b r e a t h e
The breathe project came together like the unreflected action
of the word itself: a deep breath before diving in…head first
into dreams that had been loitering on the outskirts of reality
for far too long.
It all began in a stairwell in Berlin’s eastern district of Pankow.
Canadian-born Karin Helmstaedt and Judith Engel, a soprano
with Berlin’s prestigious Radio Choir, discovered they were
neighbors. By the end of afternoon tea they were fast friends,
and making plans for the first of many communal dinners.
Late one night after much wine and an inspired singsong with the kids
– it turns out they had both grown up singing along to the same
Joan Baez record! – they decided to act. Within a few weeks they
had rallied together some local guitar virtuosi and were practicing
like mad, working out harmonies for a selection of their favorite
pop and folk songs.
Six months later, in June of 2001, they performed their first
minimalist program of vocals and guitar, made up entirely of covers.
By the end of the summer, Karin was scribbling away at her own songs,
at which point Rainer Schnoes came on board to make the duo a trio.
With his contribution as composer and arranger, breathe developed
its own repertoire; in November 2003 they made their first
appearance in Berlin with a six-man band of seasoned musicians.
The next step was to preserve the work for posterity. After months
of recording in and around Berlin – and painstaking learning by doing -
the band sidestepped the issue of finding a label by founding its own.
Forest of Arden is proud to present breathe’s debut album
"afterward," a labor of love and learning, and most certainly,
just a beginning.
Karin Helmstaedt grew up in Kingston, Ontario, then studied
Literature in Toronto, Montreal and Paris. She earns her bread
as a freelance journalist and television anchor for Deutsche Welle
television in Berlin, but her alter ego dreams up songs, writes lyrics,
and sings lead vocals for breathe.
Judith Engel grew up in East Berlin, where she studied classical voice
at the Hanns-Eisler Academy. A freelance performer since 1992,
she joined the Berlin Radio Choir full time in 1998. Singing a
non-classical repertoire with breathe is the realization of a
longtime dream – and all the really tricky vocals are her department.
Rainer Schnoes, aka "Maestro," studied music in Essen and Hamburg;
in 2001 he joined the Berlin Radio Choir…but he has much more fun
playing keyboards and piano for breathe, not to mention composing masterful arrangements, producing, recording, editing….etc.