K.C. McKanzie
talks about
"Hammer & Nails"
by Johanna J. Bodde

K.C. McKanzie
talks about
"Hammer & Nails"


"Hammer & Nails" is my third album. During the making of the first two records I discovered that I see myself more as a poet than a musician. To me, words can be softer or harder than anything else and if you use them with the right space and the right music… you can reach peoples hearts and make them feel that a song is more than "just" music.
"Hammer & Nails" concentrates on the stories I want to tell.
Every story has its natural rhythm, all I had to do was listening to the words to find music and melodies between the lines. I wanted to keep this space between the lines for the listener as well, so we decided to keep the recordings as simple as possible. 
I wasn't brought up in the Christian faith, but as a child I was fascinated by the Old Testament. The image of Adam, the first man, the only man on earth to me is a symbol for the desperate longing of many women for a man to come and rescue them.
"Adam" came to me in about five minutes, sometimes I wonder if I really wrote that song 'cause it just popped up and I often have the feeling the song is much older than me. 
The book "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov is one of my favorites. "Summer's Blue" was inspired by the novel and tells the story of a man who kidnaps a young girl and is slowly getting aware of the fact that the girl just plays her role to survive and even though he owns her body he can never own her thoughts.

This is just a girl making fun of a man who thinks he's got everything under control. I used to play that song solo and later Budi (my Duo-partner) came up with this crazy banjo and the tambourine. We play that song live a lot. It's always fun but risky too and you need a certain energy to play it in the right tempo. The words are simple, the message is simple. 

People use to think if a girl is in love, she would never have sexual feelings for others than her chosen lover. "Wide Awake" deals with ambivalent feelings. To love somebody means sometimes to feel guilty, cause we use to hide some longings from our lovers to make our love a clean and safe place. But once in a while the longing for adventure and strange lust comes back and then people start questioning their love.
"Wide Awake" is an outcry of a needy girl who dreams wild, while sleeping in her lover's arms.

I was reading "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy when this song came to me. In the late 19th century a lot of shame and guilt was carried around by the average women. The song tells the story of a woman who drowns her babygirl pretending she wants to baptize the child. Her experiences she does not tell, but she wants to save her baby from the world she is living in. I remember that I wrote the drums in my head first. Budi had a hard time playing exactly the drums I wanted to have on that song, it's the loudest song I recorded so far and it was huge fun for me to make a lot of noise. Budi plays a Fender Rhodes as well on that song, it's the first time I have a keyboard instrument on a recording. It happens quite often to us that we decide things like: "play the Rhodes, but if it was an electric guitar", or "sing the flute". I never sang so high and low as on "See, How You've Mastered Me".
Some people deserve each other. Mostly those who are not able to love others 'cause they don't love themselves.
The song goes out to a guy who seems to love the sight of a certain girl, he even wants to marry her,  but he's not aware of the true longings the girl might have.
This is my reckoning with the so called "Lolita-Complex". The story is told from a girl's view who plays the Lolita role quite well but the source of her attraction is fear and hate. She mostly attracts married men and feels younger the older they are. And she's proud of being completely confused. I still have mixed feelings about that song and I think it will always be sung by me with a certain insecurity. But that's what the song's about, so it's okay.

If  I had to choose the inscription for my tombstone today it would definitely be the lyrics of "Razorblade". I was so sick of the fear we all carry around day and night when I wrote that song. With the writing of "Razorblade" I ended a phase of questioning life.
I wanted to console people with that song, I wanted to reach them by saying: "Just accept the fact that we all will die and just be gone". Musically I wanted to create a big old boat that floats down a huge quiet river. Charlotte Jacke, who plays Cello at the end of the song, created the waterway of that boat. I remember I was telling her to play as cheesy as possible, I wanted to make people sigh while listening to the end of the song. There's an accordion on the recording, too, the nautical element. Steffen Zeller recorded the accordion with eyes closed and a cigarette between his lips.
I read the lyrics out loud and suddenly I started singing and "Salt" was born.
I love Leonard Cohen's game of minor and major chords, so I "stole" that from him and wove it between and around the lyrics. "Salt" is a moan about unfulfilled love, about lovers who are too afraid to get hurt so they rather complain about their loneliness than taking the risk and learn how to give and take.

I could never explain that song, it's a very personal thing... 
I guess the sound of a hammer driving a nail into wood is the lead rhythm for the entire album. We did not record a hammer, but I can hear the sound when I listen to "Hammer & Nails". The song is about a mother forcing her daughter to kill her own father by driving nails through his hands. The mother is seeking revenge, for the man left her when the baby wasn't even born. This is a very dark and disturbing song. People often ask if I sing about Jesus.
To me there is this folk connection in the song. John Henry who died with the hammer in his hand…  
The very last goodbye to a lover who was not even able to see that somebody loves him.
Budi plays an out-of-tune melodica I found in a backstage room once.