Tag Archives: Pop culture

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.

Related articles
FONDATION SUISA: “Get Going!” goes into its second round: “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age”“Get Going!” goes into its second round: “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age” Last year, FONDATION SUISA awarded four innovation grants under the title “Get Going!” for the first time in order to promote groundbreaking creative concepts outside the usual boxes. The positive reactions that were received were overwhelming. At the end of June 2019, the call for contributions enters its second round. Read more
Label Suisse: a showcase for Swiss music in all its diversityLabel Suisse: a showcase for Swiss music in all its diversity The eighth edition of the Label Suisse Festival was held in Lausanne from 14 to 16 September. The biennial festival, dedicated to Swiss musicians and creators, offers the public a broad panorama of Switzerland’s current music landscape. Read more
Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus videoCreative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Read more
Collapse article

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.

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.

Related articles
Label Suisse: a showcase for Swiss music in all its diversityLabel Suisse: a showcase for Swiss music in all its diversity The eighth edition of the Label Suisse Festival was held in Lausanne from 14 to 16 September. The biennial festival, dedicated to Swiss musicians and creators, offers the public a broad panorama of Switzerland’s current music landscape. Read more
The beats from others – but your own songsThe beats from others – but your own songs The melody is a catchy tune but the groove just doesn’t match. For days, you haven’t got rhythm while some ingenious lyrics are on the tip of your tongue. There are many reasons why creators use someone else’s raw material for their own songs. The following legal and practical tips on how to deal with bought-out beats help you keep in sync with formalities. Read more
Marc Sway: “You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video“You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video When we visited him in his studio in January 2018, the long-term SUISA member Marc Sway allowed us a peek into his creative activities and his professional life as a musician. Mid-October 2018, his single “Beat of My Heart” was released as the precursor for his next album whose creation process was one of the main subjects in the video interview. Read more
Collapse article

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.

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

M4music: Hit the World – this is how international female hit composers did it

Have you ever wondered how hits are created? How a song comes into existence which lets the feet across generations tap to the rhythm? SUISA has been researching these questions and is organising a panel on this topic at the M4music 2019. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music: Hit the World – this is how international female hit composers did it

At the M4music Festival 2019, KT Gorique and Valeska Steiner (top, from left to right) exchange their views on songwriting with Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (below, from left to right). (Photos: Jeremie Carron, Christoph Köstlin, Phantasm, Aerin Moreno)

There are female and male songwriters who create their songs entirely by themselves, others, however, write as a team. Sometimes they write for themselves, sometimes they write for performers fromr completely different music genres. How do they go about it? Do female and male composers have a feeling whether something becomes a hit? Can you live off songwriting?

SUISA panel Hit the World – four female songwriters tell their stories

On Friday, 15 March 2019, SUISA is going to organise a round of female experts which is going to discuss exactly those issues at the M4music Festival. For this purpose, SUISA invited four female songwriters who have already celebrated international and national successes in the pop and urban sector.

One participant is writing hits, among others, for Miley Cyrus, Céline Dion, Selena Gomez, Meredith Brooks or Christina Aguilera. The second has contributed to several hundred songs and travels across continents from one songwriting session to the next. The third is a successful Swiss singer songwriter who has a large and loyal fan community. The fourth in the round is currently writing Swiss hip hop history: In 2012, the then 21-year-old won the first freestyle rap world championship in New York. She writes lyrics as well as the beats herself and has been touring successfully in Europe and overseas for several years.

The four songwriters Valeska Steiner, KT Gorique, Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken are going to answer questions regarding the writing process of successful songs and exchange their experience what their approach to composing their songs is. What matters in their opinion. How they master the challenges that automatically come with the territory.

SUISA-Panel at the M4music: Hit the World – four female songwriters tell their stories
Friday, 15 March 2019, 15:00 – 16:15, Matchbox

Speakers:
Valeska Steiner, musician, BOY, Zurich
KT Gorique, musician, Sion
Laurell Barker, musician, Vancouver/Zurich
Shelly Peiken, musician, Los Angeles

Presentation:
Nina Havel, Zurich

www.m4music.ch

Related articles
Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus videoCreative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Read more
Debrah Scarlett: “As a songwriter, you’re some sort of a lone wolf”“As a songwriter, you’re some sort of a lone wolf” Debrah Scarlett already enjoyed international fame before releasing her début EP “DYS(U)TOPIA” in mid-March. Prior to that, the Norwegian-Swiss musician joined SUISA. Read more
Festival Archip-elles – Women PowerFestival Archip-elles – Women Power The Geneva Festival for contemporary music creation has dedicated itself to music originating from the pen of women for its 2019 event. Archip-elles presents works by female composers of various generations, origin and aesthetics. On Friday, 05 April 2019, SUISA members are invited to a visit at the Festival. Read more
Collapse article

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.

Have you ever wondered how hits are created? How a song comes into existence which lets the feet across generations tap to the rhythm? SUISA has been researching these questions and is organising a panel on this topic at the M4music 2019. Text by Erika Weibel

M4music: Hit the World – this is how international female hit composers did it

At the M4music Festival 2019, KT Gorique and Valeska Steiner (top, from left to right) exchange their views on songwriting with Laurell Barker and Shelly Peiken (below, from left to right). (Photos: Jeremie Carron, Christoph Köstlin, Phantasm, Aerin Moreno)

There are female and male songwriters who create their songs entirely by themselves, others, however, write as a team. Sometimes they write for themselves, sometimes they write for performers fromr completely different music genres. How do they go about it? Do female and male composers have a feeling...read more

“Adiós”: Caribbean-style summer hit with a cembalo | plus video

At the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019, together with four co-composers Loco Escrito can hope for the sought-after concrete blocks in the category “Best Hit” for the song “Adiós”. The musician and music university lecturer Hans Feigenwinter talks about where the strengths of the song lie in a video with his song analysis. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

Nicolas Herzig – Loco Escrito’s real name – seems to have found the success formula for summer hits. After he hit the Swiss Charts with “Sin Ti” in 2017, he outdid his success last year: The single “Adiós” stayed in the Swiss Charts for 29 weeks and climbed all the way to 4th position. The song thus counted among the three most successful Swiss tracks in 2018 and has been nominated for the award as “Best Hit” at the Swiss Music Awards.

Varied and thrilling dramaturgy

Hans Feigenwinter thinks that one interesting aspect of the song was the instrumentation of the stanzas. He is a musician himself and lectures musicology at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne. He thoroughly analyses the song in the video.

For Nicolas Herzig and co-composer and producer Henrik Amschler it was paramount that “Adiós” should remain varied and contain a thrilling dramaturgy. In an interview given in writing, Amschler stated: “Since the song does, for example, not contain a classical bridge with a change of chord after the second chorus but three parts, it was important to us that each part was special in its own way.” The various song parts have therefore also their respective and different moods, as Amschler adds: “The first section of the second part is rhythmical and animates you to dance. The first section of the third part, on the other hand, is spheric and very emotional.”

(International) songwriting team work

In addition to Amschler and Herzig, three other musicians were involved in writing the song “Adiós”. Composer Sandro Dietrich from Graubünden and Latin Rapper, singer, percussionist and music producer Lou Geniuz, aka Lou Zarra, from the same Swiss canton, laid the musical foundation which was already very much developed according to Amschler. With regards to the lyrics, Nicolas Herzig was supported by Columbian musician Jonathan Ruiz Meija. “It was therefore up to Loco and me to continue with the song, to adapt it and to complete it,” writes Amschler.

The songwriters and the producer have deliberately renounced on using too many instruments. “We had actually planned to use more instruments, for example in the chorus”, explains Henrik Amschler. “At the end of the day, however, we decided to reduce in order to provide the vocals with more space by way of various harmonies.” Nevertheless, “Adiós” surprises with interesting sounds, such as a harpsichord or cembalo-like sound – something that is rather unusual for pop music according to Hans Feigenwinter.

“Swiss Music Awards”: SUISA awards the songwriter of the “Best Hit”

“Adiós” is one of the three songs that have been nominated for the “Best Hit” at the next “Swiss Music Awards” which will be awarded at the Culture and Congress Centre Lucerne (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern KKL) on Saturday, 16 February 2019. SUISA is a “supporting partner” of the event. For the fourth time, the “Best Hit” award is also issued to composers and lyricists of the winning song on behalf of SUISA. The nominated songs are:

  • “079” by Lo & Leduc (songwriter: Lorenz Häberli, Maurice Könz, Luc Oggier)
  • «Adiós» by Loco Escrito (songwriter: Henrik Amschler, Sandro Dietrich, Nicolas Herzig, Jonathan Ruiz Mejia, Luigi Zarra)
  • «Us Mänsch» by Bligg feat. Marc Sway (songwriter: Marco Bliggensdorfer, Fred Herrmann, Marc Sway)

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

Hans Feigenwinter comes from Basel. During his early years, he played in pop and indie rock bands. Lateron, he studied piano at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne and has since been active as a pianist and composer in various formations. In addition to solo concerts, he is currently performing in the trios Hans Feigenwinter ZINC and Feigenwinter Oester Pfammatter. He is a lecturer at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne. www.hansfeigenwinter.ch
Related articles
“079”: A tragicomic hit story | plus video“079”: A tragicomic hit story | plus video Lo & Leduc and their co-composer Maurice “Dr Mo” Könz have made history with “079”: Last year, the song stayed an entire 21 weeks at the top of the national charts – and thus broke a Swiss record. “079” is one of the three nominated songs for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and lecturer for musicology, Hans Feigenwinter, analysed the hit composition. Read more
“Us Mänsch”: Last minute hit with loads of energy | plus video“Us Mänsch”: Last minute hit with loads of energy | plus video “Us Mänsch” by Bligg and Marc Sway was one of the most successful Swiss songs last year. This despite the fact that the song only made it to the Bligg album “KombiNation” last minute. Now, the song is nominated for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and music university lecturer Hans Feigenwinter has analysed the composition of “Us Mänsch”. Read more
Award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus videoAward for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus video The newcomer Nickless and the renowned producer Thomas Fessler won the first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards 2016. The winning song “Waiting”, jointly composed by the two, didn’t appear out of thin air but is the result of lots of teamwork. At the occasion of the Swiss Music Awards 2017, SUISA will honour the performance of composers and lyricists with an award again. Read more
Collapse article

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.

At the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019, together with four co-composers Loco Escrito can hope for the sought-after concrete blocks in the category “Best Hit” for the song “Adiós”. The musician and music university lecturer Hans Feigenwinter talks about where the strengths of the song lie in a video with his song analysis. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

Nicolas Herzig – Loco Escrito’s real name – seems to have found the success formula for summer hits. After he hit the Swiss Charts with “Sin Ti” in 2017, he outdid his success last year: The single “Adiós” stayed in the Swiss Charts for 29 weeks and climbed all the way to 4th position. The song thus counted among the three most successful Swiss tracks in 2018 and has been nominated for...read more

“Us Mänsch”: Last minute hit with loads of energy | plus video

“Us Mänsch” by Bligg and Marc Sway was one of the most successful Swiss songs last year. This despite the fact that the song only made it to the Bligg album “KombiNation” last minute. Now, the song is nominated for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and music university lecturer Hans Feigenwinter has analysed the composition of “Us Mänsch”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Bligg and Marc Sway have already written some songs together. For the single “Us Mänsch” they took to the microphone together for the first time. Not without success: The single was awarded platinum status in 2018.

Why is the song so attractive for the audience? Hans Feigenwinter who lectures musicology at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne and is a pianist and composer himself, reckons: “There is a lot of energy, it is a very passionate rap.” In his song analysis which can be watched in the video, he recognises something solemn in the piece: “I had to think of a sermon.”

Last minute hit

Apart from Bligg and Marc Sway, Bligg’s long-term producer and co-composer, Fred Herrmann, contributed to writing “Us Mänsch”. In a written interview, Fred Herrmann described how the song was created:

““Us Mänsch” was a typical last minute hit! It was the very last song which we wrote and produced for the album “KombiNation”. Bligg said that he still had a cool idea for some lyrics with a play on words in relation to “Us Mänsch” which he was very keen to realise. Since we were already lagging behind the time schedule rather significantly, we worked simultaneously. While I worked on the composition and the production, Bligg was honing the lyrics into shape and recorded his vocals. He kept sending me new vocal tracks he had recorded which I either implemented straight away or questioned and asked for improvement. It was a real ping pong party! Somehow we had put the song together, but we found that the refrain needed to be recorded by a male singer with a raucous voice. We quickly thought of Marc Sway whom we both have known very well and for a very long time! Mister Sway came to the studio for two hours each and the refrain was ready! The beauty about composing is that every now and then, completely unpredictably, you manage to create a song where everything is just perfect.”

“Swiss Music Awards”: SUISA awards the songwriter of the “Best Hit”

“Us Mänsch” is one of the three songs that have been nominated for the “Best Hit” at the next “Swiss Music Awards” which will be awarded at the Culture and Congress Centre Lucerne (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern KKL) on Saturday, 16 February 2019. SUISA is a “supporting partner” of the event. For the fourth time, the “Best Hit” award is also issued to composers and lyricists of the winning song on behalf of SUISA. The nominated songs are:

  • “079” by Lo & Leduc (songwriter: Lorenz Häberli, Maurice Könz, Luc Oggier)
  • «Adiós» by Loco Escrito (songwriter: Henrik Amschler, Sandro Dietrich, Nicolas Herzig, Jonathan Ruiz Mejia, Luigi Zarra)
  • «Us Mänsch» by Bligg feat. Marc Sway (songwriter: Marco Bliggensdorfer, Fred Herrmann, Marc Sway)

www.bligg.ch
www.marcsway.ch

Hans Feigenwinter comes from Basel. During his early years, he played in pop and indie rock bands. Lateron, he studied piano at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne and has since been active as a pianist and composer in various formations. In addition to solo concerts, he is currently performing in the trios Hans Feigenwinter ZINC and Feigenwinter Oester Pfammatter. He is a lecturer at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne. www.hansfeigenwinter.ch
Related articles
“079”: A tragicomic hit story | plus video“079”: A tragicomic hit story | plus video Lo & Leduc and their co-composer Maurice “Dr Mo” Könz have made history with “079”: Last year, the song stayed an entire 21 weeks at the top of the national charts – and thus broke a Swiss record. “079” is one of the three nominated songs for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and lecturer for musicology, Hans Feigenwinter, analysed the hit composition. Read more
Marc Sway: “You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video“You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video When we visited him in his studio in January 2018, the long-term SUISA member Marc Sway allowed us a peek into his creative activities and his professional life as a musician. Mid-October 2018, his single “Beat of My Heart” was released as the precursor for his next album whose creation process was one of the main subjects in the video interview. Read more
Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus videoCreative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Read more
Collapse article

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.

“Us Mänsch” by Bligg and Marc Sway was one of the most successful Swiss songs last year. This despite the fact that the song only made it to the Bligg album “KombiNation” last minute. Now, the song is nominated for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and music university lecturer Hans Feigenwinter has analysed the composition of “Us Mänsch”. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Bligg and Marc Sway have already written some songs together. For the single “Us Mänsch” they took to the microphone together for the first time. Not without success: The single was awarded platinum status in 2018.

Why is the song so attractive for the audience? Hans Feigenwinter who lectures musicology at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne and is a...read more

“079”: A tragicomic hit story | plus video

Lo & Leduc and their co-composer Maurice “Dr Mo” Könz have made history with “079”: Last year, the song stayed an entire 21 weeks at the top of the national charts – and thus broke a Swiss record. “079” is one of the three nominated songs for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and lecturer for musicology, Hans Feigenwinter, analysed the hit composition. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

How “079” found its way into the Swiss charts is already a remarkable story. In February 2018, Lo & Leduc offered the song and the respective album “Update 4.0” for streaming and downloading, free of charge, on their website – “because of joy” as they said in an interview at the time. The audience liked the song so much that it sold more and more and was streamed ever more increasingly. That way, “079” made it to number 1 of the Swiss single charts and held the top spot for 21 weeks.

The song was written by Lorenz Häberli (Lo), Luc Oggier (Leduc) and the Berne composer, DJ and performer Maurice Könz, better known as Dr. Mo. The latter wrote the melody to which Lo & Leduc added the lyrics. “The lyrics and the music were created completely independently of each other”, tells Dr. Mo in relation to the creation process of the piece in a written interview. Both elements had already nearly been finished when they were finally combined. “We had tried to combine the lyrics with another beat, respectively to write another set of lyrics for the beat”, Dr. Mo writes. “These ideas, however, were quickly dismissed. When we then combined those lyrics with that beat, we knew immediately that everything fits perfectly.”

Original, moving, somewhat absurd

Last but not least, the story that the song is about contributed to its success. “It is a tragicomic story. It is original, it is comprehensible, it is moving; it all has something absurd about it”, says pianist and composer Hans Feigenwinter who lectures musicology at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne. His analysis of the song can be seen in the video.

The fact that searching for the right words can be rather time intensive in certain cases, is shown by Dr. Mo on the basis of a specific example: “The search for a suitable personal pronoun lasted the longest. We were unsure whether the story can be understood if two different singers perform it from a first person perspective, all the while are depicting the same person. We thus also thought about telling a story about “him” so that the confusion about the personalities could be remedied. This, however, created problems with the conjugation, rhymes and emotional access. We finally decided, and rightly so, that we would have to impose the first person perspective onto the listener.

“Swiss Music Awards”: SUISA awards the songwriter of the “Best Hit”

“079” is one of the three songs that have been nominated for the “Best Hit” at the next “Swiss Music Awards” which will be awarded at the Culture and Congress Centre Lucerne (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern KKL) on Saturday, 16 February 2019. SUISA is a “supporting partner” of the event. For the fourth time, the “Best Hit” award is also issued to composers and lyricists of the winning song on behalf of SUISA. The nominated songs are:

  • “079” by Lo & Leduc (songwriter: Lorenz Häberli, Maurice Könz, Luc Oggier)
  • «Adiós» by Loco Escrito (songwriter: Henrik Amschler, Sandro Dietrich, Nicolas Herzig, Jonathan Ruiz Mejia, Luigi Zarra)
  • «Us Mänsch» by Bligg feat. Marc Sway (songwriter: Marco Bliggensdorfer, Fred Herrmann, Marc Sway)

www.lo-leduc.ch
www.drmo.ch

Hans Feigenwinter comes from Basel. During his early years, he played in pop and indie rock bands. Lateron, he studied piano at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne and has since been active as a pianist and composer in various formations. In addition to solo concerts, he is currently performing in the trios Hans Feigenwinter ZINC and Feigenwinter Oester Pfammatter. He is a lecturer at the music universities in Basel and Lucerne. www.hansfeigenwinter.ch
Related articles
Award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus videoAward for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus video The newcomer Nickless and the renowned producer Thomas Fessler won the first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards 2016. The winning song “Waiting”, jointly composed by the two, didn’t appear out of thin air but is the result of lots of teamwork. At the occasion of the Swiss Music Awards 2017, SUISA will honour the performance of composers and lyricists with an award again. Read more
Marc Sway: “You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video“You write more songs than fit on an album” | plus video When we visited him in his studio in January 2018, the long-term SUISA member Marc Sway allowed us a peek into his creative activities and his professional life as a musician. Mid-October 2018, his single “Beat of My Heart” was released as the precursor for his next album whose creation process was one of the main subjects in the video interview. Read more
Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus videoCreative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Read more
Collapse article

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.

Lo & Leduc and their co-composer Maurice “Dr Mo” Könz have made history with “079”: Last year, the song stayed an entire 21 weeks at the top of the national charts – and thus broke a Swiss record. “079” is one of the three nominated songs for the “Best Hit award at the “Swiss Music Awards” 2019. Musician and lecturer for musicology, Hans Feigenwinter, analysed the hit composition. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Sibylle Roth

How “079” found its way into the Swiss charts is already a remarkable story. In February 2018, Lo & Leduc offered the song and the respective album “Update 4.0” for streaming and downloading, free of charge, on their website – “because of joy” as they said in an interview at the time. The audience liked the...read more

Creative teamwork at SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp | plus video

SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Text and Video by Manu Leuenberger

The musical goal of SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp was to write and compose pop songs suitable for broadcasting and with hit-parade potential, covering the full gamut of contemporary pop music – from urban to singer/songwriter. The participating musicians were divided into teams of 3 to 4 persons with the task of producing one song in one day. The groups changed every day so that the musicians always worked on new songs with new teammates.

Songwriting camps – a well-established format in the pop music branch

The songwriting camp is a well-established production format in the international pop music business. One of the advantages of this format is that it brings together musicians who would not otherwise work together, explained Pele Loriano, the artistic director of the event, in an article about last year’s SUISA Camp published in the “NZZ” (edition of 19.10.2017): “This increases the chance that the special chemistry favouring inspiration will emerge in one of the teams. The great thing about teamwork is that it generates ideas which one person alone would not otherwise have found.”

The foreign producers and songwriters invited by Pele Loriano to the Greifensee were from France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, USA, Sweden, and Canada. In picking the artists from Switzerland, the artistic director was literally spoilt for choice: 75 responses were received to SUISA’s call for applications from members. The number of applicants was far larger then the places available.

Many SUISA members were interested and participated

In order to cope with the large demand, the five teams originally planned were increased to six songwriting groups per day. This enabled more SUISA members than planned to enjoy the opportunity of composing songs jointly with international and Swiss songwriters, and to benefit from the inspirational exchange.

Over the three days from 18 to 20 June 2018, a total of 36 music creators participated in the Songwriting Camp. Of the 26 participating SUISA members, six were from the French-speaking part of the country and three from the Ticino; the others came from German-speaking Switzerland. About 40% of the participants were female musicians (14 female, 22 male artists).

At the final “Listening Session” on Wednesday evening, the artists and guests – including representatives of music publishers – listened to the diversified results of the songwriting sessions. Overall, the teams produced 19 pop songs in the most varied musical styles; from ballads to chanson, from indie pop to dance track, with lyrics in French, German, Italian and English. The future will show whether the demo songs from the “hit factory made in Switzerland”, as the “Aargauer Zeitung” called the SUISA Songwriting Camp in its edition of 1 February 2018, will be successful in finding an audience.

More videos and SUISA Music Stories:
on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube

Related articles
Lars Christen: “Taking part in the songwriting camp was a big win” | plus video“Taking part in the songwriting camp was a big win” | plus video “Compass” is one of the final six Swiss songs competing for entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. It is sung by Alejandro Reyes, who wrote it together with Canadian Laurell Barker and Swiss composer and producer Lars Christen. In an interview with SUISA, Lars Christen talks about the songwriting process. He also explains why he found the songwriting camp such a valuable experience. Read more
“Nothing, nothing at all beats a well-written song”“Nothing, nothing at all beats a well-written song” The international success with Bonaparte is the current highlight of the long-term songwriter career of Tobias Jundt. He penned several hundred titles, spanning a wide stylistic variety, even for or together with other artists. Born in Berne, and now living in Berlin, the composer passes on his knowledge and experience as a guest lecturer at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (Zurich University of the Arts) in the subject “songwriting”. An interview with the SUISA member who has been nominated for the Grand Prix Musik in 2016. Read more
Schedler Music Summit 2018 with Romina KalsiSchedler Music Summit 2018 with Romina Kalsi The sixth recurrence of the Schedler Music Summit, an annual international songwriting camp which is organised by music publishing house Schedler Music, took place between 13 and 18 January 2018 in Lechtal, Austria. For five days, a team of 42 musicians from a variety of musical and geographic contexts with the task to compose a minimum of one song per day. Romina Kalsi, who has been a SUISA member since 2014, was selected by those in charge of the camp and the summit, Fiona Schedler and Alexander Schedler, as one of the nine summit participants from Switzerland. Read more
Collapse article

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.

SUISA organised the second edition of its Songwriting Camp in cooperation with Pele Loriano Productions. Like the premiere last year the camp again took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur. A total of 36 musicians from eight different countries attended the three-day event in June 2018, creating 19 pop songs in a wide range of musical styles. Text and Video by Manu Leuenberger

The musical goal of SUISA’s 2018 Songwriting Camp was to write and compose pop songs suitable for broadcasting and with hit-parade potential, covering the full gamut of contemporary pop music – from urban to singer/songwriter. The participating musicians were divided into teams of 3 to 4 persons with the task of producing one song in one day. The groups changed every day so that the musicians always worked...read more

The shadow man of dialect rock

He composed many of the hits which made Polo Hofer, in particular, famous. Hanery Amman has passed away at the age of 65. Obituary by Ane Hebeisen, guest author

The shadow man of dialect rock

Hanery Amman, a member of SUISA since 1976, in a photo taken at a meeting of SUISA members in Bern on 10 November 2009. (Photo: Wolfgang Rudigier)

When you asked Hanery Amman what his dream was, he would answer that he hoped to be able to make music until the day he died. Life was not always kind to him and would hold in store more than a few disasters and disappointments, but at least that one dream came true: he did what he loved most to the very end – he made music.

It would be exaggerated to say that he displayed any great productivity in his music-making. He had too many other adversities to cope with. Only a fraction of his lifetime output was ever published; we assume that, somewhere in Interlaken, a treasure trove of Hanery Amman essays and studies is awaiting discovery.

The soul of Rumpelstilz

Hanery Amman’s music career got off to an early start. At school he played the banjo and the ukulele. But the piano in the school’s music room would change the entire course of Hanspeter “Hanery” Amman’s career. As soon as he started playing it, he realised that the piano was capable of producing far more emotion than the nasal-sounding plucking instruments.

After his apprenticeship as a precision mechanic, and a detour in the theatre (he is known to have played the general “Treffpunkt Vietnam”, a play staged at the Zurich Zimmer-Theater), he started meeting regularly with his old neighbour, a certain Urs “Polo” Hofer, to play music. The two had lived with their parents in the same house in Interlaken for a long time; the Hofers were witnesses at the Ammans’ wedding, and Polo – who was seven years’ older – used to push baby Hanery’s pram around the neighbourhood.

At the time, nobody knew that they would stay close – sometimes more, sometimes less – to the end of their days; nor that the town of Interlaken would name a square after them.

At their get-togethers, the roles were clearly distributed. Hanery Amman composed the music, Polo Hofer wrote the lyrics. Hofer was the salesman, singer and the cool guy; Amman was the soul of the project and decisively shaped the sound of 1.0 dialect rock. Their blueprint was Udo Lindenberg who had succeeded in merging the German language with the music of the times. Their aim was to do the same with the Swiss-German dialect.

The first Swiss Reggae

Rumpelstilz brought together the most diverse and raging energies. Hanery Amman’s piano playing was influenced by such opposites as Elton John and Chick Corea, for example; the band admired fusion-jazz saxophonist Jim Pepper as well as Bob Dylan and, because their temporary percussionist (and future world music guru) Res Hassenstein was well-acquainted with Caribbean music, they decided to add Reggae to their repertoire.

Hanery Amman wrote his first big hits in this period: “Teddybär” (officially the first dialect Reggae) or the six and one-half minute long “D Rosmarie und i” preluded by a sparkling piano introduction, with a solo in the middle which swung from boogie to blues to jazz. He loved fusion.

Hanery Amman later described his years with Rumpelstilz as the most formative in his career. He liked to say that the band was multicultural at a time when the term “Multi-Kulti” did not even exist. It was with Rumpelstilz that he developed his own style and individuality both as a musician and a composer.

Disbanding of Rumpelstilz

Rumpelstilz may have been extremely successful, but they were by no means sacred in Switzerland at the time. Not even in Interlaken, Hanery Amman’s hometown, was the man with the long blond hair considered a worthy shepherd of Switzerland’s musical tradition; on the contrary, people thought he should go and get some proper work.

In 1979, tension between Hanery and Polo caused the group to disband, which is to be expected when two hard-headed “Gringe” from the Bernese Oberland collide. In an interview shortly afterwards, Hanery explained : “There were two bellwethers in one band. At a certain point, success went to Polo Hofer’s head. That hurt the band.”

And it was also about money: despite the band’s huge success, money was always tight, and nobody really knew why. In hindsight, he was to describe his relationship with Hofer more objectively: “We complemented each other and needed each other”. With age, they regarded each other as friends.

An evergreen hit

After they broke up, Polo Hofer founded his SchmetterDing while Hanery Amman tried to go it alone under his own name. In 1980, he released “Burning Fire”, a solo album produced in Germany; the songs were in English, the style lively Americana rock; in interviews he explained that he wanted to tour with his songs and that in any case Berndeutsch was not really a good language for rock.

In the Bernese Oberland he had little success. But he did play a few concerts in Germany and Austria. Alongside he composed film scores or wrote songs for the Italian pop singer Rita Pavone. He soon ended his cooperation with the German production company, set up his own studio in Interlaken, gave concerts and did what he liked best: wrote songs.

One of these was called “Kentucky Rose” and would probably also have been buried in his archives if Polo Hofer, who was touring with his SchmetterBand, had not heard a demo tape of the song. He simply added lyrics in Berndeutsch, and landed the biggest hit in the history of Swiss music: “Alperose” made Hofer and Amman immortal.

Under his stubborn Bernese skull, Hanery Amman had a heart of gold. Friends say he was a quirky but extremely lovable character. One often hears attributes like direct, honest, stubborn and highly sensitive. He had a good sense of humour and often showed flashes of his wit and warmth.

What he did not like at all, however, were musical lapses: in May 1984 he went to the studio with his band to record an album. He found the result so poor that he refused to release it. Why was soon known: in an interview he criticised his musicians’ work. The band had not been sufficiently motivated on that day. The outcome: Scrap it! Change the Band!

The “Chopin of the Bernese Oberland”

Hard years followed. After an operation for an infection of the inner ear, he developed a tinnitus which would make it nearly impossible for him to play music for a long time. He still played a few concerts, initiated a Rumpelstilz reunion and helped cut three concerts in the Anker in Interlaken (he lived just above the concert hall). The resulting recording “Live im Anker” is one of Switzerland’s best known concert albums.

Amman’s next solo album was only released in 2000. “Solitaire”, as it was titled, was greeted by enthusiastic critics but did not make it further than 90 on the Swiss hit parade. People were then listening to Manu Chao, the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Britney Spears; Amman’s long-brooded and carefully arranged dialect pieces seemed out of fashion. Nor did his doctors have any good news. In 2007, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. A disease that has now, ten years’ later – and five months after Polo Hofer – taken his life.

He never complained about his fate, even though life “dealt him one blow after another”, as he recently said. On the contrary, he felt very grateful. Hanery Amman was never one to push his way into the limelight. His songs made Polo Hofer famous, not him. Show business was a world full of con artists and dazzlers, he would say, and he never really felt at ease in it.

He was happiest at the piano when he could hear his fingers playing. He worked mostly at night (often naked, as he once revealed) – it was his way of meditating the moodiness of the world. “When everything “goes to pot”, in the end you still have music”, was his motto.

If he had had someone at his side to bring a little order to his work and ease his recurring bouts of self-doubt, the man Polo Hofer dubbed the “Chopin of the Bernese Oberland” might have left behind a world-class oeuvre. But the Interlaker never cared much for consultants.

Nevertheless, what he did publish is saved in Switzerland’s long-term memory of dialect music. In his final months he was working on an instrumental album which he hoped to finish before he died. That was not to be. The night before New Year’s eve, Hanery Amman passed away at the age of 65, surrounded by his closest family.

As he sang so beautifully in his solo album “Solitaire”: “U we de meinsch, die Wält göng under, de si d Stärne geng no da”. (When you think the world has ended, the stars are still there.) There is now one more star in the firmament.

www.haneryamman.ch

This obituary by Ane Hebeisen was published in a similar form in Der Bund and the Tages-Anzeiger at the beginning of January 2018.

Collapse article

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.

He composed many of the hits which made Polo Hofer, in particular, famous. Hanery Amman has passed away at the age of 65. Obituary by Ane Hebeisen, guest author

The shadow man of dialect rock

Hanery Amman, a member of SUISA since 1976, in a photo taken at a meeting of SUISA members in Bern on 10 November 2009. (Photo: Wolfgang Rudigier)

When you asked Hanery Amman what his dream was, he would answer that he hoped to be able to make music until the day he died. Life was not always kind to him and would hold in store more than a few disasters and disappointments, but at least that one dream came true: he did what he loved most to the very end – he made music.

It would be exaggerated to say that he displayed any great...read more

Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli was born on 18th July, 75 years ago. 55 years ago, on 19th September, the musician from Zurich founded the legendary beat music band Les Sauterelles. It is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts during the “Beatles week” in Liverpool. At the same time, Toni Vescoli continues to perform with his dialect projects “MacheWasiWill” (dowhatilike), “imDUO” and “Toni VESCOLI&Co”. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli, SUISA member since 1967 has not only influenced Swiss beat music, but has also been pioneering dialect performances, playing Dylan songs and narrating Pingu radio plays (Photo: Kessler)

Five years ago, during the TV programme “Stars extra”, Toni Vescoli said – with an embarrassed grin on his face – that he did not succumb to the DOG, the delusions of grandeur. The show’s presenter Sandra Studer had asked him what it had been like to have led the Swiss charts in 1968 with Les Sauterelles (“Heavenly Club”), topping even the Beatles (“Hey Jude”). With his statement, the singer, guitarist and songwriter from Zurich has described his own character pretty well. While it is obvious that he is still enjoying to perform at concerts to this day, it is because of the music, and not the limelight.

Toni Vescoli was already “extremely” upset, back in 1964, that their impresario had invented an additional name for Les Sauterelles and even printed it bigger than the original band name on the placards: “The Swiss Beatles”. He did not wish to compare himself to other stars but be a creator in his own right. No later than in during the 1970s did he choose to follow his own path, irrespective of trends and hip places.

The path to beat music

His passion for music had, however, not been triggered by the English beat music artists but by American stars such as Johnny Cash and especially Elvis Presley. Toni Vescoli told the author of this article in a former interview that he had already played such kind of music at the end of the fifties. He did so standing on a table in a hip café in Zurich’s Niederdorf quarter, and on a larger scale, sometimes accompanied by a Dixie band. The changeover to beat music was initiated by the Shadows with their unique sound using electric guitars.

He needed a band to do this which is why he founded Les Sauterelles in 1962 whose entire history has been influenced by many changes in terms of the band members. The single “Heavenly Club” brought about the commercial peak in 1968. It was released in the majority of European countries as well as in the US and in Japan. Sometimes they played up to seven hours, performing in up to 350 concerts per year. Nevertheless the band was facing financial problems which is why Toni Vescoli placed an obituary in 1970 announcing: “Les Sauterelles are dead”.

The legendary Swiss beat music band Les Sauterelles was founded 55 years ago. In 2017, the band is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts in Liverpool. (Photo: Gerhard Born)

American influences

It was folk music and especially Bob Dylan which lured Toni Vescoli back to American songwriting and music and influenced his solo career; his album “Bob Dylan Songs” (1993) is a tribute to this, featuring adaptations in the Zurich dialect of Swiss German. Folk music, together with the West Coast music of the 1970s was his entry point to his later mix of Americana music, Toni Vescoli explained in an interview. But his classic hits “Susanne” and “N1” had actually already been country music songs, bordering on bluegrass music.

In the early 1980s, Toni Vescoli returned to rock music, while influenced by Ry Cooder he became a fan of the accordionist Flaco Jimenez who then turned out to play on his album “Tegsass” (1999). Said Tex-Mex reminded him of his youth in Peru (between the age of four and nine), when they listened to Mexican folk songs on the radio. Together with Cajun music, this definitely rubbed off on the Americana album “66” (2008), in particular the lively single track “El Parasito”.

Dialect pioneer

More important than the change in style was Toni Vescoli’s pioneering change to dialect in 1970. He had been instructed by the magazine “Pop” to write a song for the unveiling ceremony of a Wilhelm Tell monument. Instead of writing the lyrics in High German, he felt that Swiss dialect was more apt – and the song hit the right note with the public. He wrote more songs in dialect but his producer felt in 1971 that the time wasn’t right for that yet.

As a consequence, his first album in dialect was not released until 1974 – and Reinhard Mey’s cover version of the song “Susanne” got released before Vescoli’s original. His song “N1” with which he broached the issue of the ambivalent character of the N1 motorway (today’s A1) connecting Switzerland, is also rather striking. “N1 Du bisch e Schtraass wo-n i hass, aber irgendwie han-i Di gern” (N1 you’re a road that I hate but somehow I like you, too); he had already written a popular hit about traffic: “Scho Root” (Red lights again) (1975).

Modest and down-to-earth to this day: Toni Vescoli. (Photo: Plain)

New combinations

What was unusual at the time was that Toni Vescoli combined his dialect lyrics with American music and thus broke open songwriter traditions. He did realise at the time that he was able to reach people much more directly by singing his songs in dialect. As a consequence, he developed his music into a style where the lyrics can be followed better. This led him to folk music which he could also perform on his own.

When he was consequently hired by a small theatre once, he realised that he no longer needed amplifiers and that an acoustic guitar was enough. He thus landed in a music environment which he had not been looking for but where he felt at ease: He continued to play without an amplifying system for nearly 18 years. At some point, however, he felt that this environment where people were “hanging on to his every word”, became too imposing for his liking. He wanted to play electric guitar again, and that’s what the song “Wäge Dir” (because of you) is about.

Words for a love song

The changeover to dialect had not been easy. If you sing in dialect, you have to be very careful about what you wish to sing, Toni Vescoli mentioned in an interview. It was not that easy to sing “ich liebe Dich” (I love you) – even if nowadays these words are not as embarrassing anymore, as the current world of dialect music shows.

Toni Vescoli broached the issue of the difficulty to find words for a love song with the title “Lady Lo” where he sings himself to the conclusion that: “öisi Schprach isch unbruchbar” (our language is useless). It was meant to be a love song for his wife, Toni Vescoli explained, but turned into a confession of failing with regards to finding the right lyrics. It all sounded kitschy and plump – and that is why he turned it into the theme of the song. Where words become useless for the purpose of expressing feelings, the question could be asked whether playing pure instrumental music might be the solution. Toni Vescoli replies to this and laughs that he simply wasn’t good enough as a solo guitarist to do just that.

Indeed, Toni Vescoli has not succumbed to any delusion of grandeur to this day. And he has continued to show that he does not have any fear of being in touch with young musicians or other styles such as hip-hop. In 2012, for example, he presented his interpretation of Baba Uslender’s “Baustellsong” (construction site song) in a show of the “Cover me” series on SRF television. Toni Vescoli has remained young in terms of his music – and may that be so in future!

Information and live dates: www.vescoli.ch (e.g. Performances with Les Sauterelles in Liverpool during the “Beatles week” from 25-28 August).

Related articles
Marco Zappa: 50 anni di musicaMarco Zappa: 50 anni di musica A story of 50 years’ success: The only sustained career in Switzerland in relation to the “canzone italiana” – in all its dimensions. An undisputed, and undoubtedly significant fact about the singer songwriter Marco Zappa from Bellinzona, who has become the focal point of music culture in the Ticino again at the beginning of the year. This comes with the release of his new album “PuntEBarrier” which contains 18 unpublished songs, and a tour across Switzerland starting on 14 March 2017 in the Teatro Sociale Bellinzona. Read more
Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success”Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success” The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with journaliste Jean-Martin Büttner. Read more
“Nothing, nothing at all beats a well-written song”“Nothing, nothing at all beats a well-written song” The international success with Bonaparte is the current highlight of the long-term songwriter career of Tobias Jundt. He penned several hundred titles, spanning a wide stylistic variety, even for or together with other artists. Born in Berne, and now living in Berlin, the composer passes on his knowledge and experience as a guest lecturer at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (Zurich University of the Arts) in the subject “songwriting”. Read more
Collapse article
  1. Ich lernte Toni in den frühen 80er Jahren kennen, als ich der lead Gittarist der Windows war. Toni präsentierte eine TV Show, in der wir auftraten. Ich erinnere mich ganz besonders an ein Konzert im Kongresshaus für die Neubürger Feier, an der Toni präsentierte. Zuerst spielte das Hazi Osterwald Orchester, dann wir. Während wir spielten, standen plötzlich Reihen von Gästen auf und gingen zum Ausgang. Wir hatten keine Erklärung dafür. . . bis wir das Tränengas ‘witterten’, welches ein Idiot in der Mitte des Kongresshauses abgelassen hatte. Toni, mit Tränen in den Augen, steckte seinen Kopf aus dem Vorhang und rief uns zu, “Mached witer, mached witer”. Der Anlass war dann leider zu Ende, da sich niemand dem Tränengas aussetzen wollten.

    Ich war lange zuvor auch mal mit dem Sauterelles Bassisten Freddy Mangili befreundet. Auch ein sehr netter Typ.

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.

Toni Vescoli was born on 18th July, 75 years ago. 55 years ago, on 19th September, the musician from Zurich founded the legendary beat music band Les Sauterelles. It is celebrating its anniversary with a tour that starts during the “Beatles week” in Liverpool. At the same time, Toni Vescoli continues to perform with his dialect projects “MacheWasiWill” (dowhatilike), “imDUO” and “Toni VESCOLI&Co”. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

Toni Vescoli: A year full of vitality and anniversaries

Toni Vescoli, SUISA member since 1967 has not only influenced Swiss beat music, but has also been pioneering dialect performances, playing Dylan songs and narrating Pingu radio plays (Photo: Kessler)

Five years ago, during the TV programme “Stars extra”, Toni Vescoli said – with an embarrassed grin on his face – that he did not succumb to the DOG, the delusions of grandeur. The...read more

New Jersey, just south of Berne

Polo Hofer receives the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 in the category “lyrics author”. Christoph Trummer writes in his guest contribution about the factors distinguishing the works of the award winner from others.

New Jersey, just south of Berne - Polo Hofer FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017

Polo Hofer, winner of the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 has found his way into popular culture and has translated rock and roll as a way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland. (Photo: Patric Spahni)

If you wanted to be brief, you’d say: The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. In 2017, it will be awarded to a lyricist for the first time. Polo Hofer was nominated for the award. What else did you expect the jury should do?

Of course, we’ll gladly dedicate more than just these few words to this worthy award winner and his works.

Those who were born after 1970 and grew up in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, are likely to find it hard to imagine their schooldays, youth and life in Switzerland as such without Polo Hofer and his songs and lyrics. Some of his works, ranging from “Bin i gopfriedstutz e Kiosk” (“Am I a blimmin’ kiosk”) to “Bim Sytesprung im Minimum e Gummi drum” (“For that bit on the side as a minimum a condom”) have turned into one-liners; you cannot possibly imagine everyday language being without them. Even those whose parents don’t even own a Polo Hofer CD can sing along to “Alperose”.

Song lyrics turned into popular cultural assets

These lyrics are now part of popular culture, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, for sure. Since his early days with the band Rumpelstilz, Polo’s discography has been serving as a means to tell the story of a rather eventful Swiss history. The “Summer 68”, when (apparently) it was the done thing to travel to Kabul to smoke weed. The wild 70ies, years of upraise, with Rosmarie to Spain, free love next to the “Teddybär” (“Teddy Bear”). The dark side of dreams in the form of a “Silbernaadle töif im Arm” (“A silver needle deeply plunged into the arm”). And already then, dulled by consumerism, in full swing with the “Waarehuus Blues” (“Warehouse Blues”).

Polo’s lyrics are, sometimes, explicitly political: “Da isch nüt vo Grächtigkeit / So wie’s i dr Verfassig schteit” (“Um WAS geits?”) (“There is no justice / as it’s written in the constitution”, song: “WHAT’s this about?”). He does, however, also narrate world history as a personal story, when an old love affair finally gets a chance as the Berlin wall comes down (“Wenn in Berlin bisch”) (“When you’re in Berlin”). Plus, he criticises society with role prose, whose poetry stems from conversations at the regulars’ table in the pub, for example when the farmer’s son of the Lochmatt sums up the empty promises of a life in the bright city lights: «Lah mi vergässe bim rote Wy» (“Let me forget with a glass of red”). That’s popular in its very essence, but it also has side effects.

Sometimes the loud role of Polo National smothers the fact that he also has other qualities as a lyricist. For example, when he ponders about his own mortality in “Im letschte Tram” (“In the last tram”) or when he negotiates the literal sense of God, all the world and his brother in “I dr Gartebeiz vom Hotel Eden” (“In the garden pub of the Eden Hotel”) without getting lost in intellectual deliberations.

Rock and roll – translated for Switzerland

Some of Polo Hofer’s great songs are congenial translations: Tom Waits’s “Jersey Girl” into “Meitschi vom Wyssebüehl” (“Girl from Weissenbühl” – a Berne suburb), Todd Snider’s “Alright Guy” into “Liebe Siech” (“My dear chap”), and Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill- Box Hat” into “Schlangelädergurt” (“Snake leather belt”). With that, you find out about another one of Polo’s various roles, which make him so significant (not only) for music performed in dialect in Switzerland: He is a translator. Not only a translator of song lyrics but one of the most important translators of rock and roll and popular culture into our culture, into our customs and habits.

Polo Hofer has managed to turn desires, but also the lustfulness of the young with its pubescent obscenities, the rebellion against a stale and settled system, in brief: the rock and roll way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland into sound. D’Stüehl ewäg, mir sy giggerig u wei schwoofe (Get the chairs out of the way, we’re in the mood and want to dance). He was inspired by, and found some of his topics in the rock and roll catalogue of legends and brought it to Switzerland: We would probably not get into a ride with Bobby McGee on the highway, but hitchhike with Rosmarie from Paris to Gibraltar. Wyssebüehl is closer than New Jersey.

Polo Hofer as a central figure of our story has opened doors through which many others could pass, even if they didn’t even know his music at all. And now he receives an award for this work. As such, the FONDATION SUISA Award 2017 is a kind of “Lifetime Achievement Award”. We congratulate you from our hearts!

www.polohofer.ch

The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. FONDATION SUISA bestows this award to authors and publishers rendering outstanding contributions to the enrichment of the cultural heritage of our country with their creations. The award, valued at CHF 25,000.00 is granted in a different category each year.

Christoph Trummer won the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2011 in the category “Singer/Songwriter”. Our guest author was born in 1978 and grew up in Frutigen (BE). Apart from his musical activities, he is President of the Association for Music Creators Switzerland.

Related articles
Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success”Lyrics for a song: “Anything goes – if it has success” The FONDATION SUISA dedicates its CHF 25,000 recognition award to lyricists of musical works this year. But what makes a song text a success? Guest author Markus Ganz in an interview with journalist Jean-Martin Büttner. Read more
“The FONDATION SUISA Award 2015 gives us a push for the future!”“The FONDATION SUISA Award 2015 gives us a push for the future!” The Duo Aliose receives this year’s FONDATION SUISA Award for its outstanding performances in the musical genre ‘variété’. Since the release of its debut album in 2009, Aliose have performed at more than 250 concerts, of which a third took place outside of Switzerland. Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel met more than 10 years ago at a workshop for authors, composers and artists. The award winners provided us with a written statement on their music, composing, winning the award and their next album. Read more
Award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus videoAward for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards | plus video The newcomer Nickless and the renowned producer Thomas Fessler won the first award for songwriters at the Swiss Music Awards 2016. The winning song “Waiting”, jointly composed by the two, didn’t appear out of thin air but is the result of lots of teamwork. At the occasion of the Swiss Music Awards 2017, SUISA will honour the performance of composers and lyricists with an award again. Read more
Collapse article

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.

Polo Hofer receives the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 in the category “lyrics author”. Christoph Trummer writes in his guest contribution about the factors distinguishing the works of the award winner from others.

New Jersey, just south of Berne - Polo Hofer FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017

Polo Hofer, winner of the FONDATION SUISA Prize 2017 has found his way into popular culture and has translated rock and roll as a way of life for the German-speaking part of Switzerland. (Photo: Patric Spahni)

If you wanted to be brief, you’d say: The FONDATION SUISA Prize is a recognition award for outstanding creations. In 2017, it will be awarded to a lyricist for the first time. Polo Hofer was nominated for the award. What else did you expect the jury should do?

Of course, we’ll gladly dedicate more than just these few words to this worthy award winner and his works.

Those...read more