of electro swing.
Parov Stelar: “What did I miss about Upper Austria? Everything really!”
Parov Stelar is hailed as the originator of electro swing and, with his deal with Falco, was the first Austrian to sign with a US label. He has won the coveted Amadeus Award seven times already, and his single “Booty Swing” alone has had 70 million views on YouTube. In this edition of Upper Austria magazine, the out-and-out artist, whose real name is Marcus Füreder, talks about what home feels like, his passion for beer and the Keplingerwirt in St. Johann am Wimberg.
Global star Parov Stelar really needs no introduction at all. Everyone’s heard of him. He’s worked with greats like Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and is one of Austria’s most successful music exports, as well as being a top-class producer. But the star has always kept his feet on the ground. Because no matter how successful he has been, and still is, inside he is a Mühlviertler at heart.
You grew up in Lichtenberg and as a lad you used to ride around the Mühlviertel on your Vespa. What did that start in life give you as a young person?
A grounding. Lichtenberg is my home – it’s where my roots are. No matter where you are – and I’ve seen a lot of the world – home always calls you back. There are plenty of places I draw strength from in the Mühlviertel. It’s something you need as a musician before your breakthrough comes, because you have to stay strong and persevere. If you ride from Lichtenberg to Puchenau and then on to Ottensheim, you’re rewarded with a view across the whole of the Mühlviertel and the Danube. In the past I’ve been known to go there in the middle of the night, when I haven’t been able to stop the thoughts going round in my head. I’ve spent a lot of time there. Sometimes I really missed this place. Today I enjoy living in Austria again.
Where did Marcus Füreder hang out as a teenager?
In Café Strom in Linz. That was my second home for a good ten years. That’s where my music career started too. The first “Danube Raves” happened there. It was, and still is, a place for discovering new, fresh talent. The first raves and electronic music events were held in Linz – not in Vienna or anywhere else. It’s a good fit – the city of steel, with its industrial charm, and electronic music – they go well together.
That’s why I felt right at home in Linz and had such a great time there. Then I studied in Linz as well. The student scene used to be fantastic. I don’t know what it’s like these days. But back then at uni things flowed smoothly between Mensafest and the lecture theatre.
Until recently, you lived on Mallorca, among other places. What did you miss most about Upper Austria?
Everything (Parov laughs). It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. In the first instance it’s the food – but probably the main thing is family.
When I can order something in broad Mühlviertel dialect and people understand me, that feels like home to me – it’s hard to describe. It’s not something you can do in English or Spanish. It just feels different.
Is there a dish that you particularly miss?
You just have glance through the menu at the Keplingerwirt in St. Johann am Wimberg. I miss everything on there.
What’s your link with the Keplingerwirt? Are you a childhood friend of the Keplinger family?
Not a childhood friend, but I’ve known Heinz, the junior chef, since I moved to Altenfelden 12 years ago. Then I happened to go and eat there and practically fell off my chair because it was so good. And at some point, we struck up a friendship. Heinz is a person who has developed the same passion for what he does, i.e., cuisine and gastronomy, as I have for music. He’s also a music freak who’s like a living, breathing music encyclopaedia. And it’s nice when you can sit in a restaurant and chat about more than just the schnitzel.
So that’s your second home?
Definitely. I basically live there (he laughs). In fact, there’s a funny story about that – when I was in Upper Austria one summer, I went to Keplingerwirt 15 times in a row. Then on the 16th day I was at my Mum’s house. Heinz rang me up, really worried, and said “Marcus, where are you? Is everything ok?”
Marcus Füreder feiert mit der ganzen Crew am liebsten beim Keplingerwirt.
You’re a father too. Are there any typical Upper Austrian characteristics that you’d like to pass on to your child?
So, I talk a lot about the Mühlviertel, because that’s where I feel at home. What I like about it is how reliable and dependable the people there are. It’s something I miss in this day and age.
Upper Austria is known for its many independent breweries. As a young person you had a holiday job cleaning beer taps. Can you still enjoy a beer?
It took two years before I could enjoy it again. But then I quickly made up for all the beers I’d missed in those two years. I don’t have a particular favourite though.
What would be the perfect holiday for Parov Stelar? Lakes, mountains, sea or a biking trip?
I’m more of a studio type (he laughs). I usually spend holidays in the studio. But you can’t really put me in a box when it comes to holidays either. I don’t always want to be by the sea or in the mountains. I was talking to my manager, Günter Unger, about this the other day. Things that you can always have eventually get boring. That’s why I’ll never be a mountaineering enthusiast who likes to climb for hours and take selfies at the summit. But I am very fond of little spots in the Salzkammergut with a beautiful view. Obviously the Maldives are lovely too. Variety is the spice of life ...