Three women who came together to make music: VIKTORIA KIRNER, DORA DE GOEDEREN and TAMARA LEICHTFRIED got to know each other at GIRLS ROCK CAMP, where girls and young women are encouraged to just go for it and make music. After the camp the three decided to continue jamming together and practicing on their instruments. These sessions became songs and the three women became DIVES. At Waves Vienna they turned out as winners of the second XA – Music Export Award. They spoke with Anne-Marie Darok about the music scene bubble in Austria, why girls should just have fun, and what their plans are for the future.
This year you won the XA – Music Export Award. What’s next for you now? What kind of support do you expect as a result of your prize?
Viktoria Kirner: We´ll see. Of course we now have the opportunity to apply to many showcase festivals next year. But we have come to the conclusion that we don’t want to go to all of the festivals. Last year has already been quite a concert marathon. For us, the focus definitely lies on writing an album and making music again. We want to slow down before we let ourselves be pushed into something where we might not be so happy and where we might not even be able to survive as band.
So the showcase festivals are not your main focus?
Viktoria Kirner: With a lot of showcase stages you only have one chance, it’s just a tough business. The push and shove within one festival alone is madness. There are so many great bands and it’s difficult to stand out. They always recommended that on the same day you play in a club, you first play on a container somewhere, then in a café and also do a street gig – in order to somehow attract attention. In between there are five interviews. It’s a good way to be seen. But right now it’s not our priority to only play at showcase festivals abroad for all of next year. Going there only half prepared or stressed and without a clear head often doesn’t really make so much sense.
Tamara Leichtfried: The summer was full of festivals anyway and when we started our own tour in Linz (city in Upper Austria) in October, it was a completely different feeling. After the concert we got off stage and the first thought was: “Hey, we don’t have to move our stuff right away.” We first went to the merch and chilled. It’s just a whole other way of playing concerts.
Band, work and university – how does it work?
Tamara Leichtfried: Last year the band gained a bit of a priority. Then you might skip a seminar or take a holiday.
Dora de Goederen [laughs]: I, for example, recently got a grade for a seminar I didn’t know I would pass because I had submitted the paper a month late.
Do you see yourself more as a stage band or a studio band?
Dora de Goederen: I hate studios.
Viktoria Kirner: We haven’t really been to the studio that often.
Tamara Leichtfried: It depends. We all prefer to play concerts rather than to sit in the rehearsal room and work on our set down to the last detail. But when it comes to writing songs together, or just jamming for three hours, that’s certainly equal. And of course it’s always great to go on stage with what you’ve created and the song lives all of a sudden. But it always kind of takes both.
How do you write your songs?
Tamara Leichtfried: In different ways. There have been a lot of ideas that came from the drums, some beat or bass line. But the last two songs were actually written while jamming together.
Viktoria Kirner: And at some point someone pulls out a cell phone while everyone’s still jamming. Then you have a 12-minute jam and hope for it to be something.
“The mood in the rehearsal room”
And the lyrics?
Viktoria Kirner: In various ways. I also like to sit down at home and then come to the rehearsal with the text finished. With other songs we often work on the lyrics together. But with us, music always comes first. The mood with which we are in the rehearsal room is also reflected in the song. But that’s not always the same for all three people. Even today there are songs where we all have the same mood, but interpret the lyrics very differently.
You met at the Girls Rock Camp. Did you immediately like each other?
Tamara Leichtfried: A very strong motivation was that all three of us wanted to play in a band.
Dora de Goederen: In the beginning that was really the only thing we had in common. That’s why we came together. In the end, it was a pragmatic approach. All three of us lived in Vienna and wanted a band.
Viktoria Kirner: During the camp I didn´t really know I was going to be in a band and stand onstage. But then there was this graduation night and what happened was so magical. This feeling got me extremely attached. So it was clear that at least in Vienna we would meet up again in a rehearsal room and maybe play again. And somehow we just never stopped playing together. And after a few weeks or months a song was written where I thought to myself: “Cool, that sounds like a band.” These huge musical hurdles were suddenly gone. We never stopped being a band.
Tamara Leichtfried: Before, I was in a band where I sang, but I always wanted to play the drums. Trying something out with other people who also don´t have too much experience while being in a safe environment was tempting. Personally, it makes me very happy to make music.
What did these musical hurdles look like at the beginning?
Viktoria Kirner: The differences existed – especially between Tamara and me – mainly because of which scenes we were in in Vienna. It was just three different worlds in which we lived. It’s easy to see when you look at our side projects. Tamara has a side project that goes more towards singer-songwriter or folk, Dora plays with the band Schapka and I’m still in a band that is more interested in a mixture of post-punk and synth-pop.
Dora de Goederen: It took us a while to figure out that our ideas and preferences are not so different after all. Even today, we still find similarities that have always been there while exchanging playlists.
How did the name “Dives” come about?
Dora de Goederen: In Girls Rock Camp we weren’t “Dives” yet, there it was also a slightly different line-up. Before our first performance we had to decide on a band name while under time pressure.
Viktoria Kirner: The organizers were a bit stressed because we had to be printed on the poster. Then we finally found a name, but were not printed on the poster after all because they forgot about us. Well, actually it’s a sad story, but otherwise we might never have found a name.
“to make Austrian music more visible“
How do you see the music situation in Austria? How big or small is the awareness of Austrians for Austrian bands?
Tamara Leichtfried: Sometimes I have the feeling that these are two worlds that don’t know each other at all. Either you listen to Austrian bands and go to concerts or you don’t know that such a thing exists. They´re just completely isolated from each other.
Viktoria Kirner: Even within Austrian music there are two worlds for me. Last year I noticed that very clearly. Being in my own bubble last year, I never noticed how many people listen to bigger Austrian bands that have been played on FM4 for a couple of years now. Then we got ranked, suddenly we were a bit of a part of this world and then we stood on stage together with these more successful local groups. Only then you really notice how big the crowd for successful Austrian bands really is.
Dora de Goederen: In general, it would be important to make Austrian music more visible. Even back in school, nobody in my circle of friends knew that there were somewhat relevant Austrian bands – until Bilderbuch came along. Suddenly everyone was listening to Bilderbuch. But even then everyone thought that there were no other bands in Austria. Of course that’s not true, there are so many other bands. That has always surprised me. I think one reason for this is because there is almost no Austrian music played on the radio except for FM4. You just don´t know that these bands exist if you´re not in that scene of music.
How does mutual support within the Austrian indie scene look like?
Viktoria Kirner: I didn’t go to my very first concert of an Austrian band until I was 22. Then you are in a small club and realize that really talented musicians are part of your circle of friends. Suddenly a world of its own opens up. From this little indie bubble there were some more experienced musicians who opened up these doors for us. There’s a huge community.
Tamara Leichtfried: We didn’t get any tips as to exactly what we should do in the rehearsal room. It was more about organizing concerts or finding out where someone needs an opening act.
Viktoria Kirner: Someone lent me a bass for almost two years. And I still have three effect-devices at home that don’t belong to me. When you form a band, it of course is always a financial question. Of course you need people who can lend you something and explain technical things.
As a girl band, is there any noticeable discrepancy between female and male musicians?
Viktoria Kirner: Fortunately, in our circles people are now very sensitive regarding this topic. But there are still a lot of bands in Austria that come from a scene that consists almost exclusively of men. There we do notice that the contact is really questionable. In 2018 there are still five guys playing on a stage with a guitar and no shirt and feel like they are the greatest heroes on earth. It’s crazy that it works, but sadly that´s how it still is. Fortunately we have no contact with these bands.
Is a girl less likely to try to be part of a successful band?
Tamara Leichtfried: I played the piano when I was five years old and played my brother’s guitar when I was 15. We also tried out with friends for fun. But we would never have thought of getting on that stage. When I was 21 or 22 I met a friend in Linz and joined his band. I figured they’d been doing all this for years. Right at the time when I was sitting at home and didn’t dare to make music, all my male friends who ever had a guitar in their hands formed a band. I’m glad that I make music at all now, but I’m just extremely late. I lack the time in which others could try out a lot and make mistakes.
Dora de Goederen: It’s getting better, but you often get compliments or comments that are more related to the look. For example in our circle of friends many people said that we would look really cool on stage as an encouragement. That’s nice too, and you like to hear it. But people often don’t realize that that’s not enough when you’ve actually made music on stage.
“You can get in touch with us, we know enough people”
Do you have any tips for a new women’s band?
Tamara Leichtfried: Have fun!
Viktoria Kirner: Have fun with each other. Also dare to play live, because that strengthens a band because you learn to rely on others and build trust. Once you’ve done that, you can do a lot of other things. There are enough stages if you dare to make yourself visible. You can also get in touch with us, we know enough people.
Do you want to be known abroad now?
Tamara Leichtfried: I don’t think we have any specific plans at all. A tour through the Balkans would be very nice, because at our concert in Skopje the audience was very appreciative. And we’d all like to go to Spain one day.
Viktoria Kirner: There are certain things that could be done, but you have to see what makes sense. We’re not following some grand plan of what we’d like to do in five years. We’ll all finish up the university and make sure we don’t starve in the meantime.
Tamara Leichtfried: [laughs] We have not yet drawn up a business plan.
Many thanks for the interview!
Anne-Marie Darok – translated by Dave Dempsey