Interview with Klaus Schulze  

(Interview for a Brazilian music website)

Summer 2014

Q: How did you discover music in your life and what were your first musical influences, in your childhood and teenage days? ...and ...

Q: ...you were the drummer of some bands (some very well known bands, by the way) before changing to tape manipulations and to the synthesizer and electronic keyboards, and before you became one of the biggest names in the electronic music field. How was this transition in your life and career?

KS: As a kid I had some guitar training at school and played guitar for about six years, also I fooled around with the electric guitar in the sixties, playing music of 'The Shadows' or 'The Spotnicks'. My interest in the pop music of the day was not so much the 'songs', or the singers, or Rock'n'Roll, or dancing, ...but it was the SOUND. The new, unusual, exotic sounds that some of the popular bands or musicians tried out. This was my interest.

I started with drums because my brother was a drummer with a jazz band, so I thought that drumming would be more pleasant than playing guitar. In the mid sixties I was drumming in the free rock trio PSY FREE. "Psy Free" was a trio consisting of guitar, organ and drums. I was the drummer. We did what the name suggests: psychedelic, free music. Not "free jazz" -- which was in common at this time, but our music was more rock orientated noise. We played only in Berlin clubs.

Then, as the huge and accurate discography THE WORKS states quite correctly: Late ‘68/early ‘69, first gig of KS with TD at Berlin club Magic Cave for absent regular drummer Sven-Åke Johansson. From then on I was a member of TD, until summer 1970.

Also, at this early time I used some kind of "electronics": I fumbled around with the inside of an old cheap electric organ and a Fender guitar amp, without knowing what I am doing, but the exotic sounds that came out sometimes, because of this, they were interesting (to me). ... After these experiments, sometimes an instrument was beyond repair.

I left Tangerine Dream because Edgar didn't like my experiments with organ and backwards tapes (he wanted a straight rock drummer for his Hendrix-like guitar playing. Soon after, Conny Schnitzler also left, because he also had 'crazy' ideas about music), ...and then I found two guys who used to play blues rock as the "Steeplechase Bluesband" and had lost their drummer. With these two I formed ASH RA TEMPEL and I moved them far away from popular bluesrock, into "space rock". Still I was the drummer, but I also played my special lap guitar with an echo machine, for a fast steady rhythm or for epic "cosmic" sounds. One day I said to myself "okay, it's all pretty and normal music, but if I want to do really something special, I should change instruments". I started with keyboards, it must be around the end of 1971.

I should mention, that at the time when I was playing with these groups they were not "very well known", as you kindly call them. A very different type of music was "well known" and popular at this time.

Q: In the mid-70s you purchased a Moog Modular Synthesizer, that became a very characteristic instrument in your music. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of this specific instrument, your Moog Modular Synthesizer? And how about the other Moog Music Company instruments you had in your career?

KS: I cannot tell anything about "the history" of the Moog. Please understand that I use these instruments, but they are not a fetish to me. I like them when they work perfectly (what they did not always) and when I can use them in the way I want, and when they do finally exactly what I want from them. When better possibilities are at hand, then of course I use those. ... It's me, the artist, the musician, who has the idea for the music and who plays this music. The instruments are just the tools. Musicians like me sometimes wonder why 'fans' adore these tools so much, especially in pop music, or, more especially: in "electronic music". No lover of sculptures, paintings, or literature would adore a hammer, a brush, or a typewriter.

Q: What was your favorite synthesizer in the 70s? And, looking back, what is (or remained as) your favorite synthesizer from the 70s, nowadays?

KS: I always liked the instruments that had a special sound: the 'Minimoog' oscillators have this great deep and full tone; the 'Farfisa Syntorchester' had this 'female solo singing voice' in the higher register, at least the instrument that I owned; the Moog modular system had the wonderful sequencer; the 'Yamaha CS 80' had this and the 'EMS Synthi A' had that... I used every instrument for a certain & special part to create the sounds of my music that I needed and wanted. Also not unimportant were the effect tools and the method I made use of them: echo, repeat, flanger, phase shifter, etc. and not to forget: the recording and mixing technique: building 'rooms', left, right, back, front... (besides all the musical techniques of composing a piece of music, with intro, various parts, tension, breaks, chaos and beauty, rhythm and calmness, repetition, sounds, melodies, surprises, etc etc. etc. ...)

Q: In the late 70s and early 80s, what did the differences from analog technology to digital technology changed or how they affected your career and your music?

KS: In 1979 I got the first music computer, the "G.D.S." and I tried out many things then, with the help of an American technician from the company, who showed me how to use it. It was - for me and for everybody - a complete different and NEW way of creating and storing sounds and music. The DIGITAL era was knocking at the door. The whole musical programme of the first 100% digitally played and recorded album, DIG IT was stored on digital disk. I didn't use traditional analogue synthesizers for it. For the release I 'invented' the slogan for the record label's advertising for my DIG IT album: "The era of analogue wheelchair electronics is over."

Q: What instruments from the seventies you still have in your studio, nowadays?

KS: I still have and I still use sometimes the "Minimoog" and the "EMS Synthi A", but more often in concerts than in my studio. In the studio I work more or less - and for many many years now - with the computer and its programmes