Thursday, 3 November 2011

Interview: Roman Flügel "I can’t explain decisions"

Interview: Roman Flügel "I can’t explain decisions"

Writers have a notoriously hard time describing Roman Flügel’s style. Incredibly multi-faceted, a non-conformist and one of the stalwarts on the German electronic scene, Flügel recently released his very first album under his own name. Fatty Folders has drawn rave reviews for its diverse content (who could expect anything different, considering Flügel’s body of work?) and we were privileged to catch up with the artist to discuss Germany’s importance on the electronic music scene, producing solo albums and eighties acid house.

You became interested in electronic music after you listened to your brother's Chicago house music. Which particular artists inspired you back then?
Actually, it was because my brother handed me a compilation of House Trax from the DM Street Sounds series as a Christmas present back in `87. It’s still the most influential compilation of my life because it introduced me to acid house and early techno containing tracks like Phuture’s 'Phuture Jacks', 'The Dance' by Rhythm is Rhythm or 'Like This' by Two Of A Kind. My brother didn’t know anything about house music, he only knew that I was into electronic dance music already.
Good choice, anyway.

 As a child you played the piano and the drums - what aspects of electronic music did you find particularly attractive over any other type of music?
I guess it’s the combination of simple rhythms and unusual sounds. I started to like dance grooves when I first listened to Lipps Inc. Funky Town in my parent’s car on the radio. That must have been around 1980. They were complaining about the ‘primitive’ structures in the music but I totally enjoyed it!
How do you find the house scene these days? Are there any upcoming artists you're excited about?
I still find it very vital and inspiring! Take an artist like the 23 year old Ben Thomas as an example. His output as BNJMN is just great.

You've worked extensively with Jörn Elling Wuttke as Alter Ego, do you have any forthcoming collaboration plans with other artists? 
Not at the moment. For the first time in years I’m a bit more focused on my own stuff and it feels good.

Fatty Folders is the first album released under your own name - is it a more personal album than others? 

Not more personal than my other two solo albums as Eight Miles High and Soylent Green. It’s just that I’ve used my given name for the first time on an album format.

Why has it taken so long to release an album under your own name?
I don’t know really. It just felt like it was about time not to hide behind aliases anymore.

What's the thinking behind the name Fatty Folders?
I always find it a bit difficult to find the right name for an album. Fatty Folders sounded good and I had a picture of ‘fatty folders’ on the desktop of my computer in my mind that had to be cleaned out. Don’t know if that help.
It contains a diverse selection of sounds - which is fitting, considering your varied career. Was this diversity something conscious?
It seems that this phenomenon is a part of my musical output and it does not happen on purpose. I wish to do at least one album that is totally self-contained in the future.

You are renowned for this diversity and have stated that it stems from curiosity - do you simply experiment with a sound, or a sampler? Or how does it work?
I start to play around with different ideas in the studio and record them in Logic. Later I decide what to keep and what to throw away and the actual track starts to shape up. It could be a rhythm, a sample, melody or sound. Decisions depend on so many occasions and subconscious incidents that I can’t really explain.

What are you currently excited about?
At the moment I’m still excited about promoting my new album and the fact that after spending more than 15 years with Playhouse and Klang, the label Dial seems the right platform to work with. It’s always important to have good people around you.
Do you think your German origins have played an important role in your career in electronic music?
Through the years I’ve learned much more about about the history of German popular music –‘Krautrock’ for instance and I can feel a certain Germanic originality behind bands like Neu!, Cluster or Can. But to be honest when I first listened to electronic music - besides Kraftwerk - it was more music from England or America that interested me. Like Grand Master Flash’s Scorpio, for example. Later, when techno and house music started to become established I was happy that Germany was building such a strong independent scene that helped me to build a reputation.
Roman Flügel - Krautus
Roman Flügel - The Improviser
Roman Flügel - Deo

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