Austrian superstar and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst has spent the past four years travelling the world and performing for her adoring fans. Matthew Wade caught up with her to talk fame, music, and her love of Australia.
In the four years since you won Eurovision, what’s been the best and worst part about your new-found fame?
I always wanted to be famous, so I guess one of the best things is that it worked out and that it has allowed me to be taken seriously in what I want to achieve. The worst part is that I found out being famous itself is totally worthless, it does not make you happier.
Do you often feel pressured to say the right thing, or act the right way?
This has been the case in the past when I created a version of the bearded lady that resembled a first lady. I was very cautious about what and how I said everything. Nowadays I guess I am much more in tune with myself. I know what I want to say using the persona I have on stage or in front of cameras, and I know how I want to share my artistic output with the world.
What does it means to you when LGBT fans reach out and tell you how you’ve inspired them?
It’s something that is hard to grasp. I appreciate it a lot when people take inspiration but at the same time I always tell them that I did not take them by their hand and walk them through any of the situations they’re going through. They do it all by themselves, and no-one should forget how powerful and inspiring they are within themselves.
Given your platform, do you think it’s important to speak out about LGBT rights?
For me, it’s clear that I also want to use my platform to speak up, yes. But I don’t like fighting ‘against’ things and situations; I prefer to stand up ‘for’ something, like marriage equality. I just don’t get why heterosexuals still have the power to forbid homosexual people to marry in so many countries, even though gay marriage takes nothing away from straight couples, their situation does not change. Gay marriage just adds an important option in the lives of gay people.
In 2018, why do you think there are still homophobic and transphobic people?
Because they haven’t learned otherwise and haven’t been taught otherwise. That’s why it’s so important to show alternative lifestyles in mainstream media – not as something special and unique that needs to be integrated into society, but as existing parts of society that are already here and totally standard.
Who do you look up to as an LGBT hero?
Everyone living in a country where LGBT rights are off the public agenda is a hero to me, working tirelessly and fearlessly to better the situation for generations to come. There are still countries with death penalties for being gay, and in these countries I believe it’s a very long way to gay rights. People living and working there are there LGBT heroes and heroines.
You’ve recently released your new album From Vienna With Love. What inspired you to record with Vienna Symphony?
I had the pleasure of collaborating with the Wiener Symphoniker during the opening of the Wiener Festwochen, Vienna Festival. During the rehearsals of this event the Symphoniker and I saw how every one of us worked and in the end we thought our collaboration was fun and so successful that euphorically we started saying let’s do something together, yes. It took us one and a half years to arrange, record, and publish it, and I am the happiest person because I was allowed to work together with these true professionals of music, it was such a wonderful experience.
What are you hoping your fans will get from your new music?
I hope they enjoy their time listening to these beautifully arranged songs and that they enjoy me singing these glamour pop song covers so many people have been so longing for. I am particularly happy that the only self-written song “Have I Ever Been In Love” has been received so well. It’s fantastic for me to have this album recorded. The upcoming music will be pretty different though with electronic sounds and stories that reflect situations that happened in my own life. It will be the most personal music I have ever released.
Do you have plans to visit Australia again soon?
Oh I would love to make it back to Australia, and the sooner the better! I have such fond memories of Australia – my first full evening collaboration with an orchestra performing at the Sydney Opera House, winning an Australian LGBTI Award, being at the Logies and meeting Ricky Martin, and being part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade… every single moment I spent there I thought Australians were very open-minded and warm people, and very laid back and authentic. So it has always been very pleasurable for me to be there! I can’t wait to return to Oz.