A newsletter for the Didjeridu player......Mar 2003 Volume 9 Issue 3

Sven Frischen-Nocher from Didgeridoo Magazine

Interview Ed Drury mit Sven Frischen-Nocher

Ed: Where are you originally from?

Sven: I was born in Munich, but brought up in the country. In short, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Upper Bavarian, as we say here.

Ed: How did you discover the didjeridu?

Sven: Hmmm, I'll have to draw my answer out a bit there.

One of my older brothers was the drummer in a band. I turned up for one of his concerts and there was someone playing didge in the band. That was the first time I had ever seen, or especially heard a didgeridoo. I think that must have been 1998. I fell in love with this fantastic instrument immediately. I ended up having lessons with the same didge player. After I had mastered circular breathing, I went to a workshop with Mark Atkins.

Well, then I played constantly just for myself at home, until one day, I found my brother's band standing on my doorstep. They asked me if I would fill in for their didger at a concert because he couldn't make it. After considerable hesitation and to-ing and fro-ing, I jumped in both feet first. I thought it worked out very well, and it turned out that the band preferred the way I played to the other guy's style, and I ended up taking over his place, which was fine because he wanted to pack it in anyway.

I play didgeridoo, congas, bongos, clapsticks and small percussion in the band.

We weren't (and still aren't) a typical didgeridoo band - quite the opposite, in fact. Our style is partly raunchy pop/rock with Spanish and Latin-American elements, and two songs are with didge. Samples of the didge tracks can be found at the Didgeridoo & Co website, for those who are interested. The band is called Bomberos Ardientes, which translates to "Burning Firemen". I'll send you the last CD, okay?

Ed: What lead to the creation of the Magazine?

Sven: Naturally I became more and more interested in the didgeridoo and the Australian Aborigines, so when Eva Halat published the first German-language edition of the magazine I was over the moon. At the time I was playing with the idea of doing something similar, although it was really just an idea and nothing concrete.

I subscribed to the magazine, and after the third issue I got Eva's message about not being able to continue producing the magazine, and looking for someone to take it over.

My initial reaction was shock, but immediately afterwards I said to myself "The magazine has to continue!" and decided I'd like to go for it. My wife wasn't pleased at all at first, due to the risk involved and the time it would take up. Somehow I managed to convince her how important the magazine was, and in the meantime she's completely into it too.

We met Eva to discuss everything. Eva's first three issues were in German. I thought there ought to be an English edition of the magazine too, which would enable long-term contact between didgers worldwide, and naturally also be a big advantage to the magazine, as it would generate many very interesting articles, which has in fact been confirmed in practice.

This was naturally also bound with considerable risk, as if the English-language edition was not well received or didn't sell, then in the long run, the Magazine would be doomed. The major hurdles and organisatorial problems are now resolved. Now the stabilisation of the financial situation is the next step. The financial aspect is, unfortunately, the deciding factor. That's just the way things are. To put it simply, if we didn't have so many people working voluntarily for the Magazine and not for money, it wouldn't exist.

You know Ed, I don't know another magazine that's realised like that.

Ed: What were the greatest challenges starting the Magazine?

Sven: Hmmm. I think the greatest challenge was knowing about all the problems and difficulties that Eva had, and accepting that I would have to deal with them. I have these problems with every issue, and for each issue I have to find new ways and possiblities of dealing with them. So far, everything's worked out somehow.

There's no way to make a living off the Magazine, especially with a family of six, so I have earn the necessary money to support the family somewhere else, in fact I go to work every day just like anyone else. My schedule looks something like this:

5:00 Get up. Breakfast at my computer to deal with e-mails or other stuff for the Magazine.

7:30 Time to drive to work.

Between 17:00 and 18:00 return home. Dinner and a quick fool around with my wife or maybe even talk (grins).

After that, from about 19:00 I work exclusively for the Magazine and for the company that I run as a sideline.

Somewhere between 23:00 and 24:00 I go to bed.

Weekends and holidays are also devoted to the Magazine.

Yes, it's an enormous challenge to reconcile that lot, and it's obvious that I don't have enough time for my family.

Heike hasn't threatened me with a divorce - yet ! (laughs)

Ed: How is the English version of the Magazine being received in the various English speaking countries?

Sven: Resoundingly positive. The first distributors we had were in Sweden, The Netherlands and the States, shortly followed by France and Great Britain, and then slightly later Australia and the Czech Republic. Recently it has also become available in South Africa and Japan. The most demand at the moment is from the USA and Great Britain. The plain truth is that the circulation will have to increase enormously in all countries to ensure a sure financial basis for the Magazine.

It's still a very risky project, but we're on the right path.

Ed: How is content for your publication determined? Where does it come from and what is the decision process of what to put in an issue?

Sven: Well, the main topic is the didgeridoo... (ha ha) ...which means that anything that is somehow didge-related is worthy of consideration. The "& Co" in the Magazine's name has nothing to do with a company in the business sense, but rather that related themes also have a place in the magazine and can be found in most issues.

So the content can be anything to do with the didgeridoo. Together with John Macdonald and Christian Som, it is decided what is to be included in the next issue, and whether submissions need to be edited.

One of the most important subjects of the Magazine are, naturally, the Australian Aborigines, and you can look forward to some interesting and especially enlightening material on the custodians of the didgeridoo in coming issues.

As far as the sources of our material are concerned, they are extremely diverse and varied.

On the one hand, we have contributors like Michael Blood, who supplies us with articles for every issue, Guan Lim's column (since the April issue), and material supplied by our two translators Christian Som and John Macdonald.

On the other hand, we get articles from here, there and everywhere on a less fixed arrangement, fortunately for example excellent contributions several times from you yourself.

We have also received offers from a few Australian writers from larger publications, but we never heard anything more from them after the initial contact.

An example of the criteria we use to decide for or against an article would be whether it really has the didgeridoo or Aborigines at heart, or is just intended to advertise a product or service. Advertising copy is only acceptable as a proper advertisement, which is only fair to our paying customers.

When an article drifts too far into esoteric banter, it's less likely it will make it into the magazine. We also sometimes receive previously published material, where copyright questions have to be cleared up first.

Ed: What are your wishes for the future of the magazine?

Sven: There are quite a few. My dream is that Aborigines and Balanda accept and use the Magazine equally as an interactive bridge to communication in both directions.

As you perhaps have noticed, we don't exercise censorship. We print what we get 1:1. I'm sure you also read the George Rrurrambu interview. What came out was exactly what came in. Some of our readers didn't like that at all, and even threatened us a little. Well, I reckon these people were somehow awoken from their one-sided view of the didgeridoo.

Another wish is naturally that we get as many readers as possible, and that the didgeridoo sometime arrives where it belongs - namely as a fully accepted instrument and not as an esoteric burbletube: but that's just a question of time.

I also hope we can look forward to receiving the same continued active support.

Ed: What has it meant to the magazine to have its own website?

Sven: A lot. It's really made an enormous difference.

Thanks to Stefan Schwarz building the site around the Content Management System, we are able to publish the latest news very rapidly: and the great thing is that any User can join in if they like. Members can also customise the appearance to suit their needs, such as display size, language etc.

In the forthcoming issues of the magazine, we will also devote more space to technique, how to play and recording - and then we'll have sound samples to download.

I can only see advantages to the magazine and our readers. The only little hitch is with the CMS - the Internet browser has to accept "Cookies", and unfortunately, almost no-one reads through the FAQ info to see how to configure their browser so everything works smoothly.

Oh, and we have to think up something for the Chat feature so it finally gets used.