Interview with Klaus Schulze  

"Our music is now accepted"


Q: You once were the "Master of the Berlin School", now it is said that you're the "Godfather of Trance/Techno". Would there have been any "house", "trance", "ambient" without KS?

KS: Since a quarter of a century I do what I am doing: Electronic music, my electronic music. Compared to all of today's many stars-for-just-one-season, this is quite a long time. Since a few years I do music, also with electronic instruments, but I don't do just "Electronic Music" anymore.
My main audience is not dependent on any recent trends. But of course it's great to see that also a new generation knows about my music. Something of what I did in the last 25 years must have been stuck...
I did my music when "electronics", "synthesizer", "computers", "trance" and "techno" were not existing, or fashionable, and I'm sure that I will still do it when any recent vogue is gone.
It was Edgar and me, who fighted hard, who starved, who put our souls into Electronic Music in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, etc.; it was me with my money who established in 1979 the first label for young electronic musicians: Innovative Communication (and gave it completely away in 1983). It was me who founded a school to learn synths, from 1978 to '79. It was me who did turn-on Kitaro (1975) and many others to electronics. It was Edgar and me who made hundreds of concerts since 25 years, and who gave literally thousands of interviews, showing and explaining the world about this crazy new music, the music of today and tomorrow...
Our music is now accepted by a new generation who does not have the prejudice of their parents; these kids grew up with electronic music of all kinds. That these people, listeners, artists, or journalists look for the beginnings of this music, is normal. And what do they see? KRAFTWERK, TANGERINE DREAM, and me. We are indeed the only few, who did very consequently our music, with "exotic" electronic instruments, against a lot of opposition and laughter, but with no compromise. We paved the way, if I may say so.

Q: You started with very simple equipment, first by manipulating an old organ, an electric guitar or a tape-recorder. Then you created sounds with the first analogue synthesizers. On the last albums you use the sampling technique a lot. Did you return to the first starting-point?

KS: I did not "return". I was and I am still looking for sounds that fit my imagination. Of course I am bound to the available technique in each time. That the technical means are different from 1971 to 1994, is normal. That outsiders are sometimes just interested in those technical means, and not in my music, is understandable but also puzzles me. Maybe it's much easier to talk about the hardware you can see and grasp? But, I wonder: Who's interested in the brand of reeds that Charlie Parker used, or the microphone of Billie Holiday, or the kind of paper that Wagner used for his notations?
Since many years I work mostly with computers. Certainly the technique did change in the course of time, and certainly my music did change during the long years from 1970 up to today. This is a most normal mutual relation: I change, the audience change, the instruments change, the fashions change... That's normal life.
The sampling technic was a radical step. And if I think a while about it, it's more radical than the step from analogue to digital sounds. Because, in the change from analog to digital, just the sound quality was changed, was improved. Sampling is completely different. It's a new way of creating a piece of structured noise, of music. It's another step. The sounds are suddenly very easily available, and in addition there is much more of it available. During the seventies, we had to create sounds by ourselves by doing it the hard way, with heavy and expensive equipment.
During a concert I still like to play the Minimoog, and the audience loves to hear it. The sound of the Minimoog is like a sign, a recognition signal for my Electronic Music, like the electric guitar is for Rock'n'Roll, the honking saxophones for R & B, the Hawaii-guitar for Hula music...

Q: Your music is built around rhythmical structures and sound patterns more than of melodies. Is this due to the fact that you aren't a keyboard player by origin?

KS: You are certainly right. I started as a drummer. I am still no keyboard player. In comparision, say, to Oscar Peterson, I am an amateur. Because my craft is not playing the keyboard, but finding and combining sounds, building and using the structure to create emotions with sounds.

Q: What's the meaning of using singers frequently? Expressions of emotion in a pure technological environment?

KS: I use singers sometimes, because I like it. As simple as that. The human voice is the only natural instrument, and the most emotional instrument. I used a singer on Blackdance in 1974, I used a singer in 1979/80 (Arthur Brown), and I used a singer on my album Dreams (1986). What's so sensational about it?
Your expression "pure technological environment" puzzles me. It reminds me on the same old prejudical or naïve questions from the seventies. Are the violin, the piano, the organ, the saxophone no "technological" inventions to make music? Of course, they are. The kids who enjoy Trance and Ambient don't ask those questions. They understand.

Q: Although your music is far from the traditional classical idiom, you did use classical elements in an innovative manner. What's the philosophy behind it?

KS: I did re-works of some compositions by Brahms, Beethoven, Smetana, Schubert, Grieg and von Weber, because it was fun to do. It brought me joy, satisfaction. As simple as that. Doing music is also a handicraft. And doing a variety of music is more fun than doing always the same. This album had the title MIDI Klassik; the record company changed it into a more saleable title: Klaus Schulze Goes Classic. To me, it's still MIDI Klassik.
Of course, I love and revere the music of the said composers and many others, no doubt about it. I'll maybe do a second MIDI Klassik album.
Many lovers of my music will not agree with the statement, that my music is "far from the traditional classical idiom" - they will say the opposite.

Q: During one year you did release at least 4 albums, after all the important new work on the Silver Edition set. Either you are a workaholic or a super creative artist. Which one do you prefer, which is true?

KS: Music is my profession and my passion. I work every day, or, more correct: every night. And as every self-employed tax payer, I work not just 35 or 40 hours a week, but 80 to 120 hours. And if I have the chance to release a lot of music, I'll take it.

Q: Totentag seems to be a crucial work in your career. Why did it take so long to record it?

KS: The actual recording took not such a long time. The breaks between were so long.

Q: Totentag is about the life of Georg Trakl. Why did you choose the "opera" to express your ideas?

KS: I can't really say, why. To create a ballet about Trakl would be stupid, because I'm no choreographer, the same goes for a theater-play, a book, or a film about him. Of course I chose music, because it's my metiér.
Music in itself has no meaning, it can only create moods: joy, sadness, anger, happiness, fear, and-so-on. If I want to say something with music about Georg Trakl, I have to use words. Using words with music can lend to a handful of forms, and I chose the opera.

Q: Who is Georg Trakl?

KS: Georg Trakl is Austrian, was born in 1887, and died 1914 as an ambulance man in World War I, because of a voluntary overdose of drugs. He is remembered because of his expressionistic lyric. I love him because of these poems.