Klaus Schulze - The KS Story (in English) - Part 2  

The BODY LOVE longplay sold surprisingly well. In fact, it sold in the first run twice as much copies as any Brain LP of Klaus before. A reason for this was maybe that the LP was also sold at the cash-boxes in the special red light cinemas. And maybe because the original cover had some pictures of nude ladies on it... and nude ladies on covers always sell (= an old journalistic rule). Besides, fans told me, "Music by Klaus Schulze" was announced in some cinemas in larger letters than the title of the film.

Next came "X" and "Dune". In February 1979 Klaus Schulze signed now a worldwide deal with the German METRONOME company, for a really huge sum. With this money Klaus built the -IC- label, the synthesizer school, the studio, the video studio... to help young musicians.

It was really big money that we got from Metronome. It seems as if Metronome had no money left to exploit their artist and his records outside their home country...?!? All those years not much happened outside Germany with record releases of Klaus' Brain albums. I wonder why they paid so much, when they are not able (or interested?) to sell the discs or the rights on them in other countries, in USA, Japan, whole Europe, Australia.... (This situation has not much changed since. Metronome's American parent company PolyGram even asked an American CD dealer who wanted to order some Brain records in 1992: What is "Brain"? They had never heard of this, their own label).

"People in the record companies have very, very narrow views", Peter Jenner once said. The deceased manager of Johannes Schmölling, Peter Wirths, told me in 1990: It seems as if all the idiots in the record business get the chairs of "A+R Managers". My experience is, if one speaks sensible or rational with these people, they normally do their best. Trouble is that 'their best' is often very humble.

Again, here with Metronome/Brain: friendly people, much mutual fun. With these people we had not much trouble from 1974 till 1980. Oh, those glorious old days... During the course of time, we saw five different A+R managers at Metronome. Today... there are a many ignorant people around. Period.

The 15th of December 1976 saw a concert that is of interest because of the typical German circumstances. For some reason Klaus Schulze counts as "pop" musician. On the other side there exists a so-called "serious" contemporary music scene in Germany. Rarely anyone cares much about it, or listens and enjoys it, because the aim of this type of music seems to be: to avoid any similarities to enjoyable music. This species exists exclusively in the feuilletons of some old-fashioned newspapers. For compensation, this dead music was and is supported by much tax monies, by some radio stations, and by the German Performance Rights Society: the GEMA. Is it forgotten today that this "E-Music" status was used and sponsored during the Nazis era to support heavily the "German" music against the "Jewish" Mendelssohns, Cole Porters and Benny Goodmans!? For example with speeches like this: "Nur in ihr [Ernste Musik] lebt unsere Seele ganz und eine Seligkeit, die sich nicht in Zahlen fassen läßt. Unmeßbar ist ihr Wert für unser Volk, ihre Bedeutung für die Weltgeltung der deutschen Kunst. Nationalsozialismus heißt, die edelsten Kräfte der Nation am liebevollsten pflegen. Darum heißt Nationalsozialismus auch, diejenigen besonders fördern, die am Dom der hohen Meister weiterschaffen" (see: Fred K. Prieberg, "Musik im NS-Staat", 1982).

However it may be, this kind of government supported, contemporary "serious" music had no audience then and has none today.

Back to the 1976 story: The Berlin radio station is preparing a concert with the music of two "serious" contemporary composers, plus Klaus Schulze. The following is a totally invented story, of course.

The responsible radio man: Ouch, "serious" music again. Shit! Empty chairs again, although it's free. Culture? Damned! What can we do? ... (Idea! ) ... I got it! There is this Schulz, or Schult, Klaus Schultze or whatever his name is. My daughter is wild about him, and his concerts are always sold out. This guy's not doing simple pop or rock (baa!), He's a bit serious. This is it! He brings us the audience. But what about the two other composers? ... Tricky solution, and the following did really happen: KS was asked to play in the following manner. First, as a starter. Second, in the middle of two empty neopathological pseudomodernists or whatever explanation with words they have, and 3) for the finale, so that the audience stays until the end. It's a very good description of Klaus Schulze's situation: His music falls between two stools.

We have 1978. Together with Harald Grosskopf, Klaus went again into the Panne/Paulsen studio in Frankfurt. They came back with the tapes for a double LP. No titles yet, no heading for the album. KS' enthusiasm about it is great, as always after a recording. As so often, the idea for titles came after a few days. "Six musical biographies" and the names of five already gone personalities and one still among us (at this time). There is a liking to all six of them; Klaus read their works, or read a lot about them, studied them. The title for the album was my idea, because this was Klaus' tenth solo LP, therefore "X" (Roman: ten). I started to draw a cover, and in addition I did a booklet with some rare photos from the last 10 years. Also, we reproduced a small part of the notation that Klaus had to do for the string orchestra, for the "Ludwig" track. The orchestra really needed these notations, even it was mostly just one phrase they had to repeat and repeat and repeat and... like in trance.

One example may show how different the feeling can be while listening to Klaus' music. During a concert in Fürth, near Nuremberg, the music was so beautiful, peaceful, that I fell asleep backstage. Klaus took it as a compliment, and it was one. There is an inner truthfulness, a sincerity in his music, one cannot prove. Yet every one (who can hear) distinguishes at once the sincere from the arty. My experience tells me -much to my regret- that too many people are only able to put on a disc and switch on the player, without being ever able to understand the full beauty of the music. Many people use music just like audible wallpaper (therefore, the success of "New Age Music"?)

The double LP "X" was in the official German sales charts for two or three weeks at number 75, but in spite of everything, of this unconventional music, this was a little sensation.

Probably, this was the moment when synthesizers and Electronic Music became finally commonly known. A small German trade paper published then the figures of selling and income of a few German rock groups, including some overstated Klaus Schulze figures. During the same period it began, that every rock or pop band uses its own synthesizer, and all the usual things happened, as they do happen every time when the majority jumps upon and buys a new invention... until the next fashion comes. By the way, these instruments were much cheaper now then two or three years earlier. And they were easily available now in every music shop.

Towards the end of 1978 KS was really in business. He won various pop polls, received enormous press, was invited and shown around. We both were even invited to the annual "Kanzlerfest", the German Federal Chancellor's party, and met there all the famous names from the German showbusiness.

Kanzlerfest invitation

During the tour in September/October '78 we only saw huge concert halls; 3000 to 5000 spectators were no rarity. In relation to the non-popular kind of music that Klaus was creating, this was not just a success but a miracle. This caused others to try the same. At the end of the seventies many amateurs started at home, with cheap synthesizers and an own tape recorder, to do "Electronic Music" at the weekend. These many amateurs forgot: What they tried to find was already found and invented by KS, or Tangerine Dream, one decade earlier. But as a hobby, it's fine. It's like Dixieland.

For the German concerts during this long European tour in autumn 1978 we invited the cello player Wolfgang Tiepold to join KS on stage. He's a classical musician with some jazz traces, and without any of the usual moodiness of many artists. He already had an important part in the recording of "X", and he conducted the orchestra during a Schulze concert in Oostende, Belgium, where "Ludwig II" was performed. Wolfgang Tiepold invited us during the tour to his house near Frankfurt, and I will never forget the background music he put on during dinner: Mendelsson's well-known E-minor violin concerto; for Wolfgang certainly a customary music, but it profoundly turned me on (again) to classical music, which still lasts until this day. Most of this kind of (old) music has more power and emotion than any furious rock music has today (i.e. the seventies, eighties and nineties), to say nothing of most of the Electronic Music. Electronic sounds remain just uncomfortable and cold noise, unless emotion is added. Klaus Schulze found out and understood this very early. More precisely: First are Klaus' emotions, then he uses Electronics to express them.

In fan letters from all over the world people asked now for advice how to create this or that effect, which instruments are the better ones, from company X or Y? I doubt if they will understand that it's not any instrument that creates a "Klaus Schulze" but the man himself. Nevertheless, we gave many recommendations how to do this, or take your hands better off that... Some of these writers of fan letters and second-generation-"Schulzes" still do their records today, without much of a success. I do hope that they are at least happy in one way or another. (The very first of these followers should be named: Adelbert Kraak, who changed to A. van Deyen, and who not only copied Klaus' music, but the covers, even our letterhead, envelopes (!) etc...) (Postscript in 1997: Van Deyen even copied three minutes of the track "Dymagic" from Schulze's ...LIVE.. album and sold it as his own! Meanwhile he stopped completely to make music and concentrate on painting - in which he was not better.)

One little incident comes to my mind that was not mentioned before. During one of our concert tours at the end of the seventies, we had a dinner in Hamburg with some invited people from the press. One guy from the BILD newspaper asked our technician, "how many volts" our P.A. system has. The astonished roadie realized that it was no slip of the tongue, but a seriously meant question, when he asked smilingly back "volts?" - "Yes, how many volts?". I shudder to think of how much power these ignorant people from the infamous BILD newspaper have.

The first Herculean company who recognized the existence and the potency of "Electronic Music", was German WEA (Warner Brothers). They offered Klaus to produce for them -on his own label- some music in this new direction. KS hired a certain Michael Haentjes as partner, who was a writing journalist for a German musician's magazine. He and KS draw up an outline for such a record company, which was named INNOVATIVE COMMUNICATION, or short: IC, to be spoken as "I see", which was common saying by Michael Shrieve (and by millions of other Americans, if they suppose that they understood something). KS delivered instruments from his studio, and the IC Studio as well as the IC Synthesizer School was born. Shortly after, the IC Video Studio was set up, so that video clips could be made with and for the own IC artists. This was pretty new and sensational in 1979. KS was probably the first if not the only one in Germany who not only had the idea for video clips but realized it! Because TV wasn't ready yet for video clips, rarely one of our clips was actually used on TV. Some years later when IC stopped its video activities, video clips became a big fashion. The only IC video that was broadcast in German TV was the one with IDEAL, and, to top it: The broadcast date was exactly the evening, when we had the big release party for our first four independent LPs, including the mentioned IDEAL. ... Of this, later.

For all these IC activities Klaus found another house, not far from his private house and studio. Here, Michael Haentjes could live and work, and here the school was lodged. When video came and needed plenty of space, they found in the next village, in Winsen, a tavern that had a huge festivities' hall and some not used hotel rooms, perfect for studios and offices. We redecorated and converted the whole, and soon after we had room enough for the video and a second audio studio, for offices, for artists' rest-rooms, and two private rooms for me. It was all paid from the huge sums that KS got for his solo LPs from Metronome, and from the advances that WEA paid to IC.

During this era I had not much to do with IC. In truth, I didn't like the idea at all, 'cause I knew Schulze. He's no office man, he has no sense for organisation. Also, my enthusiasm isn't as easy to lure out as Schulze's. I have eyes and ears. Then: rehearsing musicians at full loudness isn't my kind of taste, especially Arthur Brown and the guitar player from Popol Vuh went on my nerves. The latter certainly had personal problems, or was he rather deaf? He played his electric guitar in the middle of the night over our many thousand watt heavy concert P.A.-system! (By the way, he's the son of an old friend of mine, the legendary -in the fifties- Berlin jazz and blues singer Toby Fichelscher. This saves him probably from me beating him up!).

In 1979, the first four IC longplays were released and distributed by WEA. The expenditure of energy in preparations, productions, promotion and advertising was immense. These four were: Mickie D.'s Unicorn, Baffo Banfi "Ma, Dolce Vita", Robert Schröder "Harmonic Ascendant", and Richard Wahnfried "Time Actor". I knew Mickie Duwe from the times we were with Ash Ra Tempel in Switzerland for the recording of "Seven Up". Some time in 1978 he played to me some demo recordings. Because I liked what I heard, I told him to play it to Klaus Schulze, what he did. Unfortunately, Mickie was arrested in Greece, shortly after release of his first solo LP. He was forced to live the next four years in jail in sunny Greece. Which was a shame, because the WEA officials had great expectations in him, and were prepared and willing to support him, simply because it was "Unicorn" they liked most. It was musically the closest to what they normally know and like. Less amusing they found Klaus Schulze's Richard Wahnfried opus "Time Actor" with singer Arthur Brown. It's funny to see that these people are not even able to learn from former errors. It is always the unknown, the new music, which makes waves and history, and not the same top 20 songs that already exist. These people in record companies are mostly so narrow minded: no imagination, no courage, no visions. Just sales and business (I had offers to join them. I refused. I couldn't work like that).

Baffo Banfi is an Italian keyboard player whom we got to know in 1974, when KS and I tried to do our first own record label "Berliner Weltklang". Baffo was member of the Italian rock group "Biglietto per l'inferno" (Ticket to Hell) which we intended to produce (it never realized). In November '75 Baffo helped us during our Italian & Switzerland tour, as a lighthearted, yes: humorous guide. We loved him. After two LPs for IC he vanished, as if he never had lived. We never heard from him again, we didn't even know where to send the accounts. (P.S.: In 1999 I heard from him again, and from then on I received his annual Xmas greetings.)

Robert Schröder we got to know as fan of Klaus Schulze, who was visiting his hero and bringing him little presents, for instance some blinking lights in the shape of a star, flickering in rhythm. During a video recording with him, I realized that his usual hair into his eyes looks terrible; it looks much better if he combs his hair backwards and one can see his forehead. I have no idea if he's doing it in the meantime. Since those old IC days he produced a few additional recordings on his own, without much of a success. For a rerelease he even remixed the old albums that Schulze once had masterly mixed.

Alongside our IC productions, WEA released two discs on IC we had nothing to do with, we only agreed to their release: One by the British Francis Monkman, and an old, historic album by Popol Vuh.

During the long rehearsals for GO in the British ISLAND studios Klaus got to know some musicians who brought back memories of his teenager days. Among others, this was Arthur Brown ("Fire" in 1968). For Klaus' first "Richard Wahnfried" recording, Klaus invited this hell of a singer. Besides, Arthur made an LP for IC with his old buddy Vincent Crane of "Atomic Rooster" fame. For Klaus' two month tour all over Europe in autumn '79, Klaus invited Arthur to join him on stage. Audience's reactions were mixed. I had nothing against his knowledge of and love for old English literature, but what I didn't like was, that he was always late. I hate that. Up to this moment he's teaching English literature in Austin, Texas, USA. Someone told me (in April '93) that there will be soon a new "Crazy World of Arthur Brown" record out ... (After many years of silence, he did 1995 a solo tour in England, so I suppose that the new album is out). (P.S.: On 15 Nov. '96 I got a friendly letter from Arthur, he's interested to work with KS again). (P.P.S.: Until 2007 this did not realize, but we are still in loose contact.)

It was exhausting work in the IC video studios: we did all by ourselves. Although we asked each musician for useful ideas or even a script for their clip, the only one who had both was Klaus Krüger. In all other cases we had to improvise. We had no MTV pictures stored in our head, simply this wasn't existing yet on German TV. We also improvised with the technique. This is exactly the right place to mention another one with the "Klaus" name, our technician Claus Cordes. As a professional photographer he studied the "video" technique by himself, over night. The same goes for his knowledge of our audio studio! The other Klaus, Schulze, was used to outwit the technology if necessary. With video in these early days this was not possible. Either it worked or it did not. There was nothing in the middle, nothing as "about correct" - the TV stations' meters (and ours) wouldn't accept it. To explain all this to Klaus Schulze and to the musicians, was more often than not Claus Cordes' job. He did it with endless patience. And he was very reliable, which I wasn't used from my musicians.

Another visitor from the days of GO was the drummer Michael Shrieve. Klaus' and Michael's liking was mutually, musically as well as privately. Both learned of each other. Because KS started his career as a drummer, there was a fundamental understanding to build up from. Michael had an immense interest in electronic instruments. In January 1979 he visited us, lived with us,, even had a "companionship" with a young woman from the next village. He revisited us in the following year. Everyone said of course "Mike" to him, but in print it's "Michael" - he told me seriously. But it was too late. I had already and innocently put "Mike" Shrieve on a record cover - and since then everybody reprints this wrong "Mike". I learned the lesson, and never did that mistake again.

Kevin, KS, Mike, Baffo

The team was now Klaus Schulze, the businessman Michael Haentjes, the photographer, designer and technician Claus Cordes, and me - but I was only working for KS but not for IC, which, however, was sometimes not to separate. In spring 1980, Michael Haentjes suddenly left IC and took a job at WEA to built up Warner's new own video department. Schulze asked me again if I will take Haentjes' chair. Without much delight I became boss of IC, which had a debit of 60 thousand Deutschmarks. What is more, Haentjes' toy was a huge outmoded computer that nobody could handle, except Haentjes. Nobody needed this huge table-sized monster, it was leased for the next ten years or so, and if we would throw it out of the window, we would get immediately another one of the same type...

IC had an old-fashioned rock group under contract ("Lorry") whose members lived in the surrounding villages. The singer was originally a bookkeeper, so he got from us exactly this job. What happened with Haentjes' f.... computer? Two years later a kind soul, KS' tax accountant, took over the leasing contract and this unique tool. Gosh!

The departure of Haentjes (to WEA, of all companies!) obliged WEA to put us under pressure. Suddenly we were asked to sign strange papers drawn up by WEA's lawyers, which would have brought us into a weak position. What this was all about, we had to realize before long. The monies that WEA should have paid regularly to us (for producing) didn't arrive. In a round-table discussion it was presently clear what WEA wanted. The sellings of IC records were low. Although we all (incl. WEA) had agreed that the IC project will need five years to consolidate, this initially mutual understanding was suddenly forgotten. It was the time of a general recession in the record industry, many came to grief (for instance, a genius like Van Morrison was fired at the same time by his company: WEA). The bosses in New York, Burbank or Hamburg had decided: IC should be fired. For a part of the sum that WEA normally should have paid to us, we released them from their obligations. A funny side effect: I had already our IDEAL tapes with me and offered them to WEA as part of our obligations to them. Even after we departed, I left the tapes at WEA. We still needed releases and distribution of our productions. After all, we had contracts with our artists to fulfil. Some time later the obligatory refusal letter from WEA arrived. I still laugh today about this awkward mistake by WEA. They could have gotten IDEAL for nothing! Shortly after, IDEAL was one of the biggest hits in the history of advanced, yes: "innovative" German pop music! (In two years we sold 700 thousand copies of their first LP). A whole new wave was born, and IDEAL was one of its leading, if not: best groups. The man at WEA who refused to take IDEAL was fired soon after. He created his own little label, first with copycats of IDEAL, simply because it was the fashion of the day. In the early nineties he made headlines because of his try to release 100 different CDs with concert recordings of Jazz artists that he got very cheap from the former East German radio, but he 'forgot' to ask the artists, and also 'forgot' to pay them. He fell flat on his face, 'cause some artists realized what happened and sued him.

The boss of WEA at this time and vice president of international Warner, isn't any more with the company. He tries since some years to sell on his own tiny label some music he really likes, be it Jazz or outtakes of the "American Folk Blues Festival" recordings from the sixties. Maybe he's happy. (Postscript: I read in a German music trade magazine in September '93, that this man's first move after he had left WEA, was, to do a label for new German pop acts, in partnership with my discovery, the singer of IDEAL. This label was soon sacked by the distributor -and financial backer-, because of low sellings, and despite earlier mutual understanding that the new label will need some years to consolidate. This ex WEA boss shouldn't feel "hurt", as he tearfully told the trade paper. Has he forgotten that he treated us exactly (!) the same way, ten years earlier, when he was in power?)

Haentjes is today the founder and owner of a huge record company: "edel", that includes its own distribution company and own pressing plant. Edel started with poor sampler CDs, T-shirts with pictures on it, cups with the Batman image, Cheap David Hasselhoff books (is there anything that is NOT cheap with David Hasselhoff?) and other gimmicks that people buy en masse. Edel's turnover in 1995: 200 millions DM. Certainly, Michael Haentjes is happy, too. I heard, from the start on he had plenty of computers (!) We visited him in August '93 in his wonderful villa in Hamburg. He looked (and he was) very tired.

Back to the continuity of this story. Klaus Schulze still had his solo contract with Metronome, and he delivered in early 1980 some recordings that we had made during previous concerts. The quality of these recordings was in parts not as good as Electronic Music required in the dawn of the digital era. So what? The album ...LIVE ... is a good cross-section from Schulze's hundreds of concerts. Three of these four recordings were made with the built-in microphones of a stereo cassette recorder, which we had placed on stage between the two monitor speakers. To gain a better stereo effect I stuck some paper on one side of each of the tiny microphones, so that each of the cheap mikes could better catch "his" left or right monitorsound only.

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