Henja

"I’m not yet earning big enough fees to pay my monthly rent."

To be a musician takes a lot of drive and passion. How has it been for you? When and why did you reach the decision to make your own music?

I’ve been passionate about music ever since I was able to think – the sheer diversity of instruments is something I find really exciting. At home my favourites include 3 guitars, a ukulele, pan pipes, a couple of recorders, a whole range of small percussion instruments and a piano. Oh and my e-organ of course – which is absolutely awesome.

The very first chords I learnt on my mother’s guitar, the numerous Beatles albums I learnt off-by-heart and the daily poetry I was writing eventually combined to become songs. I didn’t start playing in public until two years ago though – by coincidence really. My best friend is a sound technician and we recorded a couple of my songs just for fun. It went really well right and we were keen to make more recordings. But the idea that I would one day show them to someone, let alone publish them, was not didn’t even enter my mind back then. We simply used everything we could get our hands on, which eventually led to my first album.

Following the success of my songs on bandcamp, I was soon offered my first gig as a warm-up act playing in the“Weißen Rosen”. After that the gig requests and contacts started coming in by themselves. The last couple of years were totally crazy for me. It’s all happened so quickly – I recently played by 65th concert in under 2 years!

More and more full-time musicians are playing on a part-time basis. Without having a steady job, many musicians simply can’t pay their bills. How do you deal with this issue? Can you make a living from your music?

Yes that’s true! I’m not yet earning big enough fees to pay my monthly rent. I therefore do odd jobs and work in the local opera house. It’s my dream to be able to live from my music. Even though many others share a similar dream – why not believe in it and give it my all?

Self-promotion, building up a fanbase, networking, getting booked etc - the to-do-list of any DIY musician is really long. How do you manage to organise everything at the same time? Do you have any tips and tricks?

There’s always loads to do. Just the booking, invoicing and marketing take up a lot of my time. On the other hand, the work of a “musician” is so fun and engrossing that you simply take these tasks in your stride – they all help you to ride the wave towards realising your dream. I’m unbelievably grateful for all the booking requests I’ve received over the last years and really happy that music is playing an increasing role in my life.

What would I recommend for other musicians?

To remain open to the people you meet at gigs – the bookers, promoters, and also to other musicians. The latter can tell you where they’ve played and pass on contact details. Being spontaneous and not trying to pack in a million things at once after a gig is a good approach too.

How did you become known on gigmit? How and where does gigmit help you out?

I discovered gigmit at the beginning of my professional career via a musician’s group on Facebook. gigmit is really great for times when I have a gap in my schedule and feel like playing a gig. I simply check out what’s available on the platform and am always happy to see the gig offers that are published there. It’s really useful to gain an overall impression of what’s available and see if the location, time and fee are a good fit for you and your diary. In addition, gigmit helps to connect you to new promoters even if you don’t spend that much time online. Your profile creates a constant online presence for yourself and your music – it lets you be found if promoters are looking.

To date, what bookings have you received via our platform?

Quite a lot really. Two years ago I played for the first time at East Side Music Days. After that I played concerts at Prachtwerk in Berlin and Culture Container, where you’re recorded live on video. I’ve also played support gigs for Tadday at ZOSCH and lots of small, intimate gigs at bars like Cocaliebe or Zyankalibar. There’s a really diverse range of promoters and locations. It’s great because you can develop a real variety in your concert calendar.

What’s coming up next for you? Gigs, tours, studio work? What are you plans for the next few months?

I usually play quite a few of my gigs in Berlin. But I was really surprised and amused when the Federal Government invited me to perform at one of their events. In autumn I already have a few things lined up including a gig at a silent cinema in Hamburg and on 1.10.2016 I’m releasing my single “Durchatmen” and its accompanying music video – a celebration of words, sounds and images. We’re organising a music video release concert at BARTBar in Mitte, where we’ll have a big screen, snacks and drinks. I’m really looking forward to it.

Henja on gigmit

Back to all articles