Following a sold out appearance at London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in January, electronic pioneer WOLFGANG FLÜR returns to the UK and brings his ‘Musik Soldat’ show to Epic Studios in Norwich on SATURDAY 20TH JUNE 2015 with support from Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL.
Herr Flür was one of the first musicians to be widely seen playing a self-built electronic percussion set on German TV Station ZDF when he joined KRAFTWERK in 1973. Together with Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Karl Bartos, they formed what has been universally regarded as the classic line-up of KRAFTWERK. Together with the albums ‘Autobahn’, Radio-Activity’, Trans Europe Express’, ‘The Man Machine’ and ‘Computer World’, the quartet conquered the world with their vision of the future and changed the course of music forever.
However, after a frustrating five year gestation period for the lukewarm ‘Electric Café’ album, Flür left the band in 1987. His many adventures during his time at Kling Klang were documented in his enlightening and entertaining autobiography ‘I Was A Robot’, published in 2000. More of his memories have been recollected in ‘Electri_City-Elektronische_Musik_Aus_Düsseldorf’, the new book by Rüdiger Esch which chronicles the history of the city’s music scene.
Herr Flür’s last full length long player was ‘Time Pie’ issued in 1997 under the moniker of YAMO. While a solo album is currently being completed, some of his recent musical adventures have included ‘Activity Of Sound’ in collaboration with iEUROPEAN and ‘Staying In The Shadow’ with Jack Dangers, formally of MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO.
WOLFGANG FLÜR kindly answered questions put forward to him by The Electricity Club about his upcoming Norwich date at Epic Studios and plans for his forthcoming album…
You have said your live appearances are not quite a DJ set but not a concert either. For the uninitiated, how would you describe it?
I show slides, videos, TV-recordings and play my taste of music to them. I’m not a DJ. DJing is another art. I’m an actor. I act my tracks physically by means of dancing, gesture rich movings.
After my show, I’m wet all over in my shirt and trousers and need a shower in my hotel.
Some people might think I’m crazy and I, yes, I am – for music! I cannot stand still with music, that’s my personality, my temperament. I inherited it from my mother.
You’ve described your new composition ‘Cover Girl’ as the sequel to ‘The Model’… what inspired this?
‘Cover Girl’ is indeed Mk II of ‘The Model’. Her story goes on and unfortunately shows her going downhill. She had bad experiences with drugs, alcohol and other things so had to dance in night clubs for earning money at least. A true story, a bad life… that’s sometimes the way how super models are knitting their career. Sindy Gunawan, our dancer in the video, was a former life dancer in my early German shows. Unfortunately she moved back to her homeland Indonesia, even though she was a German born. We had filmed her over the past years pretty often and I cut from such material, her life dance. This film on our current screen has a special paparazzi quality…
The YAMO album ‘Time Pie’ came out in 1997. Why has it taken so long to follow up?
That has to do with Germany, its pop culture and music-industry. In Germany, a pop artist has not that reputation like musicians in England I found out. I simply couldn’t find a fitting record company here. On the other hand, I worked not every day on lyrics, melodies and musical arrangements. I have written a book together with my wife Zuhal on the Germans (‘Neben Mir – Rheinland Grotesken’). A sixteen tales book, very weird stories and I had often been on book readings, instead working in the studio with partner Stefan Lindlahr. He owns a studio in Neunkirchen-Krahwinkel where Conny Plank had his famous place too. Since this year and many collaborations with other international musicians, I have a good and entertaining assortment of songs together for a whole new album. ‘ELOQUENCE’ is its name because of my story teller style inside most of the tracks.
I met Sean Baron seven years ago when playing the Tivoli in Dublin. He was filming my show and sent the scenes to my home. Some years later he invited me into his iEUROPEAN project and sent me a soundtrack and some existing lyrics. I recorded those lyrics about sound and what it meant and included into the song. Sean made a final mix after that and it became a new track for iEUROPEAN. My contribution was spoken words only, no melodies or other sound additions from my side.
How does it feel to have electronic music enthusiasts still very happy to meet you, despite you having left KRAFTWERK in 1987?
It’s a totally cheering experience each time I still go on stage with my ‘Musik Soldat’ audio-visual show. I know what it is: I and also Karl represent something to our fans, it’s what they call The Originals. The original members of KRAFTWERK Mk I. We together with Ralf and Florian laid the cornerstone of what is called electro-pop, neue musik.
We are pioneers and went through all thinkable difficulties of former recordings, travels, experiences and friendship. This gives us safety in musical taste and inventive talent, new ideas. Listen to Karl’s ‘Atomium’ for instance. I’m coming up with something new my style in October…
‘Home Computer’ is one of the tracks in your set. Why does this KRAFTWERK track particular still resonate with you?
The funny thing is that we had no home computer when we recorded the song. The song describes the vision of what the humanity can await in the near future of 1978. What I play at the beginning of my show is a dance mix of that song. I like it very much, it has a lightweighted feel to the original and also shows where I come from (starting from ‘Autobahn’), my musical home.
You still have a very strong friendship with Karl Bartos. Have the two of you considered working together musically again?
Yes, often. We were not able to find a musical meetpoint. We developed too different in style and themes after our split from KRAFTWERK. But that’s not a problem between us, we are friends, good friends for a long time, and I appreciate every good advice he gives me. Karl lives in Hamburg since many years. We telephone nearly every week and speak about diverse things. It’s good to have a friend like him with the same musical past and experiences…
What interesting projects are coming up for you? Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
I have stopped YAMO as a musical project like for the ‘Time Pie’ album. All what can be brought out will be released from now under my personal name. ‘ELOQUENCE’ for instance will have singers, spoken words, diverse additional musicians. I had much joy with collaborations like Bon Harris from NITZER EBB and Anni Hogan, formally from Marc Almond’s band. I also had a collaboration with Ramon Amezcua of NORTEC COLLECTIVE in Mexico and with Jack Dangers from San Francisco. All such co-ops happened during the last three years.
I’ll meet up with Bono of U2 in New York on 22nd July when he plays the Madison Square Garden. I was told that he’s a big KRAFTWERK fan. Let’s see what comes out of that meeting, I’m open for anything.
Of course, Düsseldorf has a huge musical heritage and you have contributed to Rudi Esch’s book ‘Electri_City – Elektronische Musik Aus Düsseldorf’ while your song ‘I Was A Robot’ is on the accompanying compilation. Why does the city have this marvellous artistic spirit?
Do you believe I would reveal something to you? Listen to ‘I Was A Robot’ when it’s out in England by October and you’ll find out.
Who were your own favourite acts to have emerged from Düsseldorf?
DER PLAN, DAF, MICHAEL ROTHER and NEU!
The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to WOLFGANG FLÜR
Special thanks also to Stephen Roper and all at Epic Studios
WOLFGANG FLÜR appears at Epic Studios, 114 Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1JD on SATURDAY 20TH JUNE 2015 with support from ANALOG ANGEL. Box Office: 01603 727727
Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
2nd June 2015