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  • Writer's pictureMarkus Brandstetter

Looking back on 2020: Cancelled plans, new routines and A LOT of music.

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Pic taken on the last day of almost three months in the mountains

So that was that. 2020, a strange year indeed. One full of changing plans, of rearranging and reorganizing life. A year with a fair amount of worrying and uncertainty, sure – but also a quite productive and busy one for me.

What did not happen in 2020.

My plan for 2020 was to work as much as possible in January and February and then travel to South Korea for a few weeks. I had already booked my flights and my hotels. I had read a few books about the country, its history and its politics and really couldn't wait to go there. I even started to learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet (I’ve forgotten everything since). My plan was to go there in March, because in the last few years it has become a bit of a tradition for me to spend March and October abroad. Well, as we all know March was also the month that Covid-19 hit really hard. Needless to say I didn’t go to South Korea.

A few weeks before everything went crazy, I travelled to Oslo to do some photography there

What did happen in 2020.

Instead, I spent two and a half months in the mountains, together with my partner. We visited her parents, and brought a lot of instruments and recording gear with us. Guitars, bass, banjo, violin, midi controllers and whatnot. We had planned to drive back home to Berlin after one week. Then the lockdown came and we stayed for one and a half months (and later went back for another couple of weeks). We recorded about eleven songs for her solo album (I recorded some songs too, unfortunately my own ones weren't keepers – but I had fun experimenting).

Pic taken in Sweden, October 2020

I also had quite a good and extensive daily work/practice routine. I got up in the morning, worked, then practiced, then worked again and so forth. Actually I practiced quite a lot: bass, guitar and a bit of piano. If I had to pick one thing that really kept me relaxed and sane this year it would have to be practicing my instruments as well as diving deeper into music theory. Plus, I finally decided to improve my sight reading/transcribing (I really wish I had taken this more seriously when I was younger). I took bass and theory lessons, mostly Jazz stuff. I even took a guitar lesson from Mike Stern via Zoom, which was amazing. I bought a seven string guitar and went wild on metal riffs. (I listened to a lot of Meshuggah this year). And instead of taking a novel with me to bed, I sat there with sheet music or theory books. I was pretty hyperactive. Of course, as we were in the mountains, we also went hiking quite often.

Gear gear gear

Oh yes, and I bought a fair share of gear this year: A new bass (Fender American Ultra Jazz active), the mentioned 7-string (LTD) as well as a Les Paul which I didn't like too much and thus sold again. Strangely enough I didn't purchase any pedals – except one: the Strymon Iridium, that little amp sim champion. Instead, I went quite wild on the plugin side of life regarding guitar (Neural DSP Plini, Abasi and Cory Wong) and synth plugins as well as some other stuff.


I worked a lot this year, and I’m absolutely grateful I had enough work. Being a freelancer you always have to expect dry spells. The first lockdown came and the exact opposite of a dry spell happened. I did many interviews with great musicians for various magazines. I've had the pleasure to talk to Joe Satriani, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Ziggy Marley, Maynard James Keenan, Brian Fallon, Kaiser Chiefs, Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß (Beatsteaks), Katie Melua, Wolfgang Niedecken and Klaus Doldinger. During the few weeks where you could meet in person I've had also had longer talks with Melanie C aka Sporty Spice and Boris Blank & Dieter Meier from Yello.

social distancing pic of Sporty Spice and myself after the interview


Then in December lockdown number two came and I finally started my own music site/blog (that you are now reading). I emailed a few of my favorite musicians and told them about my plans. A few interviews have already been published, a new one is added every week. The first ones were with Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Rebekka Bakken und Ulrich Drechsler. There are many more interesting interviews coming in the next weeks, I am not going to mention names yet though. I'm really looking forward to slowly building up this blog and I have a lot of ideas for it that I'm working on.

And 2021?

I'm optimistic about 2021. I can't wait to travel again and as soon as things have mellowed out I'll pack my bags and spend a good part of the year somewhere else. I'll intensify my musical practice and learning routine – plus: I bought an electric upright bass and I'm henceforth not only taking lessons for electric, but also for upright bass. I've got a few pieces I'd like to record – and I'm also eager to dig deeper into the production side of things (which I've been doing the least years).

I truly hope we'll all be able to go to concerts / play concerts again soon.

Stay safe, stay healthy – thank you for reading and see you in 2021!


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