Neukölln’s moody dream-pop duo Bad Hammer release “Mystified” – a threefold artistic experience, with a single, a video, and a perfume.
Bad Hammer wasn’t my very last gig in the before times – but it was close. I huddled against strange and sweaty bodies and swayed at 8mm back in February – enveloped with textured and velvety Bad Hammer aura, their nostalgic-and-achy synth, and Lisa Klinkhammer’s siren voice.
Bad Hammer–composed of Klinkhammer and Johannes Badzura, the Hammer and the Bad–had only just released their first lush and atmospheric EP, Extended Play, in 2019, and, as I wrote back in February, were “looking forward to a year of wild late-night romp-concerts throughout our favorite city and beyond.” At the time, I hadn’t a clue that this sort of future-speak was wishful thinking in its most optimistic and childlike form.
In any case, stripped of their 2020 plans, Bad Hammer focused on “Mystified” — a new-single-with-music-video, that plays as advertisement for their perfume. Alongside their incredible music prowess, Bad Hammer have clear insight into what you see and feel and ache-with, what you taste and smell and remember; they desire total control, which they orchestrate through dynamic soundscapes and iconic imagery and a new luxurious perfume.
Throughout the Blade Runner-esque advertisement-music-video (see below), Mystified perfume is said to be “a new foundation” and “new feeling of life.” Each syllable Klinkhammer cries aches with impossible desire, whilst a magazine-glam ’80s-gal tosses her tresses and makes big eyes at the camera and raises the talisman-looking Mystified perfume. It’s endy-worldy, glossy with irony and bright red lipstick. It’s fascinating to watch, toying with all the ways we’ve been advertised to over the years, “ticking all the boxes,” shall we say–beautiful women, alluring smiles, the little click that casts the first puff of the perfume across the tender neck–all merged with this moody-doom and hard-edged city-scape.
According to Klinkhammer and Badzura, songs and music videos go hand-in-hand. “The visual world is quite important to us. Some lines of the lyrics felt like advertising phrases that required a commercial look.” Further inspiration was taken from John Huston’s 1941 film, The Maltese Falcon, along with, of course, aesthetics from ’80s and ’90s perfume ads. “We felt that creating a commercial for a song or vice versa would be ideal at this point in life. So we did it,” they explain.
Questioning the Role of Music in our Material World
Bad Hammer go on to say, “‘Mystified’ is not just a song or a scent; it’s basically a threefold concept that questions the role of music in the very material world we’re living in. As we all know, there is a strong commercial alliance between music and other industries. The interesting thing is that people actually spend a lot of money on cosmetics, way more money than on music. That’s why famous artists like Britney or Lady Gaga often come up with a perfume to enter into another, much bigger market. We thought as an unknown band it could be fun to do it too.
“The biggest challenge in creating the perfume was definitely designing the bottle,” Bad Hammer continue. “It has a magnet and a metal ring so that it snaps perfectly. The perfume itself (pour vous) is a Bad Hammer speciality. It’s very luxurious.”
“Mystified” has already been remixed several times. “EDM seems to be the most profitable genre nowadays,” they say. “But the remixes we asked for from Chikiss, Giraffi Dog, and Sami Toroi didn’t turn out to be 424 club bangers. They are super amazing, but probably too difficult for mainstream dancefloors. We admire all three artists a lot and also have known them for a long time, so we totally trusted them and are super happy with their deliveries. Sami Toroi did a pretty dark and more experimental remix; Chikiss’ combat mix is also pretty heavy yet dreamy, and the Giraffi Dog remix is more fun; you could even swing your upper body to it a little.”
When asked about the future, Bad Hammer say they’re looking forward to their first show after this madness. “The first show is probably gonna be messy,” they say. “No streaming concert could ever replace that.” They’re also working on their album, with hopes of releasing it in fall 2021.