Hubert von Goisern
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FEDERN

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"It's much, much worse"

Badische Zeitung 9th May 2015 | Text: Peter Disch | Photo: Wolfgang Grabherr
Hubert von Goisern

BZ INTERVIEW: Hubert von Goisern talks about his journey to the American south,
the resulting album "Federn" and his image of America.

Hubert von Goisern's alpine rock music lives on the exchange with other cultures. In 2013 the 62-year-old Austrian went to Nashville and New Orleans to play with US musicians. The result is his new album deeply shaped by blues and country. His hopes that the USA would be less foreign to him after his trip were dashed though. In conversation with Peter Disch he talks about why.

Snowdown, the first song of the album, is a homage to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who made information about the US military and the country's espionage trainees public. What does this say about your relationship with the United States?

I experienced a lot of disappointments on my research trip for this project. But there are of course lots of really great moments and wonderful people who have become big in the United States and don't carry this embarrassing politics with them that's leading the whole world into chaos and leaving scorched earth behind them. That's why I dedicated this song to them.

The lyrics criticise Europe for not offering Snowden asylum. But it also centres on the cowardice of each individual.

I don't like saying "them", I prefer to use the first person, because I feel included among them. In a few light moments, and that includes the ones in which I'm writing songs, I feel my own inadequacy.

How did the USA trip come about?

I suddenly felt that this general rejection of the United States had encroached upon me. I thought, I can counter this, not just for me personally, but beyond too, developing a mutual understanding in which we can do something together. That's why I went where the most pain was: to the Bible belt, the southern states.

I don't imagine that I've now understood America. But I now know a good bit more about what's going on over there. As far as my feelings about this country are concerned, the ones I wanted to dispel - that completely backfired. It's much, much worse. What shocked me the most was the prevailing feeling that there's nothing beyond the United States that's worth being interested in. For people over there Europe is like a historical Disneyland. This lack of understanding for the politics is also reciprocated. The Americans really don't understand what's going on over here.

Is there anything positive?

I hope that I'm only in the middle of the task that I've set myself. I found friends over there, like the pedal steel guitarist Steve Fishell, a musician with a clear American identity, who had the courage to come over last year to perform with me.

The USA project is to continue?

I have this hope. But it's not a plan. For now we're going on tour with the songs. Another American musician is joining us, Bob Bernstein. These people are returning to America with a story. After the concerts in the autumn Steve Fishell said that he'd never played such a cool tour. It was all completely different from the way he imagined. That's a start. If he just tells a few of the stories of things he experienced here, we'll be a step further forward.

You have recorded oft-covered traditionals such as Amazing Grace and Hank Williams' country classic Jambalaya on the Bayou for Federn. What attracted you to doing so?

Williams is a real icon. Jambalaya was his first number one in September 1952, the year I was born, I came into the world two months later, Williams died on 31st January 1953. So I simply wanted to pay homage to this guy. Of course it is a great undertaking to play his biggest hit. But why take his tenth best song? (laughs)

Since you write new lyrics to the songs, you're always able to add your own touch to them.

When I started with the lyrics I wanted to play the song in such a way that you could have the feeling that it's an alpine folk song, just with a steel guitar. I think I managed it in most cases.

How difficult is it to combine alpine and southern state music?

It proceeds by itself. It flows. They have the same roots after all. The people who emigrated 200 years ago took these songs and the way to sing them with them. And from that came country music. There are probably more people in Texas who yodel than there are in Tyrol.

Can you give an example?

With the traditional Corrina, Corrina I thought: I know this song. What is it? Until I realised: it's actually the folk song Steirer Bua. If two or three notes get changed, it's a lot. And at one point there's a chord change a crotchet earlier. But it's congruent.

Could you imagine living in the USA?

If need be, I can take pleasure in any place. But it's not possible to live as freely in America as we do in Central Europe.

Hubert von Goisern has enough of "lederhosen music" in New Orleans

OÖN 8th May 2015 | Text: Lukas Luger

Why we live under a dome of fear and his America trip disappointed him and what he's looking forward to at the concert at Burg Clam is revealed by Hubert von Goisern in conversation with the OÖNachrichten.

Your new album bears the title Federn. A play on "adorned with borrowed plumes", or the Austria expression "having feathers", that is, feeling fear?

We live under a dome of fear. People are afraid of financial collapse, unemployment, the Russians, Islam, genetically modified maize. These fears define our lives. The Americans are even more afraid than us, I was over there recently. They really shit themselves about everything. Because they know nothing about the rest of the world.

What are you afraid of?

Misunderstandings. Not being understood doesn't bother me. Being misunderstood can cause stress. Suddenly you're someone's enemy – and you don't even know why.

In the album booklet you write that your inspiration journey to the US southern states left you disillusioned. Were your expectations too high?

Before I went I thought it would be more expedient to go to Austin, where the outsiders of country music live. But I really wanted to go to Nashville with its history and the countless studios. There's very good training in Nashville for singers and instrumentalists, who are properly schooled for the front. Creativity never comes out, at best it's virtuosity. Everyone just tries to follow the formula for success. This concept of offering a service held among musicians ran me ragged.

Was New Orleans similar?

There's really cool music to be heard in New Orleans. Everything is just pure tourism though. It feels like St. Wolfgang: the souvenir stands, the lederhosen music coming from cassette recorders. It was noticeable that they do it just for the people who have come specially.

Is there an affinity between country, blues and alpine folk music? Is your cover of Hank Williams' Jambalaya (On The Bayou) an expression of that?

Absolutely. Country music is nothing other than folk music that was taken to America 200 years ago and Americanised. We work with the same harmonies, first and fifth degrees. The classic occidental cadence is the basis of the blues and every country song. What so disappointed me on my journey was that this knowledge barely exists in the USA. What goes under country there is folksy schlager. It has nothing to do with folk music.

You went on tour months before the album was released. Did playing them live change your relationship with the Federn songs?

The album was ready and produced a year earlier. Then I had a crisis and thought: "This is all crap! I didn't want the album to be released. But I felt obliged to the band to play the tour. Over the summer I aired my head and when we then started rehearsing in September, it all went "woop!" and everything worked. We added in two more recording days and I sang all the songs again. Because after 20 concerts you then know how the pieces need to be phrased.

Federn can be heard live on 24th June at Burg Clam.

We're really looking forward to Clam. I hope it'll be wonderfully warm, people can sit comfortably on the grass and enjoy the concert. That would be my dream!

Hubert von Goisern: "To me making music is magic"

NEWS 9th May 2015

Hubert von Goisern takes stock of his life in the documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang and the songs on his new album Federn have southern state style. We talk to the musical multitalent.

Between the desire for freedom and fears

Aachener Zeitung 8th May 2015 | Text: Michael Loesl | Photo: stock/Eibner

Hubert von Goisern has called his new album "Federn".
Alpine music and American influences meet.

Hubert von GoisernYou need to be Austrian, or at least have lived in Austria for a long time in order to really get Federn (Feathers), the name of the new Hubert von Goisern album. Of course the feather is beautifully illustrates the symbol of flying and the freedom of being of the musical vagabond from the Salzkammergut. But Federn is much more a comment on the overall whole than the actual state of the composer. When Austrian say they have feathers, they mean that they're afraid...

"Our times are shaped by the fears that occupy us, or that should", comments von Goisern. "Apparently we need to be afraid of the Russians, we need to be fear the world financial crisis, terrorists and in the end even ourselves. Fears cripple free thought and behaviour, and the double meaning of the feather in Austrian is a fitting mirror to this ambivalence, the instinctive desire for freedom on one side and kindled fears on the other, I think."

Of course someone like him, whose life and work has always been shaped by exploring the world, travelling and boundless collaboration, feels spurned on to choosing a different path in the face of aforementioned condition of the human species. Looking for new comrades-in-arms, who, like him, are looking for the uniting element in music, he headed to the south of the USA. Just like back in 1972 when he was 20 years old and he moved to South Africa with kit and caboodle in order to escape the Austria he felt to be too confining culturally and socially.

Back then he worked as a chemistry laboratory assistant, before the passion for music led him to studying guitar in the Canadian city of Toronto. Ultimately he was drawn to the Philippines, where it came to his first exchange with the local folk musicians, to whom he explained his concept of folk music.

Hubert von Goisern, erroneously labelled an alpine rocker, attaches great importance to the difference between folk music and folksy music. He makes a courageous arc around the latter. His self-image as a folk musician reaches far and wide, the core of his music is an earthy mixture of traditional alpine folk, pop and punk. 25 years ago he became the most important representative of "new folk music", and in Germany too his Alpinkatzen band's records sold hundred of thousands of copies.

But at the zenith of his career the energetic meeting of accordion and electric guitar became too predictable for von Goisern. The obsessive guy travelled repeatedly with his instruments to remote corners of Africa to quiet his curiosity about musical connections. He found a kindred spirit in the Egyptian Mohamed Mounir and invited eastern European folk punks onto the converted stage ship with which he travelled the great waterways of Europe.

It's out of the question that von Goisern is a man obsessed, who passions are conveyed to his audience. When he performs in our region, it's at Burg Wilhelmstein in Wurselen, a venue he was able to sell out twice in a row. Sweat, lifeblood and an absolute desire to connect have to pay off at some point.

Just not in America, as von Goisern had to learn during his journey to Nashville. "I tried to cast off all the America clichés and reservations. You could say that I didn't manage, because I really had a hard time getting a foot in the door there. You can play with anyone over there when you put money on the table. American musicians are conditioned to understand their being a musician as providing a service. It was strange to me. I was looking for musicians whose eyes light up and whose hearts  swing. I didn't want to buy friendship, curiosity and hearts, but when you don't want to, the air becomes very thin over there."

Hubert von Goisern made a find nonetheless. In Nashville he met pedal steel and dobro player Steve Fishell. With his lapsteel he grounds the heavy blues of the Federn opener Snowdown, a homage to Edward Snowden among others. Von Goisern was impressed by the Cajun accordion in New Orleans, it being not dissimilar to the alpine diatonic accordion.

Impressions, disillusionments

Von Goisern returned to Austria with abundant impressions and a good many disillusionments and in the course of processing his journey recorded Federn. What has resulted is a kind of soul polka in 15 song stages in which the alpine and Cajun go together hand in glove. Von Goisern was able to further sharpen his view of his own musical traditions through the eyes of the few, but enthusiastic American musicians he met. And he also found a parallel between the southern states and the province of Salzburg, as he concludes with a laugh: "Here too we see ourselves as living in God's land, and rigorously fend off everything foreign. It's all sickeningly suspiciously familiar."

★★★★☆

"Like a love affair"

Plattenladentipps May 2015 | Text: Patrick Niemeier

"I'd cancelled the project last year", Hubert von Goisern remembers, "it wasn't working." But his musicians asked about the planned tour. "And we started with the songs for the first time. A stroke of luck, but from the first rehearsal suddenly it worked."

Alpine country. A feature of his new albums - and what had to work - is the strong influence of American country music. Von Goisern travelled to the USA twice to gather inspiration, having discovered an interest in country on the tourbus that he never would have thought possible. "For a long time country was Musikantenstadl in cowboy hat", he admits. Now on Federn he is in fact bring the sounds of steel guitar together with the sound of "alpine rock" typical of him. "It's a little like a love affair - two sides have to play their part: Austria and the USA", he explains. His trips to the "Land of Boundless Opportunities" - which unfortunately also confirmed a lot of prejudices - are processed in the 15 songs. There's also room for journeys into reggae (Alle 100 Jahre) or blues rock (Snowdown). "I want to sensitise people very generally with my music - to to me or my songs, but to their sensibilities."

Hubert von Goisern on Leute

SWR1 30th April 2014

Does Hubert von Goisern play folk music, rock music or alpine rock? Is Goisern his homeland, or the whole world? He's been in South Africa and the Philippines, in Africa and Tibet. He's taken action against apartheid and Jörg Haider's FPÖ. He learned to play guitar, trumpet and clarinet, Styrian accordion and noseflute. Now he's releasing his new album Federn, and film maker Marcus Rosenmüller has brought a documentary about him with the title Brenna tuat's schon lang to the cinema.

Alpine yodeller, folk music rebel, world musician!

SWR 23rd April 2015

"I want to build cultural bridges"

Zett 26th April 2015 | Text: Johannes Vötter

The film about his life was show in competition at the 29th Bolzano Film Festival, his new album Federn is out on 8th May. Hubert von Goisern is making a name for himself again and took the time for an interview with Zett during his visit to South Tyrol.

Brenna tuat's schon lang – the film is in competition at the Bolzano Film Festival. How important is it for you to be one of the main acts at the festival, so to speak, alongside Tobias Moretti and Eva Mattes?

It's a completely new experience, but I must say: it's not my film, but rather a film by Marcus H. Rosenmüller about me - I'm the protagonist, so to speak.

During the presentation at the Bolzano Film Festival, you even said that it "bothered" you when you saw it the first time. What did you find annoyinger exactly?

I just don't like dealing with my past, because I find the here and now much more exciting. Of course there are chapters in my life that we could call successes of low points. But I've dealt with them for long enough and moved on from them. So to deal with it all again and see this pile of archive material, wasn't very pleasant. Aside from that, it shouldn't become self-adulation. But ultimately I'm happy with it. Even if the film doesn't have meaning for my current work.

How should we define Brenna tuat's schon lang, in terms of categorising the end product - autobiography, portrait, music documentary?

It's a biographical film, but it's restricted to my artistic life. I wouldn't have allowed anything else. So anyone expecting details from my private life is barking up the wrong tree. Nonetheless, it's a very intimate film, which even after seeing it three times, is a little unpleasant for me somehow.

Why?

Because I'm suddenly sharing so many intimate moments with all the people in the auditorium - and sitting there among them.

Where today's selfie-society lives on this sharing of emotions. Would you like to be a younger Hubert von Goisern again?

I don't know. There wasn't this media flood back then, but there were autograph hunters. But I much prefer people to take a picture of me in their hearts.

Part of it is also the emotions that your early songs awaken in the hearts of your fans. Sometimes it's difficult to shake the impression that Koa Hiatamadl and Co. are a burden for you.

When the songs are released, they're like children to me, who have grown up and moved out. And it interests me to to a certain extent what has become of them. But everyone who likes to listen to them is a joy to me. It just gets problematic when for example the FPÖ plays Heast as nit at election events. At that point I told them that I didn't give my consent.

You certainly don't seem to shy away from going where there's pain - as with the current album Federn, which deals intensely with country and blues. Why this change of style?

Because I don't like the alienation between the USA and Europe. It weighs upon me, because I've felt so much inspiration from musicians such as Miles Davis, Muddy Waters and Neil Young, that modern US music appalls me. With all respect for the musicians, only this plastic sound is coming across the ocean. There's a musical exchange of goods between the continents, but no exchange of ideas and values. The album Federn (out on 8th May, Ed.) is meant to be a contribution to increasing mutual understanding and developing a cultural bridge between USA and Europe. Americans often see our continent as nothing more than a twee, historical Disneyland.

See the handling of the "squeezebox", that should in fact unite us ...

Right, in the Tex Mex sound there are great musicians such as "Flaco" Jiménez, who gets really great diatonics (chord progressions, Ed) on the squeezebox. But there are great accordion musicians in Louisiana too.

How difficult was it to write lyrics in your German mother tongue to American song structures?

I struggled with it for a long time, and wanted to take a very light approach. But suddenly the lyrics I wrote were so lead-heavy that I wanted to chuck in the whole project. Then the songs were put in a drawer for a couple of months, until I found an approach to how I could show the relationship between our musical styles. The typical blues ultimately functions with the same occidental cadence as our own musical style. If you listen to the song Stoansteirisch for example, you'll notice that the song Steirerbua is almost like a blueprint for a Cajun song (music style of French immigrants along the Mississippi, Ed.).

Some of the lyrics are once more very sociocritical. With that in mind: are you frustrated by this time?

Yes, I'm frustrated that that truth is not given asylum in our society. Everyone's horrified when asylum seekers drown in the Mediterranean - but nobody opens the door to help. The cynicism annoys me. That was the big challenge too: combining subversive lyrics with melodies from blues and country, which are very catchy and so find an attentive ear.

Is the path down which for example new folk music in South Tyrol is heading what should be cultivated, rather than the homey Gabalier-style Tracht kitsch ?

There's no formula, you have to fill music with your own soul. To be honest, I know too little about the scene in South Tyrol, but I think Herbert Pixner is excellent. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the best diatonic accordion players of modern times.

"They smile and lie"

Nürnberger Zeitung 21st April 2015 | Text: Christian Mückl

This Thursday Brenna tuats scho lang hits the cinemas, a film in which director Marcus H. Rosenmüller has captured the unconventional life story of the Austrian world musician Hubert von Goisern very well. At the beginning of May the new album Federn will be released too. And on 25th June, Goisern will be playing an open air concert at Burg Abenberg. The NZ talked to the musician.

Hubert von Goisern, in the film you talk about how as a young boy in the brass band you really wanted the uniform with the most beautiful feather in the hat. Your new album is called Federn (Feathers). Is there a connection?

No, at least not a deliberate intellectual one. But I'm off on the train after this and I'll have a think about it..

A feather can be a trophy. Or a talisman. Is there anything that you have carried with you over the years?

I collect things. Beautiful feathers. Empy snail shells I find in the forest. I collect shells, or pieces of driftwood if they havea shape that inspires me. I have things around me that landed in my bag during my travels, or walks, and I put them somewhere, on a shelf or a bench outside.

You are a man of a thousand instruments. Are there still days in which you don't play anything?

Yes. I remember after disbanding my band, the Alpinkatzen, in 1994 I didn't touch an instrument for two years.

Complete abstinence?

Exactly, I'd played so much in the years before, I'd spent hours playing every day, for six or seven years. I wanted to get a little distance from it. In order to reinvent myself I had to get rid of all my music-related reflexes. And that only worked without these instruments.

No withdrawal symptoms?

No, because it was at this point that I started playing the piano. I'd never learned it. So I had no reflexes.

The accordion that your grandfather gave you is spoken of in the film. You first warmed to the thing when you were drunk on schnapps. Are schnapps moods important for inspiration?

These moods are important from time to time, but I don't consciously set off towards them and think: now it's time to hit the bottle, because I want to get drunk. Things always come to me differently, thank God. Schnapps included, but I don't like hard drinking. I'm 62 now and in all my years I've drunk too much perhaps two or three times - and one time something usable came of it, quite by chance.

Why did you head for the American south for the new songs?

Because I've noticed an increasing alienation between Europe and the US in recent years. Inside myself too when I wondered: Why are they so stupid over there, so dishonest and so bigoted. I thought this can't be, they don't understand us, we don't understand them: I'll go over there and take a look for myself and try to make a personal contribution to the understanding between our cultures.

Why did it have to be in the south?

I went there because that's where country music and Cajun music are from - and they're very close to our own music. I more or less failed in terms of looking for a join project though. I found barely any other musicians, just one for the pedal steel.

What was so difficult?

The Americans are unbelievably sure of themselves. They're quite firm in their belief that there's nothing else except their own culture. What happens outside America is regarded as very threatening. It's never so bad for American that he deviates from this conviction.

What are the Americans missing?

Curiosity. Certainly, it's a big country, where you can take care of yourself. But many Austrians manage that too, even though it's only a small country.

It's funny that it was less complicated for you to play with other people in all the exotic countries you've been to, than it was for you in the USA.

You're quite right. The understanding and mutual interest was far greater and simpler in Africa than it is in America - where everyone's constantly smiling and saying everything's super, "amazing" and "wonderful", and constantly lying to each other with it.

And the Europ̈eans?

We don't bang our fists on the table as much. Of course it happens here too, urban people are perhaps somewhat swankier than people in the country. But even the great bravado in Munich and Vienna is nothing compared to that in America, where every petrol station attendant tells you what great things he has on the boil.

The amazing success of your song Brenna tuats guat in 2011 raised the bar very high for the new songs. Does pressure to be successful worry you at the moment?

No. The new record is finished and I'm proud of it. You never know what's going to happen. It would be a miracle if this height could be exceeded once more. I'm always happy when I manage to bring to life what I have in mind and I can listen to the new record with satisfaction. Everything else is beyond my control. I don't compose for a certain group or for an effect: I compose in order to get out what the pressure inside me is creating.

"I have a very big ego"

Kurier 21st April 2015 | Text: Peter Temel | Photos: KURIER/Gerhard Deutsch

Hubert von Goisern in conversation about his career, the cinema film about his life "Brenna tuat's schon lang"
and his new CD "Federn".

Hubert von GoisernHe is often gone for a long time and then he's back again. Set forth from the idyllic spa town of Bad Goisern, to modernise folk music. Now a cinema documentary has been dedicated to the creative alpine rock revolutionary Hubert von Goisern (62), who took his stage name in an "act of revenge" against his conservative hometown.

What is shown is what Goisern has done between the surprising dissolution of his cult band, the Alpinkatzen, in 1994 and the brilliant comeback in 2011 with Brenna tuat's guat. How he became a subtle world musician, who stretched his feelers far out to Tibet, Africa and other places around the world.

How did the idea of this film project come about, of making a documentary about your life?

The idea came from my manager Hage Hein. It was meant to be a film for my 60th (in 2012, Ed.). I said: I don't need it, I can't help either, because I'm biased. It has to be an objective view. Even he can't do it, because he's too close. After the first attempts to put material together, he listened to this advice and got Marcus H. Rosenmüller on board as director.

You divulge many personal things in the film. What was that like for you?

I have no problem reflecting on my past, but really only in an intimate setting. With a few embarrassments here and there, it is basically a successful story and when you start expressing criticism at your own success, there's always something rather coquettish about it. Then it would be rather dumb for me to be pleased at something too - "Woah, I was really good!". But I liked this quiet on the lake that Rosi chose as a counterbalance to to the very dynamic live recordings.

You get the feeling in the film that you really enjoy the conversation while fishing on the lake.

I like the element of water, it plays a large role in my life. This depth, not knowing what's down below, in such a deep lake as Lake Hallstatt, the reflections that the water has, the peace that you have when you're sitting alone on a boat. It was also a gift that Rosi didn't know a huge amount about my life. He had a great, genuine curiosity of wanting to understand me, without already having a precast image of me. And I really wanted to tell him what I had experienced and why I am the way I am.

In one of the archive recordings you're arguing with a elderly Goiserer about folk music.

That was pretty unpleasant.

What's it like for you at home now?

Things have calmed down. The fiercest critics have died. They were already pretty old back then. Lois, the one tackling me, died a while ago too. Many of my friends in Goisern urged me to go to him and shake hands as it was all water under the bridge. For a long time I didn't want to, but for his ninetieth birthday, I planned to go and congratulate him. But between having the idea and seeing it through, I saw the scene in the rough cut and thought: Definitely not! It immediately got my back up again. I thought: he should come to me, it doesn't matter if he's twenty or thirty years older than me, he should apologise. And a month later he died. So it was a moot point.

How large-scale was the rejection at the start of the nineties?

This fundamentalist scene was really only a handful of people. Perhaps 100 or 200. But many more than that, perhaps ten per cent of the population had a problem with me for political reasons, because at every concert and in every interview, I was having a go at Haider, because I was so ashamed that someone like that could come from Goisern. Back then the FPÖ had more than 20 per cent of the vote and they felt personally attacked. They didn't like me slinging mud at him. I've always said: I'm not throwing mud. I'm just pointing out where he's dirty, he smeared himself with mud. But that all took care of itself too and he drove himself into the wall in the most literal sense. It's lower profile now, but there are certainly still a few people who have a problem with me, but don't dare to say so out loud.

Did you ever speak to Haider yourself?

I never met him. It nearly happened. News magazine came to me and wanted to do a round table with me and Jörg Haider. I thought: shit, I really don't need that. But you can't say no, because then it looks like you're chickening out. So I said: Fine, I'll do it. Shortly afterwards someone called me: It's all off. Haider had said: If Hubert's going to be there, I'm not coming. I thought: Yeah! He's shitting himself!

Right at the high point of your career with the Alpinkatzen, you withdrew in 1994. How did the people around you, such as your manager, react?

Hage never tried to persuade me to carry on. Like everyone else, including my wife, he didn't believe it. I'd said it eighteen months earlier: album - tour - live album - and that's it. Only in the final month did dawn on everyone that it was really over. And then it was such a big shock, including for Hage Hein, that he didn't know what to say. On the other hand, he knew me and knew that there was no point in trying to change my mind. Because I'd thought about it for a long time and had my reasons. My wife only believed it when she heard it on the news, on Mittagsjournal.

The public was pretty surprised and consternated back then.

And everyone thought: haha, it's just a PR gag! (laughs)

You were forty by the time the breakthrough came with Koa Hiatmadl. Did you need to see the world first in order to create this "new folk music"?

I don't know if this energy would have come along any differently in order to say: I'm going to jump in and really get my hands dirty. But it certainly contributed to my becoming acquainted with indigenous people, who had cultivated an original musical tradition, which simply electrified me. I thought, it must have been like that at home in earlier times, that it would have been timely and would have had a depth - and not this fixed grinning, or these fundamentalists, who say: this is how it is and no other way. I thought: when I get back, I'll have a dig about and see what it was like before and I docked at these springs and tried to open them up for myself.

You fought the Styrian accordion for a long time until you could accept it (in the film von Goisern tells the story of how he wanted to rip apart the accordion that his grandfather had given him, Ed.).

Yes exactly, that was extreme. For many people, not just me, it was the embodiment of what was old-fashioned and set in its ways.

Is it a constant love affair now, or do you sometimes think: I'd rather stick it in the corner for a long time?

Nah, I really like playing the Styrian accordion, but just like with all my instruments, only when I feel like it. And when I'm not on tour and I'm on one of these breaks, I quite often go months without playing an instrument.

Hubert von GoisernTravel plays a large role in your work. Was the Linz Europe Tour 2007-2009, which is given a lot of time in the film, a project that was as close to your concept of music as could be?

No, I can't say that. Because playing music on stage is not something with which I take liberties. I want everyone to play precisely and for it to be perfect, but on the ship there were a number of tightrope walks with the many guests, which made me think: Uuuuh, I hope this works! The aspect of understanding between people is important for the way I approach life, but it's no the case that it always has to do with that. I had the feeling on this journey that I often had to lower my sights musically and pull back so as to make room for all these great musicians. I was also really delighted that the Entwederundoder tour was then reduced down to a quartet and I didn't need to make room for anyone and could do my own thing again. Like most artists, I have a very big ego. I can retract it, but it's not ideal.

You had your first number 1 in 2011 with the single Brenna tuat's guat. Was it down to the subject of the financial crisis, or the fact that it was good party music?

I think I hit the nail on the head for very many people, otherwise it wouldn't have been such a big success. I don't think it would have worked just because it had a good groove.

Why have you now occupied yourself musically with America?

Simply because this alienation between Europe and America was getting to me. I think it's unbelievably deplorable that we don't understand each other. I don't know why they tick the way they do, why they act the way they do. I wanted to make my own personal contribution. We are very close to one another culturally speaking. This music in the south, country music and Cajun was taken over there about two hundred years ago by emigrants from Europe and folk music became country music. So we have the same ancestors and I wanted to reveal that.

You were not so taken with America on your first USA trip. You bemoaned a certain narrow-mindedness.

It's still there, I'm sure (laughs)

How sociocritical is the new CD? The blues song Snowdown is clearly headed in that direction.

It's about the cynical approach to the truth, that on the one hand people find it so egregious that things are so dishonest and yet don't want to do anything about it. People immediately duck for cover when they should actually make a personal contribution and practise tolerance.

Do you mean individual people?

Yes, but our politicians too, I must say. I'm not a fan of Mikl-Leitner for example ...

Will you continue to get involved?

I don't know, I get the feeling that the older I get, the more politically I think and so I become more conscious that every act is political and every song has the chance to transport something. But I oppose political songs. I think these political sing-songwriters are dumb. I'm too much of a musician. I don't think that music should be misused for political purposes, nor for religious purposes. Music is am agic that doesn't work if it's misused. And the magic has the opportunity to open windows without a word and to sensitise people to what lies beyond the end of their nose. You slam the door shut again if you pack in a clear message. It need to stay open.

There are a number of associations to be made with Federn (Feathers). What does the title mean for you?

Yes, there are a number of metaphors. For example: having feathers - or feeling afraid. You can feel people shitting themselves. The Russians about us, Americans about the whole world. Everyone barricades themselves in, arms themselves - that's one facet. The other is adorning oneself with borrowed plumes. Which I'm doing too, because I'm dealing with these American songs and traditionals, whether that's Amazing Grace or a blues story that I make my own.

Are you still afraid of anything?

Always, of life itself of course (laughs). I'm also afraid of performing. I get my knickers in a twist before every show and need ten minutes before I've calmed myself down and say: It's fine! When I'm in a good mood, I feel invincible. But I'm not always in a good mood.

You speak very symbolically in the film about burning. How hot are you still burning?

I've got two or three musical projects in my head that are completely ready in terms of concept. I'm really looking forward to the tour and really looking forward to the autumn, because I want to get into the studio and see how it will take shape. It's only in my head, but I know exactly how it's meant to turn out. And there are a few things I'm dreaming about that lie beyond the musical cosmos.

You're also involved in a social project in Greenland.

Yes, I've been up there several times. It's a project with kids to create something akin to an identity and basis with culture and their roots. There's an unbelievably high suicide rate among young people up there, because they have no perspective. They reject their own culture, because they find it embarrassing, because they even reject their own language. I'm no social worker, but I like roots music and my archive of Greenlandic music is probably a hundred times bigger than what they have themselves up there. I tell them about what I find cool and play it for them. I get the feeling that it's helping a bit already for them to see that someone else regards as cool what they think is shit.

So the musical journey is by no means at an end.

No, definitely not.

The film and the CD "Federn"

Film: In the documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang Bavarian director Marcus H. Rosenmüller (Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot) sets rarely seen recordings from various points in life against conversations with Hubert von Goisern and his friends. From the beginnings in a town in the Salzkammergut with seven brass bands, to the first huge success of the nineties, the subsequent reinvention, to the the fresh cahrts success with the album Entwederundoder in 2011.

CD and tour: A trip to the USA led the singer-songwriter and world musician to Nashville and New Orleans. Hubert von Goisern recorded his tenth studio album Federn with musicians such as pedal steel guitarist Steve Fishell, with influences from blues, country and Cajun (out on 8th May). The unofficial start to the tour was at the beginning of April in Greenland. The tour then kicks off on the 12th May, with dates in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.