What do you pay attention to when you listen to music? The lyrics and melody? The instrumentation and timbre? I hear the bass and rhythm. It’s challenging for me to remember lyrics. A beautiful bass enchants me, and the queen of the bass, of course, is the double bass. Still, it took me more than thirty years of making and listening to music until I finally played it myself.
At the age of seven, I began to play the flute, and a year later, the clarinet in the local brass band in a southern German village right next to the River Rhine.
With my first notes, I became a clarinetist in the youth brass band, in preparation for joining the adult brass band from the village a year later. Until the age of thirteen, I spent my Friday nights playing Volksmusik and marching music, as well as soundtracks from famous American movies.
On weekends, we performed marches in other villages in the district, played music for birthdays, weddings, and funerals — all while wearing uniforms with badges on our chests. These events often involved a lot of alcohol, a repertoire of over one hundred pieces, and plenty of bonding time. I enjoyed it immensely; it felt like home!
I believe this is where my love for the bass began. In a way, I’ve remained attached to this genre. Twenty years later in Berlin, I played the bass clarinet in a brass band.
Sometimes More is Possible
When I was thirteen, my family moved to a small town in northern Germany, which marked a significant cultural shift for me.
It was also where my classical education began. I joined the youth symphony orchestra of the music school., and there I met Judith Retzlik, with whom I now play alongside Myriam Kammerlander in our band gerda vejle.
My new clarinet teacher supported and encouraged me at every available opportunity, while a conductor showed me that sometimes more is possible than I initially thought. I began to professionalize myself, and the dream of playing the double bass started to take shape.
However, another fifteen years passed by before the double bass finally entered my life: Driven by heartbreak, I bought a big and strong double bass with a heart in the bridge (thank you, Judith, for your encouragement), and since then, I’ve been the double bass player and sometimes a singer at gerda vejle.
Together with Myriam and Judith, we are gerda vejle: a space for creativity, a creative home, and friendship. If you want to learn more about gerda vejle, you should read Myriam‘s text; I couldn’t have said it better.
My role at gerda vejle is likely to provide a solid foundation for vocals, harp, and violin to rest upon. It’s wonderful to play multiple instruments that allow you to express different facets of yourself. The clarinet is my voice, and the bass is my body.
In the early years of gerda vejle, I listened to a lot of music, mainly because I was responsible for music booking at a new large venue called silent green in Berlin. This time was intense, and there was little time for my own creativity, besides the band.
Today I work as a systemic coach; and support individuals and groups usually from the creative industry in decision-making, change and search processes.
Music and Motherhood
Finding enough time for my own music-making has always been a challenge. It became even more demanding when I became a mother.
Time became the most valuable resource. Unfortunately, it’s still the case that women, in particular, struggle to balance family and music. Creative processes and working conditions are not often child-friendly: concerts and rehearsals frequently occur in the evenings and on weekends when childcare services have already closed.
Moreover, creative work demands full concentration and commitment, which can be challenging to maintain with children. This needs to change.
The Oceanic Feeling and Baths in the Ocean!
Just a few years ago, I learned from a friend about the concept that describes the feeling I had always been searching for. When I discovered it, it made me the happiest person, not only in life but especially in music: the oceanic feeling. I yearn to lose myself, vibrate, connect, and resonate—a physical experience that I find when I play and listen to music.
In September, 2023, gerda vejle travelled to Ireland, and I became both an ocean swimmer and a resonating double bass player. The oceanic feeling was very close. Hopefully, there’s more of that to come in the future.
Looking ahead, I hope that we, gerda vejle, will finally manage to record our music. Do any of you know a talented female producer? If so, please get in touch with us.