Sat Nov 18 2017  

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Life in Blue - Christian Morgenstern interview 

Showing true Forte's philosophy, the ultimate home-listening album "Hawaii Blue" from Christian Morgenstern will surprise you. Well-known German producer on Kanzleramt, Kurbel or Konsequent expresses his personal vision of musical cross-over and his wish to escape from dancefloors format. Let's go further on eclecticism seems to say this successful artist / graphic designer / manager !

- Atome : "Hawaii Blue L.P" is coming out this month. How would you describe this album ? What's the main difference with others albums you produced on Kanzleramt or on Forte ?
- Christian Morgenstern : The main concept behind Hawaii Blue was to create an electronic music album that makes you feel good if you listen it. In contrast to the rather melancholic and dark Lydia EP, Hawaii Blue is more of a sunny, friendly, open-minded album. Unlike earlier works, Hawaii Blue is supposed to be an album that foremost works at home in your CD-Player. It's supposed to be more of a listening album than a product designed to fit in the clubs (even though there are also tracks that have a straight bassdrum). Actually, Hawaii Blue originally was planned to be a compilation. Everytime I was sick of doing techno tracks and functional music I used to do those 80's inspired pop tunes, and after a while a friend of mine asked me to make a compilation only featuring those non-techno tracks. This was around June 2000. Later on the original concept developed towards making a real album, not just a compilation. So the idea for Hawaii Blue was born (originally Hawai iBlue). I wanted to produce an album which is an artistic statement, not just singles and fillers, an album that you like to listen to in one piece, some kind of musical journey. That's why, in the end, the album concept took more time than the production of the actual tracks on the album.

- A : Your "Lydia" LP is different from your other productions. It sounds more minimal, less electro. Do you agree and is there a reason ?
- C.M. : Lydia was the first album I did with my new mixer. From one day to another the possibilities regarding technical matters increased in large amount. So this album was heavily coloured by the expanded sound and producing pool I suddenly had instant access to. That is also why the Lydia EP sounds very clean and even digital (which for me is rather unusual), even though it was produced with rather old equipment. Since I used to produce most of the music, I did before the Lydia EP only with a small mixer without parametric equalisation, a sampler and a cheap effects unit, I was totally stunned and fascinated by the way how detailed you can manipulate and alter sound and realise sophisticated ideas with the proper equipment. If Hawaii Blue is the most musical album I ever did, The Lydia EP is the most technical one.

- A : On various records, you put SID tunes. Why ? Were you on this computer scene some years ago ? as a game or demo musician maybe ?
- C.M. : Actually, those tracks are Protracker modules. When I was still part of the Amiga scene (actually I used to be a graphician back in the days and not a musician), I did loads of those chip tunes for fun, and listened to them all day. Since the idea behind chip tunes was to create music at requires a minimum of disk space the tracks usually just consisted of a few pattern that were looped (so that the final track including the samples still is below around 20 KB). So the tracks had to have a melody and a structure that works even if you listen to it over and over again. Throughout the years some of those chip tunes turned into my personal evergreens, even though they tend to be quite simple, and I witnessed that this kind of music can not be heard anywhere but in the Amiga scene, and this sound, even though it is rather cheap was quite unprecedented. Besides that, those tiny pieces were the true origin of my life as a musician, and these nostalgic flavoured modules still succeed to enchant me.

- A : How is your label today ? Why did you create Forte records ? What is the artistic line of the label ?
- C.M. : Back in the days the Forte Records seeds were planted because I increasingly had the feeling that I wanted to have my own label, develop my own style and be responsible for the whole creative process - from the music, towards to the visual concept, on to marketing, promotion.... not just to give away the music, and wait until the postman brings the finished records. I always felt the strong desire to design my products by myself. When I did my debut-single on a small German label in 1995, the first thing I did was to create the graphics together with the guy I pixeled the Amiga graphics back then (we were called C.A.T - Covert Action Team). Since I was not only interested in electronic dance music, I planed to create a platform which is open to the all music I like, no matter what sort of it might be, and - Forte Records was born. The concept of Forte Records is to promote high-quality, innovative synthetic music and to spread this music throughout the planet, to attain listeners that are interested in that kind of music, and to break musical boundaries.

- A : Could you introduce the Forte crew, especially Ural 13 Diktators ?
- C.M. : Ural 13 Diktators are two guys from Finland, which joined the Forte Family back in the end of 1999. I got hold of their second maxi Diskossa EP, and was totally fascinated by the style they combine dance floor grooves with solid melodies. I contacted them and over a period of about one year the concept for Total Destruction was developed. Besides the Forte Family consists of the following members : Maral Salmassi (DJ / A+R), Michael Spahn (Internet Consultant / Creative Director), Falko Brocksieper (DJ / Graphic Artist), Thorsten Schneider (Photographer / Support), Hirad Salmassi (Grip / Roadie).

- A : What about you ? How did you come to electronic music ? How and when did you start music ? How would you define your own style ?
- C.M. : I came to techno music through the Amiga scene. I think it was 1992 when we were at "The Party" in Aars, Denmark to take part in the graphic competition. And nearly everyone was listening to techno or metal. I disliked both types of music. "Felix - Don't you want me" was the first techno-track I was totally amazed of and I suddenly started to buy a lot of techno / trance music like the Mayday compilation... Besides I concentrated more and more on making music with the Amiga and neglected doing graphics. When a friend living in Stuttgart called me that he just bought a synth and he wanted to start making techno music, I ask a guitar playing friend if I can lend some equipment from him, and drove to Stuttgart. I stayed there for a week or so and we did our first tracks and tried to give them to different labels (such as Harthouse...). But none really liked them (except for the hardhouse dude, but he told us to do some more stuff). We kept producing and founded a label called ? records. Did one maxi and split, because of different musical tastes. I worked at a steel-melting factory for two weeks and bought a mixer, an effects unit and a compressor. Later I also bought a sampler and kept producing. Looking back I have to admit that I really spent a lot of time in front of my equipment doing techno music. It was just like getting up, switching on the computer and producing until I am so hungry that I really need to eat. This situation endured until 1997 when I applied for the academy of media arts in Cologne. As techno started to bore me and since I always was interested in a vary of musical styles, more different musical sources started to influence me and I somehow developed away from straight club techno, or common electronic music. Hawaii Blue is the status quo of this development.

- A : What are your musical background and main influences ?
- C.M. : Talking techno, there are a few person whose music I really like : such as Thomas Brinkmann , Surgeon, some Joey Beltram stuff, old Luke Slater stuff, old Jeff Mills stuff, some stuff from the Kanzleramt guys, some stuff from the Cologne based labels... actually I like a lot of stuff. When I first started concentrating on techno music, I really loved Cristian Vogel (absolute time) and Neil Landstrumm (index man ep). Other, more dominate influences are literally all types of music. Stuff I like to listen to includes : Hip Hop (GangStarr & surrounding, EPMD, Eric B & Rakim, Methodman, Redman & surrounding, Balck Eyed Peas...) Black Music & Soul (like Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Billy Ocean, The Gap Band...), contemporary teeny pop (like Britney, N'Sync, Backstreet Boys), Heavy-Metal (Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Metallica...), chilly Jazz, 80's pop, David Bowie, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Roxy Music, country and other new stuff like Radiohead, Nick Cave, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo...

- A : Your started few years ago on Kanzleramt records. How did you meet Heiko Laux ? What do you think about his music ? How would you define your work relations ?
- C.M. : I met Heiko for the first time at the Popkomm Neuton Party in Cologne. Heiko was still working for Neuton Distribution company and he played live. A friend of mine came up with the idea to give Heiko a tape (I have sent about 20-40 tapes to different labels that time) and I did it. Heiko at first thought I wanted him to record his live set, but when he realised my concern, he took the tape and put it into one of his cases. I just thought Great, one more lost demo tape. This was on Friday afternoon. On the next day at noon, the telephone rang and Heiko was on the phone.

- A : Who are the artists you'd like to work with in the future ?
- C.M. : There are a lot of artist I would like to work with. Especially artist with a different musical background than electronic music. I like to cross-over. I think musical boundaries and clichés, are no longer relevant in a time where Christina Aguilera jumps on stage in a Limp Bizkiz Live performance at the MTV Awards. I suppose the next musical project I am going to start will inherit this cross-over character.

- A : What are your musical projects in 2001 ?
- C.M. : First of all I hope to have a good start with Hawaii Blue coming out these days. Then there will be a last Kanzleramt Maxi coming out in the summer (entitled Benihana EP). "The class of 84" will be re-released on Konsequent Records due to large request. This hard techno album was released in October 2000 under my alter ego Visco Space in a limited edition an jumped on top of the groove charts immediately. Probably I will go further in the direction of producing different artists, time will tell. Currently I am working on a soundtrack for a short movie and I think this situation won't change within the next weeks / month. Afterwards I suppose I will be busy with my diploma.
(original publishing date: 05/03/2001)
www.forterecords.de     www.brainfood-for-the-masses.com
Nexus 6, 23/06/2003

To listen :
  - Christian Morgenstern :   interview / atome  realaudio 

Christian Morgenstern

Forte Records

Hawaii Blue

Lydia EP

Death Before Disko

Hawaii Blue

Christian Morgenstern