Hubert von Goisern


ENTWEDERUNDODER >> Interviews: 1 2 3 4

"The tavern was good therapy"

Kleine Zeitung 21st August 2011 | Text: Bernd Melichar
Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern goes back to the roots with his new CD: to the tavern.
There came the grounding for which he had been looking.

Entweder und oder, the title of your new CD is also your life motto. The motto of the musician Hubert von Goisern, who can't be pigeonholed. Was this ulterior motive for the title too?

The title came about because I noticed while composing that it was all going to be so eclectic and varied. The first working title for the CD was Mosaik, because all of the songs are self-contained cosmoses, little stones that when put together however make a complete picture. But Mosaik didn't come into question though, because there are already lots of records with that name. Then I came to this wordplay of "either and or", which has this polarity. It's not the case that I can't decided as a musician. It's much more like the two sides of a coin. Heads needs tails. And vice versa. I live and work in this field of tension. And it's right to say that it's something akin to a life motto for me.

My first impression listening to the CD: Wow, what an unpredictable beast! The guitars crack, the accordion groans. Loud and quiet changes places; there's jazz, rock, groove. How and where did the new songs develop?

From the first touch to release, a record takes me about a year. Most of the songs developed in Salzburg and Goisern. Goisern is my refuge, I like to withdraw there, to a very simple hut. I can let my thoughts run free there; nobody is there to disturb me. None of my friends dares come over either, because they all know: when I'm there, I want to stew in my own juice.

You seem to be enjoying it very much, being "just" a musician again and not the organiser of a huge project.

The Linz Europe Tour demanded a lot from me. I had to take care of things that had nothing to do with the most basic being a musician. I wouldn't want to have missed out on that experience, but I'm happy that it's behind me. The swing of the pendulum in the other direction is important to me now. The paring down to what is important.

You say that it was important to you to ground yourself once more with this new record. Does that mean that you'd lost this grounding in recent times?

Well, during the Danube project I was more watered than grounded. There was a great distance from the audience on this project. Everything took place in an open area, but the spectators were often 30, 40 metres away. I don't want it to be like in perpetuity. So I've taken myself into the other corner now and wanted to be at eye level with my audience again.

This eye level was there on your "Tavern Tour", about which there is also a TV documentary. No extras, no show, no backstage area, and the landlord personally serves the roast veal as reward for the completed work. What was this close, very intimate contact with the audience like?

Great! I also saw this tour as therapy for me and my band, so we wouldn't take off after the big projects of recent years. It then turned out that it was a very important therapy for me in particular. Over the years I have developed quite a shyness of the audience. There is a certain number per thousand, who are simply in your face. These people have a kind of vacuum effect and often hamper the contact with my audience. It went back to normal again in the tavern. In these small rooms, with 300 people at most, the collective worked as a corrective. There's perhaps one person or the other there who can be tiresome, but they are absorbed by the others.

You are clearly someone who needs opposites, contrasts. The small after the large. Closeness after distance. Do you get bored easily?

Yes, that does seem to be the case. I'm someone who is very curious and who dives into things body and soul. I'm not a big multitasker. But when I do something, I see it through until I'm done. And then it's for something new again.

A guest house is the primal cell of a rural area. On account of your meetings in these primal cells, are you able to say what's going on at the moment in Austria?

It would exaggerating to say that I was really involved in the tavern discussions. We spread our own aura there at the concerts. We were on the road in spring, they were wonderful days and everyone enjoyed themselves. The great thing about this tavern tour: it was a re-return. Having taken folk music to the cities, we were now taking it back to its origins, enriched with urbanity and the breath of far-off places.

It's not far from the roots to which you've returned to the homeland. Which homeland is next for global citizen Hubert von Goisern?

Salzburg is my homeland. The Salzkammergut is the landscape most familiar to me. The sound of the language is very close to my heart. My longing leads to where nature is though, where few people live. Where there are no streets and houses or people who watch TV programmes. Home is also music for me. My musicians, they are family. And I often quarrel with my homes. But I need to do that in order to get motivation again for something new.

Staying with music. You're going on tour with the new CD in spring and autumn 2012. How much fun is it for you still to stand on stage?

It's still really brilliant. And with my band, this powerful little guerilla unit, it has a dimension that is very exciting. We're a very cool troupe.

So "rock brute Goisern" has been woken once more.

Yes, it's pretty rocky. And it's enormous fun to be a guerilla of music.

Overcoming timidity in the tavern

OÖN 19th August 2011 | Text: Bernhard Lichtenberger

Hubert von Goisern returns with his album "Entweder und Oder", to be released on 2nd September. The 58-year-old musician spoke to the OÖNachrichten about his timidity in front of an audience, cool country heroes
and a future without music.

EntwederundoderYou're drinking a "Luftikus" (Ed.: "Luft" means "air"). That suits you.

But I feel grounded. The music and tour have contributed to that.

What was different on the tavern tour, which began on 1st April in Neuhofen im Innkreis.

This coming down to earth, being able to look the audience in the eye and seeing how the new songs went down. We were received with open ears everywhere, it was a great delight while playing.

The distance from people disappears in the tavern.

That helped me to overcome timidity in front of the audience. I like my audience, but when it's a few thousand people, I have no desire to then have a personal exchange with someone else. And then most of the time it's the people with no sense of space who come up to you and blather on with stories. I like to hear them from a friend, but I don't want to be a projection surface for every stranger. That has led to me developing quite a shyness in terms of coming into contact with the audience.

Has that always been the case?

Yes, I'm crapping myself before every concert, hyper nervous and just want to play my music and nothing else.

Is it fear?

Fear of making a fool of myself, standing there stupidly, tripping over when you go on stage. I used to die back at school when I had to stand up and say something in front of the class. At the beginning of my career I was once at the stage where I was close to gibing up, because it was doing me in so much. I was throwing up with nerves, had fevers, toothache, headache and told myself: if this makes you so ill, it can't be the right thing for you. So I sat in front of a mirror for an hour and talked myself into it. Nowadays I don't complain about it, I see it rather as a gift, because things wouldn't work without the unbelievable strain. It's like stepping onto a rock wall when climbing - you're only in the here and now, only your grip and tread count.

You put a great deal of strength and energy from the Danube tour into the S'Nix album. The new CD is a step back again.

For me it was a logical move of the pendulum back in the other direction. As far as size and opulence is concerned, you couldn't add anything else to the Linz Europe Tour. I wanted to go back to very personal and intimate songs with self-contained stories and a transparent sound.

Es is, wias is can be read as the course of a life or year, or as an expression of calm.

It's a story that's to do with the circumstances of life that arose in the spring from the melancholy that the snow was melting and the hope that it will snow again.

The song Indianer has something American country about it and would actually work as the soundtrack for a Tarantino film. Do you like country music?

In principle. There are of course lots of shadows, not just light. The scene is in places as deep as Musikantenstadl, but there are cool things too.

What are they?

Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash - his American Recordings in particular, the simplicity and scaling back to what is important have been models.

You were awarded the RUTH world music prize in Germany this year. How do you get on with the term "world music"?

For me world music is a music that represents a clear regionalism - the alpine tradition in my case. What I don't like about tradition is the exclusivity. It's important to me when living tradition that I leave the doors open and have no worries about influences from elsewhere. Life is change, tradition must develop.

Halt nit an is about being on the road. Is a certain drive behind it?

Enormous curiosity is behind it.

People always have to worry with you that you're going to give up music. Do you feel that too?

Every time I'm in a productions phase, I think to myself that this will be the last time I do this to myself. We're doing about 100 concerts next year and for 2013 the plan is for me to do nothing for two years and withdraw from public life.

Where is the curious spirit to go, if not into a song?

I can let it live everywhere, going into the mountains, with my great passion of canoeing. There will definitely be a couple of journeys and I want to allow more space again for chance and encounters.

Where are you off to?

In two weeks I'll be flying to Greenland. There was an enquiry as to whether I could put together a identity-establishing programme with young Inuits. They drink a lot up there and have no perspective, no feeling of self-worth. The old life of hunting doesn't exist any more. I don't know if I can do it, but I'll see.

Who made the enquiry?

Robert Peroni, a South Tyrolean who led an expedition across Greenland about 20 years ago and stayed there because he liked the people so much. Blues and depression are not far from me and it is worth finding out what I can do to break the darkness and bring in a little light.

Hubert von Goisern: in the tavern with the audience

Tele 33/2011 | Text: Julia Pühringer | Photo: Elli Christl

No other Austrian musician has got around as much as Hubert von Goisern: He has been to Africa and Tibet and sailed the Danube upstream and down. Now finally he's headed into the tavern.

HvG"No extras, no bright lights, no show": the Goiserer scales down to the bare essentials. On the tavern tour that will be broadcast on ServusTV (25.08., 8.15pm), keeping a grip on reality is the motto - here backstage is the bar, in Grossarltal, Pass Gschütt, from Frankenreith to Leopoldschlag at the Czech border, from Ottensheim to Weng.

What makes a good tavern?

Good food is a prerequisite. I'm not someone who goes to the tavern for a beer just for company. I've never done that (doesn't laugh). Perhaps it'll come with greater age. Almost even more important is a friendly landlord. Most of the time the food is no good either if he's grumpy. And I like comfort, a wooden floor rather than flagstones.

One of the objectives of the "tavern tour" was to revive under-used event locations. What was the trigger?

The trigger was the last tavern in Goisern being torn down in 1992, because they wanted to build something bigger, a jack of all trades event hall. I went from Pontius to Pilate, from the mayor to the consortium that was the owner at the time, but nobody could be dissuaded. Nobody realised what it meant to a community to have a hall that exuded history and had a warmth to it.

What were the criteria for the taverns on the tour?

They had to be somewhere where people had to drive an hour or more in order to reach a town in which I usually give concerts. We were coming to the people - not them to us, but us to them. It's more efficient and saves fuel.

What worried you with the new album? The subject matter reachers from the worth and worthlessness of money, to the complications of relationships ...

They are the eternal big themes that concern us: dealing with resources, where some people have too much and have no connection with it. And the relationship level is a long runner too, the failure of communication.

Where does it fail?

Time and again there is a breakdown in communication, where you have to more than exert yourself to see that this build-up of emotions, resentment and misunderstanding. It's down to the nature of the thing, it's also to do with generations, that we simply have phases in which we are more important to ourselves than our surroundings are, because we lose ourselves. Our own life suddenly becomes ever so complicated and then its difficult to make contact with the outside, except that they want exactly what you want yourself. But you can't change your surroundings just because you're in a different place. You have to learn to deal with it. I always say: breathe through it, just breathe through it and don't immediately make everything your own problem. Very often one takes on the problems of other people in the interest of power, or the great overestimation of one's own therapeutic abilities. Many things sort themselves out.

Few Austrian musicians have travelled abroad as much as you have over the years - how do you define homeland? Where do you feel happy? How do you ground yourself? Or at you at home everywhere?

That happens, but I need a bit of time, I'm a slowcoach. For example when I fly to Africa, I need three days before I can start communicating, apart from the functional - where can I get cigarettes, where can I buy bananas, these things. Then I can feel at home anywhere, I feel more of a child of the world than a son of the Salzkammergut or Austria.

Is that liberating?

Sure. Homeland is first and foremost a place where I get involved and don't just think my part and observe. There's something very homelike when I arrive in the Salzkammergut, where the people have this sound in their language that is so familiar to me. Or where the silhouette of the mountains is so familiar that although I'm far away, I know that when the light is a certain way, or the church bells are so, then it's the föhn. That has a certain something. I get depressed when I don't have the mountains for a long time. I also often get the feeling that I want to go up and get an overview - then the problems of the valley are far away, the cars are small and don't smell. You're a part of nature and as such I always feel happy.

This isn't your first tour to be documented on film ...

It's only otherwise been the Linz Europe Tour, where the ORF co-produced and broadcast it at an impossible time. I did everything else myself and produced it myself. As far as the Danube tour was concerned, t would have been criminal not to share the vision with more people, even though 200,000 people saw it live. I'm happy that there is this document, that's why I also wrote a book about it.

Is filming intrusive on site?

Most of the time. But over the years I have learned to make sure in advance that the right people come along. I have had a production team forced upon me in the past who were simply incapable of getting or enjoying the situation. Nobody wins like that. I only want people with me who also don't want to have people roped in to it either. But it does basically intrude when making acquaintances abroad. When you travel to the heart of Africa and meet people there whom you've never seen before, you want to build contact with them and a camera is inhibiting, or even an entire film team bustling about. The whole thing gains an importance that isn't advantageous when making the first contact.

You enjoy playing with other musicians ...

It's simply about winning friends, getting to know people. I'm a curious person. I'm just interested in spending time together - not just rehearsing and going on stage, and perhaps having a beer together before or after. When, as when we were on the ship, you have a few days, travel together, eat, spend the night in the same place and meet again in the morning, a normality comes to into the relationship. Everyone's a bit rooted in the morning, gets their coffee and you talk differently, getting down to the crux of the matter more, to the commonalities, the differences. I'm not someone who wants to synchronise people.

"New folk music", "world music" - what do you think of such terms?

I'm relatively indifferent to them. They change their taste as they go on. World music had a different taste 20 years ago when Peter Gabriel founded his Real World label, it was all the rage then. Now there's something banal about it. But many people are only now realising this. So terms such as "new folk music" are not invented by musicians. People who want to write about music and have to simply need to let something come to them. I think journalism is exciting, having to express with words what others do with music. It can't really work. You can only paraphrase this centre of sound and with the circle that is drawn around it, people can get an idea of what's in the middle, but which will remain intangible. Leonard Bernstein once said: "writing about music is like dancing architecture".

Do you also listen to the music from young Austrian bands?

Very little, I'm so occupied with my thing, apart from that I don't like listening to canned music. Unless someone says, hey listen to this. Then that's great. But I hear constant music in my head - but things that don't exist. Music plays, I just need to tune into it, turn up the volume, then I never hear what's around me, only what's in me.

Can you memorise it?

When I want to. But often I'm not consciously taking note of it. As a child I was sure that everyone had this. I remember at the age of five or six, the first things happened, from hundreds to thousands, harmonies and melodies. I think it wasn't until I was 30 or older that I found out that not everyone else has this!

Where do you like to relax? Far away, or at home?

I actually like home very much as I'm on the road a lot. Whereupon it is of course the case that at home you constantly see work. There's always something to do that you postpone from one year to the next. Then you're staring at a branch that you've been wanting to cut for three years, or you think that you should clear out the cellar. But now we're flying to Lappland. I'm a big fan of the far north. I love it there, because it's so peaceful.

What is the next journey, the next tavern, the next project?

In 2012 about 100 concerts will be played, 2013 I intend to do nothing. I do that again and again. Then I'm simply not available for public life.

What do concerts do to your own balance of energy? You give a lot, receive a lot ...

That holds true for me. I'm no multitasker. It's always said that men have a harder time with such things than they do with women (Ed: Freudian slip). I'm a rather extreme case. When I go on stage, I'm a stage person. Every bit of energy goes into making the stage burn, that we exude warmth and light and pass it to the audience. During this time I can't compose, at most I can dream a little, as I'm on an extremely low idling speed the whole day, then give full power on stage and then everything comes down again. I need a time out afterwards. Then I come into the phase where I can listen to myself again and something new develops. It is completely out of the question that I make an appearance, or say something publicly during this time. I'm very intimate, very vulnerable, I don't want any strangers around me. I just want a few people with whom I can deal intensively and not this massive audience. It's actually always daunting until I get used to it and then break the habit. There's something of an addictive nature to it.

The audience also has the need to have a connection to you, even if not just for the period of a concert ...

I don't know what it's like for people. I get a lot of post and see that I am projection surface for very many people. There are people who then pour their hearts out on 20 pages, you can't take it all in. But the basic structure is that they see in me what they carry in themselves. When that is sadness and pain and misfortune, then they project that onto me and me songs and when they have overcome something, they project that. And that's the way it should be. I don't like to talk about my music and my songs myself. If they don't work without an accessory pack, then something's not right. I don't like interpretation guidelines. Everyone should see for themselves what is happening. There are no false interpretations.

Authors often say that as soon as a piece of writing is published, it no longer belongs to them. There is also something liberating about that: you can't influence it any more and don't have to ...

That's right. But it also demands that up to the point where you let it go, you must think carefully about how it can be taken. A long time ago, I said to someone, "If it's so important to you that this must happen for you, then you have to do it!" Then he did it - I can't talk about what it was now (laughs) - I would never have done such a thing. Then he got caught and he said, "I did it because Hubert said so". It's always worth thinking about whether something can be misconstrued. It happened to me once with Heast as nit, when it was used at a Freedom Party event.

You wrote them a letter ...

The head of the Tyrolean Youth Freedom Party wrote that they were ever so disappointed that I was distancing myself from it. But that's ok. That was nonsense (smiles). These things happen. Instead you can give wonderful commentary on it. Giving political opinion without cause you'd come across as if you were a politician yourself and that can't be.

"I have to always live the life about which I sing"

Volksblatt 18. August 2011
Hubert von Goisern

Singer Hubert von Goisern (58) pays a visit to the Volksblatt office with new album "Entwederundoder"

On 2nd September Hubert von Goisern new record Entweder Und Oder will be released, which he will also present live on a 100 date tour starting on 19th January. We had the opportunity to hear the album - one of his absolute best - in advance and interview the as charismatic as he is down-to-earth world-class "world musician".

You live in Salzburg and are on tour a great deal. Do you still have a suitcase in Goisern?

I have a second home in Goisern. I withdraw to there when I want my peace to compose and write lyrics. My father lives in Goisern too. And my friends know that I come to them more easily when I'm there.

Now at the time of the Salzburg Festival are you also to be found in the Festspielhaus any time? Or is "high culture" a red rag to you?

I like the Festival and find it very inspiring. Unfortunately I could only see one production this year, the opera Die Frau ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss.

Your style is most often classed as "world music". What do you think of this term?

I'm not happy with it. With world music you have to watch out that it doesn't become "all-purpose" music. I like traditions, ethnic sounds and ways of playing, but not taking a little from here and a little from there. The title Entweder Und Oder is meant to express the bandwidth of styles that are contained on my new CD.

The sound of your new album seems more pared down than earlier albums.

Yes, that's what was intended. It was a question of intimacy and a very personal realisation.

There are a number of ballads on it. With advancing age - you'll be 60 next year - does one become more melancholy?

I must always live the life about which I sing. Ideas and music for these melancholy songs came from the silence. My "louder" songs developed in the studio in Salzburg - an urban, loud environment, the quieter songs came in Goisern, in nature. The world makes the music.

What is the instrumental number Über-Unter-Ober-Österreicher meant to tell us?

That I'm from very low Upper Austria and they're still the "Über Upper Austrians" (laughs).

You have travelled much of the world. The new song Halt nit an suggests that you continue to do so?

I used to actively plan my journeys, now they happen to me. Like the one in September that will take me to Greenland for two weeks. The South Tyrolean Robert Peroni has built a house there for young people who have problems with alcohol or drugs and no perspective on life. Music can have an effect with establishing a sense of identity. For me it's about getting to know it, if the chemistry is right, I'll go back up there in the winter.

"A show that isn't a show": Hubert von Goisern in the tavern

Die Presse 18th August 2011 | Text: Duygu Özkan | Photo: Michaela Bruckberger

Hubert von Goisern returns with a road movie and a new album. The modern folk musician no longer has any timidity in front of the audience. The documentary will be broadcast on Servus TV on 25th August.

Hubert von Goisern

The end of the world isn't so far away. In Hubert von Goisern's universe at least it is at least one, thought more on average, hour's drive away from Austria's towns. And it is in these ends of the world as Hubert von Goisern calls them that the modern folk musician has appeared in recent months. But not on big stages with light installations and high-tech sound, but rather in taverns with little function rooms and muggy air. For these little stages, he laments, are almost threatened with extinction. And when the Goisern tavern hall was torn down in 1992 as well, "I thought, I want to take up the cudgels for this institution".

He has now made this a reality - accompanied by a camera team. The documentary Hubert von Goisern's Tavern Tour will be broadcast on Servus TV on 25th August. The revitalisation of the rustic stages was however not von Goisern's only reason for the rather unusual tour. "I wanted to come to the people", says the 58-year-old. Meaning: make an intimate atmosphere. Because Hubert von Goisern has developed a shyness in front of his audience. For one thing because it grows ever larger and for the other because handling the in-your-face and arduous fans had proved to be ever more difficult. So the musician wanted to get freshly acquainted with his audience. His style: "I wanted to do a show that wasn't a show", that is: music without distraction.

The tour itself wasn't advertised, the tavern landlords were only given two posters: one for themselves and one for the municipal office. And suddenly, von Goisern says, people appeared who had never been to a concert in their life. For himself the intimate contact "at eye level" was a grounding experience. The diametric opposite of his Linz Europe Tour, on which he covered 12,000 kilometres on the Danube with a cargo ship and played 60 gigs.

Musically at least the horizon wasn't close during the tavern tour. Half the evening was filled with songs from 20 years and the other half with songs from his new album Entweder und oder. Hubert von Goisern sees the title as an answer to the assumption that there is only a Either or an Or. Either heads or tails - "but there's heads and tails too". He characterises his new album as a mosaic - small, closed stories, conciliatory and wrathful, simply either and or.

Once you have assimilated this philosophy, it isn't so easy to shake off. Does he prefer to sing or talk? A long pause. "It simply doesn't work to go through life singing. You'd end up in the loony bin." So both. Hubert von Goisern isn't headed to the loony bin, but instead to Greenland in September. He will be doing workshops there with problematic Inuit youths. "I'll take a bit of material with me and talk about myself." He'll most likely sing too. As said before, either and or.

Hubert von Goisern returns with a new CD

APA 17th August 2011 | Text: Christoph Griessner/APA

After dedicating himself in recent years to grand projects such as his Linz Europe Tour along the Danube, Rhine and Main, or his last studio album S'Nix (2008), Austrian musician and songwriter Hubert von Goisern is now back with a reduced sound. After his "Tavern Tour" through Austria - a documentary about this can be seen on Servus TV, 25th August at 8.15pm - the new record EntwederUndOder will be released on 2nd September. The classic trademarks of the 58-year-old are present along with new facets - including funk on the Jews' harp. "There are these polarities - between very intimate and sensitive songs, and some that are played rather more rawly and uncompromisingly," says the globetrotter in the APA interview.

Did you feel a need to Hubert von Goiserndo something more compact?

Sure. It was my wish after four years of opulence, broad sounds and a big band of often nine people, to move the pendulum the other way, to give it new swing.

How difficult did you find it to make this step?

I had to get used to it and had to find the courage to feel that it's fine like this and not to keep tweaking and making things more complex, but rather remain in this simplicity, sometimes naïvety.

A large number of the songs sound very American with the blues or country and western influences.

Yes, there is a country feeling to it. Although this music is close to me, I haven't always been able to get along with it. There's a lot of light and shadow. But there have been a number of very defining albums, I'm thinking for example of the last Johnny Cash albums. This reduction down to very few instruments and the transparency in the sounds was to a certain degree exemplary to me. I wanted to write music that you could hear from whence it came. When you have such a broad sound and in particular use keyboards, it becomes impalpable.

Alongside thoughtful lyrics are also very humorous lines, for example in the song Indianer. How important is it to find an equilibrium between humour and a certain seriousness?

One of my great role models is the Dalai Lama. And the way in which he combines this humour, this unbelievably infectious laughter and the gravity of cutting to the chase is something I try to do in my songs too. Being only funny would be too little for me. I like to laugh, but life isn't only fun. But that doesn't mean that just because it isn't only fun, it isn't cool.

In April you were on your "Tavern Tour" through Austria. What was the original motivation behind this and what do you take with you on such a tour?

It was a programme that I imposed upon us in order to go back and to ground ourselves after we had filled landscapes with sound on the Linz Europe Tour. I wanted to have the audience very close again and to play at eye level. Over time you gain a certain shyness in front of the audience. On the one hand I like being on stage, but I always worry. It hasn't settled over the years and it costs a lot of strength to put myself to the outside world. There were manageable crowds on the "Tavern Tour", whereby you could lose the shyness about making contact with people. It was a journey of discovery for all of us through Austria. Sure, we could travel to Ukraine or Moldova, but there's a great deal yet to discover here at home. It's an exciting country, as small as it is.

Taverns used to be places where music was very present. How difficult was it to get people to warm up to the idea and get mobilised?

It wasn't so simple. It's a milieu that has pretty slowly gathered dust and turned mouldy. The clubs just play CDs and then there are constant problems with the neighbours, so the clubs say: "No, live music is just too loud." I think it's a shame that these taverns that exist are no longer used. And then you have to find owners who are interested and say: "Yeah, great, let's do it."

You have played in many different countries around the world. There is also a palpable need to travel in the song Halt nit an. Is this desire still unexpectedly strong?

There was a time when I wanted to discover the whole world and know what it was like all over. I know now that it's not that simple. And that relaxes me somewhat. But I have so many encounters that make me curious to follow them up. And whereas I used to plan my journeys more, now it's more the case that things come to me. I often have the feeling: "Ok, let's have some peace for a while, it's just as great at home." And before I know it, I have a plane ticket in my hand and I'm off again.

Over the years you have worked in many different areas. Are there still challenges yet to come?

There are still many things. For umpteen years I've dreamed of writing an opera. The older I get the more respect I have for this undertaking. You need a certain youthful cockiness. Film music has always been and still is a subject for me, because you don't have to think about how you'd transfer it to the stage, but rather you can draw on unlimited resources for the sounds. While writing my book (Ed: Stromlinien, published 2010, Residenz Verlag) I often dreamed of wanting and being able to write fiction, wherein you don't have to keep to everything as it really was. A novel would appeal to me and I think there are some things I don't know about yet that I would also like to do sometime.

Staying with opera and novels: are there subjects in mind?

There are some subjects that fascinate me, but I don't like talking about them. Not because I'm afraid that someone will take them, but because I don't want to talk myself out of it. It's an energy that is there. If you talk too much about it, then you talk it out and I'd rather put it into action.

Last weekend you were on the jury of the Dirndlflug competition. What are such society events for you - amusing or annoying?

It's not really my thing. But Gerhard Gössl helped me a lot on the Linz Europe Tour by cutting a few garments that Klaus Höller, who sadly died two years ago, designed together with me. When someone has helped you like that and then in turn asks for a day of your life, then I'm happy to help. But such days come rather under the heading of tests. Though the event is fun. I always underestimate the media aftermath. When someone is suddenly standing in front of you and interviewing you about what is happening, I find that extremely difficult. It doesn't help anyone if I say what I'm thinking. But I can't lie either. This struggling for words that can be interpreted positively is difficult.

Impetus from Hell's Kitchen

Die Salzburgerin August/September 2011 | Text: Andrea Maurer | Photos: Kaindl-Hönig Fotostudio+Werbeteam
Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern goes far. Always. In South East Asia he found what he had lost at home: folk music. The fact that he learned to play the noseflute in a remote mountain village in the Philippines and consequently rediscovered alpine music is almost legend now. But no worries, he has an abundance of stories.

The noseflute didn't end up in the souvenir box. The Goiserer integrates it as needed into his music. He has meanwhile made an astounding number of instruments his own, including cow bells. HvG, this abbreviation stands for a pioneer of Austrian alpine rock. For someone who likes to exorcise the hypocrisy from stick-in-the-muds. Time and again thoroughbred musician has played away expectations, this time in an electrifying four man band. That which crosses his path, touches him, he uses in lyrics and songs. "One side burns, the other", he admits with an enigmatic smile, "quarrels". With Salzburg too of course, the city in which he has settled: in a sophisticated low-energy house with a pond - a biotope he designed with his family. A bridge leads to the studio, "my own creative biotope". A home story? No, not with him please. It will be a personal interview nonetheless though, in the wilderness of the Kapuzinerberg. The mountain on the east of the city has great appeal to the globetrotter. He knows many homeless people living here in fortified towers, having found a roof over there heads between the rocks. They regularly stand at his door at home, sometimes Hubert comes to them. Curiosity thoroughly inoculating him against exclusion.

When did you come into contact with Salzburg for the first time?

Salzburg is my very first memory: a journey with the old Mönchsberg lift. I went into a small, windowless room and when I stepped out again, I found myself above the city: it was as if somebody had touched me with a magic wand. Suddenly I was standing above everything. I must have been about two years old.

You really like this city?

Yes, I like it a lot. I quarrel with it too of course. As with everything of which I'm fond. Because it makes a bond. When you love, or are loved, when you feel happy, you don't like leaving. As a curious person I have to turn my back time and again on places and people. So it helps when you have a "discord" too.

You are far more concerned about balance in conversation than in many of your songs, in which you don't mince your words.

That's different. Songs are in closed cosmoses. When talking I have a harder time with subjectivity - because I can't rule out that idea that I'll think differently tomorrow. In songs, in lyrics - I get myself into a feeling completely. And if someone says: So that's how you see the world! I can then answer: Yes, in certain moments! But there are other songs in which I see it differently.

Your new numbers like suach da an åndern and i versteh di nit are best suited to an untamed gut rage.

I am an emotional person and fierce in everything I do. In love, music and fighting too. (he laughs) But neither are unforgiving songs. It's about standing up to the fight. I sometimes find that difficult myself. I feel extremely unhappy when I fight. So I often wait far too long to address unpleasant matters. And by the time I do so, so much has become bottled up that it all blares out at once. I was born in the year of the dragon and can really spit fire. Then there's my Scorpio(n) poison.

Your love affair with the accordion began quite fiercely more than twenty years ago too, didn't it?

Actually I wanted to break it. One intoxicated night in Goisern I tried to strangle and tear it. That's when I discovered: it can rock! Particularly when you play it "wrongly". Then the mixolydian scale stands open to you - and you're completely submerged in the blues with the minor seventh. Thus my curiosity developed in really getting involved with this instrument.

In the wake of his memory emerges quite clearly more than the initial nighttime spark.

Hubert von GoisernSo you incorporated the newly discovered character of the accordion onto your music - when did you go public with it?

The next morning in front of the cathedral. For three hours my joy in experimentation went well, then came along one of the stall women, who sell this souvenir junk on Kapitelplatz, and started scolding me: I should stop immediately! She couldn't take it any more! A huge fight started about which was more unnecessary, her kitsch or my music. It wouldn't have taken any more to turn the Domplatz into Hell's Kitchen!

Our audience effect was immense. The listeners grew to a vast crowd. Whole guided tours came to a standstill. Everything was translated and discussed. I stood in the middle with my accordion - And then came Riccardo! A friend of mine, a Brazilian drummer. In his broken German he asked me: Are you done? Can I play here? And after that it really kicked off. One woman proclaimed loudly that she didn't need "this negro music" and took up on my behalf: I should play. "Our" music! There was no more talk of it being mine. The others fought for Riccardo. One man came up to me and commanded me to play the accordion right there on the spot, otherwise he'd box my ears. Finally it was all too much for me and I made off. I sat down on a bench at the Almkanal. My knees were shaking from the wave of aggression and the absurd discussion of race and tradition. But I can still feel this moment today, when I started grinning and I said to myself: hey, that's it: something's moving! In the first few years I primarily occupied myself with dismantling folk music and seeing what endured for me.

You gave a much-celebrated concert at the Domplatz in 2001 - how did feel standing on that stage?

It was a wonderful evening and I remember that someone threw a bouquet of alpenroses up on stage, which hit me on the head.


So when it's up to a four-voiced yodel to give people goosebumps instead of Jedermann, then we're talking Hubert von Goisern with his energetic band. There are plans for another HvG concert at the Domplatz next year: it will be a intensive mixture of new, new old and folk songs. There's a tour break until the beginning of the new year though - with lots of time out for composing and writing. In Goisern.

In the meantime Hubert is to be experienced right up close and multifaceted on his new CD ENTWEDERundODER – together with three musicians, who have already accompanied him with virtuoso joy in playing on his concert tours between the Black Sea and North Sea, on thousands of river kilometres. The new album will be in the stores on 2nd September.

The story of the "Tavern Tour", which the Goiserer undertook this spring under the colours of his wyvern flag, is covered in a documentary on ServusTV on 25th August at 8.15pm. This much is already clear: as a celebrated alpine world musician, it was a "grounding experience" away from big concerts, to suddenly be standing in the thick of it again without artist privileges: to take his own music, "enriched with urbanity and the breath of faraway places", back to where it began: in the village.

Creativity flows in songs and gardens

Stuttgarter Zeitung 27th June 2011 | Text: Michael Werner

Hubert von Goisern will be giving a concert at the Zeltspektakel in July. On his forthcoming album "Entweder und Oder" the star of alpine world music has prescribed himself a degree of reduction. He remembers Remstal fondly.

Winterbach. Hubert von Goisern (58) looked for the quintessence of foreign cultures in Africa and Tibet, rediscovered the traditional sounds of his homeland in the Salzkammergut and travelled the Danube to the Ukraine with a concert ship of sound. Now he's back again: His new album Entweder und Oder won't be released until the beginning of September, but the fresh songs will already be part of the programme when the star of alpine pop guests at the Zeltspektakel in Winterbach on 25th July.

Hubert von Goisern, when you've taken on a huge project like your Danube tour over the course of three summers, how do you motivate yourself afterwards to do something comparatively conventional like simply making a new album?

That's the crucial question. After this huge thing on the Danube I asked myself what could be done now. The Danube tour was indeed Mount Everest for me, so reduction was logical afterwards - away from the widescreen Cinemascope and the really epic titles of my last record S'Nix, to the small songs, which if necessary I can play alone on a guitar. This reduction was the exciting task for me.

After climbing your Danube Mount Everest, did you actually ever think of stopping with music all together?

Sure, but I think about that after the end of every chapter. But then I sat down alone with the guitar and accordion in a hut in my hometown of Bad Goisern and really wanted to write songs that I can perform alone. Songs for which I - if it comes to it - need nobody else. Then the energy of the band - which is just drums, bass and guitar, came later.

You are known as a great cultural seeker, who has worked intensively with traditional sounds in Africa, Asia and at home in the Salzkammergut. How does a very successful pop album without any great world music connection line up beside this?

During the production of my last album S'Nix I had the feeling that I had freed myself from wondering whether it was alpine or world music. Now I've made a kind of singer-songwriter album, reduced to the stories that are told.

Do you write songs when you're so inspired, or en masse, specifically for the production of an album?

The latter is right. I have the feeling that I could write a song at any time, but I just don't do it.

You don't worry that you or your audience thereby miss things?

No, I make occasional notes, on a napkin for example. But then that is only a kernel on which the musical flesh must grown. On the other hand, when I have a creative day, I don't necessarily feel the need to put it into a song. I'm also happy translating my creativity by making the garden look how I imagine. Or I cook something. I don't have the sense that everything has to become music. The main thing is that something comes of it.

Does that mean by implication that it is no longer important for you for thousands to experience your creativity?

No, but it has a great significance for my circle of friends. And I don't want to set my audience and my friends up against each other and think that something is worth more simply because thousands of people hear it. Picasso once said: "art is 90 per cent transpiration and ten per cent inspiration." I think so too. When I write songs I'm in my own world and am no longer available for other people. When I get myself into it, I really shut the door behind me.

Your new song Halt nit an is about travelling. What does travelling mean to you nowadays?

It is still important to me to gain distance from myself. And that still happens best with travel.

You have campaigned intensively for a long time for compassion for Islam; and you have written songs that deal critically with Catholicism. Where do you stand currently on faith?

I am a person of faith, but I'm not religious. I am Christianly socialised and I can't cast that off any more. Religions give people the opportunity to think beyond the banality of the material. Faith without religion is very difficult. That's why I don't want to belittle religions. But I'll criticise them.

Doesn't faith automatically entail a form of religiosity?

Well, I know for example, that it's good to to physically exert yourself at least three - or better, five - times a week. But I still don't do it. Knowing it isn't enough for me. I need an inducement. That would be given for example if I wanted to climb a mountain in order to look down. That doesn't let me forget the exertion. But moving just for health is too little for me. And religion is similar in that way for me. But I know many religious people, where I get the sense that it's good that they have their religion.

There is one song of farewell and two songs about relationship fights, even though the artist Hubert von Goisern has been in a stable relationship with his wife for years. Where do you get the inspiration for such songs?

Well, I have a stable relationship, but I don't live solely in this relationship. I go through the world and things happen to me outside this stable one-woman relationship. And if songs only really reflect a true story, they are very weak and poor songs. Many things are condensed in my songs. I'm at the end of my fifties and many old not yet processed things and coming to the fore. And many songs spring up simply on a whim of fantasy. Sometimes it is the case that I sing a song and the story doesn't happen until afterwards.

Which stories will we hear from you in the future?

I don't know. I can imagine writing a book of fiction sometime. That might be fun. But I know that I was born to make music and stand on stage. And I regard being given this gift with great respect. I can also imagine teaching music in a few years. Under the motto "How one can enchant people with music - and why one should". But I would only want to teach people who were really interested in it - and not those who are on the course simply because they need to tick something off.

You played at the Zeltspektakel in Winterbach two years ago. Do you remember it?

It was a very cool concert with a great atmosphere. I usually don't like tents so much, because the sound is very difficult. But I have no negative memories of Winterbach in that regard. And I remember well the opportunity swimming. It's probably the river that runs behind. It was a very hot day and the swimming was really good. I'm very much looking forward to the concert.