DER UNSICHTBARE: The Invisible Men Of Germany
Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
14 January 2003 -- Der Unsichtbare ("The Invisible", Germany) are Benzol and Charly Kent, who have released an album Die elektronische Kindheit for one of the most attitudest small electro labels in Germany, Kommando6, ran by Beta Evers of Augsburg. Der Unsichtbare's Club Telex Noise Ensemble remix also appears early 2003 on pHinnMilk's CTNERMX compilation, so pHinnWeb decided to change a couple of words with the guys. Bitte schön...
- So what's now happening in the lives of Der Unsichtbare, any news?
Charly Kent: We are doing the recordings for our second album coming up the first half of 2003, and playing some gigs all over Europe...
- First a bit about your musical backgrounds: how did you start to make music?
Benzol: I started with music in 1981 by doing mixtapes from the radio, when I was nine years old. Then in 1986 I started as a DJ, and in 1987 I became the bass player for a small band of my friend's cousin. In 1990 I was the front man for the metal/punk band Hounds. In 1992 I discovered the new electronic music and swapped totally to this direction. From then on I was DJing mainly in the chill-out areas but also played "tekkno". In 1997 I debuted as an electro DJ, and in 2001 started producing our own tracks with Charly Kent in Der Unsichtbare. Since then I'm also the "FX man" of a new metal band called FLEXXX.
Charly Kent: In the age of six I decided to use everything as drums, and I had to wait for eight years to get my first real drum kit... During this time I started to play in several bands, from punk/skate punk and hardcore all the way to jazz, "unplugged music" and other stuff like this.
In 1992 I got my first synth (Kawai K4) and started forcing my family and friends to listen to my latest tracks. Later on I built a small studio. Benzol and I met for the first time in Augsburg at an event called "Frequenzweiche" that he organised. At this time I had a solo project and I played there for several times. After that he asked me to produce some of his tracks in my studio and we worked out some more, and Der Unsichtbare was born.
- What kind of equipment you create your music with?
Charly Kent: Some synths, but mostly with the MPC; some old and new synths and a G4 with Logic. Thank God Apple bought Emagic (by the way...)!
Benzol: Mainly "lo-fi" equipment and everything that I have found and which sounds good. This can be, for example, something used for gardening; also something like a broken cable. Mainly I work this out with a normal DJ mixer of six channels and some effects. I use turntables as an instrument for live sampling and effects and also toys from the 80's.
- Are there any role models or influential artists for you?
Benzol: Over the years there have been several artists, who have influenced me. Too many to tell them all here.
Mostly there have been (in chronological order ;-):
- The Orb (Mr. Patterson)
- Anthony Rother
- Slick Rogers (Kommando 6)
Charly Kent: Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax and The Sex Pistols in the early days, of course! But now there is no one special... It's like Towa Tei said: "Everything we do is music...", so you only have to hear what's happening around you to get some good ideas.
- And any current acts which would particularly impress you, or feel are on the same wavelength with you?
Benzol: Current acts which impress me are my friends from Kommando 6, Mr. Tecroc and Mr. Slick Rogers. For me they are some of the best at the moment and we do share the same wavelength. Of people who I do not know personally but for their music: Anthony Rother.
Charly Kent: No one special...
- How did you get together with Kommando6 label, and how has it been working with them?
Benzol: I know their chief Beta Evers, because we live in the same small city here in the south of Germany, and over the years we have learned to know each other from the events we have done together here. One day she told me that she wants to start a record label alongside her "party label", so I gave her my songs to be listened. And I'm proud to be one of the first acts on the Kommando6 label, which is now known all over Europe. The work done by Beta Evers is great.
- Tell something about your releases so far?
Benzol: My releases so far are some tracks at the labels Gebrauchte Musik and Dyhana Records, for their compilations. And the album Die elektronische Kindheit is out on Kommando6 now. A new album is planned for Dyhana Records, and perhaps something for Kommando6 again.
Charly Kent: I produced a mini-LP with Mondfeld, a d'n'b project in 1998. Also I've got some tracks out on various artists LPs and CDs; most of them on MDZ, a small label in Berlin.
- What about your live performances, and any interesting anecdotes about them? What have been the best and worst places to play, for example?
Benzol: The worst place for me to play is my hometown Augsburg. All other places are great to play, and I'm always happy to play somewhere out of my town. There are so many anecdotes about the gigs I have played. Enough stuff for a book. ;-)
Charly Kent: I formatted a ZIP disc with my MPC and I had to "replay" it in 60 minutes to be able to perform a gig. After that, I found my backup in a case... that was funny, one of the longest 60 minutes in my life.
- What kind of scene there is where you live, anyway?
Charly Kent: The electro scene in my town is me! It's a small town near Ruhrgebiet (the Ruhr area in Germany). I have to drive about an hour to visit a club... and this is not the best one. They play mostly charts pop. But there are some parties with good underground electro.
Benzol: A very conservative scene, with some spots of hope like Kommando6 or Dyhana Records.
- How is it being a German electronic artist, when so many other musical acts are coming from your country at the moment? Is it difficult to make oneself distinct or known from all the rest?
Benzol: No, we think Der Unsichtbare is so different from the other acts, that we have no need to get distinct. We're glad that so many people from Germany do such a great job, because we understand German music better than American style or something else.
- What do you think of the current musical fashions or trends like electroclash and so on?
Benzol: We do not think about the trends. They come and go. We do our thing, trendy or not. I do not even know electroclash.
- Is German electronic scene political in any way?
Benzol: The scene in Germany has become and more political, but that's a global effect. Everybody has become more political over the last years. Most of the labels are not political at all, some are. Many people ask me why we are so political in some songs, but it's no decision for us to be that or not. We want to say what is worth for us to tell.
Charly Kent: Yes, mostly the music in itself is not, but the people behind it are, of course. For example, visit the K6 homepage and you will see. I think the Germans are not interested in "political electro" because it's just not the use for electro.
- Your collective Top Ten for the moment/all-time?
APHEX TWIN - Come To Daddy
DAVID BOWIE - 1.Outside & Lodger
KEN ISHII - Jelly Tones
PRIMUS - Nothing Special
BJÖRK - Selma Songs & some of the 12"s
PINK FLOYD - Animals
DEICHKIND - Bitte ziehen sie durch
BLUMFELD - Testament der Angst
ETIENNE DE CRECY - Tempovision
SLAYER - South of Heaven
not in order but the best:
Anthony Rother - all tracks and LPs
Scala - Beauty Nowhere
Kraftwerk - Radioaktivität (German version)
Kraftwerk - Computerwelt (German version)
The Orb - The Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
The Kronos Quartet - soundtrack "Requiem For A Dream"
Sven Väth - An Accident in Paradise
Nirvana - Nevermind
Howie B. - Musik for the Babies
- Your own future plans now?
Benzol: Being alive.
Charly Kent: ... and staying...
- Your favourite question they never ask in interviews?
Benzol: Do you feel ashamed, because you are so rich and beautiful?
Charly Kent: And where did you get those lovely shoes from?!
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2002.