Dunkelwerk is a new German one-man project which released its first CD “Troops” on the Alfa Matrix label from Belgium. It is the first release for this successful label exploring some darker territories in the Electro/Industrial genre. With the use of uncountable voice samples of some real happenings out of both world wars and the permanently used themes about defeat and misery, this project attracted some attention. Time to introduce this band and to give the floor to the artist to get some clear statements of what’s it all about…
Chain D.L.K.: There seems to be some mystery surrounding Dunkelwerk, Martin, because all band photos are almost dark and your hands try hard to protect you. So please tell us something about you and the finding of your project Dunkelwerk…
Dunkelwerk: The music is important, that’s all. I don’t hide my real name but I prefer to use a pseudonym. It fits better with the concept at least for me. Maybe I will make some brighter pix in the future but for “Troops” is perfect the way it is. Many moons ago I decided to try to make some music. I listened to Techno in the past (and I still love it today!) and this whole club-thing was very interesting for me. The sounds, the beats, wonderful. But then I heard a :W: track by accident. Dark aggressive beats, catchy melodies and vocals. Perfect! In 2003 I started Dunkelwerk just for fun. It was a long way to reach satisfying results. Music-production is a very complex thing. It’s easy to make “a song” but it is hard to bring everything together. Idea, atmosphere, sound, melody, vocals, technical quality…sometimes very frustrating. And in the end you will never be loved by everyone. Ha! Believe me I got some extreme reactions by releasing “Troops” but also an overwhelming positive feedback from all around this little planet. That’s cool because in the beginning someone told me that I should expect nothing because most releases are just drowning in this mass of released CDs…and especially as a newcomer your chances are very, very small. This scene has its legends already…and there’s not much space for the second and third row. Very hard to get the chance to start somewhere, to develop something.
Chain D.L.K.: How did you come to the deal with Alfa Matrix and how much truth lies behind the story about a recommendation through The Retrosic?
Dunkelwerk: This is no promo joke. I sent Cyrus/The Retrosic a demo to get a serious feedback. He said that we should try to offer this material to Alfa Matrix for a sampler. So Dunkelwerk entered the Cyberl@b sampler and after a long discussion between me and Seba from Alfa Matrix we decided to work together. Cyrus gave me some important hints and opened the door to Alfa Matrix. Very nice guy.
Chain D.L.K.: Lets talk a bit about your debut “Troops” which received very controversial reactions. I think a total boycott of the German Sonic Seducer magazine was not what you and your label expected. Tell us a bit about your emotions behind this…
Dunkelwerk: Well, it was clear (at least for me) that “Troops” was and is a very difficult release for the German market. I tried to find a way to deal with this war theme in a respectful and deliberated way. I make clear statements in the CD booklet and in interviews. I never started to join this old promo game of body pictures, unclear statements and nebulous suggestions. Overall the German scene understood what Dunkelwerk is about. But of course not everyone likes it and the way I deal with it. That’s ok. Dunkelwerk reached position 6 in the German DAC charts, very good for a newcomer using this war theme. I never expected such a positive feedback. The Sonic Seducer defined Dunkelwerk as “bad entertainment” and they decided that there is nothing worth reporting about this project. Feindflug, :Wumpscut:, Dunkelwerk…all banned by the Sonic Seducer. Who cares? They never talked to me…Maybe they are afraid?
Chain D.L.K.: The main problem which a magazine like the Sonic Seducer maybe had, could be explained in your use of voice samples and artwork taken out of both world wars 1 & 2. Disregarding all of your explanations you have done in the past on your website or through Alfa Matrix, some people still seem to have fun to start a witch hunt against you by looking for fascist related stuff. Wasn’t this foreseeable with respect to your artistic freedom? Would you say, that it could be more difficult to get “Troops” released if you would be signed to a German label?
Dunkelwerk: Of course the problem with Dunkelwerk is the theme and the atmosphere. It’s a very dark album with a real background. It’s not funny or “cool” and I can also understand people who think that it is not the best way to deal with the German wars by using electronic club music. I only asked one very small German label, I never asked the big ones. But once again, there is no witch hunt against Dunkelwerk. I could use this Sonic Seducer ban for promotion but this would be lame. I only reacted with a short statement. They never called me “fascist” or “right wing”. They don’t want to promote an album dealing with such a difficult theme. Funny: they printed and bought the advert for “Troops” before the ban…this IS lame. We move on!
Chain D.L.K.: “It’s about defeat, not about victory” – so a quotation out of your release info sheet. Please explain clearly this concept. Does your beloved search for defeats not cramp you in your musical development?
Dunkelwerk: This sentence is very important to explain that “Troops” does not want to glorify war conflicts. You know humans use recognition short-cuts because most people don’t have the time to discover every new thing and so some need clear simple statements. This whole album is only about defeats, not really a way to start a militant image. I avoided any glorification. Why should a main theme cramp the musical development? Two different things. Of course it would be boring to have a second album also dealing with this real war theme…this won’t happen. Defeats? For sure!
Chain D.L.K.: Apart from that ugly fascist reproach, why do you have such a huge interest in things regarding WW 1 & 2? This is not typical for the EBM/Electro scene generally, is it? Can defeats not also be found in other current themes? It looks a bit that you calculated well the risk to get bitched…
Dunkelwerk: Fascist Reproach? So far I have not heard such things… There’s a difference between “I can’t stand the way you deal with the war theme!” and “You are a fascist!”. Be careful with such things. I also can’t see that this war thing is typical genre-like. Ok, we have some “war” in this scene but there are more robots, vampires, angels and devils around. There’s place for all of them…also for the war theme! Defeats can be found in other topics for sure. For the first album I used the world wars. But in the end this whole war on “Troops” is just a metaphor for something personal. There exist frontlines without tanks, without bombing and troops but full of defeat and sadness… And believe me, “Troops” is too good and the concept is too clear to get bitched in full effect. I was aware of this risk and reduced it by not playing the stupid promo games we all know. I knew that this theme was a risk but I saw no real reason not to deal with it because it makes sense the way I did it. No need not to use a specific theme but there was a need to treat it in a clear and unmistakable way.
Chain D.L.K.: “Dresden” could be named here as an example of a reminder of the happenings at the end of WW2. Did you already come in that situation to have a discussion on your points of view with someone of the older generation who maybe was involved?
Dunkelwerk: I know people who got lost in the chaos of this dark time. They found a way back telling tales of defeat, death and misery. I’ve heard things that are hard to believe. And we all have to pray that such chaos never comes back. I wanted to make a statement with “Troops” and its real historic background. But I know that some will think that “Troops” offers the dance tracks for the wrong crowd. Let them dance…maybe some will find out that the world of Dunkelwerk is not the right place to please a soldiers heart…
Chain D.L.K.: Overwhelming sarcasm we can also discover on the lyrical content of “Sternensoldat”. Please explain to us the technical side of this track, are these lyrics samples or is this your own clear voice? How would you review the lyrical additions done by Claus Kruse of PNE on his remix for this track?
Dunkelwerk: There is NO sarcasm! This is my voice reading an original “Feldpost” letter which was written some days before the collapse of the Sixth German Army in Stalingrad by a German weatherman. He tells about his love for the stars. This man found himself in a total chaos he never wanted to join. He wrote this last words to those he loved and to his wife…there is no sarcasm only sadness and defeat. Unfortunately his name was not left on the card. We will never know who he was but we can still hear his words. With much respect. I think Claus of PNE has made a perfect job. He added the typical PNE style, used some vocal parts to create a new chorus and included his own voice. It was clear that this remix was the perfect bonus for the main CD.
Chain D.L.K.: :Wumpscut: AKA Rudy Ratzinger is somebody whom you like and respect. Comparable to the great Bavarian Zampano, what is your opinion about doing live gigs for Dunkelwerk? Any hope for us to see you acting on stage one day?
Dunkelwerk: Well…as it seems the whole German Endzeit crew is afraid of stages. The Retrosic, :W:, little Dunkelwerk. I think yelworC did some live performances 200 years ago… I think the problem is the fact that one-man-armies (Why are Endzeit projects very very often one-man-armies, from Germany and offer an aggressive style? Does someone know it?) can’t perform live in an interesting way. What should we do on stage? Jumping around while screaming in the mic? Bearing torches? I don’t know. And yes: I can’t sing! I need a lot of time and a lot of different VST plug ins to create the vocals. I have to live it. Some like this distorted vocals, some hate them. However it wouldn’t be a pleasure on stage…;) I know what I can do and performing live does not belong to my portfolio.
Chain D.L.K.: Comes then the question to your future plans musically and personal…
Dunkelwerk: I will try to find the time for the second album, which won’t be called “Troops 2”… It’s really hard for me to combine the normal job and Dunkelwerk. I’m only at home on the weekends, that’s my biggest problem. And I’m still not sure about the concept for the follow-up release… Some first ideas exist.
Chain D.L.K.: Please give us also a report of the situation with the birds on your balcony. Are they doing well and can you tell us something new from them?
Dunkelwerk: Ah, the birds… I find peace on my balcony. No amok runners and scene prophets. Only the birds, cool drinks and sunshine. But overall most people are very nice and friendly in this scene.
Chain D.L.K.: Anything else you would like to tell us…?
Dunkelwerk: Thanks for being interested in my little work! I know it takes time to conduct interviews and to write reviews. See you at side-line.com!
Visit Dunkelwerk on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Brandon L. Clark]