Tag Archives: Pop culture

“Songs must have a lyrical depth for me”

On 25 May 2022, the “Best Hit” for the best composition will be determined by public voting at the Swiss Music Awards. Nominated for the award presented by SUISA are Zian, Joya Marleen and Lo & Leduc. We wanted to know from Zian and Henrik Amschler what role the lyrics play for the song “Show you”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Zian and Henrik Amschler: “Songs must have a lyrical depth for me”

Zian (left) and Henrik Amschler. (Photos: Jen Ries; Nina Müller)

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

Zian: For me, it’s quite clear: The lyrics are crucial in determining whether a song can last longer or not. All of the songs that people listen to over and over again for decades, are songs that also have a lyrical depth. That’s why lyrics are extremely important. In the short term, their importance may be equal to that of the music, which is in line with SUISA’s royalty split. In the longer term, however, lyrics are arguably more important because they create an additional level.

So, is the music or the sound more ephemeral than good lyrics?

Zian: I believe that the sound underlines the lyrics more than anything else. If you listen to a song, you must find yourself in a sound that supports the lyrics. You can see stand-alone lyrics as poetry, if they are good lyrics. But, after all, we’re aiming to tell a story in three minutes that might have happened over several years.
Henrik Amschler: I don’t think transience is a bad thing. Lyrics per se are not as ephemeral as music, which always follows trends. However, this is highly dependent on the artists and the nature of their music; in dance music, for example, there is no need for depth in the lyrics – it should rather encourage you to dance. With artists like Zian, on the other hand, it is very important what they say in the lyrics, and accordingly the songs are less ephemeral.

By writing English lyrics, you are expanding your potential audience. But wouldn’t dialect texts be a more obvious choice?

Henrik Amschler: You have to remember that both the Swiss music market and the people in Switzerland in general are strongly influenced internationally, especially by the English-speaking world. What this means is, with certain styles, you can start on a different level with English lyrics than you would with lyrics written in dialect. Many Swiss artists have also shown that you first have to be successful abroad in order to be noticed at all in Switzerland, to be taken seriously.

Do you have a typical approach when you write your song lyrics?

Henrik Amschler: In principle, it’s safe to say that we have a pattern. Quite often, Zian presents me with an idea and asks for my opinion. If I’m excited, I’ll say “let’s go”, otherwise we’ll continue to discuss it. In the process, however, I am then more responsible for the musical aspects. Zian is always in the centre, because the lyrics must come from him, from his personality.
Zian: Yes, because the lyrics have to be honest.

So the credibility of Zian’s songs depends on the fact that when you listen to them, you feel that Zian is singing about something personal?

Henrik Amschler: The lyrical intention must always be recognisable in terms of coming from him; as such, he is more involved in the text than I am; I have more of a supporting function. The song “Show You” was born out of a personal story of Zian, like all our songs.

What is usually the trigger point for the lyrics, for a song?

Both: It could be anything.
Zian: Quite often it is any old situation, and then suddenly you feel that there is something there and that you can continue to work on it.
Henrik Amschler: With Zian, even when writing the lyrics, you notice that he is very musical, he is a multi-instrumentalist after all.
Zian: Above all, it’s about having a strong emotion here for me, putting a lot of heart into it.
Henrik Amschler: Often it’s what we feel like doing, what’s in our head and needs to be put into a text, and then we make the music to go with it.
Zian: Quite often, a word is crystallising and then, we feel which world this song belongs to. That can be sad and still take the direction towards “happy”.

Do you then develop the music and lyrics in parallel?

Zian: Yes, up to a certain point, where it is then worth defining the lyrics, because we have defined the world of the song; until then, part of the lyrics still is an incomprehensible “mumbled English”.
Henrik Amschler: Yes, once we’ve established the framework of the song, we go deeper into the lyrics, and deeper into the production.

Do you sometimes still have to adapt lyrics to an advanced production?

Zian: This happens rarely, because at some point the lyrics are finished; striving for perfection is good, but you can’t really achieve it. First of all, it has to be right in terms of the feeling, and of course it has to fit the music, the world that we have created with this song.
Henrik Amschler: For me, it’s quite clear: I always prioritise Zian with his unique voice and profound lyrics.
Zian: But you also have to understand that we are moving in the pop sector, the lyrics should not be too complex and abstract – people should be able to understand them. The more words you need, the less room for interpretation people have when they listen to the song.

“Show You”
Composition and lyrics: Tizian Hugenschmidt, Henrik Amschler.

www.zianmusic.com
www.henrik-hsa-amschler.ch

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 “Show You”, “Tribute” and “Nightmare” are nominated in the category “Best Hit”. (Text: Giorgio Tebaldi)
www.swissmusicawards.ch
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On 25 May 2022, the “Best Hit” for the best composition will be determined by public voting at the Swiss Music Awards. Nominated for the award presented by SUISA are Zian, Joya Marleen and Lo & Leduc. We wanted to know from Zian and Henrik Amschler what role the lyrics play for the song “Show you”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Zian and Henrik Amschler: “Songs must have a lyrical depth for me”

Zian (left) and Henrik Amschler. (Photos: Jen Ries; Nina Müller)

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

Zian: For me, it’s quite clear: The lyrics are crucial in determining whether a song can last longer or not. All of the songs that people listen to over and over again for decades, are songs that also have a lyrical depth. That’s why lyrics are extremely important. In the short term,...read more

“Music puts the lyrics into context”

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”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Lo and Leduc: “Music puts the lyrics into context”

Lo and Leduc. (Photo: Maximilian Lederer)

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.

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

www.lo-leduc.ch

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)
www.swissmusicawards.ch
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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”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Lo and Leduc: “Music puts the lyrics into context”

Lo and Leduc. (Photo: Maximilian Lederer)

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...read more

“If everything was easy to understand, the lyrics would be boring”

On 25 May, 2022, the “Best Hit” for the best composition will be determined by public voting at the Swiss Music Awards. Nominated for the award presented by SUISA are Joya Marleen, Lo & Leduc and Zian. We wanted to know from Joya Marleen and Thomas Fessler what role the lyrics play for the song “Nightmare”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Swiss Music Awards: “If everything was easy to understand, the lyrics would be boring”

Joya Marleen and Thomas Fessler. (Photos: Rouven Niedermaier; Emanuel Muhl)

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

Joya Marleen: Mega important, lyrics are essential! Olivia Rodrigo, for example, has written very beautiful, but also rather crass lyrics that are right in your face, lyrics where everything fits together; Amy Winehouse also impressed me with the very personal honesty of her lyrics.
Thomas Fessler: Yes, lyrics are rather important, not least because their royalty share at SUISA amounts to 50 percent, that is the same share as that of the music.

Do you have a typical approach when you write your song lyrics?

Joya Marleen: I like to start with words that somehow sound good or convey an idea of where the song might be going or what a story looks like. Accordingly, I may have three words that must appear in the song and then the add the feelings that go hand in hand with them. This can be the way the song is then formed. But mostly, I write the melody to the three words first.
Thomas Fessler: These words already contain the mood of the song. The rest is, initially, “yogurt text”: incomprehensible or meaningless text for places where the text is not yet fixed.

The nominated song “Nightmare” shows how important a single word can be and how it can already trigger many emotions. Joya, did the word nightmare spark the lyrics to the song of the same name?

Joya Marleen: Yeah, along with “Hold on, hold on”, it almost lends itself to providing a sailor vibe, a nightmare on a ship, that atmosphere fits well.

Did the music arise from this, from the rocking of these three words, as it were?

Thomas Fessler: Joya had recorded this refrain, the combination of these words and the melody, with her smartphone in a preliminary version and sent it to me. And I thought, uh, this is something special, you can make a great song out of this.
Joya Marleen: At the beginning, the song had a strong reggae influence …

… which is still easy to hear in the rhythmic intonation, in the swaying of these three words …

Both: Yes!

Joya, did you know what this song was going to be about when you heard the word nightmare? Or did the meaning of the song develop bit by bit?

Joya Marleen: I wanted this word to create an eerie mood. That is why I described this person who is waiting for a nightmare because they were bored. The nightmare is essential for them in life, they are looking for a toxic challenge. The song sounds bizarre, but is actually very melancholy, despite the contrasting vocal part “Hold on!”, and this creates a certain tension.

Did the rest of the lyrics then develop in parallel with the music?

Thomas Fessler: Joya also worked on the lyrics during the music recording, here on the sofa in the control room – and then finished them on the train ride home, as she always does … The lyrics have no clear storyline, they rather create a mood, they are lively and fresh, a bit quirky and also a bit chaotic. And that’s also a good thing, because if everything was easy to understand, the lyrics would be boring. You still have to be able to imagine something when you are listening to the song.

“Nightmare”
Music: Joya Marleen and Thomas Fessler.
Lyrics: Joya Marleen.

www.joyamarleen.com
www.571.ch

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 “Nightmare”, “Tribute” and “Show You” are nominated in the category “Best Hit”. (Text: Giorgio Tebaldi)
www.swissmusicawards.ch
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On 25 May, 2022, the “Best Hit” for the best composition will be determined by public voting at the Swiss Music Awards. Nominated for the award presented by SUISA are Joya Marleen, Lo & Leduc and Zian. We wanted to know from Joya Marleen and Thomas Fessler what role the lyrics play for the song “Nightmare”. Interview by guest author Markus Ganz

Swiss Music Awards: “If everything was easy to understand, the lyrics would be boring”

Joya Marleen and Thomas Fessler. (Photos: Rouven Niedermaier; Emanuel Muhl)

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

Joya Marleen: Mega important, lyrics are essential! Olivia Rodrigo, for example, has written very beautiful, but also rather crass lyrics that are right in your face, lyrics where everything fits together; Amy Winehouse also impressed me with the very personal honesty of her lyrics.
Thomas Fessler: Yes, lyrics are rather important, not least because...read more

SUISA panel at M4music: What influence does streaming have on songwriting? │ plus video

Today, music is often consumed via streaming platforms. With millions of songs available, individual pieces quickly get lost in the crowd. And songs often have to grab the listener in the first few seconds – the next song is just a click away. Does the distribution channel for streaming influence songwriting? This question will be discussed at the SUISA panel at the 2022 M4music Festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Lisa Burth

Gone are the days when music consumers listened to a whole album from the first song to the last in one sitting. In 2021, CDs and records accounted for just over 10% of music sales in Switzerland, according to the industry association IFPI, with the remaining 90% coming from online, of which over 80% is streaming.

The shift from recorded music to streaming is relevant to artists in several ways. In the case of CDs and LPs, remuneration covers the reproduction and sale of physical units in their entirety. Today, creators, performers and producers are paid for individual streams; these only count if a track is listened to for at least 30 seconds. The crux of the matter: For music consumers, the next track is just a click away. For songwriters and performers, this means that they have to grab the listenerʼs interest to keep listening within the first few seconds of a song.

Zurich musician Evelinn Trouble provides a first insight into how composers deal with todayʼs listener behaviour in a video interview.

SUISA panel at M4music: “How streaming is changing songwriting”

The influence of changing music consumption behaviour on songwriters and labels will be discussed at the SUISA panel at this yearʼs M4music Festival. Under the header “How streaming is changing songwriting,” composers, producers and label executives will discuss the impact streaming is having on the way songs are written, produced and released.

The panelists are:

  • Evelinn Trouble, songwriter, singer, producer and visual artist from Zurich
  • Julie Born, Managing Director of Sony Music Switzerland
  • Henrik Amschler aka HSA, songwriter and producer from Zurich
  • Loris Cimino, producer and songwriter from Frankfurt/Zurich

The panel will be moderated by Nina Havel.

The SUISA panel will take place on Friday, 25 March 2022 at 4:00 p.m. at Matchbox in Zurichʼs Schiffbau. The panel is free and open to the public.

The 2022 M4music Festival

After the festival had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in a scaled-down form in 2021, the Migros Kulturprozent (Culture Percentage) Pop Music Festival will take place again this year in its usual form on Friday and Saturday, 25 and 26 March 2022 at the Schiffbau in Zurich. In addition to panel discussions, workshops and panels on current topics in the music business, numerous Swiss and international artists will also perform at the festival.

www.m4music.ch

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Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

Your email address will not be published.

Today, music is often consumed via streaming platforms. With millions of songs available, individual pieces quickly get lost in the crowd. And songs often have to grab the listener in the first few seconds – the next song is just a click away. Does the distribution channel for streaming influence songwriting? This question will be discussed at the SUISA panel at the 2022 M4music Festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Lisa Burth

Gone are the days when music consumers listened to a whole album from the first song to the last in one sitting. In 2021, CDs and records accounted for just over 10% of music sales in Switzerland, according to the industry association IFPI, with the remaining 90% coming from online, of which over 80% is streaming.

The shift from recorded...read more

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female, non-binary, trans and intersex musicians and DJ’s who will be given their say in the second series of Helvetiarockt’s “Musicians in Conversation” podcasts. The podcasts discuss music in general, and creative processes and individual experiences in the music business. In the process, Helvetiarockt is looking to create multifarious role models for female musicians.

The podcast guests and their stories are highly motivational cases in point. They show that there are different paths and possibilities for a professional career in the music world, and that no one taking this step is alone. The podcast does not only address aspiring musicians; it essentially seeks to inspire everyone – including non-musicians – and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the music business.

The interviews are conducted by Natalia Anderson, a Geneva-based musician, DJ, and journalist from London. In its press release, Helvetiarockt quotes Natalia Anderson: “We are trying to demystify the music business and show that there are many different ways to get involved in music. The podcast is about giving visibility to underrepresented groups in the Swiss music scene – in all their facets.”

Women in the music industry

Compared with their male colleagues, women are a minority in the Swiss music industry. According to Helvetiarockt, the share of female musicians on Swiss stages is a meagre 11%. In music production, women are even fewer – only 2%.

This is also reflected in the share of SUISA’s female membership, which is currently only slightly over 19% of the total. Even if the trend is inching upward – in recent years, the proportion of women among SUISA’s new members was 21% in 2018 and 2019, 23% in 2020, and 26% in 2021 – the gender imbalance in the Swiss music industry remains comparatively high given that women represent over 50% of the general population.

The Helvetiarockt podcast aims to give this (still) minority group of musicians and creators greater visibility and to help and encourage aspiring musicians make their way ahead in the music business.

SUISA partners Helvetiarockt

SUISA is partnering the second series of “Musicians in Conversation”. SUISA has supported Helvetiarockt, financially and in terms of visibility, since 2019 as part of a sponsoring commitment.

The second series of the Helvetiarockt podcasts starts on Friday 7 January; a new episode will be released every second week. The guest on the first episode is Anna Murphy, sound engineer, composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. In this podcast, Anna talks about the creative process in songwriting and the road to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production.

To access the podcasts “Musicians in Conversation”, follow this link:
www.helvetiarockt.ch/podcasts

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Nik Bärtsch: “In this, we are all really challenged as a community”“In this, we are all really challenged as a community” With the “Music for tomorrow? project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5?. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Read more
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Under the title “Musicians in Conversation”, Helvetiarockt – the Swiss coordination office and networking platform for female musicians in jazz, pop, and rock, launched a podcast series in December 2020. The second series starts on Friday 7 January 2022. The focus is on fostering the visibility of role models and on networking within the Swiss music scene. SUISA is a partner of the new podcast series. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi

“Musicians in Conversation”: Podcast by Helvetiarockt

In the first episode of the Helvetiarockt podcast, musician and sound engineer Anna Murphy talks about the creative process in songwriting and her path to becoming a sound engineer: she encourages other women to embark on a career in music production. (Photo: Valentina Mahler)

Anna Murphy, La Nefera, Jessiquoi and Jasmin Albash Natalia Anderson – these are just a few of the female,...read more

Ghost Festival – The big silence

The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or Dodo are lined up next to the “young and wild ones” such as Crème Solaire, Annie Taylor or KT Gorique. Unfortunately, you will not get much more than their names. Music is something you will not find at this event, nor will there be brilliant live shows or the usual festival feeling with tents, catering stalls and queuing in front of mobile toilets.

The Ghost Festival is “the festival that does not take place”. It is not going to take place over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.

Ghost matches in football were the inspiration for the Ghost Festival

Brought to life by a few Berne music lovers, the Ghost Club, the Ghost Festival is an initiative of solidarity for Swiss music creators and performers.  Baldy Minder, booker and manager of acts such as the Bern Hip-Hop-Kollektiv Chlyklass or the female rapper 11Ä is a member of the Ghost Club. In the backstage area of the Zurich concert venue “Exil”, he told us during the video interview what the basic idea of the Ghost Festival is: “There are ghost matches in football. And as a supportive football fan, you show your solidarity these days by renewing your season ticket even though the future is uncertain. And that is how the idea for the Ghost Festival came about.”

Music fans can buy tickets for the festival as follows: A one-day pass for CHF 20, a two-day pass for CHF 50 or a VIP ticket for CHF 100. And because it does not take place, the tickets are never sold out. Furthermore, there is a broad range of Ghost Festival merchandise from T-shirts to hats and caps or hoodies and jackets. The income thus made will be paid through to the artists as well as their bookers, light and sound engineers and others. This kind of money is more than just a nice little top up: In the current situation, the most important source of income for most of the music creators and artists – in the broadest sense – drops out: concerts. And this situation has been ongoing, apart from a few short periods of relief in the summer of 2020, for one year now. And an improvement is not in sight.

A hole of more than CHF 50,000 in the financial ledgers of the authors and publishers of music

This is also reflected at SUISA when it comes to the collections from performing rights which include concerts and festivals, among others. Based on the example of the Ghost Festival, this can be well demonstrated: Around 15,000 tickets have been sold so far for the festival. If this was a normal event, where artists perform their songs, the composers, lyricists and publishers of the performed works would receive more than CHF 50,000 in royalties. Since no music is played, this kind of income simply drop off.

Around 400 festivals take place in Switzerland each year, the country with the largest festival density worldwide. Most of these festivals had to be cancelled due to the corona pandemic last year. As a consequence, SUISA’s income for copyright arising from concerts in 2020 were more than 50% lower than in the previous year. In absolute figures, this is, compared to 2019, CHF 12m less which will be paid out to the music creators in 2020 from concert income. And this detrimental situation is going to last well into 2021 and probably also into 2022.

An initiative of solidarity also aimed at bookers, sound engineers, roadies and other participants

And these are only the collections for those who composed or wrote the lyrics to musical works or are in the publishing business. For musicians, there is also the loss of gig fees, which are usually much higher than the copyright royalties. Concert and festival cancellations are not just problematic for musicians: The crisis which has now been going on for about a year has also affected the people that make such a festival and concerts possible in general: Bookers, sound and light engineers, roadies, tour managers, merchandise salespeople, security staff or of course the concert promoters themselves.

“The idea is that it is not just the bands who benefit but also that there is a holistic promotion and support for people who work in this sector”, says Baldy Minder. “When bands are on the road, they have a tour manager, a light engineer or a sound engineer; bands who travel with instruments have stage hands who help to carry all the equipment. There are an awful lot of people involved who currently have very little to do, unfortunately, and thus much less income.”

100% of the ticket sales go to the music creators

That is why the artists and bands could name two additional people from their entourage who should also benefit from the income generated by the Ghost Festival. In total, this is about 1,300 people. “The collected monies will be distributed on a per capita basis and not on a per-band basis”, explains Baldy Minder. While 100% of the income from ticket and merchandising sales flow to music creators, a part of the sponsorship funds will be used to pay for the work of the organisers. “The partnerships enable us to pay our salaries”, says Baldy Minder.  And adds: “Whatever remains of the sponsorship funds will be allocated to the artists.”

One of the biggest challenges for the organisers was time management: The idea came about at the end of November 2020. There were just three months to carve out the biggest festival in Switzerland. Even if there are no performances in the end, there are some parallels between organising a ghost festival and a real festival, as Baldy Minder explains: “A major part is rather similar to a real festival. You have to make a booking, you initiate the entire promotion, social media and press campaign. You have a lot of contact with the bands. What you don’t have is the entire infrastructure. You do not have to build a fence, set up a stage and we do not have to organise a PA company. We also do not need security. We do not need to pay SUISA fees since nothing is going to happen from a copyright perspective, after all, you won’t hear a peep at the festival.”

Ghost sounds, if anything

The event organisers have also intentionally renounced on organising streaming concerts for the weekend. Baldy Minder says: “Many people are asking for streams, but no, there will simply be nothing this time, no music. It is now finally the time where you can lean back and give back.”

For the audience of the Ghost Festival that does not want the sounds of silence and is missing the music, there will be something to listen to after all, even if it is no music: “We will release an album. It won’t be a compilation but an album as “The Ghost Orchestra”, announces Baldy Minder. It will be released on 26/2/21, one day ahead of the festival.” It is going to be released as a CD – with a clear idea behind it, as Baldy Minder explains: “The CD is totally anti-cyclical, a little bit of a ghost which is slowly vanishing.” Most of the bands from the line-up will be included on the mysterious CD. And they are artists from all language regions of Switzerland. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic affects music creators across all of Switzerland.

SUISA is a partner of the Ghost Festival
The Covid-19 crisis heavily affects SUISA members. For that reason, SUISA acts as a sponsoring partner of the Ghost Festival, not just the Cooperative Society itself but also its staff members. Each ticket that is bought by the SUISA staff will be enhanced in value by the company: Each one-day ticket will be upgraded to a two-day ticket, each two-day ticket will be upgraded to a VIP ticket and for each sold VIP ticket the staff receive a second VIP ticket.Above and beyond that, SUISA will be reporting from the festival on the festival weekend and talk to some artists and organisers. More info will be available in the coming days on www.instagram.com/suisamusicstories.

 

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The Ghost Festival, the biggest concert event ever to be held in Switzerland will take place over the next weekend. The line-up includes around 300 bands and artists. However: There are neither performances, nor music or light shows. The Ghost Festival which was conceptualised as an initiative of solidarity for the Swiss music scene, is emblematic for the disastrous situation creators and artists find themselves in during the corona crisis. SUISA supports the festival as a sponsor. It had a video interview with Baldy Minder, the co-organiser of the festival regarding the facts behind the non-festival. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Nina Müller

The line-up of the Ghost Festival makes the heart of every Swiss pop and rock music fan beat faster: Established names such as Stephan Eicher, Patent Ochsner or...read more

How do you write a streaming success?

Tips and reflections on modern song structures by successful songwriters as well as other music industry representatives at the SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” in the course of the M4music festival on Saturday, 21 March 2020, at Moods. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music 2019 SUISA Panel Hit the World

KT Gorique, Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (f.l.t.r.) talking about songwriting at the SUISA panel “Hit the world / this is how international hit composers work” at the 2019 M4music festival. (Photo: Ennio Leanza / M4music)

Even the most creative songwriters go unnoticed if they are not able to get their music heard. In a highly competitive and oversaturated sector, songwriters need attract attention. They must stand out from countless other professional authors. Especially in the pop/urban genre, you must win over an audience whose listening behaviour is strongly influenced by music consumption via streaming services.

On the occasion of the SUISA panel at the 2020 M4music festival, successful songwriters are going to discuss with people from the music business what a song needs to sound like in order to satisfy the taste of the increasing streaming audience or to even win it over.

The SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” takes place on:
Saturday, 21 March 2020, between 1.45pm and 3.00pm in the Moods, Schiffbau in Zurich.

The big challenges of the new era

Spotify founder, Daniel Ek, said in April 2019 that nearly 40,000 tracks per day were uploaded to the Spotify platform. A projection of these figures would result in 280,000 songs per week, 1.2 million tracks per month and a whopping 14.6 million per year. To stand out from the masses is a huge challenge.

A potential springboard for songwriters could be to be included in a curated playlist. Songs in a curated playlist are grouped in order to appeal to a specific audience – this means more listeners, more “shares” and more income for the rights holders. It also entails a better chance that a song stands out to a “music supervisor”, i.e. People who look in those playlists for songs to be used in current TV and film productions. It is, however, only a small part of the published songs that manage to make it to the playlist.

Another new challenge brought about by streaming is also that music creators only get their royalties if their song has been streamed for 30 seconds. The listeners must, after all, not ‘bail out’ from listening too early, otherwise there’s no money. On top of that, the rule for radio or TV is: the longer the song the higher the income. In the case of streaming this is different: You get paid per stream.

How much do these new game rules affect composers? Will there only be short songs without intros that build them up and instead, catchy hook lines from the first beat? What role do song lyrics play today? How does a song need to sound in order to be included in a playlist?

Come to the SUISA panel and join our discussion!

SUISA- Panels at the 2020 M4music festival
“How streaming is changing songwriting”
Saturday, 21 March 2020, from 1.45pm to 3.00pm
in the Moods, Schiffbau in Zurich

Speaker:

  • Janine Cathrein, Singer Songwriter, Zurich
    Singer songwriter Janine Cathrein is a part of Black Sea Dahu. After publication of their successful debut album “white creators”, the band has been touring without interruption, they performed at 120 concerts in 2019 alone.
  • Julie Born, Managing Director Sony Music Entertainment Switzerland GmbH, Zurich
    Julie Born has been active in the Swiss music business for more than 30 years. In her position as Managing Director of Sony Music Switzerland, she and her team are responsible for establishing and building up artists in a variety of music fields.
  • Henrik Amschler, Producer Songwriter, Zurich
    Born in Zurich in 1989, he is known as HSA. He is a well-known Urban/Pop music producer and songwriter. He has contributed to various gold and platin productions and won prestigious awards (such as the Swiss Music Award as a songwriter) He produces Loco Escrito and Mimiks, among others.
  • Loris Cimino, producer and songwriter, Reinach AG
    The 22-year-old producer can already count more than 2.5 million streams in 2019, and that just on Spotify. He produces music of renowned artists and enjoys international success as a DJ with official remixes for artists such as David Guetta and Meghan Trainor. He is also co-writer of the official trailer for the current “America’s got talent” show.

Moderator: Nina Havel

www.m4music.ch

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Tips and reflections on modern song structures by successful songwriters as well as other music industry representatives at the SUISA panel “How streaming is changing songwriting” in the course of the M4music festival on Saturday, 21 March 2020, at Moods. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music 2019 SUISA Panel Hit the World

KT Gorique, Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (f.l.t.r.) talking about songwriting at the SUISA panel “Hit the world / this is how international hit composers work” at the 2019 M4music festival. (Photo: Ennio Leanza / M4music)

Even the most creative songwriters go unnoticed if they are not able to get their music heard. In a highly competitive and oversaturated sector, songwriters need attract attention. They must stand out from countless other professional authors. Especially in the pop/urban genre, you must win over an audience whose listening behaviour is strongly...read more

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise figures: At the end of 2018, the share of women* among authors was 15.7 percent. In a preliminary study regarding the womens’* share in the Basel pop scene, the result was even worse: Only just 10 percent of the persons who actively made music in the years between 2008 and 2017, were female. These figures are even more disillusioning since the share of girls* in music schools, according to an estimate by Helvetiarockt, is still 50 percent.

Support and sensitisation

Helvetiarockt has been promoting a “significant increase of the womens’* share in the Swiss music business” since 2009. The association follows this objective mainly with an increasingly broad and specific offer of workshops such as a “songwriting camp” and events such as panel discussions.

That way, Helvetiarockt wishes to motivate young women* to become active in the music scene on the one hand. On the other hand, the association wants to specifically support and connect professional female* musicians and sensitise the sector regarding this subject. As a consequence, it is important that the many women* who engage themselves in the association should also be active in the music industry themselves.

Create awareness

Chantal Bolzern is a lawyer and has been working for SUISA between 2004 and 2017. Since 2015, she has been involved in Helvetiarockt, provides input talks regarding the topic “music and right”, and has been female* Co-President of the association since 2018. She counts the fact that Helvetiarockt has been able to create awareness for the main objective of the association among the most important achievements. “We hardly need to discuss it any longer these days whether the equal treatment of women in the music sector is important. We have thus a good basis in order to have a bigger effect.”

Protected environment

It is with satisfaction that Manuela Jutzi states that she no longer has to listen to the question whether there is actually a need for Helvetiarockt. She is a female* Co-Director of the association and already took over the management of the “Female* Bandworkshop” in 2014. “Whenever we run it, the importance for young women* becomes clear time and again, i.e. that they can take the first steps of making music in a protected environment.” Many are still rather inhibited at first – irrespective of whether this might be due to socialisation or old role models. “I can, however, see an improvement that has taken place throughout the years, and a major part of this is due to the fact that young women* can increasingly experience role models on stage.”

Role model function

In fact, it is no longer as it was at the end of the previous millennium where only a few self-confident Swiss female* musicians such as Vera Kaa, Betty Legler or Sina created a stir with their songs – and could thus become role models. Today, there are many examples, for example Nicole Bernegger, Heidi Happy, Stefanie Heinzmann, Sophie Hunger, Anna Rossinelli, Valeska Steiner (Boy) etc. Music styles which had been previously uncommon for Swiss female* musicians are now home to Anna Aaron, Big Zis, KT Gorique, Anna Murphy (Eluveitie) and Steff la Cheffe.

Muriel Rhyner can also act as a role model. She has been involved with Helvetiarockt since the beginning, she is a member of the team and is running the “Female* Songwriting Camp” which had been supported by SUISA in 2019. She also felt that there was a clear change. “When, in 2005, at the age of 17, I seriously chose a music career with The Delilahs, back then a pure womens’* band, I felt rather lonely. I could not exchange my views with other female* musicians – something that is also very important from a human point of view, something I can now experience repeatedly at Helvetiarockt events.” At the “Female* Songwriting Camp”, she keeps discovering that the female* participants are initially rather insecure. “But then, they push each other increasingly – and such a momentum is something I hope for the efforts of Helvetiarockt.”

Development and outlook

It is hard to say by how much exactly the womens’* share in the music scene has improved. SUISA’s evaluation at least revealed that the womens’* share among the new members in the last five years was higher than that of all female* authors (End of 2018: 15.7 percent): It stood between 19 and 21 percent, respectively. That’s a good starting point for the future work of Helvetiarockt.

After years of development and explaining, Helvetiarockt was now in a position where it could focus on the implementation of the association’s objectives, Chantal Bolzern adds. “We now have some good and new instruments such as the Diversity Roadmap which we created together with partner institutions. It shows event organisers how they can recognise diversity and equality in clubs and at festivals.” Next to be added are new offers for professional female* musicians as well as the expansion of the previous contact pool.

The main objective of the association

“We create a new database which is not limited to female* musicians”, Manuela Jutzi reveals. “It should also be open to other women* who are active in the music sector. That way, we can increase the visibility of women* in the music sector and facilitate the exchange among them at the same time.” The main objective for Manuela Jutzi is, however, “that, one day, Helvetiarockt will not be needed any longer.” In her opinion, this would be the case if at least every third person in the music scene was female.

Further information: www.helvetiarockt.ch

* In this text, the notion of the “gender asterisk” (a method to provide a gender-neutral version in the written form of the German language) has been applied, just as it is used by Helvetiarockt.

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  1. Gut möglich, dass Musikerinnen als Urheberinnen noch stark untervertreten sind: Komponieren und Song-Texte schreiben, ist offensichtlich nicht jederfrau’s Interesse und Talent. Hingegen sind gerade Sängerinnen als Interpretinnen (oftmals in Kombination mit Gitarren oder Piano/Keyboards) im Grunde wesentlich zahlreicher, als ihre männlichen Pendants! Wenn sie zudem – wie meistens – auch noch attraktiver aussehen, als singende Männer, verdienen sie auch noch entsprechend besser, als letztere…

    • Elia Meier says:

      Guten Tag Jean-Pierre E. Reinle

      Es ist schön, dass Sie den Fakt anerkennen, dass es weniger Musikerinnen und Urheberinnen gibt. Wir denken aber nicht, dass ein Geschlecht etwas darüber aussagt, welche Themen sie oder ihn interessieren oder worin ein Mensch talentiert ist oder nicht. Natürlich kann es sein, dass aufgrund von gesellschaftlichen Normen Menschen gehemmt sein können, ein für sie unbekanntes/untypisches Terrain zu betreten. Dieses Verhalten hat jedoch nichts damit zu tun, dass diese Menschen nicht wollen. Es hat damit zu tun, dass Netzwerke ausschliessend wirken können. Es braucht uns alle um diese Normierungen und Stereotypen aufzubrechen und Menschen zu ermutigen zu machen was sie lieben. So haben wir in einer gleichgestellten Welt hoffentlich auch bald mehr Männer am Gesang und mehr Frauen am Schlagzeug. Ihrem Punkt bezüglich konventioneller Attraktivität, pflichten wir insofern bei, dass es durchaus so ist, dass leider Äusserlichkeiten zu Erfolg beitragen können. Wir sehen diesen Aspekt aber für alle Geschlechter. Nur wird es bei Männern nie herausgehoben. Frauen werden, so wie hier an Ihrem Beispiel, immer wieder systematisch auf ihr äusseres reduziert. Dabei wird ihnen jegliche Expertise abgesprochen. Wir wünschen uns genauso wie Sie, dass es ausschliesslich um Expertise geht. Und, dass diese Expertise unabhängig von äusserlichen Merkmalen und unabhängig von Geschlecht, allen Menschen zugetraut wird. Dafür müssen wir uns alle tagtäglich an der Nase nehmen, gelernte Strukturen zu durchbrechen. Es würde uns freuen Sie dabei an unserer Seite zu wissen.

      Freundliche Grüsse Elia Meier, Helvetiarockt

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For the last 10 years, the association Helvetiarockt has been fighting for a better representation of women* in the music scene. Time for a review. Guest contribution by Markus Ganz

10 years of Helvetiarockt: Amplify the voice of women*

Isabella Eder (left) and Muriel Rhyner of the Zug-based band Delilahs rock the stage at the PFF FFS Openair Menzingen 2015. (Photo: Tabea Hüberli)

Those who go to concerts or who look at the information on music productions will not be surprised by finding out that women* are greatly under-represented in the music scene. The association Helvetiarockt estimates that in the pop, rock and jazz sector the share of women* on stage is about 15 percent, whereas in music production it is even as low as 2 percent.

SUISA, which is a supporter of Helvetiarockt and specifically promotes the association’s projects, can provide precise...read more

The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo, made up of Zurich and Winterthur residents Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, experiments with sounds that defy established definitions and seeks out interdisciplinary exchanges with other art forms. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Eclecta: The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo. (Photo: Andrea Ebener)

The place where verbal definitions of different arts implode; where stylistic pigeon-holes exist only as relics of past times; where everything can unfold freely and continually move into more and more new arrangements: that is precisely where Eclecta feel at home. Eclecta is a duo featuring Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, both of whom are solo artists, multi-instrumentalists and singers. And both are, as they describe themselves, “quite simply curious”. Which is something of an understatement. An unadulterated passion for experimentation is their driving force. Although in their late twenties, the couple have not forgotten their youthful enthusiasm, but combine it with mature reflection and are therefore better able to integrate additional elements into their art, which means the result always remains homogeneous.

Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher got to know one another at jazz school, but it was actually the second time they had met. “We had already met as children in the (childrenʼs circus school) ʻCircolino Pipistrelloʼ”, says Bollinger. Whitcher laughs, adding: “But we only found out later that this was the case.” You cannot escape fate, so what was bound to happen inevitably did: “When Marena was asked to do a solo concert, she didnʼt have enough material to be able to fulfil the booking on her own. So she asked me. We then amalgamated our songs, which proved to be the start of everything”, recounts Bollinger.

Their first album from 2016 is called “A Symmetry”, and the play on words concealed in this title says it all, both women are in fact actually confident individuals when it comes to their manner and their art, who have been happy to tread their own path in a large number of collaborations and solo performances. “From the very start, we played two characters that are totally different. Eclecta thrives on this duality, this asymmetry, but at the same time we also have the opportunity to melt into one another”, explains Whitcher, to which Bollinger adds: “We can blend our voices, so that people can hardly distinguish one from the other. The album title describes this ongoing interplay between symmetry and asymmetry.”

The 15 songs, which, as previously mentioned, refuse to be pigeon-holed and deliberately map the stylistic spaces which contribute to the experiment, when added together become an opalescent kaleidoscope of euphoria and melancholy, of passion and thoughtfulness. And listeners still find “A Symmetry” astounding even three years after it first appeared, allowing more and more details to be unveiled: for the protagonists, today the record represents only a snapshot of their artistic process. “On our forthcoming album, which we hope to release at the beginning of 2020, we want to advance this play even further, so that the whole thing continues to become more intermeshed.”

“The Get Going! funding gives us something very precious, namely time. Apart from that, you are never paid for the immensely long period of time it takes to get to grips with specific topics, and to research and write songs.”

What this will sound like, reckon the duo with a wink, “currently remains a secret”. When they talk of their influences, they range from social issues to painting, from theatre to performance art, from literature to philosophy. Whitcher, who has American roots on her fatherʼs side, is enthusiastic about the surrealists and, during her performances, goes into such questions as “What are monsters nowadays and why do we need them?” or “Having first world problems and creating art – do they go together?”. It is also important to Bollinger to integrate political and social topicality into her creative work. Consequently, she writes about such issues as climate change, freedom of thought and digitisation, as well as searching for places where numbers and codes do not control us. She splits her time between Zurich, Berlin and her Engadine homeland, trying to capture the sounds of these different places, because, as she says, “it is crucial where you are when you are creatively active”.

One of these creative playgrounds is also the stage. With instruments and costumes she makes herself, she transforms a performance into a kind of complete artwork. Therefore, in future they want to make increased use of the medium of video in order to lend a visual aspect to their music. But this is only one of what seems like a thousand ideas with which these two musicians are busy. In the end, Eclecta should also be a statement that contradicts the zeitgeist: “In our individualised society, everyone is focused entirely on themselves, never once glancing at what is going on around them.” Whitcher believes “Yet community is a basic requirement of humans”, and Bollinger adds: “I already see it as one of our jobs to reflect the world in our art and to encourage a different way of thinking.”

In any event, they regard the Get Going! funding from FONDATION SUISA as something that offers them a great deal of freedom. “It gives us something very precious, namely time”, comments Bollinger. “Precisely”, emphasises Whitcher, “apart from that, you are never paid for the immensely long period of time it takes to get to grips with specific topics, and to research and write songs”. When you look at it this way, Eclecta is a fine example of this kind of encouragement, because both of these young ladies are venturing down paths that so far remain untrodden and now no longer risk falling between two stools with their passion for experimentation.

www.eclecta.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding.

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The Eclecta duo, made up of Zurich and Winterthur residents Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, experiments with sounds that defy established definitions and seeks out interdisciplinary exchanges with other art forms. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Eclecta: The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo. (Photo: Andrea Ebener)

The place where verbal definitions of different arts implode; where stylistic pigeon-holes exist only as relics of past times; where everything can unfold freely and continually move into more and more new arrangements: that is precisely where Eclecta feel at home. Eclecta is a duo featuring Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, both of whom are solo artists, multi-instrumentalists and singers. And both are, as they describe themselves, “quite simply curious”. Which is something of an understatement. An unadulterated passion...read more

KT Gorique, conquering the East side

SUISA member KT Gorique had been invited to the panel organised by SUISA, “Hit the World” at the M4music Festival 2019, in her capacity as an expert for songwriting in the Rap genre. Shortly afterwards, it became known that she is one of the price winners of the Swiss Music Awards 2019. An interview with the rapper who lives in the Valais, and who carries her music into the whole of Switzerland. Text by guest author José Tippenhauer, Swissmusic.ch

KT Gorique, conquering the East side

“She performed on stage in the Senegal, in Canada and all over Europe and it is not possible to imagine the Swiss rap scene without her”, writes the Federal Agency for Culture (BAK) with regards to the recent award winner of the Swiss Music Award 2019, KT Gorique. (Photo: Jérémie Carron)

KT Gorique deserves her nickname “Swiss knife”. After winning the international rap improvisational contest End of the Weak in New York in 2012, she starred in the film Brooklyn by Pascal Tessaud, portraying the young rapper Coralie. In 2016, she released her first album Tentative de Survie and last year, she entered the charts with her project Kunta Kita. A few weeks after her nomination at the Swiss Music Awards, her ascent continues. She’ll be warming-up for Nicki Minaj at Hallenstadion (Zürich) and is so far the only French-speaker on the bill at Frauenfeld. 2019 is full of promise for this Valaisanne rapper with whom we talked about Switzerland, her inspirations and her creative processes.

Your last project “Kunta Kita” was released in July 2018. What’s been the outcome for you?
KT Gorique: This project has marked a big change in my career. I could not have expected half of what has happened to me as a result!
Since its release, I’ve played forty gigs, including my first as headliner, and several were sold-out (St. Gallen, Lucerne …). These last six years, I’ve primarily done “discovery” gigs for people who didn’t necessarily know me. With “Kunta Kita”, a fan base has now been established. The paradox is that most of my audience comes from German-speaking Switzerland despite the fact that I sing in French, quite unbelievable!
The project is distributed by the Zurich label FarMore Records, but most importantly, in September SRF3 named me “Best Talent” of the month. It’s mainstream radio that has brought me to a different audience. I notice it at my concerts where there are now hip-hop fans, punks, rastas, rockers, young and old people. For me, this is the best gift. I make music for everyone, not just for those who already have the rap vocabulary.

Now that you’re performing a lot in German Switzerland, what do you think of this famous Röstigraben (the symbolic barrier between the French and German-speaking parts of the country)?
The budget that the audience is ready to part with is very different. I recently played a date in Lausanne with other French-speaking artists, the entry fee was 25 CHF. I thought people would find it expensive and, indeed, the room was not full. The following week, I played in German Switzerland, just me and a warm-up act for 30 CHF, and the venue was full!
I have the impression that in Romandie (French part of Switzerland) we seek our identity from the French side. Whereas when the Swiss Germans see Swiss artists who have talent, they say “it’s cool because they are good and especially because they are Swiss!” And they will encourage them.
In Romandie, we tend to appreciate our artists only if they are validated in France, or at least outside our borders. Fortunately, things are starting to change. I recently performed with Danitsa, Comme1Flocon, SWK and Chien Bleu – a similar line-up with just French-Swiss artists would have been impossible 3 years ago!
To come back to the Röstigraben, when I tell the Romands that I am going to gig in German Switzerland, they say to me: “But aren’t they really closed-minded?!” On the contrary, I realize that they are twice as open as us! The proof is that they welcome us, but the Swiss-German rappers are unknown here.

In “Outta Road”, you hit upon people dressed in yellow vests, before the group had become a movement. In your “NAYUNO Session”, you talk about the “Gilets jaunes”, saying: “yellow has the edge this winter, they wear it as a vest, I want everyone together.” Is this a cutting remark?
On the contrary, it’s a message of encouragement. If I were French, I would be on the road every day with them, wearing yellow vests all the time, even on my legs!
Everything I write comes from instinct. I find it wonderful when I see people who do not necessarily come from the same social backgrounds asserting their rights as human beings, because they are in an unfair or unbearable position. So when I say “I want everyone together” it means “I’m with you till the end!”

Let’s talk specifically about your creative process. What do you mean by “writing from instinct”?
To come up with lyrics, first of all, I need a beat. I can sometimes write a little without one, but it won’t result in an entire song. When I want to start writing a song, I automatically need to have music, it’s what determines the words.
With regard to inspiration, my source is the day-to-day. There are many things in life that I’m sensitive to. It can be what I see, what I live, what I hear, the experiences of people around me, my family or difficulties that I encounter. It can be very personal, but also more global – as in the example of the Gilets jaunes.
From there, I’m guided by the music and emotions. I try to connect to what I’m feeling and to shape this around the rhythm. I quite often write on my computer, otherwise, when I want to keep things really sharp and instinctive, I write out the lyrics directly in my head. I do one sentence after another and I retain them little by little, without having to transcribe anything onto a sheet of paper. The voice melodies and the flow then start to follow naturally, depending on what I want to say. This way I feel much more instinctive: direct in what I mean and how I want to come across.

In addition to writing your lyrics, you also compose your own beats. How do you do this? What sounds do you start with?
Yes, I compose from time to time. In theory, I start off with a base, a little vibe that acts as an energy, for example something that could be melancholic, a bit reggae or a little cainfri (“African”). I always set off with a kind of colour that’s in my head, it’s actually very abstract. I then try to transcribe, melodically-speaking, what’s in my head, using a lot of samples on my MIDI keyboard. I keep looking and looking until I find the right sound or the notes that speak to me. I then start with the basic melody and I build around it from there. I continue like this until my instrumental part is composed.

KT Gorique on Youtube

The interview with KT Gorique was held in the course of the thematic dossiers “A la découverte du rap romand” (Discovering Rap in the French part of Switzerland) by Swissmusic.ch and was first published there in March 2019.

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SUISA member KT Gorique had been invited to the panel organised by SUISA, “Hit the World” at the M4music Festival 2019, in her capacity as an expert for songwriting in the Rap genre. Shortly afterwards, it became known that she is one of the price winners of the Swiss Music Awards 2019. An interview with the rapper who lives in the Valais, and who carries her music into the whole of Switzerland. Text by guest author José Tippenhauer, Swissmusic.ch

KT Gorique, conquering the East side

“She performed on stage in the Senegal, in Canada and all over Europe and it is not possible to imagine the Swiss rap scene without her”, writes the Federal Agency for Culture (BAK) with regards to the recent award winner of the Swiss Music Award 2019, KT Gorique. (Photo: Jérémie Carron)

KT Gorique deserves...read more