COMA Reels Us In with “Snurrebassen”

Marius Bubat on how his passion for fishing influenced the duo’s new album Voyage Voyage.

For most people, a Snurrebassen might look like an ornamental piece of iron. A longish object, around 20 grams in weight, some of them are painted in black and white (like a Herring), some colored in green, pink, blue, red, or all of those colors together. With its childish eyes, this thingy almost looks like a toy. But, in fact, we are talking about a handcrafted fishing lure from a guy called Ole in Denmark.

It might surprise you that it doesn’t have a hook. A Snurrebassen needs some attention before you can catch a fish with it: You need to thread it on the fishing line, then add pearls, a carabiner, and a little fly to it, and then finally you can tie it all on a hook and connect it to your fishing rod. This construction could be good enough to catch the attention of a sea trout at the coast of the Baltic Sea. But most of the time, it doesn’t.

Fishing for sea trout can be very tough. During the summer season, you most likely won’t find any of those guys close to the beach, and if you ask me, that’s absolutely understandable. My favorite is also the less crowded season. I usually end up standing in the ice cold water between February and April when the sea trout inhabit the coast of northeast Germany; as soon as the water temperature reaches more than four degrees celsius, there is a realistic chance to get fish contact.

Even if my excursions have been successful from time to time, there must be another motivation for fishing than actually catching a fish. In my experience, there is a weird clarifying process that happens in my brain while I’m fishing that helps to arrange my thoughts and ideas. It‘s probably the same effect that some get from yoga or meditation, which I’ve always thought was meant for spiritual people — so, not me. I will remain freezing and casting my Snurrebassen over and over again.

When I am talking about my favorite hobby, it probably doesn’t really sound like a productive thing (because I usually don‘t catch anything). But it actually is — I wrote a lot of lyrics, and even developed production ideas, for COMA’s recent album Voyage Voyage while on the coast. For me, it‘s absolutely necessary to exchange the studio environment for something totally different whenever I get stuck during the production process. Luckily, I am able to listen to music and imagine how I can make it better without being able to immediately realize those plans. In a way, I am independent location-wise. I will write down ideas for arrangements or make some production and mixing notes that I would never be able to develop inside of our studio in Cologne. I’ve even had lyrics come to my mind while fishing, and then went back to the beach to take out my notebook to write it down.

When we finished the first song of Voyage Voyage, I really wanted to name it “Snurrebassen,” which was a bit hard to explain to my musical counterpart Georg, because he doesn‘t have any connection to fishing at all (like most of my friends). But in the end I convinced him, because it‘s such a great sounding word and it contains the word BASS — one of the most important ingredients in electronic music.

After we finished our album, the Snurrebassen itself didn‘t catch any more fish. But it actually seemed to catch some attention, because Georg and I ended up at the City Slang office in Berlin to discuss a possible record deal for Voyage Voyage. I decided to bring one of my favorite baits as a gift, because I heard from our manager Anton that Severin and Christof from the label couldn‘t stop talking about this weird song title, which they probably didn‘t really understand at that point. After presenting my little surprise, I was not sure if I should regret the decision, because it seemed like the guys were more interested in this little fish imitation than in our band. Today, I know that it was just the same fascination I’d had a couple of years before when I discovered the lures. Soon after this meeting, we signed our contract. Anton still believes that we hypnotized our future label bosses with the lure. They will never admit this, so we‘ll probably never find out if it‘s true or not. But I did just see a couple of weeks ago that the Snurrebassen is still lying on Christof‘s desktop.

(Photo Credit: Frederike Wetzels)

German duo Georg Conrad and Marius Bubat — aka COMA — fuse dance music’s communal properties with an indie sensibility. Rich in melody and melancholy, COMA’s repertoire occupies an emotionally-driven corner of the electronic music spectrum, where dynamic soundscapes collide with heartfelt lyrics.

COMA may have their roots firmly in the city’s fabled club scene — they initially signed to Cologne’s established electronic label Kompakt in 2009 — but their effervescent, groove-tipped synth-pop blurs boundaries and strays outside the lines. Their new home of City Slang (Caribou, Gold Panda, Son Lux, Tindersticks) is the perfect fit for their hypnotic brand of indie-electro.

After releasing a steady stream of records that includes their 2013 debut In Technicolor and 2015’s This Side of Paradise, in recent years both Bubat and Conrad experienced a transformative time marked by a series of tragedies and milestones, including the loss of a parent and the birth of a child. COMA’s new album Voyage Voyage tells the story of these complicated moments through an equally complex sonic web, and casts a sweet and heavy-hearted glow on listeners.

(Photo Credit: Frederike Wetzels)