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Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our band in July 1974 in the Kursaal Bern – Georges Pilloud was the initiator.

At the end of May 1978, I contacted you at Radio Studio Bern, “Do you need an archive staff member?ˮ “No! A producer is urgently needed, come to Bern, details will be discussed later.ˮ The first meeting with you took place in the radio play studio. You at the Steinway Concert Grand piano. “Do you know Cantaloupe Island?ˮ I asked, you played it right away. Perhaps this was the prelude to our long-standing relationship.

Monday, July 3, 1978 was my first day of work at the radio studio in Bern. No sign of Willy. I was on my own, because your workplace was at the Montreux Jazz Festival – together with Ruedi Kaspar. For several years you were the “Radio dream teamˮ in Montreux – unforgotten are your multilingual interviews with world-class musicians. At that time, I did not know that you had made a brilliant coup years earlier by acquiring the broadcasting rights for all live broadcasts on Radio DRS2.

The following 2 months were a crash course in “how Radio DRS worksˮ: Departmental structures, reading and interpreting minutes of meetings, as well as ways of speaking and sensitivities of media workers. Whenever the “regularˮ working hours were exceeded, these extra lessons were moved to the garden of a nearby pub.

Your plan was to manage the programme area of entertainment music at DRS1. Together with Ruedi Kaspar you invented “5 after 4ˮ, the first radio show with pop and rock music. Polo Hofer was a discovery by the two of you, and your presence on this show was the cornerstone of Poloʼs career and of dialect rock.

Your specifications for a balanced DRS1 music programme were easy for me to meet. Like you, I was not afraid of any kind of music: in our opinion, it had to be well played and sound good. There were numerous records of almost every genre, and all the music editors maintained extensive archives of their own. I didnʼt know at that time that you had established a free sampling service through your excellent relationships with the record industry approximately 5 years earlier – a classic win-win situation. Without this coup de main, your ideas of a successful DRS1 radio music programme would have failed – simply because the desired music repertoire would not have been available.

Your appointment as “Chief of Entertainment Music Radio DRS1ˮ occurred in 1978. In the following year, your new place of work was Studio Zurich, Ruedi Kaspar “dislocatedˮ to Studio Basel. The fact that this was the prelude to DRS3 was unknown to me. However, inside the radio it was suspected that a 3rd radio programme could be in the planning phase. In autumn 1982, I followed your call to move to Studio Zurich to build up the “Zurichˮ part of the music editorial department. With the success of Radio 24 (start of broadcasting 28.11.1979), Radio DRS increased the implementation speed.

On 1 November 1983, SRG General Director Leo Schürmann symbolically pressed the start button: DRS3 broadcast for the first time.

The following 5 years were the most successful years of DRS3, despite some major differences of opinion between the three editorial offices in Basel, Bern, and Zurich. As “Head of the Music Departmentˮ, you mastered these difficulties with great expertise, caution and gentle pressure.

In 1988, he moved from DRS3 to DRS2. It is possible that recurring discussions of principle on the subject of “musicˮ as well as overflowing meetings and bureaucracy left their mark. It may also be that your love of jazz and music-making as a member of the DRS3 management team had been neglected. The takeover of the “jazzˮ department was the prelude to the establishment of the CH jazz scene, which became a valuable platform with studio sessions for young talent and lesser known formations. For Radio DRS2, this was an important undertaking, which also established the station as an institution for the promotion of culture.

1991 was the birth year of “Apéroˮ, the radio show on DRS2, which you conceived. On the occasion of an annual studio party in Studio 2 in Zurich, you played a Duke Ellington Medley on the concert grand piano, which made everyone present – radio director Andreas Blum was also present – realise that you were a brilliant pianist.

I have always been a big Hazy Osterwald fan. My idea was to re-produce the jazz repertoire of the Osterwald Sextet with an identical formation consisting of you and former DRS band musicians. Together we discovered more than 70 recordings of Hazyʼs best formation from 1951-1964 in the Zurich radio archive. Jazz of the highest level in excellent recording quality, produced by Radio Beromünster in the studio in Basel with Eddie Brunner as sound engineer – former member and later band leader of the famous Teddy Stauffer Band. With your help, a significant document of Swiss jazz from the years 1951-1964 was produced in 1994, the CD box set “50 Years of Music with a Touch of Swingˮ was a great success.

Our intention to realise a production with the post-produced “Hazy Osterwald Jazz Hitsˮ was not executed after careful consideration: Sound, charm, groove of this epoch were too unique and could not be reproduced … A wise decision and a reference to the great recording technique of Radio Beromünster and the producing of Eddie.

In November of the same year the “Berner Song Daysˮ took place in the “Bierhübeliˮ. Your formation, the Willy Bischof Jazztet with Hazy Osterwald, Willy Schmid, Peter Schmidlin and Stefan Kurmann, founded in 1993, was invited as guest of honour. Radio DRS1 recorded the concert. The subsequent CD “Swiss Airˮ is still available today.

In 1998 you were awarded the long overdue “Prix Waloˮ for the radio show “Apéroˮ.

Willy Bischof warming up in the studio. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

In 2004, I had the idea to produce a recording with you as a solo pianist. The planned location was Studio Mulinetti in Genoa. Versions of Italian classics such as Roma Nun Faʼ Stupido Stasera or Estaté were up for discussion. No persuasion was needed on my part – you were immediately enthusiastic about the project. We assembled the repertoire together. Victor Eugster from “Activ Recordsˮ financed the project. The production date was the end of September 2004. However, shortly before the recording date you changed your mind: “I would rather record French chansons in my own versions – a CD title is already available – ʻA Pianist In Parisʼˮ … Suitable chansons were quickly evaluated. I travelled to Camogli – 30 km east of Genoa – at that time my second home to prepare the production.

The session was successful – all participants got along very well and you played superbly as always. I remember that this was perhaps one of your lucky musical moments.

Your retirement in 2005 encouraged me to retire a year later as well. In the following years, our meetings became rarer – I learned through the grapevine that your health had become unstable. Our last personal contact was on the occasion of a concert I organised with your trio on 21 January 2011 at the Hotel Palace Lucerne.

What remains is the memory of an extraordinary person and gifted musician. You didnʼt strike me as a superior. You were a friend.

Addio Willy

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The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our...read more

“Répondez-Moi”: Third Swiss ESC song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp

With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2010. The song was written by Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears) and SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Duo Aliose together with Belgian producer Jeroen Swinnen at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

On 4 March 2020, Swiss Television SRF announced the Swiss contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). This time, Switzerland is entering the race with “Répondez-moi” sung by the French-speaking Swiss singer-songwriter Gjon’s Tears. Following “Stones” by ZiBBZ (2018) and “She Got Me” by Luca Hänni (2019), this is the third time in a row that the Swiss ESC song comes from the songwriting camp organized by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

Répondez-Moi” was composed in June 2019 in the Powerplay Studios in Maur / Zurich in a one-day songwriting session by the song’s interpreter, Gjon Muherramaj (Gjon’s Tears), together with SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Geneva-based duo Aliose and Belgian songwriter and producer Jeroen Swinnen. The song won the internal selection procedure of the Swiss television SRF.

“Too many ideas and not enough time”

“I remember the good vibes,” reports Xavier Michel. At the same time the four composers were under time pressure, as Xavier Michel says. “In one day, you have to get to know one another, and have to start working together. Then by the evening, you have to have something finished.” Jeroen Swinnen adds: ” We never had enough time, never! We had too many ideas and not enough time. It’s better than having no ideas.”

“The melody evolved quickly,” says Alizée Oswald in the video interview. “Then we asked ourselves what words would sound good. Because that’s always how it is with French. It’s very challenging to make it sound like English, for example.”

Simple, naive language for universal topics

The search for the right words was very important to the four songwriters in order to convey the universal message of the piece. “The challenge was to get quite a simple feel to the lyrics – almost naive, like the language of a child,” explains Alizée Oswald. From the song you can hear that it is a universal theme to get answers to questions. This simplicity was especially important to Gjon Muherramaj: ” The first time we talked, I said that, for me, the most important value of all is innocence,” he says. ” It’s that experience of rediscovering what it’s like to learn something. When you discover the beauty in something, for example, you see a child who suddenly realises that the Earth is round or that there are several continents.” He adds: ” I think that the song’s message for the listener is: even if you have a lot of questions with no answers, you can keep on asking questions all your life.”

For the first time since 2010, a song in French is going to the ESC for Switzerland

With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language song to the ESC for the first time since 2010 after Michael von der Heides’ song “Il pleu de l’or”. ” I think that for us having a French song at Eurovision, that’s a key point ,” says Xavier Michel in the video interview. “Supporting a beautiful language, our language.“

“A song that grabs me, it’s really about the alchemy between the lyrics, the music and the voice,” says Alizée Oswald. ” With this song, there is a moment, when Gjon sings the chorus, for example, and the first words come together, the first arrangements. And that’s when I realised that this song could be really great.”

Gjon’s Tears became known to a wide audience in Switzerland and France through his participation in the eighth season of “The Voice France”, where he advanced to the semi-finals. In 2018, the singer-songwriter was also a participant in the Gustav Academy, which is run by the Fribourg musician and SUISA member Gustav and promotes young Swiss musicians both musically and linguistically.

The Eurovision Song Contest is probably the most famous music competition in the world. More than 182 million viewers around the world watched the two semi-finals and the Grand Final on television in 2019. Switzerland reached 4th place in the final with Luca Hänni’s song “She Got Me”. This year, the ESC will take place from Tuesday 12 May to Saturday 16 May in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In the second semi-final on 14 May, the Swiss entry will compete for entry into the ESC Grand Final.

SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions will again hold a Songwriting Camp this year. SUISA members will be able to reapply for participation in the camp. Information on the application procedure will soon be published on the SUISAblog.

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With “Répondez-Moi”, Switzerland is sending a French-language entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2010. The song was written by Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears) and SUISA members Alizé Oswald and Xavier Michel of the Duo Aliose together with Belgian producer Jeroen Swinnen at the SUISA Songwriting Camp. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; Video by Manu Leuenberger

On 4 March 2020, Swiss Television SRF announced the Swiss contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). This time, Switzerland is entering the race with “Répondez-moi” sung by the French-speaking Swiss singer-songwriter Gjon’s Tears. Following “Stones” by ZiBBZ (2018) and “She Got Me” by Luca Hänni (2019), this is the third time in a row that the Swiss ESC song comes from the songwriting camp organized by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

Répondez-Moi”...read more

Switzerland will be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by Luca Hänni and a song from the SUISA Songwriting Camp | plus video

For the second time in succession, the Swiss entry for the Eurovision Song Contest has come from the SUISA Songwriting Camp. The song “She Got Me” was written last June at the Powerplay Studios by SUISA member Luca Hänni with Canadian songwriters Laurell Barker and Frazer Mac as well as Swedish producer Jon Hällgren. Text and video by Sibylle Roth

The song “She Got Me”, which had the working title of “Dirty Dancing”, was written during the SUISA Songwriting Camp in June 2018 by a four-person team. With Germany taking another song – “Sister” – from the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2018 to the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, this represents another major success for the songwriting camp, staged by SUISA in collaboration with Pele Loriano Productions.

“It’s fantastic”, says Luca Hänni, a SUISA member since 2015. The Bern native was first exposed to the broader public in a German casting show in 2012. Since then, he has issued four albums and a number of singles, and recently appeared on stage with Helene Fischer. Eurovision is the next big adventure in his career. Hänni says he’s excited, “and I just want to give the best show possible.”

Last year, Luca Hänni took part in the SUISA Songwriting Camp for the first time, with Canadian songwriters Laurell Barker and Frazer Mac returning for a second time. For Laurell Barker, the Swiss camp is a real success story; she contributed to Switzerland’s Eurovision entry last year as well. She wrote the song “Stones” with ZiBBZ, which is made up of SUISA members Corinne and Stefan Gfeller. Jon Hällgren, the Swedish producer, completes the songwriting quartet. After the camp, he produced “She Got Me” for Eurovision 2019 in collaboration with his son Lukas Hällgren.

This year, Swiss broadcaster SRF left the decision on the Eurovision entry to an international jury of 20 experts and a 100-strong viewer panel in a multiple-stage process. Over 420 songs were entered.

On 16 May 2019 (SRF zwei at 9:00 pm), Switzerland will be battling for a place in the Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv. The Eurovision final will take place on 18 May 2019 (SRF 1 at 8:00 pm).

The SUISA Songwriting Camp took place in June 2018 for the second time. Overall, 36 musicians from eight countries took part in the three-day event in Powerplay Studios, Maur. This resulted in 19 pop songs in a range of styles. The camp was staged by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

www.lucamusic.ch

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For the second time in succession, the Swiss entry for the Eurovision Song Contest has come from the SUISA Songwriting Camp. The song “She Got Me” was written last June at the Powerplay Studios by SUISA member Luca Hänni with Canadian songwriters Laurell Barker and Frazer Mac as well as Swedish producer Jon Hällgren. Text and video by Sibylle Roth

The song “She Got Me”, which had the working title of “Dirty Dancing”, was written during the SUISA Songwriting Camp in June 2018 by a four-person team. With Germany taking another song – “Sister” – from the SUISA Songwriting Camp 2018 to the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, this represents another major success for the songwriting camp, staged by SUISA in collaboration with Pele Loriano Productions.

“It’s fantastic”, says Luca Hänni, a...read more

“SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret at 10:00 am. The three-concert series, featuring works by 13 contemporary composers, attracted interest from far beyond the region’s borders. In a review published two days after the event, the “Freiburger Nachrichten” wrote: “There was hardly a spare seat inside the cultural centre.”

The festival guide had announced the SUISA-supported day of concerts in the “Offen für Neues” series as “a day of encounter”. This proved to be true in several respects on the day itself on Saturday, 25 August 2018: thanks to the wide range of works performed, the audience had a chance to discover the tonal variety of the contemporary compositions. Many of the composers whose pieces were played had travelled to Murten themselves, where they provided insights into their musical philosophy in short introductory speeches. The musicians in attendance also engaged in lively discussions during the breaks between the three concerts.

Well organised, interpreted and integrated

One of the ideas behind the day was “not to try and impress with premières, but instead to show a broad musical spectrum”, explained Roman Brotbeck, who as the moderator guided the audience through the programme. Andreas Zurbriggen praised this approach in his review in “Schweizer Musikzeitung” (September/October 2018). According to him, there are enough world premières, but the same cannot be said of second and third performances of contemporary pieces. Zurbriggen believes the organisers succeeded in their aim, with the artistic director, Kaspar Zehnder, demonstrating his talent for putting together a programme and “allowing different worlds to collide”. “And the interpretations, such as those of the Belenus Quartet, the pianist Gilles Grimaître and Ensemble mit vier, were of a very high standard”, wrote the reviewer in the same article.

The review of the concert day in the “Freiburger Nachrichten” concluded by saying: “It’s good that there is a place for these kinds of experiments in the festival programme alongside the popular concerts.” The ambitious “Offen für Neues” one-day project of the Murten Classics Festival and SUISA met with a positive response all round, as also shown by the feedback from the participants below.

In its programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” on Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 9 pm, Radio SRF 2 Kultur will play excerpts from the three concerts held on 25 August 2018.

Katrin Frauchiger

In her short introductory speech, composer Katrin Frauchiger from Berne explained her piece “Mare nostrum” for flute and string trio, which was subsequently played in concert. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Katrin Frauchiger, composer and singer, lecturer HSLU:

“As a composer, I greatly appreciate the joint commitment made by Murten Classics and SUISA in hosting an entire day of contemporary music. The organisers’ courage in sending out an important message within the context of the Murten Festival paid off in every respect: the event attracted a large audience of extremely interested people who were open to new music.
Three fresh, carefully curated concerts were presented with a speech and introduction, and each had an inspiring theme for the listener: Waves from another world / Immigration-Emigration / Roots and great places. In a conversation with Roman Brotbeck, I had the opportunity to personally introduce my piece ‘Mare Nostrum’ and thus open the door to a beautiful performance of my music. The other composers present also had the same opportunity. The interaction between the audience and the composers was equally valuable, some of whom had travelled from afar.”

Irene Minder-Jeanneret

“An architect can make a living from their compositions, but this is hardly true for a composer”, said the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret during the opening speech, going on to explain why Swiss music artists deserve more recognition. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret, musicologist, member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group:

“SUISA Day offered a valuable and rare tour of both the music industry and the cultural-political significance of music in Switzerland. It illustrated the gap between the lively and exceptional musical reality in our country and the lack of political recognition. Although a third of the population is actively involved in making music, Switzerland is still not perceived as a musical country. Creating, making, teaching, distributing and documenting music are equal facets of an important cultural sector, and they deserve to be recognised, promoted and made known at all political levels. Just as in the film industry, there are some activities in the musical field that cannot be supported by the cantons alone.
As a member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group, SUISA Day gave me a unique opportunity to talk to participants from all areas of music. Without doubt, the event also helped to raise awareness of the individual concerns.”

Kaspar Zehnder

The artistic director of the Murten Classics Festival, Kaspar Zehnder, also played the flute at SUISA Day. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Kaspar Zehnder, artistic director of Murten Classics and curator of the first ‘SUISA Day’ on 25 August 2018:

“The heterogeneity and diversity of the programme made for an interesting and exciting day. Through combination of a wide variety of aesthetics, it provided the perfect stage for the audience, composers, presenters and performers to engage in lively discussions, or to enjoy a slice of Murten cream cake and a glass of red wine from Vully in rapt silence.
At the very least, SUISA Day should become a biennial tradition at the Murten Classics.”

www.murtenclassics.ch

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The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret...read more

2018 – a challenging year?!

Review of the Copyright Act, No-Billag-Initiative, online licensing, further development of “my account”… With such topics, SUISA continues to pursue the aim to offer its members efficient services and to create optimal framework conditions. We will face the challenge! By Irène Philipp Ziebold, Director

2018 – a challenging year?!

SUISA supports a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative: “If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators” writes Director Irène Philipp Ziebold. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

We want to continue to provide efficient services to our members in 2018 and to create optimal framework conditions for them. We have been pursuing these goals in a continuous process for quite a while. For this year we have made a clear note of these intentions and resolutions in our ‘to do’ notepads, since we are facing many challenges in 2018.

With respect to the framework conditions, for example, it is important that authors and publishers benefit better from the online usage of their works with the review of the Copyright Act, or that, in the interest of Swiss music, the reception fees made out of solidarity for public service media are not abolished. In an increasingly cross-border oriented competitive environment, it is, however, also of entrepreneurial importance to optimise the service range offered for members and customers alike.

Since December 2017, statements are made available via “my account”Since December 2017, statements are made available via “my account”
Thanks to the password-protected members’ area “my account”, our members can keep an overview of their distribution statements and distribution settlements. Many members asked us to stop the dispatch by post. We have taken this request into account and introduced the option to renounce on the postal dispatch. Read more

Something we at SUISA can determine as a Cooperative Society is whether a member can access its settlements via “my account”. Since December 2017, only those who have had access to “my account” have been receiving their distributions electronically. It is important in this context that we approach such developments in the interest of our members and never lose sight of the goal to offer high-quality efficient services. Driven by such a motivation, we have continued to improve our services for our members throughout the last few years.

Above and beyond that, we also have the duty as a collective management organisation for copyright to make social and political statements and to create optimal framework conditions as a consequence. Compared to the above mentioned “internal” processes and services, we cannot make the “right” decisions ourselves but influence matters so that the interests of our members are being taken seriously.

Copyright Act Review: Authors and publishers must benefit more from the online exploitation of their worksCopyright Act Review: Authors and publishers must benefit more from the online exploitation of their works
The Federal Council has adopted a dispatch on the new Copyright Act. SUISA is in principle content with the current version of the law. The solutions achieved in the working group for the Copyright Act (AGUR12 II) were implemented. In order for authors, performers, publishers and producers to benefit better from the digitisation, it is necessary to adopt important additions. Read more

We thus engage ourselves to ensure that the creatives, our members as the content suppliers for online platforms do not come out of this empty-handed and that they can expect a modern Copyright Act.

We therefore also support a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative. For many of our members, the public service idea, especially the opportunity to disseminate music and culture, is essential. In this case, the broadcasters of SRG SSR as well as the 35 state-licensed TV and radio stations play a fundamental role. If the reception fees made by Swiss households out of solidarity for their public service media would be abolished, then important platforms for our members for the dissemination of their works would fall away.

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoireSubsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire
Subsidised radio and TV broadcasters in Switzerland and Liechtenstein tend to create more broadcasting space for the music of SUISA members than privately financed channels. Moreover, the majority of the broadcasters supported by the Swiss Federation play more diverse music titles than their counterparts which are focussed on advertising revenue. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media. Read more

SUISA therefore supports the activities of creators and artists and their associations such as Sonart – music creatives Switzerland, Suisseculture or the Swiss Music Council against No-Billag. If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators. And that’s why we take on the challenges 2018 is going to throw at us!

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Review of the Copyright Act, No-Billag-Initiative, online licensing, further development of “my account”… With such topics, SUISA continues to pursue the aim to offer its members efficient services and to create optimal framework conditions. We will face the challenge! By Irène Philipp Ziebold, Director

2018 – a challenging year?!

SUISA supports a NO to the No-Billag-Initiative: “If we did not do anything, we would not live up to our duties as a self-help organisation of music creators” writes Director Irène Philipp Ziebold. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

We want to continue to provide efficient services to our members in 2018 and to create optimal framework conditions for them. We have been pursuing these goals in a continuous process for quite a while. For this year we have made a clear note of these intentions and resolutions in our ‘to do’...read more

“The inspiration for my songs often comes from a single word” | plus video

As a composer and lyricist, Alejandro Reyes from Lausanne has two songs in the Swiss final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018: “Kiss Me” and “Compass”. He also performs the latter track himself. The songs were written at the songwriting camp organised by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA. Writing music as part of a team was new for Alejandro – and an inspiring process. In an interview, the young songwriter explains more about how his two Eurovision songs came about. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

“I never imagined having two songs in the Swiss Eurovision final”, says Alejandro. And no wonder: at 25, Alejandro has only been making music for around seven years. For him, both the Eurovision Song Contest and the songwriting camp were entirely new experiences. It was also the first time that he had written songs in collaboration with other composers and lyricists – which made him all the more proud of his success. “Before coming to the camp, I didn’t think I’d have so much to contribute to the process”, he admits.

It was a great experience for the young songwriter: “I was able to share my perspective and my way of working”, he says. “I also gained a lot from the others at the same time – both positive and not-so-positive feedback that helped me grow as a songwriter.” What particularly struck Alejandro about the songwriting camp was the experience of working together with other songwriters, most of whom he had never met before, for just one day. “There was something really unique and authentic that came out of the collaboration – it really captured a moment in time.”

Alejandro was able to choose which of two songs he co-wrote he wanted to perform: “Compass” or “Kiss Me”. He chose “Compass”, as he felt the song’s story resonated more, and it was a song that went very deep. “The very first lines take you to a profound, moving place. The song has a message”, says Alejandro.

He worked together with the Swiss composer and producer Lars Christen and the Canadian songwriter Laurell Barker on “Compass”. “We started with the basic mood of the song and the idea for the story”, says Alejandro, reflecting on the process of creating the song. The outline of the song came together relatively quickly.

When asked about how he writes his songs, Alejandro answered that, “The inspiration for my songs often comes from a single word.” In the case of “Compass”, he imagined someone reorienting themselves – with a compass. And it’s clear where Alejandro Reyes’ own compass is pointing him: towards the Eurovision Song Contest final 2018!

www.alejandro-reyes.com

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As a composer and lyricist, Alejandro Reyes from Lausanne has two songs in the Swiss final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018: “Kiss Me” and “Compass”. He also performs the latter track himself. The songs were written at the songwriting camp organised by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA. Writing music as part of a team was new for Alejandro – and an inspiring process. In an interview, the young songwriter explains more about how his two Eurovision songs came about. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

“I never imagined having two songs in the Swiss Eurovision final”, says Alejandro. And no wonder: at 25, Alejandro has only been making music for around seven years. For him, both the Eurovision Song Contest and the songwriting camp were entirely new experiences. It...read more

“You have three minutes to impress the whole of Europe” | plus video

Ticino-based musician Chiara Dubey has a good chance of representing Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on 12 May 2018 with her song “Secrets and Lies”. The pop ballade was written at the songwriting camp organised by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA that took place in August 2017. In an interview, Chiara Dubey talks about her collaboration with her co-songwriters Jeroen Swinnen from Belgium and Janie Price from the UK. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

As a performer, Chiara Dubey has the most Eurovision experience of the six finalists. The Ticino musician has made it to the final round of artists fighting to perform the Eurovision Song Contest for the third time. She wrote her current song “Secrets and Lies” together with the Belgian songwriter and producer Jeroen Swinnen and the British artist Janie Price at the songwriting camp organised by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA.

Chiara explains how the song was written. “Jeroen played a chord sequence on the piano and I improvised a melody, based purely on gut instinct. Bit by bit we added more elements and tinkered with it, like a puzzle, until we had an outline we were all happy with. ” The lyrics came from Janie Price, who arrived at the camp with her own texts. “We adapted her lyrics to the new structure and melody”, says Chiara. “Janie wrote the words, and I gave them my own personal touch.”

Composing a song in this way was a new experience for Chiara: “It was a new feeling for me, not having everything under control!” The Swiss musician normally likes to have an overview of the composition, lyrics, arrangement and instrumentation of her music, but this wasn’t the case at the songwriting camp. “You have to relinquish control and create something that works for all of the artists involved”, explains Chiara on the subject of group composition.

In the end, it’s about coming up with the best possible result – after all, as Chiara says, at the Eurovision Song Contest, “You only have three minutes to impress the whole of Europe.”

www.chiaradubey.com

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Ticino-based musician Chiara Dubey has a good chance of representing Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on 12 May 2018 with her song “Secrets and Lies”. The pop ballade was written at the songwriting camp organised by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA that took place in August 2017. In an interview, Chiara Dubey talks about her collaboration with her co-songwriters Jeroen Swinnen from Belgium and Janie Price from the UK. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

As a performer, Chiara Dubey has the most Eurovision experience of the six finalists. The Ticino musician has made it to the final round of artists fighting to perform the Eurovision Song Contest for the third time. She wrote her current song “Secrets and Lies” together with the Belgian songwriter and producer...read more

“We wanted to write a song that suits us” | plus video

Siblings Co and Stee Gfeller, better known as ZiBBZ, are battling it out for entry to the Eurovision Song Contest with their song “Stones”. They wrote the song together with Canadian songwriter Laurell Barker at the songwriting camp staged by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA in August 2017. In the video, the two siblings tell us more about how the song came about and why this kind of songwriting camp is so important. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

Co and Stee Gfeller commute between Los Angeles and Switzerland. In their LA music lab, the two often take part in songwriting sessions with other musicians – a form of creative exchange missing from Switzerland until now. “It’s so great that now we have a songwriting camp for the first time in Switzerland”, says Co Gfeller.

When they took part in the songwriting camp at Powerplay Studios in August 2017, the siblings wrote two songs in two days. With the song “Stones”, they will be battling it out at the SRF decision show on 4 February 2018, hoping to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest finale in Lisbon.

The Gfellers co-wrote the song with Canadian songwriter Laurell Barker. Working as a trio proved to be highly productive; As ZiBBZ recall in the interview, the basic structure of the song was there in just 30 minutes. The song came about almost “magically” on the day, as they explain.

www.zibbz.com

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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
Kate Northrop, lyricist: “You always want to write the best song you can” | plus video“You always want to write the best song you can” | plus video Songwriter Kate Northrop is primarily a lyricist, a creative role that doesn’t often land her in the spotlight. Together with three other authors, the SUISA member co-wrote Naeman’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, “Kiss Me”. In a video interview, Kate Northrop explains how she came up with the song lyrics and how she was inspired by the songwriting camp organised by SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions. Read more
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Siblings Co and Stee Gfeller, better known as ZiBBZ, are battling it out for entry to the Eurovision Song Contest with their song “Stones”. They wrote the song together with Canadian songwriter Laurell Barker at the songwriting camp staged by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA in August 2017. In the video, the two siblings tell us more about how the song came about and why this kind of songwriting camp is so important. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

Co and Stee Gfeller commute between Los Angeles and Switzerland. In their LA music lab, the two often take part in songwriting sessions with other musicians – a form of creative exchange missing from Switzerland until now. “It’s so great that now we have a songwriting camp for the first time...read more

“You always want to write the best song you can” | plus video

Songwriter Kate Northrop is primarily a lyricist, a creative role that doesn’t often land her in the spotlight. Together with three other authors, the SUISA member co-wrote Naeman’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, “Kiss Me”. In a video interview, Kate Northrop explains how she came up with the song lyrics and how she was inspired by the songwriting camp organised by SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi, video by Manu Leuenberger

Behind every good song is a good songwriter – and in the case of “Kiss Me”, there were four. The song is among the Swiss finalists for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, and is performed by Naeman. It was written by Alejandro Reyes from Lausanne, Ken Berglund from Sweden, Eric Lumière from the USA and Kate Northrop.

Kate originally comes from the USA, now lives in Switzerland, and helped write the lyrics. The story the song tells is the result of a team effort: “First, we all told each other what we thought the song’s story was”, the songwriter explains. “Then we tried to capture that with music, words and – above all – emotions.”

Kate had written songs with a number of different co-authors before, but the process at the songwriting camp was an entirely new experience for her: she had 12 hours to write a finished song with a group of artists she had never met before. Kate loved this method of songwriting: “Working with these artists was incredibly inspiring”, she says. “In order to create something, you have to be open to creative ideas from the rest of the group.”

The fact that the songs written at the songwriting camp were being written for the Eurovision Song Contest made no difference to Kate: “I don’t think writing for the Eurovision Song Contest is different from writing any other kind of song. You always want to write the best song you can.”

www.songwave.ch, Kate Northrop’s website

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Songwriter Kate Northrop is primarily a lyricist, a creative role that doesn’t often land her in the spotlight. Together with three other authors, the SUISA member co-wrote Naeman’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, “Kiss Me”. In a video interview, Kate Northrop explains how she came up with the song lyrics and how she was inspired by the songwriting camp organised by SUISA and Pele Loriano Productions. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi, video by Manu Leuenberger

Behind every good song is a good songwriter – and in the case of “Kiss Me”, there were four. The song is among the Swiss finalists for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, and is performed by Naeman. It was written by Alejandro Reyes from Lausanne, Ken Berglund from Sweden, Eric Lumière from the USA and Kate Northrop.

Kate...read more

“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. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

Lars Christen is a much asked for producer and songwriter. He works with artists such as Bastian Baker, James Gruntz, Damian Lynn and – currently – Marc Sway. The August 2017 songwriting camp, which was staged by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA and took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur, was a new experience for the SUISA member. But it paid off. Together with Lausanne-based musician Alejandro Reyes and Canadian Laurell Barker he wrote “Compass”, one of the six songs being considered for Switzerland’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.

The song is sung by co-writer Alejandro Reyes himself. “We talked it over with Alejandro – the things that are important to him, what he would like to sing about”, says Lars in the video about the development process of the song. The thing that “Lars the music guy” most valued at the songwriting camp was the exchange with other musicians from home and abroad. “In terms of building a network, taking part in the camp was a big win.”

The SRF decision show is coming up on 4 February 2018, and the songwriting team will find out if “Compass” will represent Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon in May. “I hope other people get as much enjoyment out of it as we did when we were writing the song”, says Lars.

www.larsthemusicguy.com

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“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. Text by Giorgio Tebaldi; video by Manu Leuenberger

Lars Christen is a much asked for producer and songwriter. He works with artists such as Bastian Baker, James Gruntz, Damian Lynn and – currently – Marc Sway. The August 2017 songwriting camp, which was staged by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA and took place at the Powerplay Studios in Maur, was a new experience for the SUISA member. But...read more