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1981.05.00 - Interview - UK, BBC Radio I, Manchester


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#1 rasputin

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 10:31 PM

Interview text:

Radio 1 : Of all the bands that are currently riding on the crest of an electronic wave, which do you think took the most from what you were doing years and years ago?

Ralf Hütter: That's difficult to answer, because we feel more like electronics are everywhere. We basically record what's around us: trains, cars, airwaves, everything. And we don't think that these sounds belong to us or that anybody can take them away from us, or take advantage of this because we feel it's really belonging everywhere, bringing people together. At the moment we feel very much encouraged to hear that there's a lot of energy in electronic music happening in England, because the last time we came here - six years ago - we were attacked for what we were doing at that time. And I think now there's so much energy coming back to us from all the people and the young industrial bands. I think we feel very much encouraged by this whole movement.
It's our life to communicate & to record & make these things happen, and therefore we don't feel ripped off that way.

Radio 1 : What would interest me would be to discover what actually influenced you before you formed Kraftwerk.

Ralf Hütter: We live in Düsseldorf which is right next to Köln. And there's this electronic radio studio, and they were putting out all those strange electronic sounds during the night, and at a fairly young age we saw a couple of electronic performances by composers of that school. So to us it was the next step to do: after classically working piano or flute or any of those instruments then immediately going electronic. It wasn't such a big step for us as it might seem. In other countries where there's not so much of an electronic scene happening, so we are like maybe the second generation of electronic people, because the older guys, Stockhausen or Pierre Schaeffer... and we had seen in the Düsseldorf Arts centre a couple of these performances from Fluxus happenings, and I think that gave us the idea of going electronic. I always like to work sounds and experiment.

Radio 1 : And I guess that would hold constant for the other three members of the band aswell. Looking from the auditorium point of view, you're all very much "of a muchness", you're all very similar people.

Ralf Hütter: Yes, we all have the same size clothes. We can exchange clothes very well. Only I think Karl has bigger shoes! (laughs)

Radio 1 : To a very great degree, the only differential that exists between any members of the band when you watch is that the two people who concentrate on the percussion - which of course is electronic - actually move their legs.

Ralf Hütter: Yes. In order to stay in time and rhythm. And sometimes they operate pedals, because the loudness is done with foot pedals, so they move their feet quite a lot. I play different keyboards, I have four pedals. So I might get a transplant and have another two feet extra.

Radio 1 : Some people might suggest that the way you present your music is quite sterile.

Ralf Hütter: Yes, there is certainly that quality about our music beacuse basically we are very shy, and also I think the electronic medium made us make a different style of performance. It's more mental than physical. The music is like walking a tightrope, and if I switch too much with those knobs, then immediately the balance of the whole group is changed. These electronic instruments are super-sensitive; I think they are psychologically very sensitive to any vibration that comes from the person operating them. In fact they are used in psychotherapy, and therefore we try to play them in a softer way. It's like a ballet, an electronic ballet, where we move the fingers on the keyboards and the knobs, and the whole movement is not so big.

Radio 1 : You seem to portray with your music a lot more depth than might actually appear from what one hears when one sits in the audience.

Ralf Hütter: Yes, our music is more minimalistic. We try to do the most basic sounds possible to transport certain ideas. In Germany it's called "Gerade Aus". That's "straight ahead".

Radio 1 : You really more - I think - want to inspire people to create their own imagery...

Ralf Hütter: Yes, and also create their own music, that's also what we try to do. Because in Germany the electronics is now picked up by some very young people, and everybody can start with their small synthesisers and some headphones. It's not expensive, and you can play in your apartment. You can make cassettes and send them to your friends, and there's a lot happening in Germany, and in England now, of course. And that's part of the ideas we try to do. Because we started from zero. We didn't learn electronics in some school.

Radio 1 : How much of what is actually being seen on this tour is your studio?

Ralf Hütter: It's our whole studio in transport cases. That's why we've taken three years to make this all transportable. It's all interconnected with cables, and so we actually "play studio". We don't play music, we "play studio". That's what we call it.

Radio 1 : You very much use the voice as an instrument to lull people into a mood, I think.

Ralf Hütter: Yes, we're not good at singing so we try to use our voices as they were in their quality. In germany it's called "spretschgesang". So that's a mixture between singing & talking: "sing-talking" or "talk-singing".

Radio 1 : You utilise umpteen languages. I heard you tonight speaking in Russian, and in German and English, and also in Spanish, but in short bursts of all those languages.

Ralf Hütter: The western world is dominated by Anglo-American speech. And us being German, we had to use other languages, and then we discovered the special psychological context of different languages. Because we sometimes record our songs in different languages: French, and now on the last album we did for the first time Japanese. We feel that changes our music completely, so we have different variations of our music, and some of the languages go even better sometimes with our music than others.

Radio 1 : How far removed are you from conventional instrumentation?

Ralf Hütter: We have found, or we have been working on finding the right medium to really put our ideas across, and I can say now that with the latest step in computers, now we can play anything. The only limitations that we have is in our own mind or imagination. If we have no ideas then we don't know what to play. And sometimes we try to play in that mood also, then the machines play themselves and we listen to what they have to say. And sometimes they play very nice segments! And we leave them playing and... even leave the studio sometimes and go to the cinema, and then we come back and it's still playing. We have changed in the meantime because we have done something else; seen a film or something, and we have come back, and we sometimes discover certain things that way. Really, sometimes we work that way. By not knowing what we play and just... listening. We had been working the last 3 years on the ideas of computer music and Computer World, and then last Christmas we went by chance through the department stores in Dusseldorf and we saw those little calculators going "beep beep" and "bleep blop", and we bought some of those and plugged them into our studio. We had been working more toward this complex computer music and suddenly we were standing there with those "bleep bleep bleep" pocket calculators. And we immediately wrote the song. "I do this and that and... pressing a special key it plays a little melody", and we wrote the song and immediately recorded it.

Radio 1 : Who do you listen to wh makes "conventional" music?

Ralf Hütter: We listen to very little music. We mostly listen to ethnic music..Turkish: if you live in Germany you find cassetes in place where only Turkish people go, or Arabian type of things... some African. We sometimes go to discotheques because we like to do mechanical dances and this type of rhythmic stuff. So we listen sometimes to black music. But nothing special in particular. Because we consider ourselves "musical workers". So we work every day from 5 until 1-2 in the morning in the studio, and then when we get out of there, I think we listen a lot to silence...

Interview to Tommy Vance - 1981
Transcription by Harvey Williams - England


Translation: none :(

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#2 kibbee

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 08:12 PM

Hi
New around here, was wondering if there is any chance that some of these interviews could be re-uploaded as the links seem to be dead.

thanks in advance

#3 rasputin

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 01:02 AM

Hi
New around here, was wondering if there is any chance that some of these interviews could be re-uploaded as the links seem to be dead.

thanks in advance

Hi kibbee,

Welcome on Electric Cafe.
Sorry that the links you try to download are dead. Not a good first experience. I m sorry for that. I m working on getting all links restored. Please allow me a little more time.

Ras :blink: :(

#4 kibbee

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:44 PM

Hi Rasputin

Thanks, I will look forward to the interviews.

k




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