PiedPaper: Hi Mathias! How are you? Let’s start from the beginning: when you was a child, were you interested in music? When you realized that this is something you gonna do?
Thanks so far. I’m well, except some business troubles, stress and the usual things in business life. To your question: My interest in music was growing in the early 70s. I remind my first LP’s from Les Humphries Singers, The Arcade and K-Tel long-plays at this time. Since the mid 70s I was interested in rock music. My first LP’s were from Uriah Heep, Kiss, Sweet, Jethro Tull… After a while I was impressed by art-rock, especially Yes, Renaissance, Elp, Gentle Giant and else. All the giants from this time I liked very much. I searched for looong pieces to get out of this world and I wanted to listen to music, not everybody listens to ;-). Then, beside rock music I found Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. It’s impossible to get not influenced by them, if you’re playing synthesizer… Funny that I decided to create own music, after I was so disappointed from the albums from Schulze and TD around 1980. I wanted to keep the spirit of TD and Schulze during the mid 70s ‚til the early 80s going on and on. My decision to choose synth was obviously then. But my ground aim was to play drums, later guitar. In the early 80s all musicians from the local scene wanted to play punk, disco, or something like Police. I personally wanted to combine the electronic creations from my idols with the symphonic rock like Yes. No chance! :-( At the beginning of making own music I was not into new-age, drones and else. My first connections with spiritual music was my long stayed friends Peter-Michael Hamel and Georg Deuter.
PiedPaper: In 70s Germany gave a lot to world of music: krautrock experiments, berlin school electronica, new age music… I’m sure it influenced you, but your choice was ambient and drone – when did you become aware about drone music in the first place?
Oh, I see, that this question is answered in the first one. Drone music was not categorized in the 70s and 80s. I was influenced by the munich school more than from berlin school, so Popol Vuh, P.M. Hamel, Stephan Micus and my ‚father and teacher‘ Klaus Wiese gave me the secrets of drones without many words. It cames by itself . I never saw myself in the drawer of ‚drone-music‘. Very much later I found the secrets of drones in philosophy and in sufism, in indian music and in alchemy!
PiedPaper: One of your project names was Musical Philosophy – I suppose it is something close to Eastern philosophy like Vedanta, Buddhism or Sufism, neither than Schopenhauer or Hegel, right? Are you attached to some certain teaching or it’s kind of synthesis of all of aforementioned?
I got this project name during a meditation with music from Georg Deuter in the early 80s. At this time I had no aim and no ‚real‘ philosophy behind. I recall myself with a book I got from my parents – „Deutschland Deine Denker“. It was a funny book that gave me an impression of the main philosophy for e.g. from Schopenhauer, Kant and Hegel. I’m a fan of history and geography and the main heads of religion, science and metaphysics since my childhood. My first teachings came from Osho, Buddhism and then Sufism; later the mystic side of christianity and in the last 5 years – shamanism.
PiedPaper: Speaking of shamanism – I’ve always thought about drone as the most ancient form of music, its roots. Its traces can be found in every culture. But our culture re-invented drone, using modern instruments. How do you feel, drone (and ambient, perhaps) is something more archaic, or it’s a natural evolution of western academic music?
Difficult to say. I work with drones for a long, long time and never „scienced“ my works. Of course I’ve heard from Architectura Celestis, Harmonia Mundi and was impressed by the healing music from Hildegard Von Bingen (my work „Symphonialis Est Anima“ is dedicated to her life and works), but the thoughts around my life-work came very late… Not before composing a track or an album ;-) Yes, yes I’ve heard Planet-Tones (Joachim-Ernst Berendt fundamental work on drone music – piedpaper), Hans Cousco and the possibility to calculate music the mathematical way… But I never did any science and research assignments in this, never.
PiedPaper: If „the eyes are mirror of the soul“, what are music then? Can we say something certain about a musician on the assumption of music he creates? Or about listener? I mean, it happens all the time – musician can be just improvising and naming resulting tracks in random way, but then listeners see there some concept, inner meaning, etc. For example: when I first heard your „Morpheus“ album, I though that it’s kind of continuation of Robert Rich’s idea of sleep concerts and his „Somnium“ work, but then I read in some of your interviews that this is just name of the synth you’ve played that time. But, despite that, I still use „Morpheus“ for sleeping and it works perfectly!
Hmm, I’m sure you’ll find answers not in words, but in deep listening with your heart! Heart wisdom is christ consciousness… I found my personal answers in the books „Durch Musik Zum Selbst“ from my friend Peter-Michael Hamel and in „Nada Brahma – Die Welt Ist Klang“ from Joachim-Ernst Berendt. So, if „the eyes are mirror of the soul“ (this is not a universal true law for me ;-), then „the heart is the mirror of our being here“ – a taste of Samadhi, where all is one and one is all – behind „shunyata – the magnificent void“. We are sound, all is sound… And if your body consists of near to 70% of water, you’re into the „Big Sound“, by finding answers in your heart (-pounding) and while watching your Breath.
PiedPaper: Are listeners feedback on your creations affects you somehow? I suppose many musicians would say no, but maybe it’s something subliminal. Otherwise they were just recording for themselves, not releasing any albums, right? Do you read reviews or some blogs, zines, internet forums perhaps?
Yes and no… I listen carefully if a fan writes me that the drone XXX brought him to tears while remembering a situation in childhood…. And this every time he listen to that piece… I like such very private feelings and statements much more than the usual blablabla like ‚what synths you’re playing‘; ‚how do you create this and that drone‘ and else… Every fan who writes me his impressions will get a personal answer by time. I want to be in connection with my listeners and so this has an influence to my compositions. Of course!
PiedPaper: As I understand, your live shows are very rare – it’s because you prefer studio work or you need some special place or equipment to make them right? Sadly, I’ve missed your show in Moscow few years ago, any chance that you’ll play there again?
My shows are very rare because of reasonable offers. That means: no attractive locations, neither fee of expenses . Cost coverings for travelling, hotel and else are the minimum standard I ask for first. Here in Germany it often fails because of local problems with government and all the business shit which is all around, if the organizer is not a fan of this music, you understand? Moscow was a personal effort of a fan there and maybe I’ll come back… Who knows? There are plans in the pipeline for concerts in the Netherlands, in Sweden or Norway and in northern Germany (Gut Saunstorf near Wismar).
PiedPaper: I know many musicians, who’s looking for balance between well-paid job and music making, which usually isn’t enough to make a decent living. Did you ever had to make such choice? How do you think, is it still possible to make a living from underground music in the era of internet, when most people lose their interest to anything in just few minutes?
Funny that you asking this. Usually it’s impossible to live from this kind of music. Too much „free“ music you’ll get via internet and the fans are not really motivated in seeing me playing live. There are many reasons, not to be discussed here, but I heard that the typical drone fan is sitting at home with good headphones, instead of driving to a live concert next town. Concerts are good promotion every time and the direct contact will keep sales much better, than waiting until someone will order via internet. So, the sales are down and although I have a big name in the scene, the sold CD’s in a year are below 500 pcs. (from all available albums!). I like to combine music with light, other kind of art… More as an unique experience and so on. From the current status I have no real choice for a decision…
PiedPaper: Actually, there are big revival of tape culture going for last couple of years, especially in drone/ambient and new age music. Labels do 100-tape editions every month and they’re sold out in few weeks! In Germany I know Cosmic Winnetou from Stuttgart and SicSic Tapes in Frankfurt – maybe you’ve heard of them. Would you release something on a tape again, if someone will ask you? Or re-release some of your early cassette-only albums, maybe?
I like tapes very much. I was growing up with tapes and the process of listening to a tape or vinyl is completely another than to put 1000s ’songs‘ and faceless stuff to you iPod… Anyway, I like to re-release tapes and vinyl, if someone asks me, of course! I never heard from both labels, but I’m familiar with Drone Records in Bremen.
PiedPaper: Your latest works is definitely one of the best kind of drone music I know and I’m seriously say that. Many drone artists now just follow the way of early minimalists like La Monte Young, Eliane Radigue or Phil Niblock. The latest invention is various mixes of drone and psychedelic lo-fi music. But listening to your „Sonnenwende“ or „Alchemystery“ albums I can clearly imagine the future where drone music are being played in big philharmonic concert halls. Do you think that possible? Or drone is condemned to be in underground?
Thank you for that! During some drug experiences I got the same idea of the future of drones ;-). Sometimes (without any stuff) I have complete partitures in my head while listening to my own drones – choirs, organs, brass, etc. Yes, I like the idea of ‚philharmonic drones‘. And I still work on concepts for realization!
PiedPaper: Tell about your current work, any plans for future releases that you can uncover? By the way, what is happening now with your side-projects Anam Cara, Nostalgia, Wintersilence and others?
I like project names to give fans an orientation for which kind of music a project name stands for. Anam Cara is more in the idea of combining art-rock with drones; Nostalgia is a follower of the gothic thing (I’m a fan of goth films like Roger Cormans movies with Vincent Price); and Wintersilence is a trial to work with elements from techno-chill-out music in DJ way with spiritual drone music. All projects are not given up, but they rest in calm waiting for new inspirations. After a guinness-record-book output in 2012 I slowed down in 2013/14. I made not so much new music this year and will release some old CD-R albums together with Gterma and Databloem. After re-releasing the best works I made in the last 20 years, I’ll see where destiny leads me. Uncover? Hmm, let yourself surprise!
PiedPaper: Okay, think that would be enough! Feel free to add anything and thank you very much for the interview!
Thanks much too! Let me say at this point that I’m impressed and touched by my russian fans, their faithfulness and loyalty through the years! Also it’s a big honour for me, that I set an example for many russian fans who play synth by themselves. Thank you too for the great questions!