Interview Harald Grosskopf April/May 2003 via email by Luuk Molenaar
1. Are you an autodidact?
2. On your website I can read you being inspired by Ringo Starr and the disappointment
afterwards about the real drumming on the first(?) Beatles LP’s. Yet you kept
the inspiration going
for your instrument. But are there other drummers who
inspired you in the course of your career?
Ginger Baker (Cream, Osibisa)
until the late Sixtieth. In the beginning of the Seventieth Carl Palmer and I
liked listening too Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra) before I stopped beeing
a fan of
someone and started creating my own style.
3. In the second half of the 70’s (correct me if I’m wrong) you developed from
to a sound & music designer, or a ‘synthesist’. Yet I think you
remained a drummer in the first place.
But how difficult is it for a drummer
getting occupied with creating melody lines without
getting lost in boundless
(Maybe off the record: as an average
listener I sometimes suspect Klaus Schulze, of origin a drummer too,
lost in his musical landscapes, although he has made quite a few memorable pieces
of music as well)
I only can speak for myself. I have no problems creating
melodies, chords, basslines, backbeats or loops.
An acoustic drum kit can
be full of melodies and harmonies. So I am used to all of that noise and I am
naturally keen with rhythms. Boundless landscapes are fine for a while! Musicians
should be very critical
for how long time they keep their musical tensions.
Anything gets boring after a while. You got to bring
things up and down. Sometimes
carefully. Somtimes with a crash. I definitely hope to never bore anybody
with my tunes. Before I met Klaus (Schulze) I never had any recording or solo
intensions. My intentions
always were to play drums physically in a line up
of musicians. The only thing I knew I wasn`t gonna do
any more playing Rock
music. In 1979 there was nobody that was interested to play and work with me as
I had it in mind. Ashra gathered a few times in year and had interesting conversations
had intensive recording sessions, toured through France or
took the opportunity to have a TV performance
at Barcelona. In the meantime
I was boring myself. In those moments I remebered the 8 track REVOX I had.
The only chance to keep on trucking with music semmed sitting down and play all
the instruments and
voices myself. Two Synthies, a new KORG "something", that
had 2 voices, a Mini Moog and a ARP 16-step
sequencer. For the technical freaks:
It was a Revox 2track recorder rebuild into an 8-track machine.
REVOX was part of my fee that I received when I worked for Klaus on the "X" and
"Body Love 1 + 2". You must know that I felt myself beeing a drummer. Drummers
usual serving backbeats.
During previous recording sessions in the past I
just had to drum when somebody gave me red sign.
I never had to care about
knobs and faders until that moment. I had no idea how all those machines
working when I sat down recording my first album "Synthesist". When I arrived
in Krefeld for the
"Synthesist"sessions to stay at Udo Hantens flat I expected
him to help me recording. Instead he said
very friendly: "Here are they keys.
Stay as long as You like!" and went to stay for 6 weeks at his girlfriends
apartment. I do not want to say that he did not help me then. He helped me a lot!
To stay for 6 weeks
in his flat was an incredible gift. And instructions of
course. On top he lended me his Mini Moog and his
16-step ARP plus his 18
channel mixing console and some other device. We went to Frankfurt together and
had the machine professionally trimmed. Beeing thrown in cold water was the best
thing happen to me.
It started getting me into the recording world. My feeling
in that particular time had a quite dramatic
touch because my girlfried had
left me a few days before I started the trip. Maybe some of those
can be found on the album.
Do you think that the EM of today will or could be (at least partially) the classical
music of tomorrow?
(Thinking of pieces like e.g. ‘Timewind’ by Klaus Schulze,
‘Oxygene’ by JM Jarre, ‘Force Majeure’
and ‘Dantes Inferno’ by Tangerine Dream,
‘World Of Quetzal’ by yourself, etc.).
My experience is, especially
during the last years since I am connected to the internet world, that there
are a lots of people in the entire world that recognized what we had created in
the early Seventieth.
Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream had worldwide several
vinyl hits that helped spreading this cult.
I know of various musicians of
certain Pop genres in the past that took their inspiration from that
German sound. Of cours it is classical!
You haven’t done many solo albums yet: Digital Nomad came 10 years after World
Is that due to your activities for Ash Ra and Sunya Beat and
are you trying to create more room
now for further development of your solo
In this respect I think of your plans with Sunya Beat (read
it on your website) to stay out of the studio
for a while and concentrate
more on touring and live performances? Yes I am very buisy these days.
new material for another album recorded and have to work on final polish and mastering.
I just performed with Steve Baltes in Moskau at the end of last March. A wonderful
You can catch the details on my website: http://www.haraldgrosskopf.de
What’s the reason of having ‘Digital Nomad’ released by a not quite big(?) English
label, AMP records?
More freedom of action?
Major companies seem
not to be interested in my music.
They`re conditioned towards hype and sale
of youth. I am to old for Pop music.
But I had times when I was looking for
commercial success. It only hurts.
How would you describe the activities of Steve regarding this album?
participation, ……………? Is it still your solo-album then?
The basics of the music is mine. He is a friend and great musician and treats
whatever he touches
with great musical care, respect and knowledge. He is
responsible for the sounds and offers me incredible
and great audio technology for the final master. Sometimes he adds a chord or
we change arrangements here and there. It is a great pleasure to work with him.
Its also a lot of fun.
I can`t think of another musician who express such
a dynamic feel and technical audio perfection.
Is Digital Nomad more or less autobiographic? You as a (digital) nomad, exploring
areas and, if interesting, exploiting them? And then, when the
sources in that area run dry, breaking
up in search of other areas? (E.g.
from Mexico –Quetzal- to outer space (Sea of Tranquillity).
album expresses my situation. I feel like a single nomad. I have the image that
a lot of EM fans
find my tunes strange because I do not sound much like Klaus
Schulze or Tangerine Dream.
The Atztecs where very strong folks that had all
the times huge problems with almost all of their neighbours.
I like individual
human characters and situations. Repeating the same thing is over and over is
And stagnation is death. I am interested in personal, extrordinary
and unique music and artists that
always try to break into new regions of
Making a CD like this is very much a creative effort. But the same thing, I think
goes for making
up song titles. Why do you have, for instance ‘Gamma Knife’
been called ‘Gamma Knife and
‘Diving to the Reichstag’ ‘Diving to the Reichstag’?
I think a lot of EM track titles seem exchangeable
for quite some listeners.
I think I definitely hear a Latin American flavoured rhythm in
the Reichstag’, but look at the title! On the other hand titles are obvious
(like „Sea of Tranquillity"). Could you tell us something about the creation of
And about the tracks sequence? Why for instance is ‘Gamma
Knife’ the first track?
I tried to explained it in the beginning. Music
is a very abstract thing. When I work on music I am mentally
in some sort
of trance. Very irrational. I do not spend any thought when I play. I just take
parts that are
recorded when I was able to switch my brain off. I only get
rational when I edid such part. So the only way
for me to title a tune is
to do it also irrational. The titles have definitely nothing rational to do with
Maybe accidental, or in the mind of the listener. The criteria can
be humor (Diving at the Reichstag)
or when I like the title because of a technical
intersting expression (Gamma Knife).
Sometimes sience fictional (Alien Inspectors).
The moment you start recording, have you got quite clear for yourself what the
result will be,
or is the way to the final result a bit of a discovery voyage
as well ?
It is always a riscy adventure, because I never know where
the trip will end and do not know rational
wise much about music. I am naive
as a child that gets its biggest thrills when walkin on a stage and
idea what will happen in the next moments. When I look at the reactions of the
I performed in front of It seems that it can`t be boring too much
what I play.
(Electronic) music can give relaxation to the listener, but it also can get his
imagination going, sometimes in a quite different direction than the musician
Do you agree with that and do you often get reactions on
your music in that respect?
This is only one aspect of electronic music.
As every music it has a wide varity of different expressions.
See Techno and
its variations. From dance to chill You can find the whole thing.
Do you make a CD like Digital Nomad in the 1st place for your personal satisfaction
the pleasure of music lovers/fans? (If both, which of the two would
How high was your degree of satisfaction after having recorded
and released it? Do you know
something about the selling figures? Have you
got reactions on your website from individual listeners?
Do you get many reactions
on your website about your music?
It might hurt some people if I say
that I don`t care of any listener at all when I work on my music.
so many listeners with different tastes in the world that I would had a hard time
to satisfy all their
fondnesses. So I am gettin super egocentric when I sit
down on my equioment.
Isn’t it difficult to make a new solo album after 10 years, and to realize something
Although I haven’t heard your Ashra, Sunya Beat, N-Tribe
and other recording projects yet,
could you say that they are quite different
from your solo projects?
No, it is getting easier. I have much more
ideas than ten or twenty years ago. With my digital equipment
I am in a situation
only privileged musician would have been in during the Seventieth and Eighties.
Analog equipment was very expensive. To gain the same audio quality than with
proffesional digital equipment
You had to invest more than a million Euros
in those times.
When I listen to your music it strikes me again and again that it sounds very
(e.g. fast rhythms), instead of the endless sound tapestries,
which we often hear,
labelled as EM. Is that due to your profession as a drummer?
But Klaus (Schulze) was also a drummer and I daresay his music sometimes
sounds more like the sound
tapestries I’ve just mentioned. The same goes for
Tangerine Dream’s Pink Years (partially with Klaus Schulze,
and with Chris
Franke, who was a drummer too). You’re free to disagree, of course!
for the compliment! I am in good physical condition and health, stopped smoking
20 years ago
and never drank much alcohol. May that helps. I still get very
exitet about the things, especially music. I married my wife Anke 4 month
ago. She is 17 years younger than me. During personal individual developements,
psychological and physical aging a lot of people loose their exitement towards
life. We all simply get old
and rotten. Artists should get better and better
during their life. Some destroy there energy with an
excessive life style,
drugs and alcohol. Well I was endangered by drugs in my Twentieth but lost interest
My attention to EM went quite poor during the last 15 years. I am wide
open for any new music and
sounds and get easily bored by music that goes
on with the same sort of melodies, rhythms and sounds
for centuries. From
my point of view EM had expressed everything in the Seventieth and I do not see
any new directions right now. It became cult. Some like it. Some don`t.
Life for you is not only recording and touring I suppose. Are you occupied with
activities (concerning music, or other things)?
am a professional craftsman. I know how to carpent wood. I now how to drive nail
and screws into walls.
I can drive forklifts an small excavators. My wife
and me are looking for to buy a house in the next future.
So there are planty
of activities apart from music.
I heard from Frits you did a performance in Russia lately, with Steve. How was
Was it announced as a Sunya Beat concert?
No it was a performance
of N-TRIBE. It was wonderful! Steve and me had a good time playing in a club
named "16 tons" in Moscow. Great audiance. Great organizers and sponsors. You
can read the whole
story and watch some pictures on my English and German
After the release of World of Quetzal, did you have the intention to do a new
solo project soon?
How long do you intend to keep us waiting for the next
The basics for another album are recorded. I have to work
on the final arrangements and the mastering.
In autum the material should
be ready to release. Time flies faster than I appreciate. I am very bad
how long things need and take to develope. As I mentioned I am full of ideas and
my life span
will not be long enough to realise all my musical intensions.
I am planning to release a new solo album
in autumm. Definitely this year.
Never again in periods of eight or ten years !
Is there something you would like to mention, but I forgot to ask?
in the (near) future for example?
I like to thank the K.L.E.M crew
for all their intense, enthusistic and selflessness work during all the last years.
copyright: Luuk Molenaar for KLEM - http://www.klemblad.nl