Ninety minutes is usually all that separates the football fan from experiencing the spectrum of emotion; the change from walking optimistically into the stadium to either trudging out in disappointment or flying out of the gates in jubilation.
But while most fans head home after the game, German rapper Weekend aims for the studio to turn his lifelong support of Schalke 04 into music. AKA Christoph Wiegand, Weekend grew up in Gelsenkirchen in western Germany, the homeland of the iconic Bundesliga club Schalke 04. A diehard Die Königsblauen, his new song “Eine Liebe” (One Love) is a collaboration with (an ode to) Schalke 04, to the city of Gelsenkirchen and kit supplier Umbro with its accompanying music video filmed at their home ground of the VELTINS-Arena and in the surrounding city.
Weekend sat down with The Sportsman to talk about why he’s still a sucker for Schalke, and how he’s enjoying the collaboration of his dreams.
So what’s your favourite memory from supporting Schalke 04 over the years?
Schalke’s been my team since I was a little boy. There’s obviously the 1997 UEFA Cup triumph over Inter Milan at the San Siro, of course. I watched that with my father, and it was my first game with him, and my first memory of Schalke with him.
But then, also, in November 2017, there was Schalke vs Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund were 4-0 up at half-time. I was in Frankfurt, and I had a gig. I was the supporting act in front of 15,000 people in the stadium. But the crew and the technicians were all BVB fans. The two rappers on stage, including myself, were the Schalke fans. We watched the game in between sound checks. The first half - terrible! The second half, Schalke came back to draw the game 4-4. The crew left the room quickly! We were alone with the television.
You’re from Gelsenkirchen, the city of Schalke 04 - what makes Gelsenkirchen stand out, and what is about the people and the culture that is so different from the rest of Germany?
First and foremost, it’s historically a mining community. Then in the seventies and eighties there was mass unemployment through the decline of the industry, however, the people in the city make the best of it. They’re very honest with each other, very close to each other, and very straight-talking. Don’t expect lies, back-biting, or hypocrisy. It’s an area with a big heart. It’s not an ‘Instagram’ city, but fundamentally it is interesting and the football club Schalke 04 is the glue of the place. Saturday brings the congregation together, the VELTINS-Arena is the church. Schalke is the religion.
Tell us about this song that you have collaborated on with Schalke and Umbro.
It was important for me to make a song which represented the pathos of Schalke and its supporters. It’s the feeling of power and problems. The issues with the structure of the city it is located in, but the pride that comes from heritage. Basically, bring it down to, ‘This year isn’t good….. onto next year!’
Schalke doesn’t go the easy way. Yes, you could support Bayern and be Deutsche Fußballmeister every year. But when we win it, it’ll be the hard way, and it’ll be great.
How did your collaboration with Umbro begin?
A friend of mine called me up - he was a music video director. He said, ‘Schalke want you, and they want you to make a song.’ He didn’t realise I was a football fan, let alone a Schalke fan! It was a big thing for me. All my friends in Gelsenkirchen are Schalke fans. You know one day I might win a Grammy, but this will be much better!
Was it a fun project to be involved with?
Yes, I think Umbro is extremely cool. This is a true story - I’m not being paid to say this. When I began on this project I was adamant that I wanted to wear my own shoes in the music video. I argued and argued. And then, I saw the Umbros. And I had to back-off! Myself and Schalke fans know that, success-wise, we’re not the number one in our country. Schalke is a bit like an underdog and that matches very well with a British company making their mark in Germany. It’s a great relationship.
You've been rapping a while, and even had a number one album in Germany. Has the music scene changed since you started?
It’s changed a lot. I was just a tall, friendly, shiny blonde-haired boy when I started and it wasn’t always easy to be different from the other rappers. Then the rap game changed, and there came a point where a lot of my contemporaries started to create political and humorous recordings. There was also the momentous shift to the Internet - no-one was buying CDS. I didn’t think it was a bad change. Change is interesting to me.
How do you stand out in a competitive music environment?
My special style was to find special situations and grab and present them in a funny but critical manner, with political statements behind them. I was also a big fan of Mobb Deep, and I think - as a German man - rap music helped me to understand English, though there are different skills to speaking and understanding.
If you weren’t rapping, what would you be doing?
I have a lot of roles in my life. I studied as a social worker, which I worked as for two years, and went back to when I was searching for inspiration for my music, dividing my time between the home, rap, and my working background. The role was important for me because I was working with people who don’t have a life which is as easy as mine. As a result, I believe I got more political. I’m also a father of a two-year old girl - I don’t need to spend time at my gym when I’m looking after her!
Finally, you have a new album, ‘Lightwolf’. What can we expect?
It’s the most political album I have ever written. Well, it’s the most political moment of my generation. Our generation are asking questions. I’m for inclusion, regardless of race, religion, sexuality and background. So this album has humour, like my previous style, but it has power.