Many people are involved in the daily effort to keep NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION running on the quality level you’ve come to love and enjoy over the past years. Everyone is driven by a massive amount of passion and dedication since, despite the fact that this might look quite professional, we all not make a living from it. This magazine is a result of that everday passion, multiple characters and tastes in music.

To appreciate that massive amount of dedication and to give these people the spotlight they deserve NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION will introduce our writer’s staff and their personal playlists via our Spotify profile right here every few weeks. Today’s contender in this little project is Norman Fleischer who recently stepped up to be the new head of NBHAP after former leading man and the magazine’s initial founder Robert Helbig decided to follow new creative adventures. Norman has been an active part of this blog since almost four years and is – in his position as editor-in-chief – responsible for the majority of subjects we cover up. Aside from that he’s just a major music nerd.

I’ve always been a fan of creating playlists, mixtapes, samplers or specifically designed sets. I’m still doing that from time to time for friends and family or under my Burnout Sumner moniker. Still, I found it surprisingly difficult to create a playlist based on my all-time favourites. I think the toughest part was a limitation to 50 songs. I’m not really sure if these are my personal Top 50. I decided to throw in songs and artists that influenced me in some way in the past 30 years during different episodes of my life. The result is as versatile as possible, from cheesy pop standards of the 1980s to post-rock, from gentle singer/songwriter melodies to electronic beats.

There’s KANYE WEST right next to NEW ORDER and JAY Z is followed by a track from the ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack, just to give you an idea.

Personally, I was never fan of genre limitations and I’m really glad that many others started to rethink that old idea and classification of music in the past years. I tend to call myself a fan of pop music in general but I extend that idea to a certain point as I think pretty much every piece of music is pop in the end. There’s a situation for every emotion in life and therefore I think you shouldn’t exclude any genre or song from the start. Every tune got a right to exist, although it’s sometimes hard to accept.

Anyway, please enjoy my little selection of popular music from different times and genres below this Q&A.

Explain a bit why you start your personal playlist with the song you picked for the first spot?
The opening track is Being Boring of the 1990 PET SHOP BOYS album Behaviour. Aside from the fact that I’m a massive ‘pethead’ and I’ve been following Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe my entire life now, I just think this one is a perfect example for how pop music could sound if you put a little more thought and effort in it. It covers up a lifelong story in three verses, is packed with biographical references and delivers a certain nostalgic menlancholia combined with an uplifting vibe. It deals with the inevitability of life, loss and all these tiny little things. The truth in Tennant’s words becomes more important to me as I grow older, so it’s a song to live by and that’s the greatest thing a piece of music can achieve.

Which musical decade represents your personal taste best?
This is really hard to answer. I grew up in the 90s and got socialized by a lot of the things that happened in the charts back then, especially electronic music and a bit punk. As the 21st century started I turned towards other genres and discovered the fantastic world of independent music aside of the main stream. I also discovered a lot of 80s wave and post-punk during those times that also shaped my musical character. So, to finally answer this question I would simply say: I’m a Noughties boy!

What’s the first music (single/album/song) you bought yourself?
The first CD I owned might have been REDNEX’ infamous 1994 Eurodisco jam Cotton Eye Joe or something of equal questionable quality. I’m not really sure what the first record was that I bought from my own pocket money. I think it was the 1997 single Sonic Empire from MEMBERS OF MAYDAY or something by happy hardcore acts DUNE or SCOOTER. I think the first album I bought was the SPICE GIRLS debut… so you see: I had quite an uncool start for my record collection.

Name three bands or artists that, in your opinion, are criminally underrated and why?
This is really hard as the history of pop music is packed with groups that didn’t got the credit they deserve. So, I try to just randomly pick three ones here

  1. STARS. The Canadian indie pop collective has been around for over 16 years and had more than a dozen of really wonderful, catchy and intelligent pop songs. Never understood why the world was buzzing so much about BELLE & SEBASTIAN when these guys are way better and diversified. I mean, they are doing fine but I always thought they could do better.
  2. TAKEN BY TREES. I’ve come to love Swedish songwriter Victoria Bergsman over the past years. She released three really wonderful albums, each sounding entirely different than the one before and those records are always inspired by specific places and musical themes. 2009’s East Of Eden got a hypnotic world music vibe as it was recorded with Pakistani musicians while 2012’s Other Worlds is definied by tropical Hawaiian sounds. Can’t wait for a fourth one once she returns from maternity leave.
  3. DOVES. They are one of favourite bands of all time so I was more than happy to interview parts of them last year for NBHAP although they’ve been on hiatus for over five years now. They released some of the greatest Britpop anthems of the early 00s and it’s such a shame that they never managed to reach COLDPLAY level because they are better on every aspect. Four great studio LP’s, plenty of fantastic B-Sides – I really hope they jump on the reunion bandwagon sooner or later since I never managed to see them live

If you could fix pop culture: What would you change?
From a economical perspective: pretty much everything from financial and distrbution structures to cultural founding. But that’s a whole different story. Sometimes I think, that out of this economical pressure grew a whole generation of spineless and superficial musicians who’d like to play things safe instead of being creatively rebellious. Back in the 80s, the high times of synthetic pop, plenty of bands wanted to sound and look different than their competitors while I don’t see that approach in the scene today – whether it’s mainstream pop or independent music. I would like to see more progressive and political artists these days, more intelligence and thoughtfulness in songs itself aside of the shallow ‘I love you, you love me’ or ‘Shake your booty’-stuff. Would be sweet to have more people next to KENDRICK LAMAR doing this.

What do Hope and Passion mean to to you?
For me it’s about having the guts to stick up to the things that matter to you, whether it’s on a professional or personal basis. It’s a weird mixture of naivety, stubbornness and determination that drives me in my daily race, even if it can be quite tricky as society’s forces usually try to lead you in a different direction. Anyway, it’s mostly about not giving up, especially in these desperate times we’re currently facing.