Berlin’s Paul Kalkbrenner has been in the electronic music game since the late ‘90s, yet his sixth album, out this month, is called Guten Tag. It’s a curious title for an established artist; Kalkbrenner, who has headlined festivals around the globe and even starred in a cult movie, Berlin Calling, would seem to need no introduction. But it turns out that, for native German speakers, the phrase can convey a lot more than just ‘good day’. “You can do a lot of funny things with that phrase,” Kalkbrenner explains. “You can turn it into something that means ‘Now it’s your turn’, or ‘What do you have to say?’ It can also be ‘That’s me’. When I was looking for a title, I wanted something that could be spoken out loud without problems all around the world, something that could be understood.”
Guten Tag is Kalkbrenner’s second release on his own label, after many years on the iconic BPitch Control imprint. “Right now, I don’t have to negotiate with anyone,” he says, of his newfound freedom. “I can do things my way – I can decide how things should look, how they should sound, how much they should cost and when they should be available. That brings way fewer problems than before.” BPitch Control, founded by the legendary Ellen Allien, launched the career of techno artists from Modeselektor to Apparat; I ask Kalkbrenner how the label took his decision to split. “I was with them for a number of years, but I grew out of it and wanted to go out on my own,” he says. “They very happily accepted that. There is no bad blood between us at all, and it’s always good to see them.” see full article here
As of 2012, Paul Kalkbrenner has tallied up more than 17 years of experience as a producer and live act. The early 90s after the Berlin Wall fell were formative years for Kalkbrenner, and after spending many long and sleepless nights on the dance floors of E-werk, Planet and Whale, the dream was born to make music himself. A job as TV editor got him through the mid-90s and financed his first music gear. By this point Kalkbrenner had already decided that he did not want to be a typical DJ playing other people’s records, but rather to play only his own music, live in a club setting. His first tracks as Paul Kalkbrenner were released in 1999 on Berlin-based Bpitch Control (the newly founded label from Ellen Alien) as the Friedrichshain EP, titled after his home district in the city’s east. A series of further singles and two full-lengths (Superimpose and Time) followed, plus continuous live performances.
Together with Paul Kalkbrenner, BPitch Control gained a strong momentum. Kalkbrenner’s third album Self (2004) would mark the beginning of a new era. His melodic sound, with its affinity for grand emotional gestures, obeyed the logic of the dancefloor, but Self introduced a narrative aesthetic, serving as a soundtrack to a film that did not exist (at least, not yet). “Gebrünn Gebrünn”, released one year later, became a crossover hit.
In early 2006, German director Hannes Stohr, an avid fan of Self, decided to get in contact with Kalkbrenner. His idea was to produce a film about a Berlin techno musician during the new millennium, and Kalkbrenner would compose the soundtrack. The two met, traded ideas and experiences, and soon after began working on the screenplay’s first draft. In the course of their exchange, Stöhr had the realization that Kalkbrenner should not just contribute the music, but that he would be the perfect choice as the film’s star. Without hesitation, Kalkbrenner accepted the offer. They decided to title the film Berlin Calling
For the soundtrack’s production, Kalkbrenner and his friend (and Bpitch colleague) Suscha Funke spent half a year in Aix-En-Provence in southern France. One song already had a title: ‘Sky and Sand’ with vocals by brother Fritz. Upon Kalkbrenner’s return to Berlin in 2007, the filming began, and the finished work was brought to German theatres in October 2008. Berlin Calling and Kalkbrenner’s debut acting performance received positive reviews, and the film, thanks to its authentic depiction of the Berlin club scene and drug culture, became a cult classic.
The soundtrack and especially the single “Sky and Sand” broke many sales records. That track in particular went gold in Belgium where it remained in the charts’ Top Ten for weeks. The 2009 DVD release of the film brought Kalkbrenner to a new, much larger audience around the world. By the end of the year, he separated with BPitch Control after a decade-long relationship to take the next steps of his career alone. In early 2010 Kalkbrenner completed a twelve-city live concert tour throughout Europe (with over 50,000 tickets sold within just a few weeks), followed by many headlining appearances at summer festivals.