“Making Music is a Gift”: An Interview with Dives

DIVES (c) Marie Haefner
DIVES (c) Marie Haefner

About a year ago, Austrian Music Export conducted an interview with the Vienna trio DIVES. It was an exciting time – they had just released their latest album, Wanna Take You There, and had just been named a NASOM act for 2023-24. A year later, Philip Yaeger caught up with Tamara Leichtfried and Viktoria Kirner to talk about their recent Mexico tour, what’s next, and how they manage to juggle music and everyday life.

You just got back from Mexico – how was your trip?

Tamara Leichtfried: It was great; everything was really well organized.

Viktoria Kirner: We played four concerts in 10 days at different locations, then we had 8 days free in Mexico City, and on our last night there, we had one more club show in Mexico City.

“everything started with NASOM”

Speaking of organization: young musicians surely ask themselves how you get the opportunity to tour like that in the first place.

Tamara Leichtfried: Everything actually started when we applied for the New Austrian Sound of Music (NASOM) program.

Viktoria Kirner: It depends on the individual countries and the Austrian Cultural Forums. The NASOM people told us, if you want to play in a specific country, find out what festivals they have and then contact the Cultural Forum there. In our case, it was kind of reversed: we were thinking about Mexico, and a couple days later, we got an email from the Cervantino Festival there – as it turned out, the director of the ACF in Mexico had recommended us.

Tamara Leichtfried: After that, we got our booker, Giovanna from Assim Records, involved. Together with the ACF and the festival, she managed to book some other shows and get the most out of the trip for us.

Video: DIVES – “Say”

Do any of you actually speak Spanish?

Tamara Leichtfried: [laughs] I had it in school, but wasn’t really at the best level. But we got in the groove more while we were there. It was important to us to speak Spanish on stage, for instance – and that made a good impression; they appreciated the effort.

“If you’re looking for differences, you see them everywhere”

Before going to Mexico, you were traveling in Europe quite a bit. Did you notice cultural differences – for instance, in the way audiences reacted to your music?

Tamara Leichtfried: I think if you’re looking for those differences, you’ll see them everywhere. It was very important to the people in Mexico to take pictures with us after the concert – they stood in line. When we asked what they were going to do with the photos, they said they wanted to let their families and friends know that they had been at the concert, that they had met us. It was really special.

Viktoria Kirner: I think you also notice definite cultural differences within Europe as well – it always depends on whether culture is perceived as having value, whether there’s money for it – I think generally when you demonstrate that music and art are worth something, it has a strong effect.

Tamara Leichtfried: That’s true. I think it’s also a bit of a prejudgement that big cities are always harder to win over. For instance, audiences in Berlin were fairly cool to us, and then we went to Paris in April expecting the same thing – and it was one of the best concerts of 2023 for me; the audience was wonderful.

Viktoria Kirner: That concert is what made me think of cultural funding – this is a club in the middle of downtown Paris, they have music every week and every week the house is packed. And they pay the musicians; they’ve got good equipment, too – there’s just better support for culture there than there is in Austria.

“Come back soon!”

One of the best things about touring is the stories. Do you have a story from the last few months that you’ll still be telling in ten years?

Viktoria Kirner: We had something of an odyssey with the guitars this time…we found out at the counter in Vienna Airport that our guitars had been booked as people, not as instruments. In the end, we had to argue for at least for 45 minutes for each of the four flights. We had to explain everything on the way back as well, but the Mexican staff was unbelievably nice; they really took pleasure in helping us.

Tamara Leichtfreid: And when we met the airline employee again at the gate, he said, “Come on girls, you can go ahead and board! And by the way, ten of us are already following you on Instagram. We hope you come back to Mexico soon!”

DIVES (c) Marie Haefner
DIVES (c) Marie Haefner

Your last interview with us was just about a year ago; the album Wanna Take You There had just come out and DIVES had just been named a NASOM act for 2023-24. Have you been able to accomplish some of what you wanted to do?

Tamara Leichtfried: I’d say so, yes. Mexico was a major highlight, but we’ve got a lot of international concerts planned for 2024.

Viktoria Kirner: We’re also playing at WUK at the an.schläge anniversary party [on December 2]…

Tamara Leichtfried: …and on December 7th in Wiener Neustadt. We were also in the studio this year; in 2024 there’s going to be new music from us too.

“You remember why you go to all the trouble”

Good to hear! One final question: in the interview a year ago, you talked about juggling music, jobs, and studying; now you’re on the road even more than you were before. Has anything changed?

Viktoria Kirner: I think as long as you can’t earn a regular income as a musician in Austria – there are models for that now in other European countries – we’ll always need day jobs. It’s almost impossible to live from a single project. It only works because we have very tolerant employers.

Tamara Leichtfried: And because we’re really passionate about DIVES. It’s stressful, of course, but when you come back from a trip like this one, you have this energy – you remember why you’re going to all the trouble.

Viktoria Kirner: It’s a struggle to constantly wear two hats…but it keeps it interesting, and it just makes it that much more of a gift to be able to make music.

Thank you for your time!

Philip Yaeger