The three-day conference organised by Rudi Esch following on from “Electri_City”, his best-selling oral history of the electronic music scene of Düsseldorf, was a resounding success, attracting several hundred visitors. The first day was devoted to a symposium on Kraftwerk that was organised by our music expert Uwe Schütte.
Featuring speakers from both Britain and Germany, it explored various aspects of the seminal band’s history and music. The audience included scholars from Germany, the English-speaking world and beyond, as well as enthusiasts of electronic music. This included Claudia Schneider-Esleben, the sister of Kraftwerk core member Florian Schneider, and Ralf Dörper, keyboard player and founding member of Die Krupps & Propaganda, as well as several people who had also attended the conference at Aston Earlier this year.
Following the academic part, the was a Q & A session with Peter Hook, formerly of Manchester bands Joy Division and New Order. Hook talked about the great influence of German electronic music and Kraftwerk in particular during his formative years as a musician. During the evening, there was a concert by Heaven 17 and a DJ set from Mute label founder Daniel Miller.
The second day was devoted to Düsseldorf bands other than Kraftwerk and again featured papers in both German and English. Again, academics who had already presented papers at Aston, such as Stephen Mallinder (formerly of Sheffield industrial pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, now a lecturer at Brighton University) and David Stubbs, made an appearance. Highlight of the day were the evening concerts by Mallinder’s new band Wrangler, and by Michael Rother, a founding member of Kraftwerk and Neu!.
For the third day, proceedings moved to the spacious Düsseldorf Conference Centre. The programme featured Aston Kraftwerk conference stalwarts such as the unstoppable Rusty Egan (Visage) but also a number of important musicians such as Gabi Delgado (from Düsseldorf electronic punk duo DAF) or Andy McCluskey (OMD). Highlight of this day was the visit to the formerly secret Kling-Klang Studio in Düsseldorf’s red-light district, where Kraftwerk recorded most of their albums from the early 1970s to about 2008.
Based on the success of the event, opportunities for a follow-on conference next year on the more recent musical developments in Düsseldorf, including bands such as Kreidler or Mouse on Mars, are being explored, and plans were laid for formalising this field of research into an International Research Network.
Following are more pictures from the event, mostly taken by Markus Luigs.
Rudi Esch in conversation with Ralf Dörper (Die Krupps / Propaganda)
David Pattie talking about early Kraftwerk.
Aston logo at the Düsseldorf Conference Centre
Krautrock legend Michael Rother at panel discussion prior to his great concert.
Uwe Schütte on the phone of the legendary Kling-Klang Studio – but no Ralf Hütter calling.
Alexei Monroe during his presentation.