A little village
I grew up surrounded by gospel and classical music. At school I started to act and I’ve always loved to sing. In third grade I was sent out of class because I kept humming songs under my breath. The nativity play at the end of the year gave me a reason to go to school at all. My wonderful grandmother got me to play the piano at a very early age; I believe you could blame her for it all.
A big world
I tend to call it: twelve years of internationally fulfilled desires. I worked as an au pair in London at first and went to theatre workshops in my spare time. I wasn’t much good as an au pair. It was terrible and I knew I had to get out of there fast! I then went to live in Brixton. At that time there was massive political unrest there. Brixton was burning! I lived in a squat and did street theatre. I had studied pantomime at Scuola Teatro Dimitri for two years and there was a clown in me wanting to get out. Our house in Brixton burned down, it got so dangerous that my father ordered me to come back home. Back in Zurich I met Boris Blank (of the band Yello). We produced a song together. Blank was the proud owner of the first Fairlight synthesizer in Switzerland. That thing enchanted me and I thought: «This is it, all I want to do now is sing!» But my journey took me to the theatre in Basel where I played Brecht, Kästner, Dario Fo and Marivaux. I stayed in Basel for a few years and starred in various productions. But I was very attracted by French cinema and so I went to Paris, took the entrance exam for the acting school Court Florent and got lucky. I was admitted free of charge for the first year, in the second year there were only forty students left and in the third year the famous actor Francis Huster was one of our teachers. I wanted that diploma and to keep living in Paris. During the semester breaks I returned to Switzerland and worked in retail, selling designer clothes in Arosa, St. Moritz and Zurich.
While still at school I wrote a screen-play „Adoptive daughter is searching for her birthmother”. The mother is married to a mafia don and has a lover. He is a writer, writing a novel and thus has to meet the daughter because he cannot finish his book otherwise. Gosh, the many castings I went to, where I almost always came in second. I have fond memories of some street performances. The many film festivals in Cannes, meeting Louis Malle, my agent Joëlle Bonnet, who died way too young and helped me to not lose heart faced with the many rejections. One of the things that had the most impact was the workshop at the «Theatre du Soleil» and working with its founder Ariane Mnouchkine. I wanted to write, compose and found a band. I wanted to go to New York to sell my screen-play, to work in that city. My goal for Paris had been achieved: I had my diploma! But when Ariane Mnouchkine picks you, you go. She’s a scientist, a pioneer, a politician. She had found her own language very early and that of course fascinated me. In Mai 1990 I went to the diploma function in Cannes. At the festival I met amongst others the director John Bormann (Excalibur, The General). We drank a lot and he asked me some very personal questions. Then he wanted to know what I thought of him. I replied that I thought he was a complete asshole. His comeback: «Oh, I’d like to know more.» We kept drinking; he got out a small wooden case and laid the Tarot for me. Everything stopped for a while, he told me many things and some have actually come to pass. At the time I had an invitation from «The Wooster Group» from New York in my letterbox, my ticket to New York was in my purse and there was nothing but music on my mind.
New York City is not in America the 90s
In New York I basically got a whole new education. You could say I went through a kind of life school. In Europe «selling» is a dirty word. That’s not the case in America. In America no one is ashamed to be a «push head« . Everyone is trying to sell something! You have to be very convincing, otherwise no one will buy it or come to your show. The thing people in Europe are concentrating on, because they’re ashamed of selling is technology. We’re great at it. America is always in a mental war zone; I found this kind of hectic pace fascinating. New York is very un-American and brute capitalism is omnipresent. Life in Switzerland is too pleasant. Whether you’re an actor, filmmaker or a musician: it’s better if life isn’t too easy.
Focus on Music
1989 I met Charles Lane in Cannes where he presented his wonderful film «Side Walk Stories«. The story takes place in New York and the story in my screenplay also takes place there. Even then I wanted to merge text, video and music. I took a great interest in the artist Jenny Holzer and Lawrence Weiner. I longed for that city. My agent arranged a meeting with Andrea Eastment of the agency ICM in NY, and I was able to show her my screenplay. She sent it to the film director Peter Bogdanovic («The Last Picture Show«). He offered me a small sum for it, wanted to secure the rights on it. I declined the offer. That was it. I then went to clubs and got to know some DJs. That’s how the whole music thing started. I listened to productions and remixes from such DJs as Dani Tenaglia, Frankie Knuckles, Junior Vasquez and the Masters at Work. Making dance music was the only way to get into the clubs. My first gig was as a backing singer at the legendary Limelight. Things really took off with my compatriot Kaspar Galli at his 4-track studio. Together we composed some songs. I then took those songs to the promoters of the legendary Pyramide Club. They liked my music. The promoter Lee Chappel was at that office and he offered me the next gig at club USA.
I later met Yorum Vazan of Firehouse Recording Studio in Manhattan and we produced Music together. My search for a re-mixer leads me to Fred Jorio, at the time working with Junior Vasquez on Madonna’s remix «Secret«. Jorio did a remix of my song «Any Love«. It became a club hit in the city, and «Radio to the rhythm first dance radio in Canada» picked it up. The DJ’s loved the track and invited me to sing at all the hot clubs int Manhattan. Well, the drag queens did.
Back in Europe 1995
Disengaged from all trends and global mediocrity. I'm finding out about my visual language. I think of myself as I. Performing is one aspect of my life, my personal life consumes the other half, and I’m sitting there at 3 am when my daughter cries. From now on I’m attracted to the common themes that define the essence of human connection: grief, loss, alienation, transience, insecurity.
In the past it was the hustle and bustle, the big city, the numberless encounters and the stories that come with them, that unique dynamic. These days I get my best ideas out in nature, on a high mountain. And I have a small archive with many drawers – they have signs on them such as capitalism, loneliness, stress, transience, philosophy, everywhere, youth and erotica.
Sexuality is something you emanate! My time in America was totally affected by my artistic endeavors so all my performances at the clubs were very stylish and provocative. Provocative in my lyrics mainly. The gay community was very receptive to my songs. These days the audience at my shows is very mixed. Especially the young people understand my poetry and the associated visual language.
My drive doesn’t just come from within me. It’s the people I deal and work with. I keep asking myself: «Why the hell do I have to do this?» My monkey only stops biting when there isa blank sheet on the table. And then I have to write, compose, sing and tell stories.
At the moment I’m playing on the vintage synthesizers of my partner. I discovered that world through him. The world of Kraftwerk, Cage, Eno and Schopenhauer. I always use the same microphone, a Telefunken U47. It looks like an oversized penis and was developed for Mr. Goebbels and his famous nazi speeches. It’s a terrible truth, but this mike is fabulous. It was created for screaming into but it sounds great if you sing into it tenderly.
Is time running short?
Sometimes, but I don’t like to think that way. I have enough time basically. My songs are part of my performances, my visuals. It always takes months, if not years, for a concept to develop far enough to be ready to go on stage. Smaller concerts, you could call them public rehearsals, take place frequently.
More than that, I’m passionate! I am fascinated by creation. I’m critical and hardly ever satisfied. I’m mainly interested in the development-process of things.
When I’m disengaged from my self-consciousness, from my tendency to protest and revolt, that’s when I’m content. Happiness comes after good sex too. When there’s love involved it lasts longer. After the birth of my daughter I was very, very happy.
Sometimes I close my eyes and enjoy the silence inside me. Yes, I just close my eyes, remove myself from the hustle and bustle of things and there is silence. I feel the only right thing would be to just sit somewhere all by yourself where there is nothing. I mean somewhere where there is no landscape, no world. But such a place does not exist, there’s no no-world place in the world. This desire for motionless cessation is my way to meditate.
The difference between a creative person and all others is not ideas. Everyone has ideas. For example: the white shark in formaldehyde by the British artist Damien Hirst. Everyone can have an idea like that but most will find some reason why it doesn’t work. A creative person implements ideas. Children are very creative. That spontaneity… it amazes me again and again. Or a virtually empty fridge and still I manage to cook a nice meal. That too is creativity.
Religion is what happens when a great thinker dies and the bureaucracy takes over. I can think for myself. I can do good or I can do evil. I grew up in Europe, I enjoy my freedom. I take full responsibility for what I say and do. On the other hand I do understand the grounding faith can give. The fact is that I’m not sitting on oil and jewels but still I have the ability to ensure that the people close to me are doing fine. I love the different cultures and understand the difficulties that arise from their differences. When I have questions I often go to Greek mythology to find answers. I like to listen to people.
Among the things that make me most curious are these: how do organisations grow? Where do surfers go to ground themselves and at which island do they alight? Foreign cultures and people, again and again it’s people. There is so much happening and I know still so little. Or to hear the whoosh of the otherworld!
Into the nothingness
When I am silent all the hectic things are behind me, and I can come to rest within myself. That sounds like the quiet whooshing of the otherworld. And I notice inner keys. Into the nothingness.
Because that’s where everything is. We come from there and will return there.
Yes, it’s kind of the now-sphere.
Everyone who has an air of contentedness. And all those who look out for others and are not scared to take a fall for it. I love Tin Tin, Baudelaire and Jean Arthur Rimbaud.
The great thing about art & music
That it connects people, involves them, touches them across the generations.