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“Music puts the lyrics into context”
Lo and Leduc.
Photo: Maximilian Lederer
Interview by guest author Markus Ganz
On 25 May 2022, the “Best Hit” for the best composition will be determined via audience voting at the Swiss Music Awards. The nominees for the award to be presented by SUISA are Lo & Leduc, Zian and Joya Marleen. We asked Lo & Leduc about the role of the lyrics for the song “Tribut”.

How important are, in your opinion, the lyrics for a song?

Lo: That’s something you can argue about. In our case, however, they are important, I surely have a bigger talent for lyrics than for singing. From our point of view, making music with Swiss German lyrics is generally more challenging than with English lyrics because the former automatically create a bigger distance to the contents. And if you are using lyrics in dialect, you are only making music for a relatively small audience.
Leduc: The lyrics are our primary craft.

Do you have a typical process when writing song lyrics?

Lo: Very different, everything is possible. Most of the time, one of us has an idea, this can even be the refrain or a melody. After that, we usually work individually, sometimes also together. Towards the end, at the latest, we finish all lyrics together. Sometimes one could call this fine tuning, sometimes also: We write a second verse and then have to rewrite the first one. There is no fixed process, the only thing that has become somewhat commonplace is that I hold an archive of lyrics and Luc an archive of photographs.
Leduc: It is almost pathological how I am trying to categorise our moments because I need some structure in order to think and work within the folders. It is often very interesting if you can place a new idea with the other one this way. What is also important is that we bring our own perspectives to the table. With a new approach, you do not just collect ideas but you also filter out the ideas which could become relevant for the song in question. Then we give the song idea a bit of time to brew, and later on simmer it together some more.

The music of the song “Tribut” is from the producer team Jugglerz. How was the cooperation, especially the coordination of music and lyrics?

Lo: This song is a special case. The idea for the lyrics is about ten years old; because it was unfinished, however, it was just lying around. When we began our cooperation with the Jugglerz in 2020/2021, we listened to many beats and draft songs and came across a guitar riff which simply captured us: Hey, that actually fits to a stone old text! So, we took it off the shelves again, rewrote it and adapted it to the music

Was this old version of the lyrics one without music?

Lo: No, but there was already music for it, and we have tried over the last ten years to make a song out of them a few times, but we always got stuck.
Leduc: It is therefore a lovely example that sometimes the time is not right for a song yet. “Tribut” contains the oldest line of the current album “Mercato”, but also the newest: The end of the refrain was the last bit that we wrote for the album, rather wide splits so to speak.

How clear was the definition of the cooperation with the Jugglerz?

Leduc: Sometimes the line how we share the work between music and lyrics is rather sketchy, but we presented clear versions and realised that their drafts matched ours. And then, we kept adapting our lyrics to the new beat they created.

“Tribut” has a multi-layered set of lyrics regarding what songs can express and what they cannot express. What was the starting point for the original version?

Lo: The basic idea is to find the first verse at the outset; the feeling, to write a love song knowing that you cannot give love its due with it, this kind of contradiction. The lyrics read “but love is no song” (aber Liebi isch kes Lied), this opens the world for this song and ends on the note that music is, after all, just a vehicle to capture such feelings but not quite in such a direct manner.
Leduc: With respect to lyrics, everything was available in the very early version. We then increased the aspect of music so that it is a kind of data storage of memories, even if no music is played. In the case of vinyl of tapes, you can even recognise the pauses between the songs and place them into the overall order.

What was the mutual influence of your lyrics and the music of Jugglerz when it comes to the creation of the song?

Lo: First, we adapted the key of their draft beat, which was a 30-second loop without arrangement. We then adapted the lyrics and fixed the arrangement together with Jonas Lang in the studio: the lengths of the stanza, pre chorus and so on. After that, we had to practically rewrite the refrain lyrics because it no longer worked. We had to adapt the lyrics to the music once more in the end where the original version of the draft beat can be heard.
Leduc: It is there that you can see really well that the reminiscence of this original beat led to the song.

Quite often, a set of song lyrics only reveals its impact, its meaning with the song. What does music contribute in terms of effect with respect to the rather self-evident lyrics of “Tribut”?

Leduc: It places the lyrics into context, a very nice example is the moment where it breaks at the end and changes into a parallel flat key. So what you know is practically changing into a kind of a parallel world.
Lo: I believe this happens even beforehand. The mood is not sad but there is a certain melancholy in the music.
Leduc: Yes, I have the feeling that the very consequent trap aesthetics is helping to create some sort of a counterweight to find a balance so that the resulting song is not a nostalgic one, something that happens too often in dialect pop.

Composition: Jonas Lang (DJ Jopez), Joachim Piehl (Sir Jai), Martin Willumeit (DJ Meska) (Producer team aka Jugglerz).
Lyrics: Lorenz Häberli (Lo), Luc Oggier (Leduc).

Swiss Music Awards: SUISA honours the songwriters of the “Best Hit”
In the “Best Hit” category at the Swiss Music Awards, the most successful national songs of the Swiss hit parade of the previous year are nominated. The winning song is determined by the audience voting during the TV show. For the first time this year, SUISA is the presenting partner of the “Best Hit” Award, highlighting the work of the songwriters and lyricists of the winning song. In 2022, the songs “Tribute”, “Show You” and “Nightmare” are nominated in the category “Best Hit”. (Text: Giorgio Tebaldi)

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