Tag Archives: Swiss pop

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

Related articles
Eurovision Song Contest: SUISA Songwriting Camp song in the German qualifier | plus videoEurovision Song Contest: SUISA Songwriting Camp song in the German qualifier | plus video Success for the SUISA Songwriting Camp: The song “Sister” created during last year’s camp is in the German ESC qualifier. The piece was composed and produced by an international songwriting team consisting of Marine Kaltenbacher, Laurell Barker, Tom Oehler and Thomas Stengaard. Read more
Eurovision Song Contest - Zibbz: “We wanted to write a song that suits us” | plus video“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. Read more
Eurovision Song Contest: “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
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.

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

“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

“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. Text and Video by Sibylle Roth

Marc Sway has been a SUISA member since 2003. After his recently intensive period of performing live, he is even more excited when it comes to recording his next album. His last album, “Black & White”, was released in 2014.

Songs for the coming album have been created over the last three years jointly with his long-term partner lyricists and musicians. “If you make music together you are together so many times and at such close proximity that you only want to do that with really good friends”, Marc Sway says. “That’s why I have been collaborating with the same songwriter partners for years.”

During our conversation, the 39-year-old states that songwriting has an enormously big influence on what an album is going to sound like; after all he creates the foundation to it with his compositions. Marc Sway further explains that he likes to have an objective and a concept in mind, and he is convinced that “each album is a chance to reinvent yourself”.

The single “Beat of My Heart” will be released in mid-October 2018, the new album “Way Back Home” will be published in spring 2019.

www.marcsway.ch, Marc Sway website

Related articles
Yannick Nanette: “Your soul is reflected in the Blues”“Your soul is reflected in the Blues” Yannick Nanette joined SUISA in 2015. The singer, guitarist and harmonica player from Mauritius lives in Lausanne and constitutes the Blues band The Two together with Thierry Jaccard. They already had performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Zermatt Unplugged. In the US, the duo made it to the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Read more
Why SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORMWhy SUISA members should also consider joining SWISSPERFORM Composers and lyricists who are SUISA members and are also active as artists and/or producers and whose performances are broadcast by Swiss or foreign radio and TV channels are entitled to receive a remuneration from SWISSPERFORM. For all those authors-composers-artists/producers, a membership with SWISSPERFORM is thus a necessary addition to their SUISA affiliation in order to safeguard their rights and the full remuneration they are entitled to. Read more
Lars the music guy 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
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.

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. Text and Video by Sibylle Roth

Marc Sway has been a SUISA member since 2003. After his recently intensive period of performing live, he is even more excited when it comes to recording his next album. His last album, “Black & White”, was released in 2014.

Songs for the coming album have been created over the last three years jointly with his long-term partner lyricists and musicians. “If you make music together...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

“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

Related articles
Eurovision Song Contest: Swiss songwriting camp by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA a huge successEurovision Song Contest: Swiss songwriting camp by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA a huge success The Swiss broadcaster SRF announced the six songs that will be in the running for the Swiss entry to the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2018 today. Four of the six entries were created at the Swiss songwriting camp held by Pele Loriano Productions and SUISA at Powerplay Studios in Maur. Read more
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
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.

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

“I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

James Gruntz recently released his new album “Waves”. An important role in the creation of this album is the composer in residence year that the 30-year-old songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer has been granted by FONDATION SUISA. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

James Gruntz: “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

“It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations”, explains James Gruntz. (Photo: Gregor Brändli)

With the album “Belvedere”, James Gruntz managed his breakthrough in 2014, corroborated by great chart positions and several awards (“Basel Pop Awards” 2014 and two “Swiss Music Awards” 2015). For the creation of the recently published follow-up album “Waves”, the pressure probably increased for the musician; he grew up in Nidau near Biel, came to Basel at the age of 16, passed his Pop Master degree at the Zurich University of the Arts and is now living in a factory loft in Dulliken near Olten, working on his songs.

James Gruntz puts this pressure into perspective during an interview. “Music has always been a very important part of my life – and it’s going to stay that way, completely irrespective of whether I can earn my living with it or not.” The songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer also highlights that his début album was already released ten years ago and that the recently launched album “Waves” is already his sixth. “There was a continuous development: At some point, my songs were played on the radio, and there were more and more engagements and concerts. And so far, reflecting this continued development, each album sold more copies than the previous one.”

The joy of scat

Next, James Gruntz makes the jarring comment that he was glad not having to be part of the golden era of the music industry. “As a consequence, I do not have huge commercial expectations in the album format. It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations.” His financial position is balanced because he is author, performer and producer, all at the same time, for his songs. In terms of his album sales, his only expectation is that he is able to cover the related costs.

Luckily, James Gruntz still realised the new album “Waves”, since it captivates the listener with an enchanting mix of soul, pop and electronic music. He didn’t have a vision of what his new album would be like when beginning its creation. “The only thing that was clear to me was that, just like in the case of the last album for the piece ‘Heart Keeps Dancing’ I wanted to do something again with scat vocals.” That was when he tried out this special tongue clicking technique for the first time and it found a lot of positive reception. And since he really enjoyed this “extremely”, he wanted to pluck the courage to do more on the new album in terms of this type of music.

Not in it for his own sake

The idiosyncratic use of his voice has an even bigger impact on the music than on his last album, this is also due to the falsetto he uses which is reminiscent of Prince at times, and due to the harmonizer singing for several voices which creates a peculiar alienation. “The playful manipulation of singing is something I simply enjoy very much. It’s important, however, that you don’t just do it, because you can or because it’s technically cool. It has to be able to function by itself and make sense.” At the end of the day, the voice imparts a high recognition value to the album.

The new pieces were created in rather different ways. James Gruntz always carries a Dictaphone on him and records ideas with it. Every now and then he listens to these recordings and searches for ideas “where I feel like developing something from it.” This is when he works on this idea at home alone in his home studio until the song form has been established. “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take. Only when I am aware of that, when I have found my version, that’s when I look for collaboration with other musicians – and I am open to their ideas and input.”

Different origins

He had the idea for the first single, “You”, as early as three years ago, in other words, shortly after the release of the last album. “This piece has been subject to some enormous development before it was finished, it actually became rather different.” Other songs such as “Waves”, were more or less plucked out of thin air and nearly completed within just one day. “This piece is still the demo to some extent. That was possible because it is closer to a mood than to a song and therefore it was more limited in terms of enhancing it.”

The composer in residence year valued at CHF 80,000 that James Gruntz received from FONDATION SUISA in 2016 played an important role in the making of the album. “Waves” was actually meant to be released this spring. “I realised, however, that I needed more time in order to design the album in exactly the way I envisaged it to be. That’s how I was able to postpone the release of the album by half a year without starting to panic that my bank account would drop below zero.”

Is the book the new CD?

The composer in residence year also made a rather special project possible: James Gruntz will publish a 64-page book in time for the tour. “It’s an experiment that I would have had to think about twice without the money from the FONDATION SUISA.” For each song of the new album, a male or female author was asked respectively to write a text, but without any instruction. “What came out of this were poems and stories which are very interesting for me, too, as they show what my music can trigger.”

Behind this book project is the contemplation of James Gruntz that “the CD is, despite its better sound quality, on a downward spiral.” He is still convinced, however, that the majority of the people wish to continue holding something in their hands when they listen to music, just like him. “And a book is a much nicer object than a CD! It also contains the song lyrics; that is good for those listeners that are streaming my music.” The project was also made possible due to the fact that his album is released by the publisher Zytglogge which also includes books in its assortment. That is why James Gruntz can now look forward to his music coming into the bookshops he loves so much since the book also contains a download code for his album (the book is also going to be sold at his concerts).

Concerts 2017/18: 17 Nov. Schüür Lucerne, 18 Nov. Eintracht Kirchberg SG, 24 Nov. Gaswerk Seewen, 25 Nov. Kaserne Basel, 1 Dec. Kofmehl Solothurn, 2 Dec. L’Usine Genève, 8 Dec. Salzhaus Brugg, 9 Dec. Hotel Wetterhorn Hasliberg, 17 Dec. Zauberwald Lenzerheide, 12 Jan. 2018 Salzhaus Winterthur, 19 Jan. Chollerhalle Zug, 20 Jan. Mokka Thun, 16 Feb. Kulturkarussell Rössli Stäfa, 23 Feb. Kulturfabrik KUFA Lyss, 24 Feb. Casino Herisau, 27 Apr. Kühltür Grosshöchstetten.

www.jamesgruntz.com, official website of James Gruntz

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 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”. An interview with the SUISA member who has been nominated for the Grand Prix Musik in 2016 and performs with his new formation, Mule & Man, at the Festival Label Suisse in Lausanne. Read more
Carrousel: “Sometimes a toy piano helps when you’re looking for a melody” | plus videoCarrousel: “Sometimes a toy piano helps when you’re looking for a melody” | plus video Chromatic, cheerful and charming – thats the sound of Carrousel’s chansons. Hard to imagine that they are created in the sparseness and solitude of the Jura landscape rather than in the backstreets of Paris. “At the beginning of our cooperation, we tried working from Paris”, Sophie Burande laughs with her crystal-clear and yet warm voice. “Thanks to a stipend of the Canton Jura it was possible for us to work and live in Paris for half a year.” She and her life partner Léonard Gogniat found the energetic lifestyle, just as the rich cultural offering, rather stimulating. “But in the end, we preferred to come back to 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.

James Gruntz recently released his new album “Waves”. An important role in the creation of this album is the composer in residence year that the 30-year-old songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer has been granted by FONDATION SUISA. Text by guest author Markus Ganz

James Gruntz: “I think it’s particularly exciting when I don’t know which direction a song is going to take”

“It’s a reality that I earn a living with the concert fees and remuneration from the collective management organisations”, explains James Gruntz. (Photo: Gregor Brändli)

With the album “Belvedere”, James Gruntz managed his breakthrough in 2014, corroborated by great chart positions and several awards (“Basel Pop Awards” 2014 and two “Swiss Music Awards” 2015). For the creation of the recently published follow-up album “Waves”, the pressure probably increased for the musician; he grew up in Nidau near Biel, came to Basel at the age of 16, passed his Pop Master...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