Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Florian Zumkehr

Artwork for “Up To You.” Courtesy of Florian Zumkehr.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Over the course of 13 years as a contemporary circus performer, creator and acrobat, Florian Zumkehr compiled a personal setlist of tunes that tell tales of struggles, sacrifice and searches.

From Switzerland, but based in Berlin, the musician, artist and stage performer recently unleashed his new single “Up To You,” which is now available on all streaming platforms. His EP ’10 Steps’ was written and produced in collaboration with Lucas Thielecke.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with Zumkehr about “Up To You” and more.

Music Bugle – What inspired your single “Up To You“? 

Florian Zumkehr – There are moments in your life where you feel strong and able to decide which people you want to have in your life and which you don’t. I strongly believe that it’s up to you to decide who you let into your heart, but sometimes, every once in a while, you meet this person where you can’t decide to let them in or out of your life. The force they have is too strong, so they sneak right into your heart. Wink, wink.

Music Bugle – What were your earliest experiences with music?

Florian Zumkehr – I used to play clarinet as a child when I was 10 years old, but I remember my parents always singing good night lullabies with us kids.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Berlin to someone who has never been there before? 

Florian Zumkehr – Berlin is like a chameleon. It’s constantly changing. I live here since 2003, so kinda before the whole big Berlin hype happened and it has changed rapidly since. For me, it’s a magical city with an amazing history and strong force. You can do anything you want here, but also get lost in all these opportunities. Berlin can also have a toxic side and so I like to say – in Berlin, you learn to say, “No,” or you don’t and leave the city.

Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write? 

Florian Zumkehr – I think my song “10 Steps” from my debut EP was one of the hardest, because it’s about my father, so it was a very fragile subject for me.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Florian Zumkehr – I am a professional acrobat since 2007 and I am touring the world since. Social media is definitely helping a person like me to self-promote. I can’t really speak how it affects musicians in particular, because I released my first EP only four months ago.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Florian Zumkehr – Extremely hard. As I said, I am an acrobat who is usually performing up to 200 shows a year. Last year, I had 11 performances. I think that says a lot. Luckily, the German government has been nice in supporting artists so far, but overall, it was nice to have more time to focus on my music.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need to escape? 

Florian Zumkehr – I go in to the Swiss mountains. Mountains and nature have the power to charge my batteries completely. Actually, in Summer 2020, I escaped Covid and worked in the Swiss mountains as a cheese farmer for six weeks in a cottage with no hot water and no internet. It was an incredible experience to be so close to the circle of life and to really live day-by-day to its fullest and be in the rhythm with nature.

Music Bugle – What do you hope for in 2021?

Florian Zumkehr – I really hope that live shows will become a “normal“ thing again and that people will start to hug each other again to say “hi” and “bye.”

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Florian Zumkehr – I’ve been discovering Nick Mulvey and Kevin Morby and have been listening to them a lot.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately? 

Florian Zumkehr – To keep my acrobatic skills in shape and train everyday, even though I don’t know when my next show will be.

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