Thursday, March 09, 2006


(Pic: All CD releases from 1990 - 2005)

2006 – 26 years of making music! It seems like a lifetime but it also seems time passed by in the blink of an eye. At the end of the day you only notice that:

a) Wow, I am getting old
b) I still haven’t got a hit

But in all fairness to the statements above, it is not (only) about the fame, the groupies and the money - it is more about not being able to reach an audience and not being able to change the world through art.

But then again, looking back at all the achievements and the “nearly achieved” things it is about a way of living and it gives me comfort to receive nice letters and emails from people who tell me that they feel they’ve known me for years and that my music means a lot to them.

I started making music at the age of 13, nearly the same age my son is in now, and now he shows an interest in what my music is all about and he is asking questions about songs and lyrics and he even things my music is better than the music of my heroes “Kiss” and “Prince”.
Although I am sure this perception will change soon.

The most amazing thing is that even though he lives 2000km away he feels a certain closeness while listening to my music. It seems that my “Sensitivity – The Best Of TJ” came at the right time as it is a stock taking of my development over a period of 15 years and my son Kevin can somehow relate to it.

I had a good few independent chart entries over the last decade and my song “How Many Times” written and recorded in December 2003 and released on the “Sensitivity” CD just made it into VH-1s “Song Of The Year” dance / electronic – charts which gives me a sense of achievement.

Especially because it is a song writing competition chart and the latest reviews were just great. But what does that mean? How did music effect my life and my relationships over the last 2 ½ decades and has it taken its toll?

In order to understand that and in order to understand how the music industry has changed and how it works these days, one must follow me to the humble beginnings ….

Chapter 1 - In the beginning (1980 - 1985)

(Pic: Someone elses organ, 1984 in the USA)

I think I am born an artist and I feel that I did not choose the art, the art chose me.

I remember being about 7 or 8 when I first developed somewhat artistic ideas by starting to cut out pictures from magazines only to clue them into a copy book to turn them into little stories. And I clearly remember how furious I always got when one or two little pictures went missing. I used to scream and shout and have all the family searching for a tiny piece of paper. They just couldn’t understand the importance of keeping all pictures together. It was almost like a jigsaw. “How am I supposed to tell the story properly without having all the pieces?” I kept on asking. They just starred back at me and I really don’t want to know what was on their minds.

Later I wanted to become a documentary filmmaker and it is quite common when you are young to have plenty of ideas of what to become, but in my case that’s what I really wanted. Obviously my parents had other plans for me – I specifically asked for an 8mm camera (that was in 1980 if I am not mistaken) but instead they gave me a pocket camera with a flip flash and thought that’s about it.

I photographed all kinds of things and catalogued them ending up with 20 odd photo albums but it never crossed my mind to become a photographer.

My youth was rather cool, we never had to starve and I got to travel with my parents a lot. We even lived in Saudi – Arabia for a year (1979) but “behind the scenes” there was trouble.

As the youngest and very likely most spoiled of all 4 kids, I was hugely suffering from the tensions and fights between my parents. They were on and off and there were even bets going on as to “will my father be home today or not?”.

It was devastating. Devastating to the extend that I developed incontinence up until the age of perhaps 14 or so, perhaps even later although it wasn’t that problematic in my teens.

Devastating also because I just lost it: I kicked in doors, spilled coke over alarm clocks and even attacked my mum with a knife. There were talks whether I had to be taken to reform school or what to do with me.

I even lived with my father for a period of time and that did not work out either.

But, miraculously, when my mum said that my father won’t be coming back and there won’t be any more trouble, the whole situation improved within a fortnight. I do believe however that the amount of stress I caused made my mother ill. She developed cancer years later and passed away in April 2004, at the age of 70.

I guess I turned to art because I wanted to escape from a dysfunctional family. A family in which, apart from my mother and my sister, I had no sense of belonging and when I emigrated to Ireland years after moving out from home and having my own family and divorce I noticed straight away that it wasn’t necessarily only the family, it could have well been the country itself.

Don’t get me wrong: I had good times in Germany but even when I was a young kid I always told my mother that I wanted to go to England. Ireland as such didn’t exist in my small mind. She often wondered where that idea came from but we never ever went to see the UK. As most Germans do, we too went to Spain for vacation.

However, by the time my father left for good – so did the money. My mother worked part time selling shoes and I started playing guitar. My uncle Fritz, who was well known in the 50s and 60s in and around Frankfurt (so I’ve been told), taught me. But after approximately six months and only little improvement, I considered the guitar as not appropriate for my musical aspirations.

Today, 25 years on I really regret not having finished what I started. I worked with many musicians over the years including a bunch of guitarists and it always left me awe and wonder how versatile guitar playing can be.

Anyway, I had enough to do by teaching myself how to play drums and keyboards. I even went to vocal lessons for a while. But lets stay in the beginning – shall we say 1981?!

In 1981 I found myself in the middle of a new musical movement. Actually, two musical movements: “New Wave” coming from England very much to my liking and “Breakdance”, a new thing that should become famous all over the world as “Rap”.

Grandmaster Flash and the furious five came to fame and so did a young British band called: “Depeche Mode”.

In 1977 I bought my first single: “Kraftwerk – The Robots” and Depeche Mode, to my ears, were pretty much like them. Very electronic and hip and their melodies were even catchier. A lot of things were on and I immediately started to write songs on an old Bontempi™ organ.

I formed my first band Firebird, consisting of me and a guy called Andreas Herholz on the flute. I think there was someone else as well but I am not sure as Firebird did not last longer than a few months at best.

We took the name from a bass guitar painted on by my older brother Michael. It showed an eagle and said: “Firebird” – so, because it was catchy I felt that is the name to go with.

I wrote a couple of songs in the early 80s, keeping them pretty much to myself, as my main aim was to get a girlfriend. The shit hit the fan in and around 1982 when trouble escaladed at home. Although my father was gone (or was he?) my feelings were pretty much all over the place. I weight an unreal 97 kilos and although I always passed exams in school I did not get my leaving cert in 1983 mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t in school much and if I was I was more a nuisance than anything else.

I remember my mum having to go to school plenty of times trying to safe me from being expelled. She also managed to get me a placement on a 1-year course “1st year for businessmen”. I did go to school that time and I even received my leaving cert but not after a longer meeting between my mother and some of the teachers including the headmaster.

In Summer 1984 I flew to the States to visit relatives living there: My aunties Karin and Jutta, my beloved uncle Theo, who was more like a father to me, and my father who was causing distress in Florida at the same time as well.

Jutta used to live in a big house near the beach and because it was so much hotter than it would ever be in Germany, I spent most of my time on the beach, not without visiting my uncles “German Bakery” for breakfast.

Billy Idol and so on. While I was in Florida, I saw George Michaels first solo Video: “Careless Whispers” which marked the end of Wham! and I bought my first Stereo – Microphone in a shop in Daytona Beach and lip-synced along to the telly.

But what really inspired me was something else: A guy called Prince – not yet well known in Germany, was everywhere in the States. On a rainy day (one of only two during my nine weeks stay) my cousin and I went to the cinema and we watched Purple Rain 3x until we could sing every song by heart.

I bought the LP in the States straight away and I only had one goal: I wanted to become a rock star. Growing up with heavy metal legends Kiss and Status Quo and old records of Elvis, that was one of my dreams anyway, but when Prince’s music came to fame that was the time that changed my life completely.

Back home in good old Germany Duran Duran´s “Wild Boys” dominated the charts and a lot of German bands were pretty IN at that time. The Rodgau Monotones for instance had a major hit in 84 and performed alongside Tina Turner and I was looking for musicians again to form my version of Prince & The Revolution.

All I found was an already existing band, the Heartaches, who were friends of friends of mine. I was there guest singer for a while and vanished into nowhere, “wasting” my time promoting this guy I had encountered while in the states. It didn’t take too long though before Purple Rain and Prince’s biggest single to date: “When doves cry” took Germany by storm.

In 1985 I joined a band called: Sprits Of Soul where I met Armin Schwarzfeld, with whom I recorded the Exzess – Technological age MC in 1992. Kjeld Fisher, the drummer, I had known for years and when he decided to call it quits I bought his drum kit for 250,- Deutsch Marks and pretty much took over singing as well.

Spirits … however did not survive 1985 and when I met my first wife in May 1985 I spent more time with her than with anything else and I didn’t pursue my musical career any further.

In early 1986 I was back on track and searched for a new band. I bought another drum kit, my first electronic kit, the same Simmons™ kit Kajagoogoo used, only that theirs was yellow and mine was white. I bought it off a semi – professional drummer who later went pro, Markus “Jackson” Bolz, and paid in instalments. Fully equipped with my drum kits I was looking for musicians.

Chapter 1.1 - "Pride"

(Pic: "Pride" 1986 after a concert)

I found them and formed my first serious band: Pride !

Pride started out with me on vocals and drums and the brothers Schmitz: Mike, Matthias and
Markus on Bass, Percussion and Guitar.

Great blokes – great talent and we had a good few months together.

Markus and me were the main force behind the songs and our mutual love for the music of KISS gave the band its strengths and determination.

We were able to get a permanent rehearsal space (there were and still are more bands than space, as usual) in Offenbach, Frankfurter Str.80, we used to call it: “F 80”. It wasn’t the nicest place to be in, but because it was in a back alley we could be loud, real loud.

We recorded our first demos in there the old fashioned way: tape recorder in the middle of the room. External microphone? What for? = stupid, or perhaps only young and inexperienced.

There was a good music scene in the 80s but for a young rock band like us (or any other band for that matter) the infrastructure for gigs was rather slim. We somehow managed.

In fact, our very first gig was in front of school mates of mine at my teacher’s house. They liked us but not because we were any good, more because they knew us and my teacher thought it is a good idea to form a band and was proud to have us first.

We went on playing at garden parties and very early one I liked the idea of performing for different cultures. We performed for the Portuguese Mission @ the famous “Yellow House” and a workmate of mine managed to get us a 45 minute gig at a wedding.

That was just crazy – it was a Turkish wedding and there were approximately 1000 people in a huge hall. I still haven’t figured out how somebody can gather a crowd of 1000 people for a wedding. We were playing between two sets of the hired Turkish wedding band: “Erol Deribay´s Istanbul Express”.

We were watching Erol on stage and instantly noticed that the people didn’t really like it. They played traditional Turkish folk songs and I remember saying: “ 1000 Turks versus a 5 piece rock band – that’s 200 knifes each, that’s it folks, we’re dead” because I worried what they would do to us once we start bombarding them with rock music.

My workmate and mentor Okyay Tülek introduced us to the crowd and we kicked off with our version of Kiss´ “War Machine” – and I watched in sheer disbelief that people started dancing. We had our own songs and also covered songs by the Scorpions and the best song on that evening was a cover of Prince’s smash hit: “Kiss”. We received a bottle of whiskey for our hard work. Unlike many other bands we didn’t drink but accepted gratefully.

It didn’t take long for us to discover that musicians are not a big family but competitors. We couldn’t have been greener and walked freely into the midst of enemies during a hard rock festival in Nieder – Roden, where we were the opening act. The first 10 minutes rocked and the crowd really liked us. Ten minutes on we were ready to give it all but noticed that all of a sudden only the first two rows were clapping and singing along to the songs we delivered.

The others looked rather confused and after just 25 or 30 minutes at the most we just gave up and called it a day.

We were disappointed because we just couldn’t understand what caused that dramatic change after a real good start. On our way to back to the bus some people approached us and they told us that it is a pity that they couldn’t hear a thing all of a sudden. “But it’s alright now” they said. So that was it. They must have cut off the volume or something. We certainly didn’t see anyone doing anything on the desk to save us, therefore we figured it was deliberate.

May the best band win wasn’t perhaps in their interest as the mixing console belonged to one of the two remaining bands. On a positive note we realised that we were a real threat to others and that we were on the right track.

We decided to go big and I approached a friend of mine who was into Video filming. We soon found ourselves in the forest miming to the tape recorder on a lake, shooting two videos at the same time. Karl Heyland, the poor chap behind the camera, and me went on to film quite a lot of other bands for a while and Karl did a lot of filming for Digital Dreams as well.

If something is working as smooth as Pride did, there is usually trouble just around the corner. And there was: We had a few smaller gigs in 1986 and on December 20th 1986 we had a very good one at a local pub, called: Wachauer Landl.

Without any consultation Markus´ girlfriend Marion wanted to join the band and she did “playing” the tambourine and looking pretty stupid. But that wasn’t the worst part as I brought in my girlfriend for no reason as well, at least for a while.

While performing on new years eve 30.12.1986 I was under the impression that Marion’s father seemed to have taken over management although he was never asked.

That still wasn’t the worst. We had another gig coming up at a school in front of a few hundred people. Percussionist Matthias and bass player Mike were late and so I started the gig on my own doing a little stand up comedy. To my surprise that worked very well.

When they finally arrived they brought a complete second drum kit along, so all of a sudden we had two drummers now. Suggested by Marion’s father “this is only for the benefit of the group”.

The gig wasn’t smooth and we didn’t go down too well mainly due to tensions caused by someone else who wasn’t even in the band.

I am known for having a huge ego and it showed that day. I left the band from one minute to the other. The boys were trying to hold me back and suggested to have a drink after the concert. We had a very short drinking session of less than a drink and I was on my own again.

They didn’t have the guts to oppose the “new management” and there was no way for me to continue under that circumstances.

There I was in February 1987 with my meanwhile expanded equipment of three drum kits and multiple cymbals and no band in sight.

As if I ruled the world I bought some cheap keyboards to be able to make music and later in 1987 I performed again at the Wachauer Land´l, only this time as a solo artist. This gig was crap and is not even listed somewhere as I had to abort the gig halfway through because the people didn’t know what to make of an artist, trying to play keys and drums at the same time, not to mention the vocals. :-/


(Pic: 1993, "Mainton Studio", Offenbach/Germany)

In 1988 the Army was calling. I am a musician for Christ sake, what am I supposed to do in the hands of the military?

Back in 1988 one simply HAD to go to the army for 18 months or could do some other work, mainly wiping old ladies asses for 30 odd months, so I went to the army.

Stationed in Bad Ems, a good bit away from Frankfurt, I encountered what it means to serve the State. Only that I did not give a shit about the State and so I constantly went into trouble.

It was never severe but I questioned the motives of my superiors pretty much every day, so they made me do all the cleaning and weekend shift. I remember not being home for about 4 weeks or so.

There were great people there, no doubt, but it wasn’t my world and when I realized that this nightmare is reality immediately the incontinence came back. I didn’t sleep well and it didn’t take long before I found myself being a patient on the medical wing.

At first they thought I might fake it but then they were afraid that it could become chronicle. If it was to become a chronicle illness they would have to pay until the end of their days, so they discharged me after only 6 months.

That was sorted.

Shortly before joining the army I had finished my three years apprenticeship as a specialised shop assistant in the electronic department of a well established company based in my hometown Offenbach.

I started to job hop for a while and mainly spent my money on instruments and things to pursue my career. In 1988 my idol Prince was still around and after seeing him perform for the second time @ Frankfurt’s Waldstadion in front of 60.000 people, I remembered to take it more serious. Especially because there was a change in my music in the sense that it had a meaning and I thought I have something to say and to give.

Me and my girlfriend who had become my fiancée moved in together in 1989 and in order to buy the interiors for an otherwise empty apartment we had to get a little credit off the bank.

Still believing in my talent I managed to persuade Petra to buy a drum machine, a synthesizer and a 4-track machine so that I can work on my first CD.

That’s exactly what we did. We did buy furniture as well by the way!

So, in 1989 I started recording some material onto that 4-track machine. The vocals never turned out cool as there were no in-build effects and one could only record onto a regular tape.

I mainly only used the drum machine and the synthesizer and I borrowed a Korg™ M1 and other more sophisticated keyboards off Frank Moesner, the producer and owner of a little studio, who somehow fits into the picture later, as I had the pleasure to work with him for a number of years.

In September 1990 my debut CD: “Digital Dreams – German Groove” came to light and only weeks after sending it out I had an offer to produce with Bernardo Pasbrig, who was on the black list of the German Rock- and Popmusic Association (Deutscher Rockmusikerverband, DRMV) and we never did work together for reasons I won’t discuss.

The “German Groove” failed to impress people because of the fact that it was only a 4-track demo production and while newspapers like the Offenbach Post found it brave and interesting, especially because it had been recorded entirely without using any studio trickery, others, like the DRMV magazine: “Rockmusiker” wrote, that “… this CD is horrible … miles beyond embarrassment... – and very rightly so.

Surprisingly enough, the album managed to climb to # 16 on the DRMV charts, the opening title was used for a short film (a film I was working on during a video editing workshop …) and the same title “3002” was officially used for a Commodore™ C64 computer game called: ”Teldor IV”.

Not so bad at all for an album that was so unpopular. At least everybody within the small music scène of Offenbach seemed to be talking about me and my embarrassing album.

I gained entrance to the Scene Catalogue and I was even asked to sign it for charity. And so I did.

In 1991 I started to re – record some of the songs of the German Groove. “Der Teddybaer” and “Pearl Harbour” for instance.

Frank and a friend of his owned a little Studio in Offenbach and I went there to record some songs. Later that year Frank went on to get his own studio space together while I was re-joining forces with Armin Schwarzfeld, with whom I had played in Spirit of Soul.

1992 was a rocky year. Armin and I were going to form a duo. We called ourselves Exzess and we recorded mainly at Armin´s home studio which consisted of an 8-track direct to tape recording unit and some nice keyboards. I always brought my Commodore Amiga 500 and later Amiga 600™ along as I created my very own sounds with it. Armin´s view of “our” musical future was very different from mine.

He was a huge Depeche Mode – Fan and most of the songs he wrote sounded like a reincarnation of Martin Gore and although his songs were really great I felt this is not the way it should be. In a way we wanted to pay tribute to our heroes but I felt that there should be more of “us”, more of our own style to be heard.

In the end I recorded roughly 40% on the Exzess – Technological Age on my own in Franks studio and it was less of a collaboration than it should have been.

During one of the sessions at Armin´s place I met Franca Pettrich, whose boyfriend lived in the same block. We must have been very loud during the recording sessions otherwise no one would have noticed.

way that he dismissed most of her ideas and he never seemed to be satisfied.

I reckon that he didn’t really like the idea of having a female voice on some of the tracks but did not dare to tell her straight away. I thought that some diversity couldn’t do any harm and I still believe that the opening title “You don’t kill my love” with Franca on the backing vocals is one of the best songs I ever had a part in.

Armin and I took it pretty serious and we even went to a professional photo studio to get the artwork right. My oldest brother Hans – Jürgen or simply “Hacki” who always was creative in his own way used to make face masks out of clay and we asked him if we could use one for our cover.

By the time the MC was finished Armin and me were pretty much finished as a duo. In retrospect it is a pity as I really like the uniqueness of our collaborated efforts. It just wasn’t meant to be.

In April 92 I was diagnosed as a type I diabetic and it took me a good while to feel the ground beneath my feet again. In fact, it effected me so much that it took me ages to adapt to it.

Also in 1992 I got married and my son Kevin was born. All those events were among the reasons why the Exzess MC never got the attention it deserved.

We had a very nice review about the tape but that was about it.

Karsten Roth, who wrote the article for the “Auspuff” magazine, went on to do different things for different bands. He shot the photos for the back side of the CD. I was living in a real bad housing estate and those blocks have huge heating systems in the basement and they really look alien, so we went down there for a photo shoot. (One picture was used for the "Hitech Systems" CD,1994)

Chapter 3 - The rise and fall of DIGITAL DREAMS

(Pic: Photoshoot 1993)

In the early days of 1993 I met Franca again and asked her straight away if she would like to join me to continue my temporarily abandoned Digital Dreams project. She said yes straight away and we pretty much went into production.

Franks studio was located in a WW II bunker in Offenbach. By 1995 I had my own rehearsing space in the same bunker. No sunlight, but great fun!

Anyway, back to Franca and me:

We both had only little money but what we lacked in financial resources we made up for in sheer determination. At times we were incredible.

We were (and pretty much still are) both hotheads and we had undeniably a lot of stress with each other, although the main problem wasn’t inside the band. It came from the outside in the form of her boyfriend who really was against us and Franca had plenty of bitchy friends and family.

Never the less we decided to kick ass. Franca and I only knew too well that we wouldn’t make it unless we are musically great but also put together a great show. And we did put together a great show. We had an additional dancer (a female friend of Franca) and we used theatrical explosions and on top of all that we wore Star Trek™ clothes on stage.

We were really cocky and we had our very first gig in January 1994 @ the Hard and Heavy club in Offenbach. The crowd there is usually exposed to heavy metal and we walked on stage with computers and Star Trek clothing – but we blew them away and the concert went down very well.

The play list consisted of 60% older Digital Dreams stuff, some Exzess material and some new songs, for instance a trilogy about Smog. It was the first concert after seven long years.

We were the first (and maybe the last) band ever who played there without guitars.
The "Hitech Systems" was still in progress and this was a much needed life test for the new record to be out soon.

After this long on stage-absenteeism we gathered quite a crowd there and even some Heavy Metal fans were interested to see an electronic band on stage.

The concert itself went well. The music though was pretty political in those days and we also performed a song against racism in Turkish language.

We had to play another 15 minutes after our usual 90 minutes as the people were pretty demanding and it was a night to remember.

But not only because of the success we had:
After the concert we were packing our stuff to leave the premises and some members of the Hard & Heavy club were preparing the hall for a wedding to be happening shortly.
By the time they had removed the drum podium I was asking what this was all about.

I was quite shocked when I heard the answer: " There will be a wedding of some fucking Turkish fellows, people you sing songs for."

All of a sudden three of the members became rather aggressive and came towards me with the words: "You better leave now or we will make you!"

Fortunately some other people were still there and therefore these guys could not beat us up.

I was highly disappointed because I had been under the impression that especially a club made up for a minority of hard rock fans should not be intolerant against other minorities
After the gig we knew we have to put out a CD.
I did not work at the time and Franca was only an apprentice but she still managed to get a loan and we went on paying money towards Frank for the studio and the CD – production itself.

In April 1994 we released “Digital Dreams – Hitech Systems” and really kicked off. In no time we were ranking among the top ten unsigned bands in the area and our CD managed to climb and reach # 4 at the DRMV – charts.

Looking back on the album I find it not too well produced especially when it comes to the intonation of the English songs but it was hugely diverse and had a range of styles from Pop to Techno, mixing English, German and even Spanish. The Digital Dreams – Hitech Systems deserved the high chart entrance and all the publicity.

The album itself opened a lot of doors between 1994 and 1996 and gained us performances in a High – Security prison in Frankfurt, at a Star Trek™ convention and at a huge festival in the capital city of the German county of Hessia – although that one was with a different line up altogether. (Reports about the concerts and more pictures can be viewed at: )

In 1994 we had the mentioned concert in January and we had our ups and downs in between until we finally hit the stage again at the “Star Dream I” – Convention in Mannheim / Germany in August 1994.
600 people or so watched us performing in full Star Trek (c) outfit this night and the press was around as well earning us a 10 second recognition on SAT.1 TV station.
The 45 minutes set was quite a success but the day itself wasn't!
DIGITAL DREAMS is shortly having a breakthrough we thought on that very day as our CD was good enough for the planning committee of this particular convention to accept us playing there.
Together with my female singer, 2 dancers, 1 engineer and 2 other guys to help us with this and that we headed of from Frankfurt towards Mannheim.
Previously I sent 20 posters of the gig out to the committee and they assured us that they will be posted around the venue, the P.A. and light system is there for us to use and we will get assistance if needs be.

Reality somehow was slightly different.

When we passed the Klingon™ warrior at the entrance we went to the organizers and they didn't know about us. Fortunately our 20 posters were there. Folded in the back of a counter - not even 1 had been posted somewhere.

The contact person confirmed via “Walkie Talkie” that we do perform there and that we do not have to pay the 110,- DM each. The price to get in was pretty high and we were sure that as much program as possible would be good on that day.

The contact person was then way too busy to see us.
Over the next couple of hours, actually far more than that, no one from the committee showed up.

The company hired for P.A. and light did not give a fuck about us and they did not want to let us use their equipment.

After a longer discussion and begging them for quite some time they agreed that we can use the system.

We'd been asking for a dressing room and we were assured beforehand that there will be a secure space for all our belongings. Of course this promise wasn't lived up to either. Naturally we were pretty disappointed but we kept our promise and we played watching all the Vulcans™ and Klingons™ and Cardassians™ dancing together.

Franca and me also weren’t a team anymore and I noticed the huge difference between the two gigs very much on that day in Mannheim and deep down I knew that this relationship had to end.

We split up shortly after the Mannheim gig and I suffered immensely because Franca and I had become close friends and I missed her. We did not talk for a while and when we met again over a coffee we decided to give it another go.

Meanwhile I had established contact with two dancers, Sabine and Georgina, and we were practising for a concert that was planned for spring 95.

When Franca came back in the tensions between Franca and MSG, that’s what the girls called themselves, became obvious.

Franca, a very good dancer indeed, had choreographed all previous shows and her style was different to the style Sabine had brought in.

Only a few days prior to the concert at a children’s home, MSG announced that they wouldn’t go on stage as long as Franca was there and due to the fact that Franca and me hadn’t regained our former strength after the break up, I decided to kick her out again.

The “Hitech Systems” CD was the proudest album to this date and it had reached a Top Ten position at the DRMV - charts and it was the first concert after Franca´s exit.

Together with a 2-girl-dance group “MSG” - I was about to perform for about 100 children and some elderly chaps where I tested a lot of new material to be released on the 1996 “Vesicula” release.

I had a severe cold and the P.A. was absolutely crap but the concert turned out to be quite good. I started off with dance tracks and the audience was pleased by the show.

Our mix of romantic tunes and electronic pop songs was a good mixture and I sold a fair amount of CD's that night.

After approximately 70 minutes I had to break up the show as I couldn't barely sing anymore but the audience demanded always more and more and so I performed far longer than intended. I gave all I could but just couldn’t perform any longer.

After this concert I had been invited by the children and they baked cakes for me and treated me like a star. Even a friend of mine who just helped carrying the equipment was forced to sign CD's.

Later that year I performed again for the kids and it was an amazing experience.
But on that evening Georgina was very pissed off and didn’t talk to me again. She also didn’t continue working with Sabine anymore I heard and there I was – alone again.

I had worked with numerous musicians over the years and in 1995 I started recording songs for a new album. Frank had moved to Frankfurt into a bigger space and as usual I followed him to record with him.

My music consumed me pretty much and it took its toll. Me and my wife separated in December 1995 and never got back together again. The divorce was announced in 1997.

Some when in summer 1995 a workmate recommended a female singer and after meeting we immediately clicked and worked together as Digital Dreams.

It wasn’t the same as before and even though Simone´s voice was much better than Franca´s, she brought some classic vocals to the project and as Digital Dreams was at the peak of its electronic phase that combination didn’t work.

Simone got us a huge gig in front of thousands of people @ “Hessen wird 50” festival where we shared the stage with soul legends The Temptations. Later, on stage - disaster struck. We couldn’t here a thing and when Simone started singing 10x higher than necessary I knew: That was it.

Initially we had rehearsed two songs but I refused to play the other song on stage and so we split up after the gig.

For the better I believe …

But the problems did not stop there – I had only received social welfare in 1995 and because the newspaper Offenbach Post wrote an article about us representing Hessia during the festival, the department of social welfare assumed I was making lots of money with my music without telling anyone.

They also knew about the Hitech Systems – CD and I had to prove that I didn’t pay for the CD production. Actually, by law, they have to prove that I did make money on the side, but when they freeze all cash, one is very reluctant to fight back.

The only way to prove that, in fact, at least officially, I wasn’t responsible for the financial side of things I had to contact Franca again as she had all the bank details and the contract between her and the bank regarding the loan.

So, I rang the bell and she was surprised to see me. As a matter of fact - she was still pretty much pissed off with me for kicking her out. (Fair enough L)

But because we once were friends she allowed me to copy the contract to get off the hook. I kind off paid her back by writing a love song ,on her behalf, for the “Tommy – The Musical” actor Michael Serveris, with whom she had a little fling.

Anyway, we did not officially pursue Digital Dreams together again but she joined me every now and then when I had a gig somewhere.

Eventually we managed to have another very memorable performance together in January 1996. “Radio FFH”, organizer of the 1995 “Hessia” festival, was looking for people who would be willing to perform in “odd places” – and that sounded pretty much like us.

So, they established contact between me and a priest who was responsible for all entertainment within a high – security – prison in Frankfurt / Preungesheim.

They only had 800,- Deutsch Marks and we already had to spend 500,- DM on the P.A. but this opportunity was too good to be wasted.

On January, 18th 1996 we performed at the high security prison and that was the most incredible concert ever.

We had our own police officers as security guards and strict rules as to how to interact with the audience.

Winter in Germany is always bloody cold and this January was no exception. We arrived at the prison after sending our names and copies of all our passports in advance pretty early as the scheduled time for our 90 Minutes performance was 1.30 p.m.

It was as scary as it was exciting.

Because a small act has no roadies we had to get back to the cars four times and to get back into the prison we had to follow their security procedures four times which cost us efficient time.

The priest of the complex showed us the chapel in which we were performing and out of just 100 prisoners 96 attended to the gig after having read through our one page advertisement printed free of charge in their very own prison newspaper.

Before we actually could get to work we were advised on some security procedures as well. 5 policemen guided us from the "criminal elements".

This high security prison hosts all sorts of criminals. From murderers to rapists and so on and so forth. We weren't allowed to take pictures. The only exception was a couple of pictures from the band taken from behind the mixing desk that stood on the right hand side of the stage.

The crowd itself was outrageous. They were jumping of their seats and they were clapping along every little note along the program and they were absolutely grateful for our performance.
After the gig prisoners and policemen bought some of our records and the priest send us a letter expressing their gratitude.

An unforgettable experience.

Only one month later, in February 1996 the most anticipated Digital Dreams release came to light: Digital Dreams – Vesicula. Franca only appeared on this MC as a special guest and when I performed a concert against poverty for the Public Assistance Society of Offenbach in November 1996, Franca was there as a dancer.

That was our last collaboration and I laid Digital Dreams to rest.

Digital Dreams as such was a good experience in more than one way.

I took ownership of this project and who ever came in was as much part of it as myself, but there were rules they had to adhere to as I took it very serious. I think it paid off to be determined and to demand only the best and more from the people.

It was a huge learning curve for all of us. Even though I never really liked the term TECHNO, because it never really described us or did us justice, because we did Trance, Techno and Dancefloor music in a poppy way, I always wanted to make sure that Digital Dreams was up to date, sound wise and I managed as I was able to use a lot of freaky instruments, great loops and over the years I had to deal with all possible equipment from a simple tape recorder, placed in the middle of a rehearsal room to fully digital equipped and computerized recording facilities.

The experience enriched my life extremely because it is still the idea behind the bulk of electronic wizardry that makes a songs. Above all its like “boys and their toys” – I always was allowed to play and never had to grow up. I am convinced that the day I grow up all my creativity is gone – plain simple.

Wearing fancy dresses on stage, using pyrotechnical devices and spending hundreds of evenings listening to my own or other people’s songs is priceless. Perhaps stupid and sometimes not appropriate if you have to provide for a family but still priceless.

Chapter 4.0 - Going solo

(Pic: 1996 - "Concert against poverty")

Slowing down wasn’t an option for me as a solo artist now. I had worked quite hard for the brushes of success I had experienced with Digital Dreams and I was not prepared to let go of all that.

I noticed straight away that the trend of writing more and more slow love songs continued after finishing work on the 1996 “Digital Dreams – Vesicula”.

Many people, including myself, are convinced that the Vesicula could have well been the breakthrough album for me, but because it was only released as an audiocassette it literally had no impact whatsoever.
Anyway, I had no intention to revive Digital Dreams but I also did not know where to go from here. In early 1997 I was completely lost. My girlfriend at the time wasn’t helpful either as she hated my music and thought it was a lot of crap.

I loved Depeche Mode´s 1997 release: “Ultra” very much and got back into the groove again but having no support seemed to break me and I really gave up making music for a six months period in 1997.

Putting Digital Dreams to rest meant more to me than I was willing to admit and I wanted to change my whole ME if you will so I collaborated with guitar players for the first time in my career. I also felt it is about time to record somewhere else.

A very good friend of mine, with whom I had composed and collaborated since 1993, Thomas Racz, told me about this studio in his hometown Langen and I went to check it out.

Owner and engineer Christian Meyer and me clicked immediately and I decided, in the middle of the production to my very first TJ (T-Jay at that stage) CD, not to continue working with Frank anymore. It had nothing to do with Frank at all. I just wanted to completely move on.

Clearly, Franks studio was way better equipped but that wasn’t what I was about in 1997, I wanted purity and in October 1997, with financial help from a friend of mine, I released my first solo CD: “T-Jay – Pure Love”.

I dedicated it to my son Kevin, whom I missed deeply after my divorce, and even today I think the songs have captured my in my finest musical moments. I had so much to say and songs like: “I still believe in love” or “Shadows of the past” still hurt.

It went straight to # 1 at the DRMV charts and I was so proud. I am convinced, if this CD would have flopped that could have well been the end of my career, although I never really had much of a career, at least in comparison to a signed artist.

In all fairness, I do believe that there is a straight forward logic in that you can only achieve something if you dare trying. Over the years I sent a sheer unreal amount of CDs to numerous record companies, radio stations, TV stations, newspapers and so on – and although the positive outcome of that was rather slim, there would have been no response to my music without me trying to get exposure in the first place.

I often had to defend myself for being so damn selfish and putting my music over everything else but that’s sometimes what it takes. If you believe in something you must be willing to stand your ground. I see a value in my music. It is designed to make people release emotions and I guess that’s also the “downfall” of it – it can be pretty uncomfortable to be confronted with stories of love, hate and loss and sometimes my music is very emotional and melancholic.

Not everybody is up to that. And then you have an awful lot of people who aren’t able to feel that deep and they don’t get me at all.

In my experience music has no boundaries whatsoever and it can do an awful lot of good. Performing for a good cause for instance is one of the things that made my career or my “following the dream” worthwhile.

When I first performed for the children’s home in Offenbach in November 1987 I couldn’t feel much of a vibe but when I got back there in 1995 the energy that came off the audience was unbelievable.

The kids invited me to the institution shortly after the concert and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
They had baked a cake for me and they had decorated the table and one of the boys, who was in his teens back then, told me that he is going to buy himself a guitar and he wants to be like me – reaching people through music.

Up to that point I wasn’t even aware that I would reach anyone.

Music can also be therapy – it is for me at least. The Pure Love EP was initially planned as an album but the more songs you record the more costs you have and so on, and I was happy with just the 6-track CD. Better than nothing I like to believe.

Looking back at it, it is a mirror of my emotions at the time and even though most of my songs aren’t necessarily autobiographical - some of them are, only that I won’t reveal which ones I am talking about.

I was pretty confident (as always) that my Pure Love is good enough to compete with the rest of the world and I was quite disappointed that the industry never really bought into it.

Someone then invented a niche for my music: Easy Listening – in fact, people called it all kinds of things and all I knew was that I would always refer to it as “romantic pop” and if
I am asked how my music sounds, I jokingly refer to it as “George Michael for the poor” – haha.

In early 1998 I moved in with my new girlfriend who eventually became my second wife.

I started looking for ways to spread the costs. I put up adds in the local papers and I got inundated with offers and I met quite a few musicians, perhaps 95% of them were only in there for the fun, if at all, but I was looking for people to push me and the music forward.

Quite disappointed I sat there the other night and listened back to what I had created over the years and I was surprised to see and hear that I had really developed. I was a damn good songwriter, I thought, my vocals aren’t that bad anymore and I could even do 4-part harmonies if needs be.

That gave me confidence and I decided to buy a keyboard with an in-build 16 track sequencer and floppy drive, so that I could record all my material, excluding the vocals, “in one go” so to speak.

I always had plenty of ideas but I always seemed to be broke, so buying this rather expensive instrument, fortunately payable in instalments, was the best option.

Chapter 4.1 - From "Darker Than Black" to the next millenium

(Pic: 2 page report about my trip to London in 1999)

I was listening to one of my all-time favourite bands, the legendary Bee Gees and one line caught my attention. “This world has lost its glory, lets start a brand new … “

So, I took this idea of the world that had lost its glory further and developed a song around it: “Darker Than Black” was born.

Very consciously I wanted to create something totally different to the predecessor Pure Love and I wasn’t asking any guitarists to help me out or anything.

I decided to do something real poppy and I thought about a mixture of me and the Pet Shop Boys or even Erasure, bands I had adored all throughout their careers.

The CD was finished rather quickly. Funnily enough, the Darker … CD was absolutely Euro Pop but I as a person had changed a lot optically over the years. I had long hair, tattoos and I was multiple pierced.

I went to a professional photo studio again to get the cover right and 99% of all remarks I get for the cover is: “… you look like Meat Loaf”. And indeed some reviews said that they did not expect electronic pop on the CD judging by the cover.

But that was the way I looked - I still cant quite understand why people always have to put other people into niches as people are more than just one layer, ah, what the heck …

The “Rockmusiker” wrote that the CD itself sounded more like a home recording production rather than a professional production – and very rightly so! cause that’s what it was. Nevertheless they confirmed catchy melodies and good vocals but also noted that it sounded retro and “too” 80s.

Luckily, the end of the 20th century showed a comeback of many 80s heroes and my CD just went with the flow.

I had a few pen pals in England and Ireland and a friend in the States and I asked them to review the CD for me. The incoming answers couldn’t have been more different but they all had one thing in common: They called my music “very British” – whatever that means, to me it sounds good because England after all is the country that produced an armada of great musicians, so all I had to do was flying over to England and try to get my CD in.

Easier said than done but - with an ego the size of a mountain that was the only logical conclusion. I spent a week in London and that was the strangest week ever.

It is not necessarily funny to be in London on your own, not being able to share your experiences with anyone, but because the city is so cool, one can cope.

The most revealing thing that happened on my arrival in London was that I felt very familiar with places almost as if I would belong there. That only happened to me again when I arrived in Ireland – a past life regression years later revealed that I could have well been Irish or British.

Anyway – in one week I walked more than I usually do within a month. I was really busy talking to record labels and clubs and they were pretty forthcoming. I could see in their eyes that they thought: “He’s fucking mad” but they listened to my material even while I was there and my CD gained me a performance at the “Rock garden” near Covent Garden.

Because of the birth of my daughter I had to postpone the date and later they informed me that the new management only allows bands to play – no more solo artists. So that was that. But the week in London was great anyway.

Great in a way that a good friend of mine was so impressed with me going to England on my own with a bunch of CDs and seriously thinking “I can make it”, that she couldn’t help it but tell anyone about it.

She also told a guy called Jochen Schäfer about it and he just happened to be a director with his own little TV – show on an open channel on local Frankfurt television.

He invited me along and offered me a 12minute TV – interview / performance and I said: “yes”

Jochen later even produced a video for me free of charge.

That was quite an experience.

Meanwhile I explored the possibilities of my keyboard and found out that it had a range of very good sounds that could give me a good leap forward as I was already planning my first TJ full length album in my head.

I knew I couldn’t record entirely without the use of a recording studio and I wanted it to be as good as it can get. I recorded the vocals at Christian Meyer´s studio, called “Klangart” studio as they did a good job on the Darker Than Black.

My daughter Vanessa was born in September 1999 and I dedicated the next CD to her.

Recording, writing and more importantly financing this project took nearly a year. I got married in 2000, too, Vanessa’s baptism went ahead and I was still job hopping as I couldn’t find something suitable.

In July 2000 the first full length album was finally finished to hit the shelves (o.k., not really): "TJ-Midnight Dreamer".

Now, to my ears, I reinvented myself with this one. It contained of 18 songs and displayed the side of the songwriter in me much more than anything else. It had an almost acoustic feel even though it had been produced using fully digital equipment only.

As I was in negotiations with a record company in Bavaria some of the songs were mixed way too soft, too “boybandish” – never the less, the album even received airplay on a radio station for listeners in America.

I always wonder about America. It never really interested me to crack it, because it is so far away and I was busy enough to crack any country at all. But some of the best critiques came from the States.

Music is amazing. Just a few days after releasing the TJ – Midnight Dreamer I went to play in a hotel in northern Germany, where my father celebrated his 70th birthday.

My aunt Jutta was there. I hadn’t seen her in many, many years but always kept her up-to-date by sending her my CDs. So, there I was performing and she demanded me to play “Spanish Girl” from the 1997 EP: T-Jay – Pure Love and she came up to the stage and sang along. That was so powerful as it proofed again that music connects people.

Chapter 4.2 - Emigrating to Ireland and continuing making music

Just a few days before the concert in July 2000 I had been performing at a Vernisage, an exhibition where a friend of mine portrait his pictures and I had also played at a huge festival along the river “Main”.

It was my pal Larry Medlock, an Afro - American painter, I met some years ago in a hospital where we both received further training to better our diabetes self treatment, who talked to me about a Vernissage in a hair salon. I am glad to have done this gig as he died in Fall 2002 on diabetes related difficulties.

During the course of preparing the Vernissage I spoke and met the head of the hair salon, Dieter Hau, and he asked me to perform for the German AIDS help on a big festivity that is being held annually.

He and his team were styling people for much less then usual and all incoming money would be transferred to the mentioned organisation.

I was delighted to hear that I could be of any use and it was a good opportunity to show myself as a huge number of people would attend to Offenbach´s biggest outdoor festivity.
I played three times this day always the same set of songs on a 12 hour day!

At the end of the day they all could sing along and they were grateful for the times in between my gigs to give them a moments peace.

Yes, it has been a lot of fun.

Only 4 weeks later I was on my way to Dublin, where I started working for the worlds leading carrier in a call centre.

Chapter 4.3 - Starting from scratch and feeling good about it

(Pic: November 2001, "Artists against Terror" gig)

At first, it wasn’t easy in Ireland. I had to share a house with complete strangers, some of them plain weirdo’s and even though it is within Europe – Ireland and Germany couldn’t have been more different. In later years I started to prefer the Irish way in comparison and made it my home.

But in the beginning it was very, very difficult. Being unemployed for a good while was a huge hindrance in Germany and as I always felt that I don’t really belong there anyway, I wasn’t reluctant at all to except the offer to work abroad.

I emigrated to Dublin in August 2000 and in October 2000 I had made Arrangements for my wife and my daughter to come on over. The people in the house agreed that I could have the bigger en suite room with our own shower, so that we can live as a family, and it wasn’t planned to be forever anyway. I thought that’s o.k. for the start. Only 5 minutes from my new home there was a crèche and they would have accepted my daughter.

We had discussed in Germany that it would be a big advantage for a toddler to grow up with two languages and as my wife’s English was good, getting a job shouldn’t be too difficult. In fact, I had already spoken to the Irish department of the company my wife worked for in Germany and they assured me that they would take her on board.

It was all good and all set up – but reality proofed to be different.

My wife, and our daughter Vanessa came over on Christmas of the year 2000 to spend a week in Ireland. Whatever I did or showed my wife wasn’t good enough. To me it is clear, that she had made up her mind not to come over to Ireland. She didn’t necessarily want to end the relationship but I made it very clear that I am not going back.

This new job proofed to be a springboard for success and financial freedom (at least for a while) and all I would have achieved by going back to Germany would have been unemployment and social welfare.

Been there, done that – no way.

To cut a long story short. Only months after I’d left it was clear that they would not be coming over to live with me – so, divorce number two was filed, and I had another child that wouldn’t live with me.

So, I escaped again, deeper and deeper into my music. And it started pretty good anyway. Just six weeks after my arrival I was lucky to co-host a radio show, called: The Pulse, on Tallaght – Radio where I was interviewed and where they played “African Queen” and “Light of Love” from the new Midnight Dreamer CD.

I became known to the locals for singing at the Karaoke – Pub “Fables” in Tallaght village and I was performing in front of 260 people at the Christmas party of the company I worked for.

In early 2001 I managed to perform again at a Valentines Party – for me as a “light entertainment romantic pop musician” it is the best time of year.

I sold quite a few CDs even though the industry I contacted did not respond to it.

I got promoted within the company and was pretty busy. I also had a new girlfriend soon, a new life altogether, and was happy with were I was.

It wasn’t all sunshine of course. My Insulin Pump broke pretty much straight away after my emigration and because I had only been in Ireland for a few months the Eastern Health Board refused to cover the costs for a new pump.

German authorities told me that there is nothing they can do either as I am out of the country and as I paid my taxes in the republic of Ireland now, I had to sit tight until such a time when I paid enough.

Doctors in Ireland also were not even half as efficient as German doctors and there was no way that I could find a half decent Diabetologist. So, without any medical help I had to change from Insulin Pump to injections again. It was horrible. I lost plenty of weight (and I gained it back and more over the years) and I went to Tallaght Hospital’s Diabetes Day Care Centre every so often, but I was never satisfied.

On top of everything they had discovered cancer within my mum – far too late. There was treatment but no cure. My mum lost weight rapidly and all her strength was gone. She managed to visit me in Ireland twice, once even on her own, before she passed away in 2004 and it is not so easy having relatives and loved ones living 2000 kilometres away.

And still – I remained because I felt something I hadn’t really felt before: I felt home!

I didn’t bother promoting my music too much really until the day the world changed: November 11th 2001!

We had a meeting scheduled in the afternoon at work and my boss cancelled it some when during the day. Even though mobiles weren’t allowed at work, she, usually the most strict of all, didn’t give a damn.

She later explained that she has relatives living in New York but she couldn’t get through. We heard about the first plane, then about the second plane – and I spent the evening watching TV with all my housemates in sheer disbelief of what we saw on screen.

I was working for an American company and there was a creepy feeling that everything American could be next.

Days went by and the death figures rose and rose and rose. I used to work in a Call Center as a team leader and we had plenty of nations in the building so I approached some of them and asked for assistance in putting together a program for a benefit concert.

I had done this before on numerous occasions and I was never in for the fame (because there is none to gain, it is hard work and you almost always get less out of it than you would like).

Over the years I had performed for children’s homes, kindergarten, high – security – prison, the AIDS help, the German Diabetes Federation and so on and on and on. And I believe that because music has no boundaries and is the international language, it should and must be used as an eye opener, a “weapon” of some sort.

In the end we had five acts, including me as the opening act.

29.11.01 " Artists against Terror " @ The Library Tallaght / Dublin ( IRL ) with TJ, William Knight, DJ El Vino, DJ Holy Exzess, Bianka F.

253 Irish punts were fundraised by the artists on this very evening and this money had been sent to the New York Fire Brigade.

It wasn't hard to convince the Library folks to give us the room for free as they knew that there would be a lot of people around and they all would be pretty thirsty. Due to the very serious topic they stepped back a bit and only offered us a Thursday night instead of a Friday or a Saturday which was in fact intended earlier.

We took the Thursday to make sure that the event is going to happen.

It was easy to find helpful people as so many people were concerned about the recent events and so we found a native speaker to host the evening.

I started off with my romantic pop thingy after being introduced as a good soul with a big heart. There was Wim aka William Knight, a Belgium guy I once performed a concert with, and 2 DJ's, Holy Excess from Germany and DJ El Vino from the Netherlands.

Bianka F was juggling and she sang her version of Tracy Chapman's "Behind The Wall" so brilliantly that I wrote a song for her to sing shortly after the charity gig.

Bianka recorded her song and a sang together with me for my “Eternity” CD. She also accompanied me in February '02 when I played at the Civic Theatre

Roughly 150 - 200 people came to see the 5 very different acts - it was a huge success and we all are really proud of it.

The next thing I managed to pull off was to play the famous Civic Theatre, where big Irish names such as the likes of Francis Black and Ronan Keating had played. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to fill the big room, but the so called “loose end” was perfectly fine – and so in February 2002 I performed there. I had started to work on new material already and was busy recording, using Dublin’s Elektra – Studios quite frequently and I was in the middle of the production for my next album: “TJ – Eternity”. The gig @ the Civic was the perfect opportunity.

It also was a bit of a gamble as I had to pay for the P.A. / use of the room. I needed to sell at least 35 tickets to avoid having to pay something out of my pocket. In the end 46 tickets were sold and it was a good, energetic and positive night.

Shortly after this event I was ready to release the "Eternity".

The Eternity CD is best described as the ambient album. It is really different to its predecessors and that’s a natural thing because I was influenced by completely different things, a different country, different environment et cetera …

Funny enough, it has more soul vibes to it than any other TJ – release, when in reality it is the most electronic album of them all as I was using only loops and programmed sounds.

At the end of the day it is how you do it and what you do with your voice that makes the songs sound groovy, electronic but still soft.

But perhaps its just too much for normal ears as it didn’t get me anywhere, really.

You can’t really plan for things to happen and yet you have to. Perhaps I should have postponed the Civic gig to a later point in time when I could sell the Eternity. On the other hand it was no harm to further support the Midnight Dreamer because wherever you go – your material is always new. Doesn’t matter how old the songs are, because you are a nobody, not signed, not promoted, people put no value on you and they don’t know your songs – so, to them, it is always new.

As you progress and grow as an artist and values change with the years, so do the songs. That’s the reason why you put it out there, over and over again.

It is almost a vicious circle – but I have noticed from promoting the 2005 Best Of release, that people like the newer songs best, because the English is better, the sound quality is better, the songs are more mature and they give you extra credit for consistency.

It is also great to see that, obviously, I have created real classics over the years. Songs you can play wherever and whenever and they are always liked, like “Like An Angel” from the Hitech Systems or all the Pure Love stuff.

In Summer 2002 another love relationship came to an end as my then girlfriend decided to go back to Germany for good. So, heartbreak is always just around the corner, and although I like steady relationships I don’t seem to be able to manage them properly on the long run.

“Music was my first love and it will be my last”, la la la …

They said it on “Judging Amy” the other day: “… life wants to be a mess” – perhaps that’s true, perhaps it isn’t. What do I know.

As 2002 drew to an end I did a free gig @ a Pub in Tallaght village and that was the worst ever gig I had done.

The “Eternity” never received the attention it deserved because of many changes in my private life at the time.

I felt the album was underrated and I couldn’t get any magazine to write about it.

The concert at the Civic Theatre earlier that year was a real good one and although I performed many songs from the Eternity, which hadn’t been released on time, I wanted to make up for it by offering a free gig.

The Malloy’s gave me their space and their P.A. and I brought a small crowd along on a rather quiet Monday. So it was a fair deal.

I was quite prepared and I had just purchased a new Double – CD player and a new micro-phone to be better equipped for my “one man show”.

Honestly, this was perhaps the worst concert I had ever played. And, in all honesty, I wasn’t to blame.

I had practised intensely and the people in the audience were mainly German colleagues.
And exactly that was the problem.

Almost none of them were able to really understand the lyrics and to grasp the meaning of the songs. Only during the performance of danceable songs they were a participating audience.

Indeed, I sang of love and loss and broken hearts while watching them getting drunk.

I can’t say whether my love songs should not be performed to people under 25 any longer as I fear to fail that age group or if the current generation is not able to really listen to music, at least not all of them, I know, I shouldn’t generalise.

Admittedly I have to say that a pub is maybe not the ideal place for my kind of music.
In either case it was a huge setback for me.

In all fairness, not everything I did and do is worth listening to and I am open enough to acknowledge failure and one of the reasons why I tape every single performance of mine is, to be able to learn from it, and then to move on.

But after all these years, and still no success in sight – that evening was a hard one to swallow and it took away confidence.

One of my colleagues I had known for years did a webmaster course in Summer 2002 and approached me as she was looking for a “victim” for her exams.

I was grateful and took the opportunity to get a real good website for free in return of the story of my life and some pictures and MP3s – and because the task at hand was so intense J, this webmaster became my girlfriend.

Yes, you have every right to think that the old bastard is never going to give up on woman. I for one do not care about anyone’s opinion on that matter.

Chapter 4.4 - A change of perspective

(Pic: 2003 in Tralee, Co. Kerry / Republic of Ireland)

Early 2003 brought no changes or new opportunities and I became rather unhappy with my team leader job as it was very time consuming and only little rewarding as money never meant much to me, if anything at all.

Although I must admit that especially as a musician, unsigned and not supported by any means is always in dire need of cash. I wouldn’t be the first artist to die poor and lonely. Let’s just wait and see, will we?!

After ongoing issues at work especially towards the management who consistently told me that I would wear my heart on a sleeve and that’s no good for business, I had to decide what to do.

So, I quit – didn’t get anything from social welfare or FAS and there was no job in sight. But that’s me and I had talked to my girlfriend about it as I was sure to find something again.

A late review of the Midnight Dreamer came in, in early 2003, saying that the music is “excellent for people over 70!” and they gave me 2 stars out of 5 for persistency and for persistency only!

As if I care – because I had other things to do, I took no offence. Instead I checked out the neighbourhood for employment. Chances: Zero!

I don’t believe in coincidence at all and as I made my way over to the flats of Dolphin House in Dublin 8, I would never have guessed, that my voluntary work with the community, kids in particular would ensure me employment, a good while later.

I was working as a youth leader at the 2003 Dolphin House summer festival and in the meantime I held contact with job agencies – and I had a string of interviews but never got something out of it.

One day I went to FAS and saw a poster that offered a Digital Media course on the other side of the country: In Tralee, Kerry!

I talked to the FAS people about it and learned that there is a waiting list and even if I would get an interview there, there are no guarantees. And nobody will pay a train ticket or anything. I had been told on top of all that, that I only would stand a chance if I could proof to have at least some skills already and I had to put together a portfolio.

Well, I could easily proof that, because my first profession is being a sales assistant in the electronic department. On top of that I hold certificates in all sort of things including computer and, come on, Mr. Fas, can’t you see that I have produced eight CDs already??

I copied all CD – covers and explained in writing why they are they way they are. Most of the time I was defending myself for having crappy CD covers – the covers only really got decent when I did the TJ stuff, reason being having more money or saving money by putting less songs onto a CD and thereby saving money in the studio.

The teacher Jim, a freak and photographer, with long hair and a free spirit, was quite impressed with the portfolio. The lady from FAS next to him wasn’t – she doubted my skills as a team player and feared that I wouldn’t respect younger people.

I couldn’t tell her to shut it so I was very friendly and forthcoming and insured her that my intentions where all good and my persistency would speak for me.

Perhaps not in the sense of the last review - but maybe this time, I thought.

The interview didn’t go well at all. Jim, nevertheless, asked me if he could listen to the CD because it was produced using electronic means entirely. I agreed as there was nothing to loose. Just a week later I was accepted to the course – Thanks to the Eternity.

The least promoted CD made a huge impact somewhere totally unrelated to my art – isn’t that odd? It might be – or maybe it is all meant to be.

I spent a good while (in TJ terms) of six months in Tralee and had a very good time and a lot of fun. I wrote a lot of songs, of course, but only recorded one: “How Many Times?” who fits into the picture later, as it made its way into the TOP 5, place 3 actually, on VH-1s “Song Of The Year” Dance- , Electronic charts as announced in January 05.

My music never had the impact I wanted it to have but it never seized to amaze me at times.

Sometimes, out of the blue, things happen because of my music – so, little by little, I want people to understand, that every little brush of success means the world and should be celebrated and everything that is not happening for me does not take away my gift – it just doesn’t shine very often.

Our society is a horrible one when it comes to attitude towards artists. It is all about money, youth and beauty and I sometimes wonder when this trend will stop, if it ever stops.

Music has become a sell out product and I always tried to promote music in the way that I engaged with young people. As part of my work as a homework support worker I did a six weeks “Music making” course using plenty of Ejay software. The group of children between 6 and 12 years of age could make their own songs and learn how to work with a computer at the same time.

I am not fishing for compliments and I am not trying to be funny or anything but I really believe that people like me, who just won’t give up fighting for real art to be heard, are a necessary evil to those who pull the strings.

Music does and did a lot to me – I even had alien visitors, I believe, called through sounds - but this book is by no means my official and entire autobiography and it would just be too easy if people would think that I am just crazy. Even though I am not quite normal either!

On the contrary – to me, everything I do or try to do makes perfect sense. This book is designed to show that whatever you do, no matter how small, will come back and music enriched my life in so many ways that I sincerely wish anyone a gift like mine, a hobby, a nuisance – you name it. It is all meant to be, I believe !!

I had the chance to form and work with a boy- and a girl band, all aged around 12 – 13 years of age. I was surprised how much they liked it. Musically it was way easier than anything I had ever written for myself as rhythm is the only counting factor almost.

Nevertheless, I tried to write good songs for the projects and in Summer 2004 both bands went into competition and both won first prize in their categories.

That, for instance, was a proud moment for me as a song writer and when I launched my Sensitivity CD live in concert, the bands were there to perform as special guests.

I am convinced my work has had a positive impact on them and at the end of the day that’s all that matters – music changes everything!

Chapter 4.5 - Here´s to the future ...

A quarter of a century is a mighty long time but by no means the end of the road.

I will strive forward in my quest for good music and, of course, recognition.

Claiming a little respect for my works is not too much to ask for.

I want to thank all my musical collaborators who have joined me in my quest over the last 25 years. Thomas Racz and Franca Pettrich in particular.

Thanks to all those who have supported me for the most part of the way: My sister, my mother, ehm, my sister, my mother … and to all those who make my day by feeding back that they like my music.

To my own children, Kevin and Vanessa, I will say this: Music is my life and the simple fact that you exist gives me hope and inspiration.

To my father: It is a pity and a hurtful experience that you never bothered to really listen to my songs. You hardly know me.

To Renate, my close friend, you spent time with me and gave me words of support when I needed them most, for this, and for your friendship I say: Thank you.

To my sister: Even though Mum has passed away, we are family. I miss her so much but we still have each other.


2006 ...

... and the story will continue ...