Austrian singer Virginia Ernst‘s long-awaited debut album ‘One’ was released on Friday (March 10th).
The week before, I sat down with her at our usual restaurant interview spot to find out about the album and what her plans are after its release. After all, it is an album Ernst has been working on for almost four years. An album she managed to narrow down to just 15 songs from a huge collection of tracks she has written over the last few years. All good songs, she told me.
“It was difficult deciding which songs to put on the album, as I felt like almost all of them were really strong. I had more than 35 songs to choose from. So many, I had enough material for a double album. But we picked out what I think are the best songs and then, from those songs, we chose the singles.
It’s taken 4 years to get to this point, though, and my fans have been waiting all that time for a full album. So right now, I’m really excited as to how people will take it. It’s my baby.”
She went on to talk about the response she’s been getting so far.
“I’m getting a really good response. Especially on the video for ‘Not A Love Song‘ – because it’s something different what I’m doing now than I did before. The last few years, it was more teenage pop. Now, though, it’s more ‘adult’. But I’m 26, and I have something new to say, and with music that is now causing it to go in a different direction. People seem to love it though”.
I asked about her latest video as, yes, it is definitely quite a bit more ‘adult’ than some of the ones she has released previously. I was also interested in the actress that was in it with Ernst as, from behind, she bears a striking resemblance to Virginia’s girlfriend.
“The video for ‘Not A Love Song’ was filmed at the 25 Hours Hotel in Vienna. I have a great relationship with them, and they are so supportive. My release party will be there too. (It was held at the hotel on the evening of May 9th, the day before the album hit shelves for the first time).
It was pretty difficult to choose an actor for this video, though, as there are many things you have to consider. It ended up my girlfriend eventually chose her. And it was kind of funny, because my girlfriend was all the time on the set, and watched it all being filmed. At first, I felt kind of uncomfortable with her and everyone else watching, but after a while there is so much going on around you, you get used to it. And then it was really cool. Plus, my girlfriend was totally cool with it.
It’s hard making a video, though, no matter who is in it with you. We filmed a total of about 15 hours for just a 3-minute video. I used the same team that created my last video (‘No I Ain’t‘), and they came especially from Germany to Austria to shoot it. We only had one break, and I was so tired, but the time went so fast. I looked at my watch and it was 4 o’clock. The next time I looked it was already 10 o’clock, and I couldn’t believe it. But it was so much fun.
An international career
‘This Is Not A Love Song‘, the first official single from ‘One‘, was released in February. It was released in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, just like her debut album.
Since the video for the song was released, and since Ernst has started to do even more promotional work than usual for her debut album ‘One‘, I asked her if she had seen any difference in if and how she was being recognized.
“I am being recognized even more than usual in Austria now, which I love — I was even recognized the other day at McDonalds by some of the staff. Austria is my home, and I love to live here, and I love to create music here, and it’s so nice to feel appreciated by people in my home country.”
Her plans, though, are to go a lot bigger than just the three German-speaking countries she is currently known in, as she is the type of person who will never rest until she has a truly international career.
“But I think I am an artist that has to get beyond primarily being known in Austria as well. I did it once when I was playing ice hockey, and I know I can do it again. In the summer, I’m going to L.A. for a month, where I have a few contacts I want to meet, and to see what the possibility of releasing the album there might be.
Becoming an international star would give me more opportunities as well. The larger amounts of money I would make could be reinvested in my career. Right now, the money I make, I don’t spend it on going shopping. It gets spent on producing the next song. And that’s how I would always be, because my music is important to me.”
And which international singer does Virginia Ernst admire the most?
And you know how it is when you’re talking about a subject, and you veer off into something similar? This time it was other international singers, and who Virginia Ernst admires the most?
“Ed Sheeran. He’s fabulous. He doesn’t act like a pop star at all. He acts like a normal guy. I think he’s so cool, and I think you could hang out and have a lot of fun without him telling you how successful he is, or what he’s achieved. He’s just down-to-earth. I mean he’s not telling everybody that will listen that he has two singles on almost every chart right now. Instead, he sits there and tells you about his regular life’.
Virginia Ernst and ice hockey
Speaking of a regular life, it is not just music that occupies Virginia Ernst’s time either. She also coaches children’s ice hockey in the winters in Vienna. Probably not surprising really, if you know anything about her life, as Ernst was on the Austrian women’s national ice hockey team, taking part in five ice hockey world championships and winning a gold medal in one of them.
She also played in Sweden for several years on a semi-professional basis until she decided, while she loved what she did, it was now time for her to get her music career established.
“I’m a children’s ice hockey coach in Vienna. I’ve been doing it for about six years. I love it. But it’s just from November until March. I coach every age. I have three-year-old kids, and I have 13-year-old kids. We have 300 kids involved in total, and we have about 15 girls, which makes me really proud, because when I started at my age there were just two girls.
The winter this year, though, was horrible, because we play outside and it was freezing. So cold, my lips were blue.
But we had a tournament two weeks ago, and it was great. Because not only was I with the kids as a coach, but they also asked me to sing there. The best part, though, was I also got to play hockey again. And it’s such a different life. I have my clothes on, and I have my stick, and I feel the ice and the air, and it’s such a different life than I used to have.
I can’t imagine it now, though. It was my life, and I loved it when I was doing it, and recently I thought “Maybe I should get into playing again regularly”, but…my girlfriend wasn’t so happy about that. We hardly see each other as it is, because we are both so busy. If I played hockey too, it would be terrible.”
Virginia Ernst’s album release party
On May 9th, I also attended Virginia’s absolutely crowded album release party at the cool 25 Hours Hotel in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna. It was held in the hotel’s glassed-in rooftop bar, and was a lovely mix of journalists, friends, family, fans and hotel guests who just happened to be in the bar and stuck around when Virginia started her soundcheck. She’s good. Why wouldn’t they?
One American couple I spoke to had just arrived in Vienna that night, and had hit the bar for a quick drink before heading out for dinner. They stayed to hear Ernst’s entire album release concert as they were so impressed with how she sounded, and how she looked.
Ernst played several older songs as well as a couple from her debut album. It didn’t seem to matter what she performed, though, as just about everyone in that bar thought she was wonderful.
As for ‘One‘, you can pick it up at iTunes, Amazon Germany and Amazon, as well as at music stores in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. I recommend that you do, as it is an exceptionally good debut album from someone who I think you are going to hear even more about in years to come.
You can find out a lot more about the singer on her website (she has a German and an English section) and, of course, listen to the first single from the album in the video below.
I'm a former radio DJ, an ex non-profit Director of Development, and a left-wing human rights advocate with a 20 year background in gay rights and HIV/AIDS rights advocacy. I'm also an avid video game player. Minecraft is my obsession.