Get to know: Fritz Kalkbrenner
One of Berlin’s most well-known names joins us for the first time on 17th November...
Fritz Kalkbrenner is one of Berlin’s most well-known names on the international electronic circuit and joins us for the first time on 17th November to make his Egg LDN debut.
Going against the grain of the socialist surroundings in the Lichtenberg district of Berlin, Kalkbrenner first cut his teeth into the raw intensity of techno which soon infiltrated throughout East Berlin after the fall of the Berlin wall.
2018 is no different for Kalkbrenner. The German producer is still completely consumed by electronic music, so much so that he’s released multiple albums on the independent, Berlin-based imprint Suol and has shown industry and clubbers alike his ability to merge Hip-Hop, House and Soul into one captivating creation.
Ahead of his first visit to Egg, we chatted to Fritz about his thoughts on Berlin as a hub for electronic music, how himself and brother Paul carved a steady path to a long-lasting career and the concept behind each of his distinct vinyl sleeves amongst other things…
Coming from Berlin, you’ve been part of the city for most of your life and witnessed the changes that followed once the Berlin Wall fell down. Why do think Berlin has evolved into the capital for techno music over the last number of decades?
Not easy to answer! A lot of factors come into play. First and foremost, I think that the certain crack in reality around ’89 to ’90 pretty much paved the street for all that in terms of a young and hungry generation ready for that kind of music.
There was a possibility of spaces for clubs and an ability to make an inexpensive living in the areas of art and music which don’t necessarily pay that much.
So all those kind of factors came into play and merging into that, these factors created a ground for the city to build itself on, allowing it to evolve. No other city in Europe had those assets at the time. Your brother Paul is also heavily involved in electronic music.
Tell us the story of how you both came to be such influential artists in today’s current music industry?
I don’t know, there isn’t actually any story! For me personally, there was no plan or agenda formed so there is no story. I did what I wanted to do the most and that turned out to be my music and so did Paul.
We haven’t been lazy. We’ve constantly released music and tried to keep ourselves busy so that has brought us to the position we are in nowadays. So that’s basically it! There are no high points as such.
What do your family think of the routes yourself and Paul have followed in electronic music? Are they surprised this is what you both do now?
Our family, in the beginning, weren’t so happy about these kinds of decisions for obvious reasons as they feared that both sons in the family would go into an insecure life without a regular salary which would cause a lot of problems on a constant basis. They were kind of worried like “what would the guys be and become and how will things turn out?” But over time and following the success over time, they were happy about it. Nowadays they’re kind of cool with it so all the worries are gone.
Your sound is extremely broad, it’s hard to nail it into one particular category. Who are your influences who may not necessarily be electronic music producers?
Actually, I don’t listen to much electronic music at all, I must admit that. Maybe because I’m already doing it and after ten hours in the studio, I’m fine without it! Regarding inspirational artists, how much time have you got?! There could be 100 or a 1000 names and I could easily pick the usual suspects. Starting from Marvin Gaye, J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, Holland-Dozier-Holland in its own right…the list is kind of long! There’s a tonne of Soul, Jazz and Hip-Hop artists that I could name as well.
I think it’s good to have those kinds of influences too instead of just having the typical electronic music artists you would spin around your own axis for the whole time.
The artwork on your vinyl sleeves is fairly abstract with a mix of muted to bright colours in what looks like thick acrylic paint. What’s the concept behind the artwork for each of your releases?
In the particular case of the last album, the cover is an excerpt of a painting which my grandfather did so that’s a remembrance for him on the one hand. On the other hand, when I was working on the album project and things got more specific, I thought it was fitting for the main artwork.
Usually, it depends on the albums. I had a few albums which had photos on the front and also an album with a sculptured figure of myself in wood. That was a funny thing though but it actually all depends on the album.
When you are in the process of making an album and after a few months you are a bunch of tracks deep, you get a glimpse of how the album will turn out. You then fantasise how it would look visually and what exactly will be on the cover. Then you find something which just fits.
After an extremely busy summer touring, do you have any tips for looking after your mind and body under hectic circumstances?
My first piece of advice would be to save your powers for whatever. Then the usual things - go to bed early, drink less alcohol. Quality over quantity in terms of partying. That’s actually one of the best tips I have.
What’s next for you on the horizon?
I’m still playing a lot of shows and working on music. I just got the last album in the bag so I’m kind of busy. I also just did a live stream with these Parisian guys called Cercle which was a lot of fun. Let me finish this busy year and do some music and I will come up with a plan later!