2018 in review (c) mica - music austria
2018 in review (c) mica - music austria

At the turn of the year 2018 we took the opportunity to ask musicians of different genres for a personal summary of their year 2018. Read through the stories of Katharina Ernst, Felix Kramer, Teresa Rotschopf, Roman Britschgi, Hearts Hearts, FARCE, Ursula Winterauer, Jung an Tagen, Ingrid Schmoliner and David Helbock


Katharina Ernst © Michael Breyer
Katharina Ernst © Michael Breyer

“This year I released my solo debut “Extrametric”, a concept album that focuses on polyrhythmic structures. What on the one hand can be heard as a study of complex percussion pieces is on the other hand also a plea for a diverse system in which differently timed elements interlock and form a whole that moves, changes, in which the authorities playfully change. So a nomadic model, not a sedentary, aggregated one.

Again and again I realise my instrument and the music that I can make with it is an analogy to social structures; for example, I am completely open to what defines a drum set, and it always needs to be refined. New elements are added, perhaps elements that are fundamentally different from what was there before.

The resulting music is not one-dimensional, but the result of a combination, a variety of different rhythms and cycles. This chord is sometimes chaotic, sometimes meticulously organized, functions as a cluster or like a clockwork. The attraction of these polyrhythmic structures, however, always consists in keeping the spaces between the elements permeable so that the sounds can communicate with each other and so the overall sound communicates something to the audience. The way in which the elements coexist in time is not parallel; it is intertwined and sometimes also confusing, but it should in any case develop a discursive and not isolated, not a monopolistic form. ”


Felix Kramer, Cover "Wahrnehmungsssache", Phat Penguin
Cover “Wahrnehmungsssache”, Phat Penguin

“I used to write a lot of annual reviews for myself. Mostly in sloppy notes on slips of paper I can’t find. But anyway. All the better the opportunity right here to reflect on at least a few aspects of this very eventful year for me. On the one hand, I noticed how important media support is for a newcomer. I thought a lot about how fair such a selective process can be – in the end, the opinion of a handful of journalists can strongly influence public perception. What if some important editors hadn’t liked my album? What about the albums released this year that weren’t supported by the media? That what you see is not everything that is out there is something that this year I have understood more than ever before.

On the other hand, this year was mainly a political one for me. The rage against the black-blue government in Austria, very justified by the BAT affair, the 12-hour day, cuts in social benefits, etc., has taken some time to develop in the public conscious. I was afraid of collective resignation. A quiet bearing of injustice. All the more reason to thank the metalworkers, railway workers, trade unions and countless political organisations who are setting a good example by expressing their displeasure and continuing to think how things can be different. One must also thank the organizers of the Thursday demonstrations, who – also together with musicians – help shape the political discourse. Clara Luzia, Gustav, Esrap or Willi Resetarits and many have made clear statements. It gives you courage. It gives you strength.

Standing up for my beliefs has never seemed so important to me as it is today. Artistic, personal, political. High-ranking employees of record companies told me I had to write more funny things. These unpleasant lyrics should be omitted. I have been told by decision makers in this field that my music cannot be played on the radio like this, it is too exhausting to listen to and too unpleasant. And many people around me have said that this conscious political attitude and something like the Thursday demonstrations (in German: Donnerstags Demonstationen) against a right-wing government would not be possible today. In this sense a happy new year. ”


Teresa Rotschopf © Christoph Pirnbacher
Teresa Rotschopf © Christoph Pirnbacher

“Nursing dementia should not be underestimated, and it is quite difficult for me to dig up memories of the beginning of 2018. I was tired most of the time, I remembered few unimportant things, but that’s how it is with me most of the time. My album “Messiah” was finally released, it took me 6 years. That was pretty exciting, almost painful and beautiful. I only remember the release concert at the Radiokulturhaus vaguely. It was exhausting and liberating, that much I know.

I also know that I have started to get more and more intensively angry about sexism, patriarchy and generally abuses in the reality of women because of their gender. That´s how it has always been – in the course of my career the most crazy things happened to me – but in the course of this year this voice became louder and louder. Now, at the end of the year, it’s practically yelling at me. That is exhausting, but at the same time I see it as my job as an artist to be attentive – so I won’t ignore this loud voice either.

I now also do appreciate my courage more, do my thing and make myself vulnerable by doing so. Naked and pregnant. On the cover. All the way out there.  And that’s exactly what I’m taking with me into the New Year: I want to hear more music from women, I want to see more women on stage and more art from women. I don’t want to have to renounce anything because I’m a woman, or mother, while we’re at it. I want to support other women in doing their thing, and I also want to say something about it when I have the feeling that we cannot do that.

I started meditating too, by the way. So, top year. ”


Kick Jazz 2018: Roman Britschgi (c) Mueller
Roman Britschgi (c) Mueller

“2018 began with a rather badly played Donauwalzer, the musicians were completely intoxicated. Next: phone calls, concert requests and concert cancellations, fasting, new songs prepared for the Roman Britschgi Quintett, phone calls, e-mails written – very successful, then rehearsed, studio session with Duo Devet. Memorial days in Erlauf and and a performance in Porgy & Bess with my quartet, very successful. Experimental sculptural sound concert at Schloss Grafenegg with Stickney/Eberle/Reissner/Britschgi, highly acclaimed. Big concert played: Rock’n’roll at the Woodstock of brass music with The Baseballs, enormous successes. I quit the Vienna Klezmore Orchestra – because it got on my nerves. The current Austrian government is also getting on my nerves. Exciting encounters: Pamelia Stickney, Matthias Loibner, Diknu Schneeberger, great cooperation with Harald Tautscher, Friedl Preisl, Christoph Huber, Helge Hinteregger, Katharina Blaas-Pratscher, Großmütterchen Hatz and Klok. With TIBS and Klok a new, but also quite ingenious programme prepared in Styria at the castle of Baron von Stanislausi for the very successful Australian tour. Then near Melbourne began preparation on the “Farm der Kälte” with guitarist Jörg Reissner, discovery of electric blankets – Highlight of the Year! Continue to Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, standing ovation – very successful. Then great little things on the way to Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival. Return journey via Bangkok – beautiful, successful and turbulent. Many sound impressions recorded on I-Phone. Back in Vienna: phone calls, small ORF interview for KlezMORE Festival, Sargfabrik, Facebook postings, phone calls, a duo performance from the underworld with great prophet of the Aug-Arten city Otto Lechner, fondue and Thursday demo, Kick Jazz Festival prepared and played, Cuartetto Cameselle Tango programme practicing for very successful upcoming Japan tour and now looking forward to Christmas. ”



“For Hearts Hearts, 2018 was certainly the most intense and exciting year yet! After two years of preparation we released our second album “Goods / Gods” in April, a big step for us as a band. Being on tour with the new songs was a real liberation: Besides shows in Austria, “Goods / Gods also brought us to Germany, UK, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Baltic States – and yet our absolute highlight of the year was the release show at the WUK in Vienna. We expanded our team, drank our first non-alcoholic beers, stayed overnight in caravans and saw no Lamas, made our debut at Eurosonic, reached the top of the FM4 charts for the first time with “Sugar / Money”, shot a music video in a council housing in Paris, ate a lot of burgers, were pleasantly surprised by two streakers during a show in Munich, discussed the fucking political situation in Austria again and again and above all: wrote new songs. We look back gratefully and look forward to 2019!”


Farce © Magdalena Fischer
Farce © Magdalena Fischer

“Vienna and, well, life in general, welcomed me this year with open arms. At this point, I find it difficult to relativize the increasingly precarious state of the world every day, I’ll talk about this later on, but I force myself to say: it was a good year.

I would like to thank a lot of people: starting with my partner Gabriela, with whom I have been sharing a home for almost a month now. To have a place where one feels unconditionally loved and can fully unfold is a great gift and I really wish it for (almost) everyone. I was also allowed to endlessly test and find myself together with my good friend Nikolaus Abit, with whom I recorded my debut album “Heavy Listening” at a similar time last year. This beloved piece, whose release cost me so much energy this year, I was allowed to present live at the Popfest Wien in the Karlskirche, undoubtedly my favourite concert of 2018. This year I only had a little space in my life for other music, so I don’t want to play myself up and claim a best-of list here. But there are two albums that impressed me very much, that I listened to a lot: Cardi B with “Invasion of Privacy” and on the other hand “Infernum” from fauna. Listening to more music by women, or generally consuming more cultural productions by women, is something I can only recommend at this point – in my opinion they usually make the better art.

In addition, the Viennese musicians Rana Farahani (Fauna) and Ursula Winterauer (Ventil Records), with whom I was able to collaborate within the framework of the festival Hyperreality, are professionally and personally very close to my heart. They have shown me that in the legendary complex of the music industry, which is admittedly often somewhat ugly to the outside world, there are many people who cultivate a certain ethos and politics in their work and in art in general. Same with Marlene Engel, who has been a great supporter and patron of my project from the very beginning. She proves the fact that culture and resistance do not have to be contradictions in everything she does.

This is probably my most important lesson of 2018 – it is not only ok, but also important to take a stand as an artist. I don’t think political restraint, which is a great privilege anyway, is appropriate in (I say teeth grinding and eyes rolling, but it’s already clear what I mean) times like these anyway. You don’t work with assholes, you don’t get paid by Nazis. It’s actually that simple! ”


Ursula Winterauer © Ursula Winterauer
Ursula Winterauer © Ursula Winterauer

“For Ventil Records, 2018 meant being a place for three very different but politically motivated projects. The releases by Kutin | Kindlinger, Fauna and Katharina Ernst could be realized – all projects that uncompromisingly pursue agendas in their art, show steadfastness in their approach. These productions of the past year in particular are very close to the ideas and ways of thinking that I consider important and would like to represent for a label for contemporary electronic music. A consequence in action, political inherence coupled with feminist positioning or media criticism, subtle resistance. Current perceptions are always thematised, formatting of thinking and a new performance are demanded!

2018 was for me a year of renewal, confirmation and solidarity. The emergence and elaboration of various artistic projects are decisive for the continuation within the most unfavourable political circumstances, which sometimes drive one as an artist into a corner. It is precisely solidarity and cohesion on a small scale that is becoming more and more important, makes sense to me as a counter-position to the current political situation.

In the upcoming year, however, the permeability of what is already established should also be expanded to a niche existence. The solidarity of the small should spill over from the small to the large and vice versa, exchange and circulation should become true across genres. For this to happen, however, the established must become aware of their responsibility and their position vis-à-vis the precariously working subculture that serves them. In this way, mutual support and appreciation of domestic media, platforms, institutions and networks that pursue similar goals and want something similar could be possible: enabling multidimensional art that not only exhausts its technical means and explores boundaries, but also examines social realities and questions perceptions. ”


Jung An Tagen © Milica Balubdzic
Jung An Tagen © Milica Balubdzic
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Ingrid Schmoliner © Elvira Faltermeier
Ingrid Schmoliner © Elvira Faltermeier

“Besides all the politically very depressing things, my 2018 year was marked by very different works. Since I really appreciate working with artist colleagues, I have again been on tour with the wonderful horn player Elena Kakaliagou with our song cycle “Nabelóse” in Austria/Slovenia/Croatia/Serbia. In addition, our ensemble PARA was invited to the Hotel Pupik as Artist in Residence. The music of “Nabelóse” was chosen by the filmmaker Didem Pekün for the essayistic road movie “Araf”. “Araf “had its premiere at the Berlinale 2018, is constantly on tour and has won several awards. I conducted yodelling workshops in Northern Italy, Austria and Belgium, often in very special regions in the mountains with meaning and content. I have worked on compositions for solo piano and for my band WATUSSI. I am now releasing our new release “stargazers” in collaboration with the Belgian label Klein. A new and fine trio Griff with Emilio Gordoa and Adam Pultz Melbye was founded this year, we will work on a release in Moers 2019. The play “Der Dibbuk” is still running in the Nestroyhof with music by and with me, and the play based on the text “Jackie” by Elfriede Jelinek will premiere with music in collaboration with Elena Kakaliagou in Lugano in the LAC-Theater 2019.

I had the pleasure to play concerts with Hamid Drake, Sean Ali, Frantz Loriot, Carlos Costa, Roman Hiele, Fredi Pröll and to advance my solo for piano.

Like every year the festival New Adits for contemporary music, founded by me and other colleagues, took place again in Carinthia, Klagenfurt/Celovec. This time in the wonderful Villa for Forest. Thus, in addition to the association Innenhofkultur and Raimund Spöck, another decisive cooperation partner could be won. A very important point was/is the work in the group “mitderstadtreden”. The aim here is to fundamentally improve the financial situation for the music sector in Vienna. We need a functioning network and sufficient participants to support our cause properly, so that a diverse, innovative and renowned music scene can just remain alive.”


David Helbock Trio (c) Astrid Dill
David Helbock Trio (c) Astrid Dill

“2018 was a very successful and productive musical year for me. At the beginning of 2018 I played more than 20 concerts with my trio (Album “Into the Mystic”) with Raphael Preuschl (bass ukulele) and Reinhold Schmölzer (drums). At the end of May my current album “Tour d’Horizon” with my trio Random/Control and the musicians Andreas Broger (woodwind instruments) and Johannes Bär (brass instruments) was released by ACT Music.

From May to December we played over 70 concerts across the globe in this formation. And in addition there were some solo piano concerts and duo appearances with trumpeter Lorenz Raab. In 2018 I was allowed to travel through countries like India, Singapore, Egypt, Bulgaria, Norway, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania and of course Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

I also composed a lot this year. For example, I was allowed to write commissioned compositions for “Musik in der Pforte” or for the cellist and “Echo Rising Star” Kian Soltani. Also in 2018 I already recorded my next album – this time for solo piano – which will be released by ACT in September 2019.”