In 2005, reggae singer Phenomden released a tribute to his favourite Zurich district. Wiedike is also a song about finally moving out of his parents’ home.
Das isch de Ort wonni läbe,
bi Sunne oder Räge
Ich bliib i mim Quartier, dänn ich weiss ich liebe Wiedike
I dere Gägend, vo Bäum und Laschtwäge,
verbring i mini Ziit und weiss ich bliib immer in Wiedike
Zurich-Wiedikon is the centre of the universe, in all weathers, at every time of year. There’s always something going on, day and night. Whether it’s for work or pleasure, this is where it’s at – around the Schmiede, Wiedikon and Giesshübel stations, Weststrasse. The city’s other neighbourhoods? Irrelevant, non-existent. It’s always Wiedike. At least that’s the message of the song of the same name by Dennis Furrer alias Phenomden. It was a song that captivated the people of Zurich in 2005. A song so innocent, so direct, so touchingly romantic that it has brightened up many a day since. And that’s why it’s still relevant. Wiedikon deserves an anthem – and Phenomden wrote it.
Phenomden sings in local dialect and possesses a certain healing quality. With a voice that makes you happy and lyrics that come straight from the heart – not overthought and with no hidden agenda. ‘The song is about when I finally moved out of my parents’ home and arrived here in Wiedikon,’ says Dennis Furrer, now 41, over a coffee in his old neighbourhood. ‘Back then, my life was all about long nights in the flat-share kitchen, evenings on the steps of the station, and sound sessions with the Ganglords in the backyard studio.’ It was here in Wiedikon that music began for him. He decided to put something out there. To take the plunge and go public.
At first, the youthful Dennis was excited by the rhymes of rap and the heavy sounds of rock. He discovered reggae through friends, began buying records, learning about the culture, and wrote his first lyrics. Then, on the birthday of a close friend in the early 2000s, he dared to step out onto the stage for the first time – and loved it. From then on, he would accompany DJ friends to their gigs and perform three or four songs during the evening. Hello, dialect reggae. In Jamaica the movement was called New Roots and referred to artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The young Dennis Furrer continued the tradition in the city on the Limmat, first with the established Ganglords, then with the Basel Scrucialists, who are still his backing band today.
Mer seit, dass du das Viertel vo Familie und alte Lüüt bisch,
Verschiedeni Kulture, viili Mänsche da sind jüdisch,
Und immer meh Jungi gits, wo jetz in Chreis 3 ziehnd,
S’git Gschäfter, Bars und Restaurants und es git de Filmriss,
Es git en Coop wo Hip-Hop lauft, und es git de Bigis,
ä Tankstell häts au und us New York gits feini Pizzas…
D’Musig usem Fänschter im 49 a de Weststrass,
und bitzli witer vorne probed Ganglords...
The rest is history. And this song is an important part of it. The albums Fang Ah, Gangdalang, Eiland, hundreds of concerts and shows, songs that have passed into the collective memory of an entire generation. Songs that the people of Zurich grew up with. Songs that accompanied their youth and their years away from the city. Songs they can still sing along to today. Phenomden was a part of Zurich. ‘I’ll always stay in Wiedike’, he sang – and it was hard to imagine it any other way.
But suddenly he was gone. Gone for years. Not a word. Between 2013 and 2018, Furrer was living in another big city. He made his home in Kingston, Jamaica. He spent the time honing his singing and songwriting, immersing himself in reggae culture, thinking about the meaning of life, flirting in English and starting a family.
Ziit isch vergange, ich bin immer bi dir bliibe,
egal was au passiert, will ich weiss du machsch mi zfride,
Jetz wet ich dir es Lied widme,
Yeah... ich liebe Wiedike...
Wiedikon carried on without him. It became a traffic-calmed hotspot, a hip quarter, a magnet for watching events on the big screen, a culinary melting pot of trendy Asian restaurants and food combining. When Furrer returned to Switzerland with his wife and three children, he no longer felt at home. He moved back to Adliswil, to his grandparents, where housing was cheaper. Nowadays he rarely visits Wiedikon. He’s more likely to be found at the FC Adliswil training ground or Brunau skate park. Or maybe in the studio – his new album Streunendi Hünd is due to be released on 17 September. But you’ll wait in vain for a new anthem – to Kingston or Adliswil. ‘I tried my hand at both,’ admits Furrer, ‘but somehow I couldn’t find the right words.’ Unlike with Wiedike.
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