Klaus Schulze - The KS Story (in English) - Part 3  

My illegitimate problem child was now IC. I didn't get a fee or any other salary for my IC work from IC, or from Klaus. I am just the publisher of Klaus' compositions since 1978, and I live just from that GEMA income. But of course I help Klaus if I can, for his other projects too. IC was existing, built up by Klaus, contracts were to fulfil, he (we) were obliged to go on. All we needed was a working record distribution.

We took the smallest of the nationwide distributors, Deutsche Austrophon, a sleepy company not well known for special hits, or any other speciality, except some polkas and their old-fashioned annual Christmas platters. Advanced music such as (some of) IC's wasn't really existing in their politics and heads. Until we entered. One advantage was that this "Deutsche Austrophon" was not far away from our place, and it was not connected to any of the huge multinational companies. All exports we did ourselves, because "d.a." had no foreign partners. Also, the promotion and advertising we did - and paid - ourselves.

Now we could start to complete the productions, to prepare covers and promotion, to make plans and to realize them. It was some kind of work! Of course the "Deutsche Austrophon" only paid for sold copies of records, they didn't pay any advances or any penny for a production, or advertising, as WEA did before. But our freedom to do what we wanted was worth this financial risk if not loss. We had crazy new ideas and we could realize them! Without being bothered by bureaucratics at WEA.

One of these ideas was to cut our LPs with the speed of 45 instead of the normal 33 RPM. Experts told us this would gain the quality of the sound, and the loss of playing time was small. KS and I, we love those crazy things no one else has the fantasy for, or dares to do. So we did it. Regardless if the sound on the LP was really better, it brought a lot of promotion to the IC albums. All papers wrote about it, and all German radio disc jockeys must say a few words about the IC discs after they were forced to stop their turntable with the usual but wrong speed, and they had to start again with 45 RPM. These radio people had to play at least one LP of our first set of releases: IDEAL. (In a German regular TV programme about new movies, the famous IDEAL track "Berlin" was played in full length, with the wrong 33 speed! Nobody noticed that during the TV production!? There are many idiots around. Period).

IDEAL was in our first set of four really "independent" IC releases. I found the group in Berlin. At Manuel Göttsching's place I listened to a demo tape of a rock group, that played some weeks before on a benefit concert for "our" imprisoned Mickie Duwe. What puzzled and inspired me was the female singer. Because, only after a while I noticed that she sings in plain German, which was an impossibility in pop or rock music at this time. Rock music + German texts = Kraut. Horrible krautrock. But not here, from this group with the name X-PECTORS. The singer was a certain Annette Humpe, who wrote those great German lyrics, which in addition were very realistic and funny, or in short: excellent. The music was fast rock in the New Wave fashion of the day. Not bad, either.

Some time later at the same place of my friends Manuel & Rosi, I met the head of this group, a certain F.J. Krüger. Apparently we knew each other from more penniless times. We both were and still are jazz freaks, and years ago during our long-haired hippie days I sold him my Ford Transit truck, which he 'forgot' to register and I had some trouble because of that... Meanwhile he grew to one of the best German jazz & rock guitar players, and he had a very special sense of humour, with his very own kind of speech. And he had style, not only in music. He's an expert on old cars, on old household goods, on old clothes, and much more. Besides music, he owns, collects and he deals with these things. (PS for Germans: F.J. ist derjenige, der Loriot anspricht und ihn nach der Schillerstrasse fragt, ...während der Vorspann des "Ödipussi"-Filmes noch läuft. Leider ein zweites PS: Mein Freund F.J. verstarb im April 2007.)

F.J. Krüger and kdm

I made a deal with Frank (F.J.) and he remodelled the group, threw out the sax, searched for tighter bass and drums, and offered me then IDEAL, with plenty of songs by the group's singer Annette, and music by him or by the whole quartet. KS could not understand my enthusiasm, but generously gave his okay, and half the advance money for the group. I produced them in our IC studio. Instantly we all at IC spoke the same funny language as F.J. did, as long as he and IDEAL stayed with us, and some months after. During the time of production and before the LP came out, the IDEAL boom already started. There were many sold out IDEAL concerts, cover stories in magazines, even some TV appearances (which was a rarity for unknown rock bands on German TV then), a huge "supporting act" gig in front of 100 thousand in Berlin, where IDEAL had more success than the old-fashioned main act, a certain "Barcley James Harvest" group. The official TV evening news of the day reported about the event and showed just IDEAL (I knew this before, because Ideal played when there was still enough daylight for filming the event! ...and of course there was the problem of time: The main act was just playing too late for the evening news!). When the LP came out, simply called "Ideal", the group was already a successful working unit. That they were hot, everyone with eyes and ears could see and hear. Except our distributor. Their plan for a first pressing was: 300 (yes: three hundred) copies. I told them that 300 I need just alone for my promotion, to serve all the German music journalists... and I explained to them the booming activities of IDEAL, and my own visionary plans. They still didn't understand but they manufactured 1000 copies(!) In the following weeks and months they only pressed the number of copies that they had orders for - not one copy more; although a normal human being & business man would say: Okay, let's do some thousand for coming orders, so that we can deliver fast... Not so the gemütliche "Deutsche Austrophon". Actually we sold in the first year 250 thousand copies. After 16 months we had a platinum disc for 500 thousand LPs sold in Germany. In the meantime it's about 800 thousand copies...

Anyway. This IDEAL production saved IC from a sure bankruptcy. All other artists on IC got some profit out of that, too. We could place each month advertising for some 20 to 30 thousand DM. We had (therefore) much press covering. There was this synthesizer hero, there was this whirling independent label with funny ideas (e.g.: 45 RPM), and there was this smash hit with IDEAL. Regardless of all the many articles and advertisements about and for all our artists: Klaus Krüger, Clara Mondshine, Robert Schröder, Din A Testbild, Baffo Banfi, Dieter Schütz... all of those sold badly. Very badly.

The release of IDEAL and the three other first independent IC discs took place on 31st of October 1980 during a huge IC party in our studios. This was at a time when "record release party" was not yet fashionable (!). All important people from the German music press were present, some friends from Berlin, and people from both companies, "Deutsche Austrophon" as well as "Metronome", which was still Schulze's record company. Metronome was invited because at the same day KS' new LP was presented: DIG IT, Klaus' first digitally produced disc. It was exactly during our party when the German TV presented in its famous "Beatclub" two(!) of our(!!) IDEAL videos (!!!). Of course we showed this broadcast in real time on a special huge screen during the party. Later this evening everybody was drunk. The only two who kept to my detailed schedule for this evening was, who else?: Claus Cordes and myself. By the way: to produce an own video for a German (newcomer) band was also not normal in 1980. Not even huge labels did this, at this time, in Germany. Here, we were also the first.

Eight week before, KS delivered a "serious" concert without my help at an art festival in Linz, Austria. A puffy happening. Let it sink into oblivion. ... Then, Klaus had a TV appearance in Spain, and one concert in Brussels with Manuel Göttsching on guitar as his guest. This was the first year without a real tour, because of the immense work for the IC company, for both of us.

The long-term contract with Metronome was finished officially in April 1981, and I wanted Klaus on IC. Last but not least IC was founded by him as a label for Electronic Music, and this initial part of IC needed some support by the leading force of this genre. It looked funny that the owner of the label releases his own records somewhere else. Klaus' first disc for IC was TRANCEFER. Of course Metronome tried hard (and offered a lot) to get Klaus sign again with them, but we refused. So, at the same time we released TRANCEFER, Metronome delivered a Klaus Schulze sampler to the dealers, with a cover that copied 100% our own special IC covers (!) No comment necessary. We changed our scheduled cover: TRANCEFER got a black (instead of white) background.

Also in 1980, Klaus did another "Richard Wahnfried" LP for IC: "Tonwelle". This time with the help of Manuel Göttsching, the old pal of ASH RA TEMPEL days, and with another well-known international guitar hero.

Manuel was also invited to join Klaus during our tour in autumn '81 through Germany, Switzerland, France, and Benelux. What I recall of this otherwise exquisite tour is that each morning (or better: noon) in the hotel, Manuel was one hour late, and Klaus two hours (or vice versa), what not only drove me mad, but several waiting journalists as well.

Klaus irritated a few people in the course of time, because he is a handsome man, good natured, one who cannot say "no", and one who has his own morale: one of an artist. Since the business is full of small people who need bigger ones to lean on, Schulze is a perfect post for those. Klaus is also friendly to them, sometimes innocently and kindly offers help he isn't obliged or even able to give. These people fall flat on their faces when Klaus moves away, and they are of course angry on him then. They expected the most from Klaus, but he was just friendly. This happens regularly, if these people think they are very clever and contact KS directly, avoiding the necessary checkpoint "Klaus D. Mueller". Be warned. If you are okay, if you have really good ideas, if you are honest, you will succeed; regardless if you contact KS, or me, or anybody else, or nobody else.

Back to history. In 1981 IC produced 12 new LPs, nine of them "Electronic", which became the same flops as the two rock recordings. The one left is TRANCEFER by Klaus.

Because of personal reasons I left IC at the end of 1981 to return to my home town Berlin. At least I left them without their 60 thousand DM debit, the contrary was more the truth. My IDEAL product made IC a prosperous company.

In the year 1982 no new Schulze LP was made or released. The reason was that Klaus tried to manage IC himself, and as I know of own experience, this is an exhausting 24 hours' job, and that's no exaggeration: During night I prepared all the things I needed for the daytime routine, and on weekends I wrote and sent out or telexed all the promotion. Most of our artists did just nothing much to gain their fame; they waited for the company to make them famous. Of course, this will not work, and it didn't.

1982 saw the first LP of Rainer Bloss on IC. In opposition to Klaus, Rainer is a studied musician. He is trained in the normal musical tradition, he knows the usual forms, changes, harmonies, and what is more. A most normal man. Klaus to the contrary is a primitive, original artist, based on feeling, instinct, courage, and craziness; his school was Rock'n'Roll and his lessons were trial and error. But Klaus also learned a few things from Rainer. Head and soul fitted perfectly, when the two played together, from 1983 until 1987. Hardcore fans of KS want the lone musical star, but if Klaus likes to play with a partner, why not? For some time this seemed to work.

The amount of KS-concerts was small: One open air gig in Gent, Belgium, for the TV, a huge concert in Budapest, Hungary, and a concert at London's "Venue". All three gigs were made with Rainer Bloss as second keyboard player on stage.

The concert in Budapest was scheduled as one in a row of concerts all over West but also East-Europe, as part of a so-called "Chip Festival", with, beside Klaus Schulze: Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman, and Thomas Dolby with Classix Noveau. Why just this one concert for KS did happen, I don't know.

During this period, Thomas Dolby visited KS in his studio, and I think Klaus didn't even know the name of that man. It was not clear then and not today, what he wanted. Another visitor was Steve Jolliffe. Klaus liked him very much, and wanted to produce an LP with him. I thought that his music was too much hippie-like for 1981, so we dropped this flute playing album idea. Steve later continued to do and to release similar music on other labels, it seemed to fit perfectly to the American "new age" taste.

After Klaus realized that the work for IC isn't his kind of bread, and, after all, the work was really too much, he hired a certain 'Katia' for a short time - a disaster. She was followed by a certain Mark Sakautzky, whom Klaus had met in Australia, where Mister Sak tried to establish (without success but with plenty of Klaus' cash) Australian IC. Klaus is so kind-hearted ...but naïve sometimes...

At the same time when the double LP AUDENTITY was released, he went on tour again. From beginning of February until end of April, and then again for ten days in July 1983, Klaus was on tour in whole of western Europe plus in Poland. Especially the 9 concerts in Poland moved Klaus' heart. Although Klaus did promise on ...LIVE... that this would be the only "live" album he'll ever make, he did another one, a second "live" double LP, put together from the digital concert recordings of this overwhelming Poland tour. He just had to do it, because the Polish reception was really great, in quantity and in quality. The handicap of "live" albums, the not so clean sound, was eliminated, because the music was digitally recorded directly from Klaus' mixer. That's the reason that there is no audience noise on the disc, except on the short odd track "Dziekuje" (which means: "Thank you"). After that, Klaus did a few more clean live albums, with the same direct digital technique.

During these months where Klaus was on the road with Rainer, his company IC - under the lead of Mr. Sak - produced disc after disc, which later were offered as: "Exponents of new Australian rock music", "the Maxi single with the digital super sound", "has chartbuster potential", "could be the big hit in discos", "the absolute number for the use in radio and TV", and similar cheap ballyhoo, that Klaus and I had never and would never use. Beside this bragging nonsense for mediocre Middle-of-the-Road products, that swallowed huge sums of money, and which were produced while KS was away, there were other shocking, unspeakable happenings at IC. When Klaus came back after that long tour he was forced to think all this over and also to think about Mark Sakautzky, who even had the nerves to ask Klaus for another quarter of a million DM, because he - Sak - did spend all of IC's money.

Klaus' initial intention for doing IC was a label for the music he did, he loved, and that he nearly single-handed invented: Electronic Music; a kind of music that otherwise would have no chance to reach the listeners, and the whole should be "small but beautiful" (I borrowed this phrase for one of our first IC ads from the famous book "Small is Beautiful" by E.F. Schumacher).

Schulze's wise decision in summer 1983: He gave the whole company away. His IC solo records were given to Metronome. From then on he had nothing to do anymore with the politics of that company, of what the American magazine e/i many years later wrote: "...it turned into shit".

On 26th of August 1983 he visited me in Berlin and told me about this "selling" of IC. Moreover, he will do a new record company, this time "only" for pure Electronic Music. In the following weeks I was not able to convince him to keep his hands off that business, by giving him simple accounts of uncertain expected income, and definite costs. The first was low, the second was high, of course. I assume he didn't read or understand these simple calculations, which told him that his new company will go bankrupt in about six months. At least, for my part I refused to join the party. INTEAM was a straight Schulze-Bloss enterprise. In spring 1984, the first four INTEAM LPs were released. At this time Klaus got back the two employees of former IC days, the rock-singing bookkeeper and the reliable Claus Cordes. I helped also, from Berlin, mostly with promotion; together with the loyal bookkeeper I could avoid the worst of KS' & Bloss' sometimes strange ongoing. To raise some cash to keep INTEAM going, I supported the idea that Klaus signs again with Metronome, what he did. But the contract was made by Rainer Bloss, and it shows. I suppose he either has never read it, was completely drunk, or he didn't understand one word of it. Later I took over this contract. That a company offers such deals should be called a crime. That an artist and businessman signs it without trying to change the worst of it, should bring him into a madhouse.

The whole tells a lot about Klaus' (and Rainer's) state of mind during the era from 1984 until April 1987. This was the most dreadful time during my work for and with my friend Klaus Schulze.

For sure, there are various reasons a man starts with drugs, here, the worst of all ('cause it is accepted and therefore has a harmless image): alcohol. I know now that this is a disease, and no fun at all. It comes not over night so that everybody can see and do something against it. The reason that alcohol is more or less accepted in this society, makes it hard for somebody who wants to help. Too easily the helper looks like a fool (which happened to me ten years later again with another heavy alcoholic musicians and friend). It was awful. Klaus was out of reach. He listened sometimes, but seemed not to understand. He did everything wrong, if he did anything at all. He was lying to me. He had no interest in his brainchild INTEAM. He didn't respond on tips or offers to help. Invoices were generally not paid but thrown away. Ditto with important letters from lawyers or from the court. Guilty were always the others. No contracts were made with artists that KS and Rainer wanted to produce, or even did produce (e.g. Ernst Fuchs). Promises were given but broken. The "office" was chaos. Apathy, resignation, irresolution, sleeping intellect is what I saw and observed. The two employees had left in anger, they felt cheated, and they surely were, because the company's income was nil. For a short time a most dubious character from the Frankfurt red-light scene was engaged as manager of INTEAM.

Rainer Bloss supervised the finances of their joint company INTEAM (At least, he and his family lived a good life during these years). Schulze ran into debt. More and more. Shortly before the whole company finally collapsed, I visited Klaus. Because he was still in bed and not willing to leave his warm surrounding until the evening, I spoke (again) very long with his girlfriend Elfie about the few possibilities to help. I detected in Schulze's office - at most impossible places - unpaid bills to INTEAM for 30 thousand DM, and another 30 thousand DM unpaid bills to KS personally. By accident, the same moment Bloss phoned from Berlin and tried to tell KS in his usual happy manner that INTEAM has no obligations, that the account is balanced ... and he talked about some more castles in the air, juggling with non-existent millions (!) of Deutschmarks. And I'm neither joking nor exaggerating here!

After a Schulze concert in a Berlin church in 1985, it was agreed that Andreas Grosser and I take Klaus for dinner. When the concert was over, and most of the audience had left the church, Klaus came to the front stage. A half-emptied bottle of whisky in his hand, and, oh my God, his eyes... I looked into his eyes, saw what I hope never to see again in my life, and we turned around and went for dinner without a very sick Klaus Schulze.

Before the concert, I already saw and I spoke backstage with Claus Cordes, who did part of the technique. He knew, and he just shook his head in despair. Then I saw the tour manager who would suit in any heavy metal combo with his black leather dress, and so was his talking and probably his consciousness. I sympathized with Claus Cordes.

In April 1987 INTEAM was officially declared bankrupt. At last! Bloss was finally sent home, to earn his money now with real and with his own work, and Klaus went into a Swiss hospital. Since then the curve is going uphill, since 1990 until today (1996) Klaus reached a new musical and business zenith. Bloss' face today is the face of an old man, and Schulze got some weight. This is left from that era. Also, we have some KS records; not his best, but surprisingly good in regard of his shape then.

"Oh Demon Alcohol" (The Kinks).

A few years later, Schulze spoke very openly with an American journalist about these sick years, and the whole was broadcast and printed, so I feel free to write about it too. Besides, this greatly affected me, certainly I was hit more than this American journalist. In addition, I showed Klaus in December '95 the page above, and he gave his okay.

Klaus did his first "clean" recording in autumn 1987: EN=TRANCE, a double LP, suitable for one single CD. The best track on it (that year's Number One in a German radio poll!) was recorded at one go, quasi "live" in the night after the house party for his 40th birthday.

In the autumn of that year - 1987 - I invited Klaus to travel together to Amsterdam, not just because I wanted to pick up some 60 jazz LPs from a special second-hand dealer, but to see a performance of the Elisa Monte Dance Company from New York, who danced to the music of a Klaus Schulze piece, and who wanted to have some more music, especially composed and recorded by Klaus. Amsterdam was wonderful, the dealer sold me my long wanted 60 LPs, and the E. Monte Dance Company could speak with Klaus. Klaus even was invited to visit the ballet in their hometown New York, what Klaus did with pleasure, in early February 1988.

I arranged some American interviews, and the short trip to New York was fine and successful. Klaus told me a very long and human story about an accidental meeting in the lobby of New York's Chelsea Hotel and of the following discussion with an older colleague, Richie Havens. Yes, the one who once had opened "Woodstock".

Later, Klaus did indeed some special music for the ballet, but it wasn't exactly what the Americans needed, or it was sent too late by KS, or whatever it was... It was not used, and the contact died out. I believe anyway that of all the arts the ballet is the most strange. I only regret I couldn't be eye and earwitness in the Chelsea hotel lobby...

[Part 2] [Part 4]