It all began in Geneva, an internationally well known city in Switzerland, where I was born in 1971. My father worked as a reprophotographer, a profession that does not exist anymore. The first wave of digitization has made this handcraft obsolete. Seeing my father lose his job was my first existential confrontation with digitization and innovation. As an unemployed father, he started to run a little shop in our town, where he sold handcrafted decorative objects he bought from artists in South France and design garden chairs. He was not a good salesman and the recession in the 90’s severely weakened the demand for handicraft products. Consequently, he had to give up his business a few years later. He began working as a door-to-door saleman selling ready made soups and spices. Naturally, my dad was used to knocking on doors because he was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness for more than thirty years. In addition to selling paradise and soups, he learned how to use a computer and he worked a lot in his own garden. In all these years, he never went back to school, so his opportunities in the job market were difficult. Today, I respect him for his resilence and hard work, but as a young boy I swore I’d create a different life for myself.
My mother was raised near Lausanne in the French part of Switzerland, so I grew up with French as my mother‘s tongue. She was a passionate nurse and continued working long after her retirement. As a born again Christian, it was not easy for her to live with a spouse who was a Jehovas Witness. It wasn`t easy for my sister and me either as we were the only family in Switzerland, maybe all of Europe, growing up in a home with two these religious systems. However, I developed a lot of skills on how to communicate in such a complex environment.
First professional choices
After high school, I did an internship as a street sweeper and completed the obligatory time in the Swiss army. Then, I studied at the teacher training seminar located close to the city of Basel to get my diploma as a primary school teacher. I was always more interested in working with older children or teenagers, so I started teaching young refugees coming to Switzerland as a result of the Bosnian War, in the mid-nineties. It was a demanding job, but I really liked it. After the Bosnian War ended the city government of Basel closed this program. To continue my career, I worked as youth worker and at very young age I had the opportunity to raise money for grants in order to build special integration programs for young adults.
In addition to being passionate about working with children and teenagers, I am also passionate about music. Therefore, I started to follow my passion for music in a very consistent way. I’ve composed music since I was 15 years old, took classical singing and classical guitar lessons for eight years. I quit my job and jumped into a musician‘s life with many existential uncertainties. I worked as a night porter, in call centers, for the swiss post at night and on Sunday mornings I stood in the city park selling newspapers. I was driven by the dream to make a living from music. An intense eight year period included 300 concerts, four records, concert tours in Switzeland, Italy and Germany and three record deals. In this time I pushed myself to the limits. I took singing classes at the jazz school, taught singing lessons, learned to be a music producer and arranger and worked as a radio DJ. It was a wonderful, crazy and sometimes difficult experience.
However, all good things must come to an end and digitization struck the music industry in a brutal way. First, musicians lost a part of their income because of the download concept of iTunes. Then, they lost the income they received from record sales because of the streaming provider Spotify. The big dream I had came to a dead end. I had to do something to feed my family and working as a teacher was never a feasible option. Meanwhile I was married and a father of a wonderful girl. I knew I had to go back to school, but not as a teacher – as a student.