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15 Questions to Harald Grosskopf

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello Tobias, I am fine, apart from having caught a cold. I am living in Solingen / Germany. Solingen is a small, quiet little town 25 km to the North of Cologne. Famous for its knife and steel production. The area is very nice. Beautiful landscape with hills, forest and tiny little villages with middle age character.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Two years ago I got married. My wife Anke who is a teacher of Mathematics and Computer science and I became the most happy parents of twins, a girl named Sky and a boy named Beck, in March last year. After issuing my last album YETI SOCIETY  I decided to take a break producing music for something like 1,5 or 2 years, to be able to be a good father to my most sweet children. They`re lovely and can be very funny apart from keeping us busy. It's an enrichment to life I did not expect before I actually experienced it. We also bought an old house, built in 1914 that still needs to be restaurated here and there. Wich is my job. A light room under the roof is reserved for me turning it into a music studio. I hope it will be ready prepared until the end of this summer.

How would you describe or characterise your composing process?
It`s a complete jump into the unknown. My intension is to improve. I love playing with things I have not heard before. It thrills me beeing confronted with the “Unheard”. Its a metaphysical process that I can`t control. I am a quite impatient person and it can be hard waiting to be kissed by the gods or godess if you like. As soon as something sounds as though I've heard it before, I most of the times get very easily bored. I turn on my recording equipment hoping to fetch a peace of heaven for this time again. My computer contains complex multi track music recording software. I start trying and playing sounds, melodies, basslines and drum samples until it hits me  emotionally. First I record Midi tracks. Thats just sort of bits and bytes, like a painter is sketching his motives. Then, if nessesary reparing mistakes, wrong notes a.s.o. Still on the Midi recording level. If I still like it after having listening to such a basic track for a while I record it audio wise. That all goes parallel. From the beginning of the audio recoeding I add peripheric proceedings, like echoes, reverberation, filter a.s.o. but do not record them to be able to work it out finally in the mixing process. Those basic tracks are mostly Four or Eight bars long. I build one track after the other upon those basics. Those basics stay the catcher of a peace through the whole process of recording. Sometimes it happens that I put a whole peace in the trash can if I turns out to bore me, even when I had liked it in the beginning.”   

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Most of them lie in the past, like reading books of Hermann Hesse in my early Twenties. Later Henry Miller, Simone de Beauvoir. I love cinema. Spent a lot of money on Hollywood in my Berlin decade. Or listening to interesting music. That where the Beatles in the Sixties, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd in the Seventies and I was happy to meet personally musicians like Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching and producing that original stuff we made then.

How do you see the relationship between music and business?
To tell You the truth. I think it is completely fucked! Doing music for money can be the worse relationship on earth. Takes away creativity. I doubt that is does any good to an artist. One must be very strong. Most of the artists that earned a hell of a lot money got distroyed in the end. I personally met people that died too early because they could not stand the pressure.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

I see a huge crisis as You might take out of my former statement. The music industry is, like most other western industries also on the path we call globalisation. A hand full of companies rule that music business. Every day they merge to form a bigger conglomerate. Bertelsmann-Sony, Time-Warner a.s.o.....
At the top, it makes no difference wether they sell soap, weapons or music. Which, in some cases, they actually do. Scoring money is their main thing. In the Seventies we still had idealistic A&R managers, that mostly were looking for interesting new music and creative artists. Because that was what was selling. Thats the past! Now that monster buisiness has only one intention and that is to keep international shareholders happy. Culture has no space any more in those structures. Cheating and manipulation is another common thing, especially in Pop buisiness. The charts are faked. The media that speaks about a newcomer or an established star is bought. Inflation is the keyword. It happens more and more to a lot of young and definitely famous, at least well known  pop stars that they are having no Cent in their pockets. Bad contracts! Expensive video clips and productions including cost for that artificial hype. Companies spend more than what was invested. Even a high dense media performance mostly does not help to push the sales like in the ole`days. If an artist or a group does not hit the charts after 2 or 3 weeks, the businesses loose “patience” and their sunny side performance suddenly disappears. Artists use to be thrown away like old rugs and never ever get a chance again to sign a record contract. The amount of records we sold in the Seventies would today have immediately hyped us into the top 10 of the record charts and would have made us famous like Xavier Naidoo (German Pop Star, tocafi)over night. Our sales back then were called "not bad, but.....”.  

Some feel there is no need to record albums any more, that there is no such thing as genuinely “new” music. What do you tell them?
Times of CD`s seems to be past. We definitely need new music like bread for our spirit and souls and I strongly believe that new music will alway be there. Young musicians will always create their own yet unknown path to get public. Maybe on formats we even do not know yet. Maybe the internet is such a path already. Free music. The internet is pure anarchy. Not to control. To control it, you must forbid people to use their telephone. I say: Make music if you have to! Under every (!) and I mean every circumstance. Under every (!) condition, with the equipment you hold in hand. If not build it yourself. Don`t say I will only be able to do something if I have this or that new machine or instrument. Bullshit! Be creative! Improve! Fuck the biz!. 

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
First: putting myself, then my stage companions and the crew behind into a good mood. Second: decend equipment. Third: a full house.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Sound carries structures and moods. Bad sound will destroy a good composition.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
True! Thats the only (!) thing!!!

True or false: “Music is my first love”
I don`t know about you. My heart belongs to several arts other than music. For example: The art of beeing a father.

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.
False! Music is perceived only by feeling and intuition. You have it or you don't. That's been trained in early childhood. No way later via intellect!.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Multi media mix. Film. Acting. Music.

What’s your favourite CD at the moment?
“Voices from the distant steppe – Mongolian folk music”

Does the success of stars like Britney Spears sometimes make you wish you had chosen for a career in Pop?

I always wanted to be a rich and famous star. But in the end I think its hell. Poor girl!

"Yeti Society" (Groove) 2004
"Digital Nomad" (AMP Records) 2002
"Sprach Platz Sprache" 1999
"World Of Quetzal" (CMS Records) 1992
"Best Of Harald Grosskopf" (SKY Records) 1989
"Oceanheart" (SKY Records) 1986
"Synthesist" (SKY Records) 1980

With Ash Ra Temple/Manuel Göttsching:
"The Making Of"  (MG.ART) 2002
"@shra Vol. 2" (MG.ART) 2002
"The Best Of The Private Tapes" (Cleopatra)  1998
"@shra" (Think Progressive) 1998
"Sauce Hollandaise" (serie poeme) 1998
"The Private Tapes Vol. 1" (Manikin) 1996
"Sunrain - The Virgin Years" (Virgin) 1996
"Tropical Heat" (Navigator) 1991
"Belle Alliance" (Ariola/Virgin) 1980
"Correlations" (Virgin) 1979
"Blackouts" (Polydor/Virgin) 1977
"Starring Rosi" (OHR/Spalax) 1973

With Klaus Schulze:
"Historic Edition Vol. 4" (Manikin) 1995
"Historic Edition Vol. 1" (Manikin) 1995
"The Essential 72-93" (Virgin) 1994
"... Live ... " (Metronome) 1980
"X. - Sechs musikalische Biographien" (Metronome) 1978
"Bodylove Vol. 2" (Metronome) 1977
"Bodylove" (Metronome) 1977
"Moondawn" (Metronome) 1976

With Wallenstein:
"Stories, Songs and Symphonies" (OHR) 1975
"Cosmic Century" (OHR) 1973
"Mother Universe" (Pilz/Spalax) 1972
"Blitzkrieg" (Pilz/Spalax) 1972

Harald Grosskopf

Picture by Rainer Steinike

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