Hot on the tail of their latest album release ‘Indicator‘, and between live dates, Soundsphere had the privilege of catching up with the legendary German dark electronic act Deine Lakaien.
“We never thought that we would last 25 years”
S] You have a very niche following in the UK. People seem to have either never heard of your band, or they are massive and near-rabid fans. So how would you describe your music to someone who had never heard of you before?
DL] It has always been our aim to create individual music with an individual sound: Not copying any other band or project. It is always difficult for bands and projects from Germany to get attention outside of Germany, especially when they don’t deliver typical clichés. Our music combines a lot of different influences; from German classical, romantic music to post-punk and new-wave electronics, late 60s psychedelic, French chanson and different folk influences from Celtic to Byzantine music.
S] And, for those who are unfamiliar with your work – can you tell us a little about your musical backgrounds and ethos?
DL] Ernst Horn studied classical music, conducting, piano and worked as a classical musician in different theatres, while Alexander studied theatre and film. There’s a shared fascination with the spirit of the early 80s and the whole independent movement. With Deine Lakaien we tried to express all our interests in art, literature, et cetera within the project. We never thought that this whole experience will last as long as it did: Almost 25 years now!
S] There’s a clear new direction in your music, tell us about that. What was the inspiration and where did you want to take your new album ‘Indicator’?
DL] It was important that it should sound like Deine Lakaien but also offer some surprises to our listeners. When you start to work on a new album it is also always useful to surprise yourself, to try out things you haven’t done before. Our solo projects are always a good inspiration for a new Deine Lakaien chapter. This time around we had a lot of surprising moments and a lot of unexpectedly strong material: In the end we recorded more than in any prior recording session.
S] How long was the album in the making, and what were your largest stumbling blocks in its production? What really helped you in your journey?
DL] We worked around about a year from song-writing until the final mixing period. In the beginning we thought that it might be hard work to collect enough satisfying material but soon we discovered that we seemed to be as creative and hungry as in our first years. The experiences during our acoustic live concerts last winter encouraged us even more. We played some new stuff in a very mixed set – songs from all or different periods – and our audience really listened to every song and cheered a lot between the songs’ performances.
S] Do you have an UK tour plans? We know a lot of people are keen to come and see you!
DL] If someone would like to invite us to play concerts in the UK we absolutely would like to come visit you. Unfortunately we have never ever played over there, although we’ve visited almost every other European country to-date.
S] Many of your songs for example ‘Reincarnation’, seem to represent an atheistic point of view. Do the songs represent your views on God? Or reincarnation? Or ghosts? Or are we reading too much into them?
DL] In our songs we don’t necessarily try to show our opinion on different topics. We often try to offer pieces of music which hopefully make people think about important questions. One of them is religion and the meaning of life, of course. On ‘Indicator’ you can find more political questions than ever before on a Deine Lakaien album – immigration, the ‘European question’, globalization, the digital world, racism, the internet, old world war heroes, Google, superstars.
S] Several of your other tracks deal with and are focused on technology (for example ‘A Forest’ and ‘Generators’). What are your hopes and fears regarding human technological development? What would you like to see achieved in your lifetime?
DL] Yes, technology is always an interesting subject for DL – not unusual for a German electronic project we think! But we always tried to combine the cold world of technology with the endless variety and colours of emotion. It is always the human being in the centre of all these questions: Loneliness and the deep desire to reach for happiness and emotional immortality.
S] There are notable mediaeval and folk influences in your work and in Ernst’s work with ‘Qntal’ and ‘Helium Vola’. Are there any particular mediaeval or folk pieces or composers that have been a pivotal influence? What role if any, do you believe historical pieces should have in modern music?
DL] There are a lot of interesting pieces from mediaeval music, renaissance, baroque, and all other periods of music history. Orlando di Lasso is as important for us as Schubert, Bach or Mozart. It is always a pleasure to drown into the endless treasure of music history and to go on working with the help of all the inspirations.
D] Sadly, most ancient music has been lost to us. If you could recover the lost music and song from any one period or culture, what would it be?
DL] The Byzantine period would be very interesting. Celtic music also because it’s had a certain influence on us.
S] At the other end of the historical spectrum, we have tracks such as the frankly awesome ‘Kraken’. Are there many other bands in the genre whose work you enjoy? Who are they?
DL] At the moment it’s difficult to say because we spend so much time with our own music and there is hardly time for other new music. Generally we always like to listen to new stuff from bands like Radiohead, Massive Attack and Portishead.
S] We mentioned ‘Kraken’ there, but what’s your favourite song on new album, and why?
DL] Difficult to say because we wouldn’t have released one that doesn’t convince us. Maybe one of the unusual ones like ‘Immigrant’, ‘The Old Man Is dead’, ‘Europe’, ‘Kraken’, ‘Alabama’…
S] A couple of questions for Alexander: How do you get your hair to stay up like that?!
DL] All these wigs were my best friends during down the years! And if needed there is always an electrical socket not too far away…
S] Do you have any plans for another solo album?
DL] I don’t know yet when but there will certainly be another ‘Veljanov’ record in the future.
S] Thanks for your time. Before you go, can you share with us your plans and ambitions for the future? What would you most like to achieve?
DL] We are very happy with our situation and what we have achieved over the years. We hope that we will always convince people to listen to our music. As long as there are connoisseurs listening to what we are doing everything is fine.
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