Kraftwerk to Play Eight of Their Albums at Italy’s Club to Club Festival

Organizers for Italy’s Club to Club festival in Turin today shared the first wave of artists on their lineup. Heading the roster are German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, who will present The Catalogue – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 through a series of eight performances from November 4–7. Each performance will see the band perform one of their eight most popular albums in chronological order, starting with 1974 LP Autobahn and ending with 2003’s Tour De France.

Club to Club will also host the Italian debut of Richie Hawtin’s new CLOSE live show, as well as the Italian debut of Arca and regular collaborator Jesse Kanda. Others scheduled live performers include Bonobo, Kamasi Washington, Mura Masa, Actress, Amnesia Scanner, Jacques Greene, and JLin.

View the lineup below, and head here to see Kraftwerk’s Club to Club schedule.

Kraftwerk Announce Audio/Visual Documentary, ‘3-D the Catalog’

If you can’t see German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk on tour, bring them to your TV screen instead.

The group have announced an audio/visual album titled 3-D the Catalog which documents the group’s live concerts spanning 2012–2016. The four-disc Blu-ray set includes full performances of their eight albums ( Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans Europe Express, The Man-Machine, Computer World, The Mix, Techno Pop and Tour de France) filmed in 3-D. A deluxe edition throws in a hardcover art book containing photos from the tour. There’s also a deluxe vinyl box set which includes all eight albums. Other formats include CD and digital.

All formats of 3-D the Catalog will be released on May 26. Watch a trailer for the project below.

Ellie Herring's House-Heavy "F150" Mix Is A Rush Of Blood To The Head

Photo courtesy of artist

While today’s East Coast storm ended up being a bit anti-climatic, numerous North American cities woke up to snow-covered driveways and trickier-than-usual commutes this morning. Luckily for those still digging out their walkways, Kentucky producer Ellie Herring has delivered a soundtrack for shoveling or any other physical activities.

Kicking off with London house producer Night Owl’s sublime remix of Kraftwerk’s “Home Computer,” the hour-long mix will get your blood flowing in no time, and features songs by electronic veterans (Derrick Carter’s “Where U At,” Miss Kittin’s “Girlz”) and more recent fare by the likes of Cozzy D, DJ Hauz, and Riva Starr. She also includes the airy, pulsating “Wheels On,” a highlight from her shape-shifting 2016 EP, What a Joy.

“I’ve been incorporating a lot of traditional house and techno elements into the tracks I’m producing lately and this mix is definitely a by-product of that process,” the producer tells THUMP over email. “These tracks are by artists that are super recent and longtime inspirations of mine.”

Check it out below, and if you’re at SXSW this week, catch Herring at Driftless Recordings and Gorilla vs. Bear’s showcase on March 16.

Tracklist

Night Owl – Home Computer
Cozzy D – 809
Derrick Carter – Where U At (Vocal Only)
Beni, Pantheon – Alright
Pele, Shawnecy – Better For My Brain
Wade – They Know
DJ Haus – C’mon Letz Work
Cozzy D – Keep Up
Ninetoes – Finder (Leon Remix)
Shaded – Sheshe
Jay Lumen – Street Stuff (D.T.T.H)
Miss Kittin – Girlz
Julyan Dubson – Make A Thing
Gershon Jackson – Take It Easy (Sonny Fodera & Mat.Joe Remix)
Ellie Herring – Wheels On
Riva Starr – Velvet Zone

Trumpwave And Fashwave Are Just The Latest Disturbing Examples Of The Far-Right Appropriating Electronic Music

Vaporwave and Donald Trump-inspired art by @Vaportrump.

Last February, a website called Rave News reported that leading vaporwave producers were gathering in Montreal for an emergency summit to discuss “creeping fascism” in the scene. Vaporwave, an electronic subgenre conceived on the web in the early 2010s, is perhaps best described as post-apocalyptic mall music, with producers like Macintosh Plus and Saint Pepsi (now Skylar Spence) warping muzak, smooth jazz, and dated adult contemporary into airless, warbling soundscapes. It was a progressive-leaning genre that seemed to satirize consumer culture. “I always assumed it was transparent through my work that I leaned left,” vaporwave pioneer Ramona Xavier, the woman behind Macintosh Plus, told THUMP.

But now, according to Rave News, vaporwave was mysteriously attracting fascists.

The article’s comments section was quickly swarmed by neo-Nazis eager to defend their interest in vaporwave. “The National Socialists who lived in the time of Hitler were big fans of Richard Wagner,” one wrote. “But in modern times, it is appropriate for us to turn to modern music.” There was just one problem: the report, like everything else on Rave News, was fake news. No anti-fascist meeting of vaporwave artists had actually taken place.

“Our souls are wrapped up in these sounds.”Andrew Anglin, Daily Stormer founder

The point of The Onion-like satire wasn’t clear. But knowingly or not, Rave News had hit on a real trend. On SoundCloud and Bandcamp, self-identified fascist musicians really have appropriated vaporwave, along with synthwave, a genre that nostalgically recapitulates the soundtracks of early video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and 80s movies like Blade Runner and Halloween. Today’s fascists have stamped synthwave and vaporwave with a swastika and swirled them together to concoct a new electronic music subculture called fashwave (the “fash” stands for “fascism”), and another related microgenre called Trumpwave. The aesthetic of both might be summed up as Triumph of the Will on a Tron grid.

Fashwave is almost entirely instrumental, and wholly unoriginal. If it weren’t for the jarring track titles”Demographic Decline,” “Team White,” “Death to Traitors,” to cite a few by fashwave artist Xuriousyou might not be able to tell the difference between fashwave and the microgenres from which it draws inspiration. Occasionally, though, a track will interrupt its celestial synth atmospherics or arcade-like 8-bit bloops with a sample of Adolf Hitler ranting at a rally, or President Trump’s speeches spliced together to make him boom, “The heroes are those who kill Jews!” The effect is a hammy nightmarethink Jane Fonda leading one of her 80s exercise routines at a Nuremberg rally.

Fashwave has become propaganda for the neo-fascist movement known as the “alt-right,” a term that originated on America’s far-right fringe in the early 2010s. Proponents of the loosely configured movement tend to reject “political correctness,” trade, immigration, Islam, feminism, the left, “globalism,” and establishment conservatismwhich are also more or less the targets of Trump and, after his takeover, much of the Republican Party. Like fascism through the decades, the alt-right is shot through with contradictions; many of its followers disavow racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. But its underlying motive is still that of the fringe from which it sprang: white ethno-nationalism and authoritarianism.

With Trump’s election and the spread of far-right parties in Europe, the alt-right is on the ascent. Like its Nazi and Italian fascist forerunners, it wants to infiltrate and remake popular culture. And fashwavewith its sonically inoffensive, largely lyric-free instrumentalsis the first fascist music that is easy enough on the ears to have mainstream appeal.

On 4chan’s /pol/, the web’s unofficial alt-right headquarters, posters talk frankly of fashwave as a “trap to make our ideas seem friendly and approachable,” as one user wrote. Another warned that the slogans on fashwave-related art work needed to be softened for wider consumption: “Careful guys, the phrase needs to be oblique and vague, not direct ‘GAS THE KIKES’ /pol/ memes. Try some subtlety.”

“I think it’s great that we have our own culture, even if it’s small.”alt-right leader Richard Spencer

With its tinny musical quality and tiny scope, however, fashwave is a long way from exuding any real cultural power, and might flame out any day. Until Buzzfeed brought the music into mainstream awareness with an article in December, it was virtually unknown beyond alt-right circles. There are only a handful of major fashwave artists, and they’re not headlining any fascist raves or military parades. Instead, they’re toiling in the internet’s depths, getting a few thousand listens for every track. Leading fashwave producer Cyber Nazi’s two biggest hits, “Right Wing Death Squads” and “Galactic Lebensraum,” cracked 50,000 YouTube viewsrespectable, but hardly a cultural Reichstag fire.

Still, the alt-right’s gatekeepers have adopted fashwave as the movement’s signature sound. Black Sun Radio, an online neo-Nazi station, is saturated with both fashwave and non-fascist synthwave. Andrew Anglin, founder of leading neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, last year christened synthwave the “soundtrack of the alt-right,” praising it as “the Whitest music ever a critique of capitalism or a capitulation to it?” “Both and neither,” he continued. “These musicians can be read as sarcastic anti-capitalists revealing the lies and slippages of modern techno-culture and its representations, or as its willing facilitators, shivering with delight upon each new wave of delicious sound.”

The development of vaporwave ran parallel to that of synthwave, which emerged in the mid-2000s, rebooting the synthy 80s film scores by composers like John Carpenter, Vangelis, and Tangerine Dream. Within the past two years, the semi-ironic nostalgia of synthwave and vaporwave has outgrown its subcultural roots and seeped into the mainstreama process exemplified by MTV’s use of vaporwave in branding, and the popularity of the soundtrack to hit Neflix series Stranger Things, by Austin synthwave group S U R V I V E.

At the same time, fascists have flipped this retromania around, collapsing the ironic distance into a vortex of nostalgia for the worst elements of the Reagan era. According to Spencer, the alt-right’s fascination with the 80s stems from looking back on the decade “as halcyon days, as the last days of white America.” Fashwave, then, directly links pop culture’s generalized 80s nostalgia to the alt-right’s racist ideology. The “one connecting factor” of white nationalism, an alt-rightist declared on Twitter, is “a belief in the supremacy of the 1980s. This is the goal.”

Stefanie Franciotti, who records under the alias Sleep Over, emerged from the same Austin-based, synthesizer-centric scene as S U R V I V E. She is decidedly anti-fascist, and described fashwave to THUMP as “weaponized nostalgia.

“By connecting an easily digestible message to the soundtrack of our youth,” she said, “the alt-right seeks to subvert our critical thinking and directly appeal to our emotional selves.”

Today, arguably, the 80s are back, but with a few modifications. The Reagan rictus smile has slumped into a scowl, and the Shining City on a Hill is to be ringed by a great wall. At the center of it all is Trump, a living time-capsule of 80s capitalist excess and garishness, and thus the ideal subject for fashwave. In “Trumpwave,” a track by the synthwave artist iamMANOLIS is annexed to play over footage of a younger Trump wrestling at WWE, hitting on women, and eating stuffed-crust for a Pizza Hut commercial. Below the video, a YouTube commenter wrote: “When you see all these older videos it all makes sense. It’s not that Trump is weird and we’re going towards some parody of a society, it’s that we already live in a parody. Trump is bringing back the sanity of the good old days.” Another wrote simply: “The Donald is here. I feel the capitalism! <3 "

“Trumpwave” is an exemplar of the genre by the same name. Trumpwave shares an alt-right audience and at least one producerCyber Naziwith fashwave. But the fashwave off-shoot is distinct in appropriating mainly vaporwave, and in its emphasis, through both sampled audio and video clips, on The Donald himself. In Trumpwave, he is recast as the modern-day inheritor of the mythologized 80s, a decade that is taken to stand for racial purity and unleashed capitalism. “Ivanka Vaporwave,” a production by an alt-right YouTube channel, slows down the Cosmat Angels’ 1985 “I’m Falling” over old clips of Trump’s daughter Ivanka modeling as a young teenager. Cyber Nazi’s “Take Back Our Future” rolls light muzak over stock footage of early 90s New York on a sunny day and Trump awkwardly dancing on Saturday Night Live.

Trumpwave exploits a vulnerability in vaporwave: its ambivalence about the cultural detritus that inspired it. This careful tension between irony and earnestness was part of what made vaporwave funit flirted with the implicit transgressiveness of appreciating its aggressively commercial source material. But that ambiguity left the aesthetic distressingly easy for the alt-right to appropriate by stripping it of irony and playfulnessby taking it literally, as a glorification of capitalism. Similarly, when synthwave artists exhumed 80s movies like Blade Runner, Robocop, and Terminator, they also dressed the music in the decade’s fatalist retrofuturism. A glance at the album art of Cyber Naziwith its jackbooted cyborg cops going door to doorshows how for fascists, this dystopia is utopia. Extrapolating from the 80s, fashwave embraces that decade’s grim sci-fi forecasts as paradise.

There’s nothing inherently fascist about any soundeverything is context. But the deployment of vaporwave and synthwave by the alt-right proves that fascism has survived the defeat of the Axis, incubating its own culture even as it lost all political power. New Order, Kraftwerk, and many others traced an enduring fascination with fascist aesthetics. Meanwhile, neo-Nazi subcultures thrived in the shadows of genres like industrial, punk, metal, and trance. Fashwave is just the most recent in a long line of fascist appropriations, stretching beyond music: the Nazi swastika is, of course, a literal inversion of a Buddhist symbol. But unlike other genres, fashwave arrives at a time when fascism itself is surging to global power for the first time since the 30s, and both its music and visuals can seem like a premonition of the future. Refracting a nostalgia for the 80s and a love of capitalism through the prism of Trump, fashave projects an image of a looming dystopia, one that grows a little more plausible by the day.

The Man Who "Changed" His Name To Kraftwerk Had A Kraftwerk-Themed Wedding

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, news surfaced of a Kraftwerk fanotherwise known as David Sanbornso devoted that he “changed” his last name (read: Photoshopped his driver’s license) in tribute to the pioneering electronic music group. As Tampa Bay, Florida publication Creative Loafing reports, Sanborn yesterday got married, and as you’d expect, the occasion was an all-out Kraftwedding.

According to Creative Loaf, the lucky Autobride is Jennifer Huber, who is affectionately referred to as Sanborn’s “enabler” in a set of Flickr photos documenting his Kraftwerk love. The pair said their “I dos” at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Caf in Tampa, where they both DJ at the restaurant’s Wax Wednesday nights.They were married by record store owner and ordained minister Keith Ulrey. Looking at photos on the night, it seems guests and the wedding DJ all dressed appropriately for the black-tie affairand by that, we mean they wore Kraftwerk’s iconic red button-up shirts and black ties.

Check out a photo of the nuptials below, and view the rest over at Creative Loafing.

The Man Who “Changed” His Name To Kraftwerk Got Married Yesterday

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, news surfaced of a Kraftwerk fanotherwise known as David Sanbornso devoted that he “changed” his last name (read: Photoshopped his driver’s license) in tribute to the pioneering electronic music group. As Tampa Bay, Florida publication Creative Loaf reports, Sanborn yesterday got married, and as you’d expect, the occasion was an all-out Kraftwedding.

According to Creative Loaf, the lucky Autobride is Jennifer Huber, who is affectionately referred to as Sanborn’s “enabler” in a set of Flickr photos documenting his Kraftwerk love. The pair said their “I dos” at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Caf in Tampa, where they both DJ at the restaurant’s Wax Wednesday nights.They were married by record store owner and ordained minister Keith Ulrey. Looking at photos on the night, it seems guests and the wedding DJ all dressed appropriately for the black-tie affairand by that, we mean they wore Kraftwerk’s iconic red button-up shirts and black ties.

Check out a photo of the nuptials below, and view the rest over at Creative Loaf.

Kraftwerk Will Perform In Buenos Aires Despite Ban On Electronic Shows

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk are set to perform in Buenos Aires on November 23, following the show’s tentative cancellation last week because of the city’s ban on electronic music festivals. Today, Argentinian publication La Viola reported that because of a successful appeal in local court, the concert at Luna Park Stadium will go on as planned.

Explaining the original cancellation of the show in an interview with local publication Clarn, a government official said that although the city’s ban is on music festivals specifically, it applied to this one-off event because Kraftwerk “uses synthesizers or samplers as their primary instrument.”

Prior to being notified that the show was banned, the show’s promoters Move Concerts had sold 70 percent of the tickets; they had also applied for their permit to have the concert in July.

The ban was created earlier this year by city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta after five people died at Time Warp’s Buenos Aires festival in April.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Kraftwerk Will Perform In Buenos Aires Despite Ban On Electronic Shows

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk are set to perform in Buenos Aires on November 23, following the show’s tentative cancellation last week because of the city’s ban on electronic music festivals. Today, Argentinian publication La Viola reported that because of a successful appeal in local court, the concert at Luna Park Stadium will go on as planned.

Explaining the original cancellation of the show in an interview with local publication Clarn, a government official said that although the city’s ban is on music festivals specifically, it applied to this one-off event because Kraftwerk “uses synthesizers or samplers as their primary instrument.”

Prior to being notified that the show was banned, the show’s promoters Move Concerts had sold 70 percent of the tickets; they had also applied for their permit to have the concert in July.

The ban was created earlier this year by city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta after five people died at Time Warp’s Buenos Aires festival in April.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Kraftwerk’s Buenos Aires Show Canceled Due To Electronic Music Event Ban

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This month, German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk are scheduled to perform at Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but the show has been tentatively canceled due to the city’s ongoing ban on electronic music festivals, reports local publication Clarn.

Read More: Why Is Buenos Aires Waging a War on Electronic Music?

The ban was implemented earlier this year by city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta after the deaths of five people at Time Warp’s Buenos Aires festival in April. As we reported then, four people were arrested in connection with the victims’ supposed ingestion of the designer drug “Superman,” a mix of ecstasy and methamphetamine. Attendees also complained of overheating and overcrowding.

The promoters for the show, Move Concerts, had applied for the permit in July, and had reportedly sold 70 percent of the tickets when they were notified the event would no longer be happening due to the ban. Despite the show technically not being a “festival” in the same sense that Time Warp was, a government representative further clarified that that it fell under the ban because Kraftwerk “uses synthesizers or samplers as their primary instrument.”

Meanwhile, Sonar festival’s Buenos Aires edition, which is scheduled to take place on December 3 at power plant-turned-arts space Usina del Arte, has already been approved, Clarn adds. The Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires allowed it “because they are concerts: no dancing or DJ situations,” despite the one-day event featuring electronic music artists Moderat, Jacques Greene, and Koreless.

Move Concerts told Clarn that they are appealing the cancellation and are currently awaiting a reply.

Kraftwerk’s Buenos Aires Show Canceled Due To Electronic Music Event Ban

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This month, German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk are scheduled to perform at Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but the show has been tentatively canceled due to the city’s ongoing ban on electronic music festivals, reports local publication Clarn.

Read More: Why Is Buenos Aires Waging a War on Electronic Music?

The ban was implemented earlier this year by city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta after the deaths of five people at Time Warp’s Buenos Aires festival in April. As we reported then, four people were arrested in connection with the victims’ supposed ingestion of the designer drug “Superman,” a mix of ecstasy and methamphetamine. Attendees also complained of overheating and overcrowding.

The promoters for the show, Move Concerts, had applied for the permit in July, and had reportedly sold 70 percent of the tickets when they were notified the event would no longer be happening due to the ban. Despite the show technically not being a “festival” in the same sense that Time Warp was, a government representative further clarified that that it fell under the ban because Kraftwerk “uses synthesizers or samplers as their primary instrument.”

Meanwhile, Sonar festival’s Buenos Aires edition, which is scheduled to take place on December 3 at power plant-turned-arts space Usina del Arte, has already been approved, Clarn adds. The Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires allowed it “because they are concerts: no dancing or DJ situations,” despite the one-day event featuring electronic music artists Moderat, Jacques Greene, and Koreless.

Move Concerts told Clarn that they are appealing the cancellation and are currently awaiting a reply.

How Did The Small German City Of Dusseldorf Change Electronic Music Forever?

This article appeared originally on THUMP UK.

Berlin may be universally known as the clubbing and electronic music epicentre of the world but it was another German city that arguably gave birth to it several decades earlier. That city, sat equidistant between Cologne and Dortmund, is Dusseldorf.

The musician and writer Rudi Esch has just released the English language version of Electri_City: The Dusseldorf School of Electronic Music. The book paints the city of Dusseldorfhome to Kraftwerk, Neu!, La Dusseldorf, DAF and many moreas a mecca for electronic music in the same way Memphis is for rock and roll. Largely told through the words of those who were there, it charts the rise of the city’s electronic boom period from the 70s onwards, from the birth of the motorik drum beat to what happened when four German blokes with penchants for the flute disappeared into robotic aliases and changed the entire world.

Alongside the traditional accompanying CD release (which features numerous pivotal artists alongside some lesser known but just as incredible acts from the city) Esch has curated an an annual conference and festival to celebrate the legacy of the city’s electronic music scene. Taking place this coming weekend, the event sees the likes of John Foxx and Steve D’Agostino, Daniel Miller, Martyn Ware, Eric Random, Cult With No Name, Mark Reeder and more paying the city a visit.

Esch is a long-term member of Die Krupps, the German band that have traversed across electronic, industrial, EBM, and metal over their thirty-year-plus career, and he was even briefly in a band with Neu! and La Dusseldorf’s Klaus Dinger. Which means he has serious kraut-credentials. We spoke to him before the weekend’s activities about growing up in Dusseldorf, the impact and legacy of the music the city gave birth to, and how he went from being a punk-rock Kraftwerk-hating kid to someone who has seen them play thirty times in the last four years.

THUMP: What gigs did you go to early on, as young person in Dusseldorf?
Rudi Esch: We went to Ratinger Hof because there was no entry fee. It was a perfect hang out for punk rock kids. The gigs themselves you had to pay for though, and we didn’t have much money. The only shows we saw were at the Phillips Stadium when we found out that for the encore they opened the doors, so we went to every show and waited until they opened the doors. We saw bands like Roxy Music and The Cure but only ever for the last twenty minutes. I bought a ticket for the Stray Cats, Lou Reed and The Cure again. Nothing too electronic though. The funny thing is we didn’t even go to see Kraftwerk and today I am very sorry I missed them in their own town. I didn’t go in ’81 or ’91, so stupid me.

How were Kraftwerk treated in Dusseldorf in the early 80s? They were huge around the world so were they local heroes or did people resent them?
In ’81 they played Dusseldorf in June and December and that was the first time they played in the city since ’71. June was when “The Model” went into the top 10 in England, so we all knew they’d broken it big but it in Dusseldorf there wasn’t a huge crowd following them, Wolfgang Flur told me recently it was kind of embarrassing because his parents came to the show and they didn’t even sell it out, it was half full and they had technical problems. I don’t think the band liked the Dusseldorf shows too much and on the other hand a lot of Dusseldorf people only went to make sure they weren’t as great as England thought they were. In hindsight I wish I’d been there in ’81 to see the classic line-up twice in one year.

Is that because you were still a punk rock kid at this time?
That’s true, yeah. In ’81 we were punk rock kids. I was into the Clash or Wire or Buzzcocks. We didn’t like the old school electronic music, not back then. We thought it was old people’s music, these guys are old and boring, that’s what we thought at the time.

Did David Bowie and Brian Eno’s love of the music being made in Dusseldorf add much to its legacy growing up?
It’s something we were aware of and chances are if you knew anything about Kraftwerk, it was that David Bowie loved them. So you were aware of Bowie playing Radioactivity on his tour in ’78. Instead of having a support band he played the entirety of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity album.

Did you see the Kraftwerk guys around Dusseldorf a lot?
They were part of the city’s nightlife scene but it wasn’t like the cool places you would go, at least not for us. If you were a little bit older you probably really loved Kraftwerk, but we saw them driving around in Mercedes and it was kind of fancy but it’s not like you wanted to get in touch with them. We wouldn’t even go to the same places because you’d think ‘if they go there it’s probably boring’. They didn’t go to Ratinger Hof. They went to fancy discotheques to meet models like in their songs. We just didn’t go there.

When did you start to come around to electronic music?
For the first half of the 1980s I was the punk rock kid and then I loved Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure and all the post-punk stuff. I was in a band called Stranger Than Paradise and we played English guitar music like Joy Division. Then after six months of that I formed a new band with Klaus Dinger. By the time I worked with him, he’d already done those La Dusseldorf records, which to us was electronic music. Klaus thought that was all over and didn’t want to work with machines. He didn’t want to record with a drum machine or too much synthesizer. Klaus Dinger was very pissed when I left in ’88 to join Die Krupps because to him Die Krupps were an electronic band and working with machines was evilthat’s what he said. He didn’t like Die Krupps and when we started that band we were an electronic band, we started working with synths, sequencers and it was the first time we bought computers. Then in ’89 we made our first record with Nitzer Ebb and that was the first one we really programmed, so I just got more and more into the electronic field.

How was Klaus Dinger to work with?
He could be quite difficult. He was 20 years older than us and he had six great records he brought with him, three from Neu! and three from La Dusseldorf. We’d only released a few 7″s. We thought ‘this guy knows how to make a great record’he had all the equipment and the experience, so he was the master. We thought with Klaus we would take one major step forward but then he was a little difficult because I think in the mid-80s he was in a huge crisis, because he didn’t know where to go. He had these great records but he didn’t work with Michael Rother any more. He was drugged dependent and complicated as a person. He wanted to rule and yet he didn’t know where to go so it wasn’t too easy but we were young and we tried.

Were Neu! a bit of a forgotten thing by the mid-to-late 80s in the city, or were they revered?
That was probably their low point I think. Neu! wasn’t too popular here. In the best instance you knew the logo, you knew that orange ‘Neu’ with the exclamation mark but many people knew it but didn’t always know it was a band, some people thought it was an advertising company or something. If you liked Neu! you had to be a bit of a hippy, long-haired type in your mid-40s. I went and bought all the Neu! records from a flea market, they were all so cheap because nobody wanted them. It was the same with La Dusseldorf. I remember not being that excited by it at the time though; it just felt like instrumental music in a way. But basically everything that’s great about those records now didn’t look that great in the 80s. There was no reputation.

Most people know Neu!, Kraftwerk, La Dusseldorf, and DAF, but Wolfgang Reichman is a bit of an unknown treasure from Dusseldorf you have written about in your book. What can you tell us about him?
He made an album in 1978 that managed to sound like the 1980s, it was a huge discovery for me. Thankfully Wolfgang Flur was very close friends with him, so I was able to find out a lot about him and his life and I also met his brother and interviewed him too. He was in the band Spirit of Sound, he was the singer, Michael Rother was the guitar player and Wolfgang Flur was the drummer. Reichman, I think, is the blueprint for Gary Numanthe way he looks and sounds. I think if he had continued working on electronic music he would have been very big, it’s a very unique sound and it’s very distinctly him. He died before the release date of the album, he was stabbed in Dusseldorf by two drunken bastards. There was no reason, they just stabbed the guy and he died three days later in the hospital and then three weeks later the album came out.

So, what’s your relationship with Kraftwerk like now after writing this book, have you ever got to see them play live?
The first show I saw was at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2012, playing Man Machine in full. I’ve now seen about 30 shows since then. I’m a huge fan now. I think they make great art.

The Electri City conference takes place this weekend in Dusseldorf. More information can be found here.

Daniel Dylan Wray is on Twitter

How Did The Small German City Of Dusseldorf Change Electronic Music Forever?

This article appeared originally on THUMP UK.

Berlin may be universally known as the clubbing and electronic music epicentre of the world but it was another German city that arguably gave birth to it several decades earlier. That city, sat equidistant between Cologne and Dortmund, is Dusseldorf.

The musician and writer Rudi Esch has just released the English language version of Electri_City: The Dusseldorf School of Electronic Music. The book paints the city of Dusseldorfhome to Kraftwerk, Neu!, La Dusseldorf, DAF and many moreas a mecca for electronic music in the same way Memphis is for rock and roll. Largely told through the words of those who were there, it charts the rise of the city’s electronic boom period from the 70s onwards, from the birth of the motorik drum beat to what happened when four German blokes with penchants for the flute disappeared into robotic aliases and changed the entire world.

Alongside the traditional accompanying CD release (which features numerous pivotal artists alongside some lesser known but just as incredible acts from the city) Esch has curated an an annual conference and festival to celebrate the legacy of the city’s electronic music scene. Taking place this coming weekend, the event sees the likes of John Foxx and Steve D’Agostino, Daniel Miller, Martyn Ware, Eric Random, Cult With No Name, Mark Reeder and more paying the city a visit.

Esch is a long-term member of Die Krupps, the German band that have traversed across electronic, industrial, EBM, and metal over their thirty-year-plus career, and he was even briefly in a band with Neu! and La Dusseldorf’s Klaus Dinger. Which means he has serious kraut-credentials. We spoke to him before the weekend’s activities about growing up in Dusseldorf, the impact and legacy of the music the city gave birth to, and how he went from being a punk-rock Kraftwerk-hating kid to someone who has seen them play thirty times in the last four years.

THUMP: What gigs did you go to early on, as young person in Dusseldorf?
Rudi Esch: We went to Ratinger Hof because there was no entry fee. It was a perfect hang out for punk rock kids. The gigs themselves you had to pay for though, and we didn’t have much money. The only shows we saw were at the Phillips Stadium when we found out that for the encore they opened the doors, so we went to every show and waited until they opened the doors. We saw bands like Roxy Music and The Cure but only ever for the last twenty minutes. I bought a ticket for the Stray Cats, Lou Reed and The Cure again. Nothing too electronic though. The funny thing is we didn’t even go to see Kraftwerk and today I am very sorry I missed them in their own town. I didn’t go in ’81 or ’91, so stupid me.

How were Kraftwerk treated in Dusseldorf in the early 80s? They were huge around the world so were they local heroes or did people resent them?
In ’81 they played Dusseldorf in June and December and that was the first time they played in the city since ’71. June was when “The Model” went into the top 10 in England, so we all knew they’d broken it big but it in Dusseldorf there wasn’t a huge crowd following them, Wolfgang Flur told me recently it was kind of embarrassing because his parents came to the show and they didn’t even sell it out, it was half full and they had technical problems. I don’t think the band liked the Dusseldorf shows too much and on the other hand a lot of Dusseldorf people only went to make sure they weren’t as great as England thought they were. In hindsight I wish I’d been there in ’81 to see the classic line-up twice in one year.

Is that because you were still a punk rock kid at this time?
That’s true, yeah. In ’81 we were punk rock kids. I was into the Clash or Wire or Buzzcocks. We didn’t like the old school electronic music, not back then. We thought it was old people’s music, these guys are old and boring, that’s what we thought at the time.

Did David Bowie and Brian Eno’s love of the music being made in Dusseldorf add much to its legacy growing up?
It’s something we were aware of and chances are if you knew anything about Kraftwerk, it was that David Bowie loved them. So you were aware of Bowie playing Radioactivity on his tour in ’78. Instead of having a support band he played the entirety of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity album.

Did you see the Kraftwerk guys around Dusseldorf a lot?
They were part of the city’s nightlife scene but it wasn’t like the cool places you would go, at least not for us. If you were a little bit older you probably really loved Kraftwerk, but we saw them driving around in Mercedes and it was kind of fancy but it’s not like you wanted to get in touch with them. We wouldn’t even go to the same places because you’d think ‘if they go there it’s probably boring’. They didn’t go to Ratinger Hof. They went to fancy discotheques to meet models like in their songs. We just didn’t go there.

When did you start to come around to electronic music?
For the first half of the 1980s I was the punk rock kid and then I loved Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure and all the post-punk stuff. I was in a band called Stranger Than Paradise and we played English guitar music like Joy Division. Then after six months of that I formed a new band with Klaus Dinger. By the time I worked with him, he’d already done those La Dusseldorf records, which to us was electronic music. Klaus thought that was all over and didn’t want to work with machines. He didn’t want to record with a drum machine or too much synthesizer. Klaus Dinger was very pissed when I left in ’88 to join Die Krupps because to him Die Krupps were an electronic band and working with machines was evilthat’s what he said. He didn’t like Die Krupps and when we started that band we were an electronic band, we started working with synths, sequencers and it was the first time we bought computers. Then in ’89 we made our first record with Nitzer Ebb and that was the first one we really programmed, so I just got more and more into the electronic field.

How was Klaus Dinger to work with?
He could be quite difficult. He was 20 years older than us and he had six great records he brought with him, three from Neu! and three from La Dusseldorf. We’d only released a few 7″s. We thought ‘this guy knows how to make a great record’he had all the equipment and the experience, so he was the master. We thought with Klaus we would take one major step forward but then he was a little difficult because I think in the mid-80s he was in a huge crisis, because he didn’t know where to go. He had these great records but he didn’t work with Michael Rother any more. He was drugged dependent and complicated as a person. He wanted to rule and yet he didn’t know where to go so it wasn’t too easy but we were young and we tried.

Were Neu! a bit of a forgotten thing by the mid-to-late 80s in the city, or were they revered?
That was probably their low point I think. Neu! wasn’t too popular here. In the best instance you knew the logo, you knew that orange ‘Neu’ with the exclamation mark but many people knew it but didn’t always know it was a band, some people thought it was an advertising company or something. If you liked Neu! you had to be a bit of a hippy, long-haired type in your mid-40s. I went and bought all the Neu! records from a flea market, they were all so cheap because nobody wanted them. It was the same with La Dusseldorf. I remember not being that excited by it at the time though; it just felt like instrumental music in a way. But basically everything that’s great about those records now didn’t look that great in the 80s. There was no reputation.

Most people know Neu!, Kraftwerk, La Dusseldorf, and DAF, but Wolfgang Reichman is a bit of an unknown treasure from Dusseldorf you have written about in your book. What can you tell us about him?
He made an album in 1978 that managed to sound like the 1980s, it was a huge discovery for me. Thankfully Wolfgang Flur was very close friends with him, so I was able to find out a lot about him and his life and I also met his brother and interviewed him too. He was in the band Spirit of Sound, he was the singer, Michael Rother was the guitar player and Wolfgang Flur was the drummer. Reichman, I think, is the blueprint for Gary Numanthe way he looks and sounds. I think if he had continued working on electronic music he would have been very big, it’s a very unique sound and it’s very distinctly him. He died before the release date of the album, he was stabbed in Dusseldorf by two drunken bastards. There was no reason, they just stabbed the guy and he died three days later in the hospital and then three weeks later the album came out.

So, what’s your relationship with Kraftwerk like now after writing this book, have you ever got to see them play live?
The first show I saw was at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2012, playing Man Machine in full. I’ve now seen about 30 shows since then. I’m a huge fan now. I think they make great art.

The Electri City conference takes place this weekend in Dusseldorf. More information can be found here.

Daniel Dylan Wray is on Twitter