INTERVIEW WITH DIETER MEIER – PLAYBOY
Singer in the legendary band Yello, Dieter Meier is successful in everything he does: he is a performer, an artist, pop star, scarves designer, movie director, professional poker player and member of Switzerland’s national golf team. In addition, he is a multi-millionaire, with 2200 hectares of land in Argentina and a restaurant in Zurich.
The Swiss duo, Dieter Meier and Boris Blank, known as Yello, arrives in Belgrade on May 27th 2011 and as a part of the music events at Belgrade Design Week -the BDW Dizajnights- they will perform a “virtual concert”, a music and video performance focused on recognizable Yello rhythms and Mayer’s rough voice, with sound and light effects enabled by the latest technology.
In the eighties Yello established itself on the world music scene by producing some of the most creative and witty videos on MTV. They had a string of hits, accompanied by videos which were far ahead of their time (Oh Yeah, The Race, Desire), and made an impact that stretched beyond music. Their music was used in many films, mostly comedies (Pink Panther, for example), TV series (The Simpsons, South Park), even computer games (Grand Turismo 4).
The video works of these Swiss gentlemen were so good that Mayer was called to work on a video for the Alphaville’s mega-hit “Big in Japan”, and on numerous commercials for prominent companies. Before he became involved in music, Mayer demonstrated his renaissance-like broad interests and great talent by doing street performances in European cities in the early seventies. Today, aged 66, he has a career of a professional poker player, he is member of Switzerland’s national golf team, silk scarves designer, organic food manufacturer and owner of a piece of land in Argentina (south of Buenos Aires he owns 2200 hectares, from which he supplies his restaurant in Zurich).
You are one of the innovators in electronic music. What do you think about the development of electronic music today, when it’s tied to the club scene, a variety of genres and DJ-stars?
New technologies are driving the music scene, but many artists are actually played by the technology instead of playing with it. Thanks to my 14-year- old son Francis, who is a DJ himself, I’m quite close to that scene and I constantly hear very original musical statements.
At a time when the industry of video clips was in development, you set the creative standards that are unattainable today, at the time of fantastic technological improvements. How creative is the production of music videos today? Do you even pay attention to what’s going on MTV?
At the beginning, MTV was a truly open platform for creativity. But for many years now, it is just a promotion vehicle for the music industry and the videos they show are predictable tools.
How important is humor in your work?
Humor and self-irony are very important for whatever I do, because I see myself as a highly ridiculous and unimportant creature, spending a short visit on our planet.
Why did you buy the ranch in Argentina?
Organic farming is a wonderful reality in my pretty abstract world.
What motivated you to open a restaurant in Zurich?
My organic products from Argentina stay in «one hand», from the farms in the deepest provinces of the Pampa Humeda to the plate of the clients in the restaurant.
Do your chefs prepare some specialties you are particularly fond of?
People today like the traceability of food, and the restaurant became a showcase for my Argentinean beef and wine.
Why do you enjoy poker so much?
When I was playing poker professionally, 45 years ago, I was totally addicted. It was the perfect escape from the real world. When you play poker, you
are like a boxer in the ring, and beyond the ring, the world does not exist, because you are busy surviving.
Have you ever won some serious amounts of money?
Yes, of course, you win and you lose. The most important aspect of winning is that you have enough money to play the next day.
What attracted you to golf?
Golf is the only Zen-Buddhist discipline our Western world has created. You learn a lot about yourself, and the swing that allows you to catapult the ball as far as 250 meters, near the flag, is a real joy.
Here in Serbia, we’re turned on football, basketball and tennis, so golf we find too calm for our temperament.
When you hit the ball perfectly on the sweet spot, you lick the blood of perfection.
If you follow tennis, how do you comment the fact that Novak Đoković defeated Roger Federer, probably the best tennis player of all times, three times this year?
Novak Đoković is the most systematic of young players. If he continues like that, he will be the next Number One.
Have you ever flipped through the Playboy magazine?
Playboy magazine was a huge inspiration for me as a teenager.
Have you seen something that attracted your attention?
I was incredibly attracted by all the glossy wonderful women.
How do women affect everything you do?
Women are the most important inspiration.
Because every man wants to present himself as a perfect partner to create a human being which allows the Homo sapiens to further exist in style.
Why did you decide to take the time to visit Belgrade and Belgrade Design Week?
My daughter Sophie loves Belgrade, and we are planning to spend more time in this city where all aspects of culture are very interesting.
What does ’virtual concert’ mean?
As we are not performing live, the virtual concert is a logical step towards improvising on virtual stages, the same way we improvise in the studio.
You turn your performances into true spectacles.
Our music is never composed and then translated into instruments, it develops the same way as a painting does. Each brushstroke inspires the next one, and very often, Boris Blank surprises himself, because the idea initially might have been to create a rose, and in the process the rose transforms into a camel.
In addition to the concert, during your stay in Belgrade, you will give a lecture at the conference Future2, at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre. What is the subject you will give most attention to, given the title of the conference?
In addition to presenting our virtual concert, I am looking forward to discussing the future. It will be very interesting to see whether the capitalistic system overcomes what Marx called the Second Nature, or whether the Second Nature keeps the human race as slaves, until the final, ultimate disaster.
You use music, film and performance to express your ideas… Which of these media have the most potential to convey your thoughts and ideas?
As I switch media very often, from music to writing or film-making, I seem to need this pretty anarchic method to create. The products are not that important to me. I see them as footsteps of my walk through the highly unimportant visit I’m enjoying on this planet.
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