Online Interview on Electronic Music - sorry, forgot the name of the magazine

1. The recording studio has evolved over the years to include computers and digital technology. Do you think this has an influence on the way you approach music? How does it affect the outcome of a composition?

the technical development has a huge impact and effect – not only on my own compositions. A creative person is able to 'paint' his composition onto the media he wants to use. The 'old fashioned' aspect: not the technical facilities make the music, it is still the man or woman, or if you prefer, the soul and spirit in the person who does the main job. Music was and still is the summary of all made decicions in this field.

2. Can you tell me a little bit about working with electronic music in the sixties? For example, what approach was taken and how has this changed over the years.

working in the sixties with 'electronics' was a spectecular adventure as one didn’t know what would come out after several operations. It didn’t have anything to do with music instruments as such, the devices being used came more from the calibration services at the radio station, like tone generators, filters, special prepared head assemblies of the tape machine, the editing facilities with scissors, adjustable capstan speeds etc

3. Much of the work of early pioneers in electronic and experimental music is as fresh today as it was when it was first recorded, for example Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples on the Moon. Where do you see music heading in the future? Is there a limit to what can be achieved or will we all fall prey to that old cliché that “everything has been done?”

hmmm….that reminds me of my first teacher of composition, a very talented man and a fantastic pianist. Nevertheless, he thought that it didn’t make sense creating something new as everything was already created. These people cannot understand a musical world within a musical world which is functioning as an opponent  in the same way as punk in the sixties. If you are bound to mastership plus incorporated beauty you do not see the quality of garbage. As long as young people want to go their own way and trying to develop a language of their own, getting seperated from the language of their parents the world of music doesn’t come to a stillstand.

4. John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape no. 5 employed the use any 42 records which in many ways is a precursor to sampling. You also experimented with sampling very early with the Canaxis project. How has this process changed over the years and how do you think it affects the way we listen to music?

to approach the idea of sampling was a matter of necessity. Can and myself in particular have made so many mistakes when performing or recording that we HAD to split our tracks into small pieces in order to get something out which didn’t have mistakes anymore. On the other hand sampling had to come up when you wanted to play something you could not naturally play. This had happened when I started the production of Canaxis. How could I sing a Vietnamese voice? Impossible. These days the musical processes got more and more automatic and thus a lot of decisions become obsolete. The result is interchangability or one part, one song sounds more or less like the other. This happens when the creator is going to hide himself behind techical possibilities and musical junkfood is the result.

5. You seem to have embraced the internet and it’s possibilities for uniting people across the world such as your Linear City collaboration. While digital technology is accused of being dehumanising, it is also empowering as now artists can dispense with record companies and communicate with people from all over the world, such as what we are doing right now. What are your thoughts on this subject?  

you take the very words out of my mouth, dear. In fact it takes a bit too long till the record companies get 'asherized'(ashes to ashes). But at least they are on a good way. The Internet was something I was waiting for since I made my primal scream on March 24 –1938. And if it wasn’t made for anyone else it certainly would have been invented just for me privately if I may say so. It became the synonym of liberty, freedom and independence, a truly private media. It is a pleasant platform to found new bands as all privatisms can get filtered. An unavoidable nuisance when founding a band in reality: “Hey man, I can’t stand your smoke and can’t stand your girlfriend you bring along to the studio. She is so dirty as your uncleaned plates deposited in the sticky kitchen next door. And by the way I don’t have time to show up this evening because of blah blah…" There is always a good reason why a band isn’t keen enough to continue the collaboration. Not though when meeting on the Internet platform. How wonderful that I don’t know the person becoming my creative partner. Thanks to the Internet. Just one example.
Coming back to the accusation that digital technology is going to dehumanize – our drummer Jaki Liebezeit was playing his instrument in such an unhuman way that drum machines had to be invented to bring back humanity to music.

6. Experimental electronic music is very much thinking music, it stimulates the brain in a different way, form and structure cannot be relied on forcing us to really listen, to  make new connections and patterns. It doesn’t have the same escapist qualities that dance music or pop music has to offer. This might be stretching it a bit but how do you think this relates to human evolution? i.e. eventually humans will be forced to look at the problems of our societies and actually change them instead of relying on the way it has always been done.       

uh…music and society problems…I already can hear Bono preaching peaches to the sky  in order to get celebrated. As long as he sings everything is fine but all these excusements concerning society…no, please, NOOOO!!!!
If electronic music should remain oversized 'thinking' music it will be the end of electronic music. I personally prefer to play spontaneously and think it over in the second step. It is interesting to see how young kids are going to handle that sometimes: make wrong connections to the devices and when they are starting to flip out  a solid basis to continue  is given. Certainly not the worst idea.

7. Finally, what are your favourite, or most important electronic music recordings over the past few decades?

Of course Karlheinz Stockhausen still remains THE classic electronic composer. Gesang der Juenglinge: what can beat that kind of music? Maybe Bach’s Mathew Passion does.
Or his own electronic scenes from Friday from Light.
Kontakte, another classic. Telemusik, again another classic and somehow father of Canaxis.
The immortal Raymond Scott of course!!! – enough thinking. Have something else to do instead of  torturing my brain to remember

the more wicked


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