Christian Friedel (Woods of Birnam): “Our strength is the positive aura of our song and its pure and simple message” (German finalists – Exclusive Interview)

ESC+Plus has talked to Christian Friedel, singer and songwriter of Woods of Birnam, finalists of this year’s German national selection for Eurovision. The band will perform “Lift Me Up” at “Unser Lied für Stockholm” set on February 25.

ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in the German national selection for Eurovision 2016!


E+: Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?

We founded the band in Dresden in 2011. Apart from music, I am also an actor and that was how I got to know the guys from the band Polarkreis 18. A rare CD of theirs was in my car when it got stolen. I knew them as musicians, they knew me as an actor and so I asked them whether they had another copy for me after that one was lost. I played a solo opening set at the release concert for their third album. Around that time, I had a short tour booked but my musicians bailed on me. The four musicians from Polarkreis 18 immediately agreed to back me at those concerts. These shows went incredibly well and we decided to found a band of our own right there and then. We were fortunate that the theatre was planning a production of “Hamlet” at that time with me playing the name part. It booked the band right along with me and the songs we composed for that play along with some other songs of mine later comprised what would become our self-titled debut album. The album’s single “I´ll Call Thee Hamlet” would go on to become the title track for the very successful German film “Honig im Kopf” which was a fantastic platform for us. We are in the process of recording our second album “Grace” a right now and “Lift Me Up (From The Underground)” is a forerunner to that in a way.

E+: What impelled you to take part in “Unser Lied für Stockholm 2016”?

The radio station MDR Sputnik, based in the region of Germany that we live in, has put us forward for the race. Out of 150 participants 10 were selected and we were fortunate enough to be one of them.

E+: How did you feel when you knew you had qualified for the final? Did you expect it?

We were extremely surprised and overjoyed. The fact that our song, that was submitted as a demo and not even recorded properly at the time, was convincing enough at such an early stage almost blew us away. We are a fairly “young” band and would have thought that more established names and artists would be selected.

E+: What it would mean for you to represent Germany? 

We are a band from Dresden – a city that unfortunately has mostly made the news of the world press in rather negative ways recently. To be able to send a life affirming, positive and open-minded sign from Germany into the world really means a lot to us.

E+: Can you tell us about your song? What is the story behind the lyrics?

The song’s message is relatively simple: Don’t waste your life, come back out of your emotional hole and enjoy this one chance! I think that the framework of the album will make this even more understandable. It will be about myself coping with a great loss and trying to dance away the pain much rather than plunging into sad balladry. “Lift Me Up (From The Underground)” is probably the most danceable song by our standards. One can hear the 80ties and one hopefully feels a bit of a Michael Jackson groove in it.

E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are you strengths to reach the top in the competition?

In my eyes, our strength is the positive aura of our song and its pure and simple message, which everyone can relate to. In these times we live in, we are determined by outside forces very strongly and more often than not it is only as we get older that we realize what it is we truly want from life. This is why our very danceable song is intended to put forth a vital energy and courage to build self-esteem and enjoy this precious time here on earth.

E+: Have you started to prepare your stage performance for “Unser Lied für Stockholm 2016”?

At this point, we are still in the studio putting finishing touches on our song. Our show is emerging in our minds and we are putting down first ideas and shortening the song into a 3-minute-performance until everything feels completely rounded.

E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorites songs in the history of the competition?

Ever since our childhood days we have been following the ESC more or less. Especially the awarding of the score from the different countries is an incredibly exciting affair. Unfortunately, it is always a little irritating whenever that gets all too political and the song and artist are being pushed into the background. The ESC means fun and entertainment and it’s a wonderful idea to connect the different countries with each other through music. The songs I personally liked the best have rarely ever ranked very highly. I remember a wonderful ballad from Malta a few years back. The female artist had incredible charisma and a fantastic voice but “only” made it into the top 10.

E+: If you could choose a Eurovision former participant to sing along with, who would it be?

There have been a lot of great singers! Maybe somebody from ABBA, because they have written so many great balladic disco tunes and that is something we aspire to with our new material.

E+: Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year?

We are recording our second album “Grace” which will be released in September. Then in the summer, we will already be recording a third album, a sort of soundtrack for a very special concert-theatre-installation, which will premier in the spring of 2017.

E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?

Hello ESC fans! We are Woods of Birnam from Dresden in Germany and we are looking forward to be a part of the German national selection for Eurovision. If we make it to Stockholm (Which would be sheer madness!) we promise to keep on giving everything for a great show and to wildly celebrate with you. See you soon!

E+: Thanks for your time and good luck!

Thank you very much, Tony!

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