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Wolfgang Flür - From the robots to a human

The following interview took place after meetings in Düsseldorf in April 1995. In this interview, Wolfgang discusses the many different areas of his past and his new projects, including Yamo.
From Aktivitšt 7 - September 1995

Wolfgang Flür imageThe Prof: Tell me a little of your background. How did you get started in music?
Wolfgang Flür: My start in music was very similar to most other artists. In my schooldays I built my first band, The Beathovens. We played all the English hit-parade songs of the week and had gigs in the local area of Düsseldorf. We were specialists in covering The Beatles. After the Beathovens there were the Anyway, the Fruit and the band Spirits of Sound. With this last group we started to make our own first songs. Our guitar player was Michael Rother. He was hired by the avant-garde band Kraftwerk in 1971. It was the end of my school band. I followed Michael later to Kraftwerk, who were just recording 'Autobahn'.

You originally trained in furniture design but you became a drummer?
Yes, that was the thing I always wanted to do! The studies of the interior design was an idea of my parents, who were never glad about my wishes of being a musician. But in other times it was also very helpful for my life to design furniture.

How and when did you join your former colleagues, Kraftwerk?
In 1972 I was sitting at the drawing desk in the architects studio, learning to make ground plans for warehouses when I got a call from Ralf Hütter: 'Could we meet you for a talk about music and maybe make a session in our studio?' I was so astonished and proud of that important call that I agreed of course.

How long have you known Emil Schult?
The same time as Kraftwerk. They were together. They all were the band. We lived together for a long time in a big flat very close to the lovely river Rhine, in the old part of Düsseldorf. It was a very romantic time and the most important in my life I guess.

Have you and Emil written any songs together?
Yes, of course. But not in Kraftwerk times. In the last years, when I made my own project, Yamo, I asked Emil to help me with my lyrics for my new songs. I was not that trained in writing, but I learn very fast. We worked together on 'My Inner Voice', 'Little Child', 'The Telephone Bill', 'From The Ocean', 'Planet In Fever' and also on 'Signals Of Love'.

Have you also worked with Emil on other projects - such as design or artwork?
Yes, I liked to work with him on some art-objects, such as chair-frames and special painting frames and others. We also built the very first electronic drum-pad in 1973. Emil helped me with his ideas.

When and why did you leave Kraftwerk?
1986/87. I left this band because I had the feeling to do something else after all these years. It was a very hard break for me, with lots of depressions following, but I knew "something had to be changed". This became one of my new titles on my own project.

Did you have any input on 'The Mix' album before you left?

Do you still relate to the work you achieved with your former colleagues?
Not so much in the last time. I do work very intensively on my new songs. But I started to write my memories about the time with the boys. The title of the book will be 'Under one pillow with the robots'. (It is a special German meaning...)

What is your reaction or thoughts to the styles of music that now surrounds us and was in some areas derived from what you in your work in Kraftwerk helped to create?
This is surely a question of the generations. Our music with Kraftwerk developed more and more from the romantic melodies with its own special synthi-sound in the first years, to the rhythmic and robotic sounds from the late 80's. the 'techno' or 'tekkno' sound was created and a lot of bands did their own. The beat went faster and faster but the contents of the music became smaller and smaller. Today it's mostly the beat, that the young people meet.

Did you enjoy playing live and touring over the years in the various bands which you have kept the rhythm going?
Yes, I loved it very much. I'm a kind of vagabond and my home is the world. I could live everywhere, where there is a beautiful and healthy nature.

How do you feel about fans and a fanzine such as Aktivität?
It's OK with the fans, if they accept that I'm a normal, private person like everyone else. So I need also my private space. I don't want to be an idol to someone. Everyone should be his own fan. But this is a question of upbringing and education. If someone feels strong by himself, he can admire the work of another person without making him to his idol...

Do you get recognised in your hometown or on travels?
Yes, sometimes. But in general the profession of pop-musician in Germany is not worth so much as in your country. England has a very different pop culture. They love their musicians. In Germany, we are artists like painters or writers or actors. This profession is not that respectable as others. I had to learn this lesson in my own family.

You and Karl Bartos left to form your own project as Elektric Music. This is now not the case, as he is successfully involved with other artists and projects. Do you still intend to work with him one day?
Who knows the future? I was never really involved in Karl's band, but we are in contact. Sometimes we meet each other and discuss our music.

Have you any intentions to collaborate or produce other groups and artists?
No, I'm not sure if I am able to do so. No, I don't want to do that.

What are your plans now and can you tell us about Yamo?
I built the group before two years ago, to make a song for the victims of the war in Bosnia, especially the children that have lost their parents and were wounded in the battles. I wanted to do something instead of only watching TV and getting information. I could not stand all those awful pictures every day.

I created the song 'Little Child' with co-lyricist Emil and the singer Nina Moers. But I couldn't release it as a benefit single. There was not enough interest by the media or record companies. In fact, that was the reason to go back to music again. Now I'm going to re-record that track and sing the song by myself. My album, which I call 'Blue Stories', is nearly 50% recorded and I hope to find the right company now in these days. My concept is not creating 'a new sound' but to bring my stories with different kinds of music that fit to the contents. My partners in this work are Bodo Staiger (formerly with Rheingold) and Andy Thoma (from 'Mouse on Mars' project). I also met a young female singer at the 'kiosk'; Jedra Dayl. She has a lovely voice and is such a charming person that I am pleased for her to work with us. And? ... She agreed! I'm proud to present her in my project.

I hear the debut when it is released will be called 'Signals'. Can you tell us a little more about this and what we might expect from you?
Yes, you are right, I wanted to call my debut 'Signals', because one of my favourite songs is 'Signals of Love'. It's a sign to all the humans in the world. The music speaks by itself. But now I call the album 'Blue Stories'. It will be like a short-story book with different themes, from headlines of the newspapers, from my dreams and stories of my private life. They're all very different, like life is in general. They have to do with our responsibility for nature, the humans, the children. But they also have to do with observations of our teachers, our parents and the colours that surround us, with joy of life, love and fun and dancing...

Did you enjoy your meetings with people like LFO and Andy McCluskey from OMD?
Oh, yes, very much. I especially loved the meeting with Andy in my flat in Düsseldorf. We had such a nice evening in that summer, with some bottles of Italian white wine and a big bowl of the Wolfgang Flür special vegetarian salad. We were joking and talking the whole night then. Andy promised me to become the "Julio Iglesias de electronique" (harr-harr)!

Is there a particular artist you would like to work with one day?
Yes, I have already reached that point. I'm working with Andy Thoma, Bodo Staiger and Jedra Dayl on my music, with Emil Schult, Theo Queket and Lisa Hillebrand on my lyrics.

Is there any influence or music you like to listen to?
Oh, yes, of course I do have a lot of musical influences, since I can think and since I make music. I listen to every style of music that is developed in a good taste. Since the last three years, I do not listen so much to other music and I'm taking my 'silence days', I want to keep my ears free for my own melodies, if you know what I mean!

Did you ever enjoy cycling or other sporting activities?
I knew that you would ask me that particular question! When I was with my former friends and we did the video for 'Tour De France' you see me cycling with 'the gang' in a reassuring speed. The reason is that I don't like speed of any kind. I hate to rush, to hurry, to fly... (oh, that could be another new title; 'Don't Rush and Hurry'). I'm really afraid of all of that. I don't know the reason, but slowliness gives me more time to notice and enjoy my surroundings.

Another reason why I'm not in the usual sports is that I'm not interested in winning against someone else. It has always to do with a sort of competition. I don't need that. But I do go for long walks to the nice nature in this lovely area around my town. Sometimes I'm out for the whole day and sometimes I even go out at night. Not to the disco I mean. Not anymore. I have my best ideas by walking and mostly I go with my friends.

What plans so you have now?
Oh, what a question... Of course, I hope now to find the right company for my music and then I'd like to do some more albums with my friends. I will do one benefit song on every album in the future to support a home for children that were rescued from the horrible war in the former-Yugoslavia by brave people that are friends of mine.

Tell us a little about the sort of equipment you are now using to create your own songs, as your former band have always been associated with music technology to create their unique music tones.
I'm not so much into creating 'my own sound', whatever it could be. I'm more into making my melodies and my stories. I work very normal, as a lot of other artists. At first, I write my story and make the rhymes. During writing, I mostly get the melody by reading the sentences. I do only little arrangements afterwards with the usual Cubase program on my Macintosh computer. At first I set the drums and the beat. This is important for the singing, then I create the parts. I mean, the part of the song; the verse, the chorus or a bridge-part or other specialities. Mostly, I only know the melody line before. Everything else happens by doing and working. then I make a copy of my program on floppy disk and go to the studio of Andy or Bodo and we start recording the instruments, drums and vocals and whatever is necessary for the song.

  Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010