Hubert von Goisern
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"I do not intend to play the old things on stage"

Stuttgarter Zeitung 8th November 2001

Hiatamadl. He cannot listen to it any more. Will never play the song again. Six years ago, at the peak of his success, he chucked in the Alpinkatzen project, in order to concentrate on the things that pleased him and not the fans or the record company. He travelled to Tibet and Africa, recorded two albums there and composed film music. Now Hubert von Goisern is reporting back, producing a CD which again is reminiscent of the Alpinkatzen. Alex Schütz talked to the 47 year old artist in Salzburg.

You once said that you would find it difficult to imagine singing the old hits again. However, with the new CD, you get the feeling that you have acquired a taste for the Alpinkatzen sound again.

That is a continuation of what it was in former times - however, continuation in the sense of Hubert von Goisern and not in the sense of the Alpinkatzen. After the work on different film music projects as well as the two albums with Tibetan or African music I wanted to produce something again that I had thought up myself, and above all something with which I can go on stage again.

When did the work on Fön begin?

In October 99 I began with composing and in the spring I found the musicians.

You looked for new musicians? What became of the Alpinkatzen?

Reinhard has not been able to gain a foothold with his own project, Wolfgang is drumming with a different band, Stefan produces dancefloor music, and Sabine is working on her first solo album. I have heard it and find it to be the best Austria has to offer at present in pop music.

Aren't your ex-colleagues hurt that you are no longer with them?

I can imagine that they are upset by it. Yes, I think so.

When you look back over the last six peaceful years, to what extent have you changed?

Well, perhaps not wiser, but I have gained a lot of experience not only in a musical respect. My heart has certainly stayed the same. Only my language has changed, become more subtle. At least I hope so.

Suffering is perhaps the wrong expression, but you were not very happy with the Hiatamadl image.

That was down to the fact that the title ran continuously on the radio. Most people only knew that and shut out the rest. So on the first tour it was necessary to correct this. However, I have done so much in the meantime, whether it is Tibet, Africa or the film music for Schlafes Bruder, that the picture people have of me corresponds to the real Hubert.

At the latest on the 2001 tour the fans will be wanting the old songs.

Yes, but I do not intend to play the old things except Heast as nit - that just fits. Otherwise I can't think of anything that I could still sing. Now I have an itch first of all for something new, I don't want to do a lot of looking back.

Was the work on Schlafes Bruder a release for you?

That was a desire of Sepp Vilsmaier. After the tour I was at that time completely burned out and could only rouse myself with difficulty. But it was a great experience. I love to make film music, there you can draw from the whole, you need not think about how you can present it on the stage.

You don't just love film music, you also like standing in front of the camera, for instance with Hölleisengretl.

I would really love to make a film again. I had some offers, but none pleased me. Everything went in the direction of a mountain doctor. Perhaps it is somewhat presumptuous of me, but I do not want to make anything for the television, I want to act in a film for cinema.

A tour usually goes with a new album too. Are live appearances an annoying obligation for you?

I want to write a new programme for the stage again. In this case the CD is already rather a by-product. Then again, how it will really fare, I don't yet know. But I am looking forward to being on stage again. I would like an open-minded audience and that we make the new programme so exciting that people don't notice until the next morning that they didn't hear Hiatamadl.

There are several HvG fanclubs, one of them also makes a "pilgrimage" to your parents' house.

These fan clubs make me uneasy sometimes, it is somehow idol-like and cultish. It's too much of a good thing for me. When they went to Goisern last time, by chance I was there at the same time. It has to be said that it was very nice, but I try to go away myself for all the fans' pilgrimages. I feel inhibited by becoming idolised.

You are enthusiastic about nature, about unspoilt landscapes and present your new CD on a mountain at 2200 metres above sea level. On the other hand, you have lived in Salzburg for ten years, in the city.

I can refuel in the country, but big ideas do not come to me there. In order to be creative, I need urban surroundings. However, Salzburg is also not the best breeding ground either, because it is already a pretty perfect town. If you stand up on the Mönchsberg, you think to yourself: get lost, there's nothing more you can do. Except throw a bomb to blow it away, to make a place for something new. But I'm not a demolition expert. So I prefer to enter my inner spaces.

And you are not pulled to Berlin or London like so many creative people?

Naturally I would have had other influences there, other musicians. But with this production I just wanted to draw on my innermost being, I did not need vast surroundings for that, but simply just one instrument, it didn't matter which. And my voice. I like to write lyrics on public transport. There you cannot attach yourself firmly to anything because everything is moving past you.

Be completely honest: did you ever want to be so well known?

I simply wanted to be famous. I wanted that. Whether and how I could achieve that, was an absolute mystery to me. And then it actually happened. Primarily I wanted to make a living from music, that was my dream. Along with that went a vague feeling that people would turn round after me on the street and says "That's him". Now I know that that is not only pleasant. Where there is a lot of light, there are also many shadows. But I like it the way it is.

In Vienna, Falco the musical is running. Would you like something posthumous like that for yourself?

What will be after my time, I don't care about now and certainly won't care about afterwards. Austria does not have that many stars, so we pounce on the dead ones.

Many artists in Austria protest against Haider. One hears little of you on the topic.

You are not well informed there. I was already involved, before it even got to this situation. There were hints of it 10 years ago. So I don't have the feeling that it would be more important to make myself especially conspicuous now. And somehow the new situation also has something good. Now at least political consciousness has risen in our country. Previously, the interest in democracy and why one should vote was almost zero. Because of this ignorance regarding the political processes it came to the current situation, and that shook people up a bit. Time will tell what will come of it. In any case, I hope we will succeed in at least keeping these people far from the federal political platform. A role like that of Austrian Franz Josef Strauß is embarrassing enough for our country, mainly for the Carinthians, but still bearable.

Not just muscles

tz Kultur 4th November 2000 | Photo: Stefan Prager

tz interview with Hubert von Goisern about his new CD "Fön"

Hubert von GoisernAt the beginning of the 90s he stirred up the folk music scene. With his Alpinkatzen, Hubert von Goisern proved that you could as he says "very happily continue the alpine tradition without being a stick-in-the-mud." At the height of his fame six years ago he suddenly got out, in order to have more time for his family. After diverse film music projects and excursions into Tibetan and African music he has now, with the release of his album Fön, returned to his roots. tz journalist Marco Schnidt spoke to the 48 year old pioneer of modern folk music.

You write in the booklet for the new CD that you needed time to come back to earth. But you have always made a very "down-to-earth" impression ...

Well, in the last years of success with the Alpinkatzen, I think I was already very out of touch with the real world. You simply lose contact with reality when you are in a different hotel every day and people put everything you wish for in front of you - then you forget what it's like to have to assert yourself.

How has your music changed in comparison to Alpinkatzen times?

I wanted to draw a finer blade. The Alpinkatzen were more hard rock and that was good that way. But now I wanted to show with new musicians, that you don't just have to do it with muscles, that you can express things differently.

You have travelled a lot, you have lived in South Africa and Canada - what does homeland mean for you?

For me homeland is where you dare to criticise something. The more I can moan, the more at home I feel. If I happen to be somewhere as a guest then I dare even less. You also see that in the way that Austria has reacted to justifiable criticism from the EU: Criticism is only allowed by a member of the family, not by an outsider.

"Ich muss schnell von da weg" ("I must leave quickly") you sing in the song Kålt - in the lyrics of which coded quotations from Jörg Haider are to be found. If he were Chancellor would that be a reason for you to emigrate?

No, I would only want to leave if I could no longer say what I thought: if there was censorship, if those with different opinions were persecuted and I, for example, had to fear for my family. However, I don't believe it will come to that in Austria.

In the title song of the CD it says "Alles, was du willst, das geht - wenn du nur weißt, was du willst" ("Everything you want, you'll get - if you only know what you want"). Do you know what you want?

Yes, off and on. Perfect happiness for me only comes in quite short moments - I need my dreams and wishes in order to find sense in my life. I am simply not yet as ready as Buddha!

Listen

With Fön Hubert von Goisern has successfully produced his most mature and atmospheric work yet. Once more he has harmoniously and rhythmically broadened alpine folk music. His Alpinkatzen had still backed raw rock power, so his new musicians contribute filigree-like groovy jazz sounds. Here enchanting love songs find themselves alongside blues-style numbers and reggae rhythm and a cheekily adapted version of the Janis Joplin classic Mercedes Benz. What Hubert von Goisern does with his diatonic accordion and above all his voice is incredible. Nobody has ever yodelled in such a remarkable way! A highly atmospheric album in which you want to immerse yourself again and again - simply magnificent.

A story in every number

Hilpoltsteiner Kurier 6th November 2000

An interview with Hubert von Goisern about his new CD

Munich (DK) He doesn't like Hiatamadl anymore - at least not on stage. The "alpine rocker" Hubert von Goisern doesn't want to play his biggest hit live on stage on tour in the spring. But he has derived pleasure again from other facets of his new folk music. Almost exactly six years to the day after the last concert with the Alpinkatzen, Hubert publishes his new CD, Fön, today. After outings into world music, he has now returned to an individual mixture of pop and folk music again. Albeit under different circumstances: instead of rock elements, strengthened jazz influences come to fruition in Fön. Markus Schwarz spoke to Hubert Achleitner alias Hubert von Goisern.

Mr Achleitner, you seem tired. Are you regretting this comeback already? It is after all associated with a lot of stress.

No, I'm really looking to being on stage again soon. But I have already had interviews all day today and tomorrow morning I must be at the airport at 7am. Such PR affairs are not exactly the grooviest things.

In your opinion, is Fön a new beginning or more a natural development?

More of a development. On the new record, I have transplanted that which I had already imagined six years ago. Back then I was already wanting to go in a more funk, soul, Caribbean direction. And so it has happened at last.

But your experiences during the last six years, the journeys to Africa and Tibet, surely also reflect on the record.

Every person is influenced by many things. But they stay the same nevertheless. The experiences of the last years stick in me, go with me and certainly also find their precipitation somewhere into my music. But I cannot pin it down exactly and with the best will in the world, I can't say: this part of my experience appears in this bit, that part in that bit.

So, when you begin to write a song, you have no concrete idea of what it will become?

No, there is no plan and no construction. When you write, you don't think about it. It's like jumping into a river and letting yourself drift. With the new album, most of the time I wrote the music first and then the lyrics. In every number there is a story that you want to tell, or an inner sensitivity which you want to express. You have to tease that out of the melody.

Is there still room for your musicians to get involved?

I am not the sort of person who specifies to everybody what they have to do. I write the numbers and dictate the direction. But then everyone should contribute and shape the music. I look for my musicians in such a way that they suit my projects not only personally, but also musically.

But what doesn't suit your project are the old hits, especially Hiatamadl.

There are definitely old things that I want to play again. I have also always liked to play Hiatamadl. But I stopped playing it when it was not fun anymore.

Hubert does something

Sound + Media November 2000 | Photos: Sound + Media

Hubert von Goisern"Gar nix denga, is so schwa!" ("Thinking nothing at all is so difficult!"), sings Hubert von Goisern on his new album Fön (Virgin). That one is never embarrassed by the trenchant wording is confirmed by anyone who has enjoyed a personal conversation with the pop-folk music star.

On Fön elements of blues, jazz funk and the obligatory yodelling contribute to the multifaceted nature of the music. In which genre should the album be put?

I haven't got a record shop and so I don't need to think about it. I have the aspiration for there to simply be a compartment for Hubert von Goisern. I have travelled a great deal in the last 6 years, for that reason and also with other things I've been busy with, the mixture has come together.

Considering the many different styles, the album cannot be defined as a round whole.

That is the beauty of it. Every day is simply not round, because so many things happen: something you did 30 minutes earlier has nothing at all to do with what I am doing at the moment. Everyday life consists of breaks and edges and these happen through the person. So you can describe me as the central theme of the CD.

Where does the love of folk music come from?

Much earlier, as a child, it got on my nerves. The older I got and the more I travelled and became familiar with the traditions of other lands and valued them, the bond with my homeland returned too. Apart from that, Austrian folk music is seized with a certain taboo and there is nothing better for an artist than to scratch at a taboo.

Does your music also speak to people outside Austria or Bavaria?

We have played concerts in Berlin and Hamburg and I don't know if all the people were those who like to holiday in Austria and that's why they went to the concert. It is certainly exotic music for people who do not come from the alpine area. Even though things that come from Africa or South America are exotic for us, we still like to listen to them. Sure, people cannot understand our lyrics in other areas, but I have noticed that people have understood the music. Of course, you always transport a certain feeling with the music too.

In the same way Retsina tastes best in Greece?

Yes, like the new wines taste the best where they are grown. There are things that travel better, there are wines from the New World that also taste good here and I would like my music to be among things that can travel well.

The lyrics are extremely topical and distinct. How does the creation process take place?

I began to compose in October 1999, composed into the winter and worried for months about the lyrics. The music is more natural to me than the lyrics. First and foremost, I am a musician - that is my language. I am often afraid that a lyric is too banal and is wrecking the beautiful melody. It's about keeping the lyrics human enough to offer the listener enough space for their own fantasy, experience and feelings.

HvG and bandIs HvG a heartthrob, because he sings about many things about which men don't generally wish to talk about?

I don't always succeed in expressing these things in real life. A production in a studio is really a very protected framework, where you lead an imaginary communication in your own space, which does not function so directly in reality. In the interpersonal relationship there are an incredible number of misunderstandings, perhaps they are easier to put right by means of music. Theoretically you think for a long time, in practice you often speak before you think.

You are a person who is always asked for political statements. To what extent is this relevant to your work?

I think that if everyone were to just egotistically draw into their own interests, a co-operation would not be possible. To quote Adorno: "the chance conversation with the man on the train, with whom - in order for it not to end in a fight - you agree for a few sentences, which you know have to be heading for murder in the end, is already an act of betrayal!" That's it basically. Everyone must make a contribution, and everyone does, whether consciously or not. By saying nothing you make a contribution too, so that things that are unjust can simply continue.

Do many artists refuse this dialogue, in that they withdraw into their music?

I believe that is too little, for power brings control and that is precisely these thoughts about certain conditions. Only starting when it's virtually too late? So when is it too late? If we do not recognise that we basically "print our film" at the cost of others and live in prosperity, then it's only bearable for me if I also concern myself with these things and make my contribution. I have to put into words what doesn't please me and live my life, as well as I can. Reproaching others I always find very critical, but demonstrating it, I find, is necessary.

Relaxing Fön

WOM Journal - 11 / 2000 | Text: Daniel Rot

After shepherd girls and Tibetan Lamas, Hubert von Goisern has now discovered jazz wind

Hubert in GombeThe Austrian school system has a lot more to thank the German-speaking pop world for than before. When Mr Achleitner, alias Hubert von Goisern, strove to introduce the young people of his homeland to the wonderful arts free of charge last year, the fright for the musician from Salzkammergut was a big one. "For these children, singing is something completely abnormal, they have no repertoire any more and also no help from the teachers." The only thing that worked reasonably well "were our folk songs. They are probably somehow inside us, whether we know it or not." In him always. Because practically the whole country had waited for new of its hero, after this man consigned his Alpinkatzen to history six years ago and just a few uninitiated Prussians thought this would be the end of his career too. But now he's not only yodelling again and maintaining the accordion and the alpine pun, he now plays jazz without batting an eyelid. His new album is called Fön and has fierce side-effects - just very different ones from the notorious avalanche mountain wind. "I at least have the vague feeling," Hubert creeps around concrete explanations, "that I have become subtler and I am working with a finer blade." So much humility is uncalled for, because Fön blasts like no Goisern album before. And he has never sung so well in Austrian. Except under the influence.

Interview - Hubert von Goisern

Kurier 29th October 2000

After musical journeys to Tibet and Africa, you're back to what is native to you on your new CD Fön.

Actually I wanted to be back on stage again two years after the end of the Alpinkatzen. It became six. But it was never dull: I wrote film music, travelled a lot and rendered my experiences in the CDs Inexil and Gombe.

How do you diminish stress?

By cooking for example: going shopping in peace, preparing a good meal, one or two glasses of red wine as well.

Are you a bon vivant?

Yes, but renunciation is just as important to me. Because a constant pleasure is no longer a pleasure.

What role does family play in your life?

It is the centre. It brings me down, if I threaten to take off. My two children also keep me physically fit. I go swimming, climbing and skiing with them.

How important is success to you?

It enables to me to do the things that are important to me, without having to think: Can I afford it? In the past year I taught music voluntarily in a Salzburg secondary school, without curriculum. A terrific experience, from which I drew much strength.

Did the children have great respect for their new teacher?

Not at all. Children are very direct, that is not always easy. If you weaken, the situation can explode easily.

What is your motto for life?

To do what you think is right. I do not think anything of tactics. The more direct, the better.

Are there already more plans?

I am working on a CD with old Austrian folk songs. Perfectly undramatic, without zithers and harps.

Star Talk: Hubert von Goisern

MusicNews - 11/2000

His departure from the stage six years cause confusion: in the middle of the rapid rise to the zenith of career heaven, he quietly said goodbye and retired. But Hubert von Goisern has always been among those artists who are difficult to assess for the record companies bookkeepers. First he made them rich with a crazy folk song about a shepherd girl, in order to suddenly turn out the light in the recording studio for them and his Alpinkatzen and travel to Jane Goodall in East Africa and to the Dalai Lama.

On the side, he wrote the music for the successful film Schlafes Bruder. But the desire to stand on stage never really let go of him and finally his brand new album Fön became the transport medium for fulfilling the longing for gigs. From 3rd March, Hubert von Goisern will be on tour again.

Winter is coming, the time of the Fön is rare. Do you like the winter?

Very much. I am an enthusiastic skier. Previously I practically lived for the winter. In the meantime, I am older and I really like the summer.

One of your most impressive songs is about time; how one can hear how it flies. Do you sometimes think about how quickly time passes?

Yes, of course. My children are going to school, these things suddenly have a new significance.

Describe to us a little about how you live.

Not at all spectacularly. I have a little old house at the edge of the wood in Goisern. I have a tiled stove, a room in which I work. If necessary, I can survive very well with a very few resources.

Are you happy?

Yes. Totally happy. I can do the things that I want to and above all, I can leave the things that I don't want to do.

On your new album, you show a more serious development, jazz or soul forms come into play that would amaze some of the old Goisern fans. Was the folk music too boring for you in the style you made it, or is there some provocation?

Certainly a little bit of provocation plays a role. I don't like to capture myself. I originally set myself the aim only going back on stage when I had developed myself.

What are your next plans?

Above all, I'm looking forward to the tour next spring. This direct contact with the public is something incredibly constructive, satisfying. I would also like to write more film music. And an opera sometime. But today, the opera is perhaps out-dated, there are other forms of storytelling. The film comes next I think. I have also already considered making a Tibetan opera. These operas are not performable here, because they last three to five days. You can't expect anyone to disappear to the opera for five days with their lunch pack and their camp bed. On the other hand, the operas are also not to be cut short. So, you must compose something new.

Will you have Hiatamadl in your programme on your new tour?

No.

And if the public demand it, you won't play it?

I can't imagine so. I don't want to turn back time, what's over, is over.