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slow #2/summer 1998

You know what I'm like for hanging around the Rough Trade shop, right? Well I was down there one Saturday (on my own, natch), eager to see one of the first live recitals from Schneider TM, whom I'd considered to be pretty much your standard Bavarian techno boffin with a tasty line in electro/distorto-muzak, with a debut album Moist out now on City Slang. What happened was without a doubt the most hilarious "live" electronic performance I've witnessed. with original Schneider man Dirk Dresselhaus banging away on a 303 and a range of effects pedals nailed to a plank joined by his accomplice Dirq cocking up a storm on the decks. If you know me I've probably told you about it already. Christ that was funny. Let's have a word then, shall we...

Do you consider what you're doing to be dance music?
Er... (looks baffled for ages — not a good start) Excuse me? Why do I do this? Last year I had the chance to do a Payola maxi (12") – Payola is a German label from Bavaria – and so I thought about it and I'd done one track, an instrumental track for a compilation called The Day My Favourite Insect Died for a friend of Toby from Payola. Some people liked it and I thought maybe I can continue with that kind of stuff and I made this Payola maxi and many people liked it and so I thought of maybe doing some more of that. I talked to City Slang, who liked it as well and offered me a contract. Then I had to think about what I would be doing.
Answer the question! Is it music for listening or dancing as there's a definite electro/techno feel to much of it
I think it's both. It was very important to me to do arecord you can listen to in very different situations, or dance to it. I thought it's a bit boring to do just a record for dancing, I thought it would be boring to do a record for just listening, so I wanted to have a mixture.

Have you deliberately sabotaged some tracks – as at times you obliterate the rhythm/groove with mad distortion – are you just being contrary?
Yeah, that's maybe in my mind.

What sort of stuff were you listening to before you started making records?
Electronic stuff, or just anything? Since '86 I am listening to the Velvet Underground, and I still do because I think there are even very many electronic aspects in their music, and depending on the sound and the rhythm Mo Tucker got – I like that very much; so this is a very important point and I listen to things like My Bloody Valentine and the late '80s Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, that kind of stuff. Sonic Youth.
So how come you didn't pick up a guitar instead?
I play guitar, I played for about ten years in several bands. I played guitar and wrote songs with lyrics, so that's where I come from and the electronic stuff I just started last year so I did it the best I could. I had no real idea before I started recording, I just did what I would like to do.

German electronic music is considered very cool at the moment. What do you make of all this attention?
I think it's good, there's much more interesting music in Germany than just electronic, so it depends maybe on the history of German electronic music – bands like Kraftwerk and some krautrock bands. I've never been into it so I just know Kraftwerk for The Model in my childhood days. So maybe it's because of the history, I don't know, but it's good. Maybe it will open a way for other music too, that would be nice. I would play in a band in the future, it's not my way to say electronic is the real stuff and fuck guitars: I think it's stupid to think like that. You can do rock records out of a chair or whatever – you can make music with everything you see, and guitars are great, but for me a bit boring because I did it a very long time. I did it ten years and I thought "I call really do it now, so I have to find something new". My main band split last year, so that's the way it happened.
Would we have heard of these previous bands?
Er... Hip Young Things, Locust Fudge. With Hip Young Things we did two LPs and one EP; Locust Fudge two LPs. No – three LPs for Hip Young Things, we were on Glitterhouse. I think it was at a time when German music was not very popular, especially in England. That kind of music was just noise-pop with English lyrics. (There is a possibility of a Hip Young Things reissue on Chemikal Underground, but don't hold your breath. You didn't hear it from me, okay?)

Some of the album (and definitely the live rendition) is absolutely hilarious – do you try to show your humour in your work?
I think the music is one to one with me. I used to have depression in the last ten years so I think I'm over the top, you know? I don't take life that serious but it's very important to me. The music, it's not ridiculous, but you're right – you can be more free if you take yourself not that serious, I think, and you have the chance to change yourself for the better; to develop yourself. That's why I'm putting maybe a bit of humour in it.
The funniest thing for me is the bass on Moonboots
That's just two bass guitars and one snare drum, no electronics, a three-track recording. We've got a show on Bavarian TV – it's called Space Night, it's about pictures from outer space, pictures of the earth photographed from satellites or whatever I've watched it many times in the past and sometimes there's really good music in it, and I thought about sending them Moonboots. It would fit I think.

How are you adapting to playing live?
It was the first time two days ago. I will play with a full band – this is not the regular Schneider TM live – Dirq was DJing and me just playing what I've got on my box. I think in future it will be different, there will be more instruments involved and stuff. I got a lot of electronic cheap trash like cheap E drums with bad sounds, but if you put it into a combo amp and put the distortion in it sounds very good – that kind of stuff. Maybe a bass guitar sometimes and so on. Open end.

Would you remix someone else's record?
I'm going to do it. I'm working on a High Llamas remix and I will do a Peter Thomas remix for Bungalow. It's not very easy for me because I got no sampler and no computer, I just do it with the trash I have and four-track cassette, so I always have to ask friends who have a computer and sample to help me, maybe I will have them future.
Would you hand your music over to be remixed?
Sure, but I don't really like the word remix, because remix means you have the track and you do a new mix, so I like if people get stuff from songs and make their own songs out of it, that's very interesting. It should sound like a new song. I don't know the right word for that sort of work, but remix is not really exact I think.
What's the most creative thing you've heard this year?
This year? It's difficult to say. I'm not very much into music at the moment because I'm building a house with friends of mine, and we will build a studio and stuff. I think I like Cornelius, especially New Music Machine, it sounds like a mixture between bands like Swervedriver and Aphex Twin, that kind of style. I love Beck. Hip Young Things played once with him in Hamburg. He's a nice guy, he's got everything under control. I'm looking forward to hearing some new My Bloody Valentine stuff – I heard about Kevin Shields throwing three whole LPs into the trash or whatever, so I would give a lot of money to listen to some of that stuff.

You only have a couple of German song titles.
I don't think it's a very German record. I got very different inspirations from everywhere and I think it's an international record. And I like English, it's very simple to explain just with one word a whole idea. Okay you can do it in German, but Moonboots – everybody says moonboots in Germany, and Moist is from a Velvet Underground song, so I had it in the car all day and I think moist is a good word — it looks good, it sounds good – and that's very important for the titles I think.
It's not as good a word as 'Ocelot', though, is it?
Ocelot?? That's good as well. That's an animal isn't it? What is it?

Why aren't the records released under your own name?
Schneider is my nickname, since years ago, and everybody calls me Schneider. I went to a party in the late 80s and I'd just moved and I knew nobody; I just said hello to everybody and said my name was Schneider, just for fun. These people became my friends, and they call me Schneider.
What's with the 'TM' then?
It's just a trade name. I thought about putting it above the name and then I thought it would not be possible to do that. Maybe it means 'techno music' or 'totally messed up', I don't know. You can make what you want from it, it's interactive.

 

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