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Horia Diaconescu Interview with Klaus Schulze

14 Noiembrie 2005
de Horia Diaconescu

"I'm the maker of music, not the recipient.
 The music is there, as an offer..."

Dupa o cariera artistica de peste 35 de ani, cu 81 de materiale oficiale si mai bine de 700 de contributii discografice, Klaus Schulze nu are nevoie de prezentari speciale. Considerat pivotul scenei de muzica electronica, sustinator principal al instrumentelor de sinteza inca din anii '70 (alaturi de Kraftwerk si Tangerine Dream), apoi asumat drept "nasul" generatiei tehno, a promovat si perfectionat samplingul in conceptie si interpretare, apoi calculatorul (incepand cu 1980) in productia de muzica. Creator original, deopotriva inovator si influent, Klaus Schulze ramane unul din artistii-fenomen, al carui limbaj propriu se regaseste drept standard in muzica moderna.      

Cu ocazia lansarii ultimelei sale creatii, Moonlake (4 oct 2005), Klaus Schulze a avut disponibilitatea de a acorda primul sau interviu unui reprezentant mass-media din Romania. Adresam cititorilor aceeasi intrebare pe care ne-a pus-o Klaus Schulze: "are you sequenced?". Recomandam lectura dialogului in cheia nonconformismului si detasarii cu care artistul s-a delimitat in intreaga sa cariera. Sarea si piperul inovatiei.  

Discografie selectiva. Recomandari Muzici si Faze

ASH RA TEMPEL - Ash ra tempel (1971)
THE COSMIC JOKERS - The cosmic jokers (1974)
STOMU YAMASH'TA - Go, live from Paris (1976)
album esential 
- Cyborg (1973)
- Picture music (1975) 
- Timewind (1975)
album esential 
- Moondawn (1976)
album esential 
- Mirage (1977)
album esential 
- "X" (1978) album esential
- Live (1980, editia 1995)
- Dig it (1980)
album esential
- Audendity (1983)
- En=trance (1988)
- The dome event (live, 1993)
- Das Wagner Desaster (live, 1994) 
- Trancelation (sub numele RICHARD WAHNFRIED, 1994)
- The dark side of the Moog (10 CDuri, 1994 - 2005)
- Dosburg online (1997)
album esential
- Jubilee edition (25 de noi CD-uri, 32 ore, 1997)
album esential
- Moonlake (2005)

                                                                      Photo: Claus Cordes

Klaus Schulze - the official page

Muzici si Faze / Klaus Schulze
Muzici si Faze / Tangerine Dream
Muzici si Faze / Ash Ra Tempel

KLAUS SCHULZE - Moonlake (2005)

 1. Playmate in paradise 30:07 
 2. Artemis in jubileo 17:49 
 3. Same thoughts lion 10:38 
 4. Mephisto 15:23 
    (Tracks 3, 4 live in Poland 2003)

Which are, in your opinion, the main attributes of the 3rd millennium artist in the context of the pop culture acquiring new dimensions as digital-virtual culture?
          Sorry, but I cannot and will not answer this. I am not a scientist, not a historian, not a philosopher, not a prophet, etc. I'm (just) a musician. I find it remarkable that journalists very often seem to think that an artist must answer all kinds of questions which have nothing to do with what the artist is actually doing, and that he should have answers and solutions for all problems, happenings and fashions of this world, even about probable future events.
          I know many "artists" give these answers. But I like the way Bob Dylan is dealing with this little problem. 

How would a (possible) ideal multimedia project of Klaus Schulze look like?

          There is no such thing.

What are then your plans for 2006 as far as live performances go?

There are no "live performances", I prefer to say “concerts”, yet planned for the year 2006.

Concert in Osnabrück, 9th of June 2001
Photo: Claus Cordes
Referring to the public interested in the kind of music you perform (and in particular to your audience). Do you think this public rather appreciates the virtuosity or the conception?

          "Public interest" is a big word for my very special music and the very small interest in it. How could I say WHY each one of the few thousand of fans is listening to my music? I cannot speak for the listeners of my music. I'm just thankful that there are a few who seem to like it.  Even if I'm far from being a virtuoso. Sviatoslav Richter was one.

What inspires you as a musician? 

          Sorry, but this is the usual question that everybody asks me (and probably all other artists) during my whole life, and every time I have no answer…

Do you think a real metamorphosis from “experiment” towards “standard” could be made possible?


…do you visualize a dichotomy between…


Concert in Osnabrück, 9th of June 2001
Photo: Claus Cordes
...what is then “classical” and what is “modern” in your musical creation? I’m thinking about an album such as “X”.

          Sorry, but I have no answer to this, again. My way of living and working is not touched by these things… whatever they may mean.

Do you think one could miss a point of your music by wondering about such issues?

          Maybe. But is that MY problem? Certainly not. A bit of confusion can be very healthy: It destroys - at least it doubts - some familiar or even obsolete ideas.

Your music is connected to technology. Where does the role of technical aspects end (or begin) as part of your music? I propose you this question attempting to fathom the persistence in time of a music that depends on digital technology,  which evolves and changes. 

          Again this is a question I cannot say anything about. Simply, I don't understand it… 

…when you compose, do you start from melodic harmonies for which you find the appropriate tones? Or you rather craft the sounds first, that you mix in certain patterns? 

           It depends. Sometimes so. Sometimes so.

Klaus Schulze & Wolfgang Tiepold, 
Concert in Oostende, Belgium, 1978
Photo from kdm archives
I’m asking this because sampling offers virtual unlimited freedom of creation in sculpturing sounds. However, once created they may be overused (by the same artist or others) and diminish their impact. What are other elements of conception that could make the electronically generated music not become obsolete? Classical music for instance uses harmony, counterpoint etc. as carriers of creation and originality, which are also taken further through virtuous interpretation.

          Your (again very complicated) question is, a bit more simple pronounced: What makes a "good music"? And my answer is: Music that does not bore the listener! To achieve this, is depending on the craft of the composer, or of the performer, of the music. It's like in most professions: Be as good as possible. And your "customers" will be happy. 
          By the way, the statement that this or that new technology gives finally "unlimited freedom" (in this case: of creation in sculptural sounds) is a bit shortsighted. A good music (or just good sounds) comes not because of a new technique. New technology is of course also (and much more) used to create the usual trash. The music in most radio programs shows it every minute. 
          "Freedom" can be very confusing. The craft of an artist is not to use "freedom" and make everything that is possible. The artist chooses a certain form or frame, and he exhibits his art in this chosen form. Which is, more or less, the opposite of total freedom.

1972, at backyard with organ & guitar
Photo from kdm archives
Speaking of choices, you have composed and performed music using personalized devices. What are the parameters of a musical instrument built in accord with Klaus Schulze’s specifications. Could you tell us what were some of the technical and musical adjustments incorporated into your latest set of music tools?

          Nothing special.  In fact, for a long time (and of course with "the latest set of music tools") I use mostly computer programs for composing and recording music, and not so much anymore the "old" musical instruments.  Which, by the way, were mostly NOT specially built to my specifications. 

Which are some of the composers (past or contemporary) whose musical output you appreciate? 

          It's the usual names that many people like, in pop and in classical music. Nothing sensational and nothing special.  In fact, I don't listen much to other music. I don't even have a record collection. 
          I'm not a listener but a maker of music… Maybe it’s a good headline?!

I concur... However if you worked on other authors' compositions, would you opt for an approach following the intention in which they were conceived?

          Yes and No.

…would you rather use them as a pretext in order to introduce your personal note?

          Yes and No.

How did this mirror in an album such as “MIDI Klassik”, for example?

          This album was made over a decade ago. I don't remember if I did then any of the things that you put into your question.
          Generally: If I make music, compose, sit in the studio, play, record, mix, etc... then I don't have all these certainly very interesting thoughts that I see here in many of the questions. Maybe I could not make music anymore, if I think before about all this? 

Klaus Schulze's home studio, 1971
Photo from kdm archives

Own synthesizer school (with PPG module synth)
Photo from kdm archives, 1979

The Moog wall with the Big Moog in four parts 
(scrapped in late 1999), two Minimoogs, 
two Memorymoogs, a Roland keyboard, a Korg T3, 
a Kawai K4, three Quasimidi Quasar and a MidiMoog 
Photo: Claus Cordes, 1996

Klaus Schulze's studio console 
Photo: Georg Abts, 2002
Your last album has been released under SPV label and its division Synthetic Symphony. Please introduce “Moonlake” to the Romanian music lovers. If possible, drew a parallel with another Klaus Schulze release. 

          I will not do such thing. I compose, I play and I record music for listening, for the enjoyment of the listeners, but not for explaining. Then, I would have chosen the profession of a writer.  Which I did not.

However, you often affirm that music can be reduced to one thing: showing emotions such as sadness, joy, silence, tension. As the composer of this album, where would you situate Moonlake?

          I  often affirm?  What is "affirm", wait...ah, yes. Now I understand! It's not that I "often" say such a thing. Maybe I mentioned the above in two interviews (or in one, that was used two times?)  and only because of a question. Again I must state that my daily life, work and thinking is not touched by things that some interviewers ask me. But if they ask, and I can understand them, I do answer. But please, do not make a philosophy out of that…
          By the way, the above statement was "borrowed" from Leonard Bernstein who said this in one of his famous public lectures for children. And as Bernstein, I also meant it to correct some people who think that music can illustrate many things. Yes, it can. But the same music can be used to illustrate EVERYTHING, hence: nothing. What is left, are just the few fundamental things: joy, sadness, tension, silence... 
          And about the latest album, Moonlake, it's not me who should tell the listeners what it is, in which category they should put it. A music that must be explained by the artist, this is absolutely not my cup of tea. Just look around what kind of music needs plenty of explanation. General rule: The more words, the more unpleasant the music
          In my case, and Moonlake: The music is there! As an offer! The listener can listen and decide. Not me.

Klaus Schulze, Paris concert, 1973
Photo from kdm archives
In one of your past interviews you also answer a similar question by telling you are not a «speaker», but a «musician»…

          See !?!!  

Will you please detail this aspect? 


What would be then the difference between a “musician” and a mere “practitioner”?

          I did NOT use the word "practitioner" but I said "speaker." I think that my little statement is so very clear that there is nothing I can add.  Or maybe I misunderstand your question completely...?  

…you may take this as an anecdote, but back in the 80’s and 90’s, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream’s music was mostly spread in Romania through Yoga and «transcendental» New Age followers who took the task of promoting these works very seriously. How would you comment this peculiar trend that occurred here?

          Yes, we in Germany also had this fashion coming from the USA. Many Germans copy every fashion that comes from there. Latest idiocy: Nordic walking. (But does THAT also come from the USA? I'm not sure). Anyway: People can do what they want, if they don't harm anyone (and if they don't bother me with that). It's THEIR body and mind, and THEIR time and money.
          Let me say it LOUD:  I have nothing (nothing!) to do with Yoga and New Age. 

1980, Concert in Linz, Austria
Photo from kdm archives

1977, Concert at Planetarium, London
Photo from kdm archives
You are a very productive artist, with over 80 official CDs and credited on over 700 releases (as counted by your manager Klaus D. Mueller). However, «fans» and various music lovers tend to consider «Timewind» and «Mirage» as your best works. Why do you think these two albums constantly appeal older and younger generations?

          Honestly, I don't even know if your statement  (which album is considered the best)  is accurate. And even if it's correct, what should I answer to your question?  How should I know about the reasons why people like this or that album? 
          People like or dislike so many different things, this is not my concern. I am the maker of the music, but not the recipient or fan. Maybe everyone of the listeners has his own personal favorite album or track? And this preference changes from week to week?  In fact, this is something that is part of the listeners' life, but nothing that I think much about.   
          Strange: Again it comes to my mind that many journalists ask me questions I would never think about for myself. It's not my world, and not my way of thinking. Only interview forces me to think suddenly about a topic I normally have no interest in. What can I do? Should I change my whole life? 


Klaus Schulze, concert, 1983
Photo from kdm archives
Certainly not… If you accept a little game, I will propose you a brief questionnaire in which I will ask you to choose solely based on your subjective affinity. It is not a matter of hierarchy…

          Oh. I like this one!

Tomita or Eberhard Schoener

          The first. 

Gould or Cziffra?

          Who the fuck is "Cziffra"? 

Nigel Kennedy or Frank Zappa?

          J.J. Cale! 

Nietzsche or Heidegger?

          Absolutely NOT the second!!!

Klaus Schulze, Berlin, 2002
Photo: Klaus D. Mueller
Our magazine is named “Muzici si Faze” which roughly translates as “music and experiences”. Could we end this interview with something meaningful?

          What is the difference between America and Yogurt?
          ...Yogurt has culture.

Thank you.
          I thank YOU for your great patience…

Interviewed by Horia Diaconescu
October 2005

1979 Winsen, tour rehearsal,
Photo: Klaus D. Mueller

My Great Web page
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