Laura Aha and Jördis Hagemeier here talk first favorite tunes and nerding out about pop.
When and why did you choose music journalism as your profession?
Laura: I’ve always loved to dive deep into one subject and become a nerd about things, which is probably why I was very much into learning about church music besides school. I first got into writing about music at university where I studied Popular Music and Media Science. The first interview I ever conducted was with DAF and it was a complete disaster because singer Gabi Delgado was really intimidating and I ran out of questions after ten minutes. After that I decided I needed to get better at this job.
Jördis: Ever since I was young, I wanted to really understand how things work in this world. That’s why I decided to study philosophy and German literature once I was done with school. Nietzsche, Sartre and Bataille made me catch a glimpse of the idea that art somehow has a weirdly serious connection to how we perceive society and humankind. To me, personally, being a music journalist means having a duty to retrace and contextualise, to experience and feel every aspect of music and its creator’s intention.
What is your podcast Music sounds better with ME all about?
Both: The podcast reflects the way we look at the world of pop—in a pretty personal way. As music journalists we get to meet many creative and diverse people, but their actual voices, raised in interviews, are mostly hidden behind the written word in a magazine. The podcast Music Sounds Better With ME gives us the possibility to make artists’ voices audible, which are usually just transcribed for Musikexpress Magazine. Therefore we invite them to our studio—or the writers who have met the artists before to conduct the interview for the magazine. In that case, we always use original audio footage from the interview, of course. As audio is a very direct medium, it brings the listener closer to the artist. Also, on a more egoistic level: We basically just needed a place to nerd out and rant about pop stuff, which is what we do all day long anyways, so the podcast is also our invitation for any pop-geek who wants to join the party.
What are your all-time favorite songs and why?
Laura: I know it’s not really edgy to say this after the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, but when I was about four my father gave me a mixtape-cassette of Queen, which became the first pop music I’ve actively listened to in my life. So Radio Gaga will always be amongst my favorites. At the moment I’m Iistening to Diana Ross’ No One Gets the Prize/The Boss (12-Inch Re-Edit) on repeat because I heard Robert Hood play it in a set recently. He has made me fall in love with house music. Sadly, I cannot put Michael Jackson into this best-of-all-times-list anymore.
Jördis: Earth, Wind & Fire—September: the greatest love song of all time. Mariah Carey—Fantasy: one of the best sampled pop songs ever. Oasis—Live Forever.
“Diversity and gender equality are definitely two topics that will reach their peaks this summer.”
Why did you choose this selection of songs?
Laura: Jördis and I mostly share our love for disco! Which probably explains our general playlist mood.
Jördis: Absolutely. We also go to Panorama Bar together from time to time, even though Laura’s taste in music is pretty classic, a little old-school and old-fashioned in the coolest and nerdiest way.
Laura: And even though Jördis really likes early 2000 house music, she has a weakness for R’n’B bangers like Ashanti’s Foolish!
What do you think will be some crucial pop issues in 2019?
Laura: Diversity and gender equality are definitely two topics that will reach their peaks this summer during the festival season because, finally, well-known international music events such as Primavera Sound in Barcelona try to establish a new way of thinking when it comes to bookings and line-ups.
Jördis: Hopefully, another issue that may attend the discourse of pop is climate change. I recently read an article in The New York Times in which scientists said that If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, global warming could, ultimately, exceed eight degrees fahrenheit, which would undermine the planet’s capacity to support a large human population. The fear of the world in a nutshell. I’m pretty sure musicians will start picking up on this important topic—just like Jayda G did with her debut album Significant Changes.
Before starting the Podcast, Laura Aha has worked for Groove, Spex, taz and Vice. Next to working as a music writer for Musikexpress, Jördis Hagemeir runs her own design Magazine GOSH. Check out Mixtapes section for more nerding out about music and pop culture.
Text: Fabian Ebeling
Photography: Jonas Goedde