The Austrian musician STEPHAN PAULITSCH, aka LIJON, released his first single “N°5 – Don’t Care” in April 2018, followed by his debut EP “Zero” in November 2018. And the name really is the game, because what inspires the alternative musician are simplicity, straightforwardness, minimalism. He spoke to Julia Philomena about the beginning of his musical search, his motto “imperfection as perfection” and the desire for a musical family.
What context did your EP “Zero” emerge from? How long did you work on it and what is its essence to you?
Stephan Paulitsch: Hard to say. In order to grow your true creative roots in music, you actually always write. If you feel the need to write and create songs, then you accumulate a lot of ideas over the years. Not all of them manage to be material for Lijon, so it’s impossible to give an exact period of time. But to get an overview, I started to number my ideas, which you can see from my titles. I find this approach from classical music very exciting. Every songwriter knows that you always have fragments and ideas are quick to come by, but the real challenge is completion.
The essence of this EP for me was probably the question to what extent I can manage to unite all my musical roots and implement my motto “imperfection as perfection”. As a perfectionist and meticulous creator, this is a challenge. What inspires and influences me are simplicity, straightforwardness, and minimalism in design, lyrics and music. Letting little sound like a lot is my goal. Even a few words can be very expressive.
“OF COURSE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, BUT NOT YET EXACTLY HOW TO ACHIEVE IT.”
What does “Zero” mean to you?
Stephan Paulitsch: With these songs I wanted to work my way to the foundation. And the foundation for me is not one, but zero. In music business you don’t start at zero, but below zero. To find out what you want. Of course you know what you want, not yet exactly how to achieve it. With the acquired knowledge you then move away from zero. At least that is my approach. As an artist, I can always rediscover or find myself.
The track “High” describes the process of two people getting to know each other. In the music video, however, only you are to be seen alone as you hurry through the city. What kind of visualisation did you want to achieve?
Stephan Paulitsch: The video itself – kisses go out to Sebastian Kübl and Julian Matzat! – was a one-take and is supposed to convey haste and hectic; the hectic that drives me through the measure instead of recognizing and enjoying moments.
Which influences are essential for you?
Stephan Paulitsch: When I was 13, after buying my first bass, I already knew that I wanted to be a musician. Over time, I learned that the path is not always easy and that there’ll be difficulties in life. I rarely let myself get talked into something blindly, but I like to listen to all outside thoughts and gladly accept things, as long as they make sense to me and help me move forward. For example, I started playing the piano, which is still essential for my song writing today. In addition, there are the records of my parents, through which I discovered my love for blues, jazz, funk, pop and rock.
What’s the name “Lijon” all about?
Stephan Paulitsch: There were many ideas and the winner not only had to sound good but also look good. Sound and design go hand in hand for me. And with my demos on my mobile phone I happened to meet a great friend and supporter, the lovely Eli, in the WUK-Beisl (local pub at WUK Vienna) one evening, played her my songs, told her my ideas and it was her flash of genius that created this name out of one of my ideas. My connection was the lion, so lion. The mighty mane – a beard, which doesn’t exist anymore at the moment – and the elegance of this mighty animal: perfect.
“ART DEFINITELY HAS THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”
You live in Austria. What effects do the political circumstances have on your music?
Stephan Paulitsch: When I am travelling around in my creative world, I have to admit that time and space do not exist for me. As soon as I leave my comfort zone, everything is raining down on me anyway. But I am very interested in politics and find it both fascinating and shocking how quickly actions and statements are often forgotten. Not to follow politics is a mistake. There are so many great people who dedicate their lives to a better world and are true heroines. So far I haven’t let politics get into to my music. But who knows. What is not yet, can still become. Art definitely has the power to make a difference.
And art needs support. Which form of support or networking is important for you?
Stephan Paulitsch: You can find everything important and essential you need to know for being a musician on the mica homepage. And the support via mail is great. There is a contact person for every question and every topic. The support and introduction of the bands and musicians is also very important to me. Unfortunately, savings are always made in art – we have to fight against that together!
On Spotify you have frequent listeners in Vienna, Tel Aviv and Sofia. Do you plan your performances etc. accordingly?
Stephan Paulitsch: Since I consume my music via Tidal, this information is new to me, but it is definitely interesting. I’ve known Vienna for 13 years, but Tel Aviv and Sofia would definitely be destinations I’d love to play and visit. Patience is the name of the game and every step at the right time.
What inspires you most at the moment? Which topics do you address or do you want to address?
Stephan Paulitsch: What I find most fascinating is the interpersonal. How a whole story, or just a moment lasting maybe five seconds, affects the rest of your life. I find it incredibly exciting and it definitely influences my thinking and texts.
How can one imagine the way you work?
Stephan Paulitsch: Ideas are recorded on a smartphone or written in my red book. Be it strong text phrases, chords or arrangement ideas. I love to write everything down by hand and get it all down. But it can also happen that I come home from a night out, sit at the piano or on the guitar and it just bubbles out of me.
How important is the live experience for you?
Stephan Paulitsch: That’s my one and only. Of course, writing and recording is great, but then standing on stage together with incredible musicians is the ultimate. That has the strongest energy for me. I love that. Above all it should be different live than on the recordings. I tend to refuse reproducing one to one. Playing live is a completely different kind of creativity for the musician.
In which environment do you prefer to experience music?
Stephan Paulitsch: As a consumer, I prefer to listen to music via vinyl on the couch. I am and will remain a listener of albums. There is something behind every work and I want to understand that from beginning to end. I don’t just watch the trailer of a film. And as a musician I prefer to be live on stage with a band. I just want and have to play in front of an audience.
What are your further plans or what do you wish for your music?
Stephan Paulitsch: I wish myself a positive and inspiring musical environment. A musical family. And many beautiful concerts!
Many thanks for the interview!