BESIDE THE AUTOBAHN

What will be the sound of Düsseldorf in 2020? Meike Glass and Thorsten Schaar present six bands of which we hope to hear much more in the future. Brian Storm of Studio Rabotti, an illustration collective from Flingern, has illustrated the local musicians exclusively for us.

Düsseldorf has produced an astonishing amount of internationally acclaimed pop music over the past few decades — and extremely influential bands at that. Kraftwerk, of course, took the fast lane on the musical Autobahn in the 70s — complete with Düsseldorf license plates. Without these iconic pioneers of electronic music, techno would not have come to life twenty years later. At the end of the 1970s, the German punk movement formed on Ratinger Straße. Eventually, the band „Die Toten Hosen“ emerged from that scene — still today the most successful rock band in Germany and honorary citizens of Buenos Aires.

The vibrant melting pot of the Old Town contributed to the founding of exciting new groups. Legendary clubs such as Creamcheese, Ratinger Hof and Unique Club provided the necessary inspiration and served as a meeting places for musicians, DJs and organizers. Those who wanted to found a band and make music in Düsseldorf have always found fertile ground and sometimes even rehearsal rooms.

With this heritage in mind, we wondered what could be the sound of our city in the near future. For a while, especially for bands making electronic music, hailing from Düsseldorf was di cult. Expectations were crushingly high when they were announced elsewhere as “heirs of Kraftwerk”, just because they happened to be from the same place. Today, Düsseldorfers are proud of their “robots”. The open-air concert at Ehrenhof for the start of the Tour de France 2017 is already considered historic. Recently, even the construction of a Kraftwerk monument was discussed, similar to the Beatles monument in Liverpool.

In the meantime, the band scene has finally come unstuck. Never before have so many interesting projects faced their breakthrough as in 2018 — and this is by no means limited to electronic music! There are the “Joseph Boys” who have borrowed their name from the art world and posed for a famous photo in the cold water on the Königsallee last winter. Or the rock band “Love Machine”, whose gigs have long had to be relocated to larger halls in their hometown for growing crowd sizes — and who will inevitably set new hairstyle trends.

We’re introducing 6 bands that could perhaps only have been born in Düsseldorf.

WATT!

Founded: 2017
Favourite Musicians from Düsseldorf: Kraftwerk, Conrad Schnitzler
Current Release: WATT! have not yet released an album, but you can sample some of their work on Soundcloud
Favourite Live Concert/Venue: Open Source Festival & Baustoff-Cafe in Derendorf
Facebook: @watt.music

If there was a section for ‘Best Up and Coming’, it would be headlined by WATT!. The Australian, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a beard styled in tribute to Horst Lichter, makes dreamy New Wave/Synth Pop Music, which sets the stage for his distinctive deep voice. His lyrics are about love, Ampelmännchen (the figure on the pedestrian traffic lights), the STASI and even the peloton of the Tour de France, complemented by hypnotising and dynamic electronic sound tapestries. WATT!’s music would be equally at home in Berlin or London, so why did Rob Keane decide to settle in Düsseldorf?

Simply … because of love. Actually, love twice over! He fell in love with a girl from Düsseldorf whilst studying music in Adelaide — and they are now married. Upon arriving in ‘the Dorf ’ he realised that the music that throughout his life inspired and fascinated him originated in exactly the city he had just moved to. When Rob is asked about his idols there is not a moment of hesitation: Kraftwerk, Conrad Schnitzler, NEU! In tribute to NEU! Rob even ‘borrowed’ the exclamation mark. So it does not really come as a surprise that WATT! is currently ready for take-off in Düsseldorf. It must be fate.

JOSEPH BOYS

Founded: 2014
Favorite Düsseldorf Musician: All „musicians“ from Düsseldorf deserve to be named here. The fact that you are from Düsseldorf entitles you to be loved.
Latest Album: „S——E“
Favorite Concert in Düsseldorf: Release-Party at Fortuna-Eck
Website: josephboys.de

The name of this punk band pays homage to Joseph Beuys, the quarrelsome artist with the felt hat. The sledge, which graced the first plate of the “Joseph Boys”, was a kind of bow to his installation “The Pack”, which Beuys first built it in 1969 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. At its center: a VW bus and 24 wooden sledges produced in GDR. The band borrowed the sledge symbol almost 50 years later and used it in a new context. Since then, they have referred to many Beuys quotes. The first LP, for example, was simply called “Fett” (“Fat”), written in capital letters. Beuys had once used five kilograms of butter for his famous “Fettecke” (“Fat corner”).

The five musicians are not artists by profession, but work day-jobs as cameraman, commercial director, stagehand, occupational therapist and perfume developer. The musicians interpret their records as a Gesamtkunstwerk, which is why they are only released on vinyl and the packaging is made by hand. The first record was produced by screen-printing in a backyard of Birkenstraße in Flingern. The resident workshop „Oneofthem“ is a cooperative with the mission to apply art to different materials. So, eventually, the Joseph Boys are all about doing everything themselves. Everyone is an artist — in their world this rings also true for the band logo, record covers and concert posters. The latest coup: The staging of their band photo. Dressed in white shirts, umbrellas and bowler hats, they went into the cold, dirty Düsselwater in the middle of the “Kö”.

LOVE MACHINE

Founded: 2014
Favorite Düsseldorf Musician: Stabile Elite
Latest Album: „Times to come“
Favorite Concert in Düsseldorf: Playing at the event of the association against drug abuse
Website: lovemachinegermany.com

Long hair, long beards, wide shirts and fingers heavy with a thousand rings. If you have ever seen Love Machine live, it will be diffcult to exile them from your memory. A live performance of the five piece equals a collective trance. Eyes closed, you dance and oat through looping rhythms, percussion and drums drive you forward and a throaty, deep ’n’ gentle drawl carries you off into ‘cosmic worlds’. Love Machine really do have a unique sound. It could be called psychedelic music, but in reality there is a lot more to it. African and Latin American rhythms join, there are hints of Blues, Jazz Americana and Krautrock.

Love Machine are the well established favourites of the Düsseldorf music and creative scene — in fact, they are actively involved in creating and building this scene themselves, too. They organise and promote ‘Ritus’ at the venue Schlachthof (a former abattoir) in Derendorf, where they invite underground artists from all over the world. Last year they wrote and performed a score for the classic silent movie ‘Nosferatu’ for the Filmmuseum and they can often be seen at film nights at WP8. Love Machine illustrate perfectly that Düsseldorf consists of a lot more than just Kö and Altstadt. That is almost reason enough to love this band!

MOGLE BAUM

Founded: 2015
Favorite Düsseldorf Musician: Grandbrothers
Latest Album: „Grown Heart“
Favorite Concert in Düsseldorf: Zakk
Website: moglebaum.com

In order to understand what Moglebaum means with ‘Organic Techno’, their self chosen music genre, you have to take part in a little accoustic experiment. Search online for the current album of the band (‘Grown Heart’) and click on the song ‘Slow Love’. Important: close your eyes for the next three minutes or so. In your mind a thousand images soon emerge. A scene from nature … birds, sitting high up in trees, catching the sun on their beaks. A gurgling stream, meadows green with moss and glimpses of the wide blue sky between the treetops. This is being brought to life by a power- and soulful voice. Flickering beats drive it forward and synth sounds along with a weaving saxophone bring it up, up towards the light.

At the end of the song you can quite literally feel the morning sun on the tip of your nose and the sensation of having a deep understanding of the Moglebaum universe. This is what make this five piece band so special: they don’t only make music, but create an atmosphere which is set apart from the ordinary, every day world. They basically create an symbiosis between the electronic and the accoustic, technology and nature. So here is an idea: next time, before you’re going for a stroll through Grafenberger Wald or are out to see the shores of the Unterbacher See, download the album. Then find a cosy spot between some trees, switch your phone to airplane mode and enjoy some real nature in combination with a bit of Organic Techno. I promise, it’s a treat!

BAR

Founded: 2013
Favorite Düsseldorf Musician: Orson Sieverding, Detlef Weinrich, Lena Willens, Jan Schulte
Latest Album: „Welcome to Bar“ 2014, „White Noise Remixes Compact Records“ 2015, „Remix L.A. Düsseldorf“ 2016
Favorite Concert in Düsseldorf: 8/31/2017 Salon des Amateurs as part of the exhibition „Asymmetric Architextures“ in the Kunstverein
Website: barmusic.com

When talking about BAR one does not only have to mention their concerts, in which they wear costumes by the Düsseldorf-based fashion designer Marion Strehlow, but especially their video clips. Who else still produces music videos today that do not follow the rules of impatient YouTube users? The clips of BAR are a continuation of their music by different means. They are also a very aesthetic matter, be it ‘Adios’ or ‘White Noise’, which could easily be exhibited at the ‘Julia Stoschek Collection’, the tucked-away little gem for international video art in Oberkassel. It is also somewhat befitting the image of the city that singer Christina Irrgang is an art historian by day. Her partner Lucas Croon, the man with the synthesizer, actually belongs to the band ‘Stabil Elite’, which has in the past years oscillated between Krautrock, New Wave and Yacht-Pop.

With their electro-pop, somewhere between Air, Propaganda and Kate Bush, BAR fits perfectly into the electronic heritage of musical Düsseldorf, which is permanently defined and redefined at Salon des Amateurs. By the way, the band name does not consist of three letters by chance. It pays homage to the band’s musical heroes Neu!, Can and DAF. Accordingly, BAR simply stands for ‘Band am Rhein’. Watching Irrgang/Croon at one of their concerts, you might inevitably be reminded of ‘Bakerman’ by Laid Back, at least when you’re old enough. The spirit of the 1980s also carries over to their work, and this, of course, that has a lot to do with Lucas.

GATO PRETO

Founded: Officially in 2012, started slowly with a few singles, the first album followed in 2017
Favorite Düsseldorf Musician: Kraftwerk, Jay Jay or Love Machine
Latest Album: „Tempo“ (Unique Records)
Favorite Concert in Düsseldorf: In Achim’s KIT Café we always feel very comfortable
Website: gatopretomusic.com

Carmen Brown is the tallest short woman of the city. The energy she carries onto the stage as a solo artist or as a singer of Gato Preto never fails to impress. Where to find her performing in town? Mostly at the KIT (Kunst im Tunnel / Art in the Tunnel) Café. She is singularly responsible for people breaking a sweat and the guarantor of well-filled dance floors. Henry Storch, the Düsseldorf-DJ-legend who died much too early, released the debut album of Gato Preto in 2017 under his label Unique Records. Gato Preto have performed throughout Europe, in South Africa and Uganda.

So, a Düsseldorfer record company getting the gig was a big surprise at the time. Gata Misteriosa is the new name Brown has given herself in this universe, and she and her musical partner, breakbeat producer Lee Bass, are known to European club audiences as an international flying circus. They describe their sound with the beautiful term ‘afrofuturistic’; Organizers speak of ‘Global Pop’ and the musicians would confidently agree to putting ‘Global Bass Traveler’ on their business cards. Their personal roots lie in Mozambique, Ghana and Portugal. But in Düsseldorf they have found their musical home.

Editor’s choice
Düsseldorf artists and bands you should not miss

THORSTEN SCHAAR
HAUSCHKA
Experimental Piano
ANTILOPEN GANG
Hip Hop
THE BUGGS
Sixties Rock

BRIAN STORM
AYS
Hardcore
KUSO GVKI
Hip Hop
MELSKOTTE HANNAFORD
Straßenmusik/ Pop

MEIKE GLASS
SIRKUS
Psych-/Krautrock
PONY
Experimental Electronic
KREIDLER
Avant-garde, Electronica

THE SHIRT — BESIDE THE AUTOBAHN
Creamcheese, Ratinger Straße, Salon des Amateurs, Unique Club and many more — this t-shirt pays tribute to legendary music places in Düsseldorf from the past and now. Artwork by Brian Storm, compiled by THE DORF. Buy it here…

Text: Meike Glass | Thorsten Schaar
Illustration: Brian Storm
Production: David Holtkamp
© THE DORF 2018

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