Currently reading : die freundschaft””by Fiona Bryson
Spanning a career that has lasted 30 years and credited as the pioneers of Electro Punk, EBM and Techno, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft have stayed true to their initial approach and always stuck to the dark German underground from where they emerged. In conversation with one half of the duo – Robert Görl…
1. To mark your 30-year jubilee you reformed and toured again. I saw you live in London and felt that you still hit the zeitgeist just as much today. How do you see your own development, the scene’s and above all the music’s over the past three decades?
That we still hit the zeitgeist is of course flattering, I think it has something to do with our knack for originality and our pioneering work. It is often said that we were ahead of our time – that our style of music was copied by other bands – and even when imitated it was successful. We have never had anything to do with the general development of music, we stand for ourselves and that’s enough for us!
2. The end of the 70’s, Punk, the beginnings of early electronic music. How did this evolve at the time, the fusion of guitars and electro? Did bands such as Kraftwerk play a role?
With Punk everything changed! Nobody wanted 70’s music anymore – it was not only the style of the music – also harder lyrics – this is what we liked! Kraftwerk was too harmless for us. We were into the Sex Pistols, but we didn’t want guitars anymore – we preferred the electronic. Electronic with live drums, so more or less EBM. I also have a weakness for good Pop music.
3. Düsseldorf and Berlin were two German cities, which emanated immense musical creativity during this time. What do you think were the reasons for this and how did this develop over the years, from Punk to Industrial and later into Techno, especially within the scene that you were a part of? I ask this question because I come from Düsseldorf and have lived in Berlin and today see very little of what was once created there.
As I said before the reason for this was definitely Punk. At the same time there was also an uprising in the art world, “die Jungen Wilden” (“the wild youth”) and they were also into Punk, for example Beuys or Immendorff! Of course everything has moved on – today the majority of these kinds of people have adjusted, they are not wild and less creative! But in time this will also change again.
4. The Ratinger Hof, the SO36, today they are well-known but what did these venues stand for at the time? I went to Techno parties at the Ratinger Hof when I was a teenager. What I’m interested in is the scene at the end of the 70’s, beginning of the 80’s, and how it developed later, musically as well as socially.
We were always at the Ratinger Hof – that joint was like my second home. At the time I was essentially there every day – and it was in the damp cellar of that place that Gabi and I founded DAF.
5. “Du bist jung und Du bist stark, Nimm dir was du willst, Verschwende deine Jugend” (“You are young and you are strong, Take what you want, Waste your youth”). If the scene is looked at as a sub cultural movement, what did this track or rather the statement mean to you at the time?
This track is an absolute youth track – and we wanted youth to be lived out to the extreme or basically to be wasted!
6. What is the biggest misinterpretation about DAF? And how was DAF rightly or wrongly received in terms of fascist connotations?
That the media tried to pigeonhole DAF into the fascist corner never bothered us! We just thought it was strange how stupid the media were!
7. What was your experience of leaving Germany and moving to Mute Records in the UK, and your collaboration with Daniel Miller?
England was a big adventure for us – we went there without any money. We had this idea that our music would be viewed in a better or more neutral way there, and this was the case. The British Media loved us a lot – that’s no exaggeration. D. Miller more or less discovered us on the street and really wanted to produce our music.
8. Did you suddenly feel a bit naked or exposed alone as just the two of you? How did you approach this minimal presence, this new appearance?
As a duo, Gabi and I found our vocation – the fact that there were five of us at the beginning, then four was of developmental importance, but no more than that. Gabi and I worked towards the realisation of us a duo from the first minute we founded DAF. The very first DAF rehearsal was also as a DUO – in the cellar of the Ratinger Hof.
9. What was your relationship with the other bands at the time, for example Liaisons Dangereuses, Mania D and the local Punk bands? What or who inspired you then, and today?
We hardly had any contact with other bands, we were much too busy with our own music. Of course we new Malaria, Liaisons Dangereuses and a lot of the others. Inspiring for us was the Punk movement, however we had our own ideas about how we wanted to sound – unlike many Punk bands we were interested in synthesizers and not guitars, even if we initially had a guitarist. Even today it’s like this – I can only be creative when I concentrate fully on myself and not on others. Our main focus has always been originality, things that already exist are not our thing.
10. What is your take on the music scene nowadays, do you think that subcultures exist in the same way?
The music scene today is as it always has been, beaten down by commercial music formats – I have the feeling now more than ever. Since when has the subculture had it easy? The club landscape will always be the home of the subculture. Thankfully!