February 22, 2008

My introduction to Kraftwerk was hearing ‘The Model’ in 1981, the B-Side was ‘Computer Love’ which is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I hadn’t been aware that ‘The Model’ actually came from their 1977 album ‘Man Machine’. Not sure how it happened but for some reason ‘The Model’ was a big hit 4 years after it’s original release. I remember buying their latest album ‘Computer World’ after this and being confused as to why ‘The Model’ wasn’t on the album. In the dark days of the early 80′s the only information about such bands and records came from magazines and sporadic TV shows. The internet has made such a difference to discovering new music.


For quite a while a became a little obsessed with Kraftwerk and devoted my spare pocket money to buying their back catalogue. I must say that, although really ground breaking at the time I find ‘ Radioactivity’, ‘Autobahn’ & ‘Trans Europe Express’ quite difficult to listen too. I much prefer their almost perfect melody driven tracks. ‘Computer World’ for me is probably my favorite album.

In 1986 they released ‘Electric Cafe’ – Kraftwerk had discovered sampling. This for me is a landmark album that spawned a whole generation of imitators, ‘Violator’ is massively influenced by ‘Electric Cafe’. Famously DM employed Francois Kevorkian to mix ‘Violator’ as he had mixed ‘Electric Cafe.

In 1987 I started to work with a guy called Stuart Towers, he got me into using Ataris for sequencing using Steinbergs Pro-24, for me this was a complete revelation. We recorded a few songs with Gaz Birtles who has a small 8-track studio in Leicester. Gaz had a varied career in music, singing with his band The Swinging Laurels, their album was produced by Steve Levine. He told me that he had seen Kraftwerk at De Montfort Hall in Leicester in 1982, he said he was amazed at the quality of the sound and said it sounded like a the loudest and best hi-fi ever.

I first got to see Kraftwerk live in 1991 in Birmingham, I was completely blown away by their sound and show. This was around the time of their own remix album ‘The Mix’, many of their classic tracks were reworked and to be honest apart from ‘Computer Love’ I think are much better than the original.

I then remember seeing in our local newspaper, ‘Kraftwerk’ at the Leicester Poly, I thought this was going to be a themed disco night so I called the ents department and they confirmed it was a warm up gig to an event they were doing later that week with U2, I think that was some anti nuclear powerstation thing?? Anyway the gig was fantastic, topped off by Vince Clarke being in the audience. I bought him a pint, had a chat, he said it was the first time he had ever seen them.

When Karl Bartos left the band he released an album under the title of ‘Electrik Musik’, difficult to find now but that album is pretty good. I got to see Karl play at the ICA in London a few years. I also had a really nice email from him thanking us for gifting him a copy of our album on iTunes. I signed up to the Karl Bartos email list, the first one they sent had every single recipient listed rather than sending the email to undisclosed-recipients. I emailed the site and told them about this, Karl himself replied, so anyway at that point I had his email address so I used it to gift our album… always thinking!