- Mr Kruspe, the music world knows you as guitarist of Rammstein. Recently you repeatedly expressed your positive opinion about your friend and colleague Emigrate, who is going to release his first album “Emigrate”. Since when do you know each other?
Richard: Actually we know each other for quite some time. We both come from the same region. But in former times we only had a nodding acquaintance. Then he approached me because he had some ideas and wanted my opinion about them.
- Emigrate, how to come about meeting with Richard Z. Kruspe of Rammstein?
Emigrate: Rammstein is a great band, and Richard a guitarist and songwriter I highly respect. I hoped he could help me with my project and so I approached him. He was very open and interested in what I think and do.
- Seeing the two of you together is a bit confusing in the beginning...
Emigrate: People say we resemble each other. I don’t think so. Anyway: we spent a lot of time together. I was his shadow. That was Richard’s will.
Richard: Some people maybe may find him eerie at first. Often he only is there, aside, frowning. You more sense him than see him; his energy, his restlessness. He showed up more often and we listened together to the music and discussed. Emigrate interested me as a person and I realised immediately his knowledge of music.
- What do you have in common musically?
Richard: We both like dark music, the early years of Swans, Big Black, Ministry, but also classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Black Sabbath influenced us.
Emigrate: We share a liking for songwriters like Trent Reznor, Martin Gore or Jeff Buckley, a musician who died very young.
Richard: I also have an interest in the melodic side of pop music, an aspect often missing in harder music. I try to connect both elements.
Emigrate: I agree. That is the unique thing with Rammstein: their music is rough and at the same time very melodic.
- How did your friendship develop? Everything you tell sounds very harmonically.
Richard: Sometimes it was hard with him. Even when a song or a concert seemed to have been great he had something to criticise. I then told him to do something on his own, to make his own music.
Emigrate: After some time something had piled up in me. I felt the need to change things dramatically. I could not manage me and Berlin anymore. Therefore I decided to move to New York.
- How was the beginning of your career?
Richard: I had various approaches to music. I played in the fist punk band ever in my hometown Schwerin, called “Das elegante Chaos”. Eventually I was in their rehearsal room and played with them. I was very loud but the others liked it.
- You also have a professional musical education...
Richard: That’s true. I went to that entrance examination at the conservatoire and played a song from UFO: “Dr. Dr. Please”. They were surprised but decided to let me join.
Emigrate: Actually I never wanted to play music of other bands. That did not really interest me. So I tried some things. Now I know: music is my medium with which I am able to express myself best. I think Richard understands well what I mean.
Richard: Writing music can be a therapy. I think that’s the case with you.
Emigrate: Writing songs is my life. I do not like the quiet. I turn mad when things start to get comfortable. Others go on holiday, that’s o.k., but not for me. On the other hand: when a song is ready that is the best moment ever. You feel like having fallen in love for the first time. You want to have that feeling over and over again.
- At some point you decided to make a record...
Emigrate: Making this album was very important for me. I did not care about the rest of the world I only did it for me personally in the first place. Maybe sounds embarrassing but it is the truth.
Richard: I supported his idea to make the album. I was impressed by his intensity, or better: obsession, with which he pursued his plans.
- You live in different cities. What does this mean for your work?
Richard: Places, climates and people have a big impact on me. Certain kinds of music I only can write at certain places.
- Emigrate, you even dedicated a song to New York...
Emigrate: Without New York the album and Emigrate would never have come to life. Maybe something different but not Emigrate. New York was the kick-off. The city has a magical impact on me and inspires me. Berlin appears to me as destructive and cold.
- Any explanation?
Emigrate: I don’t know. Maybe the many dead people are a reason.
Emigrate: After the war many dead people were only hastily buried in Berlin, just where they died, because there was not enough space on the cemeteries. You sometimes can feel that they still are beneath the pavement. There are these vibrations in Berlin, sometimes, like a cool breathe. And for sure it was not by coincidence that West-Berlin was such a centre for drug addicts in the 80’es. In the east they had alcohol. People wanted to escape to another world, to forget, to benumb.
- So your removal to New York was already initiated awhile?
Emigrate: To a certain degree it was spontaneous. At some point I knew I had to leave, the city is no longer good for me. I left everything behind and started over again.
- When did you leave for New York?
Emigrate: In 1999. When I arrived in New York I hardly did know anybody. But a lot of places felt very familiar to me right from the beginning. The same with some people. Some people in Berlin think Americans are superficial. I would say they are more open. Much more overt than a lot of people in Germany. In Berlin I do not feel alone at home but in the city. In New York it’s more the other way round. The reason is the openness of Americans in public life. America always has been a country for the brave who wanted to start something new but also a country of criminals. The town is affected by an amoral pioneering spirit. First there is the promise for the future, a chance for every newcomer.
- Mr Kruspe, what did you think when your friend moved to New York?
Richard: It was exciting. That would never have been an option for me. Many of my friends live in Berlin. Rammstein has a lot to do with Berlin, with the German language. At my first visit New York appeared t me as a big Moloch. But of course: New York is one of the most difficult but still most wonderful cities in the world.
- Did the move to New York pay off for Emigrate?
Richard: He lives there in an old fire worker’s house in Manhattan and writes his music, I envy him that! I visited him there some times.
- Why is the project called “Emigrate”?
Emigrate: Many generations of emigrants landed in the harbour of New York after leaving their home country on the search for luck in this town. For me “Emigrate” stand s for physical and mental emigration. For a while I was on the run – I tried to flee from myself and from the shadows of Berlin. Thankfully I came to New York. This city is my asylum and my Babel. In a way she baptized me “Emigrate”. She led me to the way I want to live, to my innermost will, she focussed me. New York works like a filter for me and sorts out everything unimportant. The town is full of drama and stories. I need that for my creativity. For example I recognize a special energy in my house in New York. Maybe sounds strange, but you can sense the ghosts of the past wandering through it.
- While Rammstein works with texts in German Emigrate uses English....
Emigrate: For me it was natural to use English. When I am in New York I think English. I haven’t tried but I don’t think I could write in German in New York. I feel quite comfortable here in the English language.
Richard: German is a tuneful, deep language with lots of nuances. My mother tongue. I grew up with American music. There are my roots, but after my first visit to the USA I noticed that I had to do something connected to the German language and culture. So we founded Rammstein. Rammstein never ever could have happened in America, in New York.
- Emigrate, your first album is very personal. Was it difficult to express your feelings in words?
Emigrate: No. So many things happened in my first time in New York that I had to work it up. In the beginning I even did not know where it would lead to.
- Do you now know you where it will take you to?
Emigrate: The old Chinese saying is true for me: the journey is the reward.
- Is it of any help for you that your friend Richard Z. Kruspe has gained a lot of experience with Rammstein or, to put it in other words: does he advise you sometimes?
Emigrate: Sure he helps me sometimes but the important decisions I make on my own. Richard established the contact to Jacob Hellner, the Rammstein producer who now has worked as a co-producer for Emigrate.
- Didn’t you fear the danger of similarities to the Rammstein sound?
Emigrate: Of course we were aware of it and cared about it in the beginning. But quickly it turned out that we would make something particular. Throughout the whole production Jacob was a helpful adviser and somebody to talk to and whom we asked for his opinion.
- Emigrate, who are the musicians you have worked with on your first album? And will there be a next one?
Emigrate: All are friends and good musicians: Arnoud Giroux (bass), Henka Johannson (drums), Olsen Involtini (guitar), Sascha Moser (programming). It was a very natural and organic way of working together, a good chemistry between all involved although they had never played together before in such a constellation. And to the second part of your question: Emigrate is a long-term project. New ideas for a second album already exist.
- You are the singer. Did you plan it that way?
Emigrate: No, I also searched for other singers. But after a certain time it was clear I would be the singer. My friend Arnoud Giroux said to me: you wrote these songs for yourself therefore you have to sing them, that’s the only way.
- When you listen to the music you automatically think: that has to be played live...Are you going to play live with the musicians you worked with on the album?
Emigrate: The idea is there. The thought of playing live is very appealing, but there are no plans for a tour yet. The musicians I worked with on the album are very busy, come from different bands and countries. Already the studio production was a challenge.
- How important are visual aspects for your work?
Richard: They are very important. In this point we tried a lot with Rammstein. For me it is fascinating to play a role, a different character. If I would have the chance I would like to try something in that field. Sometimes I think there is more than just one person in me. I am fascinated by stories such like ”Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde”.
Emigrate: I have a great passion for movies, for cinema. I believe: in one way or another that will be seen in public appearances of Emigrate – wherever they will take place.
- Where is the difference between working in a band in the classical sense and in Emigrate?
Emigrate: On the one hand I am able to decide freely where Emigrate’s development will lead to. On the other hand: for sure the attrition, the permanent creative input in such a band like Rammstein is productive. I often begrudged Richard that.
- Will the two of you maybe eventually work or play live together?
Emigrate: I would like to, but I can’t imagine right now. Richard is going to be very busy with Rammstein in the near future.
Richard: Maybe someday – why not? Who knows what will happen?!
- Mr Kruspe, what can you tell us about the near future of Rammstein?
Richard: Without giving a secret away: we are working very hard. Rammstein is a unique project. Authentic, not compromising neither to the outside nor to the inside. Sometimes some fans are worried about the future of Rammstein. I can assure them: Rammstein certainly will carry on. You can expect a lot in the near future.
- We are curious. Mr Kruspe, Mr Emigrate, thank you very much for the interview.