If you are not yet familiar with the German indie pop duo Schnipo Schranke, now is the time. Although the pair have gone their separate ways musically in 2019 after only a few years together, they are gone but not forgotten.
With clear vocals delivered over steady, angular rhythms, the duo released two solid albums. The pair do not take themselves too seriously — in all the right ways. They are positively fearless. And they do not have any time for people who take themselves too seriously. Come with an open mind and a sense of humor. With largely robotic vocals and lyrics that are simply not interested in respecting any boundaries of any kind, Schnipo Schranke is made up of the kind of strong women that the music scene is always in need of.
So this month, it is time to get to know Schnipo Schranke and learn German with music!
Get to Know Schnipo Schranke
Schnipo Schranke was formed in 2012 by Daniela Reis and Fritzi Ernst. The two met in Frankfurt at a music school. Reis was studying cello while Ernst was pursuing the recorder. Artistically and creatively unfulfilled by their formal education, the pair united to create a band.
The pair’s name is a creative mish-mash. Schnipo is a combination and shortening of Schnitzel mit Pommes (known in English as “Schnitzel and French fries” — or chips, if you would prefer). Meanwhile, the term Schranke, the German term for the red and white arms used to block traffic from crossing train tracks, is a play on the colors of the popular fry dipping sauces of mayo and ketchup.
The year after their founding, the pair relocated to Hamburg. Several samplers and demos followed. The first, “Pisse,” received some attention and helped the pair’s momentum.
After only two full-length releases, Reis and Ernst decided to part and go their own ways. Today, the two are still creating music. Ernst is a solo artist while Reis has partnered with her husband, Ente Schulz, to form Ducks on Drugs.
Music of Schnipo Schranke
There’s a Trojan Horse-like quality to the pair’s music where it sounds bright and upbeat despite the pair often giving someone a telling-off. (Or, as they assure you “Scherz,” the insults were really just a joke.)
There was a period in the early 1970s when Paul McCartney would record slightly silly songs that were earnestly meant but were largely a bit of fun. He would be pounding on the piano with melodies that would stick in your head. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch, but there is a touch of that feeling in the pair’s debut album, Satt. Yes: they sound far more modern and the lyrics are far more thoughtful.
Perhaps the album’s most memorable track, “Pisse,” captures that McCartney-like bounciness but it is matched with the pair’s trademark vinegar lyrics. When they aren’t giving someone a telling-off, it is clear the duo is getting the last laugh. Such as on the seemingly sensitive ballads but really rather adult “Intensiv” and “Cluburlaub.”
On 2017’s Rare, the pair regroup and slightly tweak their plan of attack. The instrumentation is a bit fuller and more sophisticated, there are slightly fewer monotone vocals. Schnipo Schranke’s tone and feeling, however, remain unmistakable even with some additional focus.
But it is the album’s dramatic opening track, a piano instrumental, that betrays their formal music training and skill. Perhaps it is the pair’s way of letting you in on the joke? However, the moment is shortlived and the duo dives into their indie rock personas. “Murmelbahn” captures the Schnipo Schranke essence with more complex instrumentation. Elsewhere, “Dope,” feels jarring as though the jokes are on pause with a momentary lowering of their masks. Or are they?
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Photo by Simone Scardovelli, courtesy of Buback. This post contains affiliate links.