FM4 Soundpark Act of the Month: Skofi & Skyfarmer

photo of Skofi & Skyfarmer

Skofi & Skyfarmer produce beats between 2step and house. Trademark: pleasantly casual. This is how summer could sound like.

Radio FM4

“Good people and good beats” – the motto of the hip-hop series “FM4 Block Party” held live at RKH in April was taken very much to heart by all hosts, including Eli Preiss. She played the opening night and brought, among others, Bibiza, Amnezzi and Liebcozy on stage. And there were two more who surprised and impressed us all very positively on the same evening. Now they are the FM4 Soundpark Act for May: Skofi & Skyfarmer.

Skofi & Skyfarmer are not a duo, but two solo acts that make music together.

In the get-to-know-you conversation in the FM4 Soundpark studio, words like “fell into the Instagram DMs” and “just asked if she had time” were uttered when asked. That’s just how it happens, someone knows someone who knows someone, everyone is active on Instagram and that’s where you make what will later become a friendship and musical-world-conquest-plan. Skofi and Skyfarmer met in 2018, and their first journey together took them straight to Klosterneuburg, to Skyfarmer’s studio. Skofi had a guitar with him. “I thought we’d just try it out a bit”, and bam, there it was, the first song, called “Rosy Clouds”. It’s doing well online, with over 600,000 clicks on Spotify alone.

Piano, Violin, Ableton Live

In the musical life of the two, the FM4 Soundpark Act nomination is a first joint award. But of course not the first ever: Skyfarmer, whose real name is Roman Himmelbauer, started playing the piano at a very early age. And obviously quite well. “It was always very important to my parents, not only me. Also my two brothers and sister learned the piano from an early age. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I took part in piano competitions, and I remember that I won second place once. The first, of course, was much better than I was,” says Roman, who is an attentive, courteous and very modest interview partner. They both are.

Cool piano teachers who also pass on jazz elements outside of the lesson plan, long years of DJing and self-production since early teen age, have landed Skyfarmer with a few chill-hop beats (“Remember in 2017, when it was totally in, to get those 10 hour loops in, while studying?”) on Soundcloud. That was also around the time when he met Skofi, and “then came the big bang,” they both laugh into the mic. Indeed!

Skofi, Sarah Kofranek, has done and tried many things. She started on the violin (grandpa was a master violinist!), followed by choosing that major in high school, then first stage performances, “but actually always rather in the background, accompanying on the guitar or piano”. The next obvious step, as with in most young musicians, was of course: be part of an indie or grunge band.

Then Skofi started to produce herself. When, at the first meeting, the magic moment in the studio with Skyfarmer happened so unexpectedly – as such moments do – Skofi was still astonished about writing or singing by herself. The first lyrics were still written in English, “because my English was just, I think, good enough – and because I simply listened to more English music when I was a teenager.” But now, there’s been the switch back to German, as Eli Preiss has also done recently. “I can just express myself better that way, the way we talk here now. There’s more realness in it for me.”

It’s all about the vibe

“Realness” or authenticity, smooth beats, the casual flow and good vibes: these are such staples of the music Skofi & Skyfarmer are writing together now. It all sounds loose and off the cuff, because it is. In January Skofi & Skyfarmer released their EP, “0.01”, in March the follow-up, “0.02”, and – you might guess it – soon the conclusion of the trilogy will be released with “0.03”. Crisp releases for the zeitgeist; each music package of three pieces should bring as much variability as possible.

Good friends not only share musical preferences (such as the music of the Stuttgart circle around Cro, but also everything by Mac Miller or Anderson Paak), but of course also a Spotify playlist. Gradually, more and more German rap has slipped in; acts like Goldroger, at whose concert Skofi & Skyfarmer met for the first time in real life. What most of these acts do is what Skofi draws her greatest inspiration from as a singer/songwriter, as a rapper, as a musician in general and especially as a producer: People who write and also produce their own music. “For me, that has always made sense, not to separate that. There we are also, for example, again Cro, who also made something different genre-wise than the gangster rap track.”

Speaking of gangster rap, a big thing in Germany, Slav also recently commented in an FM4 Soundpark interview on how difficult it can be to have success with German hip-hop in Austria: “You have scenes in Austria, small groups, and they’re everywhere, from Salzburg to Linz to Graz and of course, Vienna. They’re just cool among themselves. In Vienna, the crystals are slowly coalescing into a nice chain, but there’s still a nasty curse on the city that if you don’t look to big brother Germany, you can’t really succeed. There, of course, there’s a lot more people who hear and feel that and want to be part of the movement. In Austria, you just have Vienna – how is a subculture like that supposed to spread to the whole country?”

He adds, “But we’ll get there.” Skofi & Skyfarmer might subscribe to that, as well. They, too, confirm being “on the road in their own bubble,” which has a few people but rarely overlaps with others. But they are also still at the beginning of their career, says Skofi: “I almost don’t dare to say that much about the German rap scene in Vienna yet, because I just slid into it myself. But in general I can say that I got to know the most diverse musical circles, and I also had the feeling that there is not much mixing. In other European capitals there are festivals where an indie rock act plays after a drum and bass act and so on. That’s kind of not the case here.”

The absolutely necessary lightness of being

It’s not that Skofi & Skyfarmer blithely mix genre queer everything into their music, that’s all well contained in the corner of smooth, melodic hip-hop. But ideally they orientate themselves towards artists who mix hip-hop or rap with classic electronic genres and characteristics, like the producers Thai & Young Kira do. Or take something rather overheard and rethink it: “I have to throw in Haiyiti’s new album. It’s got the classic trap beats on it that you’ve heard so much already, but she’s taken it in such a different direction, with attitude and lyrics and presence. That’s why I’m totally excited about the album, even though I already know the beats,” Skofi said.

Don’t worry, you don’t know Skofi & Skyfarmer’s yet. This much is already revealed about the new EP: It will be released in the next few weeks. Until then, you can listen to current songs like “Zieh Weiter”, “Visier” or “WischWeg”; lightly drifting into summer in doses.

“We definitely hope that we can pass on to you the energy that we have together in the studio, and that you have a lot of fun with the music; that it gets you through the day. You’ll definitely get to know us better… That sounds almost a bit radical! But: we do it the soft way.”

Lisa Schneider

Translated from the German original version by Arianna Fleur