What is Zen Sounds?

Zen Sounds is my musical diary – every week, I will write about records and concerts that I recently enjoyed. In addition to my musings on experimental music, I will occasionally write about film and literature, and every once in a while I send out these random essays which I’d say generally fall under the ‘self-help’ umbrella. I’m interested in ‘alternative’ lifestyles, philosophy and spirituality.

Who are you?

My name is Stephan Kunze, I’m a writer and culture journalist based in Germany. I have been writing about music for over 20 years – from hip-hop to jazz to electronic music to the avant-garde. I’ve spent more than ten years in Berlin, but now I live in a 100-year old farmhouse in rural Northeastern Germany with my family, close to the Polish border and the Baltic sea. In 2021, I published a non-fiction book on mindfulness and minimalism, “Zen Style” (German only).

When and why did you start the newsletter?

In October 2021, I worked in music editorial for a big global streaming service, but I missed writing about music. I’d also witnessed the folding of most music magazines that I’d been writing for previously. It seemed like a bad time for music journalism, more specifically for writing about independent and underground music. I started the newsletter to send out record recommendations to a circle of friends, but over time it grew bigger gradually.

After a year of writing the newsletter, I decided to switch from German to English. At that point, English had been my main business language for many years, so it felt natural. It’s also the universal language of the internet. But as I started in German, you will still find some newsletters in German in my archive. The first English issue was Zen Sounds 035: Year End Charts 2022.

What exactly do you mean by ‘experimental’ music?

During the 2010s, a new global scene of experimental sound artists has emerged from the wider realm of contemporary electronic and ambient music. I will also cover music from jazz to rock to hip-hop to electroacoustic composition. To me, experimental music is definitely not limited to a genre, style, era or school. In general, I will probably be bending the ‘experimental’ term to anything that I enjoy. It’s easier to say what will not be covered here: Mainstream pop, dance or hip-hop music, and anything that you will hear on Top 40 radio.

Can I pitch music to you?

Sure, please send promos to zensounds [at] posteo [dot] de. I won’t be able to respond to every pitch. Please limit your pitches to music that has a loose relation to the content of the newsletter. Also, don’t attach files but include a streaming and/or download link for the music. Thank you!

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A newsletter on experimental music and culture.


Stephan Kunze

I am a writer based in Germany, interested in music, culture, alternative lifestyles and spirituality.