“Guten Tag!” is the simple title of Paul Kalkbrenner’s new album. He is currently touring through the United States, but about the elections and the outcome he does not care much. For him, the music is the focus, same for his followers. It was an exciting year for “Mister Dauerbrenner”, and emotionally overwhelming, because recently he got married with Simina Grigoriu, who also released her first album. Paul’s brother Fritz conjured up as well a new album on the market, and what does Paul? He presents another masterpiece, “Guten Tag!”.
Guten Tag Paul! You live in the Berlin district Mitte but you grew up in the Lichtenberg district. What was it like to grow up in Lichtenberg? Growing up in Lichtenberg was naturally an divided experience due to the Fall of the Wall. Before that it was actually very protected, because it was East Berlin. After the Fall of the Wall there were some Neo-Nazis at the Lichtenberg station and some youth clubs where we started to play techno. It is a district that is a bit further out. Mitte was light years away. I can remember that up to a certain age, and even after, we stayed away from Friedrichshain in the evenings because it could happen someone would rip off your jacket or force you to slip off your new sneakers.
“Berlin Calling” was a worldwide success. You were not an actor, rather showman, someone playing what he is in real life. Who is Paul Kalkbrenner and who was Ickarus from the movie? Well, it’s just all me. Although we have done nothing to prevent that too many people got confused in 2009, relating to the film and not knowing who is who – Ickarus, Paul, what? He just steps out from the screen. The visuals were indeed from “Berlin Calling”, and then he suddenly stands there in real and plays the same music from the movie. It’s a kind of a Jekyll and Hyde thing. We have not pushed it, but also we have not really tried to bring light into that matter.
What distinguishes you as a live act from a DJ? I see it this way that what is called dj-ing and to play live, that this nowadays all flows back together, merging one into the other. That means the live acts become more like DJs, and vice versa, and with all the new software out one can not draw a parting line anymore. I liked it from an early age to play my own music, but as a DJ this looks stupid if you only play your own tracks one after another. Therefore, it had to present it differently. And that’s what I’m doing until today. This live act I do virtually has not changed for many years. It’s just more fun when the song itself can be rearranged live on stage.
So how do you arrange your music on stage? All the work takes place on stage. I have broken my songs down into parts. It was normal for me to completely disassemble the studio and on stage – except for a few external devices – reassemble them. In this way I did all my earlier music. To press “record” on a DAT tape could take the whole thing to a new level. The same way I do play play live until today. This is how I learned to make music. If I would have done it with a computer, then I would still be ok, just only with a laptop and some controllers, but staring on the monitor like a pig onto a clockwork.
We have seen you live on stage several times now and noticed that there is nobody standing next to you inside, behind or next to the booth. Do you feel lonely sometimes when you are up there? No, I do not feel lonely at all. You could think that when you stand in the end of the room because it is a certain distance, yes. But I have so much to do. I don’t like it when there are too many dancing behind me. I’ve heard that some artists like that, and it is especially organized for them, so that there is always a certain number of guests around the DJ dancing, behind, and in front. I do not like it because I want to do my job and it’s my work space.
You just had your biggest concert in front of 21,000 fans. How did you experience that? That was indeed a bit unreal when I came on stage. I’m actually wearing glasses when I need to see something sharp like on TV. I took the glasses with me and looked at it and I would say, with 21,000 the limit is definitely reached, otherwise the greater part of the audience looses contact. To expect that this could get even bigger, I do not think so.
How do you explain your success? I think I’m successful because I always do the same thing – consistently – and stick to that. I have no other explanation, it’s just that.
What are your musical influences? The older I get, the more I realize how many folk songs are floating inside me. Just that kind of music that you have noticed early on, even some pop songs on the radio, which, when they are played today, trigger something. Music from the age when you have not made a difference, and did not want to make a difference. Everything is equally good. It’s just music.
Tell us about the video shoot for “Das Gezabel”! We did not take much notice of the video shoot for “Das Gezabel”, because we just played our normal concert and were sitting around with friends and family. Two friends of ours who had cameras with them were photographing everything and made loads of pictures. The video consists of more than 12,000 individual photos that are sometimes in 14 layers one above the other. The video consists only of those photos, and it was just a normal afternoon for us. But then, of course, they were sitting to cut it, and I think it took a couple of weeks with 16 hours a day, at least.
The track list of your new album is a real tongue twister. Please read it to us! So here we go with the intro “Schnurbi”. Then comes “Der Stabsvörnern”. “Kernspalte” is a short interlude. Then, “Spitz-Auge”, “Globale Gehung” and “Das Gezabel” of which we already had a single, then “Vörnern-Anwärter”, “Hinrich zur See”, “Der Buhold” – a monster song, then “Speiseberndchen”, “Fochleise-Kassette”, “Trümmerung” – that’s a great trick, the “Datenzwerg”, “Der Ast-Spink”, “Schwer vebindlich”, “Des Bieres Meuse” and of course “Das Gezabel De Luxe”.
The title of your new album sounds much easier, what’s the idea behind? “Guten Tag” is the album’s title. It is an international title. It’s German, but an international audience will understand it, and it fits well. And yes, if the album is to have a title, it’s “Guten Tag”. I really like it. In any case, the album title had to be German, but not as weird as the track names. The album title should be such that you can at least pronounce it – even if you do not speak German.
Thank you very much Paul and good luck with everything!