Interviewed by Emily Carney
In the late 1970s, post-punk music in Düsseldorf, Germany began to mutate into sounds which were original, energetic, and exciting. Fired up by the music coming from England (and somewhat inspired by more electronic sounds, like Düsseldorf’s own Kraftwerk), one band called Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF) began to synthesize a sound which wasn’t quite rock, wasn’t quite disco, but was innovative and unusual enough to earn them the future sobriquet as the “fathers of EBM” (electronic body music). DAF were the central figures in the musical Neue Deutsche Welle movement (German New Wave, or simply abbreviated as NDW).
I recently had the opportunity to interview Robert Görl about his time as one-half of Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft. Fans will be glad to know that DAF are doing some dates in Europe this year; also Görl seems enthusiastic about perhaps doing some music under the name Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft. Görl also discussed his solo career, and generally what he’s been up to in the last few years.
Popshifter: Because I wasn’t there. . . tell me what the scene in Germany/Düsseldorf was like in the late 1970s (I am vaguely familiar from reading parts of the book Verschwende deine Jugend).
Robert Görl: I came to Düsseldorf in August 1978 and I met G. [Gabi] Delgado there in the Punk Club “Ratinger Hof.” There was an atmosphere of big change—everybody felt that the time was ripe for something really new! It was not just musicians who felt that urge—also artists from the Art Academy in Düsseldorf visited the Ratinger Hof (like Immendorff, and even Beuys). Fanzine writers were also there: a starting point for a revolution of new expressions. Old templates had to go, that was one of the aims of everybody! Here Gabi and I created our future minimalist electronic style and we were keen on breaking all kind of taboos.
Popshifter: What kinds of influences led to you pursuing music?
Robert Görl: Our slogan was “we are not doing anything conventionally.” We disliked influence!
Popshifter: What were your thoughts when initially introduced to the earliest lineup of DAF?
Robert Görl: The earliest line up of DAF was Gabi and me in the basement of the Ratinger Hof. We created our basic ideas and we had a very strong will as a duo. Gabi Delgado played the stylophone and I played the drums. A short time later we worked with different musicians together like K. Dahlke, C. Haas, W. Spelmanns, M. Kemmner. This was a working situation around our basic ideas, and we even played in other constellations, for example I was also co-founder of “Der Plan,” and Gabi was co-founder of “Mittagspause,” but at this time we were not always satisfied with the outcome of the music (despite greatness!). At the end of 1980, G. Delgado and I produced our first album (Alles Ist Gut) as a duo in the Conny Plank Studio in Germany—from this time onward we kept to the duo style of DAF!
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