Jürgen Engler (vocals, keyboards, guitars, steel-o-phone) from Die Krupps
Do DIE KRUPPS need to be introduced or announced any longer? Probably not. Since decades solely the mention of their name fills concert venues and festivals with fans with whom they want to celebrate industrial music together. Today we invited Jürgen Engler, the front man of the band, to our interview corner in order to talk with him about a new DIE KRUPPS record, his work at Cleopatra Records, the development of band and songs and his love to the USA. Some rumours were also shared and thus not only does today's interview offer interesting news regarding DIE KRUPPS but you'll also get an insight into the intellectual world of today's interview guest.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Hello Jürgen, how are you and what are you doing in faraway America?
Jürgen: I am good, thanks for asking. What am I doing? Quite a lot. I am currently working on a new KRUPPS record. They might be an EP before the record, depending on the material. We're also working on a KRUPPS DVD and a live CD. I am also working on a suitable single, of course.
RoD: Sounds to me that you're quite busy with work.
Jürgen: Hold on, I haven't even told you everything yet.
RoD: Then keep talking about the news. I didn't want to interrupt you.
Jürgen: I am also working on a rerecording of the ‘Stahlwerksinfonie’ with various guest musicians. That was everything regarding DIE KRUPPS.
RoD: Meaning that you are not fully finished telling me about news and what you're working on, right?
Jürgen: Not entirely yet. As you know, I am working for Cleopatra Records and am fully packed with work there, too. That's why the DIE KRUPPS stuff is taking its time. I can't complain, other musicians have to see how to get by. I am privileged to be able to only do music.
RoD: Now that sounds like a mix of stress and being content, am I right?
Jürgen: It is certainly a mix of both. But I am not working for five bands like other musicians. It is always difficult to juggle or having to juggle with too many balls at once. I can even this out financially with the job at the record label and there I have the complete musical spectrum. From Christina Aguilera to Iggy Pop, we had it all.
RoD: Wow. I am impressed. I always thought you're only working with bands from your genre but now you're telling me about Christina Aguilera. Do you privately rather listen to pop or EBM and electro?
Jürgen: I don't listen to electronic music all day long and if I do, I only listen to the beginnings of EBM and co. To listen to it in the background is alright but what has been put out in the last 10 years is quite different from the original. I don't see any innovation anymore unlike in the early stuff, you know.
RoD: I can definitely understand that for some parts even though I have quite a huge range of styles lying on my desk. Because of the job. But that's different, privately I also listen to way too much “old stuff”.
Jürgen: I don't let the stuff have a go at me too much. Douglas of Fixmer/ McCarthy always sung songs by BON JOVI on tour. Believe me no one of the ''old ones'' listens to that stuff anymore.
RoD: Now that sounds a bit like scene criticism. What kind of advice would you give to ambitious artists in the electro scene?
Jürgen: If something doesn't have its own style, you can forget about it. Please do look for an own style. Once when I listened to music I know which band it was from. Everyone sounded different and unique. I do miss that nowadays. I still listen to music going after the criterion uniqueness. If someone doesn't have any recognition value I won't be interested in it. Anything that isn't distinguishable is without value.
RoD: That's harsh. Harsh but honest. I sometimes miss really honest statements. What has value to you? Or better: How do you define “worthless”?
Jürgen: Well, it's like that: Everything that has been produced mindlessly and without anyone putting an effort into, something that has been copied in a cheap away, is worthless. I don't burden my brand with uninteresting stuff and copied stuff is definitely uninteresting. Innovation and spirit are interesting. Don't get me wrong people can copy as much as they like and do what they want to but I simply don't like it. If others like it that's perfectly okay.
RoD: According to the motto: Everyone can be a copycat?
Jürgen: Everyone can be a copycat, really. I'll give you an example: everybody wants to be like RAMMSTEIN but they already exist. It's not enough to paint yourself with silver in order to be successful. There's the original and the copy and the copy is boring to me because everyone can do that, really. I don't like people without own ideas who don't try to go their own way.
RoD: What happens when I, as a newbie or musical beginner, need to experiment in order to find my own style?
Jürgen: I do understand the beginners who at first imitate their favourite music with their friends. I also did that, I don't want to leave myself out of that. But then I developed something own out of it. Everyone experiments at the beginning. Everybody needs to find their direction. But to release something particularly in this identification stage is pointless. Nowadays there are too many bands releasing half-finished stuff onto the market.
RoD: Who was important for your musical development?
Jürgen: Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Who and a lot of other glam rock bands were certainly important for the beginning. They all were predecessors of punk. During the punk phase, THE WHO, PERE UBU and SUICIDAL were definitely important. They made a significant contribution so that my music could become DIE KRUPPS.
RoD: Pere Who? Sorry that I'm asking.
Jürgen: You don't know them? That's an experimental rock band from Cleveland.
RoD: Okay, I definitely need to listen to them sometime.
Jürgen: You should. They are really good. But to come back to your question: Devo also influenced me. And the ‘Metal Machine Music’ record by LOU REED. I took the title of the record literally and created something own out of it. Many name KRAFTWERK as their idols, that's not the case for me. I never listened to their music actively. I found THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX much more thrilling.
RoD: That's probably because of your love to the USA. Especially when it comes to your taste in music.
Jürgen: That's because industrial originated in the USA. It began in the mid-70s.
RoD: Talking of your love to the USA: Why did you emigrate there?
Jürgen: I never wanted to live in Germany, already as child I didn't feel comfortable. I was done with Germany in the middle of the 80s. My first US visit came and I knew: I need to get out of here. There were phases when I idealised Germany. But I met a wonderful woman years ago and now I am an American citizen.
RoD: What exactly is better in the USA?
Jürgen: Are you really asking me that? There is no narrow-mindedness here, less bigotry. Everything is more colourful and interesting. Most Germans ignore the US and have an opinion about the country based on propaganda. The lack of knowledge comes from that. The US are much more than LA and Disneyland.
RoD: You seem in love with the country and your circumstances there. Where do you live there actually?
Jürgen: That's true. I have been really happy since living in the US. I am currently living in Austin. It's really a beautiful city. It kinda looks like in Southern France here. It's not far to the sea from here. Besides, Austin is the “live music capital of the world”. You have everything here. There are different bands in every club, from the Goth club to the jazz store, really everything. There is different music every day. It's truly inspiring.
RoD: I think I have to visit you one day.
Jürgen: Come here and have a look yourself, it's fantastic.
RoD: I am working on it. Thank you for the nice conversation, I hope to hear from you soon again.
Written by Fee Wundersee, translation by Alex UltraRiot
Live pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)