Interview with Klaus Schulze  

"We have won (if I may say so)"

September 1997

Q: Tell me more about the three multi CD sets. Why was there no general release?

KS: The advantage to release these sets more or less "privately" are explained in detail by kdm in the first of those sets, Silver Edition. He is right. Such a set would be just not possible if we would use "the normal way". I'm not sure if a big record company would allow and support such a release at all. How many CD shops would order an expensive 25-CD set from an unknown (to them) German musician - who does not even sing?!
As it came out, the way we chose was perfect, which you don't know when you start such an adventure.

Q: You are one of the true innovators when you were much younger. Do you see similar innovators today?

KS: In Europe is one band very big at the moment: "Oasis". And many follow the trend. People of my generation hear in "Oasis" just a copy of a little quartet that was very popular 30 years ago, called "The Beatles" which was a very funny name in the sixties.
Then there are all these many directions that "Techno" is going, with newly invented trendy names every few weeks. What I hear in it is always the same: Rhythm. Which isn't bad. I was a drummer too. Rhythm came a long way from Africa (not voluntarily) to America, from New Orleans it travelled to Chicago first, created Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, much later "Disco"... and today they call it Techno, Hip Hop, Drums'n'Bass... But "true innovators" I don't see today. Maybe next week? Surely there are some, but the thousands of "techno" dilettantes - who cannot even play an instrument - block probably the view onto these innovators.

Q: Why are most of your albums unavailable in the USA?

KS: Every record from every part of the world is available everywhere. My friend kdm has a huge collection of jazz records. 70% of those albums were never released in Germany. So what? It's so easy today to get every album you want. At least in civilized countries.
But you are right in a way. My company for many years was German "Metronome" and they were not specially known for abroad activism. Or maybe they didn't want? I remember when I was worldwide under contract with (British) Virgin Records in 1974-'75. We had the impression then, that they just had signed me because to take me off the market. Because their main concern was then a ten years contract they had with a similar group and their heavy involvement to promote them (succesfully, as it turned out). In the early nineties, when I had another contract with the same Virgin, the man who signed me already 17 years earlier told me openly that our earlier speculation was entirely right (!)
If an album is not heavily promoted, if it's not available in most shops, it's of course a loser. The majority of the customers buy only what their nearest record shop has. Just a minority takes the pain to search for specific "strange" albums, read special magazines, or study mail-order catalogues... WEA even made a promotion video with me (my very first!), that was also shown on American MTV. Of course American people - after seeing the clip - wanted to have the CD. And because it was not laying around in every American music store, people wrote letters to Germany asking us if there's a record from the video available at all. Because their shops didn't know. That's the daily craziness in this business. Too many things have to work perfectly together, but often they don't. There are probably too many artists, too many albums. And many of them are selling more than I do, and most music is more to the taste of the record executives and shop owners than my music...

Q: What do you think about "House" and "Techno"?

KS: Music goes on. Develops, changes, old sounds and rhythms come back, vanish and come back again. A few new things or long forgotten things are added. The various fashions and the promotion by the people and companies who live from it do their part. Every few years a new generation of doers and customers is ready to join that game. Of course they want their very own music, different from the older people's music. This goes constantly on and on... At least in Germany, in Europe, the recent trend is called Techno.
I do my very own music since 1972. I found my very own style very early. Since then I've seen many musical fashions and trends coming and going. I still play "the same" (as kdm would say, smilingly). Of course I notice all these many trends. Some I do like, some not. And partly I consider them, but only if I like them and it fits to my own musical world. Some of the Techno stuff I do like, I play this pure electronic rhythmic music since many years anyway. So I didn't had to change a lot. All I had to do was to put a bit more bass onto my music, put my rhythm a bit more in the foreground. I was a rock drummer in my early years. Since 1974 I use rhythm, drums, and sequencers in my concerts and on my albums. I remember when I used for the first time very heavy digital computer rhythms on my album Dig It (1980); the hard-core Schulze fans went furious. A few years later it was accepted, and all second and third generation electronic musicians used it also. When "Techno" was new, most "electronic" fans hated it (again). Now, a few years later, solo rhythm computers and pure rhythm are the thing!

Q: Could you explain your WAHNFRIED project?

KS: I had two WAHNFRIED releases recently. One in 1994, Trancelation, and then in '96 Trance Appeal. With this project I can experiment outside the "Schulze" vein, I mean, the Schulze fans cannot cry out if it's too far away from what I do normally and what they expect from me. These two albums are experiments within the "Techno" fashion. The first was okay, but I must admit that the second was much better.
There is a new WAHNFRIED in the can: Drums 'n' Balls (The Gancha Dub). Since a few months the record company has the masters. Sadly, this company closed down: "Metronome" does not exist anymore. All masters and rights are now in PolyGram's hands. Althought they paid me for the album, they didn't release it yet. Every other month they have another excuse. Latest news: It will be handled by PMS, one of PolyGram's sub-companies. We never ever have heard of "PMS". And we didn't hear much from them either. [Remark: Meanwhile, the album is released.]

Q: Are there other new releases in the near future?

KS: After the 25-CD set Jubilee Edition the next regular solo album for WEA is already made and is in WEA's hands. It's called Dosburg Online and contains part of the material that I also played during my last German concerts in the spring of '97. Speciality: An opera singer (no sampling) is heard on two tracks. It's one CD only, no double. The release date should be in the midst of November '97. That's what they had told me. Don't blame me if it will be later.

Q: Are there any more classical or opera releases planned?

KS: I want to do it. But it's too early to speak about it because I have not much recorded yet in this vein. The two older works (Totentag, and Goes Classic - the latter is an awful title chosen by the record company) got mixed reactions. In fact, those two are the only albums among the fourteen releases in the nineties that also received heavy negative criticism. But also some great praise. I remember one in the American (!) "Keyboard" magazine: "Totentag is a masterwork", and: "With this heraldic work Schulze claims a distinguished place in the ranks of electronic artistry." I can live with THAT :-)

Q: Is there a chance to record again with other known names, maybe with old friends such as Manuel Goettsching or Edgar Froese?

KS: There are no such plans. Mostly it happens spontaneously anyway. I'm open to everybody. I rarely have problems with other musicians. Of course I never had problems with Manuel. But I just cannot imagine that Edgar is willing... ... no, this is just out of my wildest imaginations if I read and hear what he tells in interviews about all (!) his former collegues.

Q: There also exist harsher forms of electronic music. Do you heard such music and do you like it?

KS: I prefer beauty. I always did. Of course I also use brutal or unpleasant sounds sometimes, but only to show the variety. I use it for musical contrast in a composition. Beauty is beautiful only because there is ugliness. Beauty is more beautiful to a listener if I also show him the ugliness that does exist. I use it as part of the drama of a composition. But I'm not interested in music that shows only ugliness. Also I believe that ugliness in music is more easy to achieve than - excuse the expression: - "real music". People prefer beautiful things to ugly things. Especially in an emotional form such as music. Human beings (and other creatures) love harmony and avoid disharmony. Meanwhile this is even verified by scientists. I can only laugh about some artists who try to shock people with "ugly sounds" because probably they don't know that this was already tried out in the beginning of this century. These artists just don't know their craft, its history and the human nature. Probably they hate people, hate their audience?
A characteristic thing: What happened to harsh music such as "Punk"? First a revolt, soon a fashion, now old-fashioned.

Q: What will "electronic music" be in ten years?

KS: Today, electronic music is a normal thing. We have won, if I may say so. As I said somewhere else, or kdm wrote about it: We have foreseen (at least we hoped) in 1974 or '75 that the electronic victory will (must) come.
But don't ask me what will be in 10 years from now. Probably the term "E.M." is completely obsolete then. In fact, it's obsolete already now. Because most music today is made "electronically" (are there still studios who use recording technique of two decades ago?). In the year 2007 there is no need anymore to mark some music as "electronic". The opposite could happen: All other music is probably marked somehow, because non-electronic music will be the exception then.

Q: The usual question about coming concerts, ...maybe also in America?

KS: I was in America this year, but just privately for holidays. Also, we had a concert offer that sounded serious: to play in New York in August. But the man behind it never contacted us again. Therefore, this was just another one of those concerts that some good-natured people planned and that did not happen because of various reasons - which is, by the way, the usual thing. Of ten offers for concerts that we get, only one will become reality. Also there was a serious offer to play in Warsaw, Poland. My partners had even signed already the contract. But then Poland had this heavy flood this summer and the whole event was cancelled. (But I wonder why the great Nina Simone is playing at exactly the same place and date?).

Q: Do you have images in your mind while playing?

KS: No, I don't have images in mind when I play my music. Not in the studio and not during a concert. I know that this happens with the listeners, at least with those who told us so, but not with me when I actually do the music.

Q: Does your children like your music?

KS: Of course not. I can do what I want, I'm just their old father. "Father" would be okay, but I'm also old - too old to be as "cool" as they think they are. I was also young once. I remember what it was like. Of course I didn't listen to my parents' preferred music! It's indeed uncool.
I have no problems with other younger people. If I watch the reactions, the fanpost, some of these youngsters seem to like my music. Probably because my music isn't as timely (time-bound) as many other music that is outdated after a short peroid. Irrlicht is still a very irritating and "fresh" album, I think. At least it's still daring. And the classics Moondawn, Mirage or "X" stand the test of time, regardless of all the many copycats who innocently took and weakened my original ideas.

Q: What are your greatest satisfaction and greatest disappointment?

KS: Probably you want to hear a more sensational answer, but there isn't any. I'm satisfied that I can still do my very own music. And I'm satisfied that there are people out there who seem to love my music. If I look at the collected reactions about the last releases, I have reasons to be very satisfied. The reactions on Jubilee Edition just come rolling in. It's a spooky reading: the people are more enthusiastic as ever before. Where does it end? When does the wave go down again?