Mathias Baumann – A Short Biography
Dublin based guitarist Mathias Baumann is originally from Nassau, Germany and moved to Ireland in 2005.
With many years of gig, recording and touring experience in different countries he has been working as a session guitarist, composer, producer and guitar teacher since 1998.
He has been performing and recording with Steven Peter, Joe Casey, Susana Lima, Blue Spirit and Japanese Toys, amongst others, as well as his own groups the ‘Mathias Baumann Quartet’ and the ‘Mathias Baumann Group’ of which the latter features an international line-up with a three-piece string section.
Mathias studied Jazz at Blackrock’s Newpark Music Centre and finished the four-year degree course in May 2013 as a ‘Bachelor Of Arts in Jazz Performance’.
Currently, he is working on a global multidisciplinary and intercultural art project which will also feature his original music in form of orchestral music.
Although he has played with many bands and in various musical genre, Mathias has always favoured playing and writing original music and started composing at a very young age. As a composer he always searches for new harmonic and rhythmic textures with interesting melodic movement and powerful grooves. His extended compositions and arrangements are complimented by open improvisations so that interaction between the band members always drives his songs to new horizons.
Since I was born I have been deeply connected with music and gathered a lot of experience in listening and playing with different bands and musicians of various musical genres. I have always been working on exploring new rhythmic, harmonic and stylistic ways to express my musical creativity.
My current project ‘The World Is Coming Together’ is based on a growing international community and the desire to connect with people and our planet to make this world a better place. For this purpose I have collaborated with artists from different disciplines to realise an event that will bring the world together and open people’s mind to make a change for the future.
My Musical Adventures So Far…
Q: How is your family background with regards to music?
M: A lot of people in my family are musicians, playing all sorts of different instruments: my grandfather is a drummer and keyboarder, his father used to be an harmonica player, one of my uncles plays trumpet, another one sax, clarinet, accordeon, piano, guitar, drums and who knows what else. ‘Edgar’, my dad, was a piano builder and played organ and piano in bands before he became a physiotherapist. My mother learned how to play mandolin and guitar when she was a teenager.
Q: When did you start playing yourself?
M: I started playing piano when I was five years old. I grew up in a small town called ‘Nassau’ where everybody knows everybody and even their pets. So my parents knew this private teacher who was specialised in early education and became my first teacher. A couple of years later I went to a regional public music school.
Q: Why, when and how did you switch to guitar?
M: At the age of fourteen, piano just wasn’t Rock’n’Roll enough for me and I was always dreaming of playing in a Rock band. During a summercamp I picked up a guitar and a girl showed me a few chords. Back home I bought a superb electric Yamaha beginners guitar and a Marshal Amp and learned how to play.
Q: You wanted to be in a Rock band, tell us what happened next.
M: A guy called Ziggy, which I knew from primary school, asked me if I wanted to form a band with him. He was also a guitarist so we needed a bass player and a drummer. Luckily my brother was a drummer. First problem solved. But the bass player was not as easy to find. We decided to start without a bass. First of all we put a lot of songs we liked on a list and covered nearly all of them. Styles ranged from Punk Rock over Indie Rock to Heavy Metal. After a while we started writing our own songs and one of the tunes gave the band its name: ‘Abartig’. A couple of months later bassist Rene Perpeet joined our band.
Q: Which bands were you influenced by at that time?
M: I grew up with vinyls and tapes. My dad used to create his own mixtapes and he loved it. I even think he considered this his real job. Influenced by that I recorded my own mixtapes even long after the invention of the CD. Mixtape is the keyword when I talk about influences in music. All my life I listened to a lot of different bands, artists and styles so I never could tell what influenced me most. Everything I listened to, I guess. At that time though I would say Metallica, Slime, Die Aerzte, Nirvana, The Bates, The Ramones and many more.
Q: Ok. Were you successful with Abartig?
M: What is the measure of success? I don’t know, to be honest. Let’s say all we were interested in was girls, party and play loud. Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll. Who’s line is that anyway? But we participated in a battle of bands kind of thing. We brought a huge crowd. My girlfriend at the time was not able to see us, because it was sold out and she had to wait in front of the door. We did not win the competition. In fact we came in last. But the crowd went mad when we played. The jury already decided who was going to win before the competition even started, as usual… Anyway, I think we really inspired our fans and a few times we played in front of hundreds of people. I’d say we were successful in a way which counted for us.
Q: In 1997 the band changed its name to ‘Endless Sleep’. Why?
M: We were getting older and our taste in music changed to a more heavier style. This was mostly because year after year we went to the ‘Dynamo’ festival in Eindhoven, Holland. When they started they only had very heavy bands playing. Influenced by that we wanted to change our style. I started writing tunes on guitar and piano, that’s why ‘Karolin Kohlhaas’ joined the group as a keyboarder, but only for one gig. After that we had a short creative break.
Q: Two years later you regrouped yourselves into ‘Blue Spirit’. What changed?
M: The original founding members of ‘Abartig’ were still the same: my brother, ‘Ziggy’ and myself. Because we wanted to bring our music to the next level and play more complicated songs we needed a better bass player and a keyboarder. This was a difficult time. As we couldn’t find either of those ‘Ziggy’ started playing bass. Through my civil service I met a guy called ‘Thorsten Seidel’ who then became our new keyboarder. After my father’s sudden death Ziggy and me composed ‘The Voyage Through My History’ which we performed and toured in our region. For an original band we played quiet a few gigs. With ‘Blue Spirit’ I had a very creative time and I wrote many songs, some of which are still unreleased.
Q: We heard that you had piano lessons, but did you ever take any lessons on other instruments?
M: In 1998 I even started teaching piano. In 2000 then I couldn’t get any further with my autodidactical approach so I took guitar lessons with ‘Thomas Rompf’, known as ‘Schlumpf’. Only one year later I began teaching guitar myself and decided to work as a professional musician, composer and producer. In 2003 I moved to Cologne to study musicology, pedagogics and film- and theatre sciences. Working for the band was more important to me though, that’s why I didn’t really bother to attend to many lectures…
Q: Did you not start a company with your brother?
M: Yes, I did. We built our own little recording studio and formed an audio company named ‘b&b productions’. We are still in business.
Q: You moved to Dublin in 2005. How did this affect your life?
M: Moving to Dublin changed my career as a musician. Very quickly I was able to find work as a guitarist, producer and guitar teacher. At that time ‘Japanese Toys’ were looking for a new band member. After joining the group I soon opened a new studio named ‘Artlane Studios’, in which we recorded the single ‘On My Stereo/Brave New World’ and the album ‘Dance Me’. At the same time I started playing with singer ‘Susana Lima’ and ‘Clare Dunne’. I also met guitarist and bassist ‘Steve Casey’ with whom I formed the acoustic funk-rock cover duo ‘Baumann & Casey’ and the trio ‘The CBB Three’ (with ‘Abel Benito’ on drums).
Q: What are your influences:
M: I listen to a lot of different music and I don’t really think of musicians or bands influencing me. Listening to music and experiencing it is more a process of inspiration for me. Over the years I favored many guitarists such as David Gilmour, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci. Since I started my Jazz degree I switched listening to musicians like Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, Louis Stewart, Martin Taylor, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder to name a few. Especially non-guitarists inspire me most at the moment. Obviously John Coltrane and Miles Davis but also Kenny Wheeler, Kenny Werner and Keith Jarret. The list could go on and on and I am sure that I forgot a lot of important players. The more you listen, the better.
Q: You started studying again, isn’t that correct?
M: Yes. In 2008 I met Abel Benito who told me about the college he was studying at. As a result I started studying Jazz at ‘Newpark Music Centre’ in Blackrock, Ireland in September 2009. That is where I met Andreas Nolan with whom I opened a recording studio named ‘Tuscany Soundz’.
Q: When did you finish college?
M: I finished my 4 year degree course in May 2013 with a First Class Honours Degree as a ‘Bachelor Of Arts In Jazz Performance’.
Q: What else happened in 2013?
M: As part of my final performance in college I formed a septet called ‘Mathias Baumann Group’ in 2012. It includes a small string section. The entire project went very well and I decided to continue writing for the septet and start recording an album in the near future. Additionally I am planning to play a few gigs with the ‘Mathias Baumann Group’ and also with the ‘Mathias Baumann Quartet’. In the summer of 2013 I started working with an Irish singer- songwriter called ‘Joe Casey’ with whom I recorded in my studio. Together we released his debut album ‘This Road’ in December 2013. Since then we have been plugging the CD and played a few gigs together. It’s great fun. I really like his music.
Q:What are your plans for the near future?
M:Through an artist boot camp in the CFCP, Dublin in late 2013 I met a lot of artists from different art disciplines and we noticed a big connection between us and have been working on a few project ideas which will hopefully become reality in 2014.
Furthermore I am working on two original albums at the moment: One with my quartet (MBQ) and one with my septet (MBG). Both will be hopefully released in the second half of 2014.