Heinz Riegler is an Austrian-born artist sharing his time between Europe and Australia. Following a number of years as a member of a variety of groups, Riegler has focused on solo compositions and performances in recent years together with curating art and architecture biennale minus20degree.
Riegler is an ARIA Award winner, a multiple ARIA Award nominee, was twice short listed for the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship and was recently named Winner at M.I.C.A’s TonBild 2011 Vienna Audio Visual Awards.
As one of the Artists-In-Residence for SEGUE 2016, Riegler will perform live during the festival as well as participate in the Delve Deeper series of forums and discussions.
First things first, your performance for Segue 2016 will be your first in Australia for a few years now. Are you excited to be heading back?
Yes, very much. Australia is definitely one of the places I call my home — and I’ve been missing it!
You first came to prominence with Not From There, a band best described as ‘unique’ within the 90’s Triple J milieu. What first drew you to music and what are some early influences?
I remember being six or seven years old when Elvis died. My father was a huge fan and became quite upset when he heard of the King’s passing. My father lit candles, drew the curtains in our house and listened to Elvis records for a week. That made an impression. I think it had something to do with me getting drawn into the world of sound. My mother also taught me to yodel and sing from an early age — she comes from a family of singers and writers. That had a huge impact. As for the 90s in Australian music; that was an odd time. A hilarious anomaly. I’ve not gone back and listened to the work I made then, I remember it had its moments, but I suspect it may also have been quite awful at times.
Moving away from the band format, what interests you most about musical improvisation?
I was drawn to noise from an early age, I remember the echoes that form high up in the mountains when one screams into a vast valley of rock and ice. I was very impressed with the collection of sounds that I heard in nature. I attempted to inject a dose of improvisation / noise into the bands I was performing and writing with, also somewhat drawing on the musicians we came in contact with and the records we listened to. Once I left the band format behind I naturally drifted toward improvisation, aided by some great people in Brisbane like Tam Patton and Lawrence English who I began performing with regularly around the turn of the century.
Would you still describe yourself as composer/songwriter or are works like Sleep Health best described as sound art pieces?
I’m not sure what to call myself, or the work I make. Best I can do is to call it work. That works for me. 😉
I’m intrigued about the art and architecture concept behind minus20degree, a festival you are involved in your hometown of Flachau, Austria.
m20d was started in 2012 by a group of Architects and Artists in the town of Flachau, Austria. Every two years we attempt to interpret the winter landscape around us as architecture and we program this architecture with contemporary works of art selected from a pool of submissions, as well as by invitations to Artists who’s work we appreciate. The snow cover provides large white spaces in the landscape that serve as stage, canvas, screen or performance space for the participating international artists. Just like a town square or a public park benefit from a program, m20d intends to program this winter landscape every two years with performative works, video and sound-art as well as installation based works. In the context of m20d, Architecture is not necessarily dependent on walls or structures, Architecture becomes an event, an experience.
How does working between two different continents affect your creative output?
It’s good to keep moving! It provides a certain tension that I think beneficial to my work. I’ve divided my sense of where home is across these two continents, that brings both confusion and moments of clarity.
What can we expect from your performance for Segue 2016?
A slow crawl of discordant melancholy and longing inspired by the movement between continents.
Lastly, what five things do you look forward to when coming back to Australia?
My dear friends. The Queensland light around 4/5 in the afternoon, on a beach perhaps. Australian sounds — both the sound made by its nature and its wonderful Artists. And the food!