Ina Regen captured Austria’s attention in only 3 weeks, but the sky is the limit for this talented singer
Austrian singer and songwriter Ina Regen catapulted onto the Austrian music scene last month.
First with the release of a music video for her first ever single, the gorgeous ‘Wie a Kind‘, and then with a stunning collaboration video of a cover of Hubert von Goisern’s Heast as Net‘ with Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita.
Both videos have received amazing numbers of views for an Austrian artist — over 172,000 for ‘Wie a Kind‘ so far, and 280,000 for ‘Heast as Net‘ and counting.
Particularly astounding, however, is both songs are sung in an Austrian dialect of German, one includes yodeling, and up until a month ago not many people had heard of Ina Regen.
Nowadays, however, she is being played on popular radio stations like Ö3, and has even heard someone humming her song while out on the street.
As this kind of intense attention does not usually happen to singers so quickly, especially in Austria, I was interested to meet her to find out how this happened, what Ina Regen herself thought about it, and how she first became interested in music.
Last week, I did. (Comments in parenthesis are mine).
Tell me about yourself
I’m from Upper Austria – my English is a bit… (and she makes a funny noise) – so whatever I say you have to put it in better English, (And, of course, that made me laugh as, like every other Austrian that has told me that, Ina’s English is almost perfect and she speaks with a lovely almost-native accent).
I grew up in Upper Austria in a small town with, let’s say 2,500 people — very small, very cozy — and felt I wanted to do something with music for a living when I was about 15. So I got in touch with a musical theatre company, and I had my first leading roles with them.
You did musical theatre before any other form of performing?
Yeah, I mean I was a teenager. I didn’t know what else to do. But, even now, musical theatre is a part of my life and still part of the music I do.
Then I stumbled upon studying jazz in Linz at the Bruckner University. I didn’t make big decisions, it all just fell into place.
I worked with Conchita for the first time in 2012. It was the first time she participated in Austria’s National Final for the Eurovision Song Contest – but we came in second place behind Trackshittaz. (You can watch the video of that performance here).
We immediately fell in love, Conchita and I, so we kept in touch afterwards and grew a lovely friendship. That was also the first time I met my producer – Florian Cojocaru.
Since then, I’ve worked with ORF, sung with the Dancing Stars orchestra, was at Eurovision 2013 with Natália Kelly, and then in Vienna for Eurovision 2015 singing backing vocals for The MakeMakes.
From then, I moved back to musical theatre playing Maria Magdalena in Jesus Christ Superstar last summer. That’s when I decided – I mean, I knew I wanted to do my own stuff and tell my stories, and not always be in the second row on stage.
That’s also when I discovered “my language” (Austrian dialect). Because, of course, I was writing my music in English and German, but was still searching for something that was really me in my music. I think now I’ve found it.
That’s why you went with dialect?
Yes, well, dialect found me when I realized I wanted to go back to my roots.
And I love it, because it makes me…untouchable. You know, I’m not dependent on, “Do other people like my music?, Do they like my voice?”. Because I like it. And I feel this is the right thing for me.
So, if somebody says to me about my music “It doesn’t touch me”, then I can say “Okay.” Because it wasn’t my intention to touch everyone on this planet. Hopefully there are people that are touched by the lyrics, or the music or the voice, or the whole package, and, if so, I’m a very lucky girl. If not, it’s out of my control.
But I won’t change myself to make you love me. I can only be me and see what happens then.
Well you have to be yourself, and you have to be proud of who you are….
By the way, that’s what the lyrics of ‘Wie a Kind’ are about. The verses are only questions. “How do you start being yourself? How do you make your first step when you’ve fallen down? And how do you not care about falling down again?”
The chorus is then, “Can I ever be like a child again? Don’t care and just be. If so, why can’t I start with it now? Can I be me, and what is holding me back”. And then the bridge of the song is, “Okay, I’m going to do it now”.
It has a lot of questions in it too, but doesn’t give you the answers, “Can I dare to fly, and who is catching me if I fall down?”
You have to give yourself the answers. Everybody listening to it maybe finds another answer. But mine is “Yes, I can be me, and I’m going to try it”.
‘Wie a Kind‘ skyrocketed for you so fast. I mean, the views on your first ever video for an until-now almost unknown Austrian artist are insanely huge.
It is insane. Other incredibly talented Austrian artists have had videos out for four years and have 35,000 views. Mine has been on YouTube for two and a half weeks, and we have 52,000 views already (that was the count just a week ago, it has gained over 120,000 views since). Are you kidding me? It’s crazy.
So you either did very well with promotion, or have people just found you?
None of it was planned. Our plan wasn’t even to make a video. We just met André (André Karsai — Conchita’s social media manager, and a music video director and producer in his own right), had dinner and were like “Maybe let’s do a lyrics video”, then everything came to me.
A camera guy said “I can shoot the video”, then the location came my way and I said “Yes, why not? Why not?”.
Suddenly we had this beautiful video, and we didn’t ask anyone to help us promote it.
People just came to me and said “Is it okay if I promote you?” “Is it okay if I ask my good friend at Ö3 if he wants to listen to your music?” Or that Conchita shared the video on her Instagram account two hours after it was released. It’s all amazing, but none of it was planned.
I think if I had tried to plan it, it wouldn’t have gone this way. It just happened. And that’s beautiful.
But I think that’s where you’re smart, as you say “Yes” to everything.
I try to listen to my gut, but I usually say “Yes”. Because that’s what I decided to do — find something within me that has to be shared with the world. Once I found the belief, then everything has happened.
I think what’s happening to me right now, though, is people know me because I’ve done a good job in the past, they know I work hard and that I’m a team player, and so they trust me.
And I think, because I’ve helped people in the past, they now give to me in return. And I’m very grateful for that.
So you now have the first song out, do you have more songs written?
Half of the album is already written, (so you do have an album planned?) Yes, hopefully, it will be released at the end of 2018.
The next single will be released in February, then maybe another two or three months after that.
Our plan was to write until the end of 2017. As things have turned out to be a bit crazy at the moment, though, we haven’t written anything in months. But I have a writing session tomorrow, so we’ll see.
Will you continue writing all your songs in dialect?
Yes, I don’t think I have a choice. I mean, my heart has made this decision.
But do you think singing in dialect is limiting to some extent? Is that something you can even sell outside Austria? Do you want to?
At one point, I would have said “No”. It’s Upper Austrian, so I thought maybe I’d have to go the long way, and in a few years someone would recognize me and my music. But now things are turning out to be crazy within just three weeks.
So now I cannot say if there is any limit. At the moment, it doesn’t feel as if there is. I would be happy if Switzerland or Germany are places where my music is heard eventually. Though even that would be more than I ever expected.
Actually, I don’t believe in limits, even if I did ask you that question. I think, if you’re doing the right thing, it works out.
I mean, I’ve got messages from New Zealand and from Australia. Fans from Conchita who stumbled on my video, but who said “I don’t understand any words, but it touches my heart and thank you for your music”.
And this is what I think. If you can feel where the music comes from, you don’t need to understand the words to know what the music is. You feel the intention. That’s what music is all about. To listen beyond the words.
By the way, I absolutely love your short hair. It looks amazing on you.
Thank you. It was Conchita’s idea!
She said, “You know I love you, but maybe you should think about the hair? What about a pixie?” And I said, “But that’s very short”, and she said “Why not? Come on!”, and she was right. I love it. It’s so ungirly.
Ina Regen is going far
Now watch the music video for Ina Regen’s first single ‘Wie a Kind‘ below, and add to that already huge number of views. But, before you do, let me just add I think this Austrian singer is going places. Because she really is the whole package.
Singing in dialect, which few Austrian singers do. Incredibly talented, hard working and, if ‘Wie a Kind‘ is a perfect example of what is to come, she writes beautiful songs.
She is also intelligent, understands the music industry and what it takes to be successful, and she loves what she does and is passionate about it.
Throw in Ina Regen is drop dead gorgeous, an incredibly nice person with that lovely old-fashioned Austrian way of being polite, respectful, kind and treating people well and, honestly, if anyone deserves to have the attention she is already getting, it is her.
All I can say is expect that attention to only grow.
Find out more about Ina Regen on her website.