Interview: Sven Ratzke talks HOMME FATALE and working with Thierry Mugler at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival

The supernova of international cabaret and festival favourite, Sven Ratzke returns to Australia this week for his new show HOMME FATALE as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The show features Ratzke’s masterful storytelling is eclipsed only by his sensational vocal performances, including works by Rufus Wainwright, Dez Mona, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. Sosefina Fuamoli caught up with Ratzke ahead of the production to talk all about it:

Welcome back to Australia, Sven – we loved the STARMAN production and we’re excited to see where HOMME FATALE takes us. What has been the biggest highlight for you as an artist, getting to explore the bounds of this show?

Yes I’m so happy to be back, I love Adelaide! Well this is a really exciting show and step in my career. I love to move on and dare to take on the next level of challenges. Bowie inspired me a lot. I’ve spent a great deal of my time in recent years with him and he taught me to be even more daring and take even bigger risks. He kept showing me ways to create and reinvent myself again and again – it was an inspiring click I felt with his work as an artist. Now, Homme Fatale is mainly a show filled with brand new original song and they incorporate so many different musical genres; it’s way more pop , but with elements of jazz and cabaret. This show is a real blend of pop and cabaret!

As we’d expect, this show is going to be nothing short of decadent, wild and vibrant. Where did the origins of HOMME FATALE come from?

I’ve been called Homme Fatale throughout my career. I never knew exactly what was meant by that, the press always gives you labels. But now I really love this title, cause it is me: a charming seducer with a little bit danger. It’s glamorous and inventive. You can be anyone and that happens in this show: use the biggest gift – you, your fantasy and let it take you on an trip guided by the most intriguing stories within your imagination.

Working with Thierry Mugler, tell us a bit about that – what has Thierry brought to HOMME FATALE that you would consider an individual stamp of creativity?

OMG he’s such a legend, can you imagine he created for Bowie, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and many other legends. This is the great thing of touring all over the world: you meet people and you connect. That happened with Mugler and me. It was a match in heaven. We speak the same language. His starting point is very theatrical so we share that. We’re going to continue this collaboration for sure. We inspire one another and he takes the creative content of my show somewhere new because the costumes are now also part of the storytelling. His work is so detailed and so considered that he helps create the identity of the HOMME FATALE.

Similarly with Christian and Florian – can you describe the musical dynamic that has formed throughout the creation of this production?

You forgot to mention my amazing drummer Haye – who, just like Florian and Christian is one of the best at what he does. This trio is super important for me. They are my family. We’re on tour together all the time and we have so much fun and work incredibly hard because we love what we do and it’s such a team effort. I love to work with a starry group of people. We create together, our music making is such a collaborative experience. That’s why we work on stage together so well because we share so much of the musical decision making process when the show is being developed. I have the seed of the idea and they each give a lot of input, but everyone in the band has his strong points and influence so all of their creative voices come out in the show, I love that so much. I also work with a wonderful Dutch theatre director Dirk Groeneveld. So it’s really a great collaboration: it’s a creative family.

If people haven’t seen a show of yours and are coming to the Cabaret Festival for the first time, what do you hope they take away from this experience?

They can experience all these unique personalities, these creatures, these beautiful misfits that open their heart and soul for you and show their emotions and dreams and pain and humor. It’s certainly in this age a rare thing: to be outspoken and unique. I hope they find that in my show and drink it up.

Where is HOMME FATALE heading after its Cabaret Festival season?

We are touring all over the world but after the Adelaide Cabaret Festival we are going to Perth then back to Europe for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival , then New York and back to Amsterdam again.

What is one thing you have learned about your own performance style through the development of HOMME FATALE?

I’m so happy I’m getting older and wiser. You learn every night something when you are open for it but I enjoy it so much that I know what I’m doing: and don’t get me wrong, it’s lots of hard work. And I’m a perfectionist haha – something that makes me drive other people made sometimes but you know I really love to improvise and take that freedom so all this, and the music, brings a lot of things together that you have to juggle but again: that’s a great joy.

HOMME FATALE runs at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival from 21st to 23rd June. For tickets and more details, head HERE.