Tag Archives: Get Going!

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



Bertrand Denzler: Sound space surveyor and ambient sound explorer

«Get Going!» Portrait Series 2018

Bertrand Denzler ⎪ Photo ⓒDimitry Shubin

Saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is always working on new opportunities to express himself in the delicate balance that lies between improvisation and composition. The 55-year-old musician from Geneva, who is now resident in Paris, now intends to extend the frontiers of his artistic dialogue with others even further using „roaming residencies“. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with «Get Going!» funding.

„Tireless“, „adaptable“ and „industrious“ are just three words that could be used to characterise the artistic craft of Bertrand Denzler. Anyone checking out his website for the first time could be forgiven for thinking the sheer number of projects and line-ups might be their kiss-of-death. Denzler laughs: “I’ve laid the whole thing out somewhat more clearly in the meantime.“ In fact: on second glance, it all makes sense. And anyone taking the next step of dipping into the sounds available online will hardly be able to resist Denzler’s artistic vision. At first, the finely balanced sound sculptures seem to reveal a welcoming kind of simplicity. But in the background lurks a complexity with a tremendous pulling effect that is almost hypnotic. 

“My compositions are not primarily about the narrative form, but the inner structure. This means my pieces might seem relatively simple, but they are not easy to play. The musician should not be distracted by far too many ideas, but should be able to concentrate fully on the sound and its precision,“ is the way Denzler explains his intentions. 

He classifies his process-orientated compositions as „spaces“. For the most part, they do not feature traditional notation, but are predetermined by their structure. „I want musicians to be involved and have to think for themselves,“ stresses Denzler. He adds: “Often it is just the time structure that is specified, and not the rhythmic structure. The predetermined rules always open up lots of opportunities.“ 

Denzler practises this „space surveying“ with the simultaneous exploration of the ambient sound with very different line-ups, including the Sowari Trio, Hubbub, Denzler-Gerbal-Dörner, The Seen, Onceim and Denzler-Grip-Johansson. At the same time, he is not averse to trying new things, including improvising as a guest musician in such line-ups as Jonas Kocher’s international Šalter Ensemble, in a duo with Hans Koch or quite simply solo. 

Denzler actually considers his career to be somewhat typical of a European musician of his generation. He started out with classical music, but at the same time was listening to pop and rock in private. However, an outright thirst for knowledge also made him aware relatively quickly of the most varied ways in this world that music can be played. „And eventually,“ comments Denzler, „jazz became my main sphere of activity, because improvisation, in other words implementing your thoughts in real time, fascinated me.“ 

After jazz came free-form music, even if Denzler is still to this day impressed by the philosophy and improvisational approach of such greats as Albert Ayler and John Coltrane and will probably continue to be influenced by them. As opposed to many improvisers who never return (if they have occasionally diverted from a compositional approach), Denzler has found a space where he can keep creating new things architecturally from the delicate balance between improvisation and composition. „In the last ten years, I acquired the feeling that I am always improvising in the same system. Suddenly, I once gain felt compelled to build structures within my music.“ 

Denzler’s artistic vision is not only a kind of journey of discovery in a metaphorical sense: he wants to transport this „space“ to different geographical locations as a „roaming residency“, so as to meet other musicians there and create new music with them. Up to now, the project has failed, not only for financial reasons, but also because such an open project does not comply with the general conditions of traditional subsidies policies. Start-up funding from a FONDATION SUISA «Get Going!» grant is now making realisation possible, because, according to Denzler, „…it allows me to pursue my creativity instead of predefined conditions.“ Beaming with delight, he adds that it’s as if this grant had been specially tailored for him. And in fact his definition almost reminds you of a Denzler composition, in which the structures defined by the creator open up unforeseen possibilities…

Rudolf Amstutz





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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


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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


arttv Portrait