- 18 Jul 23
Rising grunge pairing Fräulein, featuring Antrim’s Joni Samuels and London-based Dutchman Karsten van der Tol, are back with a blistering sophomore EP, Pedestal.
Joni Samuels still has her birthday bunting up behind her when we start our chat. Like most creatives, bare walls aren’t something she enjoys, and why not continue the fun? Her bandmate, Karsten van der Tol, is taking her to Cabaret the same night to mark the occasion. Their connection through uni friends has since led to two exciting Fräulein EPs, 2022’s A Small Taste and June’s Pedestal, via beloved indie label Submarine Cat Records. Linked by the Northern Line on opposite sides of London, their friendship bleeds into the tracks.
“When Karsten and I first met, it was through music,” Joni smiles. “It was a friends’ jam night, so the first thing we ever did together was perform songs. It’s integral to our connection. We’re best friends, but if we’re in a studio working on music, we’re doing a job.”
“I liken it to shifting gears,” Karsen adds. “It helps with our chemistry on stage.”
“If we didn’t get along outside of the music, it wouldn’t work as a performance,” Samuels nods. “There’s such love and respect between us, which is vital for two-piece bands.”
Of course, they have different interests (well, one each) outside of Fräulein.
“Joni is extremely into her knitting,” Karsten laughs. “My favourite gift is the jumper she knitted me for my birthday,” before holding it up à la ‘Here’s one I made earlier’.
“I try not to talk about yarn when I’m around Karst because I know he hates it!” she laughs. Their lives before meeting each other were strikingly different.
“I had an international background, hence the accent,” he nods. “I was born in Lebanon and moved to new countries until I was 16. I went to a boarding school in the UK.”
“It was the opposite for me,” Samuels interjects. “I was brought up in Northern Ireland. My family was probably the most international family in the whole town of Antrim! I had a close circle of friends and moving to England for university when I was 18 was my big trip.”
Joni did Chemical Engineering at uni, while Karsten’s undergrad was in Sociology. “I really wanted to get into international development. I now work in sales,” he laughs. “I’ve gone completely the other way. NGOs are out the window and I am fully a for-profit slave!”
“Fräulein is definitely an outlet, and I’m so glad it’s special,” Joni explains of their partnership. “It’s about trying to find time when you’ve had a really long day at work. We were super excited to join the Sub Cat roster, because they’re fans of the artists they choose to work with. They came to all of our shows and were genuinely really supportive.”
What was it like working with producer Ali Chant on Pedestal versus Anteros musician Josh Rumble (Florence Welch, Bastille, Black Country New Road) on A Small Taste?
“Josh engineered, mixed and produced the first EP. He did everything,” Joni recalls. “He’s a real musician’s musician. With Ali, there were multiple people in the studio. The first EP was so much more immediate and raw - true to our live sound. This one is more polished and thought out. That’s because of Ali’s experience. He’s worked on some of the biggest records of the last couple of years.”
Fräulein are slated to support Big Joanie in October, and have plenty of London music recs (Mary in the Junkyard, Teeth Machine) but their connection to the Irish scene is strong.
“We’ve gotten some amazing Irish press, which means that a lot of Irish bands are connecting with us,” Karsten adds. “That happened with Problem Patterns a few years ago and now we’ve seen them play so many times. Belfast-based Chalk are also amazing.”
“I really want to check out Jock from Belfast,” Samuels nods. “It’s hard to get from Ireland to England if you’re a small band, because it’s so expensive. When we can, we always say yes.”
“The Irish community is really good at fostering its talent. I’ve been adopted by proxy into that space, which is really wholesome, friendly and caring,” Karlsten observes, laughing. “They really want to support each other by showing up and spreading the word.”
“They’ve got an extremely good music culture though,” Joni agrees. “Whenever I’m home, my favourite thing to do is go into a bar when trad is being played - just to witness people of all ages, shapes and sizes - communing over the music. That’s the way it is over there.”
Their bucket list isn’t outrageously long; moreso revolving around following their idols.
“I want to get another support slot for a band I absolutely love. I’m seeing inklings of The Breeders coming back,” Samuels tells me. “I’d love to open for them in Ireland or the UK.”
“Momma were just on tour with Weezer and Modest Mouse, and I just kept thinking about how amazing that would be!” Karsten shakes his head. “I’m really fucking gassed to play mainland Europe with Big Joanie. We’re not playing the Netherlands, though! I’ve been doing this for years and still haven’t played in my home country,” he laughs.
“Soon!” Joni comforts him. Here’s hoping they make it to Belfast and Amsterdam.
Fräulein’s Pedestal EP is out now via Submarine Cat Records.
- Film And TV
- 11 May 23