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
Prof: Tell me a little of your background. How did you get started in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.