With their debut album ‘Believe Us’ now out and the press hype slowly building around one of Austria’s most-exciting young bands, Substance is Meaningless caught up with At Pavillon ahead of what is going to be the busiest year yet for the bright-shirt wearing four-piece.
Simon Dallaserra of the Austrian band took some time out ahead of the release and their upcoming tour to talk to Substance is Meaningless about the direction of the new album, the influences dreams can have on music, and why you need to make mistakes if you want to progress in life.
There are lots of exciting, entertaining festivals in Austria; whether it is the chilled-out ambience of Acoustic Lakeside, the free Popfest at Karlsplatz or the more commercial “grandaddy” of Austria festivals in the form of Frequency or Donauinsel Fest, there’s something for everyone over the summer months. One of the best of the bunch is located in Schlierbach in upper Austria and goes by the name of Rock im Dorf!
If you’re looking for a smaller, more manageable festival with top bands, an easy-going vibe and friendly atmosphere, then this festival not far from Kirchdorf an der Krems is an essential addition to your summer festival ‘to do’ list.
Substance is Meaningless caught up with the long-term member of the rockimdorf.at cultural organisation and current Booking and Press officer Valentin Geiseder, to talk about how the festival has developed over the years, why it is important to think regional when organising festivals and who the stand-out acts at this year’s festival between 12th to 14th of July could be.
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The first “new instalment” of the Rock im Dorf festival took place in 2013, what has been the biggest thing that’s changed over the years?
It was a constant improvement every year, we are definitely better organised these days, we got a new venue in 2014 which we optimise every year to make it more exciting and comfortable.
What was the reason for starting the festival back then? Did you expect it to be as successful as it has been?
We wanted to create a cultural summer highlight for our region, giving value, inviting the bands we love. Getting friends to come together for two weeks to build and decorate the festival area.
That first festival back in 2013 had a pretty impressive line-up, with the likes of A.G Trio, Bilderbuch, Francis International Airport and more – which artist are you most proud of being able to say, “they played on our stage?”
It makes us very proud to be able to give a platform to emerging and highly talented artists to perform in front of big audiences that are passionate about music. Being able to see that we’ve been able to help a little with an artists career and get awesome feedback from our visitors keeps us motivated to do this.
“We have such a strong passion for what we do. Nothing’s difficult about this job when you have that ” – Valentin Geiseder
How much work really goes into a festival like this? When do you start booking the first acts and preparing for the festival?
We usually start collecting and assessing feedback right after the festival. We then build up an organisational team in the autumn. Weusually start booking acts between December and February. It requires the whole year for some people in our team.
What would you say is the hardest thing about organising a festival like this?
We have such a strong passion for what we do. Nothing’s difficult about this job when you have that. We have an amazing crew, that’s our biggest asset to get the difficult things done.
Hearts Hearts will be performing on Friday, 13th of July.
Does Rock im Dorf have a certain code or ethos when it comes to the bands it books?
Yes. We like to mix established headliners with the freshest talent around. We try to focus on the Austrian music scene and of course, great live bands.
I’ve been to Rock im Dorf and loved the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the festival. What do you think makes the festival stand out from other festivals in Austria?
Well, Austria has a lot of great festivals, but I think its exactly this atmosphere you described that makes it so special.
Rock im Dorf doesn’t just have a reputation for good music, it’s also been commended for its efforts to be a Green Festival. What are the key things you do to keep this festival green and how can other festivals learn from your examples?
It’s very important to interact with the local community, farmers, landlords… this is what we had to learn during the first few years. Comfort is a key aspect these days, keeping the festival clean and regional is an essential part, and I think lots of other festivals are improving in that aspect. Our key green points are supporting regional suppliers, rewarding visitors who arrive by train and those who refuse to drop their waste/cigarettes on the grass.
Yukno will be performing on Friday, 13th of July.
This year’s festival has another extremely solid line-up of mainly Austrian artists (check out the complete Rock im Dorf playlist below), who are you most excited about?
I think its the whole package. My personal favourites are probably Yukno who just released an amazing record, and I think Hearts Hearts and Lea Santee have great potential on an international stage in the future.
Who could be the biggest ‘unknown surprise’ people shouldn’t miss out on?
I’m really excited about Farveblind, a Danish artist I discovered in a small club in Ljubljana this February. They had this amazing live energy that convinced me to invite them for one of the closing slots of the festival.
Favreblind will be performing on Saturday, 14th of July.
Are there any surprises in store for visitors this year? Anything you’re trying out for the first time?
Our team is working on some great improvements in decoration. What it will be exactly is a surprise. You should also watch out for our afternoon entertainment program which will be announced soon.
It’s always difficult to predict to future, but where how do you want this festival to be in 5 years time? Are there plans to make it bigger, or are you happy with the way it is?
We are still improving and learning every year, especially in terms of decoration, team spirit and comfort. Maybe we are going to invite some bigger names, if we have the opportunity, but the core values will always remain the same.
Is there another festival in the world you’ve attended that you were impressed by?
Personally, I also prefer festivals with this friendly, more cosy attitude. We recently formed a small association called “NOEFF” with other Austrian festivals where we share a lot of our experiences and our passion for organizing festivals. The member list includes a lot of great festivals you should check out: https://www.facebook.com/noeffreunde
LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST
Paul from Austrian-trio Tents took a few minutes out of band practice ahead of their album-release show in Fluc tonight to chat to Substance is Meaningless and reveal why they actually haven’t a long-lasting distate for tents, chocolate and answer more of our extremely deep and informative questions.
Portland rockers Autonomics took some time out of their European tour preparations to answer our extremely deep and informative questions about drinking, throwing pies and why Metallica seem to be the greatest and most overrated band in the world.
Substance Is Meaningless had a little chat with Swiss electro-pop band Len Sander ahead of the release of their upcoming 2nd album, The Future of Lovers, to find out that about the one-dimensionality of digital relationships, the importance of the tangible and why you just can’t run from your past, even if you wanted to, sorry…
SIM: How would you describe your music in ten words?
LEN SANDER: Frank, smooth, driven, energetic, tentative, bold, fearless, eclectic, deep, personal
Your new album is called ‘The Future of Lovers’ – what does the future have in store for romantics out there?
The future is uncertain, of course, because love always is, and it’s the uncertainty that makes love alluring.
‘The Future of Lovers’ is a statement about the re-conquest, even the revenge of the senses, on the digital world. What does that mean exactly?
Many things digital comprise a promise for infinity, for endless possibilities, while in fact, when it comes to our senses, our digital experiences are extremely one-dimensional (sitting at a computer, watching a screen, touching a sleek surface, communicating with a language based on code). And this contradiction is something that we’ve been reflecting on and discussing a lot while producing this album. I personally felt, and still feel, a strong need to touch things, to feel things, to sense things and to experience things with my whole body. And I am very certain that I am not alone with this desire, especially in this digital age, because our senses and their need for stimulation are naturally revolting against this evolution.
The first track released on the album is called ‘Woman On The Run’ – is there anything you’d like to run from if you could?
The lyrics in the song talk about how your past experiences define you as a person and how you deal with these experiences, especially when they’re painful. So, in this song I ask whether we could just give these experiences back, return them, forget them, without losing who we are. And my conclusion is, no, you can’t give them back because, yes, you would lose who you are. So, you can’t really run from your past, but you can turn painful experiences into something positive, for example by pouring them into your art and your music. And this is what we do.
The album explores the ‘social dimensions of love and physicality’ – what exactly are those?
It means that what we think of love, what we expect from love, what we wish for in love and even what we feel and experience within our bodies is very much defined by social dimensions.
One of the songs on the album is called, ‘My Heart Is A Cold Place To Live In’ – that sounds very depressing… is that taken from any personal experiences?
Ha ha, yes! Has anyone ever written a song that was not taken from personal experiences? Well, I have never tried to write something not personal.
What has been the most difficult thing so far about being a musician in the digital age?
I think the pressure to always be present and communicate online to get attention for your music can be difficult because in order to be creative you also need to be able to retreat and have time for reflection.
‘Places’ made it on to Radio 1 in the UK, what kind of positive repercussions did you get from this airplay?
This was really important for us. First, it gave us the confidence that our music can make it internationally and secondly radio stations all over Switzerland started playing our music.
You guys are from Zurich, what are three things we should do in the city?
Go for a swim in the lake or the river, visit Museum Haus Konstruktiv and have a drink at Sender which is a bar and independent radio station GDS.FM
And three things we should avoid?
Personally, I don’t really like the area around Hauptbahnhof and Bahnhofstrasse. It is too busy and therefore no sense of art can be felt around there.
I’m going to be honest, I can’t really name many (or any) other Swiss bands I know. Are there any bands we should be keeping an eye out for?
Of course! The Swiss Music scene is very, very lively. Check out Odd Beholder, True, One Sentence Supervisor, Egopusher, Wolfman, Dave Eleanor.
So, it’s now 2018 – New Year, new me etc. What are your plans for the year ahead?
We have so many plans! We start the year by releasing our second album on January 26th. And then we will be touring Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. We also hope to play our first overseas shows!
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