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  Interview with Klaus Schulze  



"You Must Remember This..."

2015

Klaus Schulze

Q: About the new album "Stars are Burning"...

KS: This is not exactly a "new album". It was produced and released by my friend and publisher Klaus D. Mueller. He is doing this nice work for me, from time to time, because he has the archive of my old tapes from studiowork and from many concerts, and he knows all about these old recordings: what is already released, what is not yet released. He was also present when most of these concert were made and recorded, as tour manager, technician for sound & light, and as friend. He started to release a lot of this old stuff already in the nineties, in a few multi CD sets ...which was (and still is) re-released from 2009 until this year (2015) in fifteen 3-CD sets and a last one: numero 16, with five silver platters at the end of May.

Q: You began as drummer....

KS: Drumming was because of my (older) brother. He arouse my interest in Art Blakey and Buddy Rich (and some others). But after some years of hitting the skins and cymbals with a few groups, the last of them Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, I wanted a change. I wanted to play with harmonies and sounds. As a drummer you are the backbone of a rock group, but not the soloist who performs his own musical ideas. And I had ideas.

Q: Some words about your participation to Tangerine Dream...

KS: This was 45 years ago. I don't remember much details. We just met in a Berlin music club, Edgar was looking for a drummer (his drummer had just left to play more free jazz) and I was available. At this early time, young wannabe rock musicians in Berlin always changed from group to group, played one night with these people or friends, and another night with some others.

Q: The birth of Ash Ra Tempel...

KS: When I tried to make some of my experiments inside Tangerine Dream (e.g.: recording organ sounds and playing them backwards in a concert), Edgar - still on electric guitar and a Hendrix fan - told me: you either play drums or you leave. I accepted the second offer: I left. Conny Schnitzler left shortly later, for very similar reasons. Then I met two young guys - both still in school - who played the usual (at this time) blues rock à la Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall... and they were without a drummer. I 'adopted' them, gave the new trio the (granted: strange) name "Ash Ra Tempel" and asked the two to forget blues rock (which most German groups were copying during this time) and we performed a kind of "space rock" in the style of Pink Floyd or Hawkwind. We played then very long (more or less:) improvised titles, either a very fast one, or a very slow one. As you can hear on our first album "Ash Ra Tempel".

Q: About your first small synthesizer in 1971...

KS: "Synthesizers" were still very rare and expensive. In 1971, I had no "synthesizer" yet. I still used a cheap electric organ, an electric guitar, some percussion, two good tape recorders, echo, and other simple accessory that could make - or change - sounds. The first synthi in '73 was one that I had borrowed (a VCS 3). In 1974 I could buy my own "EMS Synthi A", also I got ARPs and two Farfisa keyboards. And, very important: I bought my own professional mixer (ten inputs, two Aux send/return), for the use on stage and in the studio. Such a mixer was not yet normal for "small" musicians. To get the cash for this working tool, I had to give the composition rights for four albums to a publisher in Hamburg (...the same who also owns the very first "Silver Beatles" titles).

Q: "Irrlicht" was far ahead of its time...

KS: In short: I had recorded my organ playing (at home, of course) and to that added my single-cheap-microphone-recording of a small classical string orchestra (the student orchestra from the Berlin university). I had asked them to play just one note, but for a longer time. Later I mixed the whole, sent it through my equipment, and finally I used it backwards, my first solo album: "Irrlicht". This "backwards" happened by accident first, but I liked the effect and I kept it for the master.

Q: "Timewind" & Richard Wagner...

KS: I like Wagner and part of his music, for instance his newly found chords... and his stamina (staying power).

Q: Any interesting story behind the session for "Moondawn"?...

KS: This also was long , long ago, wait... 39 years ago. Do you know what work you have done 39 years ago? and why? and do you remember an "interesting story behind", after all these years, back in January 1976? ... I cannot. This is old stuff of my younger years. History.

Q: Producing 'Far East Family Band' with Kitaro ...

KS: A German record label or publisher asked me in 1975 if I have the time and if I have interest in remixing and later also producing albums of this 'Japanese Pink Floyd'. I met members of the band in Germany, I was interested, and then I was flying to Tokyo and worked with the group in a huge professionel studio for a re-mix of their first album. Three months later I also produced a whole new album with this band, in the British "Manor Studio". Yes, what became later "Kitaro", ...this friendly little man was one of the two - then: unknown - keyboard players in the group. He showed a lot of interest in my studio work and my synthesizer use He was used to record his electric keyboard playing via microphones in front of loudspeakers; I showed him how it can be recorded "directly", which is much easier and it also results in a much better sound.

Q: Stomu Yamashta’s "Go"...

KS: Because of my Japan trip and because I had met in Tokyo and in the 'Manor' some nice Japanese female ladies, and probably one of them gave my name to Stomu Yamash'ta or to his management, I don't really know, ...Stomu contacted me. He was looking for members to form a "super" group with players from different countries and I was asked to join. I was invited to London to be part of the GO recording. Of course I went and we rehearsed and recorded. I had to realize that synthesizers were still unknown in British rock studios at this time, and the engineers and studio people and also some of the musicians were much amazed about my 'strange' equipment and also about the sounds that I could produce with it, mainly the sequencer was pretty new to them. Stomu became a friend, because we had the same musical and other ideas. Also Michael Shrieve became a friend; he visited me two times in my German home and studio, in 1979 and in '81.

Q: "Go Too"?

KS: This was done with a complete different line up, and in the USA. Probably for the American market? At least it sounds like that. I haven't listen to it often, or recently. But in fact, I rarely listen to my own old albums.

Q: "Body Love" memories...

KS: Again, there are not many "memories". I was asked to produce some music for the movie soundtrack and I did. The producer and director of the movie was a very sympathetic guy. I used the same music also for my (then) next album, and it sold well. Oh, I remember one thing: The fee for the music was, that I could pick a new American limousine from Dusseldorf's best car dealer; I have chosen a large brown American road cruiser, a Buick. Very comfortable driving in this limousine, I must say; it made the concert touring in the late seventies from town to town a bit less stressful.

Q: "Dune", the movie, and Frank Herbert.

KS: There was a vague offer to do the soundtrack for the movie, but it never realised and I don't know why. But I played and recorded two long tracks (as so often in my album history) and called the album DUNE. The cover shows a pic not from the DUNE but from another famous SciFi movie. At this time (and before), I was a huge fan of science fiction stories. And of course I knew then and I still know the big names in SciFi, such as Frank Herbert. I don't remember that I ever have heard the actual film soundtrack (or if, I have forgotten).

Q: About the "Inteam" record label...

KS: In short: we had more expenses than income.

Q: Your meetings with Pink Floyd & Robert Moog in 1995. Any plans?...

KS: These were private meetings during an event in the case of Bob Moog, and after a Pink Floyd concert. There were no working plans, just some long, friendly (and partly funny) conversations. Because you ask above for "interesting memories", here is one: When I met the Floyd guys after their concert in the hotel, for a drink or two and for some chatting, I greeted Richard Wright accidently with "Hello, Tony Banks". We all laughed about my mistake and it broke the ice. I was astonished that the group's members actually know my albums as much as I - of course - know theirs.

Q: Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance? ...

KS: She is a lovely lady. It was a joy to work with her.

Q: The "Moonlake" period...

KS: Which period was that...? Wait... I must check in THE WORKS. ... 'Moonlake' was recorded in the end of 2004 and released early 2005, which is also already ten years past. You always ask me about work that is so long ago, so much in the past. I'm not a historian and I don't live my life by thinking each day (or at all) about the past, about older albums or concerts... Please understand - and that goes for many journalists - that I am also not a collector, not a fan, and not a journalist, and therefore, my interest is my today's life, what I do now or what I will do next, what's on tv tonight, what book I will read next, how many tax I must pay this year, and what will my wife serve for dinner, later ... :-)

Q: "Shadowlands" and the SPV label ...

KS: SPV went bankrupt in 2009 and is today owned by Sony (or someone else, meanwhile? these changes go very fast these days, with labels...). The present label that I have a contract with is called "MiG". They released the LA VIE ELECTRONIQUE from no 5 on (the first four are still with today's SPV), and they told us that they will release the last set in this series at the end of May this year (2015). Also they released the recordings (sound and film) from my concert tour in 2009 in two CD/DVD sets: BIG IN EUROPE. My long-time friend Klaus Mueller releases independently from this, and from time to time, some musical treasures from our vault of historic recordings ... "Shadowlands", h'm, I recorded this in 2012 I think, by using partly some recordings that I had made a few years before and that I had stored away for later use. No special memories here. I sit night by night in my studio and play and record. And from time to time I put the results on a new album.

Q: Who do you concede as Great Explorers of keyboards and especially, synthesizers...

KS: Meanwhile there are so many (players), because "we have won" already two (or three?) decades ago: electronic music instruments are normal now. When DUNE was released in 1979, we used in the advertising my saying: "The Eighties are Electronic." And my next studio album - DIG IT in 1980 - was already done fully digital. In the beginning, in the early to mid seventies, I had to answer very often to journalists' question "Please, Mr. Schulze, can you explain: what is a synthesizer?" In the early seventies I liked what Walter Carlos was doing with "Sonic Seasonings", or Tomita on his "Snowflakes are Dancing" album; but since that time I don't listen to many music of this kind. Anyway,"electronic" in music is today permanently present and used by ev'ryone and everywhere. as I have just stated above. I like to listen much more to musicians like J.J. Cale, or to some pop music of the day (whatever comes out of the radio), or to some classical music. In fact, I'm not a huge consumer of 'other' music. I have not even a record collection. I remember my second to last meeting with Edgar, when I had visited him in Berlin, some twenty(?) years ago. The only musical topic we spoke about, was the clever studio work & sound of Abba (!) and of Michael Jackson.

Q: Please mention three most favorable of your own albums...

KS: This sounds as if someone would ask me: Which women in your life you loved the most? My answer is honestly: The first, the recent, and all in between.

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