Releasing his third album „Ways Over Water“ I met the Berlin based electro musician Fritz Kalkbrenner and we chatted about his permanent output and how he manage to live on tour. He has been part of the Berlin techno and electro scene since the early 1990s. It’s no secret that Fritz Kalkbrenner is a full-fledged soul boy. But with a voice like his, how could things have turned out any other way? Soul music is the foundation of all his musical endeavours. And like an emotional and aesthetic thread that he weaves through his music, soul, in fact, holds together his diverse musical influences such as hip hop, techno and house. The new album „Ways over water“ is out now! Order the album here: Digital: http://tinyurl.com/l5ger5z // CD: http://amzn.to/1mavPVi // Vinyl: http://amzn.to/1BLYAej
“Back Home” from the new album „Ways Over Water“
KALTBLUT: Hello Fritz! I’m one of the few real Berliner and I’m also just a year apart from you and so I want to know, where you come from an which clubs you visited the most, when you were young?
FK: I’m from Lichtenberg and the clubs were „Discount“, the first „Suicide“ and „Werk“. These were the important clubs. And I also been at the third „WMF“ at the Johannisstraße. Yes, these were the important ones, all closed now.
KALTBLUT: Entering the discussion about Berlin and how it changed: Do you also think, the club culture changed too much?
FK: What does „too much“ mean? Yes, it changed, but in it’s time. A transition phase can’t be permanent. It’s okay this way and no drama. We have to deal with it, our golden times are the yesterday days and these days are the golden times for the ones of tomorrow.
KALTBLUT: Your family is very creative and you released your first album in 2010, kind of late, when and what was your first instrument?
FK: I don’t play any classic instrument. I started producing with 17.
KALTBLUT: Did your family support creativity or wanted your parents you to learn something more established?
FK: That wasn’t a theme. They didn’t support us directly, but they also didn’t negate it. I believe, that if the surrounding is creative the rest comes by itself. If you have a pinched normal dad than the trumpet lessons won’t help neither. They didn’t send us to any art classes or anything, but we discussed and exchanged a lot and that encouraged us a lot.
KALTBLUT: You’re traveling a lot and do you ever have any calm phases or do you always work on new stuff?
FK: I create the new stuff additionally to the tour. I elaborate the sketches and when the time comes and I have maybe 30 ideas, I start producing. So the process starts again.
KALTBLUT: So there are never three or four months of free time? Where you just do anything? Always a process?
FK: Yes. But it’s not nine to five and not every day, sometimes I take a day off and so it doesn’t get that enervating and you have the energy to do it all the time.
KALTBLUT: I met a few musicians that really are out of order after a long tour and need their time. But maybe it depends.
FK: Yeah, it depends on how you live on tour.
KALTBLUT: In 2012 you also did stuff with Booka Shade, so you have the time to do other projects as well.
FK: Yes. Yes, but the time can be found. It’s not witchcraft, maybe it seems like that, but if you organize your stuff well, everything is possible.
KALTBLUT: I think, your output between the tours and everything is immense. Other people aren’t creative like that.
FK: I can do it.
KALTBLUT: That’s really good. Is there a lot of discipline needed?
FK: Because it’s a lot of fun, you don’t need a lot of discipline. You don’t need to force yourself and work a little in advance and than it just works. I don’t want to torture myself and so it’s easy. For sure sometimes it’s exhausting, but I grew with my work and the things aren’t that hard to manage.
KALTBLUT: You simply got a base now.
FK: Yes, a grounding.
KALTBLUT: After „Sky and Sand“, do you think your voice was kind of „over presented“? Did anyone ever say something like that?
FK: Yes, there were a few episodes with funny misunderstandings and because the song was very present, there may have been a few annoyed people. It’s possible.
KALTBLUT: Yeah, it doesn’t matter anyways. You don’t do it for the people who don’t like you. Okay, do you still live in Berlin?
FK: Yes. KALTBLUT: And is the live on tour hard for you?
FK: Erm… being on the road is a challenge, but if you know how to deal with everything, build spaces for your own and don’t knock off yourself… Drinking two water at a show, knowing there is another one the next day, and go to bed. If you live like this, there is no problem. But if you simply can’t resist and there are a few artists like that, you look like a wrinkled raisin the next day. And then they still have four shows ahead: congratulations!
KALTBLUT: That’s what I meant with discipline.
FK: No, it’s not about discipline. It’s about renunciation and if you miss anything. And I don’t miss it. Having a portfolio of experiences there won’t happen, what I don’t know yet. It’s not like „Wooohooo, what will happen?“ One day, you start to split it. Renunciation and anticipation. Maybe these are the keys.
KALTBLUT: Do you prefer clubs or festivals?
FK: Erm… clubs simply get rare because of the size, but if it’s possible from time to time you get an interesting impulse, because of the closeness and the special vibes. But most of the time it’s concerts or festivals. And that’s great, because you get there and everything’s fine. You jump into a saddle and there are working structures already. You can start immediately. It’s very nice and comfortable. Why should anybody not like that?
KALTBLUT: And in best case the people are already in a good mood.
FK: Yes! That’s also nice. The people on festivals went a long way and you’re not kind of a supplicant.
KALTBLUT: Yeah, you worked hard for that comfort. Back in the days, when you were young: what kind of music made you wanting to do music on your own? What was on your mix tapes?
FK: The stuff from the 80s and with eleven or twelve the stuff with attitude comes. I liked „De la soul“, „Tribe called quest“ and so on. And in these days, electronic music has already been there. Not with this special prescription, but already present. I heard a lot of Hip Hop, but it already coexisted with electro and it didn’t repel, it wasn’t the one the other.
KALTBLUT: I personally like it very much that a lot of HipHop artists so electronic music now. So… is your next album already in your head?
FK: No. There are already few tracks, but they’re really nebulous. First I need to finish the recent stuff. Album release and going on tour than and than accumulate and than start again.
KALTBLUT: Are you looking forward for the tour?
FK: Yes, for sure. You can see how your stuff works when you present it for the first time and you can see if you did your job right.
KALTBLUT: Have you ever experienced a disappointment? A song you thought it would work really good live and the people were just „meh.“? Or the other way around, a big surprise?
FK: Lucky me, more the other way around. Things, where I never thought that they would work that good. No, a song never really failed.
KALTBLUT: Do you change your set-list from time to time?
FK: Yes, depends on the situation. I also change it, when we’re already playing.
KALTBLUT: So, you don’t own a label, you’re here at Suol. Do you imagine sometimes to start an own one?
FK: No, than it would start to become too much. My schedule’s full enough.
KALTBLUT: You still know enough people to work with, right?
FK: Yes yes!
KALTBLUT: What are your favorite clubs in Europe or worldwide?
FK: Hmmm… all around the world? I have to think about that… The „Elrow“ in Barcelona is very good, „Berns“ in Stockholm is very beautiful, a wonderful venue. These are the nearly best, I think.
KALTBLUT: And you still like to go out?
FK: It’s really not much. It’s too exhausting. I don’t have the time and quality over quantity. I look very carefully, where I got. Maybe if friends play a show or if friends want to go out, but it got sporadically and more and more selected.
KALTBLUT: Are you getting more strict about the sound, if it doesn’t work so good? I mean as a guest?
FK: Nooo. Not really, I’m able to be a guest in this point. No, it’s not a big thing for me. It’s just that you got a surplus, also on the inside and you’re nit very hungry for that. But I think, that’s normal in a way.