In the week that Conchita releases her second album, I caught up with the 29-year-old and we spoke about a change of musical direction.
Now, you’ve released the album “From Vienna with Love” with a huge bang! How was the show at the Wiener Konzerthaus the other night? It looked like a real celebration.
It was so emotional! It’s too much to take in, if I’m being honest. The whole set list is basically the soundtrack to my life. So I have a deep connection with all of these songs and so many memories. Being on that stage singing with the Wiener Symphoniker, first of all, it’s so surreal that this has even happened – it’s beyond me. But I’m so thankful and humble that they agreed to do that. The concert on Saturday was hard to get through, emotionally. My friends and family were there with all of my fans. It was such huge support that I received and with so much love. Yeah, I’m still trying to recover!
There are quite a few songs on the album with real heart. For instance, I can see how “Colors of The Wind” might resonate with you. How did you choose what songs to record?
This collaboration came about when I hosted a television show last year with the Wiener Symphoniker. In the heat of the moment I asked whether we could do something together. I thought we could figure out a track list together but they said “no” and that you (Conchita) should choose the songs, as it is you creating this world and this crossover project. I was so nervous and overwhelmed because I thought these people are classical musicians, and it can’t be too cheesy. But then I thought I could make it my own and they trusted me so much that I came up with the songs without spending much time looking. And I’m so happy. They said, “Yes, let’s do it. It’s beautiful!” And I was like, “Oh wow, okay.” Each and every song was my decision and everyone was very supportive. I think they understood what it means to me and that I take it seriously. It wasn’t going to be just another collaboration to make a record. This is like the end of a journey, somehow, by singing songs like this since I was 12-years-old and being on stage.
You’ve previously spoken about performing Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” and how you had to fine tune what is a very difficult vocal. Did you have a similar experience when recording some of the other songs on the album? Was that the biggest test for you?
Almost each and every song was such a challenge. At that stage it was way more than just singing in the right key or being in tune, it was really about taking these massive hits and not trying to copy the artists. I wanted to make it my own but still achieve the feel and emotion. With “The Way We Were” I didn’t know that humming was THAT hard – I honestly did not know! There are so many moments in that song where it’s quite high but you have to sing those parts so soft and make it look like no effort at all. It really pushed my boundaries and I learned so much recording this album, especially when it comes to my vocal technique. There are so many benefits to having done this project.
If you were offered the chance to record the ‘Bond Theme’, what would you say?
Er… Yes, yes, yes! If there was an email in my inbox asking me to sing a Bond Theme song, I would immediately reply: “Yes!” I would sign anything!
You have moved away from Conchita Wurst the drag queen and into a more angrogynous aesthetic. Do you see that as personal growth for you?
Yes definitely. Basically, life happens, you know? I get these questions quite a lot these days and people want to know is it Conchita or Tom? Is it masculine or feminine? By getting all those questions, I originally thought I must think of the perfect answer. But in that whole process I realised I have more black and white thinking than I first thought. I then understood there is a part of me that will forever be Conchita, and forever this polite, eloquent person (that I am!) but I’m also quite a loud mouth on the other hand. I’m edgy in some parts of my life. It’s just personal growth. It’s very interesting to me that people are so interested. It’s flattering but it could be the other way round and no one will care.
You’ve recently made the distinction that Conchita is a drag queen and not a transgender individual. Why did you choose to make that distinction now and not sooner?
No, I’ve always said that! I’ve never said I’m a transgender person. I’ve always said that Conchita is a drag character.
So, the album is out. Moving forward, what does the future look like for you?
With the new album being released, I kind of feel as though I’ve said everything about a certain type of music. I’ve been in show business since 16-years-old and I constantly work with this ‘glamour pop’, if you want to put it like that? But my musical interest is so much wider than just that. As an artist, I really want to evolve and grow. For my third album which will be released in Spring 2019 – I’m currently at the studio recording – it is definitely a new kind of music. It’s a new way of presenting myself and I think people wouldn’t necessarily connect hip-hop and avant-garde with me. But this is also a huge interest of mine so my next album will be a lot more electronic and a bit more dark. You know the most important thing? It will have songs telling the story of things that have happened to me over the years. This is something that has completely changed the whole game for me. I understand now what it means to tell stories that you’ve actually lived through.
“From Vienna With Love” is out now. You can catch Conchita and her band in the upcoming tour – CLICK FOR DETAILS