Meet the Artist: Sven Ratzke
October 23, 2017
German-Dutch cabaret star Sven Ratzke returns to Lincoln Center on October 26. Don't miss this free show, part of Atrium 360°, which will feature songs by history's great songwriters, including David Bowie, Rufus Wainwright, Jacques Brel, and Bertolt Brecht, plus some Ratzke originals.
First instrument you played?
Unfortunately I don't play an instrument, but I sing. When I was about 10 I had this really high voice and was imitating a female opera singer all the time. I made up stuff with an accordion player in the halls of the old convent where I lived with my mother.
Top three influences, musical or otherwise?
I would say Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, David Bowie, and movies.
Artist or album you have on repeat?
Billie Holiday's Lady Sings the Blues.
Last live performance you saw?
Lisa Hannigan, who is an amazing singer-songwriter from Dublin. She's touring the world right now, and she wrote a song for me.
Favorite city to play?
New York, Amsterdam, and Berlin. I have to say all three. All three are different but these cities make me and drive me to do my shows.
I'm very good at reading people.
Favorite book or movie?
Too many to mention but let's say one: All About Eve.
Artist you'd most like to meet, past or present?
First live performance you remember seeing?
Tori Amos when I was 14.
Artist you'd most like to collaborate with?
Jean Paul Gaultier and Herbie Hancock.
First paying gig?
In the Boulevard of Broken Dreams theater festival in the Netherlands.
After Starman, which was a show with the music of David Bowie, I'm now bringing my new show to the world: Homme Fatale, which has amazing music and fun storytelling about a fatal man. Most of the songs are original, but some are rearranged from Bowie, Iggy Pop, Brel, and Lou Reed. Costumes are by the legendary designer Thierry Mugler.
Country you'd most like to visit?
First time you realized you wanted to be a musician?
Not so much a musician but that I wanted to be on a stage: when I was 6 years old. I was standing on a table during the dinner at a wedding and got a standing ovation.
What you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Top three pieces of advice for aspiring artists?
Don't imitate, be unique. Take risks. Don't give up.
You hope someone comes away from one of your shows feeling…
That there are many more roads to take in life than the one they were walking on.
Next goal or challenge you're setting for yourself?
Finishing the musical we are working on at the moment, finishing the recording of Homme Fatale, and making more television shows for national television in Germany that I'm doing.
What do you want to be when you "grow up"?