“What we saw and experienced in the United States was very inspiring”

BOY_Benedikt Schnermann

Valeska Steiner, the singer of Boy, shared her thoughts with Swissvibes on the band’s recent US.

You just finished touring the US. What were the highlights?

The whole tour was very special to us. It was the first time we toured the US with the whole band. The show at Webster Hall in New York was something extraordinary for us, as it is always special to play in New York. We were very nervous and excited at the same time. People were so nice to us and the atmosphere was great. We were on tour for 4 weeks. We played in big cities and in smaller ones. We sometimes had quieter crowds and sometimes very excited ones. Both experiences were nice. New York was a great crowd, but we also had special shows in Washington DC and in Portland. It was a smaller venue and a very intimate show. We are always very surprised we hear people sing along with us. It’s really fun.

In New York, quite a few Swiss expats came to see the show. Did you have other “Swiss” crowds during the tour?

We had some Swiss people, but there were more Germans. You can also notice the Germans in the crowd as they make themselves noticed. The Swiss people are quieter. I am the only Swiss member of the band. And we have a big following in Germany.

Did you get a chance to meet US bands during the tour?

Not really. Life on tour can be pretty insulated. You spend a lot of time in your tour bus, going from one city to another. You often don’t see much of the city as you go straight to the club, where you play. But we had Jeremy Messersmith open for us.

You also had a good exposure in the media…

Yes, in Philadelphia, we played at World Cafe (ndlr, the cutting-edge rock show on NPR, the American Public Radio). We also played on KCRW (ndlr, Famous underground rock radio station in Los Angeles) . It was really nice and we got 45 minutes of air time.

You played in some of the best venues in the US, including on a Friday night at Webster Hall in New York. How did that happen?

We have a great booking agency, High Road Touring. We were really impressed with the venues they booked for us.

You drove through the whole United States. How was this experience?

It was beautiful. Denver was one of the highlights of trip. We had a day off and our bus driver drove us to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. He always wanted to go there and we were really happy to discover this incredible place.

Did you get a chance to write some new music while you were in the US?

We are not a band that writes on the bus. But what we saw and experienced in the United States was very inspiring. Hopefully all this will turn into songs. The show in San Diego was the last show of the tour but also of the album. We have been touring for 2 1/2 years. We are looking forward to spending some time at home and recording our new album.

For more info:

Boy’s website

Boy’s Facebook page

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Welcome to New York Bonaparte!

A gig on a Tuesday night can be a lonely experience in New York City for a punk rocker, who made a name for himself with his large multi-ethnic band across the Atlantic. But Bonaparte aka Tobias Jundt took on that challenge this month at Pianos in the Lower East Side of Manahattan and there already are some signs that Big Apple will enjoy the eccentric and energetic Swiss artist’s solo act and residency there in the coming weeks. The lead singer of the quiet folk band St.Claire opening for him on February 19, told the crowd that it would get loud after her show, because “it’s what happens after 10.00 pm in Manhattan”. And loud it got. Bonaparte, who recently moved to New York to write his 4th album, showed his crowd how to make  punk music with just a guitar, pedals and a computer.

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Sporting his usual black eye and half-cow half-horse hat, he quickly brought the crowd to its feet with his powerful guitar riffs and his clever lyrics. He opened his show with”Wrygdwylife” aka “What are you gonna do with your life” and filled the room with his energy. One could feel that the crowd did not know what to think of this wild troubadour throwing lines at her such as “No I’m not drunk, I’m just dancing” and “No I’m not dead, I’m just sleeping”. But one guy started dancing crazily in the packed room and he helped Bonaparte break the ice. The slightly drunk dude, who had never heard of Bonaparte before and kept screaming “that’s right motherf…..r”, got his reward at the end of the gig. The rocker invited  him to his next show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn the following night.

Bonaparte played several songs from “Sorry we are open”, his band’s latest record that will be released in France in April. He also played tracks from his previous record, “My Horse likes you” (2010). Among them was the energetic “Boycott Everything”. “I boycott everything that’s not made by my hands”, he sung. During his 45-minute show, he rolled on the floor, sweat, drank from somebody’s drink, jumped into the crowd, unleashed his guitar, ran with it around the place and ultimately got the crowd to convince the deejay to grant him an encore. He closed his show with the electro-punk track “Computer Love”.

Bonaparte has another solo gig at Pianos on February  26 before being joined by his “divas” at Pianos on March 5 and then moving on to Austin for the cool South by Southwest festival. The whole band will be with Tobias Jundt for 5 shows in Texas and two more shows in New York at Union Hall and Pianos.

Bonaparte’s upcoming shows

BONAPARTE SOLO – “PIANOS RESIDENCY”
26.02 | USA – NYC, Pianos (upstairs) – solo set | 10pm
05.03 | USA – NYC, Pianos (downstairs) – solo w/divas | 10pm
26.03 | USA – NYC, Pianos (downstairs) – solo w/divas | 10pm

BONAPARTE – “MAÑANA FOREVER TOUR” (full band)
13.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – The Belmont
14.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – Javelina
15.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – Iron Bear
16.03 | USA – Austin – Marching Down 6th Street
17.03 | USA – Austin – Gay Bi Gay Gay
18.03 | USA – Brooklyn, NY – Union Hall
19.03 | USA – NYC – Pianos

09.04. | CH – Stans – Musiktage Stans

10.04. | F – Tourcoing – Festival Paradis Artificiels
11.04. | F – Lyon – Marché Gare
12.04. | F – Blois – Chatodo
13.04. | F – Paris – Festival Chorus
14.04. | LUX – Luxembourg – Rockhal
15.04. | D – Münster – Skaters Palace
18.04. | IT – Torino – Lapsus
19.04. | IT – Roma – Traffic
20.04. | IT – Vicenza – E20

“You need to have discipline to create freedom for your band”

Swiss composer Nik Bärtsch and his band Ronin just wrapped up a US tour to present their new two-disc set called “Live”. Everywhere they go, music critics are raving about the groove of a music that is flirting with rock and pop. Swissvibes talked to Nik Bärtsch in New York.

Nik, tell us about your recent US tour with your band Ronin.

Nik Bärtsch We played in Oakland and Portland, where we had already played in the past. We also played at Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle. It was our first time there and it is a very good festival. Finishing the tour in New York was great. The headquarters of our label ECM are there. We played there last year and it was named by Jim Fusilli, the Wall Street Journal music critic, one of the best live shows of 2011 alongside Radiohead, Patti Smith and Björk. For us, it was amazing to be named with artists like them.

How did your new live album come about?

Nik Bärtsch We recorded about 50 shows. We made a first selection of about 30 tracks from all these shows. We reduced the number to 11 and worked with Manfred Eicher, our producer at ECM, to end up with a final selection of 9 tracks from different shows. The idea was to show the deveopment and activity of the band. It is a funny mix of small venues and bigger ones. For instance, we played in a theater in Lörrach. It was organized by a friend of mine and they had built a lounge. So we had young people lying in front of us when we played. It was kind of strange but also a really special show.

When you talk about Ronin, you often highlight the discipline of your band. Why?

Nik Bärtsch When you listen to great bands like Radiohead or musicians like Herbie Hancock, you can feel they have a lot of discipline. You need to have discipline to create freedom for your band. Our discipline come from our Swiss roots. Our sound is clean and precise. But we only do that to give ourselves freedom during our shows. You could compare us to an experimental pop and rock band. We are precise with our message. But the structure we have in our music allows us to have fun on stage. Music is the message.

Tell us about your relationship to New York.

Nik Bärtsch We played 4 times there. It is always important to play there because it is where most music is developped. We always have had inspiring audiences there. New Yorkers know a lot about bands. We were totally happy because they made us feel that they wanted to hear something special. It is a good feeling.

You are releasing a two-disc set at a time when people listen to more music online. Does this rapidly-changing environment have an impact on how you create an album?

Nik Bärtsch We always did what we thought was right. You have to work on the long run and show people you can surprize them. Ronin sold 50 000 records, which is amazing for a jazz band. The business model changes, the media change, but the message stays the same. I don’t only think myself as a musician. I am also an entrepreneur, because you need to sell records to be able to keep playing.

For more information:

Ronin’ s “Live” two-disc set is out. Label: ECM

Nik Bärtsch and Ronin play every Monday at Exil music club, Hardstrasse 245 21,  in Zurich.

Ronin will perfom at Label Suisse in Lausanne on December 14th, 2012.

For more information: http://www.nikbaertsch.com/konzerte/

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