Klaus Schulze has had a prodigious career in electronic music over the last 4 decades. An original member of Tangerine Dream, he stayed for only one album before forming Ash Ra Tempel. Again staying for one album, he then launched a solo career in 1972 with the release of Irrlicht. Since then he has released more than 40 albums (more than 110 CDs!!), his style changing subtly with the decades. Recently Klaus fulfilled a long-term ambition to collaborate with Australian vocalist Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), and the the resulting album is the wonderful 2 CD set Farscape .
Sea of Tranquility writer Alex Torres managed to track Klaus down just after his recent live performance with Lisa at Germany's Loreley festival-read on for the full interview!
SoT: You've had a long career in the music industry. Looking back, what highlights would you pick out?
Klaus: I think the biggest highlight was when Richard Branson signed me for Virgin Records, which was the beginning of my worldwide 'career'. And then when Chris Blackwell signed me for Island (after being a member of Go).
SoT: What is your view of how Farscape measures up and compares with these highlights?
Klaus: Farscape is a new highlight of cooperation with another artist like I had with Athur Brown or Michael Shrieves for example. But with Lisa it is something very very special. Her voice is so unique, and I had to wait for so long to work with her. So for me Farscape is something very special.
SoT: How do Klaus's and Lisa's sales in the US compare with those in other countries? Where are their major markets?
Klaus: This is something you have to ask our record company if you want a correct answer!
I know that Lisa is quite strong in the U.S., and here in Europe I think our main markets are Germany, England, France, Poland and the Netherlands.
SoT: Farscape's 150 minutes of extraordinary music were recorded in only two days! Was all of the electronic music pre-composed or were improvisations added during the session to account for the direction that Lisa followed with her vocalisations?
Klaus: The music this time around, because we never met before, was 100% pre-composed/recorded and Lisa just improvised on top of it. Our concert two weeks ago at the Loreley proved that we can improvise. So for the next recording, we will do it like we did live, with no pre-composed or recorded material. The concert shows that it is much better to merge us in real time.
SoT: Was Lisa's contribution wholly improvisational or were elements pre-conceived? Had she heard any of the electronic music that you had recorded prior to arriving for the recording sessions?
Klaus: Everything was 100% improvisation by Lisa and she insisted that she didn't want to hear any music before she was singing along to the tracks.
SoT: How many languages does Lisa articulate words in? Are there verses in languages other than English? If so, what is the message in these words?
Klaus: Lisa just use one language – her own. There is no message, exept the emotional sound of her voice. Everything was improvised by her a hundret percent.
SoT: For me, the music on Farscapes I & II acquires a flavour of Arabian culture, in particular through the phrasing of Lisa's incantation. Was it your intention to paint a specific image through the music? If so, what?
Klaus: We just improvised without any intention at all, because in the end the listener should create his own intention.
SoT: You recently performed live in Germany with Lisa. What are the difficulties associated with performing such a composition live? What proportion of the music was actually performed live?
Klaus: It was a beautiful concert with no link to the album Farscape. It was also 100% improvised. We captured the whole show for a later DVD release. So everybody that wasn't there, can see it in the end. It was a fantastic evening. On the internet you can already find some amateur videos of this event. We hope that the DVD will be ready for a relese in Winter 2008. We just booked Peter Gabriel's Realworld studios for August to do the 5.1 mix.
SoT: What visual elements were included in the live show?
Klaus: It was very minimal light, as you can already discover on youtube! And it is on purpose very simple, because we didn't want to distract from the music by the light.
SoT: Are there any plans to play Farscape live in any other country?
Klaus: We will improvise when we are doing concerts. If it will sound simiular, that would only happen by accident. There is already talk about doing gigs in October, but nothing is confirmed yet. But I'm sure that we will be doing at least some shows around Europe. Maybe I will go to America as well. I've never played in the States so far, so it would be a good oportunity to do that now.
SoT: Lisa Gerrard's website is not publicising Farscape. Is she happy with the finished work?
Klaus: Looks like the people behind the websites are a bit lazy with their updates. The whole website is not 100% running anyway. I know that Lisa is very happy with Farscape, and she was also very happy with the concert we played together in Germany. On the internet we have created our own MySpace site for Farscape. You can find it under www.myspace.com/farscape2008.
SoT: Are there future plans for any more collaborations between the two of you?
SoT: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Farscape is an extremely enjoyable album - good luck with its promotion.
Klaus: You're welcome.
(Click here to read our review of Farscape)