Andrea Berg has been holding her own in the tough hit business for 30 years. For the stage anniversary, she tells what she gets her strength from – and why she goes hiking with alpacas.
This career is second to none. Pop singer Andrea Berg has been in business for 30 years, selling 15 million records during this time. On her new album “I’d do it again” she recorded her big hits and eight new songs with numerous guest singers such as Beatrice Egli, Kerstin Ott, Vanessa Mai, Johnny Logan and Al Bano.
Ms. Berg, you always find such beautiful linguistic images for intercourse. “Come on, let’s fly sparks again tonight until the whole sky burns” you sing in “I would do it again”.
cool right? (laughs) I’m just hopelessly romantic. That will never change either. I’ve always loved writing these poetic, romantic lines. I can really let off steam there.
Is it difficult, especially in Schlager, to find the right words about sex?
No, I don’t see it that way at all. I really really enjoy it. And it will always remain so. The only thing I need to be creative is my imagination.
So real life isn’t enough?
Well, Uli and I have been married for fifteen years now. Of course, the sky doesn’t burn every day here either. (Laughs) It’s even more important that you as a couple keep the romance alive, it really has to be.
What tricks do you have there?
I sing something to Uli. No, nonsense. (Laughs.) Above all, we make sure that despite all the stress at work, we still live our normal everyday lives. And that we create space for ourselves to consciously do things together as a couple. Especially during the pandemic, it was very important that normal life continued for me and for us. So there was never the danger that I, like so many others, would fall into a black hole because I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. Even though I really missed the personal encounters.
You couldn’t play any concerts, your hotel “Sonnenhof” in Aspach was closed for months, and your husband was only able to do his job as a sports manager and player advisor to a limited extent at times.
On the one hand, it was of course a huge challenge – all of our professional pillars were affected: hotel, football, events, my work as an artist. I bought a nice handbag in Berlin shortly before the pandemic, which I had been looking forward to for a long time. Suddenly I had nowhere to go with this bag. So I put them in the front hall, like a memorial, and I thought, “One day we’ll be walking together.”
But were there also positive aspects?
Absolutely. We really enjoyed the quiet. We started hiking with our alpacas and we were able to do a very deep dive into ourselves to find out that the two of us, my husband and I, get along just fine without distractions and noise. We can stand the silence just fine. The realization of how wonderfully we harmonize is something we definitely take away positively from the time. I think we managed to turn a bad situation into a stroke of luck.
Do you both hike alone with the alpacas or do you also offer tours for the hotel guests?
First of all, we had to practice it alone for a really long time. You really need time for that and you just have to be at home every day. It was really nice that I could go into the barn every day and spend time with the animals without any distractions.
How do you train alpaca hiking?
Uli and I first went for a long walk with the animals alone. We really enjoyed the calm that the alpacas radiate and with which they almost infect you. Basically, an alpaca hike is like a meditation. We now offer this to our guests as well.
But right now you have a lot going on, so there won’t be much time for relaxation. A few weeks ago you gave two “Heimspiel” concerts, you released your new album and celebrated your anniversary “30 Years Andrea Berg” live on two evenings in front of a total of 35,000 people, which will be shown on ZDF on August 6th.
Yes, right now it’s really like the spin cycle in the machine for me. But I really enjoy it, and we really have something to celebrate. A thirty-year anniversary, that’s really awesome. I often think: “Somebody pinch me.”
You could hardly have imagined a career like this thirty years ago, could you?
No, not at all. I was in the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Krefeld, did my job there as a doctor’s assistant and went on stage and in the studio in the evenings or at weekends. To this day, I see music as the hobby it was back then. And I dose my work in such a way that I really look forward to every performance, every concert and meeting my fans.
Has there been a plan to celebrate “30 years of Andrea Berg” really big for a long time?
The idea of making an album on which I, together with many dear colleagues, completely reinterpret my big hits as duets, but also write new songs, is actually not new. During Corona, the desire that we really have to celebrate life, every moment, increased even more. Aren’t we all incredibly hungry for encounters? Man was not conceived as a loner. We wither away if we don’t touch and exchange ideas, if we can’t reflect ourselves in other people.
Andrea Ferber , born Andrea Zell in 1966, is one of the most commercially successful musicians in Germany with eleven number one albums and more than 15 million records sold. The pseudonym Andrea Berg is her artist name registered as her own brand. She has received several awards for hits like “You lied to me a thousand times” and “I’ll smile when you go”, including the “Bambi”, the “Echo” and the “Crown of Folk Music”. Her “Best of” album 2010 became the “most successful German album of the decade”.
She is currently on tour with her new album “I’d do it again”. The show “Giovanni Zarrella presents: 30 years of Andrea Berg” runs on Saturday, August 6th, on ZDF. osk
You are known for your unwavering optimism. How do you manage to always turn even the most difficult situations into a positive one?
Bottom line, my deep belief is that we should make the best of everything. Every moment is a first, and maybe it really is my job to give some a little kick in the butt and say, “Stop whining.”
Are we too negative?
Not all, but many of us walk around in such a lethargic state, drunk with sleep, and when they say something, they bitch. Then it says “Today I have a headache.” Only: If we no longer have a headache the next day, then we are not happy about it, we take it for granted.
Do you have the impression that there is more whining today than in the past?
Actually yes at first. But I also have the feeling that a learning process is really taking place. At the “Heimspiel” concerts in mid-July, I clearly felt that people were really happy, that they were grateful and euphoric. Many of us have become more aware of the importance of appreciating life. Maybe one or the other has let itself be shaken up and decided that time is too valuable to put things off or just let them go. Nothing is taken for granted in life and no one knows how long it can stay.
Do you think your work is especially important during tough times?
Absolutely. Of course it’s very difficult for me to entertain when I can always see what’s happening with one eye and of course I’m also busy with it. You can very quickly slip into this feeling of “What am I doing here for this banal nonsense?”. But then I see from the reactions of the fans how much my music means to them. One of my most important songs on the new album is “Star Dreamer” with my dear friend DJ Ötzi, which is about death taking a loved one away from you. People hold on to my music. They need my songs as anchor points for their sadness, but also for their hope. That’s why you shouldn’t say “entertainment music is not appropriate at this time”. After all, the soul has to be able to rest from time to time.
Can music make a difference in society?
Of course she can. I think it’s silly to say we can’t change anything anyway. We should try to start small with ourselves. Everyone can make a difference, and a sea of drops is an ocean.
Many of your songs, also on “I’d do it again” are about getting up. Why is that so important?
Trying again and again, even after disappointments, is what makes us human. Yes, you lied to me a thousand times, you hurt me a thousand times, but in the end I would do it again and again. We humans need love. Without love we are just robots.
Which of the duets on “I’d Do It Again” mean the most to you?
They all mean a lot to me, but it’s been a big dream come true to sing “Sharazan” with Al Bano. I was 15, 16 when Al Bano and the damn pretty Romina Power came along and sang this insanely romantic song. Romina was such a wonderful princess. As soon as I saw her, I knew that I wanted to be on stage too. When I first met Al Bano on a TV show a year ago, I also told him that he was what made me start singing.
“I’ll Be There” is a duet with American pop singer Justin Jesso. You sing in English for the first time. How was it?
It was really an incredibly great experience. Long before Andrea Berg even existed, I was with Top 40 and sang a lot in English. And we always used English for the demo recordings with my former producer Eugen Römer, because it simply sounded better. Justin really is a magical person. René (Baumann, aka DJ Bobo, Berg’s producer and co-composer; ed.) and I had the idea of asking him when we heard his hit “Stargazing” on the car radio. We transported my song “As Long as the Earth Turns” into Justin’s musical world, which basically resulted in a whole new song.
And now you crack the US single charts with it?
Why not? (laughs) This is an experiment for us. It’s not that difficult to turn a hit into an international pop song with different arrangements and a slightly different production. We’re not that far apart from each other.
What do you think is special about duets?
It really is the best thing when people get together and make music together. When I met Lionel Richie ten years ago and he said to me, “Come on stage with me on my tour of Germany and sing ‘Hello’ with me,” I hesitated at first because I thought the Germans wouldn’t like it. And he said with a laugh: “You Germans are stupid too, always think musically in pigeonholes”. Lionel was right. There really is hardly anything better than supporting one another. Happiness really grows when we share it.
You sing this line together with your daughter-in-law Vanessa Mai in “Unendlich”. They were often said to have a certain rivalry. Is now the right time to make a song together?
We are not rivals. We are a family. We support each other and stand by each other. When we decided to make this anniversary album and I listed who I wanted to have with me, of course Vanessa was there too. It would feel totally unnatural if my daughter-in-law wasn’t on this album. And this song, which is about solidarity and cohesion, is really a through ball.
What is the message of the song?
That it is not necessary and not possible to always be perfect. Neither for yourself nor for your partner. It’s just stressful. In order to be loved, it is much more important to be yourself and not to pretend. People are insulted or publicly put down on a daily basis. Especially in this time the song is really important, and maybe it nudges some people to approach each other and take each other’s hands despite all the scratches and quirks.
Interview: Steffen Rüth