Hubert von Goisern
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INTERVIEW

Miscellaneous: 2002

"New folk music" is dead, alpine world music lives

Folker! Nr. 2 2002 March/ April | Photos: Ingo

Interview with Hage Hein, the economic strategist of the alpine scene

Hage Hein

Hage Hein

Scarcely has Hubert von Goisern reappeared, than music with alpine roots becomes relevant again. As the head of Munich record company Lawine (Goisern, BavaRio, Hundsbuam and many more), Hage Hein has interpreted and marketed the scene from the beginning.

Christian Rath talked to him about music, marketing and politics.

About every ten years, you invent a new term for unusual music from Bavaria and Austria. What was described at the beginning of the 90s as "new folk music" should now be called "alpine world music". Why is a new term needed?

Such a term should show the media, here is something new and it does not concern only one or two artists who are already in the limelight, but it concerns a relatively wide scene.

And what should the term "alpine world music" concretely signal?

It should make it clear to the audience that world music does not just come from foreign continents, but also from their own culture area. I am simply surprised that someone like Hubert von Goisern is still rather seen as a fun musician and less as an independent contribution to global pop culture. And for the international audience, a term like "alpine world music" is more understandable because "new folk music" is orientated too strongly towards the German speaking debated about the folksy schlager.

The artists themselves are on the whole not enthusiastic if you invent such pigeonholes for them ...

Artists would just rather intone their own creative performances ...

Also opposite other artists?

Naturally, just in the "new folk music" scene, the mood was initially quite bad because many believed that they had invented something new and the others were only copying them. In 1993, I felt this mistrust myself behind the scenes of the first Schräg Dahoam festival. There a couple of creative people had similar ideas at the same time, which led to many a well-known Landler just being arranged by different artists.

You have also even arranged the - in the meantime three - Schräg Dahoam festivals. What does the title Schräg Dahoam mean?

It is really just a play on words, without a completely concrete message. It has something to do with homeland and with it that one does not want to let oneself smoothly fit into tradition. Most people intuitively understand what I want to say with it.

In 1993 one still believed that "new folk music" could be a really big thing. Tell us about the atmosphere at the first Schräg Dahoam festival.

The mood was really bad with the musicians, really good with the rest of the people involved. At that time, many thought for three days that, here something really important for the European musical landscape is happening. In any case, three dozen journalists and six or seven TV teams came. With the second festival, 18 months later, the trend spotters then did not come any more, the euphoria has passed again.

Why did it not work with the really big breakthrough? Why did the German language hip hop become so important and not the German language yodel rock and alpine jazz?

At that time we were not a part of the youth movement, but a part of the adult movement. Therefore we were missing a specific subcultural scene in which the whole thing would have been able to gain breadth. And for a rather mainstream orientated general public, you naturally have to be more than a more virtuoso and creative artist. Here it also depends on the attractiveness of the person and their stage presence. Ernst Huber from Broadlahn is simply not sexy, as much as I value him as a musician. There Hubert was an exception. And when he disbanded the Alpinkatzen in 1994, the scene was stone-dead.

So Goisern's temporary departure was the end of "new folk music"?

It was already crazy: first he became criticised from many sides because he would not concentrate on the interest of the media with his style of music. But then when Hubert was away, the others did not flourish, rather it became quite quiet because the media were not interested in it at all. Then I also did not do a new Schräg Dahoam festival for years.

First of all there was the third festival with Hubert's return with two new CDs ...

Yes, and if I am honest, then our concept as a festival concept did not work once. Firstly we above all promoted the festival itself in Munich and Hubert - aside from Broadlahn, BavaRio and Hohtraxlecker Sprungschanznmusi - was just one of four acts. But the advance sales were so slow that in the last two weeks before the concert, we put up posters saying 'Hubert von Goisern "and friends" so we got 1,800 people to the Circus Krone. In comparison: Broadlahn and BavaRio alone draw perhaps 150 people at a time. On the second day of the Schräg Dahoam festival, which took place in Landshut, also only about 200 people came, although with Zabine, Hundsbuam and Edelschwarz more people on whom our hopes were pinned were there at the start.

It is nice of Hubert von Goisern that he lets himself be drawn in as a crowdpuller. But why does he do it?

Naturally Hubert is also worth more if he is seen as the most important representative of a broad movement. But he would probably not want to carry a whole tour, he above all participated in this Schräg Dahoam festival because he knows how important this project has become to me.

... and because as label manager you can also do him a favour, for example you are meanwhile bringing out a really traditional CD with the Hohtraxlecker Sprungschanznmusi, who are Hubert von Goisern's friends.

Hubert even produced the CD himself and wrote a foreword for the booklet.

Why have Biermösl Blosn or Attwenger never appeared at your festivals?

I can assure you that I have invited them imploringly and many times. But for some reason it has never worked. I think there are reservations.

Why?

With Attwenger I suspect that they are worried about their underground aura if they appear in a relatively commercial area like a Schräg Dahoam festival.

Does that annoy you?

Yes, it annoys me when musicians waste their talent. What they both did at the beginning of the 90s with drums, accordion and singing was absolutely sensational. It was not just alpine punk, but at the same time German language hip hop - long before something like that became trendy. They could have been European superstars, but they preferred to remain untouchable.

Hubert von Goisern has also not become a European superstar?

Not yet. All the same, he has sold 2 million CDs and Attwenger only 150,000.

And you can also find Goisern's audience with the Musikantenstadl ...

Well and? I cannot understand this arrogance at all. Even if an audience is somewhat older and more sedate, the people are not stupid. They clapped along to the jazzy pieces from Broadlahn just like they later did with Hubert. The people also perhaps listen to something folksy, but in the end are much more open than the intellectuals and music critics.

Hubert von GoisernWhy does Hubert von Goisern not appear in Musikantenstadl?

On TV it does not matter, all these folksy programmes are after him and would like to book him straight away. The editors there would also be very happy to once have something interesting. But Hubert is afraid that he would have demands made on him there.

And what do you think?

We have argued over this question for years. I say to him: if you are really so distinctive as you think you are, then nothing can happen to you. I am somewhat more ready to take risks than him, although I also do not have to put myself forward. And, admittedly, it is not easy to profile yourself in 3 minutes with something absolutely original.

Did it not work really well with his appearance on Marianne and Michael's show?

Naturally they wanted to hear Hiatamadl from him, but then he brought a number from his Tibet programme into the broadcast. A Tibetan singer stood in the foreground and Hubert with his Styrian accordion in the second row. Apart from that they painted a banner "Freedom for Tibet" which they held up to the camera at the joint finale of all the performers.

And how did TV react?

Naturally they realised that something was in the offing and wanted to talk him out of it. But when he did it nevertheless, everyone was somehow also proud that one person is so courageous. And although the programme was recorded, the banner was also not missing from the final broadcast.

So actually really good experiences with TV?

Well, another example: in 1994, he was invited to the programme Oh, Du mein Österreich, again to play Hiatamadl. He then insisted on beginning the programme and appearing live. But he then took advantage of this to stay on the stage for 20 minutes and play wild music - without Hiatamadl. He has also then never been invited there again.

A TV appearance in the hostile environment must also always be somehow subversive?

Yes. The environment is dreadful and an artist like Hubert has to position themselves there. The audience would certainly have nothing against it if the programmes were better.

If one wants to make progress with a musical direction, one really has to win the youth ...

Is something like the Buena Vista Social Club a youth phenomenon?

... and not so much the Musikantenstadl audience ...

There are also naturally artists in the alpine world music scene who are young and work with very modern music styles. Take something like the project with Zabine, the former Alpine Sabine from the Alpinkatzen time. There it is about a connection of German lyrics and yodel elements with house, trip hop and funk.

Then why did only the usual Goisern audience come to the concerts?

Because the youth today are much more narrowminded than the adults. Everything which lies aside from their preferences does not interest them. You know, we sent a track from Zabine and a photo to 100 youth radio stations and let them guess what it really is. The interest was great, many conjectured that it could be a matter of an Icelandic artist until they heard that Zabine comes from Tyrol, then suddenly everything was over.

You still seem angry today.

Extremely. When I was 20, the older people were small-minded. But today it is the 20 year olds themselves. If the origin of an artist is a reason for exclusion, then that makes me unbelievably angry.

Do you now think about the international market because it is not going so well in Germany?

Indeed in Germany it is not going perfectly, but also not bad. And I think about the sales abroad because it should be possible with high quality music with a specific identity and original sounds to lead onto similar interest as is also the case the other way round in Germany and Austria.

Is there not a problem with the German language abroad?

Since when has linguistic comprehension played a role in world music? One can also explain what the lyrics mean with announcements. Hubert speaks fluent English anyway because he lived in South Africa and Canada for a long time.

And how open is the world music scene for new alpine offspring?

Until now acceptance is still somewhat hesitant. Even Hubert is perhaps too popular again for the world music scene and not insider-like enough.

What do you link that to?

For example he wanted to play at the Womex world music fair in Rotterdam but was not chosen as a showcase. Last year he would also have liked to have played in Rudolstadt, where there are also many international journalists, but they were also not interested there at first. He would be able to play there in 2002, but only with the band with whom he was on tour in the autumn. Funny regulations.

What does alpine world music have to offer to world music?

What a question! It is important that there is also progressive strength which the native culture takes. Someone like Haider in Austria could therefore finally only become so big because the Left despise the native culture.