Pet Owner, the musician from Lucerne, Switzerland, describes with a velvety voice the world that surrounds her. On her upcoming debut LP Natural Behaviour, she programs drum machines from the 80s, adds folky guitar riffs, quirky noises and elapsed synths. What emerges is a contemporary mélange of folktronica and bubblegum pop. She recorded and produced the LP in her homestudio and finished it together with co-producer Ama. In addition to the music, Pet Owner creates colorful 3D artwork and music videos. Retro chic and 3D game design are enmeshed to present indie pop art. Natural Behaviour will be released on the label and musicians collective Red Brick Records later this year. Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
Pet Owner: I grew up in Lucerne, Switzerland where I still live. When I was about fifteen, I started playing the guitar and got instantly hooked on writing my own songs. I’ve continued doing it ever since.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I completed a master’s degree in Jazz vocal at the Lucerne University of Applied Arts. To me, this degree is more of a technicality. What actually defines my music – songwriting, producing and the visuals – is all self-taught.
3. Who were your strongest musical influences and why the name ‘Pet Owner’?
Pet Owner: I get inspiration from artists and bands who embrace a certain DIY spirit, who deny trend influence and nourish an experimental approach to their work. Think of Broadcast, Mac deMarco, Tame Impala or Beach House: Their music is 100% authentic and honest.
As for my name:
I would love to be an actual pet owner: I love cats but I have a pretty bad allergy so unfortunately it remains to be wishful thinking. As a musician, I can be an imaginary Pet Owner.
5. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style, which is known as INDIE?
Pet Owner: I was never really interested in imitating existing music. Soon after I started making my own, I was drawn to niche music, so my taste got pretty distinguished. I started out as a „classic“ singer songwriter: me, my guitar and my teenage troubles. Over the years (and as my teenage years slowly passed), I got closer and closer to my own sound and aesthetic. This meant a lot of work, re-work and self-reflexion.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work?
Pet Owner: As a person, I’m influenced by everything that happens around me, be it political, cultural or social. Therefore, my personal values are woven into my music – without being the main purpose for the musical output. I’m actually more interested in how something sounds, how it’s instrumented, what mood a song creates.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfillment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Pet Owner: The motivation to make my own music is quite straight forward: It gives me the opportunity to create something from scratch, it’s super pleasing and soothing to me – so yes.
Financial fulfillment is a completely different topic though… 🙂
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
It varies from song to song. Let me tell you how Hysterical, the album’s first single, came about:
I wrote a first version of the song around four years ago. It sounded totally different back then; a very quiet and reduced guitar tune. This didn’t feel right. My co-producer Ama felt the same way, so we tried many different things with it – without success.
One day, I was home alone and started to sing a totally different melody on the chords. It felt right! I added synths, a drum machine and typed in some midi notes as the bass line. When I was done, the only thing left from the original version were the chords. Now, the instrumental and melody felt good so I went on writing new lyrics.
I took the song back to the studio where Ama and I worked on the arrangement, added some final touches and finished it together.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your music career so far?
To stay patient and keep trust in my work.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your music career so far?
Pet Owner: Recording and producing this first solo record and now releasing it makes me very proud and happy. During this whole process I have remained true to myself. Since Hysterical is the first „hello“ from Pet Owner, I am curious where this journey leads me.
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