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Ekkehard Ehlers


Du projet Autopoieses, en compagnie de Sebastian Meissner, à la série Plays sous son propre nom, le jeune allemand Ekkehard Ehlers multiplie les identités musicales et les concepts. Si ces différents projets sont avant tout pour cet artiste conceptuel une manière d'explorer les thémes qui lui tiennent à coeur (le romantisme, l'humour, les machines, la référence ...), la dizaine de disque sortie par Ehlers dans des styles allant de la musique expérimentale référencée à la techno minimale témoignent d'un talent de dé/composition évident allié à un discours esthétique et musicologique des plus pertinents.

What were your first contacts with music?
Well, i listened to the usual mideighties indie stuff until i fell into improvised music in 87/88. Coltrane, Coleman, Ayler. Later Brötzmann. Since then i developed interests in modern composition and the musical discourse of the 20th century.

What is your musical training? When did you start making music?
I never learned playing an instrument, but that doesn´t keep me away of doing it anyway. I studied philosophy and most of that time musical theory: adorno et al. That i finally started making music was bit like an accident, one day the computer changed everything.

Could you define your various musical projects and their aesthetic scopes (Autopoeises, Auch, Ekkehard Ehlers (in the "plays" series"), März ) ? Do you see these musical personae as complementary ?
They are not really complementary. I´m always interested on special topics, the things i´m reading etc. : noir/hardboiled (autopoieses), romanticism (betrieb cd), humour and machines (auch and betrieb). Folk and music for children with märz. next year will be completely on the topic of sex with some videoworks,
one or two musical releases, i would like to make a compilation with favourite tracks and maybe some special things. This all will have a special design through all the different media. The different identities are my possibility to get closer to my topics.

About E. E plays ... , what is the aesthetic purpose of it? You do not seem to be interested in quotation in this series, is it more evocation, or recreation or ... ? How did you chose the various "characters" of the "plays... " series?
Aesthetic purpose? uh. maybe i was just bored of sampling, cover-versions, all that whole repeating shit of references The "plays" series deals with "reference". well, everyone is sampling, sampling is THE figure of historic devices in digital music. My idea is not to sample, but also refer to historic places/figures. I focussed more on reinterpretation. The series starts with Johnson and Ayler, they were musicians, but Cassavetes and Hubert Fichte were not. you can´t sample a writer. the last one is Cardew, i only used samples on that one, just to give a link of my idea to the listener. On the cd the cardew tracks will be the first two. on the 12" every track ist 10 min long, on the singles 4 min. so it is exactly 76 min on the cd.... "Reference" is a basic structure in digital music (see rabelais, thaemlitz, mathieu,...). I´m trying to deal with that more abstractly. The texts on the records were written by very famous german writers, they´ll only deal with the five persons, not with me. The other side of the covers are nasa-photos of the regions the people lived/worked (Manhattan f.e. on Ayler/the Hollywood letters on Cassavetes). I hope i´ll do an exhibition on the plays series. Some video works and pink silk on canvas The other topic is emotional complexity. The five persons were all involved in special kinds of "resistance", and they all did it in a very complex emotional way. I worked on this series for 1.5 years, and i thought so much about all that, it´s very difficult for me to write my thoughts. I´d like to have a result of that series in a way that the listener tries to get in touch with the persons watching/reading/hearing. the idea is to create a special/different discourse in contemporary music.

The transformation seems to play a very important part in your work, it's also at the centre of Stephan Mathieu' s work ? What are your connections with him ? Do you have the same approach of thisrereading process ? Could you tell me about the "Heroin" project on Brombron ?
You should ask Stephan we´re close friends, we´re touring together etc. I like his music very much. we meet through Kit Clayton, who´s a friend of the two of us. We try to work on a new album during this year. "Heroin" was rock´n´roll. Producing a cd within 8 days is an experience i only need once in my life. "Heroin" is a very direct album, it is influenced by that special winter feeling. christmas, a new year, snow and darkness.

About Whatness, how would you define your label ? Which common points do you see between the three first releases ? is Whatness a way of asking established artists to create conceptual works ?
The idea behind whatness is to recombine contemporary music and art in a different way. Basically Markus Weisbeck and me meet each other discussing possible topics and people we could bring together: Every release has its own idea behind. f.e. building instruments as art on the Suchy cd.

(Christophe Taupin)

Interview réalisée en juillet 2002 par e-mail.

Ekkehard Ehlers Betrieb (Mille Plateaux)
Ekkehard Ehlers Plays (Staubgold)
Ekkehard Ehlers/Sebastian Meissner/Thom Willems Music for William Forsythe (Whatness)