Last November witnessed the release of Interploitation, this busy artist’s third solo album. Situated entirely within the cosmos of electronic sound, it bears witness to a radical step by an exceptional cellist.
“It’s somewhat inherited,” says Lukas Lauermann of his approach to music. His father, Herbert Lauermann, is himself a composer and used to teach at the mdw. It was thus quite early in life that Lukas, who was born in Vienna, got exposed to music. He began taking piano lessons at age six and added cello lessons around three years later. “My dad never put me under any pressure; it was always my own desire to do music. But even so, it’s an extremely lucky thing to have parents who are supportive when it comes to your career choice.”
Lukas Lauermann was clear on wanting to pursue a career in the arts. Though his first idea was to train as a stage designer, he ultimately decided to seek admission to the mdw. “I’d initially thought that you could only study at the mdw if you were a prodigy. But even so, I went and played for an IGP professor and then put in a year of intensive work to prepare for the entrance exam.” In 2005, Lukas Lauermann was admitted to the mdw’s IGP (cello) and BEd. programmes. “It was great for me to come to Vienna and meet like-minded peers. Out in Stockerau, where I’d gone to school, I’d always been alone with my interest in music—and suddenly, I had people around me to share my passion with.”
My need was more to be creative than to just interpret…
Having entered the IGP programme, he quickly realised that he didn’t want to focus on classical music. Instead, he got involved in band projects early on in his studies—opening up a new avenue of artistic expression. “My need was more to be creative than to just interpret, and I really didn’t see myself in a classic orchestral role.” For this talented cellist, discovering his interest in a niche genre was a huge stroke of luck. He began skilfully combining his cello with electronic music, improvising, and developing new ideas together with this or that band colleague. “To be honest, I’ve always been a huge fan of various bands, and I wanted to be part of that world. Not as a guitarist, but as a cellist. It was a happy coincidence that the kind of music where such things are possible was experiencing a surge in popularity right then.” Having forged his own new path, he did have to put up with a lack of relevant tie-ins later on in his studies. But even so, this IGP graduate is grateful for his training. “My technical skills provide a good foundation and enable me to be flexible in what I do. What’s more, I actually have a lot of fun teaching.” The way in which he began accumulating professional contacts early on in his studies is something the versatile musician now thinks was very important. “It’s just easier to connect with people when you’re younger. Later on in your working life, it’s unfortunately the case that there’s often zero time for it. Sure, you can write to people, but that usually bears a lot more fruit if they’ve already heard of you or if you’ve already been recommended to them.”
Teaching is something I still enjoy very much. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility.
Lukas Lauermann describes the transition between his studies and professional life as seamless. “I was already teaching one day a week at a music school by the time I graduated, and I still have that day. What’s more, I’ve continued and in some cases intensified what I’m doing in my various projects.” Today, this busy cellist composes theatre and film music, performs with bands like Soap&Skin and Wanda, and gives concerts as a solo artist—like at Popfest Wien. He adeptly expands the cello’s native spectrum of sound using electronics. And today, with loads of experience under his belt, he places particular importance on pursuing a broad range of activities. “I wouldn’t find it appealing to work on just one project, and doing so would also be difficult financially. What I’ve got going now is a doable model that I can easily live with.”
Tying all this varied work together does bring with it certain challenges, since it entails repeatedly engaging with new people and adapting to new situations. But even so, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages: “What I like about band work is the feedback you get on what you’re doing and the mutual enrichment that’s in play. In my solo projects, on the other hand, I don’t need to make allowances for anyone, nor do I need to explain what I like or why I’m doing something. Both kinds of work have their own unique qualities, and I’d never want to exchange one for the other.”
To be honest, I’ve always been a huge fan of various bands, and I wanted to be part of that world. Not as a guitarist, but as a cellist.
In November of last year, following How I Remember Now I Remember How (2017) and I N (2020), Lukas Lauermann released his third album Interploitation, which is situated entirely within the electronic realm. The raw material here came from the documentary Alpenland (2022) by Robert Schabus, for which Lauermann provided the music. For the album, he broke down his polyphonic cello pieces from the film music into individual tracks, edited out certain phrases and notes, and used effect pedals to alter everything to the point where almost none of the original cello sound remained. “The documentary Alpenland is about people who live and work in the Alps, but it’s also about human interventions in nature. The album takes up this theme in a different way by intervening in my own composition.”
Lauermann draws above all on literary works and visual art for inspiration. “I’m often inspired even just by individual words—the way they’re put together or how they’re related to other terms. But I also like visiting exhibitions like the Biennale or documenta.”
Alongside his many projects, Lukas Lauermann has continued teaching at a music school. “Teaching is something I still enjoy very much. The reasons why the kids like coming to their lessons are extremely varied, as is what they take away from those lessons. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility.”