Hans-Joachim Roedelius interview about Kluster and beyond
Hello Joachim, I’m really honored and pleased we can talk about your music. I would like to start with your childhood. I know as a child you acted in UFA films. Would you like to tell me more about it?
There’s not much to tell about because it’s too long ago, I only remember titles of films such as: “Verklungene Melodie” (lost melody) and “Der Choral von Leuthen” (the choir of Leuthen) and names of actors with whom I “played” such as Brigitte Horney, Willy Birgel, Ilse Werner…
How did you first got involved with the music?
As an animator for tourists in a naturist camp at the isle of Corsica where I organised and played drum sessions at the beach at night.
Around 1968 you co-founded the music commune known as ‘Human Being’ and co-formed ‘Zodiak Free Arts Lab’, the centre of Berlin’s Underground Culture. How did you got an idea to create this kind of avenue? It must had been very hard in those days?
Not at all hard because I only was involved in the process. The main spirit behind the idea of the Zodiak was Conrad Schnitzler. He found out about the venue and rented it from the city of Berlin. I came into the game when most of the work like refurbishing the rooms was done, I started there of course as well as all the others doing kitchen work, selling beer and such, but I was also from the beginning involved in the programm, playing music first with Schnitzler, Boris Schaak and others there, but he left the lab soon after its foundation and “Human Being” overtook the responsibility.
‘Zodiak’ had probably the most important role in history of German experimental music. How did the concerts looked like at ‘Zodiak’?
It all happened in a big black room. There was the stage in the middle and the audience sitting, or standing around, but we had small stages at the sides of the room and sometimes several bands / musicians played at once.
It must have been really fantastic to be a part of such a creative time and place? Would you like to share some interesting or crazy stories that happened in ‘Zodiak’?
It was most interesting from the beginning, it was THE meetingplace in town, everybody came and joined what happened there, there was programm almost every day / night, not only music also, free theatre, dance, readings etc. Klaus Schulze when he still was a drummer/percussionist joined the club, Edgar Froese with Tangerine Dream when they still were a rockband, Ashra Temple, Michael Hoenig and many others also from outside the city, such as Guru Guru, Sven Ake Johannson and many others.
In ‘Zodiak’ you met Dieter Moebius and Conrad Schnitzler and you started your band called ‘Kluster’. Would you like to share how did it all began and how did you got the idea to start this project?
‘Kluster’ didn’t start in the ‘Zodiak’, ‘Kluster’ was founded end of 1969 by Schnitzler and their first concert happended in the University of Fine Arts and the second was a 12 hour length’ concert in a gallery before Kluster left Berlin for a tour that went on for about two years. I met Moebius in the ‘Zodiak’ but he was there only as a guest, but Schnitzler was the main foundermember of the club along with Boris Schaak, Elke Lixfeld and myself. Schnitzler persuaded Moebius to become an artist getting him out of a restaurant where he worked as a chef.
‘Kluster’ was together from 1969 until mid-1971 when Conrad Schnitzler left and the remaining two members renamed themselves ‘Cluster’. You released two albums. In 1969 ‘Klopfzeichen’ and a year later ‘Zwei-Osterei’. I want to know what were the concepts and some inspiration behind the albums and what are some memories from recording this LP’s?
The concept behind was improvisation with whatever was making noise, from kitchen gear to alarmclocks to selfmade little tongenerators and such, but the two LPs we did we already were using three organs, two cellos, one knee-violin, a guitar, (all with pick ups), echomachines, reverb etc. playing a concert in a studio of about three hours length’ from which our producer took the material for the two vinyl adding poetry from the oecumenic movement on each of them.
‘Cluster’ has been active since 1971, releasing a total of 13 albums. I would like to know, if you can tell me what are some of the strongest memories from producing and releasing your first four albums?
Of course the ones we produced in rural Forst where we’d settled down after constantly touring for years (‘Zuckerzeit’, ‘Sowiesoso’) and the ones we did with Brain Eno and some others we did in different places. All these are connected with nice and sometimes weird memories relating the the beauty of the countryside and/or the interesting personalities of our collaborators.
On ‘Cluster I’ and ‘Cluster II’, the droning textures, the symphonic structure are really incredible…’Cluster’ then joined ‘NEU!’s’ Michael Rother to form the side-project ‘Harmonia’, before making ‘Zuckerzeit’, a marked change in the ‘Cluster’ sound. Would you like to talk about the joining with ‘Neu’, since I’m also currently doing an interview with Michael Rother…
All our collaborations happened by chance. We haven’t been at all after all the guys who finally did some work with us. They came to meet us interested by what we did at the time and asked whether we would like to join them in some collaborative projects. We didn’t join ‘NEU’, we worked with Rother from NEU, who came to meet us in Forst to ask whether we would like to work with HIM. We never did any work with Klaus Dinger, we once in the past joined Kraftwerk live before they got famous with ‘Autobahn’.
You also worked with Brain Eno. What can you say about that?
He came once (1974) to listen to a ‘Harmonia’ – concert in Hamburg. He jammed with us at some part of it which we liked a lot and we asked him afterwards whether he would like to come to our place in Germany to do some real work. He agreed and appeared two years later and stayed and worked with us for about ten days. The product came out twice, once via ‘Rykodis’c and ‘Sony’ in 1997 and again with bonustracks in 2009 via ‘Groenland’.
In the late 70’s you started your solo carrier. What do you think is the main difference between your solo carrier and ‘Cluster’?
There is not much difference in the way I work/produce, it’s all about improvisation, but there’s of course a difference in ingredient, instrumentation, arrangement and such.
Two of your latest albums are ‘Fibre’ and ‘Ex Animo’ and you started ‘Qluster’. I would like if you could present us a bit your latest projects and what are some concepts behind the music?
There is no change in the way I approach music at all, neither when I’m doing real solowork such as on “Ex Animo”, nor when I’m playing with the Fratellii Brothers as on “Reverso”, nor in Qluster on “Fragen”,”Rufen”,”Antworten”with Onnen Bock, nor on “Stunden” with Stefan Schneider (‘Torococorot’) nor with Pakistan Zahra Mani on “Damals” , nor with the many others I’m collaborating in the moment such as with Indian Chandra Shukla, US-Americans Tim Story, Dwight Ashley and Simeon Cox (‘Silver Apples’ ) Italian Fabio Capanni, Croatian Jurij Novoselic, Suisse Clementine Gasser, French Jean Benoit Dunckel and Christoph Mueller, Belge Alain Benisty and others.
What are some of your future plans?
My Future is now.
Thank you for your time and effort. Would you like to send a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine readers?
Stay awake, join the Occuy-movement at least mentally be careful, think about the miserable, help as much as you can anybody who needs help, take care of your parents, family and friends. Merry Christmas.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
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