The Human Condition

What began with noise art helped sew the pulsating, loop-delayed proto-techno seeds that would germinate in later generations as electronic dance music. Considered one of the founding fathers of Krautrock, the co-founder of Cluster and Harmonia Hans-Joachim Roedelius was an integral part of the music scene in 1970s Germany. However, it wasn't until his solo journey in 1994, that Roedelius felt his own musical voice finally came to life. Prolific and influential, Roedelius released as many as eight albums between 2000-2001 and has collaborated with Conrad Schnitzler, Dieter Moebius, Michael Rother and Brian Eno and more recently has teamed up with Tim Story and Onnen Boc. Roedelius' work has been released on a multitude of labels including Brain, Sky, Virgin, Bureau-B, Egg, Gyroscope and many others and he continues to make music today, his most recent album Tiden released by Bureau-B in January this year.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?

It started around 1967 after working for about ten years as a nurse guider of the dying, physiotherapist and masseur, but also as a roofer gardener, kitchen-help, cook, detective, mountain-guide, toilet-cleaner, flight and travel-companion, animator, waiter, ice-cream-vendor and many more of such jobs and activities.

Composers I listened to intentionally first were par example Yannis Xenakis, Pierre Henri, Third Ear Band, later Terry Riley and La Monte Young. Writers and poets I read at the time were mainly Rilke, Hesse Rimbaud, Rabelais, Artaud, Isidor Ducasse (Lautreamont), actors I liked such as Julian Beck and Judith Malina along with the people of their Living Theatre, Grotowsky a.o. The “flower power” movement was  part of it, but I was also very much into nature and its noises. 

I’m autodidact. There was no music school I went to. I can neither write nor read scores, but even so, the body of work that I created  since I moved from healing to tone-art in 1967 includes thousands of  musical works, about 1000 texts/poems, an uncountable amount of photos, photo-collages and films. There's a lot yet to come out from my archive of unreleased works.

What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?

Over many years I have touched hundreds of bodies of people of every nationality, colour and social class. I listened carefully to everything that my clients said during the treatments. 

The conditio humana (the human condition) is what interests me most since becoming aware of what I have to do as an artist. Men and how differently they behave, became the main subject from which my artistic work springs, either music or text/poetry or fine art. Not any musical or other theory matters.

What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges? 

As in the past, currently or in the future, it is and possibly will be almost always up to the very moment what should be done and how; whether I do solo or collaborative work, whether live at concerts or in the studio.  

What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?

From scratch, hitting a key on the piano, keyboard, synth. I have to wait for the right moment. I can’t just go and sit down and do it. 

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?

There is no such thing as separation of the two for me, I’m just doing IT. 

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?

I only see a relationship between my ability to create what I like in a given moment and the circumstances of that moment.

Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent? 

There are for sure not many people who are able to analyse music in that way and why should they anyway? I am most transparent as a person/artist; after everything that's happened to me and everything that I've done within the 80 years of my life! It’s obvious in my work. I don’t have to make anything transparent because I am what I’m doing. Person and work are one.

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