In 2011, Tom Neuwirth (33 years old), born in Gmunden, won the song contest for Austria as Conchita Wurst. Since then, the singer (and not only) has managed to realize himself musically. His “Music Impossible” special will start on ZDF on September 2nd. Neuwirth talks about role models, karaoke and Andreas Gaballier.
Volksblatt: In 2017, you said you wanted your fictional character Conchita to “die” and docked at some point. Have you changed your mind about this?
Tom Neuwirth: Yeah, nonstop. At the time, I noticed at one point that I was in the staircase as a prosthetic. But you are so much more than you are in the public eye. I didn’t like it. And then I actually shaved my head and embarked on a whole new style of music called Wurst. And so I walked around the building once. Now I know: I can be anything I want.
The new “Music Impossible” ZDF format, which you’re managing, will launch at the beginning of September. what’s the idea?
The subtitle is “My Song. Your Voice.” It’s about famous artists coming together from distant genres. Then the voice is switched: they choose a song from their repertoire and adapt it to the other person’s voice. It takes a lot of creativity, time, and the will to say: OK, I’m going to try something completely new. I can accompany them and visit the artists and ask them how they are doing.
How hard is it to find candidates? After all, you can really fool yourself…
Yeah, well, I think the height of the fall is relatively manageable, and we don’t want to show anyone. It is also about getting to know people and thinking outside the box. We found great people. And when I’m sitting at the table with Schlager’s queen, Marianne Rosenberg, in Episode One, I think to myself: What’s really going on? Very pleasant!
Is it a coincidence that the gay icon is the center of attention?
I grew up in Bad Mitterndorf, in a hostel, so of course you play Marianne Rosenberg back and forth. I’ve known their music for ages, but I wasn’t aware of their close connection to the queer community – perhaps because I’m from a different generation.
Marianne Rosenberg suspects that “something really blunt”. what is your mission?
Their task was to switch genres with Eko Fresh, that is, switch to pop, hip-hop and rap. I think she handled it cleverly. That’s the cool thing about the show, that you don’t know how the person in question interprets the genre. By the way, Eko Fresh was also amazing.
They introduce the participants to their task with karaoke. Are you a fan of yourself?
(Screaming) I love karaoke, I’m fine with that. And I’m freaked out that Echo didn’t have a karaoke song. Do you have a karaoke song?
Maybe something from oppa…
ABBA ranks high in the karaoke song list. Dancing Queen always works. The figure is waterproof. I like to sing so much and always so loud that my friends then say: “Yes, now we know how to sing anyway. But please not too close to my ear!” And with a karaoke machine I have the excuse: This is the machine!
Where do you see yourself as a musician now?
I put out a new song every six weeks now. Nothing is like the other. The next number is called “Erstmal Pause” and it’s one of my few German numbers. I’m at home with myself now and only doing what I enjoy, and what I feel.
Can you imagine appearing alongside Andreas Gaballier in “Impossible Music”?
In principle, there are no fears or reservations. I just think I’ll have a longer conversation with Andy before or after to see how he feels.
Will there also be Austrian participants?
I wish. He’s really crazy with us musically. And they all come from Upper Austria.
They always seem in a good mood and positive mood. How do you manage that, especially in these difficult times?
I try to spread happiness through my platform as best I can. I want to encourage people to donate and participate in charitable events and I am kind to people. I would like everyone to treat each other a little better. I have a beautiful life, the sun has really kissed me, and that is why I think to myself: it is my duty to convey what I have in every conversation. I just try to do what I do best.
A bearded woman took part in the current screening of “Kasimir und Karoline” at the Salzburg State Theater – apparently based on Conchita Wurst. A huge responsibility that you also bear as a symbolic figure?
Wow, I consider that a great honor, and I didn’t invent the bearded woman either. I’m really happy when this character relates to something positive and maybe also that you stand up for something without saying anything: for a community that’s meant to stick together, respect and recognize every way in life. As Conchita, I believed for a long time that I have to be perfect and be perfect, but none of us are perfect and that’s why I don’t see this responsibility. This symbolism stands for itself anyway and apart from that there is still a human being.
What is your relationship with Upper Austria today?
A large part of my family still lives in Upper Austria, and I myself moved to Bad Mitterndorf with my parents. I’m often in Gmunden because my mom and I go to visit Omschi.
Can you relate to the term home?
Yes, of course. The older I get, the more I think, it’s beautiful there, in the middle of the mountains, it’s really a privilege to live there. I came out as a teenager because everything was too young for me, but now I also appreciate that everyone out there knows me, it’s a community closer and they look out for each other. Of course, anonymity in the city is also great, but there is also something else and I have come to understand that over time.
You belong to a panel of well-known supporters of Salzkammergut Capital of Culture 2024.
We are working at full speed, because with Mrs. Elisabeth Schweiger – practically our boss in the capital of culture – there are of course very high standards. I definitely keep planning for something I haven’t done before, so I’m glad it’s going to happen in 2024.
Interview: Melanie Wagenhofer
“Travel aficionado. Certified problem solver. Pop culture guru. Typical writer. Entrepreneur. Coffee trailblazer.”