INTERVIEW: Trailhead



PHOTO CREDIT: Katarzyna Mazur



I have been chatting with the incredible Trailhead


PHOTO CREDIT: Karolina Kuszyk

about the fantastic new album, Keep Walking. Berlin-based Trailhead (Tobias Panwitz) speaks about the inspirations on the album and standout cuts; which country is especially impactful when it comes to its influence; why walking and being in the open leads to songwriting – I discover if there are tour dates coming up.

Trailhead talks about musical icons and favourite albums; if there is any time to get away from music and relax; a new act to keep a track of; what he hopes to achieve before 2018 is through – he ends the interview by picking a great song.


Hi, Trailhead. How are you? How has your week been?

Pretty good, so far. It’s a sunny Monday, so only good things so far!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I’m a songwriter; conditioned both by California’s Great North Woods, where I worked in the trail crew back in the '90s, and by California’s '60s and '70s singer-songwriter scene, amongst other things - hence, my inclination to write songs about walking, trails and travels…and to call myself ‘Trailhead’.


Keep Walking is your new album. Can you tell me the stories behind it?

Walking is my favourite means of transporting myself from one place to another. It’s rhythmic and monotonous, in a good way. Very meditative. Songs come easy to me while walking and, while doing so many times in Spain, Norway; Poland, Germany; South America and other places, I ended up with so many walking songs that I decided to put them all together on a quasi-concept album called Keep Walking. There’s a very Roots-y, earthy feel to the songs - at least to me. A musical reflexion of my walking adventures, if you will. With a strong emphasis on Spain.

Do songs come to you when you’re out walking and exploring? Is that a good place for you to muse?

It’s the best place for me. I don’t have to be thinking about anything. I don’t like to walk without a destination where I’m headed because, without it, I’d have to make my mind up about directions all the time. If I can just turn on my walking machine, I let it run and song ideas start coming with the rhythm of my walking feet.

Is there a song from the album that you would select as a favourite?

I like the easygoing flow of Walking Round Madrid (Such a great place to walk). Also, White Flag, a song about climbing Everest, is one I enjoy listening to still - even though that one’s not based on my experiences.

You have travelled a lot! Is there a particular county that stands out – in terms of the people and vibes?

As mentioned, Spain is a place I always enjoy returning to. The dryness of the inland, the Andalusian coast and mountains, where I shot my recent videos for Walking the Camino and Volcano Ground but, also, the Canary Islands with their lush vegetation and diverse climate zones...all hugely inspiring.

To me, the people have what we Germans sometimes lack: a natural positivity and the capability of having a good time without a particular reason. Norway’s amazing, too - though I never get to see the grand landscapes, because I always end up hanging out and drinking with friends there. I’ve been to Norway many times, but I haven’t yet seen a fjord!


PHOTO CREDIT: Thorsten Biernath

When did music come into your life? What was the reason for taking it up?

I grew up in a family of Classical musicians. As a kid, I learned to play the violin. I was pretty good at it, too. But, it never really was for me. So, as a teenager, I taught myself to play guitar and piano after my brother got me hooked on The Beatles, Pink Floyd; the Eagles, Peter Gabriel and other stuff that spoke to me much more strongly.

Which artists would you count as influences?

Oh, man; which ones are not? I’d have to mention The Beatles of course and, most definitely, Tom Petty, The Jayhawks; Neil Finn…I’m a lot into melodies and harmonies.


PHOTO CREDIT: Thorsten Biernath

Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

This summer, I have a show coming up in Switzerland and, later this year, lots of gigs all over Germany. The dates are all up on I love playing. The only thing I’m worried about is my carbon footprint with all that driving.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

I’d like to get better at producing and mixing - something I have neglected for a long time. There’s a new walking adventure coming up and I hope to start pre-production on a new album.


PHOTO CREDIT: Philipp Gabriel

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

The favourite ones for me are the ones sitting in a room with friends and guitars, singing songs. Nothing beats that. It’s such a beautiful way of connecting and sharing.

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

That’s an easy one:

Wildflowers by Tom Petty; Joy by Phish and Amused to Death by Roger Waters.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Keep going, set achievable goals and don’t complain.



Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’m a bit of a conservative who’s stuck in the '60s and '70s - so better ask me about old artists I’d recommend! But, I recently went to a show by I’m With Her. I’d definitely recommend seeing them live if you’re into vocal harmonies and Folk music. Wonderful stuff.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

My garden, my boat and walking. I love watching plants grow. Very meditative, too. Being out on the water in a kayak is a bit like walking, only, you use your arms. In Germany, we call it Wasserwandern: water hiking.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Alright, cool! Let’s hear a song by The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris: True Blue.


Follow Trailhead