Hubert von Goisern
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"I want to be extravagant!"

Woman 20th April 2015 | Text: Katharina Domiter | Photo: © Philip Horak

On the 8th May Hubert von Goisern releases his new album "Federn" We talked to the exceptional artist about our politicians' mistakes, good fortune and raising children.

Hubert von Goisern

It took ten months for us to get an interview with musician Hubert von Goisern (real name Hubert Achleitner), 62. In July last year, when we first asked, he was busy working hard on new songs. At the same time a documentary film about the life of the artist was in progress. With success. On 8th May the album Federn will be released. Two weeks before, on 23rd April, Brenna tuat's schon lang will be out in the cinemas. Woman met the Upper Austrian and father of two (Niko, 27, and Laura, 21), who is at home in Salzburg and all over the world, at the Hotel Altstadt in Vienna. And experienced a lateral thinker, who with little fuss, instead with quiet sounds, moves and inspires.

The first song on your new album is called Snowdown and deals with political truth. Why are you heading to the barricades?

I've never been to the barricades. I've been to two demonstrations in my life and regretted it both times. Each time I was worried about the catch cries and the dullness that develops. But I want to express what moves me with my music. In times like these that even in stinking rich Central Europe there are many people living below the poverty line and having to keep their heads above water with underpaid jobs. And our politicians are incapable of dealing with those who are constantly siphoning off the cream and paying barely any or no tax at all. I'm stunned.

What would be the solution?

I would be dying to fight tax evasion. The parlous work conditions that exist in many big institutions in Austria.

Sounds very engaged! Let's get you into politics!

Heavens no! I'm too sensitive and thin-skinned for that profession. Whatever you say, you're always someone's enemy.

How important is it for you to go and vote?

I feel I need to set a good example. I have children and I don't want to sit at home and say: go vote! In pretty much every party there are people who are integral and want to achieve something sensible. But the problem is: those who have a say don't do anything to make a change to our system. Because that could mean that their standing would change. Not much will happen without revolution. But we must implement national and international solidarity. We live at the expense of others. Our lives going so well is only possible because others are having a bad time.

You're often travelling across the world, soon you're off to Greenland. What drives you?

Travelling broadens the mind, because you can observe your life objectively. Everything looks different, smells and tastes different. You can't go reflexively through the day any more, you have to think about everything. It's difficult and at the same time enlightening, because you have to give yourself to your environment. It gives you a view of home from outside and you realise that much of what you do is just because you're accustomed to doing so. Or because it's traditional. But just because something has been done for 200 years, doesn't make it automatically good. You have to think about it.

You said in an interview in a German magazine that you barely keep in touch with your family when you're on the road.

During the first few days I think about them a lot and call to ask: "Everything ok?" Then I dive into this other world and want to give myself entirely to what is there. I'm often in places where there's no mobile reception. But my family values our having distance from one another too. It gives you the opportunity to get by on your own. It's not always easy, because you're reliant on yourself and on your own, but it's important.

What is your aim in life?

I want to be extravagant! There's no point in holding back. Living life to the fullest as far as you can and not to save yourself for the beyond - that's the aim for me.

How much influence does one have in being happy?

A great deal. In many situations it's difficult, because the circumstances are against it. It's easier said than done to get something wonderful from life. But it's possible! One's own misfortune is connected with feeling arrested. And with the view that: only when I have this or that will I be happy. You have to learn to let go in difficult times - of people, things and sometimes homeland. If you can, you can find something like goof fortune in dark times too.

In the film you say: "Life is the acceptance of others." With whom do you still find that difficult nonetheless?

With those who are evidently dishonest, because there can be no dialogue with them then. When someone builds a wall of lies, I feel it's a waste of time to talk to them. I am consistent to some extent and prefer not to make friends rather than get involved. And I don't like people who do bad things to other people in order to profit from it.

Of what are you proud?

I'm happy about a lot of things I've done. I'm pleased that I still have the courage to do something that could go wrong. I think that's important. But whether I'm proud of that? No, I'm happy that I'm happy. (laughs) And if I say that I'm proud of my children, that's rubbish too. They are what they have made of themselves.

But you surely had a great influence on their development.

Yes, but I'm always making sure that my balance my positive influences with the negative and in a certain sense come out of it neutrally. The influence one has on one's children is a burden too. It makes children self-conscious. You should give them orientation points and be a lighthouse for them, but not too much of any one thing.

Hubert von Goisern: "There's such a thing as a conscience"

Der Standard 18th April 2015 | Text: Michael Völker | Photo: © APA/Robert Jäger
Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern gets the heebie jeebies with Andreas Gabalier. The musician laments a feeble government, annoying Greens and the daughter debate.

You travel a great deal and lived abroad for a number of years. Where are you at home?

In the Salzkammergut.

What does homeland mean to you?

First and foremost homeland is familiarity and that's not just the Salzkammergut. I've been to Greenland three times now and made a few friends there. Then it becomes a kind of homecoming when you go back where you have friends and where you recognised their silhouette. But the feeling is strongest in the Salzkammergut.

You have a broad setting in music, continually trying out different genres and working with very diverse musicians. Now the blues has seized you. How does your audience get on with that?

They know the blues already. I grew up with it, it was what opened the door to music for me. I actually came from there back to folk music. I thought you must be able to play folk music like that too, because it's exactly the blues pattern.

Do you make music for the audience, or do you expect them to take what interests you at that point?

The latter. I couldn't make music for anyone else, I make it for myself and count on it appealing to some other people.

Is there a message you wish to bring to your audience?

I don't like messages, especially not when they're packed in music. But of course you learn a few things in life and want to pass them on when you've found them to be usable formulae or pieces of wisdom. But I'm someone who doesn't like being told things, so I don't like telling other people what to do. I have hard time with it even with my children. There's an approach to life that I put on the table, or on the stage. Whether anyone finds anything it is left to the people. I don't want to be a missionary or ambassador.

So you're not someone out to make the world a better place?

No, I don't trust myself to do that and don't trust anyone else to do so. Mindfulness, attention, respect, solidarity, such things are important and I'm dependent on them too.

A song on your new CD is dedicated to Edward Snowden. Not everyone is in the position to take steps such as the ones he took. What can one do to make the world a better place?

It's clear: when you see something wrong, then you say something, so that everyone around knows. It doesn't mean that you change the situation, but it's very important that you give this feedback and the others know that it won't pass. There is such a thing as a conscience. People know what is right and wrong. You can perhaps make yourself immune to it. I think it's important to fight against this immunity and to foster caring instead of immunity.

Do you keep up with Austrian politics?

Yes.

And what do you think of things?

The most recent bewilderment is this smoking thing. It's a typical example. When things can't be solved, trust sinks.

It's solved now.

It will be solved. Why can't you say, there's a smoking ban from now and we'll go outside? I'm a smoker too. I think it's fine to go outside. You stand there with other people. It's so unbelievably cowardly - and nothing gets done.

Do you think you pay enough tax, do you pay too much, or could you imagine paying more?

I can imagine paying more. I've experienced living hand to mouth and being dependent on the support of others. I've never claimed welfare, even when I wasn't earning anything. I thought it was my own personal affair that I wanted to live this life and didn't want to be financed by people who were working and perhaps doing a job that they didn't like and were paying tax for it. They shouldn't have to then keep me while I was doing what I dreamed of doing. I know the situation of having nothing, where you can't get any credit for anything. Then suddenly you're in the league of wanting for nothing and you're rich. Then suddenly everything is so easy. Then you can depreciate, then you can sort it all out. I don't think it's good. Not at all. That those who have nothing have such a hard time making ends meet. And barely have you made it over the threshold, you're devoured. But I'm still only a small part of all that. It's exponentially bigger when you look at big companies like Amazon or Apple, who don't pay any tax at all. I pay 50 percent tax on what's left at the end. It can't be that the government can't get a hold on it and is instead driven by the economy. It's a puzzle to me, that there's no sense of solidarity here. There's the EU and the possibility for many countries to act together and then nothing happens.

Can you imagine getting involved politically?

No, I wouldn't be able to cope with it. It doesn't matter which party you support, you open your mouth and mud is thrown from all sides. I'd take it personally. I don't know if I'd be too capable.

There is a lot of manoeuvring in the genre from which you come.

Actually only the Greens have ever come to me, that was back in the 1990s. I'm a Green at heart, but they annoy me too as I get older. It perhaps accompanies a disappointment that nothing more came of it. Nonetheless, you have to be happy that the Greens exist. That this thinking and this colour play a role in our heads. Ten, twelve years ago I expressed my displeasure at the Greens, because nothing had gone any further and they'd done such a bad job of selling themselves. I wanted to go to a party conference to listen and give them feedback. It wasn't possible, they told me, because I wasn't a member. I had supported them for ten years, but it simply wasn't possible. They're just as bad as the other parties. You have to get into the structure, work your way up and then you'll be allowed to say something.

You forbade the FPÖ to play your music at party events. Did they keep to that?

There has been a repeat. I asked them to distance themselves. That was my wording, I can't do any more, they know that. If they ignore me, it's no used me stamping my feet three times.

What do you think of Andreas Gabalier?

Three years ago we both won two Amadeus Awards. His management really wanted us to have a photo together. I got the heebie jeebies. But I didn't dare say no. It didn't feel good, but I did it anyway. I thought, it's not fair that I don't like him. I don't know him. Just because he makes music that I don't like, it's no reason to not like the person. But after what has happened since, I've had the validation. You just get the feeling that there's something to shake off. Not for everyone, there are loads of people who don't shake it off. Exaggerating somewhat, you could say that 30% of Austrians are open to such patter, such music and such an attitude.

What about the daughter debate? Do daughters belong in the national anthem, which until recently only mentioned sons of Austria?

Of course it needs the daughters. We have great women in this country, of whom we can be proud, why should we only sing about the sons? Insisting on being faithful to the original is idiocy. People say, it was always this way and so it should stay and that's stupid. When Gabalier says that's how he learned it at primary school, that would mean that he's learned nothing since. And if he insists on being faithful to the original, then he should please keep to the melody. It doesn't all go together. But it's a waste of time to go on about it.

In your new film you seem very connected to the natural world. What do you find in nature? Could you imagine living in the city?

I lived in Vienna for seven years and felt very happy here. I need the urban surroundings in order to be creative. I don't feel the need to make music when I'm out in the natural world, no melodies come to me. I prefer going out into nature and feeling the godly creation, rather than going to church and looking at some icon or other. Although I can take pleasure in that too.

Do you need to travel to find artistic inspiration, or does it happen in your head?

It happens in my head. But I'm a curious person and like to observe my ways and my life in Austria or Salzburg from outside too. It helps to change your perspective.

You're a musician, you were an actor, you've designed fashion, written books. What lies ahead and what definitely doesn't?

There are many plans, some of which I've carried around with me for years or decades. Writing an opera, for example. I have a feeling that definitely won't happen. Then moments come wherein I think that actually I could still do that. Or writing a novel. I wrote the book Stromlinien (Streamlines) about the ship tour I did. It was non-fiction and you have to be very careful with what you're writing, it concerns real people. Afterwards I thought that the next book I wrote would be fiction. Then you can have everyone say anything, whether it's politically correct or not. I have a few ideas for a book, but I don't know if it would ever happen.

What does language mean for you?

It's fascinating. It is perhaps the highest form of culture that mankind has developed. You can do a lot with it, both positive and negative. That's why I'm such an advocate of including daughters in the national anthem. It's all mantras and that's why I have a big problem with the monotheistic religions, because they all pray to a male god. When that happens generation after generation, what is male dominates and it ends up all being about the penis.

"America really hurt"

Die Presse 18th April 2015 | Text: Teresa Schaur-Wünsch | Photo: © APA/Robert Jäger

Film/Album - Hubert von Goisern explains why he doesn't enjoy looking back, fears going on stage - and why the work on the new album was painful.

Hubert von GoisernHow did the film about your life come about? I'm guessing it wasn't your idea?

No, I was against the idea, But Hage (Hein), my manager wanted to do something for my sixtieth two years ago, A showcase, a review. Because he had seen what happens to me nearly every day, that someone comes up to me and says: "It's such a shame that you retired." Many people see what I do, but it's different sections of society that see one thing or the other. The rest doesn't come up. Hage wanted to put this mosaic together. I said that I definitely wouldn't work on it. I'm honoured, but I don't need it. I may reflect on what I've done beefier, but actually I prefer to be in the here and now and don't like to concern myself with the past. It would clobber or inhibit me. I also told him that he needed someone who knows how to make a film. I was delighted when he said that Rosi (Marcus H. Rosenmüller) was on board.

So you were then forced to look back at things. How was it?

I don't like looking at these pictures. I can talk about it, we did that on the boat. That was great, with this silence and timelessness prevailing and Rosi didn't know my CV. It was honest curiosity on his part. But otherwise - I don't listen to my own music either. Because I hear it with such a focus on problems. And I think, ah, that could have sounded better made. Then a few things I think worked. With Brenna tuats guat I thought it was close, but no cigar, it hadn't really worked. Then it turned into a big hit and since then I've thought it was perfect. It's funny that it works retroactively on me and I can't hear the mistakes any more.

What was the experience of that hit for you?

I was simply happy. That it went off like that. Because a lot spoke against it, including my own feeling. And the first editorials said that nobody needs a socio-critical song, that was the seventies. Ö3 turned it down at first too. And then there are a couple of courageous people who managed to at least get it played a couple of times in the night. People called in after these post-midnight plays.

Then it was played non-stop at Oktoberfest.

I've never been there. I don't like beer tents, I don't like Oktoberfest. I'm afraid of it. There aren't many things I'm afraid of, but that's one of them.

You were also afraid of the stage.

Still am.

Isn't it fun?

Sure, but I still shit myself about the possibility of doing something wrong. That I won't be able to do it, that I'll play the wrong notes, that the lyrics will get all confused. It's all happened to me. I can put it into perspective now and in ten minutes I'm happy again. But before the tour kicks off, I'm completely nervous for three months in advance. I always have to force myself not to think about the fact that I'll be on stage in three months. Otherwise that's my day gone.

You have just been to Greenland.

I ran a project in Greenland because there's a high suicide rate among the youth there. And I was asked if there was something I could do in terms of helping them strengthen their identities. I'm no social worker, but I can't say no when someone says: try i!" It's difficult, because I can't speak the language. But I'm trying to give them a sense of self-respect in showing them how interesting I find their musical culture, which they themselves completely reject. The live they've lived for generation - hunting - doesn't exist any more.

And what drew you to America for the new album?

This estrangement between Europe and America that has happened over the past two or three decades. They don't understand us, we don't understand them and I think it's an unbelievable shame. The world doesn't exist beyond America for them. And when it does, it's a threat. I wanted to make a contribution. I don't know if I managed, but it's a process that I hope isn't finished yet.

What was it like in America?

Exciting, but it's very, very difficult. It would be easier in the jazz and pop worlds, it's more open there. But when you're dealing with country and folk music, it's all sewn up. That's what interests me. I want to get it where it hurts.

And did it hurt?

It really hurt. But I hurt too. There were unbelievable stories. I invited a few musicians over to my place. I tried jamming with a couple from Louisiana. After half an hour I thought, I'll play what they know, Amazing Grace. They didn't join in. Because it's a Protestant hymns and they're Catholics. They didn't play Don't mess with my Toot Toot either. Because they don't play any songs written by blacks.

A look back to the future

Wiener Zeitung 16th April 2015 | Text: Matthias Greuling | Video: Celluloid

New album, new documentary: Hubert von Goisern remembers his roots.

Vienna. Hubert von Goisern doesn't allow himself any creative breaks. When the 62-year-old musician isn't performing, he's looking for inspiration in art and abroad. After his last tour he wrote the soundtrack to Joseph Vilsmaier's Oben und Unten, for his new album Federn, out on 8th May, he looked for musical influences in the southern states of the USA.

The documentary film Brenna tuat's schon lang (in cinemas from 24th April) by Marcus H. Rosenmüller takes stock of the varied oeuvre of the musician from Bad Goisern and the person Hubert Achleitner, who has long been one with the message of his work: When Hubert von Goisern is invited to look back, he conspicuously sees in his eyes a piece of the future too: the great successes of the 90s spurned him on to new peak performances, even if these were seldom compatible with the mainstream.

I get the impression that in all your productions the person Hubert Achleitner was never really to be separated from the persona of Hubert von Goisern and his music.

You're not wrong. I can only make the music that comes out of me. Sometimes I have ideas that don't work, because they were just ideas and not something lived. Only the really lived pieces are published. Those you can then climb over or tunnel beneath. The worst thing you can do as an artist is to work on the surface. Either you're flying over everything, or you're underground. But just being on the surface is superficial.

Does getting older make you more philosophical?

In certain things I'm getting more laid back with age. But with other things that I used not to care about, I'm touchier than ever before. In the beginning you're ever so nervous: you know what you want, but you don't know how to get it. It makes you doubt yourself. Then at some point it works and you don't know how you did it. Of course with time you gain a certain amount of self-confidence: anyone who has had success once doesn't worry so much about failing.

Does that mean that with time work becomes routine?

Paul McCartney said : you can't orient yourself on what you've already done, except if you want to repeat yourself, but who wants to do that? With every new song that I write, I'm starting from zero. I can only orient myself on the feeling that I've managed it a few times already. So I could be successful again. Before the very first time it happens, you have the feeling that you'll never do it.

It is said in the pop world that an artist's second album is the most difficult, because you don't have such a long time for it as you did for the first.

Our first album Alpine Lawine (1988) flopped, we only sold 15,000 copies. I was given a producer who supposedly knew what he was doing. He didn't know. Nobody knows. But after this record it was clear to me that from that point forward I would only do what I believed in myself, even if it didn't work out. At least then I would know why it failed. Putting someone else's bad idea into action doesn't make me any wiser.

The breakthrough came with the second album Aufgeigen statt niederschiassen (1992).

The second album exceeded all expectations, although it had a rough start. I spent two years going from record company to record company with the finished, mixed album and they all said: forget it, you've managed to fall between not just two, but all stools, it'll never be anything! The success later was a real validation. After this success the pressure became too much for me and I let it go. I told my band in 1993, but they didn't believe me. But I didn't want to deal with it, I had to break it off. Everyone expected the third and fourth and fifth Hiatamadl from me. But one is more than enough. Not just for me, but for the whole country. I wanted a view beyond and turned to Africa and Tibet.

Many of your "expeditions" to foreign lands have been well documented with video recordings, photos, sound recordings.

It was important to me, because we were going to places where nobody except a few crazy people and I had been. You want to show it at home, the same way people look forward to an exciting story when someone has been on a journey.

I can get an idea from that of how you function as a musician. Namely with great self-discipline, but at the same time with meticulous control over all aspects of the music.

Yes, that's right, I'm certainly a control freak in this regard. I simply want what I'm doing to be good and have experienced too often a spanner being thrown into the works because something's not right. So I started watching my people very precisely and drew a line. I'm quite happy for people to say something to me and I'm not someone who has the ideas for everything. But I want to know.

Jörg Haider was another very famous person from Bad Goisern. In the film you say that there were probably many people who voted for Jörg Haider and admired your music too. Ideologically speaking that doesn't really go together.

No, it doesn't go together, but that's the way it is. You have to accept it. I'm not saying: Just because you like Strache, you're not allowed to listen to my music. I just don't want my music to be played at his events and to be used as though it is a musical expression of this stick in the mud approach. As far as Haider's fame is concerned: when someone like Jörg Haider comes from such a small place and makes it to provincial governor, then the people who can't put two and two together end up feeling proud that one of them has achieved something. Haider didn't just wrap Bad Goisern around his little finger, he managed it with the whole province.

Many of your lyrics are very political. To what extent is it a requirement for you to build critique into your work?

Not every song of mine is centred on politics. But politics is a part of our life, our joint cooperation is politics. I think it would be wrong to say that others should do it, or not to ever think about it.

The documentary about you is called Brenna tuat's schon lang (Still burning). How long will the flame keep burning?

I've no idea how long it'll keep burning. I'm actually always burning for something. It doesn't need to always be music.

A film? You've already worked as an actor.

Yes, sure, and I've been asked many times to join productions. But what I've been offered fell rather in the category "must not". There are some dreams I still have, some perhaps in the world of film music. But making a film myself, to produce it, is not for me at all. Because I know I'd be dependent on a lot of other people.

Is that perhaps the key to Hubert von Goisern? This unconditional desire for self-sufficient work? To be completely independent?

It is a great privilege, I must say. I couldn't imagine it any other way any more.

But it's never been any other way, has it?

On the contrary, not everything that has happened in my life is in the film. There were a few really dark points early on when I did music-related things that I never told anyone about. They were simply bread-and-butter jobs, in order to pay the rent. People have to make a living with something. I didn't think it was so bad being able to do that with music. I had a number of musical colleagues who said they'd rather wait tables, or deliver letters, before they played such shit. I thought I'd prefer to play music, whether I liked it or not, because I could always learn something from it, instead of doing jobs that had nothing to do with music. I think you can learn something even from the greatest stupidity.

"It doesn't take much to make me cry"

Seitenblicke 16th April 2015 | Text: Nina Kaltenböck | Photo: Rene Wallentin
Hubert von Goisern

At lunch we take a journey with Hubert von Goisern through many worlds and land in the most exciting place:
where it burns in the soul.

Still burning. Everything. Heart. Soles of the feet. His socio-political messages. Midday today the mouth is burning for a change. At the Tibetan Songtsen Gampo restaurant near the Vienna Opera House Hubert von Goisern orders a spicy Then Tuk soup. The colourful stew of noodles, vegetables and lamb made to the recipe from Amdo in East Tibet, the Dalai Lama's birthplace, is refined by the poet of uncomfortable dialect lyrics with a pile of fire red paste. "Phwoar, that burns!" The passionate globetrotter likes it. The Tibetan cymbals and quiet glockenspiel awaken memories. Not just positive ones. Von Goisern has long condemned the occupation of Tibet and called for freedom for the country. His criticism even led to him being denied entry to Tibet. "My journey to Tibet was a borderline experience. The whole time I was on the verge of hysteria and could have cried at any moment, either with emotion, joy or horror at what was happening."

The emotional tightrope walk was heightened by the fuel shortage in the Himalaya region. "But I'm fairly prone to tears", he reveals. "It doesn't take much to make me cry with despair or joy." A rebel with feelings? The best of two worlds, the rest of us think. The shy musical revolutionary mumbles: "Yeah, it's okay. I can control it better nowadays."

Hubert von GoisernThe path between despair and joy is often noticeably shorter. At first the Upper Austrian didn't want to release his new album Federn, which is out in May. "I wanted to can it. I regarded it as a failed project." But the self-doubt was unexpectedly washed away on the strength of the shimmering power of his alpine grunge paired with the catchy southern state groove. The sound tinkerer was surprised: "As soon as the rehearsals started it was a joy to play the new songs and even more so to put them on stage. I can't understand any more why I doubted them." Von Goisern plays the blues profoundly. But what is it like when the master of the accordion and mouth organ has the blues? Hubert laughs. "Dark. Very, very dark. I really withdraw and don't want to see anybody, because I don't want to impose it on them." Because nobody understands him? The critical free spirit sighs. "You get on people's nerves. Who wants to listen to someone complaining and being grumpy? And who thinks everything is shit, everything in life.?" The fish listen. Quite often in fact, when Hubert von Goisern casts his line in silence on Lake Hallstatt.

He is also in his element in the mountains too of course. "Skiing! The speed, the ease and centrifugal force of being are wonderful.", the singer-songwriter beams. No worries that a hooligan will sweep him away? "Nah! You have to be alone on the piste. Or faster." He usually skis down the slope wearing a helmet - "except when I'm ski touring. Then it's really fun to fall into the deep snow." The musician recently had the opportunity in Greenland. It was the nature lover's third time there. He doesn't travel to achieve distance or isolation. "I just want to belong everywhere. I used to travel a lot because I'm a curious person. For years now journeys have happened to me. I don't plan them. Someone will come to me and say: 'Come here, I want to show you something.' And then I go." In Greenland the former rebel against tradition is now working with uprooted teenagers who have reject their ancestry, have no perspective and are deemed to be suicidal. Encounters are welcome challenges, he says. You have to take the worst things with a pinch of humour, otherwise they are unbearable, he says. Aha. "What else can you laugh at?", I ask. "Myself. But usually only a little later." Understandable. It is said that tragedy plus time is comedy. "I'm sometimes very slow on the uptake. My family always laughs at me for sometimes needing a long time before I get certain things." But the realisation always follows that "things are funny too and not just embarrassing".

Hubert von Goisern: "Everyone's afraid of something"

Südtirol News 14. April | Text: Christoph Griessner/APA | Photo: APA

Hubert von GoisernHubert von Goisern is just amazing: after the success of EntwederUndOder, music for a Großglockner exhibition and for Joseph Vilsmaier's film Oben und Unten, he's presenting the new album Federn on 8th May and can be seen in the cinema from 24th April with Brenna tuat's schon lang. The APA spoke to the 62-year-old about his projects that have sent him "through heaven and hell".

Having taken a break after the last album and the accompanying tour, the globetrotter set off on another voyage of musical discovery. This time it led him to the southern states of the USA - and left him with rather a conflicting impression. When he for example wanted to play Don't mess with my toot toot with local musicians, that said: "Definitely not! A black man composed that", von Goisern says. "I thought: seriously, in 2014? This cannot be!" But it wasn't the only experience he had like that. "It's just a fact over there and only in hindsight did it explain everything for me."

Talking to black musicians, they reacted rather reservedly: "I asked myself: why don't they trust me more than this? But it wasn't possible, because I'm white. It's their experience that they want nothing more from black people than to exploit them for something." There are certainly "things that go together, but you have to search for them", says the musician.

Ultimately, the album, on which cover of traditional songs such as Amazing Grace and Oh, Susanna are included, nearly failed. "A year ago, I thought: forget it! Where we are now is a rip-off of where I wanted to go." The Großglockner project and Vilsmaier film were a welcome diversion. "I burned for them and the other thing, which should actually be my biggest fire, had an unpleasant chill about it." But since the autumn tour was already planned, he met up with his band to rehearse - and lo and behold, the songs on the record "took off like crazy", smiles von Goisern. "It just needed this distance. And of course I did a few little things that were crucial."

Together with Helmut Schartlmüller (bass), Severin Trogbacher (guitar), Alex Pohn (drums) and pedal steel guitarist Steve Fishell "the looseness came" that was needed. "For a long time I was too touched by this project," remembers von Goisern. "The demand was too much and unachievable for me as one person to steer against the general, worldwide trend that says: Americans only bring disturbance and chaos and destruction. And then along comes the Goiserer and says: that's not true, they're nice. I had to take note that I can't make any realignment in that matter." And the songs themselves he then attacked "more cavalierly", which "did me a good turn."

The title doesn't just relate to adorning oneself with borrowed plumes. "The first thing that came to mind was a lyric by Patti Smith: 'Birds of a feather stick together.'" From his point of view the relationship between country and folk music is "quite clearly there": "We do the same thing, just with a different feel for playing and for life." Apart from that von Goisern wanted to make reference to the fear "that is simply present at the moment. Everyone's afraid of something, if not everything." There are fewer wars and conflicts than ten or twenty years ago. "But there's such a focus on the problem zones. I don't like it. Perhaps the world needs to constantly be afraid. Perhaps nothing works by choice any more and you have to just keep stoking the fear. But my own personal approach is different."

In the song Snowdown for he example he deals with the information and data leak and recalls the whistle-blowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. "When I travel I don't read newspapers most of the time and avoid this flood of negative news. Then automatically the sun comes out a bit. You come back and turn the radio on and suddenly everything collapses around you. You think: oh yeah, that's right, actually everything is terrible. They say" medicine must be bitter, only through pain do you reach the truth, only through the darkness do you reach the light. But it would be cool if it worked without all that. I'm trying to pursue this path," von Goisern laughs.

The steps that Hubert von Goisern has taken in his career over the course of more than two decades can be followed in Austrian cinemas from 24th April: with Brenna tuat's schon lang Bavarian director Marcus H. Rosenmüller has produced a very personal film portrait of the jack of all trades, from which the protagonist has kept his distance. "I'd have been biased".

"I'm like every normal person and only want to show my good side and have every spot my life has Photoshopped out," laughs the singer. And so he made himself available for a few days of interviews with Rosenmüller, but did not take part in the work on the production of the film. When he saw a rough cut a year ago, "I was horrified. But I'm confident that I'll like it." He'll see the film for the first time at the premiere in Munich on Tuesday evening.

Basically the film stitches together von Goisern's various waypoints with an enormous selection of archive material. "But I'm delighted that there's no film material of the worst things in my career," he laughs. "Or if it does exist, I'm the only one who has it." But the man from Bad Goisern is "actually an opponent of this rabidness for documentary. Who's going to watch it all? You have to live in the here and now."

He refers to former Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky: "He once told a journalist: learn your history! But I honestly have to ask: why? The stupidity just repeats itself the whole time. If there's something to be learned from history then it's that there have been a lot of idiots around at any point in time. But perhaps this imperfection might relax when one sees that 4000 years ago they built those unnecessary pyramids - for nothing at all. So he is "proud" that there's a film about him. "But that doesn't mean it's a good thing."

Von Goisern is also conciliatory when it comes to classifying his music, especially as far as media reports are concerned. "When I'm asked, I always say: it's my music and there are many different elements." That includes folk music just as much as rock, blues, jazz and classical. "But when you want to write about it, you need a word for it. And actually every word is wrong, because that one word can never cover everything. But you can't stay silent and just stare at an empty page."

In this respect he can get on fine with the fact "that there are a good many terms with which I don't agree. We simply need a connection to what has gone before and then you can create your own words", mused the singer. "My music doesn't develop in a vacuum either, it has roots. It's fine if there's the odd wrong word here or there. I've always got the odd wrong note in there too," smiles von Goisern.