The Future Past
The Pascal Bussy interview - September 1995
For several years from its 1993
publication, Pascal Bussy’s biography of Kraftwerk, 'Man, Machine and
Music' remained the only book devoted solely to documenting the history
of Kraftwerk. As well as the UK edition the book has also been published
in German, Japanese and French editions. Until now there has been little
information on Pascal Bussy, the man behind the biography and his reasons
for writing the book in the first place. The questions for this interview
were derived from suggestions from a number of the fanzines readers/regular
What came first - the idea to write a book on Kraftwerk or was it
suggested as a suitable project, after writing the book on Can, by the
Roughly speaking, how long did the book take to write?
Was it a project that you had at the back of your mind for some
time or was it something started from scratch?
What was Kraftwerk’s reaction to your initial suggestion of writing
a book about them?
Did your book about Can for SAF have any bearing on the Kraftwerk
tome? Similar points of reference, influences etc?
Are there any other bands that you would perhaps like to write about
in the future?
What was the principle reason for why you chose to write a book
Judging from the authors note at the start of the book, it appears
that the book was more difficult to write than you originally anticipated.
Just how did you go about interviewing people for the book? Did it all
depend on the agreement of Kraftwerk themselves before associates, such
as Maxime Schmitt, Rupert Perry and suchlike, would speak with you?
Did you have to resort to any surreptitious methods?!
The photographs used in the book were very good, far more interesting
than the use of Kraftwerk’s familiar press-release photos. Was it difficult
to obtain the used of these photos?
How easy or difficult was it for you to gain access to band members
themselves for interviews? Were they supportive of the book or more
cautious? Florian Schneider for instance has been very, very reluctant
to do interviews since the 1970s and it is known that he has told some
fans that he was not interviewed for your book, claiming instead it
was all made up. Can you understand his attitude about this?
Has Kraftwerk’s views towards the book now changed, after publication?
There is little scope for the views of Wolfgang Fluer in your book.
Do you feel that this was because he was not very keen to air his side
of the Kraftwerk story or was it because he has plans to write his own
book on this subject and was therefore unwilling to play his ace too
early, so to speak?
One area of the book that, judging by comments from readers of Aktivitaet,
was a bit of a let down was the period around the unreleased ‘Technopop’
album. Before the books release, there was certainly anticipation that
all would be revealed! In fan circles, this LP is very much the ‘holy
How willing were Kraftwerk to talk of this project? Do they seem
uncomfortable with the emphasis that has been placed upon this period
of their history and hence unwilling to go into any depth on the subject?
Staying with ‘Technopop’, do you think that this LP has taken on
a far greater significance than actually exists? Is it merely the tip
of the iceberg, one project amongst many that have been shelved? There
have certainly been rumours of material being destroyed (which Ralf
Huetter has confirmed in at least one interview) and Karl Bartos has
touched upon this subject too (he has been quoted as saying that there
is ‘kilometres’ of unreleased tapes in Kling Klang).
The work pattern in the 1970s for Kraftwerk was to release an LP
quite regularly but since ‘The Man Machine’ in 1978, the LP releases
have become increasingly spaced out. With ‘Computer World’, the reason
for the delay was they were updating their studio equipment and this
seems to have become a favourite excuse, also being mentioned in press
interviews for ‘Electric Cafe’ and ‘The Mix’! From your own viewpoint,
did you find this to be a significant reason for Kraftwerk’s rather
slow work rate, or are there any other reasons that are not so well
One particular aspect that is almost unique to Kraftwerk is their
willingness to translate songs into various different languages. How
passionate about this subject are the members of the band? Bearing in
mind the mixture of languages, sometimes a few even within one song
(eg ‘Technopop’), do you envisage it being the case that future releases
will see only one ‘universal’ language edition of an album, each song
flitting back and forth between the languages available to them?
Do you have any theories why Kraftwerk continue to play live concerts?
It seems perplexing; it is well documented in your book that the members
dislike this aspect of their work ... yet still they continue. Is playing
live still an important facet of being Kraftwerk?
How satisfied were you with the finished book, has it answered what
you set out to do in the beginning?
Were there portions that had to be left out, either through lack
of detailed information or for other reasons?
Analysing Kraftwerk’s past music press interviews, it seems as if
Ralf Huetter often sidesteps specific questions or give a rather glib
and/or vague answer to the query. Did you find it difficult to obtain
the answers you were hoping for when interviewing the band members,
were there areas that remained impenetrable?
In your opinion, is the enigma of Kraftwerk carefully cultivated
or are they really such free spirits that they have little or no concern
for the norms of the music industry? The concept of them being musical
workers, turning up at Kling Klang day in, day out sounds all well and
good, yet there is so little to show for it...
I believe that you now work for the WEA record label in Paris, handling
the jazz releases in particular?
Is the Kraftwerk book now a closed subject to you or are you still
keeping up with their activities since publication, perhaps with the
view of adding to the book at some future point?
Finally, are there any questions which you would like to answer
that have not been covered?
On behalf of Aktivität, I’d like to thank Pascal for taking the time to answer these questions and Mick Fish at SAF for helping to make this happen. IC
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010