Many often say that you can’t appreciate the good without experiencing the bad, and if that’s the case – Verena von Horsten can fully understand what it means to have the good come into your life. This synth rocker has faces some of the darkest days a person can go through during their lifetime, but has risen above to create. She was very open about those times in her life as he spoke with us about all of that with some Switzerland tossed into the mix.
Kendra: How present is the synth rock scene over in Switzerland? Is there a community, or are you a lone wolf?
Verena von Horsten: There are a few bands who are mixing rock with electronic material, but all of them are so different so there isn’t a typical scene over here. But honestly, when I was younger I couldn’t identify with any kind of scene over here, and I always felt lonely or kind of an outcast. Desperately I wanted to fit in somewhere until i realized that all I need is not to know where I belong to but rather knowing who I am and what makes me the person I am. I just figured that out two years ago. Now I don’t feel lonely anymore. Regarding bands, I just want to see swiss bands onstage that inspire me. Bands or artist that truly stick with whatever they like. and we have a lot of good bands out there like Lord Kessely and the Drums, Reverend Beat Man, Fai Baba, Disco Doom, The Young Goods. They are all beautiful weirdos.
Kendra: You spent a good deal of time in New York recording your latest, Alien Angel Super Death. Was that your first time in the states? Nevertheless, how do you like New York compared to where you’re from?
Verena von Horsten: It was my second time in New York but the first time for a longer stay. New York is a neurotic, crazy place. On the artistic side that means that people are so fucking open to new music – edgy, weird, complex…New York underground musicians are mostly wonderful, fucked up people, and they gave me a gift that led to a turning point: they really liked my music! It sounds silly. but in Switzerland I always had the feeling of not being good enough because I did not fit into the general state of the art. New York showed me so much love, and this love gave me the confidence that my music is just okay. It’s good music. Since then this confidence did not go away and it helped me to put out this record and go through all the insecurity that the topic of the album put me in.
So you see – New York gave me a gift that made me start believing in myself as an artist.
And I realized that Swiss artists and Swiss people have a fucking low self-esteem. Growing up here I inherited this behavior. We have def problems to kinda praise our artists. but as soon as they have success abroad and come back, then they are hyped. I hereby promise I’m gonna change that. I don’t accept this low self-esteem any longer.
Kendra: Staying on topic with the album, it was inspired by a dark time in your life when you lost your brother to suicide. Have you thought of using your artistry and partnering with any suicide prevention programs?
Verena von Horsten: From time to time I get asked to do a partnership, but I don’t wanna do that. I’ll tell you why. The most – until nowadays – fragile point in this whole suicide topic is that when people get into such a state, they nearly do not have anybody to talk to. This leads to a behavior where they isolate themselves which can lead directly into suicide. So the work that I am doing is to create awareness about suicide. I am doing this by talking about my brother and myself every time I am on stage. and secondly to shout out that everyone can write me and talk to me whenever they want.
And this is what I do, I try to catch up those people directly so they can share their feelings – which is the fucking most important step to get better. I know that so well, not only because my brother Hakon died of suicide. I know it so well, because I had an suicide attempt when I was 17-years-old and had suicide thoughts coming up when he died.
I had major depression after his death that I am still recovering from and the “suicide wound” has not completely healed yet. Going through all this makes me kind of an expert in this topic and i want to pass on that knowledge directly to people in order to help them.
The next step is 1. Build up a support group and 2. Have face to face meetings with people that find themselves in a difficult situation.
I think I am best in helping people directly and I think it’s even more helpful than doing promotion for any prevention program. Suicide has its rout in mayor traumas. To find out what trauma it is and to deal with this wound can only be done when somebody wants to do this journey with you.
Actually my dream is to start a foundation, the Hakon von Horsten Foundation, that builds suicide prevention houses. These houses are run by specialists who welcome people that are in a urgent state and go through this journey together with these people. We have a mental institution here on Switzerland, of course. A lot of them, but they are only partial specialized in suicide, and they want to prevent, not heal the people.
I want to create centers that are specialized in feel out the trauma that leads to suicide feelings and WORK actually with the people on this trauma.
This is what I am doing with myself and this is what can help to heel this terrible wound. This is what brings the light into the shadow and that’s the reason why the first five songs on my record are the ones that deal with death, and the next five are the ones who deal with self love, healing and getting then to the point where you change so much that you find your own truth. This is what the last song on the record “The Believer” is all about.
So yes, it is a dark record but looking closely it shows you the way out of it. Therefore, in the end it is a record about heeling your deepest wounds and from there building up a life that inherent self love.
Kendra: Switching gears now. Going off “Sweet Lullabye,” I wanted to know if there was any traditional Swiss lullabies you grew up with?
Verena von Horsten: Oh sweety, I am so not into typical Swiss culture. I grew up with a German father, a Turkish mother and a Colombian step mom…I just had a show where I had to sing some written down lines of one of our most popular traditional songwriters. His name is Mani Matter. The fuck, I didn’t even understood all the words! We have like thousands of dialects, and written down they are even worse to me! BUT I am not the only one in this country feeling like that! Imagine!
Kendra: Lastly, now that the album’s out – can we expect touring to come soon?
Verena von Horsten: My fucking god! I would love to! I am definitely open to any booking and will do some effort to come back soon! Not to bring you the dark side but definitely to bring you self-love.