care of our self-realization. We have everything, we probably will not starve and we probably will not drown or freeze to death. It’s all about us, what or who I am, our self-discovery and it is our ego trip from day one. Until now, I was watching only after myself. Until the day when I became father. Suddenly, I had a real task and a meaning in life that are much bigger and more important than myself.

Because of this, my greatest dream is that my family is healthy and happy and that we grow older together. Everything else is then truly no longer so important.

And what about the music?

I don’t really know where I’ll be as a musician in five years. I think of today’s concert and it fulfils me in such a way that it hardly leaves any space for the next concert. But what happens after that is no longer interesting for me.

I think if you’re an artist, you cannot influence, whether the people like you or not. But you can determine every time by yourself how much you give. And if you give everything, then you become somehow free from this influence. For me, to give everything is not a dream but something very natural. Therefore, I only dream that I can continue this adventure with my crew and all the people who work with me.

I am very fortunate that I can choose my people. You spend so much time – partly also leisure time- together and if the working atmosphere is unfit, life can be really hard. The fact that I have all rights for my music means that on the one hand I take a big risk, but on the other hand I keep all strings in my hand and could create my own micro cosmos in this often dirty business. And to save this micro cosmos so safe and familiar as it is so far, is in addition to the personal happiness, a very important wish.

Photo: Archive Seven

So you knew already how important it is to take the power about your own copyrights?

I did my first four or five albums by myself; I was a concert organizer for ten years and did bookings of DJs by myself. I’ve always been a musician, but I have first earned money on the opposite side and know exactly what it means. I know every single position in my team and that helps me to understand the process and to find the appropriate musicians to work with. That’s probably -beside music making- the second most important thing, namely to bring together the right people.

The concert will only take 90 minutes, but we spend traveling two or more days together, and if we work in harmony, the concert would be great for us and the fans.

You had the audience really impressed by your interpretation of Bap Song in Kölsch. How did it happen?

In Switzerland, I didn‘t know BAP. But because of my respect to Wolfgang I wanted to try to sing in his language – Kölsch. I checked the proper pronunciation with my friend in Cologne. Perhaps I could fail with my version, but I wanted to try it. I love to go over borders, take challenges and test my limits. My biggest fear is that I could regret something by not having tried it. So, I try out and if I fail, then the result is that at least I experienced and learned something.

The exchange concert “Sing my song“ is a great opportunity for musicians and audience to get to know each other and to discover new music experiences. At this point, many thanks to Xavier Naidoo and VOX who make it happen. How do you experience the show?

I think we all have our “dealer” who provides us with “stuff”: the radio provides us with stuff very channeled; iTunes gives us suggestions for similar music. We are all poled and equipped with things that sound like this one we already heard.

There is no possibility in the system to learn and hear things that sound completely different. Therefore, when you go to Facebook and Google, you’ll see only things that fit to what you already listen or clicked. But perhaps what you hear so far is wrong for you because you don’t know the right thing for you or your music taste changed with time or you like different styles. But the advertising and music industry will always provide you with similar things and tell you “Listeners also bought”, “Was also recommended”, “Sounds like” … Finally, if you are rock fan you will always hear rock music.

In this show, you are forced in a very positive way, to listen to people, lyrics and music you otherwise never get into contact. This is extremely important, because it helps combat prejudices.

It is also important that we can learn more about the history of a song and get to know better the person behind the musician.

Yes, this is right. Because we don’t consume music. Humans consume human experience or emotion. When the music is produced by a computer, nothing will happen with us when listening to it. Technically, the two pieces will be equal. But we want to hear the music from a musician and maybe see him live in a concert. And next time when we listen to him on the radio we will know more about him.

Are you afraid to become mainstream and lose fans who appreciate an intimate and technically good sounded performance?

It is very, very important to me -no matter how successful I was in Switzerland- to make every two or three years an unplugged tour for 200-250 people.

If we become successful in Germany and play in bigger halls with thousands of fans we will always make these small concerts, because to be close to the audience is very important to me. In such concerts you can listen behind the lines and you can learn more about how the song was created. A stand-up concert with 2,000 people and a seat concert with 300 are two completely different things, and I always have to do both in distance of few years.

Seven, thank you very much for the Interview and good luck for the tour!

SEVEN’s debut album “Dedicated To” was released in 2002. After the 23-year-old musician from Aargau then went on to play as a support act for Destiny’s Child, he was only heading in one direction: being a versatile live artist.

He released his follow-up album “Sevensoul” two years later and appeared in the Swiss album charts for the first time. SEVEN then went back on tour with his band. Seven was not only pursuing a career, but was also fulfilling his (childhood) dreams in the process. This saw him open a concert evening for Lionel Richie just after his second album.

With his third studio album “Lovejam”, SEVEN completely laid bare his soul, something that his fans still love him for today. For the first time he climbed into the top ten of the Swiss Hitparade, with the album demonstrating that his songwriting qualities had reached a whole new level. These songs took the young artist to the US, where he was the first European to open the renowned Sundance Film Festival.

The US was a defining influence on his fourth album “Home”. SEVEN spent six months in exactly the place that his voice, his music and his feeling for beats belong: in the studios of his idols such as Commissioner Gordon (Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse), James Poyser (Erykah Badu, The Roots), Ivan ‘Orthodox Barias & Carvin Ransum’ Haggins (DʼAngelo, The Roots). Back in Europe, SEVEN’s soul train stopped off at jam-packed, sold-out Swiss clubs and not least the Montreux Jazz Festival.

His live shows had gained such an international quality to them that his featured guests from the US, with Eric Leeds even a longstanding member of Prince’s band, could not pass on the chance to come to Switzerland for four exclusive Seven shows. This busy period was crowned when “Home” went gold – a sign of respect from his loyal fan base for the artist’s musical achievements.

The album “Like A Rocket” shot into the Swiss album charts at number two behind U2, brimming with hit songs and cameos from soul stars such as Omar, Beverley Knight and rap star Talab Kweli. AMG, the underground MC from LA, unleashed his lyrics for the first time on a European release; another of Seven’s big dreams had been fulfilled. The album went gold after just a week and the legendary producer DJ PREMIER remixed the hit “Go Slow”. The tour became the artist’s largest to date. SEVEN concerts grew to become highly choreographed shows with jaw-dropping production. This didn’t go unnoticed, with the singer then taking the world-renowned “Art on Ice” show on tour, playing the biggest festivals in the country.

Seven didn’t let any of this change him, continuing to follow his soul in this decisive time and in line with his slogan of extreme changes, he conceived his “Unplugged” theater tour: every show was sold out, with fans, press and critics running out of superlatives to describe them.

It was time to gain a foothold abroad, high time that this music should be brought to an international audience, and so “Focused” was the first taste of Seven’s music offered to Germany.

Back in Switzerland the singer leapt into his anniversary project. And this album was not merely a statement for more grandiose music and bold songs. It was a manifesto for art, a clear message to the narcissistic pop culture: “The Art Is King”.

SEVEN went back to the start again in 2015. For the first time, with “BackFunkLoveSoul” he has topped the album charts in Switzerland, only then to embark on a summer of festivals in Germany following a grandiose release party.

Die Fantastischen Vier asked a Swiss artist to support them for the first time, and SEVEN was welcomed by audiences with open arms. Every concert ended with an encore from the Swiss artist, something that the four rap dinosaurs had never seen before; each show left behind thousands of happy Fantastischen Vier fans, who slowly but surely also became fans of Seven.

And the four Stuttgart-based rappers were wildly enthusiastic about their support act, even asking him to be a featured guest on their latest single “Name Drauf”. This also marks a first for the rap combo: never before has a Fantastischen Vier single officially featured a guest.

But SEVEN’s foray into Germany didn’t end here. At a Söhne Mannheims appearance at a Swiss festival, SEVEN was a guest in the audience and was spontaneously invited by one of the “Songs” onto the stage. Xavier Naidoo was so impressed with the voice, presence and talent of the Swiss singer that he straightaway invited him to appear in the next series of “Sing meinen Song screened on VOX in 2016.

Tour dates
• 19.06.2016
Kieler Woche, (Hornbühne) – Kiel (DE) Eintritt Frei
• 15.07.2016
Sommerfestival – Rosenheim (+ Rea Garvey – ausverkauft) (DE)
��� 16.07.2016
Osthafenfestival – Frankfurt/Main (Eintritt Frei) (DE)
• 17.07.2016
ZMF – Freiburg (DE)
• 22.07.2016
Kultursommer Conrad Sohm – Dornbirn (AUT)
• 23.07.2016
Münchner Sommernachtstraum (DE)
• 30.07.2016
Mosbacher Sommer 2016 – Mosbach (DE)
• 05.08.2016
Parklichter – Bad Oeynhausen (DE)
������� 12.08.2016
Afrika Karibik Festival – Aschaffenburg (DE)
��������� 13.08.2016
Rheingau Musik Festival (Schloss Vollrads) – Östrich Winkel (DE)
• 14.08.2016
Kulturzelt Kassel (DE)
��� 20.08.2016
Summer Night Open Air – Lippetal (DE)
• 21.08.2016
Kulturarena Jena (DE)
��� 01.09.2016
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
IFA Sommergarten Berlin (DE)
��� 30.10.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Wien, WUK (AT)
������� 31.10.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Dresden, Alter Schlachthof (DE)
������� 01.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Leipzig, WERK2 – Halle D (DE)
• 02.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Hamburg, Mojo Club (DE)
��� 03.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Bremen, Modernes (DE)
��� 05.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Flensburg, Deutsches Haus (DE)
• 06.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Osnabrück, Rosenhof Osnabrück (DE)
• 07.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Berlin, Heimathafen Neuköln (DE)
��� 08.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Bielefeld, Ringlokschuppen (DE)
• 09.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Hannover, Capitol (DE)
��������� 11.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Dortmund, FZW (DE)
• 12.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Köln, Live Music Hall (DE)
��� 13.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle 2 (DE)
����� 16.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Stuttgart, Im Wizemann – Club (DE)
����� 17.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
M��nchen, Theaterfabrik / Optimolwerke (DE)
������� 18.11.2016
“BackFunkLoveSoul” Club Tour 2016
Karlsruhe, Tollhaus (DE)
• 22.12.2016
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle, Stuttgart (DE)
• 23.12.2016
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle, Stuttgart – Zusatzshow (DE)
����� 17.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
München Olympiahalle (DE)
• 18.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Hallenstadion Z��rich (CH)
• 19.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Festhalle, Frankfurt (DE)
• 21.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
König-Pilsener-Arena, Oberhausen (DE)
• 24.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Stadthalle, Wien (AT)
��� 25.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Arena, Leipzig (DE)
��� 26.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg (DE)
��� 27.01.2017
Special Guest der “Fantastischen Vier”
Lanxess Arena, K��������������ln (DE)

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