Techno superstar Paul Kalkbrenner sat down with The Upcoming to discuss his latest tour Guten Tag, his unique approach to producing an album and the music business.
Paul Kalkbrenner: Oh, successful. The team, especially the people we have with us, we will not have in the smaller team for the festival tour in the summer, so we’re all a bit sad that this is our last evening. I’ve been hanging out with the team today to thank them for everything. They did a very good job with everything.
So you’re excited to play London then?
What’s been your favourite place to perform on the tour?
Oh there were several. Hamburg, Zurich, Paris, also Rome last week. The whole show was very good.
Do you find that, when performing, there’s a big difference in atmosphere between Germany and Britain?
Oh yes, you could say Britain is a continent. The mainstream is never used exactly on the continent. I think it’s the island thing.
I know that when you produce your own music, you choose not to listen to any other music. Why is that?
It keeps me off from finding the stuff that you just hear and you’re not bombarded or surrounded by other stuff. For sure, it completes in you a very expressionist style without hearing anything, knowing what you have to do, to do it.
So you don’t allow yourself to be influenced by anything?
Yeah, I remain very “inspireless”. It’s like a layer of dust that comes. I don’t hear my own stuff anymore.
Listening to your work, it’s purely instrumental. Why is this?
Because I have things to say but I want to say them in an interview, or in a talk, or on a panel or whatever. I should not just think about just very simple, non-complex part of language on top of the entire music. It would destroy it. I also don’t want to speak with just a couple of words in every song. One could say “the lyrics are so fantastic that you don’t even need a tune for it,” but it’s actually the other way. That’s what it is maybe, you know. When I was a kid, I’d listen to the radio in English, but I didn’t understand it – it was like an instrument to me. And if I would have understood it, I would not have liked it so much.
Is it a similar thing with music videos?
I don’t have anything to do with music videos. I watched them when I was like, I don’t know, 16, but no. We made one but I said that I don’t want to shoot videos, so we chose to make a fantastic video where we had two of our friends photographing everything during an open air concert on the outskirts of Berlin. They made a 14-layer picture of just stills.
I also wanted to know about you beating Lady Gaga in the German charts.
I beat everyone, and it’s still there. The record was released a couple of months ago. It has been there for a 120-something weeks. But maybe if you just want to achieve that, you won’t get anywhere.
You don’t seem to play by the rules.
Yeah but the thing is, it’s a special situation. Most artists don’t have that freedom but I own all my own music; I do just the things I want to do and a lot of things that are common to do in this business, most of them aren’t really.
And so, what can London expect from you tonight?
I’m off after this show for quite some time and everything that’s remaining in me is by power and also will. It’s quite a long life; it’s like a little music studio and, yeah, it’s fantastic to be our last show. And also our lights and visuals will project the entire thing. They also play live to the music. It’s a great thing.
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Read our review of Paul Kalkbrenner at the Roundhouse here.