Judith Holofernes

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Judith Holofernes
Judith Holofernes English.jpg
Holofernes performing at the 2010 Open Flair Festival in Eschwege, Germany
Background information
Birth name Judith Holfelder-von der Tann[1]
Also known as Judith Holfelder-Roy[2]
Born (1976-11-12) 12 November 1976 (age 41)[3]
Origin Berlin, Germany
Genres Rock, pop, alternative
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, songwriter, author
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active Late nineties to present
Labels Labels (EMI), Columbia (Sony), Four Music (Sony)
Associated acts Wir sind Helden
Website www.judithholofernes.com

Judith Holfelder-Roy (née Holfelder-von der Tann; born 12 November 1976), known by her stage name Judith Holofernes, is a German singer, guitarist, songwriter and author. She is best recognized as the lead singer of Wir sind Helden, a German pop rock band that came to fame in Germany following the release of the song "Guten Tag" in 2002. The band received critical acclaim owing in part to Holofernes' lyrics, which are characterized by their playful use of words and their often sociocritical nature.

After recording four albums that were chart successes in the German-speaking world, Wir sind Helden went on indefinite hiatus in 2012. Since then, Holofernes has recorded two solo albums (Ein leichtes Schwert, 2014; Ich bin das Chaos, 2017) and has also had a book of poems published (Du bellst vor dem falschen Baum, 2015).

Early life[edit]

Holofernes was born in Berlin and moved at the age of six with her mother to the city of Freiburg im Breisgau in the south of Germany.[4] From the age of 14, she busked in the city's pedestrian zone as a singer/guitarist.[5] After she received her secondary education at Staudinger Gesamtschule,[4] she returned to Berlin to study Communication in Social and Economic Contexts at Berlin University of the Arts, but did not complete her studies.[5] At the university, she was concerned with anti-consumerism, one of her activities being to set up the German website of Adbusters, a Canadian-based anti-consumerist magazine.[6]

Music career[edit]

Late nineties: Early endeavours[edit]

Holofernes was able to focus on music after leaving university.[5] Towards the end of the nineties, she performed in Berlin clubs as a solo artist and self-released the EP Kamikazefliege (1999),[1] though only 500 copies were produced.[7] Some of the songs from the EP, such as "Außer dir" and "Aurélie", would be later re-recorded by Wir sind Helden for the band's debut album.[8]

2000–2012: Wir sind Helden[edit]

In mid-2000, Holofernes met drummer Pola Roy, keyboardist/guitarist Jean-Michel Tourette and bassist Stefan Nietzky at a pop music workshop in Hamburg. They formed a band together, though Nietzky was later replaced by bassist Mark Tavassol.[5][9] The band was initially briefly called Helden (which means "Heroes") before being renamed Wir sind Helden (which means "We are heroes").[10] Wir sind Helden's breakthrough came in 2002 without the support of a record label, when the band's song "Guten Tag" was played by radio stations and a self-produced music video for the song received heavy rotation on MTV Germany.[11] The band subsequently signed to Labels[12] and released its debut album Die Reklamation (2003), which was a top 5 hit in Germany and Austria[13] and sold over half a million copies in Germany alone.[14] The band went on to record the albums Von hier an blind (2005), Soundso (2007) and Bring mich nach Hause (2010), all of which reached high positions in the German, Austrian and Swiss charts.[13] In April 2012, the band announced that it was taking an indefinite break owing to family commitments, the long distances between the band members' home cities, and "signs of wear and tear".[15]

2012 to present: Post-Wir sind Helden career[edit]

During her break from Wir sind Helden, Holofernes began composing songs informally using Apple software application GarageBand and then later decided to record them in the studio, with herself on guitar, piano and ukulele, Roy on drums, and Jörg Holdinghausen from German band Tele on bass. The songs appear on her solo album Ein leichtes Schwert, which was released in February 2014 and charted at No. 7 in Germany.[16][17] Holofernes newest album, Ich bin das Chaos, is expected to be released in March 2017.[18]


Holofernes' voice appears on the song "X" from the album Supporters' Album #1 (2003) by German band Einstürzende Neubauten.[19] She also sang background vocals for two songs by Tele on the band's album Wovon sollen wir leben (2004).[20] Further vocal contributions by Holofernes can be heard on the song "Wir rühren uns nicht vom Fleck" (2004) by German band Die Sterne[21] and "Armer Vater" (2006) by German band Olli Schulz und der Hund Marie.[22] Together with Swedish singer Moneybrother, she recorded the song "Magic Moments", which appears on his album Mount Pleasure (2007).[23] She has also collaborated with German band Die Höchste Eisenbahn, recording and performing the song "Vergangenheit" (2012),[24] and with German singer Maxim, co-writing and recording the song "Meine Soldaten" (2013).[25]


Stage name[edit]

Holofernes' stage name alludes to the Old Testament account of the beheading of Holofernes by Judith given in the Book of Judith. As a young teenager, Holofernes frequently heard the story of Judith and Holofernes from her uncles and aunts. She later decided in her late teens to use the two names to create her stage name.[26]


Holofernes was not only the lead singer and guitarist of Wir sind Helden,[27] but also the writer of the lyrics for the band's songs.[28] She conveys her political opinions in many of her lyrics. For example, she criticizes consumerism in the song "Guten Tag",[29] a performance-oriented society in "Müssen nur wollen",[29] the music industry in "Zuhälter",[30] and a dog-eat-dog society in "Konkurrenz".[31] However, she has stated that politics are only one aspect of Wir sind Helden and that she is primarily a songwriter, writing love songs and songs of a whimsical nature with the same commitment as political songs.[32] She is known for her playful use of words in the German language[1] and has been described as a wordsmith in the tradition of German writers Robert Gernhardt and Christian Morgenstern.[33] Songwriters that have had a major influence on Holofernes include Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Rio Reiser.[34]

Other activities[edit]

Holofernes maintains her own blog, where she has posted her opinions on topical issues, anecdotes from Kreuzberg (the area of Berlin where she lives), and Tiergedichte (animal poems).[16] A collection of her Tiergedichte was published in October 2015 in her first sole-authored book, titled Du bellst vor dem falschen Baum.[35] Her previous book was Wir sind Helden – Informationen zu Touren und anderen Einzelteilen (2008), a band autobiography written with the other members of Wir sind Helden.[36]

In July 2011, Holofernes presented Summer of Girls, a season of progammes on French-German television channel arte concerning women in the pop music industry.[37]

Public image[edit]

Media appearances[edit]

Following the breakthrough of Wir sind Helden in 2002, the band received much attention from the media, including the quality newspapers, owing in part to Holofernes' sociocritical lyrics in songs such as "Guten Tag" and "Müssen nur wollen".[29][38] Holofernes subsequently became a much sought after personality for interviews[39] and has appeared on German talk shows such as Die Harald Schmidt Show.[40] In 2010, she made an appearance on political talk show Maybrit Illner, participating in a discussion titled "Bürgeraufstand 2010 – regiert die Politik am Volk vorbei?" ("Civil uprising 2010 – are the people being ignored by politics?").[41]


Holofernes lends her support to the Tibet Initiative, a German organization campaigning for human rights and self-determination in Tibet;[42][43] Attac, a global organization seeking an alternative to neo-liberal globalization;[44][45] and Viva con Agua, a German charity campaigning for clean drinking water worldwide.[46][47] She is also a supporter of green issues; in 2011, she performed with the other members of Wir sind Helden at an anti-nuclear power demonstration in Berlin following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[48][49]

Public criticism of the Bild newspaper[edit]

In 2011, Holofernes had a public argument with advertising agency Jung von Matt when it asked her if she could participate in an advertising campaign for Bild, Germany's most widely read tabloid, even though she had been critical of Bild in the past. She responded by posting an open letter on the Wir sind Helden website, where she criticized the campaign and Bild.[50] At the end of the letter, she stated: "The Bild newspaper is a dangerous political instrument: it's not only a telescope which strongly magnifies into the abyss, but also a malicious entity which is not describing Germany, but shaping it instead – with an agenda."[nb 1] The letter attracted much attention, causing the Wir sind Helden website to go down.[50] Bild subsequently reproduced the letter without Holofernes' consent in a single-page advertisement in German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, with a caption at the end thanking Holofernes for her honest and unpaid opinion.[52]

Personal life[edit]

Holofernes married Roy, fellow member of Wir sind Helden, in July 2006 and gave birth to their son in December of the same year.[53] The couple had a second child, a daughter, in August 2009.[54] Holofernes and Roy are both Buddhists; in 2007, she met the Dalai Lama.[55][56]


  • Kamikazefliege (1999)
  • Ein leichtes Schwert (2014)
  • Ich bin das Chaos (2017)


  • Wir sind Helden (2008). Informationen zu Touren und anderen Einzelteilen (in German). Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. ISBN 3596177545.
  • Holofernes, Judith (2015). Du bellst vor dem falschen Baum (in German). Tropen. ISBN 978-3608501520.


  1. ^ Literal translation of the following extract from Holofernes' open letter to Jung von Matt: "Die Bildzeitung ist ein gefährliches politisches Instrument – nicht nur ein stark vergrößerndes Fernrohr in den Abgrund, sondern ein bösartiges Wesen, das Deutschland nicht beschreibt, sondern macht. Mit einer Agenda."[51]


  1. ^ a b c "laut.de-Biographie - Wir Sind Helden" (in German). laut.de. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  2. ^ "laut.de-Biographie - Judith Holofernes" (in German). laut.de. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ Rossbach, Henrike. "Heldin auf dem Heimweg" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 9 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Judith Holofernes: Jeden Sommer auf der Wiese" (in German). Badische Zeitung. 24 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Hauser, Jan. "Studienabbrecherin Judith Holofernes: Werde du mal Popstar, Kind!" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. 16 December 2008.
  6. ^ "Zitat des Tages: Judith und die Kokser-Elite" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. 27 October 2003.
  7. ^ "Frontfrau Holofernes: "Die Rache des Universums" (2 von 9)" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. 8 August 2007.
  8. ^ Holtmann, Kevin. "Judith Holofernes - Ein leichtes Schwert" (in German). Plattentests.de. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Wer wir sind - Stefan Nietzky" (in German). Popkurs Hamburg website. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  10. ^ Murr, Lilo. "Ein Doktor spielt den Bass" (in German). Augsburger Allgemeine. 27 March 2008.
  11. ^ Schmid, Eva Dorothée. "Ihr altes Leben wollen sie nicht zurück" (in German). Berliner Zeitung. 22 November 2003.
  12. ^ Rüther, Tobias. "Guten Tag, ich bin ein Popstar" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 27 May 2003.
  13. ^ a b "Wir sind Helden" Archived 4 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine. (in German). swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 October 2015. Select Charts tab.
  14. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Wir sind Helden)" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Was heißt das: „Wir sind erst mal raus“?" (in German). Official Wir sind Helden website. 4 April 2012.
  16. ^ a b Myrrhe, Anke. "Judith Holofernes macht's jetzt solo" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 19 October 2013.
  17. ^ "Judith Holofernes - Ein leichtes Schwert - Album" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  18. ^ ""Ich bin das Chaos" kommt am 17ten März - Judith Holofernes". Judith Holofernes (in German). 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2017-01-24. 
  19. ^ Leckert, Daniel. "Einstürzende Neubauten - Strategien Gegen Architektur IV: 2002-2010" (in German). CDstarts.de. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  20. ^ Peters, Harald. "Weichgespült und glattgebügelt" (in German). Die Welt. 7 November 2004.
  21. ^ Henze, Rainer. "Keine Gewalt ist auch keine Lösung." (in German). laut.de. 24 May 2004.
  22. ^ "OLLI SCHULZ UND DER HUND MARIE - Timm Thaler und der Pinguin" (in German). WESTZEIT. 3 November 2006.
  23. ^ Hohl, Henrik John. "Pop, der keiner ist" (in German). FOCUS Online. 6 September 2007.
  24. ^ "Höchste Eisenbahn als EP" (in German). Official Judith Holofernes website. 12 September 2012.
  25. ^ "Maxim, seine Soldaten und ich" (in German). Official Judith Holofernes website. 7 April 2013.
  26. ^ Kalitschke, Martin. "Judith Holofernes: Zwischen Bühne und Babybett" (in German). Westfälische Nachrichten. 15 March 2011.
  27. ^ Kuhn, Andi. "Begrenzte Unmöglichkeiten" (in German). neue musikzeitung. December 2003.
  28. ^ Finke, Günter. "Selbstbewußte Heldin aus Kalkül" (in German). Die Welt. 27 November 2005.
  29. ^ a b c Grether, Kerstin. "An dem Produkt ist was kaputt" (in German). taz.de. 20 June 2003.
  30. ^ Friedrich, Stefan. "Von Nervosität keine Spur. Warum auch?" (in German). laut.de. 4 April 2005.
  31. ^ Käfer, Sara. "Kritisch und sehr unterhaltsam: Helden in Perfektion." (in German). laut.de. 25 May 2007.
  32. ^ Hagel, André. "Müdigkeit am Vorhandenen - Interview mit Judith Holofernes, Frontfrau von Wir sind Helden" (in German). www.andre-hagel.de. 9 March 2004.
  33. ^ Albers, Markus. "Pop ist ein Mädchen aus Deutschland" (in German). Die Welt. 14 March 2004.
  34. ^ "Guten Tag! - Wir sind Helden (SynthiePunkPop)" (in German). AMBOSS-Mag. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  35. ^ "Judith Holofernes" (in German). beck to music. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  36. ^ ""Wir sind Helden" auf Lesetour" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 27 February 2008.
  37. ^ Kormbaki, Marina. "Beim „Summer of Girls“ würdigt arte große Künstlerinnen" (in German). Hannoversche Allgemeine. 4 July 2011.
  38. ^ Thomann, Jörg. "Hymnen der Verweigerung" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 17 July 2003.
  39. ^ Siehr, Natalie. "Judith Holofernes - Ein leichtes Schwert" (in German). AVIVA-Berlin. 3 March 2014.
  40. ^ Schachinger, Christian. "Helden wie ihr" (in German). derStandard.at. 27 February 2003.
  41. ^ "Judith Holofernes bei Maybrit Illner" (in German). B.Z. 16 December 2010.
  42. ^ Vorsamer, Barbara. "Wir sind Helden - und der Dalai Lama auch" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 11 May 2010.
  43. ^ "About us". Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V. website. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  44. ^ "“Judith Holofernes ist aufgewacht”" (in German). ZEIT ONLINE. 12 April 2011.
  45. ^ "Overview". Attac website. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  46. ^ "Spielen für Trinkwasserprojekte" (in German). Badische Zeitung. 12 August 2011.
  47. ^ "Water is Life!". Viva con Agua website. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  48. ^ "Utopia - Die grünsten Promis" (in German). utopia.de. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  49. ^ "Groß-Demonstration gegen Atomkraft in Hamburg" (in German). Hamburger Abendblatt. 22 March 2011.
  50. ^ a b "Nein zu Kampagne: Wir sind Helden watschen "Bild" ab" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. 25 February 2011.
  51. ^ "Warum ihr vielleicht auch hier seid." (in German). Official Wir sind Helden website. 26 February 2011.
  52. ^ "BILD-Zeitung wirbt mit Holofernes-Absage" (in German). taz Hausblog. 27 February 2011.
  53. ^ "Biografie: Wir sind Helden" (in German). SWR3. 7 August 2007.
  54. ^ Ernst, Olaf. "„Zu Hause ist für mich wie Urlaub“" (in German). KIELerLEBEN. 11 March 2011.
  55. ^ "Frontfrau Holofernes: "Die Rache des Universums" (9 von 9)" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. 8 August 2007.
  56. ^ Müller, Felix. "Tatort Berlin – Wer soll auf Ritter und Stark folgen?" (in German). Berliner Morgenpost. 22 September 2013.

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