A Conversation With...

Wolfgang Flür: I Was A Robot

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One of the reasons German group Kraftwerk has endured for so long is because of its futuristic sound. Instead of aging gracefully, it has, in its own way, helped to define modern music.  With members portraying themselves as robots and with computerized dance grooves, they most certainly did sound like the future. Former percussionist Wolfgang Flür’s recent album, Eloquence: The Complete Works, compiles his recorded work since the beginning of the millennium, or, as one might more accurately call it, THE FUTURE. The world that Kraftwerk seemingly predicted is now upon us, and the music of Eloquence is fittingly modern. Cool computerized dance grooves, sexy vocals, and technologically aware arrangements seem to be the future that Kraftwerk predicted, both socially and sonically.

Flür, however, doesn’t necessarily concede that Kraftwerk’s music was intentionally prophetic.  “We wanted to capture the beauty of modernity, the local radio,  and the benefit of machines,” he says. “That era of Kraftwerk was really about our interest in technology and the instruments we used to make a music inspired by the modern urban environment. We weren’t necessarily making direct political commentary, except perhaps on ‘Radioactivity,’ where Ralf Hütter was singing about the dangers of nuclear reactors.” Nor, in fact, did Kraftwerk really intend to be prophetic about the method of music making, either. “How we as Kraftwerk recorded music on tape was intrinsically not futuristic. We really had no idea that computer-based recording technology and programming would soon arise When I decided to leave the band in 1986, Kraftwerk had no midi technique.”

Though they may not have been prophetic about the future of music, certainly, then, Kraftwerk favored the more electronic, computerized elements of music making over more traditional means? “Oh, of course,” Flür says. “In 1975, we actually thought that the synthesizer would make its way to all music groups and recording studios and that the guitar would be thrown away, as Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark promised us in 1975 after our Liverpool concert. But  I think music only got halfway there. Ok, there were many bands on the horizon who were experimenting with synth-pop, yet many of them went back to guitar burdened music later. Why? I don’t understand.”

Eloquence, however, highlights the power of computer-based music programming and composition. “if one has creative musical ideas, talent and passion to it, it is pretty easy to create music, because today’s music programs and apps deliver easy and understandable ways of writing (and correcting) notes to tracks of music programs such as Avid Pro Tools, Cubase , Apple Logic, Cakewalk SONAR, PreSonus Studio, or Cockos Reaper. You can be sure that the programs of today are helpful to me when I make my music. My partner Stefan Lindlahr is the one to take care of the sound making and arrangements to my sonic visions, melodies and lyrics. He knows the ins and outs of every program available, and he is the best partner I could have on my side, to help me create and compose my music.”

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Considering the popularity in the last few years of EDM, Dubstep, Chillwave, and all points in between, Kraftwerk’s vision of computer music and technology, then, most certainly has come into play in the new millennium. What advice, then, does this innovator have for the young composer today, the young adult with ideas in their head but not necessarily the means to perform music in a traditional method?

Flür is sympathetic, and in this regard has much in common with the younger artists of today. “I myself record my vocals with a MacBook  program in my bedroom as well when I compose my rough drafts,” Flür says.“I too have no group to play finished songs on stage,. I’m a studio creator myself and hope to get my songs on the radio and present them during my MusikSoldat shows on stage.

“I would absolutely advise the young “bedroom composers“ to continue their way of music making and releasing on YouTube or Bandcamp or whatever medium works best. That’s how the music is made now, and one should utilize it the best they can.”

Eloquence: The Complete Works is available now via Cherry Red.

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