Kraftwerk on Cycling, 3D, ‘Spiritual Connection’ to Detroit
No no, he’s not been with us for the last decade. He’s concentrating on research on speech synthesis and things like that. He’s not been involved with the music for a very long time.
Tell us a little bit about your hometown of Düsseldorf. It’s very significant to Kraftwerk’s evolution as a band.
Düsseldorf is on the side of the industrial region here in Germany, and on the other side of the Rhine is flatland with open skies — more like the Netherlands, in a way. Also, Düsseldorf was the center in postwar Germany of the visual-arts scene — painting and performance art. We are very closely related to the Düsseldorf art scene, or have been always. When we got to play at MoMA [in 2012], it was like a return to the art-gallery scene and the art scene in general. We do all the videos and computer graphics and animations and pictures and lights, and so it’s like a multimedia Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk is really a multimedia concept. Not just music. But we compose words and images, and that’s in a way what’s related to the atmosphere in the late Sixties in Düsseldorf when I started with my partner Florian in ’68, and later in the 1970s when we started the Kling Klang studio with just a tape recorder. But coming from there, it’s a different approach then coming from a musical tradition. We come from nowhere.
“Kraftwerk is really a multimedia concept. Not just music.”
Does Kraftwerk upgrade the sound systems in the venues before they play? I was shocked at how good the sound was for Kraftwerk at the MoMA in 2012.
Yes. We bring our sound engineers and work with the room. In the case of MoMA, it’s very tall — a tall tube kind of room, not so wide in terms of square meters but the staircases and things like that. We work a lot with the sound, and surround sound, and installing observers. This year when we played the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin — this glass building, a lot of people were saying, “Ach! They can’t play there. It’s an art museum; it’s not suitable!” But our sound engineers worked with absorbers, and we installed our system and put a lot of work into it, and everybody was surprised that it was possible to perform there and present the Kraftwerk sound in perfect harmony and high-end surround sound. I think that’s very important because Kling Klang as you know are the German words for sound, like yin and yang, and Kraftwerk is all about the original sound sources, and colors and installations. So a lot of energy is put into this.
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