Category Archives: «Get Going!»

The Zwahlen/Bergeron duo want to make the previously unheard audible – and visible

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2019

Félix Bergeron ⎪ Photo ©Ludovic Schneiderovich

On the one hand, the centuries-old tradition of choral music and, on the other, the almost endless possibilities offered by electronic music. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron experiment in the area of tension between these two polar extremes with the aim of creating something completely new. The «Get Going!» grant is supporting them with this project.

As is generally known, opposites attract. Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron, both 33 years old, sit in a café in Lausanne, discussing their project to redefine the long tradition of choral music with the aid of electronic experimentation. Bergeron also uses the conversation about this project for a brainstorming session. Exactly as it should be for a drummer, when the rhythms become more complex, he accurately describes more and more options of how it would be possible to combine old and new, traditional and avant-garde. Zwahlen listens with stoic calm, from time to time making his own contribution with incisive sentences. He does not seem to be a stranger to this kind of dialogue. „Félix is like an extremely strong cigarette and I am the super-filter that is used to smoke it,“ reckons Zwahlen and both of them laugh. 

Actually, when they were young the two of them went to the same school near Lausanne, after which they went their separate ways. As early as when he was just six years old, Bergeron played the drums, but never found real fulfilment until he heard Lucas Niggli play a drum solo at the Willisau Jazz Festival. „As well as drums, he used electronic equipment. I was completely gobsmacked and knew that was what I wanted to do,“ recalls Bergeron. Zwahlen, on the other hand, grew up in the brass tradition and was a trumpeter in a band, just like his father and grandfather before him. For her part, his mother sang in a choir. „At grammar school,“ according to Zwahlen, „they told me I would make a good music teacher and that’s how I started my training.“

They both attended the Haute École de Musique Lausanne (HEMU), „but I studied jazz and Jérémie classical music“, comments Bergeron, adding „which were in two different buildings.“ The thing both of them didn’t know: their life partners were friends and they eventually met again at a party after many years. When Zwahlen then asked Bergeron to provide electronic support for „Chœur Auguste“, the choir he led, they arrived at the idea of a collaboration which was intended to go above and beyond the familiar and what people had heard before. „Needless to say, people have amalgamated choral music with electronics before,“ says Bergeron, „but in those cases, the organ or piano was simply replaced by a synthesizer. That kind of thing doesn’t interest us.“

Both of them are predestined to tread new ground, and in their individual projects they were already scratching the stylistic limits and attempting to remap the musical landscape. With his incisive and conceptually unusual arrangements of the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Camille and Queen, Zwahlen not only redefined the laws of choral music, but also regarded the choir in its entirety as one body: „The choir is like a sculpture that breathes and which you can work on. And Félix also works with vibrations you can feel physically. In the end, you must be able to literally feel the music.“

In fact, Bergeron is heavily influenced by the sculptural. Apart from his many projects ranging between abstract improvisation, folk, punk and jazz, he also works for the theatre and dance companies. In his „Brush Paintings“, chance results in visual art, in that he dips his drumming brushes in paint and equips his cymbals with canvasses. „In spontaneous work with electronics, it is also possible to work with arbitrariness. That interests me. I see countless possibilities there for breaking down the traditional forms of choral music.“

Music as sculpture, which should also reveal to the audience the secrets behind its creation. „We want the audience to see what is happening. How composition, chance, arrangements and improvisation all influence one another. The audience should be able to experience our project with all their senses,“ is the way Zwahlen describes the starting point and stresses: „It is my obsessive desire to reprocess all music genres in such a way that they offer pleasure to everyone. Irrespective of whether we are dealing with classical music, folk, jazz or experimental music.“ 

They both think that there are so many musical, content-related and visual possibilities, with which you can experiment in such a project, and they emphasise just how important the factors of time and money are for such an undertaking. „Thanks to the «Get Going!» grant, for the first time it became possible for us to tread new ground to such a great extent,“ beams Bergeron. 

Jérémie Zwahlen and Félix Bergeron: two people obsessed with music, who also pass on their enthusiasm to coming generations as teachers at HEMU and the Ecole de jazz et musique actuelle (EJMA) in Lausanne and – in the case of Bergeron – also at the Ecole Jeunesse & Musique in Blonay. Together they form the only cigarette in the world that is not damaging to health. Quite the opposite.

Rudolf Amstutz




FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of «Get Going!», creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. 

Jessiquoi: having the freedom to reinvent yourself

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2019

Jessiquoi ⎪ Photo ⓒManuel Lopez

Searching for her personal identity is the force that drives her creativity. It has enabled Jessica Plattner, alias Jessiquoi, to create a complete audiovisual work of art. The 31-year-old Bern resident says that she is brim full of ideas. Thanks to the «Get Going!» grant, there is no longer anything standing in the way of her goals.

„Once I am a grown-up, I would like to have a grand piano on stage,“ says Jessica Plattner, laughing at her own turn of phrase. Needless to say, at 31 years of age, she has already been a grown-up for some time, but her statement also indicates that she sees herself as an artist on a path to further development that has not yet reached its end. And this is in spite of being one of Switzerland’s most impressive acts with her alter ego Jessiquoi. She composes and produces herself. She is responsible for the visuals, continually creating fantastic worlds, in which Jessiquoi reinvents, redefines herself with the aid of electro-sound environments that are sometimes aggressive, sometimes gentle. 

„For me, identity is something that is fluid,“ comments Jessica, quoting well-known drag queen, RuPaul: „You’re born naked. The rest is drag.“ Then adding: „I believe that every person has the freedom to reinvent themself. Also, no justification is necessary if someone steers their life in a completely new direction. It is like in a video game, where each and every player can specify their own avatar.“ 

The quest for an identity is the creative driving force: in Jessica’s case, this has its roots in her extraordinary life-history. She was born in Bern. Shortly afterwards, her family emigrated to Australia. When she was a teenager, her father was offered a job at the Bern Conservatory, so the family moved back to Switzerland. This steered her still young career down other paths. Jessica had wanted to be a professional dancer and trained accordingly in Sydney. In addition, the Plattners spoke exclusively English at home. „If I had wanted to pursue my career as a dancer, I would have had to go to Rotterdam or Berlin. But I wanted to be with my family,“ she says. „At the beginning, I felt like I was a foreigner in Bern and like I was being excluded. It was only when I started to speak the Bernese dialect that everything was suddenly OK. The language came to her easily, her German teacher even giving her the nickname „tape recorder“, „because I could play back everything so perfectly,“ she laughs. 

The search for her identity in this strange homeland then led her to music – with dance falling by the wayside. „We always had a piano at home, but I never touched it in the beginning. I’d had lessons for a short time, but I hated them. Then I suddenly started writing songs of my own every day,“ is the way she describes her musical beginnings.

But if the loss of her familiar environment was not bad enough, seven years ago Jessica suffered the most painful stroke of fate that anyone could possibly imagine. Her brother, who was two years younger than her, died. „We shared everything and were often even mistaken for twins,“ she says before explaining how her brother inspired her interest in the world of video games and film soundtracks.

And it was precisely in these worlds where you can reinvent yourself that Jessica found her new home as Jessiquoi. “You could say that Jessiquoi is a fictional character, but in truth she is actually a different version of me,“ she says and adds: „This character can also scare you, because Jessiquoi does not inhabit our fixed system of clear gender roles and national identities.“

On her albums, she now tells us about these strange worlds, in which the valleys are contaminated, so people flee to the mountain tops, and where pilots are able to fly in the direction of a better existence. On stage, she brings about this alternative existence all by herself. She has electronic instruments and a command centre for the visual effects on a wooden cart and dances, playing the part of Jessiquoi as absolute ruler of the stage, which is a place of self-determination and constant repositioning. Jessiquoi creates a complete artwork that is impressive thanks to its uncompromisingness, and with which she has also already drummed up enthusiasm in Seville and New York. 

The wooden cart – or „trolley“ as she calls it – is like a Chinese harp, which she plays live, and is reminiscent of Chinese culture, for which she possesses great affinity. “In the language school, one of my Chinese friends got me interested in her culture. And once when I was in China – it was three o’clock in the morning in Shanghai – I wanted something to eat and there was this old lady with a wooden cart on which she was cooking food. This old cart in the middle of this great metropolis: that’s an image I will never forget. I wanted to be this woman,“ she explains, chuckling. 

Self-determination with no ifs or buts, as well as the freedom to keep her own identity in a fluid state are things that Jessica sees as being essential for her art. „For me, the main job of an artist is to dream about the future of our civilisation anew or to make it visible, because this is what absorbs, analyses, criticises and reformulates the world and the people around them.“ 

Thanks to the «Get Going!» grant, nothing stands in the way of this exciting development. „I have had to finance myself by playing concerts, which meant I had less time to craft new songs. I now have my annual budget available at a stroke,“ she beams. Where this journey ultimately leads her is totally open: „I don’t know what music I will be making tomorrow. It comes easily to me. But I will never let reasons of market strategy stipulate what my music must sound like. I am working on my identity. Me. Just me, nobody but me.“

Rudolf Amstutz

arttv Portrait



Michel Barengo: sound collector and tinkerer outside the comfort zone

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2019

Michel Barengo ⎪ Photo ⓒMichel Barengo

Soak up as much as possible and then process it. That is Michel Barengo’s creed. The 37-year-old Zurich resident will have nothing to do with any comfort zones and now, thanks to the «Get Going!» grant, can pursue his creative urges on the Japanese underground scene.

Cowbells, the bleating of goats, squeaky doors, cackling hens, the gentle rustling of the wind in the trees, police sirens or lapping water: there is nothing in the world of sound that would not be of interest to Michel Barengo. He is a tireless collector of sounds who has created a substantial audio library of all kinds of sounds in his home studio. „Just sit for ten minutes in a bus station with your eyes closed. It’s incredible what is going on there,“ he beams and the passion of this sound architect is unmistakeable from the way his eyes light up. 

Now, the 37-year-old Zurich resident is not only a tinkerer with a tendency to make his own music, but is also one of the most in-demand protagonists when it comes to soundtracks for video games or sound backdrops for the theatre. In 2016, he won the FONDATION SUISA prize for the best video game music. But such commissions are just one part of the work of this jack-of-all-trades, who promotes his distinct musical identity with clear ideas. 

The skills he has developed enabling him to implement his creative ideas professionally are very impressive. At the age of five, he started playing the violin and drums and afterwards he played in various garage bands with his brothers. They played punk, metal and alternative rock. Influenced by Mr. Bungle and Fantômas, the projects of Californian singer Mike Patton, Barengo followed his path and inevitably discovered the music of New York experimental saxophonist, John Zorn. “Grand Guignol“, the album by Zorn’s band Naked City, was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most influential experience in the still young Michel Barengo’s life. In a primitive yet subtle manner, Zorn deconstructs and reconstructs the music at breathtaking speed and creates an explosive sound cloud that has never been heard before from countless tiny fragments. 

„Zorn’s affinity with the Japanese underground led me to begin to take more and more of an interest in the grindcore and experimental scenes there. Bands like Ground Zero, Korekyojinn and Ruins with Tatsuya Yoshida on drums, as well as Otomo Yoshihide on turntables and guitar. That was decisive when it came to my own experimental pieces,“ explains Barengo. The influences in both of his band projects, the jazzcore trio Platypus and grind noise band Five Pound Pocket Universe(5PPU) must not be overlooked. 

The facts that Barengo can move with ease through his sound cosmos and can build bridge after bridge between his own artistic path and his commissions, over which he dances nimbly, are to do with his professional training. He trained as a jazz drummer at the Winterthur Academy for Modern Music (WIAM) and at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) he obtained his Master’s in composition for film, theatre and media. 

Whether opulent sounds reminiscent of Hollywood for a video game, roughly honed small pieces with his band 5PPU or finely crafted sound sample collages with Platypus: Barengo’s eclecticism is invariably fed by his urge to create a completely distinctive aesthetic. One that denies predictions and will not allow the listener to get any peace, because behind every individual sound another one might be lurking which surprises, questions or totally remaps the path laid down beforehand at lightning speed. 

The nature of the work is also motivated by the character of its creator. „I’m a restless person,“ comments Barengo about himself. „There is so much that interests me. I also get bored quickly. I simply have to try things. Ultimately, that’s what drives you: soak up as much as possible and then process it. I like extremes and lots of variety,“ he says and then adds, laughing: „It’s probably all down to the fact that I heard ‚Grand Guignol‘ when I was just 13. That’s what it did to me.

Barengo only feels good when he goes out of his comfort zone. And his Get Going! project is also based on an area of tension with two extremes. It has to lead him to a place where tremendous creative tension in the discrepancy between tradition and modern has prevailed for centuries. Barengo’s love of the Japanese underground led him to visit this country around a dozen times and now he wants to get a three-part project going there. “I actually have in mind a project in three phases consisting of two periods of residency in Japan followed by one in Switzerland for reviewing the work and processing it further,“ he explains. „Firstly, using improvisation sessions with the Tokyo underground scene, I would like to get to grips with Japanese traditional music and its integration into contemporary music. After this I will meet up with 12 Japanese musicians in 12 hotels, with whom I can record a track in one room consisting of noises I recorded in that particular hotel. And last but not least, back in Switzerland I will review all the material I recorded, archive it for future composition projects and process it for my personal sound library.“ The thrill of anticipation about this is great and all thanks to being able to bring it to fruition with financial support from the «Get Going!» award. „My project doesn’t fit into any existing categories. It’s neither an album production nor a tour. And it’s not working in a studio either. As I follow my creative path, «Get Going!» frees me from all constraints and compromises. Quite simply ingenious!“ he beams. And even though his journey now had to be delayed until next year due to the coronavirus: back at home, the sound collector and tinkerer is unlikely to lose his ideas quickly. 

Rudolf Amstutz

arttv Portrait



Anna Gosteli: “I never know where things will take me“

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2019

Anna Gosteli ⎪ Photo ©Manuel Vescoli

Despite her outstanding training and commercial successes in a number of bands, Anna Gosteli hid her light under a bushel far too often.The 35-year-old resident of Solothurn is now stepping into the limelight and has found her too long-awaited musical identity, thanks to all of her many experiences. The 2019 «Get Going!» grant gave her the necessary financial independence.

Parts of a puzzle like mosaic pieces – before they are put together, they shimmer in all the colours under the sun, but: the full picture is just not there. The correct arrangement, the right sequence of events which gives the finished picture its identity, is missing. „Jack of all trades and master of none“ is the way Anna Gosteli describes the state of affairs in which she found herself for years. And this is despite how these individual parts of the puzzle can be seen or heard: piano lessons at the age of 7, then the clarinet, followed by the school choir. At home in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, her mother played the guitar and her father the saxophone. „Even as a child I came into contact with all sorts of musical genres, with golden oldies and pop songs, and in our house there were always instruments available to play.“ 

At the age of 14, she moved to Switzerland. Yet another piece of the puzzle, followed by more new pieces at regular intervals. When she was 21, she joined the Basel-based art-pop collective, The Bianca Story. Nothing seemed to stand in the way of a stellar career. Appearances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, recording at Abbey Road Studios in London, however: „In the beginning I was the timid one in the band,“ the 35-year-old comments today, quickly adding: „This was entirely something I felt myself, and had nothing to do with the guys in the band, who always treated me as an equal.“ In spite of Gosteli’s international success, this extremely talented singer was always the second voice. Combined with her reserved nature, she was left with the feeling that there could be more to her than meets the eye. 

Her liberation began when she attended the Jazz School in Basel. Composition with Hans Feigenwinter, singing with Lisette Spinnler and harmony lessons with Lester Menezes. She is able to laugh about it today, but „at that time I was moved to tears when an irritated Lester once again pointed out to me that what I was doing was boring. My singing tended to be ‚too sweet‘.“ Ultimately, this love-hate relationship turned out to be an important driving force in her breaking out of fixed roles and listening to her inner voice. Slowly but surely, the parts of the puzzle that had been collected over the years seemed to be fitting together. A feeling of certainty grew that a bigger, more coherent picture was possibly hidden inside her. 

Along with Fabian Chiquet of The Bianca Story, she founded Chiqanne. Working together, they created great pop songs with depth. „Suddenly, I was writing lyrics in German and standing at the very front of the stage.“ But the decisive step in completing the puzzle only appeared as a result of the album, „Dr Schnuu und sini Tierli“, with a collection of songs for children, and most importantly, for their parents as well. Like so many things in her varied career, this was not planned. „I never know where things will take me. But somehow that can also be a way of doing things,“ she laughs. 

It happened at Christmas, when Anna, now the mother of a six-year-old son, was looking for presents for the children of her friends. „And because I was really short of money at that time, I wrote a song and gave each child a verse. After the song about „Poultry“, came „Biber (Beaver)“, which she gave to the film composer, Biber Gullatz, by way of thanks for a stay in his Berlin apartment, when she was frequently cooperating with him on television film soundtracks. „Only then did the idea come to me of writing a collection of children’s songs.“

It was behind these actual songs that almost all of the musical experiences that Gosteli had gathered throughout her career were hiding, and which suggested that the puzzle would become part of a glittering oeuvre. Thanks to lots of humour, but also immense psychological depth, these songs show off Gosteli’s talents as a lyricist, whilst the music – which she performed on stage in collaboration with guitarist, Martina Stutz, – reflects her stylistic journey from golden oldies to pop songs and ultimately jazz. 

„I’m currently bursting with ideas,“ says Gosteli, who teaches singing at the Guggenheim in Liestal, as well as leading a „Female Band Workshop“ for „helvetiarockt“ along with Evelinn Trouble.And, last but not least, she is starting to bring the puzzle nearly to completion in the newly established Kid Empress band. „At last,“ states Gosteli, „I’ve found three musical kindred spirits. We make decisions together and without having to make any compromises.“ 

The „Schnuu“ and genre-crossing sound of Kid Empress already clearly indicate that the initial „Jack of all trades and master of none“ is being condensed into an independent identity. „The «Get Going!» grant gives me the necessary financial breathing space at just the right time to be able to immerse myself in this new, creative adventure.“ And at this point, she beams all over her face once more.

Rudolf Amstutz

arttv Portrait



Beat Gysin: Travelling with and inside a space

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2018

Beat Gysin ⎪ Photo ©Roland Schmid

Place, time and space play a pivotal role in the works of composer, Beat Gysin. In his six-part „Lightweight building series“, he designs spaces specially for the music, enabling him to confront his audience with shifting tonal and spatial experiences. The second part of his elaborate project is due to be brought to fruition from 2021. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with «Get Going!» funding.

Chemistry and music: do they go together? What initially appears to be a contradiction in terms makes complete sense in Beat Gysin’s biography. Although he grew up in a family of musicians, Gysin took the decision to study chemistry as well as composition and music theory. The scientific approach and empirical evaluation of an experimental approach are just as important to him as the musical element. “I never wanted to be famous because of my music. I always wanted to find answers with my music and within it,“ explains the 50-year-old Basel resident.

His catalogue of works is impressive. Even more impressive, however, is the way in which he brings his compositions to the performance stage. Gysin moves systematically beyond duplication and sound recording. Place, time and above all space are obligatory elements in his performance technique. In this respect, Gysin is far more than „just“ a composer and musician. If you are to ultimately understand the Gysin Universe, you must firstly apply such definitions as researcher, architect, facilitator and philosopher.

„I am actually a philosopher at heart,“ he adds. „It’s a matter of awareness, and I notice that the space in which music is performed has lost importance in its overall perception.“ “Nowadays, people regard the music as being detached from its performance,“ he adds and in so doing refers to a key point in his work: the systematic interplay between space and sound. „If you take one of my pieces out of the space, then this is almost as if you were creating a piano solo from an orchestral work. You know the notes, but do not hear the orchestra.“

With remarkable consistency, meticulousness and a passion for experimentation, in his many projects Gysin again and again plumbs the depths of the complex interplay between space, sound and the resulting perception of his music. The performance space becomes part of the artwork, which ultimately not only offers the audience a completely new sensory experience, but Gysin also repeatedly delivers new perceptions, in order to subsequently create yet another new approach to his next project. „I want to find things. And invent,“ is how he describes what drives him artistically in an almost laconic manner. In this respect, he does not necessarily take centre-stage as the composer, but often „only“ as the conceptual leader. In order to encourage an exchange of ideas, he set up the Basel studio-klangraum recording space and founded the ZeitRäume Basel festival.

Whether in churches with their varying acoustic properties, in empty waterworks with an echo lasting anything up to 30 seconds or in decommissioned mines where almost perfect silence prevails: Gysin keeps on discovering new spaces that can be mapped acoustically. And anywhere there is no natural space available allowing him to move forward, they are architecturally designed. The six-part „Lightweight building series“ is not only one of Gysin’s key works because of the expenditure involved. It also represents the next logical step for him: creating spaces that can be transported. Here we are dealing with six abstract space designs, implemented as pieces of architecture in the form of pavilions, which provide unusual listening situations and therefore facilitate a new kind of awareness of the music. „Chronos“ comprised a revolving stage like a carousel and in the case of „Gitter“ the musicians were arranged „spherically“ around the audience. Where „Haus“ is concerned, sound space walks around existing houses were made possible and in „Rohre“ [Pipes], which will take place shortly (world premiere in September 2019 in the inner courtyard of the Kunstmuseum Basel (Basel Museum of Art) as part of the ZeitRäume Basel festival), the audience and musicians meet each other in the literal sense of the word, in other words in pipes you can walk inside.

„In the concluding two parts from 2023,“ Gysin comments, „I would like to investigate the question of mobile set-ups and their influence on hearing. In the case of one of the projects, the musicians and audience sit on little trolleys that never stop moving. Everything remains on the move and the space is constantly redefined. And as regards the last part, it is a question of a suspended space which implodes again and again like a balloon, but can then be re-inflated.“ Such elaborate projects are not easy for an artist to finance. „We are dependent on support right from the initial conception, and that costs money,“ he states in full awareness, adding: „the «Get Going!» grant from FONDATION SUISA is the perfect answer to this challenge. It is a kind of way of financing feasibility studies. Up to now this has not existed in this form.“

In times where culture has to be „eventised“, in that marketing experts pay more attention to form than content, the „Lightweight building series“ also symbolises a kind of artistic counter-movement. „The advantage is that I, as the artist, conceive the event as a whole,“ says Gysin, also commenting: „As a musician, today you are obliged in a world of sensory overload to deal with the location of the music, because it can no longer be understood if taken out of context.“

Rudolf Amstutz

arttv Portrait



Michael Künstle: „Orchestral spaces“ or if music becomes spatially tangible when you listen to it

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2018

Michael Künstle ⎪ Photo ⓒZakvan Biljon

In his work, composer Michael Künstle deals with the interplay between tonal dramatisation and dramatic tones. The 27-year-old Basel resident would now like to take the next step forward in his research by making the sound of an orchestra a spatial experience for the listener. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with «Get Going!» funding.

In his work, composer Michael Künstle deals with the interplay between tonal dramatisation and dramatic tones. The 27-year-old Basel resident would now like to take the next step forward in his research by making the sound of an orchestra a spatial experience for the listener. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with «Get Going!» funding.

Michael Künstle was completely surprised to win the International Film Music Competition in the 2012 Zurich Film Festival when he was just 21. „At that time, I had just begun my studies,“ he comments today, adding, „I am only just starting to understand the significance of this prize now. It was a kind of springboard, also because it has always been an award for competence that nobody can take away from you.“ 

In the competition, Künstle was up against 144 fellow composers from 27 countries who were all set exactly the same task: composing the score for the short animated film „Evermore“ by Philip Hofmänner. Anyone watching the film today can imagine what might have impressed the jury back then: Künstle came up with amazingly subtle sounds, which enhanced the story of the film.

“The fantastic thing about film music is that it is the result of a close exchange with others. A film represents an interplay between countless people and it is vital to take all aspects into consideration: camera work, use of colour and setting,“ is the way Künstle explains his fascination with the genre. “The biggest challenge in a film is to say something with the music which has not yet been said in words or pictures, but which is essential for telling the story right up to the end.“ 

Whether it is in Gabriel Baur’s „Glow“, „Sohn meines Vaters“ by Jeshua Dreyfus or „Cadavre Exquis“ by Viola von Scarpatetti: the list of films for which Künstle is responsible for the soundtrack keeps on getting longer. The enthusiasm with which Künstle expresses his specialist know-how and thirst for knowledge in conversation is contagious. Also if he is talking about the greats in this field: Bernard Hermann’s knowledge of composition, for instance, or the unique capability of John Williams, „whose works clearly sound like orchestral pieces when listened to without the film, even though they suit the film for which they were written perfectly. This is incredibly difficult to accomplish, because symphonic music traditionally allows closer narrative structures than a film.“

Although he differentiates between concert music and film scores in his own work, he admits „that you can never fully give up one if you do the other.“ Elements that he developed in collaboration with director Gabriel Baur for the film „Glow“ found their way into the piece „Résonance“, performed by Trio Eclipse in 2016. “But in my concert music, it is mainly a question of compositional forms and structural ideas that cannot be expressed in the film.“ 

The idea for the project, that FONDATION SUISA is now going to jointly finance with a «Get Going!» grant, ultimately arose from another important aspect of Künstle’s creativity. Künstle follows, as he emphasises, a philosophy of the „real“ which is as close as possible to an actual recital, thanks to the most up-to-date recording techniques. In collaboration with his working partner, Daniel Dettwiler, who owns the „Idee und Klang“ [Idea and Sound] studio in Basel, and who, for years, has been researching new recording techniques, Künstle would like to create a spatial composition that can be listened to in a way that had not existed before. 

„In contemporary music, the space is often just as important as other compositional elements, such as the subject matter or rhythm, but this essential aspect is often lost in the recording,“ is the way he explains the starting point. “I want to reach a point where people listening on headphones hear the three-dimensional space occupied by the orchestra during recording, as if they could literally ‚feel‘ the music.“ For many years, this research and in a specific way also the conquest of these „orchestral spaces“, was just an idea for Künstle, because, as he stresses, „You can only make this happen in a studio with the best possible sound and the best microphones available.“ Thanks to «Get Going!», the next step in this audiophile revolution can now become a reality and in no-less than London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios with an 80-piece orchestra. Therefore, Künstle will compose a piece in which the space where the recording takes place will play a central role. “I want to turn the composition process on its head,“ is how he underscores the objective of his project. „Just like film music,“ he adds. Again here, first and foremost you start with what you hear. Therefore completing the circle.

Rudolf Amstutz

arttv Portrait



Eclecta: The result of an endless passion for experimentation

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2018

Eclecta ⎪ Photo ©Andrea Ebener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rudolf Amstutz

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