The master of the (Bezau) Beatz
He was so sure of it when he played in a band for the first time at the age of 16. In fact, it had always been clear: music would play a central role in Alfred Vogel’s (professional) life. When he was just 12, there was a short period of doubt when he wanted to become a professional tennis player. If you really wanted to find an analogy for this, drums were the instrument that was in some way the closest thing to tennis. Alfred, who studied business, now runs his own label (Boomslang Records) and plays in numerous bands. Above all, and this is why you are reading this here, he is the founder and artistic director of Bezau Beatz. In keeping with this year’s 10th anniversary, we asked the “brain behind Bezau Beatz” a few questions.
Let’s start with the basics: What does music mean to you?
I would say that it’s the vehicle that takes me through this life. Maybe you could compare it to a surfboard that allows you to glide over the waves of life.
Who was your first musical influence? Who are you inspired by now?
Larry Mullen from U2 or John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. They were the ones who inspired me initially. After that, there is a huge list of excellent musicians, of course. At the moment, I really like Leo Genovese, an Argentinian pianist. But there are also many others, like Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Bob Dylan, Christ Whitley, as well as all the bands that I have managed to bring to Bezau Beatz and those that will come in the future.
Apart from other musicians, what else influences your music?
You could say that everything that exists and happens in this world has an influence on what you do. My surroundings – my family, friends or my environment – obviously have a strong influence. Also things like books, films, or art in general.
You yourself play in many different groups. What is important here?
The vibes between people. If there is the right vibe between people, the music comes easily and it makes it incredibly enjoyable.
10 years on, how important is Bezau Beatz to you?
It has become very important. Many good things happen around the festival and we get a pretty high level of publicity internationally. What’s equally important to me, however, is that the musicians bring the world to us and open our eyes to the outside world. The pure beauty and tranquillity that surrounds us can often make us forget that there is also lots going on outside.
Tell us about a moment that was particularly memorable to you.
When Bombino, a Tuareg nomad, played with his band on the village square and it began to pour down with rain. In the country where the band is from, it is always a huge celebration when the rainy seasons begins. This turned the concert into a joyful round dance, with the Africans in their traditional costumes and us in our raincoats all dancing around together in the rain. This made me think: music is the healing power of the universe…