INTERVIEW: KMFDM's Sascha Konietzko

- Jamie Roberts

Sascha Konietzko, KMFDM mastermind, stellar producer/remixer for the likes of Die Warzau, Living Colour, and Megadeth, is one of the most recognizable names in Industrial or any kind of music. If you know your knife-edged, intense music, odds are you are famliar with this man's work.

Charged as one of the fathers of the genre, Konietzko shows much modesty. He gives the credit where he feels it due, and sets the record straight about TVT, those darn guitars, and KMFDM's new CD, Nihil.

Consumable: From your first album, What Do You Know Deutschland? (1986) to Nihil (1995), what has changed? What has remained the same?

Konietzko: You can't start a band and say "This is what we are doing 'til the end of time". We explored different styles and concepts in making each of our albums. Each album is like a snapshot - a product of situations and dynamics of the band. We are really fond of our past work... It's not like other bands, who say "Don't listen to our first album, it sucks!" So we recycle some elements (often samples) from our previous work in each new work. By the way, I want to tell you something...

Make sure you let people know we are on Wax Trax!... It is Wax Trax/TVT now... I've seen it listed all different ways "TVT" only, etc.

C: And how are things going at Wax Trax! post-financial troubles? How has it affected your work with them? Also, how is working with TVT? Some people have had problems...

SK:Things are better than ever - our dealings with TVT have been nothing but positive. Some people can have problems with anybody.

C: Nihil does something different with guitars than your previous work.

SK: We really overdid it on Angst. On Nihil we, in effect, did the whole album, then added the guitars in at the end. When we started bringing in the guitars on Angst, we wanted to make it more like our live shows. When we actually went out and played live, and people saw the guitars, they would walk out! I guess it wasn't what they expected from us. Our goal, of late, has been to be real musicians. We started out distorting vacuum cleaner sounds as we were into noise manipulation. Now we want to be real musicians. It is an obsession of ours, so that's part of the reasoning behind the use of guitars...

C: So this album is not "Industrial" in the purest sense... you know, all mechanized...?

SK: There are no Industrial purists anymore...Thrill Kill Kult are campy Industrial-Pop, Ministry are Industrial-Metal, and so on. New terms and definitions are coming about in this genre all the time.

C: I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that your work formed my opinions about (and my taste for) Industrial. You originated it.

SK: Thank you, but we missed the first wave of Industrial. We started in 1984 and are certainly not originators of the style. Milestones in music for us were Kraftwerk and DAF.

C: Another thing - the cover art for your albums. I heard about the problems with the Naive cover art. Sexism? How do you plead?

SK: The charges of sexism were stupid! Naive was banned because of the cover art. We play with fire in all aspects of our career. We use excess as artists, to demonstrate something. The supposed "rape scene" was not intended that way.

C: So with the women on your covers and in your video, and the female vocals in songs like "Juke Joint Jezebel" (Nihil's first single) what exactly are you getting at? Are you a feminist band?

SK: Feminist? That's an interesting way of putting it. Female strength is projected through the vocals, so, yes, maybe we are 'feminist'. We are certainly not sexist! En Esch has a lot to say on that subject (albeit not in perfect English).

C: A friend of mine wouldn't even listen to your music because she was a Depeche Mode fan. You know, the Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode anagram?

SK: (Laughs) That is actually one of my favorites! We get them in the mail all the time. We have about 1500 of them right now. The sad thing is that in "KMFDM" the "MF" lends itself to "Mother Fucker". People ought to be more creative than that!

C: So when will you be touring?

SK: We are beginning a full tour in about 2 weeks. We will go around the United States with Dink [who are counted among Konietzko's production credits]. In the summer we will be in Japan and Europe. We get back to the US in the fall; you must come see us when we're out!

C: Is that an order?

SK: Sure! (Laughs)

C: It has been a pleasure talking to you. Good luck!

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