Christine Börsch-Supan’s Songwriting Survival Kit

Christine Börsch-Supan of Hope’s Songwriting Survival Kit
Christine Börsch-Supan of Hope's Songwriting Survival Kit

Hope’s Christine Börsch-Supan on her Songwriting Survival Kit: “Most of the times writing a song begins with sitting.”

Join Hope’s singer and songwriter as she sits on her piano stool facing a wall – it’s where the magic happens!

Emerging from the glow of supporting Depeche Mode on their recent Memento Mori tour, Berlin’s dark indie-pop outfit, Hope, recently released their new album NAVEL. Comprising Christine Börsch-Supan, Phillip Staffa, Martin Knorz, and Fabian Hönes, the band was formed in 2009 when the four members were all studying jazz. Evolving from their early post-punk origins, other noted influences include Massive Attack, Portishead and Joy Division.

In a departure from their debut’s dystopian soundscape, NAVEL embodies themes of healing and acceptance. A meditative expanse, it documents Christine’s personal triumph over an eating disorder. Though Moog, guitars and drums all play a key role in bringing the album to life, Börsch-Supan’s songwriting starts from a much smaller place, as she explains…

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1. PIANO STOOL

I need to sit when I write. And I need a seat that allows me to take up the smallest and most hunched-up positions, draw my knees against my chest, fold my legs into lotus seat, squirm around… So the piano stool is perfect, and also, it is a bit soft on top which I enjoy whilst sitting there for a long time.

Most of the time, writing a song begins with sitting. Sitting and waiting for words. Watching them come and go. Grabbing some of them and playing around. Letting them go again. Finding other ones. Finding ones that will stay. Playing around with them. Adding more. Waiting for melodies to the words. Letting them go. Finding other ones. Playing around with them. Finding the ones that will stay.

2. WALL

You might have noticed – I am sitting facing a wall. True, there’s a painting there as well, but more essential is the wall, and the absence of a view outside. I enjoy the concentration this allows me, and really immersing myself in my own head, my own images, my inner eyes and ears. Most of the time, I even keep my eyes closed, but in moments when I do open them, I enjoy facing this neutral ever-same-looking wall, then closing them again, diving under again.

Christine Börsch-Supan and Hope. Photo: Joe Dilworth

Hope and Christine Börsch-Supan: “Writing something down will only happen once in a while. Most of the process is in my head.” Photo: Joe Dilworth

3. THERMOS FULL OF TEA AND A SMALL CUP

This is for small breaks. When I get fed up with juggling the words or trying to find the exact right melody to the word, and especially in those moments, when I just can’t find it, can’t find it, can’t find it. Instead of looking out the window I will have a sip of tea. I love the haptics of this little green ceramic cup – it’s soft and makes this quiet little noise when I touch it. It never gets too hot as well, only comfortingly warm. I’ll put both of my hands around it, sip some tea, and continue.

4. SKETCHBOOK

I have a separate sketchbook for everything. My journal, my drawings, each project I am working on. They all have different sizes, haptics, colours… A medium-sized, black softcover Moleskine is for writing lyrics. It’s important for me to have it lying in front of me, although writing something down will only happen once in a while. Most of the process is in my head.

5. BLUE-PAINTED PENCIL

The blue painted pencil is a gift from my partner. He gave it to me thirteen years ago, when we were a fresh couple and I have been using it ever since to write lyrics down. I am amazed now how much of it is still left. I guess this reflects my amazingly minimalist actual writing process.

As I said, most of it happens in my head. I do hold the pencil a lot though, and so the Beatles quote that my partner carved in there, has worn off. Sometimes I try to remember it, which I can’t, and then enjoy the thought of the words having flown somewhere else.

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6. PIANO

There will be a point, eventually, when I have played around with words and melodies for what seems like ages. I will have sung them in my head, lots and lots of times, until I am completely sure how I want them to move. I will start singing them loud, perhaps adjust them a bit more – most of the times making them more and more and even more simple. And then finally, I go to the piano and play around to find bass notes for them. This is what I will bring into rehearsal: Words with a melody and bass notes.

Navel is out now on Haldern Pop Recordings. Christine Börsch-Supan and Hope will be playing dates in Germany in April and May 2024. For music, tickets and more, head to thisishope.de




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