Raise the Curtain for… Sophie Hunger!


by Sabine Wiesner

sophie hunger

This article suits our global just as well as it does our local or our travel section: Swiss globetrotter and singer Sophie Hunger is coming to Leipzig. On 5 September, she is going to grace the stage at the Clara-Zetkin-Park. Our live expert Sabine knows why this is truly an event to be excited about. Not only has she seen the Swiss artist known to combine blues rock, indie pop and jazz before, she has also kept her most recent album ‘Supermoon’ playing on repeat. Its songs are the direct result from trips Sophie Hunger took in 2013 to relax, only to pour it into her next work of art.

Sophie Hunger likes to travel and she likes to sing about it. One could say it came naturally to her, the daughter of a jazz and punk loving Swiss diplomat and a Swiss politician with a penchant for traditional folk songs. The family frequently moved because her father got new jobs, so she grew up in Bern, Bonn, London and Zürich. She began to study English, a project she was never intent on finishing. Instead, she became part of bands and finally released solo albums, two using her real name, the others under her mother’s name. Maybe she wanted to obscure the heritage of her grandfather Arthur Welti, known in Switzerland as an actor, director and author. She earned a name herself by writing quirky, intelligent songs full of subtle melancholia, seriousness and an unflinching eye on the world.
All this can be found in the first single release ‘Love Is Not The Answer’. In this brash, funky number she mentions several little real and fictitious stories that show how the most coveted of all feelings can be misled. Yes, she doesn’t even stop at pointing out the futility of the attraction between the most famous love couple in literature: Romeo and Juliet. More of her travel stories can be found in ‘Mad Miles’, a melancholic hymn about California and the wonderfully upbeat ‘Superman Woman’. The brassy track is easily the most cheerful song on this album.

Most of her inspiration came from travels through the United States. After her highly successful fourth album (‘The Danger of Light’), the ensuing tour as well as a live album complete with DVD and book (‘The Rules of Fire’), she desperately needed a break from making music. That break lasted about two weeks. Upon arriving in California, she went to a museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. There, she acquainted herself  with the scientific theory about how the moon came into being after an object crashed into the Earth and gigantic amounts of material were expelled into its orbit. As a consequence, the companion of the Earth is actually a part of the Earth. The lesson in astronomy was so deeply impressing that she bought a guitar and wrote a song about it. She didn’t stop there, however. The song became the opener of her fifth studio album as well as its title. It also influenced the artwork and contents of the accompanying booklet. In the lyrics of the track ‘Supermoon’, she likens herself, the artist, to the satellite: ‘I was cut out of your stone / I’m empty but I’m never alone’. Of course she can only exist because there is an audience that projects their passions into those of the artist.

One recurring feature of her albums is the mixture of at least three languages. Apart from English and the odd track sung in German, there is one in French and one in a Swiss dialect. For the French section of ‘Supermoon’, she invited football legend Éric Cantona to duet with her the heartbreaking ‘Chanson d’Hélène’, originally sung by Romy Schneider in the French film ‘La Choses de la vie’. The Swiss song, ‘Heicho’ (Swiss for ‘to come home’) has a very grim topic just as well, as it deals with a Swiss world traveller returning to his or her mother’s arms to die in the well-loved home country.

On a happier note, she cheered on the audience at her last time playing in Leipzig, when she included an extra line in her non-album track Hotel Belfort: ‘Und Leipzig hat Kinder’. The first time the reactions of the crowd were unnoticeable. After the first repetition, the crowd was audibly thrilled. I’m looking forward to whatever smart observation she will smuggle in her songs on the evening of her concert in September.

Sabine grew up in the idyllic suburbs, appreciating the benefits and offers of a city close by. Apart from a short au pair stint in London, this anglophile music lover never left her hometown, because she never saw a point in doing so. At the local university she threw herself into the humanities, where she followed her passion for the English language, names and the arts. At the university’s radio station she lived out her adoration for musicians who are always a tad out of the ordinary. The avid cyclist values things that are cleverly designed and done properly. The only thing she loves more than music is food enjoyed with family or friends. In her garden, preferably.

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