Hubert von Goisern


IWASIG >> Interviews: 1 2

Raptures of the deep 1st November 2002 | Text: Nora Gormanns

Iwasig is the name of the Austrian's new album, with which he presents his funk-soul side, after he above all concentrated on global world music and many interminable things. At the promotion date, which rather belongs to the necessary steps of his job, he chats just as casually as his outfit turned out on this day about his new CD and what music really means for him.

His passion for music began really early: "At the age of 12 I began to play the trumpet, my first choice of career was conductor. Even though my parents did not support this, I fought my way through to the brass band." The same determination stills shows today, for example when you see the pronunciation explanation of the album title (iwasig = over, above), conspicuously written down on the CD. "I have the demand that it should be pronounced properly. And the people therefore have the right to know what they should really pronounce." Both the quiet and also the fast pieces are each to be found as one block on the album. Does the album have a basic theme? "No, the only central theme is me in all my plurality. In my compositions I describe a condition, a pipedream or a real situation. Mostly the lyrics come at the end, since I virtually get them prescribed by the music. A really good composition is like a house, a building into which one can go as listener. In contrast to that a bad composition is merely a monument. No matter how artistically it is decorated from the outside, you do not get the opportunity to reach in yourself."

Since the 50 year old has already frequently "shed his skin" in his life, it is unclear to him how his musical future looks. There have always been some things which for him definitely belong to a good concert: "Afterwards I must sit in the dressing room with a beer and a joint and simply have the feeling that I have said everything like with a dialogue, played everything out and only reacted remote-controlled. There must not be that something remains unsaid. For making music is a social condition, an intoxication. Just like drinking or smoking hashish, you should not do it alone."

Just what exactly does playing music mean for Hubert von Goisern, who with his "work" rather has the feeling of having permanent free time? "Through playing music, I come into emotions, an intensity which is otherwise closed to me and which is even still more intensive than any which surrounds me when I am alone in the mountains. I really like this collective condition of intoxication! Indeed I make music for myself, but at the same time it is a language which you develop. If you don't understand any, you become the autist."

He has long had problems with the description of artist and the underlying expectation for him to be something special, nevertheless the Austrian sees it as the most appropriate thing for himself, even still above the term musician. Could Iwasig have happened ten years ago? "Not quite, but almost. Basically you work for a long time on the same piece. Because there is a heart, which represents a continuity with which I live since I am have been on this world." Can he also consume this creativity well himself? "Until a CD is ready, I have heard each piece I don't know how often. Sometime I end the process, then I cannot and don't want to listen to any more, because otherwise inevitably the process of arrangement also goes further. Instead I would rather free myself, say to myself "finished is finished" and am happy, to have space for something new." What the will be remains unclear, but the intoxication will remain. Guaranteed.

I am a traveller

Süddeutsche Zeitung 26th October 2002 | Text: Karl Forster

Hubert von Goisern's musical career began ten years ago as a musical refining artist of alpine folk music. With his Alpinkatzen and hits like Hiatamadl or Heast as ned he filled concert halls in the whole German-speaking area and was even cheered in New York clubs. After six years, Hubert von Goisern disbanded his successful group, withdrew for a good six years, in order to then present, with Fön, an album with a completely new sound. Now follows Iwasig, a CD which on the one hand is a strong reminder of the Alpinkatzen time and on the other hand offers many new sounds elements. And with Iwasig the secret about the name Hubert von Goisern also disappeared. An interview about music styles and identities.

Recently the carefully guarded secret of the true name of Hubert von Goisern was lifted. What is the difference between Hubert Achleitner and Hubert von Goisern?

I have the feeling that: Hubert Achleitner, that is me. And Hubert von Goisern is a fictional character. It is really very pleasant that I can separate it so. When I am in the public, I am Hubert von Goisern. But there is just a part of me which has nothing to do with the public. Which I hold away from the public. My family, and my so-called private life. Hubert Achleitner is also Hubert von Goisern, but Hubert von Goisern is not also Hubert Achleitner.

How did you come to the name?

It was at the beginning, around 1987. I played the accordion in Kärtnerstraße in Vienna. A bloke came up to me in a trench coat and pressed his card into my hand, there stood: CBS Records, Willi Schlager. And he said, he would really like to make a record with me. At that time I had just got to know Wolfgang Staribacher (note: the co-founder of the Alpinkatzen and current boss of the highly-praised Mozartband) and now asked him: Are we doing something? He was there. So I began to write songs. Now and then we tried things out in the Roten Engel. I always introduced us there with the sentence: "Oiso, des is da Wolfgang aus Wien, und I bin da Hubert von Goisern" ("Ok, that's Wolfgang from Vienna and I am Hubert from Goisern"). A friend said: "That is fantastic. A great stage name. What? No, simply Hubert von Goisern.

When you play music at home, do you then play as Hubert Achleitner or Hubert von Goisern?

I don't play there at all. I don't play as everyone plays. And I also don't like to defend myself there. I am simply Hubert von Goisern in public and not Hubert Achleitner, who can go somewhere and say, give me the accordion. But I like going when folk music is being played. Just as a little mouse. When the others hear that Hubert von Goisern is there, they also become self-conscious. But they all play better than me.

You were hitherto always on the search for the right sound. Everything that pop and rock music has produced in the last 40 years, has appeared on your CDs. Honkytonk, blues, ballads, also a little jazz, recently even ethno, which reminds one of Graceland. Are you still searching for the identity of your own music?

That is perhaps deceptive. There are simply still undetected sides of music in me. I am not unhappy with what I have. But I have the feeling: it goes further.

But you have tried many different styles. With Fön, then the Nepal and Africa journeys. When someone tries so many new things, one can suppose that he is never happy.

For one person, it is great to experiment. For someone else, many things just arise out of circumstances. For example in Tibet. There I saw: there must be a contemporary Tibetan music. Otherwise they only have their traditional Tibetan music, which has nothing to do with how they live. We just tried to create such music together. And it worked.

A parallel to your ambitions with alpine music.

That's right. There are also traditions under a glass cover here. And you'll be sorry if you change anything. There is no relationship to the here and now any more.

But the breaks of these traditions became your trademarks, at least at the Alpinkatzen time. Then came Fön and Hubert von Goisern showed himself in completely new musical clothes.

Fön came out six and a half years after my last Alpinkatzen concert. I wrote the songs out of the silence. So it became a very introverted record. And therefore even more jazz than rock.

On the new record Iwasig, you have included a new sound in the repertoire again: calypso and African ethno elements.

Well, when I went on tour with the Fön programme, I noticed that something was missing for the live appearances, something like "G-Force", like acceleration. There I then wrote the new programme which is now somewhat extroverted.

On Fön you play the flugelhorn yourself. Which instrument is typical of you?

There are things which come well to the guitar. Others are ideal for the accordion. And I sometimes I sit down and feel bloody good with the tenor horn or with the flugelhorn.

Which instrument did you start with?

With the trumpet. With which I have never become good. I don't have the lips for the trumpet at all. I then had to first learn that the sound of the flugelhorn is ideal for me.

With Hölleisengretl from Jo Baier, you became involved as an actor. Could the desire for role play have anything to do with the fact that Hubert Achleitner is still searching for himself?

That really attracts me. I never learned it. Then came the offer from Jo Baier. A role which is the diametric opposite of me, the evil man in Hölleisengretl. I thought to myself, if I can play it, then I can really do it.

Ten years ago there was the first review of a Hubert von Goisern concert in the newspaper. If we meet again in ten years, where do you see yourself then? In music? In theatre? Or somewhere completely different?

I don't know. If I knew, it would be dull. I have already shed my skin so many times, that I really cannot say. This discontinuity is almost a sign of my continuity.

Thanks Mary

"Iwasig" or right on top

Aktiv 20th September 2002

Hubert von Goisern - iwasigAfter an eight year break, Hubert von Goisern stepped onto the stage again with his own concert programme. Since then a Goisern-mania has broken out. The public came in droves. Standing ovations, sold out concert halls, hundreds of concerts. Hubert von Goisern, who, with Iwasig, now presents his third album in three years after Fön and the folk song collection Trad, seamlessly takes up "old times". In conversation with the Aktiv reporter Helmut Blecher, Hubert von Goisern speaks about his current musical orientation and his sensitivities in particular.

In the last two years, you have experienced a relatively large amount, collected many new experiences. Has a rather more cheerful and relaxed HvG somehow been added to the thoughtful Hubert von Goisern?

Yes, certainly! But now I cannot confirm the lack of tension. It seems so subjective to me, that now there is more tension in me. I am somehow more extroverted than before.

You were met with a huge response from the public. The summer tour with your band was like a triumphal procession.

I cannot judge that. But I have the feeling that I can now approach my audience more directly, while earlier I seemed more restrained and probably more secretive to the people.

What insights have you brought with you from your tour through Africa, which was a style of musical exchange between the continents?

To start with, this trip strengthened my understanding for my own tradition, after I became acquainted with the musical peculiarities and identities in the different places in Africa. Through that I found more access to my own reflections, with which I can now make my own peace.

In particular, the spontaneity which I met in Africa, was very impressive for me. After all, we (Europeans) are to organising everything and not leaving anything to chance. In the middle of it, I have often thought whether or not I have done everything right. The tour was very intensive, tiring and also difficult, because every day new problems arose again and again, which had to be overcome. It demanded a lot of patience and tolerance because there are things with which we will never be confronted at home.

But in the end something changed for you with regard to tolerance?

Of course! When I returned, realised how slowly I now moved, totally in contrast to my middle European people of the same type. In Africa the time stands still in a certain style and way, as only happens to us during bedtime. In Africa there is not time if nothing happens. When you wait two hours for the bus, nothing happens, and consequently no time has passed either. To switch myself to the European feeling of time was no problem for me, at the most the others had a problem with me.

Your audience has no problem with you in any case. At your concerts time cannot be long enough for them.

I think that I have worked hard on the style, of how I now make an appearance. It wasn't handed to me so simply on a plate. In any case I treasure it very much, that people show me so much trust for what I do and how I do it. It is a great feeling when you can wake curiosity and experience agreement at the same time.

But do you not have reason to rest on what you have hitherto achieved?

I was actually always one who made heavy weather of life. "I used to swear terribly". I did not understand school because I did not see that one should learn anything anyway, where it is actually only about living. Today I am conscious of the importance of learning. Really, life is a constant learning process, particularly if you swim against the current. Taking your own standpoint, getting to know yourself, with all your strengths and weaknesses, that is what concerns me. I would not like to restrict myself by self-drawn borders, but have the freedom to simply be able to act boundlessly.

Iwasig reflects your new boundlessness in all things pop, rock and world music.

In certain hindsight, there is more rock than pop in most of the songs. But I don't think that it is so important how one describes music, but how one perceives it. In a creative process, first and foremost one needs sources from which one can draw. After all I don't newly invent the turntable. My sources are traditions, which one has or which one acquires. Although the fact that I am very connected to my alpine traditions, should not necessarily mean also loving them uncritically. You can also be very intensively connected to something in hate. That may be a conflict, but I take from my creativity what does not exhaust itself in rigid forms. What I left out rather angrily ten years ago with the Alpinkatzen, I tackle with much greater calmness today.

You have produced a single and nevertheless it was not played on the radio. Somehow this medium seems to not really be aware of you.

I cannot really imagine being played on the radio. When you release an album, they don't play it because they have no time to pick out a song which suits their programme. Now I have sent them a single and nevertheless nothing has happened. Instead the tour went simply wonderfully. None of us expected that. It was amazing that we ourselves attracted so many people to such distant for us places like Idstein or Hanau. I am grateful that we have an audience which listens to us, even when we perform things which are not only sure of a certain permanent happiness.

"A song is like a house" 21st October 2002 | Text: © teleschau - der mediendienst GmbH | Foto: © Lawine

Hubert von Goisern on his new lease of life

Hubert von Goisern - iwasigThe subjects on the new album seem to come from a matured personality. Worldly-wise wisdom...

But it is difficult to give help with an interpretation. I really can't do things like that.

Which impulses influence you with the choice of subjects?

Fön occurred to me personally much more seriously. Iwasig is shaped through more ease in dealing with the subjects. Since I have played music, I always write about the same things, the same songs. But with time I simply got a different view of the things.

So there was no central idea or a frame for the new album?

No, there was actually never such a thing. Except with the Tibet album (Inexil 1998), with which it was clear that I was dealing with a fenced off terrain - with the Tibetan music. I don't want to just restrict myself, to specialise in something or profess a subject. Certainly, looking back Fön seems rather introverted to me. It arose from the silence, since I had not been on the stage for six years and had had little contact with the public. In the past year, however, I was on tour, played 100 concerts, and so my mood changed, my life tempo. I became louder again, faster.

So you were directly influenced in your work by the audience?

Yes. Through the contact with the public, I became more extroverted. Before that I was very introverted. My consciousness became another. It is now a contact full of relish, a game. The desire was there before, simply to play concerts and for that reason I wrote a programme. And yet I was very trapped in my cocoon. I exhibited myself on stage and more or less dazzled the audience.

And now that has changed ...

Now I have written out of my feeling of being alive. It has become more extroverted. Certainly there was an unfulfilled part of me and also of the band by the way. But I did not want that our older songs would become turned upside down - just to do justice to our feeling of being alive. Rather I wanted to write pieces which suited us better at this current point in time.

Was there a crucial experience for this new lease of life?

No, not really. Albeit if you go out again after six and a half years, give interviews, let the general public at you, then that is a crucial experience. All in all, it was as if I had had to go out in spring after a long winter, but still wearing a thick anorak. The introverted album Fön was protection. But with the self-confidence won again, you can run about in swimming trunks.

How do your songs arise?

First, the music is there, the lyrics come right at the end. I quickly have a feeling for what the music is about for me. I always tell a story, although I don't need any words for the moment. For me, a song is like a house into which the listener can go. In which he finds rooms, in which he can discover things for himself. I don't like compositions which are compact like a monument. Space must remain for the subjective.

You wish for listeners who write the stories themselves for the individual titles?

That is so.

Do you feel when working how a song will go down?

I can perhaps answer as a metaphor: Songs are like children, and I am absolutely enthused by children. Each should pursue their way, when they go out into the harsh reality.

Do you see your place more with people who are interested in new folk music, or is it more pop music?

There is no target group. It is strange to me to represent the listeners. They are all anonymous for me.

Is there a dream which you still really want to realise in your lifetime?

I don't know. There are still many things which I still want to try. Just to know that I can't do them. Until now, my life was very governed by chance. Sometimes it brought me somewhere. I don't know what it still has in store for me.

The folk music rebel

TR7 October 2002 | Text: Simone Matthieu

With Iwasig the unconventional Austrian presents his second solo album with his own compositions. TR7 spoke to the musician about the crossover between inner and outer boundaries.

At the age of 27, Hubert von Goisern first decided to follow his heart and dedicate his life to music. The Alpinkatzen - the band which he founded in 1987 and disbanded again in 1994 - are just as legendary as his unconventional mixture of alpine folk music with rock and pop. Besides that, he experimented again and again with music from different cultures and worked with artists from different countries. Iwasig (over, above) is his second solo album with his own compositions.

Why did you dissolve the Alpinkatzen?

The success brought the expectation with hit that we would stay with the previous style. But I wanted to try new things, to be free. Apart from that, I needed time for my family. My fellow musicians reproached me, but I could not carry on just for the others, even though it was a wonderful time.

Two former Alpinkatzen play with you on your new album. Have things calmed down?

The contact was never broken. We spoke about what happened and have found a good relationship with one another again.

Before the production of the new album, you were on tour in Africa. The exchange between Austrian and African music stood in the centre. Nevertheless, there are scarcely any African influences on Iwasig.

The songs were there beforehand. When composing I do not let experiences consciously influence me. I must first digest the things, then sometime they come up again. The Africa trip is still close for that.

Your songs are very original. Sometimes you do folk music, at times world music and again and again something in between. How would you define yourself?

I find such definitions difficult. Why does one call an African, who mixes traditional music and pop, a world musician? But somebody who does the same thing with alpine music, a folk musician? For me world music means keeping tradition in the heart, without going over it again again and worshipping its ashes. The central theme of my music is me. I draw from all traditions which I know, among them also from the folk music of the Salzkammergut, like Mozart, Schubert or Mahler did before me. Through my journeys came new traditions - jazz, rock and blues. All assembled themselves in the creative process, and something original arose.

Crossing boundaries seems to be the central theme of your life.

That's right. I also expose myself situations again and again, which show me boundaries. But I do not demand that others follow me in that respect.

Then you are also probably also for the EU?

Yes, definitely. The world is becoming ever more a village. This change is not to be stopped. I don't like this position of all-round defence, like Switzerland takes. But it is an understandable position, which you also find in Austria. What I don't like about the EU is the picture of a European fortress. Nevertheless it is a step to a greater whole. All in the world are a big family.

**** When the hand organ alternates with guitar riffs and yodels, then von Goisern is in top form. The lyrics in Austrian dialect are intelligent, philosophical and from liberated lightheartedness.

Thanks Ed