By phone on a rare day off near Washington D.C., Steiner, 27, discussed the travels that influenced her songwriting, why she chooses to sing in English and her unusual first crush.
“Mutual Friends” includes songs titled “Drive Darling,” “Railway,” and “Silver Streets.” Are you drawn to travel as a source of inspiration?
I think for this album one big inspiration for the lyrics was that I had just moved from Zurich [Switzerland] to Hamburg. “Drive Darling,” for example, describes the move and this road trip I did with my mom, who drove me from Hamburg. It's about those hopeful and nostalgic feelings I had on that trip. Then “Silver Streets” is a song for Hamburg; it's a song for a new city that you try to become a friend of and find your place. “Railway” talks about one particular railway ride you can make in Switzerland, and when you make it in wintertime and look out the window you can become very melancholic. Being in motion is always a good thing to get inspiration.
Why'd you opt to sing in English with this project?
I've always been singing in English. In the beginning ... I would always sing cover songs by English-speaking singer-songwriters like Suzanne Vega or Shawn Colvin. I feel more comfortable singing in English than German, and I like the way my voice sounds better in English.
Does it have a different quality when you sing in German?
I used to sing in German a lot back in elementary school. When you sing children's songs they're in German ... so I feel like I sound a bit like a child when I sing in it.
You've also covered Air's “Playground Love,” so I wanted to ask you about your first crush.