In Conversation with JEREMIAS

Image credit: Lucio Vignolo

‘Hab dich lieb’ doesn’t have a direct translation into English. Literally speaking, it most closely means ‘I love you’, but not always in a romantic sense. Germans say it to people they care about, not just their partners, but also family and close friends. They love them, but they’re not in love with them; in that case, they would say ‘Ich liebe dich’.

When I caught up with Olli, the guitarist from JEREMIAS, he told me a bit more about the idiom. It’s the title of a recent single of theirs, abbreviated to ‘hdl’. As a band of four twenty-somethings from Hanover, JEREMIAS sing almost exclusively in German. ‘hdl’ is a breakup song; it focuses on that moment in time when you’re not quite over them, but you’re working on it. You’re no longer in love with them, but you still have some love leftover for them. It’s a tense, bittersweet moment that we can’t quite capture in English.

That’s the benefit of listening to foreign music: new ways of conceptualising familiar feelings. Olli and I chatted all things language and the European music scene, to silver linings from the pandemic and ‘GOLDEN HOUR’, their upcoming debut album due to be released on 28th May 2021.

Image credit: Lucio Vignolo

Could you tell me more about ‘hdl’? What was the inspiration, and what message do you want to convey?

The way our songs evolve is that we just jam in a room until someone comes up with an idea, a groove, harmony, something like that. For ‘hdl’, all of the lyrics came from our singer, Jere. I think at its core it’s about losing someone, the end of a relationship, and you’re not over it yet but you’re trying to get over it. The process of letting go, I guess. From your perspective, what’s it like to listen to a German song? People listen to English music all over the world, but German lyrics less so…

That’s true! Lots of us just don’t engage with foreign music, which is a great shame, I think. There’s so much potential in Europe for upcoming artists right now. What do you think about that? Is the scene changing, or do you think the German language will curtail who you can reach?

That’s a tricky question! I think there’s potential to reach people in other countries. I don’t know why, but the German music scene is largely restricted to Austria, Switzerland and Germany, the ‘GSA’ territory as it’s called in the industry. If you’re a band that sings with German lyrics, you get told that these are the only countries you’ll perform in. I think there’s change happening, but it’s not that big of a deal yet. Hopefully it will be. I’ve seen it with a lot of French bands lately – the Frenc