Ever since its inception in 2011, the German-Austrian twosome Fijuka—consisting of Ankathie Koi and Judith Filimónova—has been causing a stir on the Austrian music scene with enthusiastically experimental pop. We spoke with Judith Filimónova about mdw memories and her plans for the future.

Ankathie Koi (left) and Judith Filimónova ©Clemens Schneider

The story of Fijuka began while eating a cheese sandwich on a park bench during a break in the middle of a seminar on “Women in Pop Music” at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Back then, both musicians were students of the mdw’s Department of Popular Music: Judith Filimónova studied bass, Ankathie Koi singing. “It became clear really fast that we had to start some kind of project together,” says Filimónova, whose actual name is Judith Walzer. An initial gig was soon in coming, so they had to start rehearsing together right away and also think up a name for their band.

The unfamiliar-sounding name Fijuka was “kind of a snap decision, but we gradually took more and more of a liking to the word.” Especially because Fijuka has so many meanings in so many languages—though the two musicians only found out about that little by little. “I still remember how we were both fully confident that whatever we’d ultimately end up doing onstage would be good,” remembers the bassist. Back when she began studying at the mdw, Filimónova was in seventh heaven—after all, she could finally do music and nothing else. Long nights spent at Porgy & Bess and miles smiles Jazz Café eventually took their toll on her initial studiousness. But even so, the musician did manage to finish her bachelor’s degree, and she says that she still benefits from the fantastic instrumental teaching, her classical piano lessons, and the emphasis on Improvisation and New Musical Trends.

In Fijuka, Judith Filimónova plays bass and sings. Bandmate Ankathie Koi plays various keyboards and also sings. Before Fijuka, both artists had already been active in all kinds of other musical projects and bands, but now they’re busy following their very own musical vision. It’s not easy to describe the music that Fijuka make. One probably couldn’t deny borrowings from the 1980s, but “I always say that we just do a sort of pop music,” says the 31-year-old of her band’s musical style. And by now, they’ve brought out two albums on the Seayou Records label: Fijuka (2013) and Use My Soap (2015). Their songs arise in all kinds of ways—there is no “Fijuka method”. Some are born while jamming together, while others are composed in concentrated solitude. The lyrics, however, are for the most part written by Ankathie Koi, whose real name is Kathrin Winklbauer.

Fijuka have attracted attention not only for their music, but also for their unusual, eye-catching, and lavishly produced music videos featuring gym wheels and cheerleaders combined with glittering outfits, cannibalistic barbeques, outdoor pools in winter, and space shuttle adventures. The two artists usually start out with a rough basic idea, which they then develop together with their director. The videos for Ca Ca Caravan, Cold Brat, and Phantom Sentimental were made together with the mdw students Anselm Hartmann and Marie-Thérèse Zumtobel (direction and camera)—a collaboration that worked out fantastically.

And Fijuka fans can now look forward to the upcoming release of a new video and a new single. “It’s going to be fairly dark, nothing for the weak of heart. We’re really looking forward to seeing the final result,” says Filimónova. So are we!

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