Mr. Schulz, are you a Christmas guy? Are you looking forward to Christmas trees, gifts, church?
Emotionally, you can’t escape this time. I am dad, my daughter is eleven. These days you automatically get into a Christmas rhythm that was never so important to me before.
With your advent calendar podcast, you can do it again. At Spotify you will tell Christmas stories from December 1st.
Yes. It’s such a strange time right now. My tour was canceled three times. I have time. I wanted to give my fans something nice at the end of this strange year. Then I came up with the idea of producing short stories together with my good friend Rasmus Engler, some of which are lying around at home or have slumbered in me for a long time and which I now read to the listener every day as little advent calendar doors, so to speak.
Olli Schulz now also as a writer?
Who knows. It may also be a finger exercise for the novel that I’m still planning. Kiepenheuer & Witsch has been waiting for my manuscript for eight years.
What is preventing you from writing?
First and foremost, I’m a musician and presenter, and I was never really satisfied with what I had written. There are just too many artists who publish a book on the side. Have you already listened to my advent calendar?
Yes, the short story with the Christmas Didi, about Didi Hallervorden ..
Later there’s also something with Meryl Streep, who comes to Berlin once a year and helps Frank Zander roast goose in a masquerade.
This calendar, you say, marks the end of a strange year. What has Corona done to you, as an artist and as a private person?
The lockdown for artist appearances is more of a luxury problem for me, because as a podcaster and presenter I have other jobs than music. I can make ends meet. I saw the first lockdown in spring as an opportunity to do something for myself. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet at the beginning, thought it was romantic that we can all find ourselves together.
… over time this feeling went away. Now the winter, that already takes away. It happens that for the first time in 20 years I couldn’t go on tour. I miss the bond with my fans at concerts. There is great melancholy. Because of that and against it, the advent calendar. It’s my job to make people laugh and smile.
Have you had withdrawal symptoms without a tour?
I did a smart thing: got a dog from the shelter in January. It gives me a structure, in the morning through the Grunewald, which is not easy if you have been used to the nightlife for years. And then I also have that north German side in me: withdrawing for days and not talking to anyone.
You also have a new job with series streaming: Gunter Gabriel’s houseboat repair with Olli Schulz and Youtuber Fynn Kliemann as a Netflix documentary. Did you discover craft during the pandemic?
I bought the houseboat two years ago. I put a lot of time, love and money into the renovation. I’ve only met Gunter Gabriel once at the traffic light in my entire life. He made his way through like from another time. Respect. When I first saw the boat, it was very sad. Gabriel had been dead six months, but everything was still as if he had just left the boat.
And that had to be a Netflix documentary?
Not necessarily. I filmed the renovation myself with Fynn Kliemann, right from the start. Netflix came on the back of the deal. An honest story of two people who buy a boat and become desperate when they realize it is getting too much for them.
What did you do while standing still: Watching one series after the other?
No, I’m out. One season usually goes, maybe the second. With the third one I often find: Oh, then they had to come up with something. You are constantly finding gaps in the script. That is never thought through to the end, example “Dexter”.
And podcasts? Do you only produce or do you hear some yourself?
Not much. I like the podcasts from Deutschlandfunk for going to bed.
When you think of Olli Schulz and the podcast, you think of “Fest & Fluschig” with Jan Böhmermann. The podcast has been running for nine years, with a forerunner on Radio Eins. Are there no signs of wear and tear? Do you and Böhmermann never get on each other’s nerves?
Oh but. But we are a good work team. I mean, we’re bound to each other, talk to each other once or twice a week, whether we like it or not. Sometimes you feel like it more, sometimes less. When we hit record, we both want the people outside to have fun. We are friends. It’s been working for eight years, I mean, I’ve never been in a committed relationship with someone for so long.
Strangely enough, it didn’t work that way with Böhmermann and you on television. “Schulz & Böhmermann” only ran on ZDFneo in 2016/17. For me it was one of the most exciting talk formats of the last decade.
I thought it was nice too. But I wasn’t sad when it was over. It wasn’t the best time of my life privately. My art is that I don’t read anything, but bring my personality into it. If it is scratched, then you notice it in programs like this. There were a couple of issues where I was very dissatisfied with myself.
At that time you also had the image of horror from the public or the media. For Joko and Klaas they annoyed actors drunk at Berlinale galas with interviews in front of the camera …
Oh yes. I played crazy roles. After that, even after “Schulz in the box”, there were many offers in this bang-out bag direction. It was never my goal to become a big TV star. Then prefer to stay unpredictable, like last year on NDR, where I shot a documentary in a nursing home. I would also like to show my heart, things that touch me. Like in my music.
Maybe that’s a drawer problem too. Who or what are you actually? Do you know what is said about Olli Schulz on Amazon?
“Real romantic, poet and entertainer.”
Phonetically, that’s very nice.