Until you injured your shoulder just before finishing high school, which with hindsight must seem like a stroke of good fortune now.
Something like that. But first my world came crashing down around me. It was a long time before I found my way back to my first love, music.
What was the decisive factor in the end?
My mother. I was in my twenties when she fell seriously ill. We had many conversations before she died. One day she said, “Don’t forget the music.” I had a huge amount of respect for my mother. She brought up eight kids on her own. When she died, I fell into a hole. It was music that got me out again.
You released your debut album at the age of 38 – that’s pretty late to be launching a music career.
When you look at other musicians, yes, it is late. For me, on the other hand, it was a process that took time. As a genre, jazz talks about age and experiences, about highs and lows. You have to have lived life before you can sing about it.
What experiences have marked you?
Above all the lifelong void my father left behind. I hardly knew him. Our rare encounters did not bring us closer in any way. You would think I’d have put all that behind me now that I’m a grown man, but it’s not that easy. Since I started to write about these and other feelings, my music has been more rounded. Songs like “Hey Laura” or “Be Good” are about things that really happened. I don’t have to make anything up.