WeTalk. Pop Culture. Swiss-Made is a social media campaign of the Embassy of Switzerland in the United States. WeTalk promotes the diversity of Swiss culture and innovation by featuring prominent Swiss stakeholders from these fields. Sharing perspectives from artists, athletes and entrepreneurs, WeTalk provides its audience with fascinating insights into the diversity of contemporary Swiss culture. Watch Crimer’s 1-min WeTalk interview here!
Alexander Frei, better known by his stage name Crimer, is a Swiss pop singer. Born in 1989, Crimer is from the town of Balgach, in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Once, in his early school days, students were asked to pick a song and perform it in front of the class. Crimer chose to sing “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and, in that moment, realized that he loved sharing these special musical moments with others. From then on, music became an integral part of his life: he joined a church choir where he sang every Sunday, and as a teenager he founded two bands, The Axxess and BrefSunAjax. In April 2017, after moving to Zürich and starting a solo career, Crimer released his first single, entitled “Brotherlove.” The next year, he won the Swiss Music Award in the Best Talent category. His most recent album, Leave Me Baby, came out in 2018. Crimer’s upcoming album Fake Nails is due out at the end of 2021. To get an early taste of the album — make sure you listen to his new singles “Home Alone” and “I Want You to Know,” which came out earlier this year. These days, you might find Crimer in one of the many city parks in Zürich, where he goes to find inspiration.
Crimer is the featured artist of the 2021 Swiss Spring Concert hosted annually by the Embassy of Switzerland. Check it out below.
To get to know Crimer a bit more, the Embassy recently sat down with the award-winning Swiss pop singer over video chat to talk about his early interest in music and performance, his artistic identity, and the Swiss music scene.
Embassy: How did you come up with the stage name of Crimer?
Crimer: I wish I could tell you a really interesting story behind the name Crimer. (laughs) I basically just had a note pad where I used to put down random words of which I liked the sound, occasionally adding letters to them. That’s how I came up with Crimer: I liked the fact it was short, dark and kind of glamorous at the same time.
Embassy: You first started singing as a child in a church choir, and later founded several bands in your teenage years. Did you always want to be a musician?
Crimer: Singing was always something I loved doing. But ever since I had to perform in front of my classmates in primary school, aged 12, something changed. I chose to sing “I Want It That Way,” by the Backstreet Boys and that was the first time I realized that singing for other people gave me such a warm and irresistible feeling. From that moment on, it was clear for me that I would always keep on doing it.
Embassy: When did you start dancing? What role does dance play in your musical performance?
Crimer: (laughs) In my view, I never really started dancing. I don’t really do a proper dance on stage; I would say it’s more an explosion of movements. I don’t have any moves in mind when I do it, I just let the music guide my body. Sometimes it can look super ridiculous, and other times it can actually look like some really good dance moves. But moving really helps me a lot when I’m performing live. It’s such a liberating feeling to let yourself go. You forget everything around you and let the music do the magic.
Embassy: Your official website describes your music as “a new age of sounds from the past.” Would you describe yourself as nostalgic?
Crimer: Yes, I would! I like all sorts of things from “the good old days.” Not just the music but other things that come along with it. For example, I have an old radio player in the kitchen where I have a nice collection of cassette tapes. The process of listening to a tape can be very different from streaming music. You don’t skip a song, and you really focus on the album you’re listening to. I love that.
Embassy: What attracts you to the music of the 80’s, in particular?
Crimer: I think it’s the fact that the music of the 80’s was very brave, in a way, and filled with emotion. I would even say that you can really hear the different feelings when you’re listening to it. That’s something I miss sometimes in modern tunes. Maybe because it’s also something that’s really hard to achieve. I’m not saying that my music always succeeds in conveying that but it’s something I always aim for. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Embassy: Which American musicians influenced your artistic identity?
Crimer: Hmm…that’s hard to say. I listened to so many different American artists: they probably all influenced me in their own ways. One thing I can say though is that one of my previous haircuts was a “classic” that could have come straight out of a boyband, and was definitely influenced by Nick Carter [of the Backstreet Boys].
Embassy: What do you appreciate about the Swiss music scene?
Crimer: There are so many undiscovered talents here in Switzerland. The scene is super diverse, and we support each other, which wasn’t always the case. I also believe that Swiss music is highly appreciated by the people in Switzerland. You don’t need to come from abroad to be considered a cool artist. In the end, it’s the music that counts, not where the musicians are from. I remember that it was very different when I was younger.
Embassy: Do you think the pandemic has fast-tracked the music industry’s shift toward digitalization?
Crimer: Yes, I think it accelerated it. There’s not much “action” going on in the real world, but people are still longing for entertaining content, so life kind of shifts into digital channels. Of course, as an artist it’s a good thing to keep in touch with your fans. But it gets much harder when you don’t have exciting things to share with them. So, basically, we need to come up with content we think could be interesting and distract everyone a little from the situation we all face. As an artist, you have the power to do that.
Embassy: What projects are you working on at the moment?
Crimer: I’m working on some new music at the moment. This not only includes releasing songs but also shooting videos, writing promotional texts, taking new press pictures, and so on. In other words, I try to make the music come to life with creative visuals as well.