Say Yes Dog & Jackie Moontan have been living two very different lives in Berlin during COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown, we thought we'd take it upon ourselves to interview select Luxembourgish artists living abroad and get their take on what the situation is like in their respective cities. Part 2 of our series finds us one of the music capitals of the world, Berlin, where we interview Pascal Karier, the drummer from electro-pop trio Say Yes Dog, as well as your mother's favourite singer Jackie Moontan.

- Tell us about the career path that led to where you are now in Berlin.
Say Yes Dog (Pascal) :  While studying at the Conservatory in The Hague (NL), I met Aaron and Paul who grew up in Berlin.  A year or two later, Paul moved to Berlin and for a while we were all between The Hague, Luxembourg and Berlin. We finally all ended up in Berlin with a little detour (for me) over Leipzig. Radio Nove once described us as `Erasmus Pop`. I guess they couldn`t follow the whole story :)
Jackie Moontan :  I was actually heading to Transylvania to visit Vlad the Impaler’s spooky gothic castle. But I didn’t speak German back then, and the guy I was hitching a ride with turned out to be on his way to Berlin.  Once I made out the word ‘Berlin’ in his constant gibberish talk I thought was Romanian, I knew I was in for sauerkraut, not Dracula.

- What is one of your favourite experiences you’ve had in your career?

Pascal :  A weekend we love to remember is the Magnetic Fields Festival in India in 2017.  We have been to many countries and countless festivals but this one was a very special one.  Obviously travelling to India (where we have never been before) to play a concert is great.  We didn`t expect to end up playing at the most beautiful Indian palace (the prince loves electronic music and decided to host a festival at his palace every year) with an incredible lineup of some of our favourite bands and DJs.  One of the best moments was a private concert for all the artists on the roof of the palace. The prince invited the best Indian musicians from all over the country, all playing rare traditional instruments that almost no one can play anymore. Big ups to music:LX for inviting us to play at that festival!

Jackie :  I met Rick James when he was at the peak of his career and had a cocaine addiction.  We had a wild night out once; I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about it, really.  He asked me to call him uncle after that.  I phoned in every Sunday to see how uncle Rick was holding up until he passed. May God bless his funky soul.

- Describe the current situation in Berlin. How are people, in general, getting on with the travel ban and event cancellations?
Pascal :  Most of our friends are involved in music, arts, and events. It`s a weird situation where all of us are without gigs and jobs and obviously everyone is struggling with the thought of when we will all be able to be back on stage.  We are lucky that we won`t be bored so quick at home as we can keep working on music.
Jackie :  Artists seem to take to the internet even more now, finding alternatives where they can.  Even if they were shy about doing a living room show over a laptop cam, they’re reconsidering now.. and it’s kinda liberating.  A voice that wants to be heard will always find a way to express itself.  There’s a part of every artist that is used to Isolation, in that aspect we might have an initial advantage over the local bakery.  Life evolves, constant changes, moves on somehow.  People need bread, they also need art, even if they don’t know it.

- What was the vibrant music industry like in Berlin before the COVID-19 crisis? What impact has the situation had on the industry there and how has it affected your plans so far in 2020?
Pascal :  The Berlin music scene has many faces.  One that most people are familiar with is the electronic scene with its clubs and thousands of DJs and producers.  House and Techno definitely have an influence on us and our music but we are not the typical Berlin clubbers :). Besides the electronic scene, there`s all kinds of things happening.  Many bands from all over the world moved to Berlin and there are nice crews that over the years get to know each other.

Another interesting side of it is the underground DIY scene.  There`s still quite some low-key venues that are home to all kind of obscure bands and artists.  Unfortunately, I am afraid that those venues will be the first ones to close down (for good) if the current situation will last much longer.
In Summer, there are countless festivals around Berlin.  Most of them are non-profit and they are already struggling to survive.  This year's annulation of all the festivals might be tough to take.

As for Say Yes Dog, we were supposed to play a big tour in April, right at the beginning of the shut-down. So we had to reschedule all the dates to February 2021.  We also had many festival gigs planned and unfortunately they can`t be rescheduled.  But we hope for the best and have gigs announced now in October/November.

Jackie :  The rumours are true.  People go off in Berlin.  Let me illustrate.  Last concert before the lockdown happened at a little spot near Warschauer Strasse.  A friend had invited me to a lowdown soul gig.  So I put on some black leather and headed over.  First couple of songs were tight, the room got hotter and sweatier and a group of girls started some sort of choreographed pheromone dance.  Around the 5th song; a very sexually charged ballad, the pheromone girls started shouting and lunging over the loudspeakers like they were about to give birth.  Tops come flying off, people shout, the singer can’t believe what’s going down, and I’m wondering why I didn’t wear my latex outfit.  What’s the impact of the virus?  Well, I can only see pheromone dances on wildlife documentaries now, which is what I will be doing for the rest of 2020 it seems.
- Say Yes Dog and Jackie Moontan have been touring a lot with each other lately. What is it like being on the road? Any particular highlights or funny stories to share?
Pascal :  Jackie`s the best man to be on tour with.  Seems like the Moonmen have very good manners and know how to entertain a crowd.  No seriously, we had the best time with him.  He became one of the dogs over the time, barking here and there.  We also ended up playing `Dolce Vita`  by Ryan Paris together on stage, one of many highlights of the tour.  And as we almost couldn`t imagine touring without Jackie anymore, we even asked him to join for a few dates on our April tour (that was cancelled).
Jackie :  The guys are always good fun.  They like to keep the door open for craziness to invite itself.  We had a show in Bielefeld.  For some reason, I always seem to attract the freaks..absolutely no idea why.  So I was well into my first song, my pelvis was just warming up when a wild-eyed man showed up with an electric guitar in hand and just planted himself straight in front of me, first row.  He started mirroring my every move, so I started experimented a bit and did some advanced level contortions.  To my surprise, he kept up with them.  It was like watching a burned out future version of me.  He was obviously high on something very strong, though I couldn’t ask him to sell me some, mid-gig.  I also remember him shouting either ‘I love you’ or ‘fuck you’, sometimes both in a row, every time I finished a song.  After a couple of songs, security removed him as he was freaking people out too much.  It’s intense, just being.

- Jackie, you released a hilarious new video titled "Another Day In Quarantine."  Describe the creative process that went into making the video.  Did you film and produce everything alone?
Jackie :  I just woke up one morning humming Phil Collins, changing the lyrics for fun.  I had a phone call with my psychologist and she said I should just go for it, that it would make me an Internet sensation.  So I did, and I’m still a broke Moonman that nobody’s ever heard of.  The process was simple, like everything I do.  After I’d written down some lyrics and ideas on how to put it into visuals, Lucia, my psychologist, came over and we shot the whole thing in a matter of hours.  Then we made passionate love.

-  What advice do you have for artists who have had their plans, particularly shows/tours, cancelled to continue to thrive in the industry?
Pascal :  I wish I had a remedy for the financial problems :). Besides that, I guess we can now all write music.  Maybe it`s time for that weird album that you always wanted to write but it never felt right to invest your precious time into it.  It`s also a good time to come up with new ways of creating and getting the art out to the people.  Personally, I am a bit bored by the live streaming culture.  Obviously, it`s a good way to keep going, but it seems like there`s an oversaturation and it might be good to find more interesting ways of doing it than just putting a camera in your bedroom.
Jackie :  Keep your shirt on, but know when to take it off.
- You're stuck at home now.  Any favourite music releases you'll be listening to?  Or favourite TV or movie obsession(s)?
Pascal :  There has not been any new releases in the past weeks that blew my mind.  So right now I`m going through the discography of John Frusciante.  The weekly new episode of Better Call Saul is always worth watching.
Jackie :  I’m watching After Life Season 2, weeping big manly tears.  I’ve also re-watched Home Alone, TrueLies, Demolition Man, Evil Dead, Mars Attacks, Brazil, the Naked Gun Trilogy and Dracula; the shitty Coppola version.

- With the lockdown restrictions slowly lifting, what are you most excited to do most once you arrive safely back on the moon?
Pascal :  I`m looking forward to go for a beer at my favourite bar.  A simple place with simple drinks, a vinyl DJ all night long and home to nice and simple people :)  The place doesn`t have a name.
Jackie :  I’ll check on my ma, she’ll be out of French champagne by now and expecting me to bring back some and I’ll go see what my uncle Jonsey ‘Hot Daddy’ Moontan is up to; probably no good.

Stay tuned for more insight into the life of Luxembourgish artists living abroad during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information on how the public can support artists during this time, please visit our latest article here. If you are an artist or company in or from Luxembourg looking for financial support during this time, please visit the Ministry of Culture's latest information and support options for the cultural sector here.