Astatine Interview

Ana Maria Leistikow, better known in Bonn as Astatine, has come a long way since she first started singing in her Romanian hometown on the banks of the Danube.  In 2007 she moved to Germany, and next week she is set to open this year’s ‘Unter Der Zeder’ season in Bad Godesberg on Monday (5 July) with a sold-out show.   3songs sat down with her to talk about the last few months as a singer during Covid, about her upcoming projects, and of course, Monday’s concert!

What have the past few months been like for you without live appearances?

I’ve been doing a lot of baking, cleaning and other things.  I haven’t had so much free time in years!

But I also managed to do music during the Corona lockdown.  Particularly, I started a new project with Uwe Arenz featuring Brazilian Jazz and Latin Grooves.  Something I wanted to check out for a long time.  Whenever I did a concert playing Jazz and Swing and did a Bossa Nova number it sounded different, my voice sounded different, and, also, people loved it.  I loved it.  The language is also interesting as it comes near to my Romanian roots.  With Uwe being a professional in this style of music I happily said ‘Let’s do it!’.  We’ve known each other for a long time now and we kept saying you know, ‘Let’s meet’. 

2019 at Bonn Harmonie with special guest musicians Marcus Schinkel and Nicolas Simion

Have you played together in the past?

Not really, not live concerts anyway.  We have some now though. Uwe plays Jazz but is really more into Latin, and Jazz is really my first Love, but at this moment in my life I wanted to do something a little different for me.  I really love the music.  It’s not going to be just familiar songs and feel-good songs like ‘Summer Samba’ and ‘Girl from Ipanema’ it will also feature some rare gems that are not so well known. Uwe sent me some songs he knew and asked me to try them out and see if there were any I liked, I did so, and immediately I went ‘Wow!’, they gave me goosebumps.  So melancholic, and reminding me of songs from Romania too.  It’s a lascivious style.  More so than in a musical.

What is the subject matter for the songs?  I guess they won’t be in English!

No.  But I will tell stories during the concert – I like to tell stories!  So I will tell a little about them and what moves them.  Their hearts.  The topics are pretty easy, universal – Love of course.  Lovelessness, falling out of love, looking for love… everything about love (laughs).  But I really love that they are often melancholic, and the combination of the words and the music speak to me.  I see a parallel in some ways to Musicals.  They also tell their stories, about love etc presented in a big way, as an act.  I love the show of it.  That energy that gets under the skin.

Where do you find the right musicians for a change in style?

I think Bossa and Latin are all about finding a groove.  Understanding a groove.  As a singer, I also first had to find a way into it.  Coming from Jazz and Swing, it’s a totally different atmosphere.  To find this groove takes time.  We started the project six months ago now and we are still working on making it a full concert-length.  I have presented Bossa before live – but more in a Jazz context, and it was always something of an exotic addition to the programme.

And you will also be incorporating a top flutist

Yes, Michael Heupel is a really special, special guest.  He is one of Europe’s top players of what is a rarely played instrument – the bass flute. It’s perfect to fit the sound of our music.  He will delight us I’m sure.

Are you missing the House Concerts that you used to organize?

Yes, but we don’t want to be responsible for something bad happening with Covid.  The concept was a synergy of not just music but presenting food to accompany it too, and that is impossible at present of course.  The evenings were not just about music, but a complete experience.  Hopefully, that will come back.  I have a couple of acts in mind for later in the year, but who knows what will be possible?!  One is an African Band from Munich who we wanted for last year and also Joscho Stephan (who played here last year Marcus Schinkel) with his swing band, and he has asked me to accompany him for some shows later in the year, one hopefully in October/November in Bonn.  When that happens it will be very special!

Full ‘Musik Unter Der Zeder’ programme details HERE


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