Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Damo Suzuki gets Spiritual

The legendary Damo Suzuki, of kraut rock pioneers Can, is shivering with cold and nursing a pint after a successful sound check. “We should get some whiskies or something to warm up.” Damo suggests, clearly affected by the Scandinavian climate that has descended on London this winter. Tonight he is performing with experimental noise maker Bo Ningen. He has been touring with the Damo Suzuki Network since 2003, which basically means he plays with a different group of musicians every night. They bang out improvised psychedelic jams, without prior rehearsals and hope for the best.

What is it like doing the Damo Suzuki network?

I am never disappointed because every time is a new experience. I enjoy every day. It is especially good because I like travelling and every night I meet different people. So it is not at all boring, there is always some kind of movement.

What’s the life of a traveller like?

Travelling is one of the most important things to me. It gives me fresh new experiences. I learn many things. People say information is just what you read in a newspaper or watch on TV, not your own experience. I have my own experience so I can tell you my real words. People are reading stuff about Manchester United or something like that, but not actually something to do with their life.

What do you think of modern bands who are reviving the kraut rock sound?

It’s different for new bands, in the 70’s there was less information about. There was no such thing as kraut rock. There was more space to create. I don’t know the meaning of the term kraut rock. I don’t like to categorise anything. If you are a creative person you don’t actually need to sort categories like this. It’s not necessary because it’s about different energies. It’s not a good term because bands like; Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül and Can, they all sound different, so why put them all in one pot? For me it is a spiritual thing. It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you like it.

On the subject of spiritualism are you still a Jehovah’s Witness?

No, but I believe in the Bible.

Does this influence your music?

What we are doing is instant composing, so it has something to do with nature. This is not making music. I am making energy. I am happy because after the concert, many people are smiling, that’s why I do it. I am not making kraut rock; I don’t like to have direction. If you have direction then you are not being creative.

Is it challenging playing with different musicians all the time, like Bo Ningen tonight?

Yes it is a challenge before I start because I do not know them. Nobody knows what will happen, every body makes a little bit of free music and freestyle. This is quite organic but the system we have doesn’t have that, the system is all about the Bosses, there are always differences between people. If you make music, there are no differences. That’s why I am following this existence. This is totally different from recorded music. There are accidents, many mistakes. People like it because it is like a human being. If you are performing the same pieces every night, it’s kind of like working in a factory. Nothing new happens anymore because the answers are already there. I don’t like to have any answers. There are new processes coming and you can now create different things from what you did yesterday and the day before. I perform everyday with people of different nationalities, different cultures and mentalities. From this I make music. It works.

You hint at a lack of spirituality in society, is that how you feel?

Yes, because people need that. All commercial things are like, you wake up, you are hungry so you eat fast food. It has no energy because there is no philosophy. Really pure energy comes from really good philosophy.

What is your life philosophy?

I can’t say, it comes by accident. Accidents are good, because they happen very personally, only to you. Everybody can buy something, can feel it, if it is of commercial base.

Why do you have this attitude toward music?

Western music started in the 13th/14th century because they found notes. With notes there is a composer and control. So the musician must stay with the notes. It’s not freedom. I like it when everybody is totally involved and creative at a specific moment. It always comes by accident.

Why don’t you like talking about Can?

These are things that happened almost 40 years ago. Why do I have to talk as though all that time was so good? It wasn’t. I’m not interested in music from the 60’s and 70’s. All these kind of bands who have a big name, they’re actually playing the same stuff they were playing 40 years before. How is it possible that you are repeating your life? Performing to the same audience. I don’t like this kind of sentimentality. I am not that kind of a sentimental person.

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 42, March 2010