Monday, April 6, 2015

Cluster interview (Dieter Moebius, 1997)

To: "Analogue Heaven",
From: Mike Peake,
Subject: Cluster interview (Dieter Moebius)
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 97 21:07:43 -0000

Cluster Interview

July 18, 1996. The German duo Cluster, (Dieter Moebius and Joachim
Roedelius) just did their first tour of America, despite nearly
twenty-five years of creating unique and unpretentious electronic
music. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to interview one of
the members with a friend a week after the concert at Spaceland, in
Los Angeles.

Dieter Moebius (DM), Kevin Anderson (KA), and Mike Peake (MP)

MP- Are you surprised by the response you've gotten in America on
this tour?
DM- Oh, yes, I can tell you I'm surprised, it's going so well,
and it's not always so many people, but they are all very happy and
it's really just amazing, and the fellows enjoy it a lot.
KA- Because of the response to the current tour you are doing, are
you thinking of doing any future tours, or are you just taking it one
step at a time?
DM- We are not thinking about it at all, if it happens, it would be
beautiful. Next year we have a little tour for the German Cultural
Institute, and some records to finish, so we will see.
MP- What records are you working on?
DM- We are going to make a tour CD when we finish the tour, and then
we go back and I finish a solo record that I am working on, and I
just finished a record with Neumier and a member of Die Krupps, and
have to make some edits on some things, so we are busy this year, I
MP- Have you guys always been busy with Cluster and other music?
DM- More or less; Joachim spends his time in Vienna with his wife and
children, doing his music and being a father, and I am just travelling
around, as well as making music and doing other things, some German
film music, mostly now making music again, but it was different kinds
of living in the last ten years.
KA- One of the things I'm curious about is the framework that
Cluster operates in. Mike was telling me that there is a Cluster
album about every four years or so, and then in the meantime, the two
of you each do your own thing with solo projects and collaborations
with other artists. Is that intentional, do you guys say "we'll
get back together in four years and do another album, see you 'till
DM- No, it just happens like that, it's when somebody is in a good
mood and there's some time left over and it also happens by
accident, we both have the time to meet and work on something.
MP- What countries have you had the best response from, where have
you been the most welcome with your music?
DM- It was always the United States, where we sold the most records.
MP- Really?
DM- Yes. And also the United Kingdom, and Canada, but really mostly
America. Really not so much in Germany and Europe. Italy also, but in
Italy they make lots of cassettes, and they buy not so many records.
KA- This is sort of an ongoing debate that I've been having, the
merits of vinyl verus compact discs. I was wondering what you prefer
listening to music on?
DM- Ah, I mean, from the handling it's really very good with CDs.
(laughs.) I don't like the plastic boxes, I hate them. I like the
old vinyl covers, they are bigger and it's nicer to look at, but I
hate it that all my records are broken. So, from the quality of the
sound I must say I can get along with the CD.
MP- Likewise. I don't personally care for the size (of the cover
art) with CDs. Kevin, I should mention that Moebius has done the
covers of a lot of the Cluster records and his own work; they are
always marvelous to look at and I despise the fact that the CDs are
so small. It makes me want to order a large version of the complete
work. Speaking of Cluster projects, I heard a rumor at the concert
(at Spaceland club, LA) that between Curiosum and Apropos Cluster,
there were two Cluster records released in Spain, but not
internationally. Is this true?
DM- I don't think there was anything released in Spain that was not
exported to America. I don't know now what records you mean. There
was something of (GARBLED) that came out in Spain, there was
(GARBLED)sie Hausen (??) One Hour was also released in America, and
MP- Is there any particular reason Sky Records has taken so long to
release Grosses Wasser and Curiosum on CD?
DM- I think they had some problems, first he sold all his rights for
CDs I think to a company, then he got them back. As far as I know.
KA- I'm wondering, because of what Mike was asking about the
release in Spain, the thing that came to my mind was that perhaps
that was some type of bootleg, or counterfeit record. I was wondering
if you're aware if there is sort of an underground scene, people
trading Cluster records of concerts...
DM- (Quietly) Yes, I know. There are some bootlegs I know already
that are produced in Europe and Luxembourg; we can't do anything.
I'm not anywhere (powerful), I'm not police and I'm sad because
it makes me be not more rich than I am, and I'm not anyway.
(Laughter) I'm not happy, but I can't change it.
MP- What keyboards and pieces of gear have been your favorites to
use over the years?
DM- Of course I like my very new one, the Prophecy. It's my first
real digital one, and although I tend to like to work analog, this is
a digital that's working in a way like analog, a little bit, it's
fun. I also like my JX-3P, the Roland, it's half analog; and my ARP
Odyssey and Axxe. That's all I have.
MP- You've been very prolific with those. Do you remember what
keyboard you used for the bass sound on "Oh Odessa"?
DM- Oh no! That's not really an easy question, you can kill me and
I would not know it! On which record is it?
MP- Curiosum, the first track.
DM- Curiosum. It's perhaps an ARP, but I can't say, really.
KA- Pop quiz!! (laughter). Another sort of question that's a little
bit less technical is, when you're not busy in the studio, and
writing songs for Cluster and your solo work, do you listen to music,
and if so, what are some of the bands that you are listening to now?
DM- It's a very different kind of music I listen to, I listen to
all kinds of international music, coming from every place; when I
listen to American it's mostly things like Captain Beefheart or Tom
Waits. All kinds of music, you know. What I don't listen to is
electronic music!
KA- Do you have a personal favorite Cluster album, one that you're
just more proud of than the rest?
DM- Oh, mostly the last one, One Hour I liked, and the next that's
coming, of course! (laughter) And I liked Sowiesoso, and also
Zuckerzeit, I like them. I like them all in a way.
MP- What have your favorite collaborations been?
DM- I have to say it's Mr. Beerbohm, who's my best friend. He
lives in Berlin. It just works sometimes together because it's fun.
MP- Could you tell us a little about your creative process?
DM- Oh, this is really just always improvised, and coming from one
second to the next. We always work in a multitrack studio, of course
this is more than improvising; we build up, but we begin by
improvising anyway.
MP- You're not using any computer sequencing?
DM- No no, never, never, computer sequencing, we are to stupid to
even... We're really not into computer machines, we always need
somebody else to help us record. When we make a recording just on our
DATs like One Hour, we go to a studio to get somebody to put it
MP- With the computer, the tendency is to over edit and go back and
fine tune, until the life of the performance can be extinguished.
DM- Yeah.
MP- Improvising directly to tape, that's something Cluster fans
might be tempted to try themselves.
KA- My last question is if you have any plans, because of the
enthusiasm you've been greeted with, are you even contemplating the
idea of doing a live album?
DM- We are doing a live album now, we record every show, it's going
to be a double album, and we play together with this band Bond, and
The Brain, and it's a whole big show we make, we are really five
people, they play first and then we come, and we are going to make a
big bonus track on both CDs from both Bond and The Brain, so it's
going to be a really lovely live CD of us.
KA- Will this be on Sky Records?
DM- No, it's coming out in America on Gyroscope/Cleopatra. It's
going to be "Cluster Live in America, the Erste Begegnungen (First
Encounter) tour".
MP- Will Americans be able to find any of your film music work?
DM- No, it's just in Germany.
MP- The cities you chose on the tour were probably related to record
sales over the years; I'm interested why you didn't choose to
play Detroit. I was always able to find your records there, but since
I've been in LA, it's very, very difficult (Note: this should
change with Gyroscope's recent release of the entire Cluster
catalog on CD, available through Curious Music).
DM- We would have liked to, but it didn't happen.
KA- (Laughs.) That's a very diplomatic answer.
DM- Because Diane, our fantastic tour booking agent didn't make a
booking in Detroit, because she hates the cars. (Laughter)
KA- We thank you for your time!

Contact Curious Records for the complete Cluster catalog. Many
thanks to Russ Curry of Curious Music for arranging the interview,
for making Cluster's music available in the US, and for arranging
their tour.

Curious Music
1847 Clarice Court
Coralville, Iowa



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