About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

November 9, 2010

Interview with Singer/Songwriter, Musician & Composer, Achim Schreiner

Achim Schreiner

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.


Ro: Welcome back to Rousing Rowena Achim! My readers greatly enjoyed your article on minimalism, By Our Conscious Decision, and your latest article on your personal journey, Reflections .  I am very excited to have you on board for a personal interview this time.

Achim: Thank you very much for telling me that! It is my pleasure to participate in this great project and blog, my friend!

Ro: As you know I am a fan of your music. You are an awesome multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter. Tell me about your first exposure to music, and what instrument you chose to learn first?

Achim: Thanks for that! Actually both my grandmother and my Dad played an instrument and I'm sure that it was somehow already in my genes before I even started realizing. When I was about 10 years old my brother Andreas bought an album called "In Rock" by Deep Purple and after the first few spins I was electrified and completely mesmerized. I guess this pretty much started it all. I think I listened to it more than he did ...hahaha. The first instrument I started to learn was guitar and it was actually the black, old arch-top acoustic guitar of my Dad from the early 60's. I still do own this guitar to this day. It didn't even have all strings complete at first and I had no idea about tuning, so I did my own "tuning", more or less, which was "adventurous" to say the least ...:)

Ro:   Ha ha!  I wore many of my own brother's albums out too.   What were your musical experiences like while growing up?

Achim: They were diverse. Absolutely and they are still today. I was never one of these people who listened to only one particular genre or style. To a musician, and you know that yourself of course too, this wouldn't make much sense anyway. My musical experiences and the stuff I've been listening to comprised the contemporary pop music scene, as well as classic rock, blues, loved the music by the late Elvis Presley and also including such different bands like ZZ Top and Mike Oldfield. My first bands were solely cover- or tribute-bands which helped me to understand arrangements, playing in a band, listening to each other and to think "for the song" rather than to just "to expose yourself". It was a very important time for me for sure. We played stuff by Dylan, Bob Seeger, Deep Purple, Zeppelin and even by Iron Maiden and Metallica and whatever you can imagine in between.

Ro: How much musical education have you had, and how do you value that?

Achim: Well, I am what they call "autodidact", I guess. The only "musicial education" I ever had was an old book with some basic guitar chords in it and a very good hearing which I developed when playing along with all these bands and their amazing music. To have good ears has more worth than anything else in music. The same way I started to teach myself piano/keyboards later on, taking advantage of the knowledge I already had as a guitarist and so one step leads to the next, more or less.

Ro: What were some of your earliest professional gigs like, and how did you get them?

Achim: It's good that you said "professional", so I don't have to go into the earlier ones which I wouldn't call professional anyway, rather "embarrassing" ...hahaha! One of my first real good gigs with a band was in France in 1987, being the support act of a french hard rock act. In early '88 I played at the "Loreley Rock Festival" in Germany. A few days later I had a gig in a park playing for several hundred people just a chair, an acoustic guitar and I, doing ballads and acoustic material. It already started at that time that I wasn't quite satisfied with being in a "band situation" and limited to a certain music type, so I played gigs with bands to cover the "rock roots" and did solo work which was more into "folk music" and slowly started to do many different things at once. To me, this has never been a contradiction. I learned a hell of a lot from all these people and directions.

Ro: When and how did you start teaching?

Achim: That was fun! I never saw myself that much as a "teacher", you know. Especially in my younger years, I could be really impatient in these things. Well, it became better with age ...hahaha. Wolf, the "then" boyfriend of my sister wanted to learn to play bass guitar and we gave it a shot and it worked out pretty well. So I continued doing that as well. I soon found pleasure whenever I could show people some licks or riffs, chords and patterns or even talked about music theory (in a not-boring way) and to see how they progressed. My sister then encouraged me to do it in a wider frame, which I did.

Ro: You have collaborated with musicians from all over the world. Tell me about some of your experiences?

Achim: Thanks to "modern technology" you can do things, musicial projects etc., so easily nowadays, using email, internet communication and whatever else. It's so much easier than, let's say 20 years ago. I love meeting new people from all kinds of directions, get involved in new challenges, trying things I haven't done yet and to explore new combinations of genres sometimes. It's wonderful and so rewarding. I even wrote and recorded with people I have never met in the flesh.   I get mails everyday with someone sending me trackfiles for a certain song or project. Sometimes it can be hard to keep the overview ...haha.

The people I collaborated with and which were great experiences to me were musicians like Tamara Barnett-Herrin, The Sisters Of The Moon, Sam Hutchinson (Soliloquise), Peter Maffay, Pete Stanford, Marco Carpita, Ida Elena de Razza both from beautiful Italy, Derrick McKenzie (drummer of Jamiroquai), Kevin MacLeod and others. The most impressive were surely working with Ida who is an amazingly talented singer and we are currently working on new material as we speak and also with Sam, a great singer and violinist from Wales. Working with Pete was a pleasure on its own. A brilliant classic rock singer and a nice bloke.  I flew over to England and we literally wrote and recorded 2 songs in a row on ONE day and got it mixed the very next day, it was great.

Ro: What musical activities are you currently involved with?

 Achim: Well, currently I am working with Marco Carpita again, an italian guitarist extravanganza, on some "medievil" type of songs, all of them instrumentals and we will even release these tunes once we have enough. Also I'm writing new songs for my dear friend Ida from Rome, which will be more in the "Nightwish" kind of vein. Plus to that I am busy with a concept album called "Talking Places" which will cover past, present and future and will be a combination of music, paintings and poetry (recitative).

Infinity Album, cover art by Kateřina Šťastná
Paintings and some of the poems will be provided by my beloved fiancé Kateřina Šťastná, who is an accomplished painter and already did the cover art for my "Infinity" album in 2008.   In early 2011 I will start writing for a Swedish rock singer who wants to release a new AOR album and I will write the lion's share of the songs and provide all guitars, once I am in Stockholm.

Ro: You are constantly writing, recording and producing new music. I believe that your latest album is Ballads, of which I have a copy - and incidentally, the music is incredibly beautiful! You have an impressive number of albums out in a number of genres actually, including but not limited to acoustic, folk rock, medievil, pop, and classic rock. Share with us a little bit about your discography.

Achim: Thank you very much for your kind words, my dear friend. I appreciate it very much. There is so much to discover and to explore, it would be the most boring thing in the world to be stuck in one genre or direction only. I do listen to Madonna and Metallica the same day and that’s the way I write songs. It can be anything at anytime. Sometimes just a simple piano song I wrote at 3a.m. or a full-scale AOR rocker. The albums that stay in my heart the most are probably "Infinity" which is an all-acoustic album, with lots of ballads, both on acoustic guitars and/or piano and some instrumentals too. Its a very calm album, very much introverted, which mirrors me in many ways. "Electrified" is a solid rock album which covers all kinds of "rock music",that goes along with alternative rock, classic rock, even funk rock you will find on this one. It’s exciting and I like it a lot. The album that maybe covers the most of the difference of my songs, is probably "Sunflower". I love this album. I love every single song on this one, I have to confess.

Ro: Where does your inspiration come from?

Achim: Many things are auto-biographical. About life, this endless rollercoaster of emotions, of great moments and an endless row of tragedies sometimes. But also from things I see happening in this world. Sometimes I develop a "theme", an overall topic and try to follow that "storyline" then.

Ro: Rousing Rowena is a blog about living a meaningful and happy life. I interview and post articles by musicians, artists, photographers, writers, world travelers and other amazing individuals, who just might be living the kind of lifestyle that my readers want to live! What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters and musicians who want to live an extraordinary life in pursuit of their passions?

Achim: Your blog is just marvelous. It is inspiring and uplifting to a lot of people and I have already spoken to quite a few, I can say. You do an amazing and a very important job here in what you do, my friend. And well, to get back to your question: Whatever you do, it is crucial to believe in yourself and to know that you can do it! Music is all about feel, about the emotions you can wake or create in a listener. This is the main thing what music is all about. It's not about endlessly learning chords, music theory, technical stuff of any kind. Don't get lost in this! You can create a song which can make one cry or happy with 4 notes only. It's never about the technique or how fast you can play a million notes. The song is the star, never "you". In the end, all I can say is "listen to your heart and follow your heart" and not the commercial trends or what is "in fashion" at a certain time. Try to be yourself even against all odds, in a way that you can look in the mirror at the end of the day and say "Yes, that's me".

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you in the interview and to talk to your readers! I enjoyed it a lot! Love and light to everyone out there! Love ya!!

Ro: Thank you Achim, and thank you for your kind comments about my blog.   I am very passionate about what I do here at Rousing Rowena, and connecting with people just like you, people who are living extraordinary lives through pursuit of their passions truly inspires me!   

 Notes from Ro:

Achim is a multi-instrumentalist, session musician, singer/songwriter, composer and music teacher from Southwest Germany.   He has some marvelous albums out, and I am a great fan of his music!  You can learn more about him and his music by checking out the following links:

Are you interested in finding happiness through pursuit of your passions?   Are you trying to figure out exactly what your passions are?  Start by simplifying your life!   Check out Joshua Becker's e-book Inside Out Simplicity , and some of the other amazing books listed in the right sidebar of this blog under the picture of me playing the piano (you can't miss it) under "books you might want to check out."    I also have some excellent blogs that I would like to recommend to you:

Now go out and live your extraordinary lives!



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