Seit geraumer Zeit hat es mich weg aus Deutschland ins Nachbarland Belgien verschlagen. Das soll jetzt aber kein Ratgeber fürs Leben als Expat werden. Nein, es geht natürlich um Musik. Belgien hat neben den Niederlanden und Luxemburg musikalisch viel Spannendes zu bieten. Wer sich ein Bild machen möchte, dem empfehle ich unsere „indie export – the sound of benelux“ Playlist (die hat übrigens kürzlich ein frisches Update erhalten).
In den kunterbunten Mix leitet einer ein: The Haunted Youth. Seit der Single „Teen Rebel“ und dem im November letzten Jahres erschienen Debütalbum „Dawn Of The Freak“ haben sich Sänger Joachim Liebens zusammen mit seiner Live-Band zu den Indie-Lieblingen schlechthin gemausert. Mit einem Mix aus Shoegaze und Dream Pop schaffen die verträumten Gitarren einen Sound für eine ganze Generation, gezeichnet von tiefer Traurigkeit und unendlicher Freiheit zugleich.
Ich habe mit dem Sänger hinter der gequälten Jugend gesprochen.
The Haunted Youth im Interview
Evelin: Hey Joachim, thanks for joining! First thing’s first: I myself have been living in Belgium for a few years now and heard a lot about you already. But for the people who might not know you: Who are you and how would you describe your music?
Hey! Well I would describe my music as coming from a place that’s internal. It’s very introspective, makes you think but also forget. And I made it in a way to exorcise my own demons, and with that sometimes I exorcise someone else’s demons, at least while the song is playing. That’s how i would love it to be (laughs).
Evelin: In what creative mindset do we find you at the moment?
It’s kind of a trip, sometimes I feel like my life or my music is going nowhere in the studio, and the next day I feel inspired and focused. When it comes to playing shows, that’s always nice, I think it’s being on the road for a while now that makes me face new ways of going about creating music. And sometimes that’s hard, but I love going through it, it always ends up somewhere exciting!
Evelin: Your artist name is very carefully chosen. How much does your youth still affect you to this day? Does it still haunt you?
Well, our youth kinda shapes us in ways, and as we grow older we unconsciously try to make up for things, when this childhood was missing something. In ways, I feel like pursuing this dream was a way for me to be able to unconditionally live as a child, and free something that was imprisoned in me because of my past. While also growing up in other ways, like making a living and sharing a house with my girlfriend.
„There’s always traces that follow you around“
Evelin: Your debut album „Dawn of The Freak“ looks back on a very specific time in your life and in previous interviews you almost sound a bit bitter about your past. Can you explain what the album means to you and what state you were in mentally while writing the album?
Well, growing up where I did, in the social environment that I did, I just felt isolated. Like I was different, and something was missing. I found something in skateboarding, I found something in punk rock, and when I really started to discover my own world, it was censored and controlled and judged by the people who should be there for me.
After the divorce of my parents and years of depressing vibes between them, lies they would tell us about each other, to extreme levels, I decided to not see them anymore as soon as I had the chance. So I tried to fight things I felt about it in songs and that became the album. Because even though I left and my worst days seem to be behind me, there’s always traces that follow you around, and haunt you.
I was sick of feeling like shit because of this and decided music was always my best way to fight it, besides skateboarding, or smoking weed, doing drugs, etc. I wanted to also give back this message to the community like: „Hey this music has been there for me. I made something in return, which I hope will do the same for someone out there.“
„I’m not trying to evoke anything in anyone“
Evelin: The main messages in your album revolve around the struggle of finding your place in life. Do you think you found that now? If so, what does that look like for you?
I feel like I found at least a big picture of it (laughs). I’m pretty happy with my life now. I seem to have it pretty much under control, it just seems to flow, you know. A lot of old passions came back on me, like I just started skating again, and that feeling combined with being on the road with the band.
They’re my carefully chosen family of freaks and my queen freak, Ammu. She’s my girl and I’m so in love with her. We really come from the same place traumatically speaking, even though she has her own story, but we bond on that deeply. We both make music together, like really hardcore punk shit, you know.
And I don’t know, things just feel like they fell into place by making this album and everything that came along with it. And there’s been a lot of struggles to get here, but it makes me enjoy it more as it’s happening.
Evelin: Your upbringing is characterized with contrasts, and it shows in your music. Whereas the melodies are often quite soft and dreamy, the lyrics can get rather dark. What do you hope to evoke in people with that?
I’m not trying to evoke anything in anyone. I follow what evokes something in me, and weirdly, that’s how I end up making other people feel things with music. By first chasing that feeling for myself, and have me be the judge. Because I am the hardest to please, other people might like something I might not feel. So why do that. I think great music first needs to be therapy for the writer in order to become therapy for anybody else in such a profound way. Not always though, but mostly.
„Just go until the gas runs out“
Evelin: You write and produce your music basically all on your own and sort of thrive in isolation. Now you released a song together with one of your bandmate’s projects King Victor. How did that more collaborative process work out for you?
Well, Tommy (Tom, Teil von King Victor und Gitarrist bei The Haunted Youth) is the only one I share a certain musical connection with. The therapy part, and the way this therapy sounds to us, is something very particular. I think this kind of connection is really rare, but that’s why he got in the band in the first place.
And one day he had this song, and sent me the demo, and I hated his vocals on it, but loved the song and proposed to sing on it. I still did it alone, 4 am, high as fuck, and a little depressed. I did a few takes, and sent it to him. He loved it and we decided to go with it.
Our label manager later decided to make it a collaboration thing with the feature, so his song would get the attention it deserved. We later ended up putting it in this year’s live set.
Evelin: You released your debut album last year in November, after touring and the upcoming festival summer. What is next for The Haunted Youth?
Just feeling the vibe, riding the waves and rocking in the free world, making lots more music, just go until the gas runs out, and we run out!
Evelin: At the end of each interview, we always ask for an untold story. This could be a random fact about you, an anecdote, something funny that happened during recording, touring etc. Anything that you haven’t shared with the world yet, but want to now. 😊
Well, me and my girl have a dog, a Tervuren shepherd. She’s called Kensy, and she’s our little wolf. Every so often we sit with her and we howl together, as a wolfpack. It’s said to strengthen the bond between you and the dog. It’s as if we’re singing a song together! (laughs)
The Haunted Youth auf Tour
Wer sich genauso wie Joachim von Traumata und Sorgen mithilfe der Musik loslösen möchte, dem spreche ich eine warme Empfehlung für das Debütalbum „Dawn Of The Freak“ aus.
Nach bereits vergangenen Shows und Festivals um und in Deutschland gehen The Haunted Youth außerdem im November wieder auf Tour. Unter anderem in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Heißt, ihr könnt euch auch noch von euren Dämonen frei tanzen. Holt euch hier eure Tickets!
Fotocredits: Robin Todde