Welle:Erdball is more than a simple musical ensemble, it is a Radio Station, broadcasting its programs in waves that travel the electronic ether reaching out to every corner of the Earth…
Born of German New Wave, incorporating influences from many cultural and technological landmarks of the XX Century, Radio Welle:Erdball’s programs can be felt as a reflection on the creations of human genius, both good and bad, and the impact those creations have on human nature.
A few months before the release of “Die Wunderwelt der Technik”, Moderator Honey accepted to be interviewed by Connexion Bizarre (originally Goths Anonymous) and tell us more about the Origins, Purpose and Future of Radio Station Welle:Erdball…
C.B. – Historicaly, what can you tell us about the beginnings of Welle:Erdball?
Our broadcasts has existed since some time around 1993. Since then, we try to use our imaginary radio station to broadcast melodies and voices to spread some entertainment and information. One of our ground-stones for the station is that the “Neue Deutsche Welle” (German New Wave) scene died out. We wanted to hear this music, so then it was nothing else to do but making the music ourselves. What has come out of it since then, cannot be described within an adjective, and this interview would otherwise not have room for a closer description.
C.B. – Why the name Welle:Erdball? Does it have any particular symbolic meaning?
The name “Welle:Erdball” is connected to the first German broadcasts in the 1920´s. The name was first used in a radio play. We see ourselves as a rebirth of this old program, and we infuse fresh life into it with our work.
C.B. – What ideas, movements and personalities would you say were crucial for the definition and development of Welle:Erdball as a creative entity?
First of all, we have to mention the power that comes out of the points in the wall, how profane it may ever sound. Here at the broadcasting station, we can work with it to give it the shape we want. The idea behind this, is of course connected to the concepts of our broadcasts. Since we almost only work with calculators, are computer-related themes close at hand. When it comes to persons, the ones who play the main roles, we can only mention our program leaders, Honey, A.L.F., COMMODORE=64, SorayaVC and KayCat.
C.B. – What are your current sources of inspiration, both ideologically and musically?
What inspires us should be quite clear. And we cannot see any difference between ideology and music, talking about music, that is. We bring out our inspiration from adjectives like frigid, modern, ghostlike, electric, passionate, and virtues like loyalty, friendship, originality, correctness and industriousness. If we have to mention other artists, would Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, D.A.F. or the artists of the German New Wave stand in our first lines.
C.B. – How do you feel that Welle:Erdball has been evolving? Where do you see the project heading to?
Maybe it sounds strange, but the goal is to sound like Welle:Erdball. But that is also hard to explain. We hope that we have a long way to walk before we reach our goal. We do not see ourselves as a project, the word indicating too much of perishability. Welle:Erdball is really a radio station for us, and that is the way we work. We have never seen any goal in success. The main issue was to make music for ourselves. Over time, slowly but safely this process has developed a complex vital force.
C.B. – How does the Welle:Erdball creative process work? Do you work in home studios, whenever you feel inspired or is the work carefully scheduled?
A.L.F. and me work 28 hours a day for Welle:Erdball, already so regular that we have forgot all about earning any money. I think that we always feel inspired, also when we wake up in the broadcasting studio with the head leaning on a KORG-SM20, with a soldering iron in one hand and the other hand leaning on the keyboard of the C-64. The broadcasting studio has become the liaison central of the broadcasts. We come to the studio at 0:00 a.m. and leave for home at 12.00 p.m. Such a day counts 28 hours of work.
C.B. – How does a Welle:Erdball song come to be?
Of course, we are not interested in sharing the station´s internal material. Also, the difference in the process is different from one tune to the other. However, in most cases the idea of the song stands so clear, that we only have to make a cover version of ourselves. And that we use the soldering iron in the final tuning… well, that is another story…
C.B. – Which contemporaneous musical projects do you feel are closer to Welle:Erdball’s ideas? Did the possibility of collaboration ever arise?
We have lots of friends among other artists, mostly fom the minimal-electronic scene, but we are somewhat sceptic about any collaborations. The Welle:Erdball radio does not allow any collaborations, and we ourselves would never do any “projects” or such. We are already making Welle:Erdball.
C.B. – What are your plans and expectations for the present and the future rising beyond? “Die Wunderwelt der Technik” has been advertised for some time now and is anxiously awaited. Can you tell us what to expect from this upcoming release? After that, what should we expect from Welle:Erdball?
By March 2002, the new radio program „Die Wunderwelt der Technik“ (The Wonderful World of Tecnology) will be released. In the meantime, there will be a release of the mini show “Super 8”. We are not very willing about talking about the contents of the programs, we do not want to take the surprise from our listeners. And how we will continue on? Welle:Erdball has become the project of our lives, there is no way out of it now!
C.B. – Contrasting with other contemporaneous bands that present us with visions of a grim future, part of the Welle Erdball spirit seems to be an optimistic belief in the promises of Technology and Progress, while at the same time warning that not everything is perfect. Is this a correct interpretation as the aim of Welle:Erdball beyond that of making music?
You could surely put it that way, but it is not our mission to interpret our music, that is Your job as a journalist! We will never try to correct You in Your work, we are eager to get some impulse or new thougt by Your rendering, so please describe our music!
C.B. – Personaly the atemporal/achronal aesthetic of Welle:Erdball seems close to a couple of movies by Jacques Tati (especialy “Playtime” and “Mon Oncle”) in its depiction of the the “Wonderful World of Technology”, although for Welle:Erdball technology isn’t necessarily a de-humanizing factor and one must not forget that it originates from Human Creativity and Genius. Would you care to comment?
Since the human genius, sadly, very often is motivated by money, You cannot always describe the technology of the geniuses as human. (Atomic bombs, the F-104G airplane etc.). It all depends of what the humans make with their genius. Here is one of the great challenges humanity stands for: What technology do we need and what do we not need? Has not technology as it´s final goal, to be able to produce new technology by itself? A kind of technology that only treat humans as deadweight or waste.
C.B. – The retro/atemporal aesthetic is not only patent visually but it also appears to invade the music you create. As well as recent equipment, you make use of vintage material that is actually considered a member of the band, a Commodore 64. Why the Commodore 64? Practical reasons or also symbolic reasons?
Our relation to the C-64 puts us without any intention on the border of grandiloquence. The Commodore C-64 is just not a child of the 80s, it is not just a little home computer with 0.98 MHz and 0.064 MB RAM, it is not just a game console You can play Pac Man, Wizard of Wor, Space Invaders or Winter Games on. No, it is in it´s minimalistic soul the best media to let all Your visions come true. No matter if it comes to programming, to compose music, to ‘pixel’ pictures or to write poems.
You do not have many apparent options from the beginning in the C-64, but most people will not let themselves get disrupted in their process by this. The computer is a little prison, in which You soon will bump into one or another wall. But You will be content in Your creative work when You overcome those walls. In many modern devices, You might never even see the walls.
C.B. – Welle: Erdball’s obsession with technological cultural icons is quite obvious. Some are celebrated, others depreciated.
Starting with the VW Beetle, chosen for personal preference or due to it being an obvious icon? One might argue that the Citroen 2CV might be a more adequate example of technical perfection: frontal traction and smaller fuel expenditure, to name two important factors (yes, I admit I am a Citroen 2CV fan).
The Citroën 2CV is without any argument also a ‘cult car’, not only because we sure know that ghosts drive, swim and fly those cars too. So if we were French, our program just might cover the issues concerning the 2CV. But we are German, and we have many private matters involved in the VW-Beetle.
But let us stay for a minute and discuss Your comparison. When It comes to cars, design plays a major role, and in this matter, both cars are in their own styles without any competition. It is unfair to compare fuel expenditure and such things having in mind that the concepts of the cars are of different age. But I would say that the Citroën looks angry from the front. I think this might be a reason to give a car cult status, but should a car really look angry? The VW Beetle looks very human, just as if Ferdinand Porsche built in some part of his personality in the car when he designed it back in 1934 (!!!). A human car for humans, does it make sense? Sadly, we now live in a time where products are no longer built for the humans, now the humans have to fit the products.
C.B. – “Nyntändo-Shock”, is this a critique not only of the Nintendo in particular but of the whole console gaming in general? A critique of games that have no possibility of being changed by the user, presenting extremely limited and unchanging choices (when there are choices), thus stiffling creativity in the user?
You understand us perfectly. If You do not use your options, then You do not have any. But when You do not have any options at all, then You cannot possibly use any. We do not think that the actual games play the major role in this matter, the console is the main issue here. We started playing with the Commodore 64, and then this little calculator showed all it´s good sides. In this way, the Commodore 64 widened our horizons.
When it comes to gaming consoles (let us for a moment forget ATARI 2600), You are only told how lethargic You already are or how much money You do not have in Your purse. Here we think, it sooner comes to the shrinking of horizons.
Sadly, it is always the same. We finally overtook our future, and now we are floating in mud towards our fates. So let us go back, the way back is the way to our future!
C.B. – What do you think of the situation that this particular song reflects (consumer apathy, etc…)?
The consumption pattern is always a product of the advertising and the economical circumstances. Maybe it should be forbidden to make advertising for Your own products. The advertising industry should be in the consumer´s hands, because they are the only ones that can say something (more or less) objective about products. And a product that causes social isolation would not get that much advertising.
C.B. – “Starfighter 104G” seems the opposite of “Nyntändo-Shock”, being a metaphor of the use of technology to daringly go beyond the boundaries of the unknown?
Talking about Starfighter F104-G (The G stands for Germany), we focus on the type that were assembled in Germany. After more than 250 crashes in 25 years (of peace), and many fatal casualties, this airplane is a icon and a symbol, almost ironical, for the fact that the humans were produced for the machines.
C.B. – A couple of more questions about the Brave New World we live in seem to be in order…
What does Welle:Erdball think of all this Information Society, Infobahn and Internet hype that we are constantly bombarded with nowdays?
The whole thing shares mankind in two parts, and the borders are extended out into the eternity. One of the parties are sitting with the great plan in their hands. This base is used to impoverish the ordinary mortals, the consumers, the unknowing and the unaware from their last thoughts and spirits of hope.
What should we do? We can not defeat the enemy we do not know, We can not fight with weapons we do not know how to handle. So let us take their weapons and use the weapons against them. So let us be the dry sponge to imbibe their intelligence and knowledge. Maybe You can be confident in Your unawareness, but this battle can still be won!
C.B. – Do you feel that the Internet actually bring people closer or do you think that it ends up being nothing more than a medium for vacuous entertainment and numbing?
Those are two different things. There is, I think, nothing in the world that does not come with both a positive and a negative side. You only wished that the needle on the meter always pointed at the positive scale.
Of course internet brings people together, that is obvious just concerning this interview, but what could the alternative be? Perhaps this interview will release such a great amount of motivation inside us, so we will come to talk to each other on the phone or even to meet personally. Without doubt, this would bring us closer together and would be much more direct. Right now, I am sitting at a keyboard and a monitor. It is not the slightest glance of personal contact in this act, it is the beginning of a social isolation and a backward development of any communication. But internet is neither anything bad or anything new. It started in the 1950´s and is a product of the cold war and a computernet of the 1980´s that were based on the Commodore 64. But since then, the internet has developed like an evil robot that has left it´s slave days behind. Good things are only good as long as they not overgrow You.
C.B. – Another aspect of Western Society seems to be the “living for the moment” attitude. People more and more become more egotistical and irresponsible, refusing to face the consequences of their actions. Do you think this trend of thought is actually increasing?
This trend will surely grow even stronger. Luckily, You and me both are talking about this as a trend. All trends will vanish, if not sooner then when they escalate. This “partypeople”/ “bungee-jumper” attitude will hopefully soon be part of the history. Imagine, if it was trendy and modern to be sly, smart and intelligent!
C.B. – Another hype that the media try to hail as the greatest conceptual discovery is “Globalization”. What do you think of this concept and its consequences?
Globalisation? Of what? Jews, Muslims and Christians?
C.B. – Any final words or final requests? ;-)
The last interview I made, also made via e-mail, almost drove me crazy. They always come up with the same questions, the same questions that we have been used to now for more than seven years. I almost told A.L.F. that we did better stop making interviews, it would only go on with having the same question for the 1000th time asked, and giving the same answer for that same 1000th time. So we really appreciate those questions that could give us some inspiration for new thougts. Thank You for a really good interview!
We wish You and Your team, as well as Your readers, good luck in the future.
You listened to Radio Welle:Erdball.
— interview by Miguel de Sousa, translation of answers from German to English by Odd Jönsson. (January 2002)