Last week, I had the chance to meet Rupert Huber in Café Leopold in the Museumsquartier. We talked about music, his relationship with his hometown Vienna, and why the team of VIENNAFAIR deserved special thanks on the cover of their new album…
Perhaps you remember VIENNAFAIR‘s great opening performance at Odeon Theater last September. It was a world premiere of Tosca‘s new album “Odeon”. Back then The New Contemporary met Rupert Huber and Richard Dorfmeister backstage (watch the video: http://wp.me/s2sAJ4-2381).
Tell me about your new album.
Rupert: Basically, when we performed at Odeon last October it was a world premiere of this material. The cover photo for the album was taken during the performance, which we really enjoyed. Also in the special edition of the album there is a video of our live show there. We cut out all the singing parts, so it is a disc with only ambient sound. As Odeon is more than just the name of the place – it is also the genre of the theatre – we thought that it would make a good title for our album. And on the cover there is one of our singers captured at a very emotional moment… In the background there is a hat from the Colin Snapp video. I think the cover is very nice, it feels a little bit like Magritte. The approach is similar… And all of this wouldn’t be possible without Colin Snapp, Vita Zaman, Christina Steinbrecher, and Markus Huber – that’s why we wrote a special thanks to them on the cover.
Are you originally from Vienna?
Rupert: My parents are from Vienna, my grandparents are from Vienna. The sister of my grandfather was in charge of something with Viennese hospitals, and she forbade my mother to give birth in Vienna; she said it’s so dirty here, it is too dangerous. So I was born in a hospital outside of Vienna.
Why do you live in Vienna now?
Rupert: Well, I lived in Germany for a long time. Then, when I was 28 or 29, I got a grant in Berlin, so I lived there for seven or eight years. But then because of personal circumstances – my girlfriend – I moved back here.
Best place to waste time in Vienna?
Rupert: Honestly, my bed. It depends a lot on the weather. Six months in the year the weather is bad… I like this view, for example (the view from the glass bridge in Café Leopold). When the weather is good – actually, that’s the only time when it is really beautiful in Vienna. Because of the architecture, it is very heavy, imperial and unfriendly, gray. They try to do their best, but the beauty only comes with the sunshine.
Speaking of architecture, what is your favorite building in Vienna?
Rupert: It is a very small and old building in the first district, The Museum Of Clocks (Uhrenmuseum). It is one of the few Middle Age buildings in Vienna. It has three floors with old clocks. It used to be more fun because back in the day all the clocks were working. It’s sad that they don’t have enough money to turn them on anymore. But it is a very interesting museum anyway. For instance, two hundred years ago they made paintings with a landscape on it, and then there is a village with a church and the clock on the tower was real!
Best place to find contemporary art in Vienna?
Rupert: If I would be interested to see something new, something contemporary, I’d come to VIENNAFAIR. It is also very nice to visit the vernissages on Eschenbachgasse and Schleifmuhlgasse in Vienna, when all the galleries are opened at the same time and you can see things that are not so established.
Where is the best place to get inspiration in Vienna?
Rupert: I like water, so I guess anywhere near the Danube…
Let’s talk about music. Vienna is famous for its electronic music scene. Why?
Rupert: Well, when Austria joined the European Union in 1995 they wanted to have some new fresh cliché… So to be honest, I think it was never really true, in comparison to what was happening in Berlin or London, just because they are so much bigger. But, on the other hand, we have the USA where the electronic scene is not as big as it is in Europe. So if you go to the States and say that Vienna is the capital of the electronic music, they might believe you.
What about the young musicians? Is Vienna a good working environment for them?
Rupert: If you are not a classic musician in the orchestra I think it is hard everywhere. Because the business completely broken down and has not yet developed new ways to make money.
Best place to listen to the music in Vienna?
Rupert: If you are into experimental electronic music then Fluc is the right place. And there is this radio program “Kunstradio” on Ö1 (Austrian radio station) every Sunday. And concerning the clubs: The best sound I heard in Vienna was in this club… Grelle Forelle.
The funniest and strangest in Vienna?
Rupert: I don’t know, but what is really nice about Vienna is that it’s quiet here. People are shy to make sounds. When you come to Paris or New York or any other city all the people make a lot of noise. Here, people can hardly say “Excuse me” when they want to pass by in the subway, for example. So it is very silent here, which is good. Because it creates the acoustic mode.
Is there a sound of Vienna?
Rupert: It might be horses. Especially for people who are not from here. They can be surprised by the “Fiaker” (horse-drawn carriage).
What is the aroma of Vienna?
Rupert: I have a bad sense of smell, I don’t know. But because of the wind and maybe the location, I can say that the air is clear here.
Are you waiting for any upcoming events?
Rupert: I must say, I am waiting for opening of the new Musiktheater in Linz. They have a wonderful scene and great sound system, and we are going to perform there on the 17th of April. In addition to our four vocalists Sarah Callier, Robert Gallagher, Rodney Hunter, and Jay Jay Jones, we are going to collaborate with the Ars Electronica Futurelab and the KK String Quartet.
Is there any place in Vienna where you like to perform?
Rupert: It might surprise you: Recently, we were in the Kunsthistorische Museum (KHM) at the opening of Kunstkammer, it was really unusual to perform there. The sound was not perfect, but the atmosphere was very special.
Order an album: http://www.k7.com/Toscaodeon/
Rupert Huber studied composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. He plays – among other instruments – piano, synthesizer, guitar, and bass. Since 1989, he has been producing his music in his own sound studio. He was a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Residence Programme (1997) and nominated for the World Technology Award 2010. He was a member of the jury at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2007 and 2009.
Piano music and sound installations in public spaces are among Rupert Huber’s main areas of interest. Radio music (Deutschlandradio, Kunstradio), music for media projects (Horizontal Radio, Ars Electronica 1995), and film music (Swimmers in the Desert, 2000) are the fields in which he does most of his creative work. Recently, Huber has been working on a multi-channel sound installation for Vienna International Airport in which the sounds are controlled by the airplanes (opened in 2012).
Tosca, the duo formed in 1994 by Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber, has released five CDs and seven remix albums over the last 14 years, with total sales over half a million. The original albums are Opera (1997), Suzuki (2000), Dehli 9 (2003), J.A.C. (2005), and No Hassle (2009).