- I haven't got any of those answers, says Edgar Froese, with a glimpse in his eye. Edgar and Bianca has just arrived from the soundcheck in Tivoli. Tommy Jacobsen, Peter Ravn (who took the photos) and myself have been extremely priviliged meet the man behind our favourite music ensemble, Tangerine Dream, for a very exclusive interview on Jacobs Tangerine Dream Blog.
Fortunately, Edgar does have some very interesting, well reflected and honest replies to the questions. Before we start, Edgar explains why he speaks with a lower voice, than usual.
- I'm in recovery, because I broke my jaw bone, while jogging with my dog, and the dog was dragging me, so I fell over. For about two or three months, I couldn't talk, I couldn't do anything. The jaw was broken too much, and for a year I wasn't talking much. In the mean time in the hospital, I was composing GTA files.
No rest for the wicked...
- It's true.
No one thought Tangerine Dream would ever come to Denmark. Why did it take so long?
- I thought I would never come to Scandinavia. We came because Sorcerer, with our soundtrack for Hollywood, became a Blu-Ray format, and now the director is travelling around the world, in order to promote the Blu-Ray. The film academy here invited us to perform the entire score. That's why we're here.
Tonight you will perform Sorcerer, with previously unheard material. How was it to do the research, and why do you keep the old sheet music, when you prefer to look forward, instead of backwards?
- At the time Sorcerer was composed in 1976, we had about ninety minutes on tape and another sixty minutes written down on sheet paper, notes and whatever. Out of the entire material we made a re-recording of the old stuff, and we recorded the material which wasn't used in the movie or never had been recorded before.
What lead to the decision of only releasing one LP, when there was material enough for two, maybe even more?
- Now there are two CDs and you can buy them tonight!
I sure will! In 1977 or 78 you completely said goodbye to drugs, tobacco, meat and most important, alcohol. What gave you strength?
- I didn't like kidding myself. I was working with friends in the music business that passed away, because of that. In 1977, after I went through the disaster with Bowie in Berlin, I said no, that shouldn't be my ending. So I stopped, within a week, smoking, drinking, became a vegetarian. Everything within a week.
That's very impressive, I really admire that. Since the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, there seems to have been a broader interest in the music of Tangerine Dream, which culminated in the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto 5. Can you tell me a little bit what other projects, GTA has led to?
- Together with different collegues within TD, I worked for about sixteen years, and that was both very sophisticated, very open-minded and terrible at the same time. After sixteen years, I started making a pause. Now, by getting approached by Rockstar in New York, I went to the head guy, said "I hate videogames, never done one", and I've refused huge offers. By talking to him, I found out what the philosophy was: Working against the establishment. So it's a social game. Lots of people didn't understand the philosophy of the game. I said "what do you wanna do, you blow up the establishment"? He said "Yeah", I said "I'm in for that".
In this day and age, musicians are only sure to make an income, if they tour extensively. You always put a lot of energy in few concerts per year, with spectacular sights and sounds. Why haven't you downsized, and toured more, and is it really economically sensible to retire from touring?
- Well...Income, money, retirement - that's work. I never thought about anything. During the concert in Moscow, I will turn seventy, but I don't know why. When I turned thirty, I thought excactly the same. Why? The only thing is, from time to time, you run into a situation, where you have to slow down, because of some physical condition. Back in 2008, I was truly overweight, and that was quite dangerous, so I realized, OK, I need to get it done. I started jogging like a mad man, and finally with my operation, I lost the last few pounds. Now I'm in the right condition.
You're looking good! In 2005 you released an album called Jeanne d'Arc, where you were three composers, and you had a kind of Three Musketeers mentality. Have you thought about including a third composer again?
- It was a compromise, because the idea was originally, maybe to form a band, between my son, Thorsten and myself. It didn't work at all, because Thorsten and Jerome were like... [clenches fists together]. We gave up the idea, and I personally don't like the album at all. No. Not my favourite.
Do you have favourites?
- No. The point what fans never understood is the creative composer. You don't care about work you've done. I never listen to any of this stuff, and sometime it is painful to sit on stage, and listen to some music you have done three or four years before. I'll tell you why. The process of composing is very different from what people think. In about twenty, thirty percent within the piece, I start getting into it. All of a sudden, the rule of creativity changes. you are not the composer any more. The piece is becoming more and more hungry. It is eating you. Now you have to do that and that and that. When I, for instance, did the Japanese series about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, I remember one day, I came in and was looking for a sound for five hours. I gave up, I couldn't find it. I didn't find it. I stopped for about four days, and then I got just like [snaps fingers], because the sound of a composition which is hitting you through the speaker system is telling you, wait a moment, I need that. It's a very magical moment, finishing a piece of music, because you are the only one to say, that's it. That's now my dream time. By the way, it is a hard piece of work, and when you listen to it again, in about a year, you remember the pain, and that's not very funny.
Bianca: I have to tell you a little anecdote. Sometimes he comes into my office, while I'm listening to his music, and he comes in and says "Oh, how beautful, who is it?" I say "Edgar! It is your music!" - [deep voice]: "Can't remember!"
- I know precisely what I'm doing in the moment I'm doing it. I'm very well trained, I write down my music, I know the most high-end computer systems possible, but don't ask me about my music one year later. I don't remember.
Are there any bands or musicians, you think that carries your the spirit or philosophy into music?
- No. Definitely not. That's not arrogant, that's because it's who I am. There are other musicians ten times better than me.
[Unfortunately there's a drop-out in the recording here]
- How much mail did I get about certain aspects of music, as far as life, death future plans whatever concerned? Three, in the last thirty years. How many questions did I get about the secrets behind Kafka? None. And I got thousands of fans.
Bianca: It's always about equipment.
I'm not really interested in equipment.
- Why don't you use analog equipment? [Edgar makes a grimace]
But you do, you said it in an interview!
- I'm not interested in talking about analog.
I think it was you who once said there are no advantages with analog equipment over digital?
- I mean, we are travelling around the world with lots of equipment, which is complete stupidity. I don't need it. All this music in data form, in the sound system you've never heard. What people would think, if I were on stage and used a new storage system no-one knew anything about, and a new way of controlling audio data, not with a keyboard anymore, but an electro magnetic field sampler. If I were on stage doing that, what do you think the fans would say? Some would say, oh, the old man has gotten crazy? Some others would say, is the tape rolling somewhere? Like they did for fourty-five years. So what should I do? We're carrying around with all these cases, completely stupid and senseless. There is no difference of analog or digital. There is no difference of anything. They are data, and data within certain waveforms of molecular atoms. It goes too far beyond anything which is commercial. In '68 I was talking to Bob Moog who said, Look, I know I'm twenty years ahead of my time, but what can I do"?
I said, "You have no chance". And that's the same today. We don't have a chance, because people are so much used to old fashion.
There's a romantic aspect to it? Irrational?
- Yeah, irrational. I call it stupidity. It's there, but the human being doesn't make use of it. I explained what happened on the second part of Chandra, maybe I won't get any letter about it again. But hey, as long as people are killing animals to feed themselves, as long as they are producing weapons to defend themselves, as long as they are burning warheads to explore space, which is total stupidity, what should you tell these people?
It's a long struggle.
- I know the place where Albert Einstein had the greatest thoughts, and that place is a little village close to Potsdam, near Berlin...anyway, Einstein said, when someone asked him at Princeton University, "You know about theoretical, average human being relatives, you must know how the third world war would happen? He said "No, I have no idea, but I can tell you the fourth world war will happen with sticks and stones again". And that's the way it is. People are so incredibly stupid, I can't believe it.
And you can always be surprised by stupidity!
- The point is, if you decide to have kids, you can not say, why the kid is not explaining the world like Aristotle. No way, it's a kid, but it is unexplainable why intelligent people are doing what they are doing. That's what I call stupidity. They know better.
The first thing I would do, if I had the power, which I fortunately don't have, I would close Wall Street. For ever! That's were ninety percent, of all the trouble in the world comes from. Money is something which has a certain value, it's only money against money, and it doesn't work. The problem is not that people are betraying people, the problem is that all mankind will have to pay for them. Anyway, do you have more important questions?
Yes, one final question, will you record this concert tonight?
- We did that already. We have a little cinema near Vienna, where we do little live shows, for a certain amount of people, where we are performing unreleased music. From time to time we release products out of it. We did a pre-recording of the concert tonight. It's a double CD, which will be released tonight. No one knows it, you are the first to know!
We won't tell anyone!
- I'm asked about the term "tangentization", in the fan community-hood. There are some comments: "Why are you re-recording things, which are so much better in its original form?" Yes, it's true. Tangentized is bullshit, re-recording is terrible, and never ever in my life would I touch an original piece of music. Never, ever! But I had to do something, working against Virgin Records, or even Universal. We could spend millions on getting my masters back, or I could do re-recording. Tangentizing means, if you change an original mix a certain degree, by adding or changing effects on the piece, it's not the original master anymore, it's a new master, and you can release it to your own company.
Bianca: We want to give it back to the fans again. That's the only reason.
Sometimes tangentization really works.
Bianca: I agree.
- When I started working on the old analog tapes, the tuning was terrible, the timing was terrible. There was a click track, which was "out of click", so I had to try and find a way of getting it into the right rhythm again. Absolutely stupid, but there was no other way. I tried once to go the true American way with somebody. And... I won. I won the court case. There was an incredible sum of money involved. Do you know how much money I got out of it?
- Three hundred and thirty six dollars! The rest went into three lawyers, some of the best in the country, flights from Europe to USA again and again. One of the lawyers were flying from Germany across the pond. Hey, I'm the winner, but I lost the money. That's ridiculous. Therefore we don't need to have a conflict with a big company anymore. We don't have a management. Everything we do on our own. We are selling much less than before, but it's OUR money. If we want to release five records a year, or ten or seven or any record, then fine.
Bianca: The autonomy has the biggest value.
- And I've met so many people through the years who started crying; they were banned from their own creativity, because their record company did not allow them to produce a new record, because the old one is still selling!
Anyway, gentlemen, have a nice day!
That's the end of the interview. Edgar has been really generous with his time and his words of insight. We talk a bit about the evening. Bianca tells that Edgar wasn't happy with the arrangers, signing Michael Rother and Dieter Moebius after Eastgate signed the contract. In hindsight I can see why. Although I really admire the other two musicians, on the same level as Edgar Froese, there were too many disinterested with Tangerine Dream, and an overshadowing focus on NEU! (not Michael Rother as such) and krautrock in the Danish media.
Tangerine Dream really deserved the stage for themselves.