Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht (2017) Script

IF I THINK OF GERMANY AT NIGHT


Intense.


Wow.

The record is from the seventies.

Intense.

They were into it back then already.


My goodness, what an elaborate sleeve.


At this point in 2016...

At the moment, there is a lot of very good music.

A lot of good producers have established themselves.

Everything has become easier, so there is this huge variety of music.

And that's great for a lot of people, but for many others it's overwhelming.

Big hits can't develop the way they did in the past, when DJs often decided on two or three things.

That's got very, very hard.

And all I can say is: the tapestry is huge and it's endless too.

That's what the music feels like right now.

It's immense. An enormous variety.

And you can go in any direction.

So you can become very specialized, and it's virtually impossible to describe all the different genres and categories.

And for someone who has no clue, it's really hard to explain it to them.

The tapestry is very, very refined, the pattern is barely discernible, and you have to examine it for a long, long time to recognize its structure and see the individual colours.

To get there, you have to listen to tons of music, devote a lot of time to the music, and really delve into old records, before you can really grasp the foundation.

And what I really like is that the house music I'm involved in reinvents itself every five years or so.

It revolves like a merry-go-round, always arriving at the same place again.

But the funny thing is, each time it's arranged differently, the sounds are a bit different, and suddenly everyone is on board again.

And it's really nice to watch how young people then identify more strongly with the new part, and that creates this link to where the old DJs are sitting, so to speak.

So Ricardo, Roman, me, all the DJs will always reach into the old record box, take out the old records, and mix them up with the new stuff.

And the kids come and ask about the old stuff, thinking that it's new stuff, but it's not new, it's 20 years old.

And that's really interesting.

But the evolution goes on and on.

I have no idea where it will end. I really don't see an end to it.


LONG LIVE CHILE! LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE!

PRESIDENT ALLENDE'S LAST SPEECH

Before I started collecting music, buying records, and later mixing music myself, long before that, I was already into the scene.

Because that kind of music always appealed to me.

And here in Switzerland, and especially in Geneva, there were no events whatsoever.

It was very difficult to find parties where they played electronic music.

That was in the very early 90s.

You had to go over to the German part of Switzerland.

But the focus there was mainly on trance.

If you wanted something more like house, you had to go over to Germany.

So we would take these "weekend expeditions", to Frankfurt, mostly.

I think that was before the nineties.

The club was Omen in Frankfurt.

After that we started going to Munich.

There was an area in Munich with a club called Ultraschall, inside what used to be Riem Airport.

I was very young and I went looking for that music everywhere.

I didn't find it in France or in Switzerland.

It was the scene in Germany that appealed to me.

Ever since then, I've wanted to be more than just a spectator.

I wanted to take the music home with me too.

But you couldn't find it in the stores, so you had to find other ways to get it.

And through my German network, I had access to that music, I bought it, and started spinning records.

And before long, I got an offer from a club in Geneva that was always at the avant-garde of electronic music, a club called Weetamix, which still exists today.

They invited me to play there as resident DJ.

So I played there two or three times a month, often as an opener for international guests.

So gradually, we started getting music that was a bit more refined than what we'd had before.

Labels like Playhouse, Perlon, DJs like Zip, Ata, and Losoul as well, Heiko MSO and others, they were here all the time.

And out of this exchange developed some good ties between us.

Zip invited me to Germany to DJ at the Panorama Bar in Berlin.

That was in 2003.

From the start, it was always the music that connected us.

We weren't from the same place, or from the same generation.

It was just the music that connected us and you could only find it there.


What did we have here? We had Bhagwan discos.

Bhagwan discos were basically our uptight parents liberating themselves.

It has something to do with rhythm, something like, "I'll dress up all in white so no one can tell who I am," and off it goes.

A good sound system, loud music, and "let it all hang loose!"

Why did they stop organizing them? They were pretty cool.

But our scene developed out of that, in a way.

My mom wasn't a Bhagwan, unfortunately.

My mom was a strict Catholic. From Spain.

And when I was 14, I had to be home by 8 p.m.

But through the music, and what the music gave me...

My neighbour, who was a black G.I., gave me a Herbie Hancock record.

I listened to it and then heard Kraftwerk on the radio.

And that became my tapestry, which I just wove together.

And I thought, "Wow, what is this?"

I had this sense of liberation, a liberation that enabled me to get out of the house and get into house music.

Out onto the dance floor. And I saw what went on there.

You play a record and the people over there start moving.

All these emotions are released.

It was such a fascinating and profound experience that I said, "Okay, I'm going to try to do what that guy on TV is doing.

He's got those two turntables, but what's that thing in the middle?"

It was so exciting to me, so fascinating.

And I could see all this technology, I was interested in it, and I tried to figure it out.

That's how I was catapulted out, with this immense force, out into the night.

And I realized what was going on out there.

There was no end.

I could dance as long as I wanted.


It's truly an adventure.

There are very few secure channels between the musicians.

So from the drummer's bass drum, there's a kind of channel with a trigger signal over to Max's bass synthesizer.

That's basically the only channel, everything else is more or less played spontaneously on top, and I click in manually with my modular system.

So there's a tap button which I tap twice, depending on the beat.

And that launches my system, and Max's system too.

And so that can go in any direction.

Luckily nothing went wrong on Sunday, but that can happen.

That kind of "dis-control", if you will, that moment of "uncontrol" is basically a frequency which, before it can become rhythmic, is often too free-form.

So in order to turn it into a rhythmic element, for example, which only has a short transient, like a "bing" or "bong" or "boong", you need an enveloping curve, something that controls it.

So, as I was saying, one third of all this equipment is made up of controllers, and the rest would just love to scream out all the time:

...or make some noise or other.

But that's kept in check.

Someone tries to control it, and that, ultimately, is the music.

Other musicians have certain frequencies available to them, but in electronic music, we have all the frequencies available to us.

The others can only make use of a certain frequency range.

And everyone tries out different things, little by little, to see what works.

It's kind of like a lively conversation between different people.

Some people are having a dialogue and then others interrupt, and it forms a kind of consensus.

That's pretty much what happens in music.


You're playing to different worlds, of course.

A dance floor is a world where there is a very clear language, a rhythmic language with some melodic dabs of colour, so to speak.

And here in this jazz or sound concert, even the musicians don't know what's happening, or what will happen.

But for me, it's always the same thing.

No matter if I'm standing on stage, playing some strange popping or creaking sounds, or if I'm playing it in a club, or listening to it at home.

Or even if I do it with my own mouth or hear those sounds around me, I always try to bring it together under the same roof, I always try to be the same person.


This place is a big soundscape.

And sounds are ultimately the inspiration for music.

You have the sounds of insects alongside the traffic noise.

I used to lie down in the stairwell, right in front of the door, listening to the draft which carried resonant tones, and to me they were melodies.

It's important to recognize the difference in volume at festivals, parties and clubs.

And here, where you really have to listen.

Your ears get sensitized.

What I do is more on the quiet side anyway, so I'm naturally more interested in what creeps and crawls beneath the surface.

It's certainly... a source of inspiration.

In general, but especially here.

On the one side, you have the open plain towards the west:

Paris and New York are that way.

And over here in the basin, the acoustics change.

They get trapped between the mountains.

There are other places too: the Scheffelterrasse by the castle, where the arches reflect the sounds of the city like parabolic mirrors.

So whenever I go for a walk here, my ears take a walk too.


Well, to be an astronaut...

I'm from the generation that saw the moon landing as a kid, and the outer space missions as well, especially Apollo 13.

When was that? 1973? I was seven and experienced all of that.

"They're up there. We don't know how to get them back."

That really fascinated me.

Another key experience was my father taking me to see Stanley Kubrick's 2001.

You had to be six to see the film and I wasn't.

I remember the cashier saying, "He's not six yet", and my dad saying, "But I'm accompanying him."

I must've seen that film at least 30 times in the course of my life.

It left such an impression on me as a child.

That film really shaped me for the rest of my life.

The wish or dream of becoming an astronaut was shattered early on because my eyesight wasn't good enough.

And ultimately, those ascetic preparations, the total discipline and the complete isolation wouldn't be my thing either.

But it was always an idea that fascinated me.

But to make the link back to this place...

At least it's a city of science.

You have astrophysics: the Max Planck Institute, EMBL.

My father was an astrophysicist and worked at the Max Planck Institute.

So there are those links. There's the observatory.

Not a planetarium: an observatory with a telescope to peer into the heavens, dating back to the Art Nouveau period.

So there are things here which tie into the topic.

But ultimately, it's just a metaphor.

Sun Ra, not only of Saturn, but of music itself.

Music, the bodiless way of travelling or moving, in your imagination or however.

To me, it's the most fascinating form of art that exists, because it can't be grasped.

It can be measured in space and it makes atoms move.

So you can see it, in a way.

But ultimately, it's something that flows through you.

And by conserving it, by writing it down in the form of sheet music, it has become reproducible.

The effect can be reproduced at will, and doesn't cost a thing.

And that's unique: food is consumed, you eat it it gets digested, then you move on to pick the next berry.

But music is like a Pandora's box where you can keep reaching in, where you can try... to remain open to it, to hear new things and to integrate them, but much of it just remains the same.

Miles Davis' trumpet, for example, or the Beatles, or João Gilberto, Jobim...

Bach...

Chopin...

All of these things remain coordinates in the solar system.

What's funny is that some planets regain their relevance, and you want to go back, while others might drift further apart.

At any rate, music is a cosmos of its own.

That's the larger parallel that can be drawn.

And the borders between physics, mathematics and music and philosophy are absolutely fluid.

Seen from a broader perspective, it even extends to the theological and spiritual realm.

For something that is essentially without a value and a body, it's incredible and has fascinated me my whole life.

Like perhaps nothing else. Apart from animals maybe.

And all of the wonders of nature.

And the parallels that can be drawn: octaves as... dual frequencies, frequency ratios, which make so much sense in nature and in physics.

All of this can be transferred and applied.

For as long as anyone can remember, NASA's website... has shown phenomena from space: those jets, for example, those waves of material shooting forth from supernovas.

You can hear those things, but you hear nothing in outer space because sound doesn't carry, so these inaudible processes are made audible.

But it's funny that the other way around, you can take these phenomena that are so hard to grasp and understand them better by making them audible.

Yes. And I am a fan of music that's been composed and conceived, but what I meant with the sound of the wind under a door is that music in chaos or in nature is also fascinating.

When I was in my early twenties, I met a fringe scientist, who approached music from the perspective of physics and biology.

He started to take yeast cultures and to make their reproduction audible.

And to some extent... these functions result in incredibly interesting and audible algorithms.

So it's pretty fascinating...

how the information contained in the universe, at visible and invisible levels, visible light, invisible waves, how they always interlink and interlace with each other.

How mind and body, and everything...

It's the ultimate psychedelic experience to understand that everything is one, so to speak.

And conversely, to understand that one thing also contains everything.

So, there's an apple hanging next to you.

Can you make a connection? Apples, Apple computer. Newton, gravity.

When I was younger, me and my stepfather used to build those spaceships as well, and eventually that transitioned seamlessly into building instruments.

My stepfather, who helped me a lot with that stuff, took me to the orchards and we fed apples to the horses for the first time.

I'll never forget it. It was a meadow just like this one.

So that's immediately what came to mind:

"You know that apple tree."

But the apple as such... Adam and Eve and all that, we could make an entire movie about that.


In Paris, we were doing some filming, a few days after the attacks in Brussels, a couple of months after the Paris attacks, maybe a few weeks before the next attack.

What effect does that have on you, on your job and on the places where you work?

What was interesting is that on the evening of the first Paris attack, the Charlie Hebdo attack, I was playing in Paris at the Rex Club.

And I feared the worst, and it was all very shocking, of course, and the whole thing didn't feel good at all.

You didn't know if the event should take place or not.

The streets were deserted, and there were police everywhere.

The trip from the airport into the city felt really different, with flashing lights and roadblocks and all of that.

And then, strangely enough, the evening was extremely... ecstatic, almost.

The vibe was great and there were loads of people.

But it's a very ambivalent thing.

When the most recent attack in Paris happened, I was playing at Fabric in London.

At dinner, I looked down at my phone and realized it was happening again.

And it doesn't feel good or right at all.

Ultimately, I never really know how to justify a party.

That evening, you could tell that people were more occupied with trying to get the latest news on their smartphones, especially at the beginning of the event, than focusing on the party.

At any rate, what's going on right now is really distressing.

You can't see exactly where it will lead, or whether it will ever end.

When I played in Tel Aviv for the first time many years ago, I had to go through a checkpoint like everyone else.

A security check, like the checks at airports.

And at that time, it all seemed very far away to me.

And now I'd say that it's moved very close to all of us.

A club is very vulnerable as it is.

It exists to allow you to break out of your normal life, to let go of all the rules that you're otherwise subject to.

And if such a situation becomes normalcy, so to speak, if you can't be safe in a place like that, it changes something, at least temporarily.

At some point, it probably becomes kind of routine.

But we're not at that point yet.

We're still at the point where people feel extremely unsettled.

And you can only hope that it doesn't become a target.

It would be asking too much, because I could never do justice to it by striking the right chord.

Instead, I do what I do, I do what I'm good at, but I'm not the master of ceremonies who finds the right chord whenever disaster strikes somewhere.

That's asking too much. No one can do that.

I think it's much more important, in fact, to say, "What we're doing here is important."

And the current situation is making this even clearer.

That it's a very vulnerable situation, but that it's essential for a lot of people.

It's a legitimate thing to live your life in this way.

So I just hope we'll soon be able to do that again without feeling scared.


I think that music had a different significance back then.

Also with regard to religion.

During Calvin's time in Geneva, music and entertainment were prohibited and neglected.

During that period, people were living with a certain degree of anxiety.

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves, it's part of human nature.

So this prohibition was like forbidding people from living.

They were rejecting the idea of living a full life.

And I think that this had certain consequences.

If you assign a function to music, and say it's a negative function, you turn it into a pejorative, negative element.

And that's a dangerous thing to do.

There is music in religion. There's religious singing.

And there's this idea of repressing music as entertainment, at least in certain religions.

Certain religions prohibit dancing at parties, because music is only allowed to be religious.

So there certainly is a relationship between music and religion.

Nowadays, there are certain countries that neglect both music and religion.

In some countries in the north, there is no kind of musical communion, there is no communal singing.

People are timid, there's no singing, no talking.

Some Nordic countries really repress these kinds of things.

So there's a lot more cold techno music coming from those countries than from southern Spain or southern Italy.

There's an obvious difference.

Of course.

I travel with a lot of records.

To make sure that I'm able to take the people where I want to have them.

You can't just arrive somewhere, force your message onto the people and expect them to receive it.

It requires a certain finesse to get to the point where people listen to you.

And then you can communicate your message.

So I make sure I have a wide range of records in case I want to play something a bit cooler, a bit more reserved.

Or, on the other hand, maybe something more cheerful at the beginning.

And then I'll take them where I want them to go.

But I need time for that. One hour is not enough.

I need two or three hours to achieve that.

And it doesn't always work.

When it works, it's poetry. Or... Exactly.

When it works...

When it works...

When it works, it's a divine moment of communion.

It's a real climax.

And if it doesn't work, somehow it's not so bad either.

Then you have to try another approach, try to present it differently, to get things moving.

If it worked every time, you wouldn't make any progress.

You could stop when the year was out.


You have to go a long way back to answer that.

In Germany, electronic music fortunately...

fortunately... it emerged as early as the 1950s and 1960s, through people like Stockhausen.

And it developed slowly from there, with a lot of musical experimentation.

Unfortunately, it didn't get much recognition and visibility in German society.

People like Conny Plank then took it a step further.

That led to Krautrock.

That led to Kraftwerk.

And as a result, the German influence spread to the US.

The Americans loved our stuff.

The black community couldn't get enough of it, this harsh, electronic, cold dance music.

That's how they described it, and they were totally fascinated by the precision... of an Audi.

And they were totally into that music, and totally fascinated by the sound quality of the music.

Of course it had a lot to do with German technology,

and in the US, this led to the music scene and the gay scene starting to pay attention.

And then it all kind of merged with everything in their scene, and out of that developed house, they invented house music.

And Germany played a huge role in that whole electronic music community.

And today, even though the centres are New York and London, in Germany we don't have a centre.

I wouldn't say that the centre is only Berlin, or Cologne or Munich.

There's a Cologne sound, a Munich sound, a Berlin sound, a Frankfurt sound.

But ultimately, in Germany... there really is a German sound.

Made in Germany is something that exists: techno, electronic dance music.

For the whole world.

And we've been a major export for over ten years now.

And the biggest and best DJs come from Germany right now.


In the past, tones and sounds used to be musicians playing in an orchestra, different frequencies represented by different musicians.

And at some point, people wanted to create these sounds themselves, without the musicians, with a synthesizer, for example.

And those values, the idea of enabling the creation of a tone, out of a complex context, out of a certain circuitry, with certain resistors.

And this whole thing belongs... with all of the developments involved... it's all part of the world as a whole that we appreciate so much.

And that's why it all belongs together.

It has to do with an appreciation of being together, an appreciation of communication, an appreciation of listening to music together, going to concerts, even going to a soccer game.

The appreciation of being together has something to do with the beginnings of stored or recorded music.

Because with recorded music, you could take it somewhere and utilize it by playing it and dancing to it.

You used to have to wait by the radio for the DJ to play that music.

Or you listened to hr3 Clubnight, or you heard some music once a week when you listened to the charts.

But only for that particular moment.

Now you have the chance to do it anytime and that's why we're cultivating it.

And of course it has to do with the origins of sound. That too.

This community of shared values at a party is a very low-level community.

That means you reduce all values to the lowest common denominator, so that no one can show up with complicated values and everyone can meet on the basis of the lowest common value.

And that is a consistent, rhythmic music.

This consistent, rhythmic music, which doesn't get you too excited, and doesn't cause too much of a stir, but gives you a certain foundation the whole time, brings together huge numbers of people in this age of atomization and individualism.

And that's what's so fascinating about the whole thing, and that's why all of us are so interested in this idea of bringing people together.

It has to do with the values we used to have.

Nowadays, people think that their independence gives them a certain degree of freedom.

But of course, independence brings with it a certain loneliness, and people emerge out of this loneliness and meet at parties.

And facilitating this situation is our role in all of this.

That's what fascinates us all.

That's what's so great about the whole thing.


The studio is basically just a reflection of the rest of life.

And the rest of life doesn't just consist of happiness or wonderful moments.

Instead, you sit here and you're faced with your own weaknesses.

But that's what makes it exciting and it's all part of it.

You have days, weeks or maybe even longer where you're just not on form.

And that becomes a problem if you just throw in the towel.

It's always been very important to me to be able to cross a line and put up with a certain level of dissatisfaction, but not to give up.

Because this means everything to me, with all of its ups and downs, so I'd be crazy to put it at risk.

It's actually the part that I enjoy the most.

So what you make for yourself at the weekend, financially speaking, allows you to have this freedom in the studio?

Absolutely.

To be honest, and this is common knowledge today... the money you make from selling records and streaming isn't as much as it used to be, in my experience.

So the live sets are absolutely essential.

It all goes hand in hand these days.

I have to get out there at the weekend to make sure I have the artistic freedom to sit in this studio here without having someone in the background, breathing down my neck.


Well, I'm at a strange point in my life right now.

On the one hand, I'd like to bring my musical career to an end.

I've sold my records.

And I have to say: I still don't miss them.

I actually feel quite liberated.

But on the other hand, it's really nice to find myself reconstructing the music in my mind, based on what I can still remember.

I then look for the music on my computer and find some of it too.

So I'm building up a digital collection of my favourite tracks on this little hard drive.

Now I can do what I always wanted to do: I can play a huge range of music.

I can take my pick, which I couldn't before.

So in a way, I've taken it to a whole new, professional level.

Before, I had 80 or 90 records and couldn't really do that.

I actually wanted to quit altogether.

I wanted to do something else:

I wanted to be surrounded by nature.

I've bought a house with my girlfriend in Italy on a mountain.

An old borgo.

And I wanted to escape there, and that's what I'll do.

You can hear birds chirping.

It's been so long since I heard five or six voices blending together without a bass drum.

And it's so funny because when you listen to the birds, they're singing melodies.

So you're sitting there in the sun, enjoying life without a bass drum: it is possible.

So it's a great change of scenery.

And then suddenly a cuckoo pops out of nowhere too.

And that's the fascinating part of it.

It's also great to dig my fingers into the earth, to come into contact with something else.

That's essential for me.

I'm a big food lover too.

I want to get into that more and grow my own food, to draw a different type of strength from that, so I can kind of recharge my batteries for Friday night.


But if we look out of that window here...

You know that this place was a kind of children's home, right?

In East Germany. Or was it a kindergarten?

Well, I think it was a kind of convalescent home.

Local children came here on holiday to get their spirits up, or whatever.

Maybe they can tell you more about what it was.

But if we just look out of that window...

Well, we're not exactly being blinded by the lights of an Asian capital or New York or Chicago or whatever.

But actually...

But going by the soundscape, we could be in Calabria.

It still looks pretty good here...

The rest of Berlin is barely recognizable anymore.

Crazy.

It's crazy how time has sped by, because it's all connected: techno, the fall of the Wall, reunification, and Berlin... as the "stage" for all of this.

It's all got so long in the tooth, but it still keeps on going.

Like we do.

Techno is like an institution now.

It will just go on forever because...

it's almost like a virus.

The means of production have been radically democratized.

Anyone can do that shit now, even with their crappy phone.

You just have to go ahead and do it and so...

There's no stopping it anymore, and for years now, I'm sure that there are way more people producing it than really consuming it.

And I don't mean superficially.

If you really immerse yourself in it, it's almost impossible to avoid giving it a go yourself.

It's just an obvious choice: we all have the tools at our fingertips.

IF I THINK OF GERMANY AT NIGHT

I can't really say, to be honest. I can't think of a pithy answer.

Just that one sentence?

Well, if we're talking about music and nightlife, it's probably the best thing that could have happened to Germany, these 25 years of techno music.

When I think of other things going on here, some of it makes me feel pretty scared, to be honest.

So I'm really happy there's something to balance it out.