Interview with Klaus Schulze  

"The Eighties are Electronic"

September 1980

Q: Klaus, what's your new LP?

K: The new album is called Dig It. It's the first electronic Digital LP. First I also wanted to use the "Half Speed Cut" technique for it, but various technicians told me that this technique is not as good as its image.
The whole musical programme of Dig It is stored on digital disk. I didn't use traditional analogue synthesizers. I only used the G.D.S. the most advanced synthesizer computer worldwide.

Q: Computer?

KS: Yes, I know... But the one who's afraid of computers or even fight them, will never understand. Fear is no excuse for ignorance. We're in the computer age, it's useless to fight against it but use these tools, as a means to the end. My end is good and beautiful music. The musical ideas of a composer get clearer, more real and therefore more obvious. The era of analogue wheelchair electronics is over.

Q: Now that the music - that you and a few other pioneers created - had even found their way into the cheapest of entertainment music, with the help of cheap synthesizers, isn't it quite obvious that an avantgarde musician like you look for another, a new territory?

KS: You said it. But not just that and not as resolute but in a more informal way. I like to try new things because it also gives me fun. But you're right. My aim is to use any new technique, but in a positive way. In a world of computers we all could live more healthy and more secure if we would use these new tools in the right (positive) way.

Q: Will you ever produce a music that is easier to understand?

KS: My music is much too complicated for a seasonal hit single. Also I can't go back and play as if I lost my craftsmanship, my experience, my knowledge. Can't fabricate simple sounds, melodies and rhythms for a wider market. I don't even will.

Q: You paved the way for many years and for many successors, for today's beginners...

KS: Beginners, or synth amateurs are existing for quite a few years. That there is a kind of breakthrough has many reasons. I would see my part a bit smaller. Maybe the new players just benefit from the long pause of Kraftwerk? Most of these youngsters sound more like Kraftwerk than KS. An important aspect is that the traditional synthis, the ones I used for many years, get cheaper and cheaper, which is a positive thing. Many fans tell me that they just bought a Korg MS 10 or 20. It seems as if Korg could sell thousands of their little apparatuses to my fans.

Q: Something else. I wonder about certain musicians who where just laughing about your ideas and first albums then, played themselves at this time some kind of jazz rock, and today they try to do what your standard was in 1972 to '73.

KS: These musicians are of no interest to me. They will always do what comes if it promises some success. They don't go a risky step forward. These people were and are always there, and they are also necessary. It would be horrible if there were only innovators. Music, new music must have its time to reach the consciousness of the general public.

Q: Klaus, you played in Linz lately, at the "ars electronica". What are your impressions?

KS: Too many to speak about everything. I did the opening concert of this festival. It was a huge event, with TV, live broadcast from a steel factory, a true multi media spectacle. Hardly to be repeated, although I have offers. But the costs were immense, the Linz promoters spoke about 400,000 DM (250,000 Dollars) expenses for just my evening.

Q: Did you use in Linz the new toy, the G.D.S. computer?

KS: Yes, but not entirely. Also I had a percussion player with me, who will join me again in Brussels on my next concert. He played 4 or 5 huge gongs, 2 tympanies and a lot more. I'm tired to play or to listen to the sound of a normal drumset. I used to have that in the seventies, on LPs as well as in concerts, but I realize now that it's more interesting to play against the electronic rhythm, not along it. Also on Dig It I used this new kind of percussion.

Q: Which instruments you play on Dig It and in concerts, besides the G.D.S.?

KS: On Dig It just the G.D.S. and the percussion. In concerts, in Linz as well as in Brussels I will also use parts of my old equipment: the Big Moog, two Minimoogs, the Polymoog, Yamaha CS 80, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Korg 3300, and my old EMS. Any change will come slowly, will be done organically, as always with me and my equipment, as well as with my music.

Q: Where do you play the next time?

KS: After the Brussels gig my regular tour will be in next spring, approximately in April '81. The Berlin Philharmonic Hall is already booked. Then again the Gruga Hall in Essen, that's all I know so far. In the meantime I'm fully engaged with new productions for my IC label, which isn't anymore supported by WEA, and this brings a lot of additional work that has to be done.

Additional questions in October 1980:

Q: Back to the Linz concert. There were also some negative reactions. What do you say?

KS: With what I do, there are always positive but also negative reactions. If I would listen to all this, I must change my music from day to day. No! I do the music as I want to do, and I don't listen to critics and what they write, be it positive or negative.

Q: Some questions about Dig It. It's the first LP that was done exclusively with the G.D.S....

KS: Not exclusively. For instance, I used some percussion. And I used a tape loop from the group IDEAL. But I also did some percussion sounds with the G.D.S. itself.

Q: How do you see the future of digital synthesizers or computers?

KS: No question for me: The eighties are electronic! And synth-computers are the leading instruments of this era. I'm on the right way. In ten years from now, the classical synthesizers - that had a big part in the seventies, also for me - will be not seen anymore. There will be only digital equipment with huge amounts of data banks, or what-do-I-know-what-will-be-possible then?

Q: Can you also record music with the G.D.S., or just produce and play?

KS: The G.D.S. is not only a sound generating instrument but I can record the music on a floppy disk like on a "normal" tape machine with 32 tracks. The difference is the brilliance of the sound. The quality is much better than with traditional machines.

Q: Was there any time pressure while recording Dig It Are you satisfied with the result, mainly with the sounds?

KS: You mean if I could have done something better? --- No. Also there was no time pressure. The production went smoother and faster as with the former albums; I needed one week for Dig It. On a large scale, I'm satisfied with Dig It.

Q: Why isn't this album released with 45 RPM, as the new IC albums?

KS: I wanted this, of course. But the album is too long.

Q: After a few listenings I have the impression that Dig It includes indeed many new sounds, but in form it's still the old Klaus Schulze. On the recent ...Live... album you announced a new, unknown music for the future.

KS: Now you got me (laughs). I can't change my music from one day to the next. With the sounds I already went a step ahead. With the musical form I probably need some more time.

(Translation from German by kdm, 1997)