Interview: Riders Connection

Having successfully launched their album Colour Me in Germany, Berlin-based Riders Connection are back to let the good times roll in sunny South Africa. Their music is a mix of folky blues, reggae and soul, the perfect soundtrack for beach days and rising temperatures. With a passion for promoting good music alongside inspiring messages, Riders Connection is infectiously upbeat. Read the interview below to find out what makes these German musos tick and how they came to be Riders Connection.

First off, where does the band’s name come from? How long have you known each other?

I am Philipp, the singer and guitar player from Riders Connection. The Name Riders Connection found its beginning in the streets of Italy, where I made music with an Italian friend, Andrea (drums), whilst traveling all the way from north Italy to Sicily. On this tour, we played music for one month to make a living and to afford to carry on traveling. We met a lot of cool people and made a lot of connections which are still current. Unfortunately, the paths of Andrea and myself separated after this tour, which was the “Birth Tour” of Riders Connection. During this tour, the name was created on a roof under the stars of Rome. Moritz (the beatboxer) and I have known each other for the past 18 years. We started to perform as a duo on the streets, which after time gave us the confidence and experience to start performing at venues across Berlin. One of the venues was called Al Hamra and this was where Riders Connection started to evolve into a more fixed band project. Moritz and I recorded the first live record at Al Hamra in 2010 with Bakri on Darbuka and this was when their music started to spread across Berlin and receive a great response from their growing fanbase. In 2011, we met Aleksej, the bass player, at a jam session and then once again on the streets of Berlin where we invited him to come perform with us at our first official concert in Berlin. After the show, he was asked to be a fixed member of the band and this was when Riders Connection became a trio. Since then we have been touring, recording and making music together.

Who would you say are your influences?

The music mostly derives out of improvisation and jams on the street, on the beach, in our living room or at parties. We find worlds in the creativity of bands and artists like Bob Marley, Gentleman, 5’Nizza, Nirvana, Sublime, The Whitest Boy Alive, Rob Longstaff, Bukbahara, Joe Cocker, RHCP, Pantera, Lois Armstrong, Bach, Speed, Glen Hansard and many, many more.

We like sophisticated solos. It prevents us from tiring of the music.We all are big fans of reggae music, but we also love electronica, folk and hip-hop. You can hear those influences on our regular shows.

Why do you sing in English rather than German? Do you perform any songs in German?

Yes, we do have a few German songs, and we do perform them in Germany in some of our sets.
There is even one German song on the new album Colour Me called “Musik” but I personally prefer to sing in English. English is a more dynamic language than German, you can juggle better with the words. I grew up with English music in Germany as that is what the radio stations I was listening to would be playing. At the end of the day, music has no borders and even language is just a way to talk through. In the beginning of our song “Mitasaya” you can hear a fictional language. The words don’t mean anything, but it still transfers a musical emotion.

Do you play any covers?

Yes, we do. Sometimes in our set we perform songs from Damien Rice, Johnny Cash or Bob Marley. If someone wants to cover a song, we say ok, but we then do it our own way without copying it.


As this isn’t your first time in South Africa, what are your impressions of the country? What is your favourite thing about South Africa?

Well, we had a great time in South Africa overall. The people and the countryside inspired us to write new songs with the memories that were created. We played over 30 shows in very different locations for very different people. We must say that the gig in Dunoon, where we played for over 30 children in a Township school, was the most inspiring and the most emotional concert we played whilst on tour in South Africa. The children were so beautiful and so grateful that we didn’t know if we should laugh or cry. To see the conditions under which they are living and learning, in comparison to how real they are, how they see the world and how thankful they are for every little thing they get, made us sad and happy at the same time. Yes, this was definitely one of the greatest experiences we’ve made in South Africa.

Our favourite place in South Africa is definitely Nature’s Valley.


Tell us more about when you toured with Sons of Settlers. Where did you perform? How did you get involved in playing with Sons of Settlers?

Our current manager is from South Africa and he knew Sons of Settlers personally as he went to school with the drummer of the band. He then invited them to come perform in Germany and Switzerland where they performed a few shows with us in Berlin. We then became good friends, and then later that year organized a tour for us both. It was great, we packed three cars full of gear, and travelled from Cape Town up the east coast towards Jeffrey’s Bay and back and played all along the way, in breweries, at markets, in hotels, hostels, restaurants, beach clubs and backpackers.

What has been your favourite gig to perform?

Every gig is special and it is really difficult to say which one was our favourite, but a very good one was our record release show in Berlin. We played in a very famous club in Kreuzberg called SO36, which we managed to get over 600 people attending the show. We had good friends as guest musicians on stage playing instruments such as violin, guitar, saxophone, and different percussion instruments. All-in-all it was a proud moment in our career. It was a triumph!

What would be your ultimate festival to headline?

Every festival, which is well organized by passionate and creative people, and which the goal is not to earn money in every possible way, but create a unique atmosphere and inspire positive energy. Like maybe how Glastonbury in England was, before the bohemian incident.

Tell us more about the SPLASH! Make a Difference foundation. How did you get involved in it?

The brother of our manager Toni Enderli is from Cape Town and is a dedicated and passionate long-distance swimmer. He has successfully swum to Robin Island many times, and even swam there and back to raise money for charities such as the SPLASH! Make a Difference foundation. This year Toni Enderli managed to cross the English Channel, spanning over 30km from England to France in very rough conditions. His whole trip was documented and made into a DVD, which will be launched on the 01/12/2015 at Big Bay Life Saving Club in Blouberg. We will be performing at this launch party and all the money that gets raised from tickets sales will go to the SPLASH! Make a Difference foundation.

Catch Riders Connection in Hout Bay at La Cabane on the 27/11/2015. For other tour dates, see their website.


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