Photo by Doro Tuch
Ageing, writer’s block, landlord troubles... Everyday life can be tedious as hell. But Christiane Rösinger is here to give you a boost.
After her sombre solo debut Songs of L. and Hate and a six-year hiatus from song-writing, the veteran musician (Lassie Singers, Britta), author and hostess of Südblock’s Flittchenbar concert series returns with Lieder ohne Leiden (“Songs without suffering”, Staatasakt), an album full of sound advice and political wit. On April 1, she takes the stage at Hebbel am Ufer.
What kept you from writing songs between 2011 and now?
It was good old writer’s block. Songs of L. and Hate was a “lovesickness and grief” concept album, and afterwards I was fed up with those issues. I also felt weary, not because of music itself but the music business. Even if a record sells, your earnings are zero. Everyone gets a cut except the artists. That left me frustrated. I couldn’t be bothered with participating in this charade anymore, but still I wanted to make music. So, I met with Andreas Spechtl [of Ja, Panik]. We said we’d meet once a week, and under that pressure, I wrote a few songs.
“Lob der stumpfen Arbeit” [“In praise of dull labour”] directly deals with the pressures of creative work.
Self-fulfilment and creativity are overrated, to be honest. Your living conditions are precarious; you don’t have unemployment insurance; everyone is being exploited; you have to promote yourself all the time; you never get a break. So I got myself a real bourgeois Schrebergarten [laughs], and it was great to do normal work again. My parents were farmers, so I know physical labour. I’m not romanticising this. Also, since last year, I’ve been working as a German teacher for refugees. I like dull work from time to time: copying pages, cutting out stuff, doing things with your hands. And afterwards you go home to enjoy your leisure time. I found it very satisfying.
You wrote a book about your teaching experiences – Zukunft machen wir später, published in March.
I didn’t plan on a book. It felt a little like exploitation, but then again, I always write autobiographically, and I also have a political agenda with it. Mostly everything you hear about refugees focuses on war and the problems they encounter here. Of course there are traumatised refugees, but not everything concerning them is heavy. There’s such a community spirit in my class that it doesn’t matter where people are from. This comedy film cliché of best friends from different backgrounds coming together is true to some extent. As soon as you’re in contact with people, you get to know them, and prejudices disappear.
In “Eigentumswohnung”, you sing about your own experience of being kicked out of your apartment because someone else bought it.
In the song, I take the role of leftists who’ve inherited money from their parents. They feel guilty and say, “We couldn’t help it, our parents insisted on buying us apartments as a gift!” It’s morally wrong. I’ve been living in my apartment for 30 years. Of course, I could just look for another flat, but that means I’d have to leave Kreuzberg, and that’s bitter. I helped shape this neighbourhood, and now I have to move. I still have some time left, and I’m not going to just pack my things. I want to solve this on amicable terms, but if I have to leave, I’ll mobilise some people. I have 5000 Facebook friends. [Laughs]
You tackle societal norms in “Joy of Ageing”.
You’re 50 now, stop caring what assholes think about you!
Getting old is connected to societal pressure, how you’re perceived by everyone else – women in particular. It’s horrible how women inflate this subject, like leftist feminist writers who are upset that women over 40 are supposedly invisible. That’s dumb. I’m not invisible just because some guy doesn’t look at me. Repeating it again and again creates such power. Now everyone says we’re invisible. I wanted to counteract this and say, “You’re 50 now, stop caring what all these assholes think about you!” It’s freedom.
Christiane Rösinger Sat, Apr 1, 20:00 | HAU1, Kreuzberg