Hubert von Goisern
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IWASIG

IWASIG >> Interviews: 1 2

Creative remix of musical traditions

Aargauer Zeitung 15th October 2002 | Text: Nathanael Galler

Earthy strength and rough charm

Where does the Goiserer get his inspirations from? In interview, the creative spirit confesses that he sees himself less as a creator than a medium: "The things simply flow into me". Everything is subjective, he thinks nothing of objectivity. But he wants to pick out general feelings and moods as a central theme, not just contemplating your navel. Actually on Iwasig, you feel a lot of the mentality and way of thinking from the earthy lake region, from where he comes, their strength and rough charm. Von Goisern: "At the end of the day, I would like to create a house with lots of rooms in which the listener can spread out. Not just a closed monument." If that works, the sophisticated ethno-mixer is a folk musician again. On Iwasig you at least feel that not only Mississippi has it blues and New Orleans has its jazz - the Salzkammergut also has, like almost every region, its folk tunes. They are rough, soft and melancholy. Von Goisern unites the various traditions, frees them from their patina and lets them stand in new splendour. And from it he makes something completely original, new, creative, giving them a modern and contemporary form.

Ode to laziness

Neue Vorarlberger Zeitung 22nd September 2002 | Text: Annelies Pichler

Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern is back. In bright garments as always, sunny even if his head is throbbing. Too much in his head? From his Africa trip, from the Grenzenlos tour or what? No matter, his new album Iwasig is here and is rolling. There is a lot to hear, but it is better that you listen. There the warmth of confidence mixes with the ease of ability and rock 'n' roll flickers over the top. Or what, Mr HvG?

HvG: Rock 'n' roll?! Yes, there where it expresses: "I don't give a shit". That is on there. Rock 'n' roll is a bit like being brutal and direct, not considering whether or not that is now really diplomatic.

There is this track Nix tuan. A dream?

It was the last number I recorded, as far as the lyrics are concerned. Usually I do the music first. And Spani (note: Wolfgang Spannberger, his co-producer) asks "When are you going to record your singing?" And I said, "I won't sing to that [music], but rather just kind of talk to it" and he says "Now what?" and me: "I already know that", him: "But do you have a text?", me: "Yes, I have it in my head already", him: "You know, the day after tomorrow we need to deliver the recordings and you still haven't recorded your singing", me: "That's ok, we'll do that. Tomorrow". Laziness, not tomorrow. Really not doing anything, that's not possible at all, if you don't have anything to do anyway. That's not allowed. I speak up for the laziness, because I feel that we all are over-productive.

Nix tuan plays early on the radio. The buses are equally emptier. How does one let such feeling arise?

With me it is like this: I imagine a condition and I put myself in that position, then I create something. So I explained to Spani: "It is about the feeling: you lie in bed and think: oh, who cares? And it is interesting how the bad conscience is ticking away." He said, "Ah, a bed! Hmm, ok we can fix that". He fetched a blanket and we built a bed right in the studio, I laid down in it, took the microphone, and he said "Wait, a duvet! You can even hear that!" It became really intimate sound-wise.

Your tour went through Egypt, West Africa, Germany. It was called Grenzenlos. Was it without frontiers?

Always, when you turn something into a programme, you first really get to know the programme. This tour intensively showed me my limits like nothing in a long time: the communication, the physical resilience, the courage.

Where was it frightening?

In Assiut, Egypt. I had such weak knees there. Standing on stage in front of 15,000 young Egyptians who were shouting things in chorus in Arabic and I did not know what it was. Where they charged with batons in order to keep them in check and where nervous people stood with machine guns. This whole thing in the so-called Fundamentalist stronghold of Egypt. That was never a thing for me.

What happened?

The police chief is at the microphone and wants to put the brakes on. Senseless. Nothing at all happened. Fortunately he was really cool and noticed that nothing more was happening and called back all the policemen. Suddenly there were people everywhere, also on the stage, but with respectful distance so that I could play music. Nothing happened. I was embarrassed. These people who also really shamed the military and the police. There are those who believed that it works as long as everything is under control, otherwise chaos sets in. The opposite is the case.

The Kalachakra visit from the Dalai Lama in Graz reminds one of Inexil, an HvG album.

I am going to Graz then. TIPA, the Tibetan musicians, with whom we made the album, are appearing and I am presenting.

"Religions are outdated"

Kurier 18th September 2002 | Text: Brigitte Schokarth | Photo: Jörg Christandl

Hubert von GoisernWhy did you first try out the songs from your new album Iwasig in live shows in Egypt and West Africa, before you had recorded them?

I wanted to do it differently one time. There is also no reason against it, because when I play in Assiut in front of 15,000 Arabs, it does not matter whether I play Hiatamadl or a number from the new album, they do not know any individual song in any case.

But it was a journey with many disappointments...

I was confronted with chauvinism there, which got me down. I don't get it when our people speak against foreigners, as if we know it all. And I also don't get it if I go somewhere where they let the macho hang out. Somewhere I also understand it because they have experienced oppression and colonialism for generations.

In Dakar you also met with Youssou N'Dour, who has already worked with Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry and, like you, is interested in a cultural exchange. Did you speak about a collaboration?

I was only with him for half an hour in the studio. And I also didn't expect him to say, come and sing with me on my album. I have imagined how I would like it if someone comes to Salzburg and says, I like what you are doing, I want to get to know you. I believe that I would also say, great that you are here, would you like a coffee? And after half an hour I would also look at the clock and say, now I must go to an appointment. In any case, I lost a lot of naïvety in Africa.

What experiences have you brought with you from Egypt?

It was my first journey to the Arabian area and I went there with the fixed idea that I would not be at all prejudiced. And then I am down there and I felt permanently funny. And I asked myself, what am I really afraid of?

Does that not seem necessary, when you could only travel when protected with an escort? Assiut was regarded as the stronghold of Fundamentalism and in 1998 was the place of a terrorist attack on German tourists...

Perhaps, but I remembered there that I had subconsciously believed that Arabs are aggressive. Through these media stories, of which I had thought that they had not influenced me, I had been prejudiced. And I was ashamed of myself because the Arabs were polite and respectful in their dealings with us and with each other. Islam has an unbelievable potential for respectful co-operation.

You admire the Dalai Lama and will also be there in October when he leads the Kalachakra ceremony in Graz. Are you interested in Buddhism?

For me all religions are of the same value. Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or any Shamanistic stories. I have left the church and see no need to join a faith. Because for me religion is something out-dated - like nations. This "there you stop and there we begin" gets on my nerves.

Hubert von Goisern - Iwasig

Bad Ischler Rundschau 14th September | Text: Josef Handlechner

From Monday the new CD is on the market

It is called Iwasig, Hubert's new CD (Virgin), which has come about after the Africa and Europe tour and comes onto the market on the 16th September. "The best Hubert von Goisern there has ever been" - so you hear from those who have already been able to listen. The production has come out very brightly, the palette reaches from reggae to the obligatory yodels. Hubert: "I wrote the new songs during the breaks on tour, to take into account the feeling of how I felt at that moment."

Hubert von Goisern - Iwasig

Blanko Musik July 2002 | Text: Hannes Heide

On 28th February 2001, the time had come at last: after an eight year break, Hubert von Goisern stepped onto the stage again with his own stage programme. The CD Fön was released in autumn 2000, in March 2001 the collection of folk songs Trad followed.

Hubert von Goisern comes out of the quiet. The live programme which consists of titles from the two CDs is also organised accordingly. Only Heast as nit is a memory of the Alpinkatzen times.

And nevertheless: what an observer would scarcely have held to be possible: the audience came in crowds like before in 1994. Standing ovations, sold-out concert halls, one hundred concerts in 2001 alone - Hubert von Goisern followed on seamlessly from the "old times".

Still more: with the Fön and Trad tour, 2001 became the most successful year for Hubert von Goisern. And in 2002 Hubert von Goisern fulfilled a long cherished wish - to go "out" with his music, to see how his style of playing music would be received in other cultures.

Grenzenlos 2002
In joint concert with Mohamed Mounir: "We have sown a seed"

Yodelling under pyramids, holleraähdullioöh in the land of the pharaohs, alpine rock in the orient?

Eight years ago the masters of writing would have been only too glad to use this cliché and celebrated the leap of the first representative of "new alpine rock" over the Mediterranean Sea into the Near East. The times of such superficiality and such simpler ways of looking at musician Hubert von Goisern are past. The Austrian developed from folk to world musician a long time ago. Evidence of this was shortly to happen at Assiut in Upper Egypt at a concert with Hubert von Goisern and Egyptian idol Mohamed Mounir.

There the shadows of everybody's doubts, also confronting those of the organisers of Eastern and Western music, were dismissed by the euphoria of the 15,000 concert visitors.

With it we are admittedly closed to the cliché again: but the Egyptian musician Mohamed Mounir and the Austrian Hubert von Goisern appeared together and, as Hubert von Goisern saw it, "sowed a seed", or in Mounir's view, proved "that playing music is stronger than blood and war."

Yes, it was successful: 15,000 people cheered the appearance, were inspired above all by the Goiserer and the Egyptian playing together.

However until the last moment the effort was felt behind the stage, until the last moment neither Mounir or Goisern were convinced that "it" could work.

This spectacular joint meeting was organised by the Goethe Institute in Cairo (footnote: already the old privy councillor was an admirer of oriental art of poetry and also considerably influenced by it). The programme department manager, Enzio Wetzel, intentionally chose Assiut as the scene. The German Days took place there until 1998, before the terror attacks on German tourists brought an end to this joint initiative of the German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Admittedly the 11th September did not make the situation any easier. And this city beside Cairo with its 60,000 student most important university town, nevertheless offered the right platform for this bold experiment.

Hubert von GoisernWhoever asks an Egyptian (and it is an Egyptian newspaper seller in the Salzkammergut) about this city, will get a negative response, for a long time Assiut was considered to be the centre of the fundamentalists and is still identified with the origin of the assassins of President Anwar el Sadat. The university was an Islamic stronghold. Accordingly radically the state power also proceeded with the fight.

Hubert von Goisern and his band experienced how strained the atmosphere still is (state of emergency) through the fact that they could only go on journeys protected by a military escort. Even the visit to the rest of the peaceful and pleasant-looking city without armed personal security was only possible for the guests from Austria and Germany after repeated and substantial references to the requirement of hospitality!

And nevertheless, good conditions for a "cultural clash" in this way: the people are starved and long for a cultural meeting. Hubert von Goisern is convinced that "they did not noticed any tensions on or behind the stage." In the end the perspective "being defeated victoriously" was nearer to him.

The audience itself pressed on the barriers and finally stormed the back and side stage in excitement, some hundred curious onlookers made themselves comfortable in the windows and on the roof of the half-finished hotel behind the stage. Hubert von Goisern assessed that "the danger that something happens, that is comes to riots against he police or that someone falls from the roof which was being danced on 30 - 40 metres up was greater than the chance that everything works out well." And a single incident would have had only one consequence in the face of the contingent of security forces: "That something like this concert ought not to take place any more in the foreseeable future."

The fact that it did not come to the possible incidents is above all because of "Magician Mounir" (Goisern) who succeeded in "making the people friendly". Hubert von Goisern quickly recognised a congeniality of spirit in Mounir: "he does indeed come from another culture, but he stands for the same things as I do: he admits his regional roots, but translates to the international world.

Therefore it was easier for the Austrian to explain with Mounir's music as for example with the Tibetans' music: both cultures has fascinated me since childhood. Mind you, I have found it easier with his music than with the Tibetan music, which stands as protection of old traditions. He stands in the here and now with his music."

Mounir draws from the Nubian traditions, which above all the rhythm through his four member percussion group (here above all the Nubian Duff and Egyptian Darabuka come into action) and the melodies clarify. The modern view of his music playing certainly explains the reggae guitar and the jazz trumpet in his band. And also the form and length of the numbers points to pollination from outside.

The optical image of Mounir and the five member band points towards Western models, if you disregard the headscarf on one of his two background singers.

The Nubian minor key pentatonic, which Mounir falls back on in almost all his numbers makes it easy for Hubert von Goisern in the end "to 'take them away' with the accordion and in a major key and to unfold an individual story." The accordion is actually "an orchestra which plays in itself". And in addition, was exotic and impressive for the listeners.

So both sides are agreed that what was achieved was "exceptional material and deserves to be processed": Mohamed Mounir speaks of a "special situation" which he and Hubert found in Assiut. And it is not permissible "to deduct anything else, even if it may be in Egypt", states Hubert von Goisern and he called the evening simply legendary.

The African adventure

What is Hubert von Goisern doing in Africa? Whom there should be interested in the alpine world music of the Goiserer of all people? Hubert von Goisern has planned three stops for himself and his band in the course of the Africa adventure: the capital of Cape Verde, Praia, should be start of the journey, Dakar with its vibrant scene the high point and Burkina Faso a worthy end point.

"I want to find friends, search for a musical exchange and show what music we make," Hubert makes clear before the journey. Already with the first concert it is a success: 4,000 people take advantage of the invitation to a concert with free entry in front of the football stadium in Praia, Cape Verde. And the atmosphere which they provide is unique: now and again, people filled with Grogue, the Cape Verde sugar cane schnapps, spring onto the stage and dance along, the individual songs are clapped. Car drivers, going along on the nearby street take part in the concert by honking their horns.

Tété Alhinho from the group Simentera, whose ten year anniversary is the actual occasion for this concert, comes on stage and sings Über d'Alma together with Hubert. The concert lasts one and a half hours, which should be a worthy and encouraging beginning for the Africa trip.

A call instilled with respect as one of the most important cities of the music scene Dakar rushes ahead and one of those who is jointly responsible for this call, meets Hubert on the first day: Youssou N'Dour made it to world star and bequeathed the world hits together with artists like Peter Gabriel, Sting or Neneh Cherry. Above all in conversation N'Dour was interested in Hubert von Goisern's collaboration with Tibetan artists and turned out to be a football fan.

A further meeting impressed Hubert von Goisern: that with the Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy, who made a name for herself with the first internet café in Dakar and with the demand for access to the internet for the African continent. A meeting in Austria, when she will be appearing at the Ars Electronica in the autumn will be arranged.

In one of the most important concert halls of the Africa continent, the Sorano Theatre, Hubert gives a concert together with the Senegalese musician Falung Dieng, who just like the young people's star Magou, joins in singing one of the titles from Hubert's new programme.

However the absolute high point should be an appearance on a completely different scene: despite many warnings and safety doubts, the band venture into one of the slums and plays perhaps one of the best concerts they had given until then there in front of a grateful and responsive audience. The great thing into the bargain: the wish for playing music together with Africa musicians fulfilled itself in impressive ways, as the different musicians join in and present their own songs and rhythms from traditional to modern rap - Dakar has been a synonym for that for a long time.

Visits finally made musical meetings of the archaic kind more easily possible, difficult to reach African villages in Senegal and in Burkina Faso, where the inhabitants welcomed the guests from Austria with traditional songs and dances and in a countermove were animated to dance with folk songs from the Salzkammergut, played by Hubert von Goisern on his accordion. But Hubert von Goisern's interest was not only the music of the country, but also the initiatives of the Austrian Development Co-operation: "My opinion regarding this has strongly changed because I have seen how effectively it has worked here and that handicap of "sustainability" with those projects is not just a catchword!"

Apart from the Africa - in the summer follows another notable journey to Sarajevo in face of the problems and waiting times at the borders eastwards - the work begins in Salzburg on the new album Iwasig. Already in June for the first time in nine years a single was released: under the title Poika it contains two new numbers (Poika and Volxjammer) and under Über's Wasser a new arrangement of the Trad piece Über d'Alma.

Poika is also one of the high points in the new live programme, whose prelude was Assiut and with which Hubert set off on an extensive festival tour through the German-speaking countries. All in all, Hubert von Goisern presented, with an extended band, an atmospheric, gripping programme with which the audience are able to be carried away to a storm of enthusiasm.

He wanted to once go the opposite way: to test new numbers in a live programme and to then first present them on a CD. An experiment which increases the anticipation for the release and also lets many hope for a continuation of the tour!

New album from Hubert von Goisern

Neues Volksblatt 3rd September 2002

In Germany, the musician Hubert von Goisern counts, in his own country, the Upper Austrian is still mainly associated with one song. Nevertheless, the artist does not want to aim at a repetition of Hiatamadl. "The hit single strategy is foreign to me," von Goisern emphasised, whose new album Iwasig (Virgin) is released on 16th September. The palette on it reaches from reggae to the obligatory yodelling. "There is no room on a CD for all the souls which live in my chest," said Goisern. "But it is right that the record has a certain bandwidth. It is also simply like life." In contrast with an introverted work like Fön, Iwasig is more easily accessible:"Fön arose from the silence. Then we went on tour again after a long break. Through playing in front of the audience, my life became louder again. I wrote the songs during the breaks on tour," It was recorded in Salzburg and Bad Goisern.

More fans in Cologne than Vienna

In the summer, Hubert gave 23 concerts, only 3 in Austria, one at Burg Clam. The event in Vienna was more poorly attended than appearances in Berlin or Cologne. "When you have a greater audience, it is hard. But I do not want to develop myself so that like Thomas Bernhard I say: "everything is fucked up". The increasingly failing readiness to deliberately have a good look at songs is leading back to the consumer behaviour: "Music comes from the silence and goes back into silence. We do not have this foundation any more. Only the permanent level recorder is still valid."