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15 Questions to Peter Mergener

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello, I am fine. I am at my office right now and want to answer your questions.

What’s on your schedule right now?

At the moment, I am composing new pieces which are going to be performed at this years so-called mystic night in the context of the Roman festival “Brot und Spiel” (“Bread and Games”) in Trier.

An early inspiration for your work in the 80s seemed to be the contrast between nature and technology (correct me if I’m wrong!). Is there a similar “theme” that links your more current releases?
No, not really, since ‘Software’ is no longer and I am concentrating on new things, such as the recently released DVD ‘Nox Mystica’. It is the essence of three years of mystic night and was performed as an opening to last year’s “Brot und Spiele”.

As quite a lot of your recent projects involve light shows and projections, I was wondering how important multimedia is to you when performing.
To me, they’re vitally important, because only in combination with these lightshows and projections can the content of the music really come across, as it happened in Trier. And, of course, the people want to be entertained, something which is difficult with ambient music. Whithout a lightshow etc. there’s a serious chance that the audience will get bored.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
It always depends on the type of music – a good Rock-/Blues-band does not necessarily need complicated lighting, everything is handmade and the actions of the musicians speak for themselves. But this does not apply to electronic music. My music is quite complex and one simply can not play all of it live - there would be many musicians involved and one would still need a sequencer to control the electronic processes. In my case, I always use a playback for a basis, with us musicians in the position of soloists. I would not like to sit behind the keyboards just by myself, it looks too much like a one-man-band. Guitars, drums, percussion and vocals always enhance a concert and the people are able to see that a lot of what they hear is actually being played live.

How would you describe or characterise your composing process?
I couldn’t pin it down to a singular method, it just varies too much for that. At the beginning, there is often a chord-scheme from which I derive a melody or the other way around. It might as well be a basic groove over which I would dub in a bassline or program sequences. Often, it’s impossible to say at the beginning what a song will sound like when it’s finished. Much of that stems from the ideas you get during the composition-process.

A friend of mine happened to stumble upon one of your CDs by accident – and loved it! Are you disappointed that the media are obviously totally neglecting a kind of music that has the potential to appeal to many?

Well, thank you for your high estimation of my work, I am very happy to hear that. It certainly is disappointing that the media does not show much interest in this kind of music, because indeed there exists a gigantic audience which will never know that it even exists.

How do you see the relationship between music and business?

Business in principle comes last for me, I am concerned foremost with the music itself, which I need to like. If it was money I wanted I would probably do something else, even though I am blessed in comparison to colleagues in this genre. Software was a groundbreaking formation, there was quite some money involved and there still is even to this day, even though less than in the past. But my solo-projects have also been succesful so I’ pretty positive about the future.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Yes, there is a crisis and on top of that, it is homemade. I don’t believe that the influential people within the music-business really care about the music, they just want what sells most. Musical fast-food, without high artistical goals, just entertainment and produced for the masses. Also, large companies like Saturn (huge German chain of media stores), for example, can sell at much lower prices because they make their profits from selling electrical equipment etc. Small record stores are being destroyed by this since they have to be more expensive and are not able to put so many CD’s on display.

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?

As long as there’s good ideas and the music really has some depth, there will always be the need to record albums. The picture does look a bit different with some people who nowadays just buy some electronic equipment and merely want to play around. Nothing truly new is ever going to come from that, it’s just the same old coffee being brewed all over again, I really can’t see the point in that. It’s quite pathetic, really, and I rather listen to some good old classics like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze once more.Of course, there’s also some great new music – such as Delago, who played live in a salt-mine and used a magical light show. At Prudence (Mergener’s label), there’s a lot of dfferent artists, who all have their individual interesting style, inviting you to go out and discover. Of course, I am mainly speaking for these people on the same label, but there’s other people such as Mind Over Matter, Ron Boots, Rainbow Serpent, Mario Schönwälder and many others, who are truly great in my opinion.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?

Sound naturally plays an important role. Having said that, a fantastic sound can totally loose its effect when being heard with other instruments and then sometimes, a simple basic preset is the right choice. It really depends on the piece. With some spheric sections, a great new sound will come across entirely different than when heard in a complex musical environment.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
It depends on what kind of festival it is goping to be. In any case, I would try to make everything as diverse as possible. There are a lot of possibilities.

What’s your favourite CD at the moment?
There is no such thing as a favourite CD.
For my own personal evening with music, I have compiledmany DAT-samplers with tracks I like for a particular reason. I put them in a specific order, but after some time I can’t remember what comes next, and this effectively makes listening to the tapes a new experience each time. These samplers don’t exclusively contain electronic music, other styles are represented as well, often chosen in a certain mood or moment. They contain e.g. Nightwish, Lacrimosa, Sarah Brightman, Marillion, Steve McDonald, Within Temptation etc. On others I have put Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Cream, Santana, Queen, Genesis etc. Also the Stones, Beatles, Who, all of the oldies.

Software had a sound that was totally recognisable – timeless and yet futuristic. Are you aware of how special your music was and still is? Or do you consider this chapter closed?

No, of course it’s not closed. It’s still me playing, and with a lot of Mergener solo-projects you can discover my handwriting. You can’t escape from yourself. I am still supportive of these Software-tracks, they are a part of my soul.

As Mergener/Weisser:
Beam Scape (1984) IC Digit
Phancyful Fire (1985) IC Digit

With Software:

Chip Meditation I (1985) IC Digit
Electronic Universe I (1985) IC Digit 
Chip Meditation II   (1985) IC Digit
Past-Present-Future (1987) IC Digit
Syn-Code    (1987) IC Digit
Digital Dance (1988) IC Digit
Electronic Universe II (1988) IC Digit
Dea Alba (1988) IC Digit
LIVE-3rd Dimension (1989) IC Digit
Ocean (1990) IC Digit
Software Visions (1992) IC Digit
Space Design (1993) IC Digit
Ten Years (1994) IC Digit
Brain Food Music (1994) IC Digit
Heaven to Hell (1995) IC Digit
Sky-Dive (1997) IC Digit
Fire-Works (1998) IC Digit
Mystic Millenium (1998) IC Digit
Fragrance (1990) IC Digit

Creatures (1991) Cue Records
Passage in Time (1991) Cue Records
Take Off (1992) Cue Records
Live Dates (1993) Cue Records
Creatures II - Let there be more light (1994) Cue Records
P.C.M. Rhythm and Bytes (1995) Cue Records
Applaus für die Schöpfung (1995) Cue Records
Best of Mergener (1996) Cue Records
Instinctive Traveller (1997) Cue Records
Noises in the Sky (1998) Cue Records
African Smile (1999) Prudence
Wet Places (2001) Prudence
Cruisin' (2002) Prudence
Nox Msytica (2003) Prudence
Lounge Control (2004) Prudence
Nox Mystica Live (2005) 

Peter Mergener

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