Lord Litter hails from Berlin, Germany, and is one of the, if not THE, European leg of the Cassette Scene of the 1980’s / 1990’s. Dedicating himself to the movement, he brought together musicians from all nations, all continents, in an effort to get the unheard-music heard. He relentlessly exchanged tapes from nation to nation and was the vital link in the center of the globe. Without his untiring efforts, many musicians from the underground scene would have fallen into oblivion. Today tribe4mian brings you an exclusive, seldom-given, interview with the man who made it happen …
tribe4mian: How and when did you get involved with music?
LORD LITTER: I was solo voice in a classical choir when I was 10 years old… for several years we traveled Germany singing real heavy BACH, etc., stuff. How I got involved in all this? I really can’t remember .. I just very clearly remember that right from the start I felt the addiction and that I would do music all my life long .. and I was right!
tribe4mian: Awhile ago I uploaded a BBC documentary about Kraut Rock (you can check it HERE). After watching this documentary, I was wondering what was the German scene like in the late 70’s-early 80’s?
LORD LITTER: Well, Kraut Rock started in the late 60s. It made German and international music (mainly English/American) equal… and I’m not talking about historically *accepted* bands like Kraftwerk .. no names here .. too many. Germany was exploding with a certain sound that could only happen in Germany. If it was good it had an aspect of German *culture* .. *a touch of Goethe*, so to speak. If it was bad it was caught in the sterile non-flexible *German rule*.
The early 70s to the early 80s .. that was from NEU to EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN .. well to me .. then as all over the world. Suddenly … it was all over. A good example is the band DEUTSCH AMERKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT .. the early LPs meant dangerously noise rhythms .. the later LPs meant Disco Dance ..
tribe4mian: As a musician, were you ever involved with the Neue Deutsche Welle? Any bands to mention please?
LORD LITTER: I guess every musician living in Berlin in the 80s was involved somehow. Boring old farts cut their hair, named their band *The Fuck Theatre* and .. oups .. were New Wave .. So yes I sure was involved in all this. The first band was so Avangarde we even did not have a name .. we just had a sign .. uuuhhh … well basicly it was a Punk band, I guess. The second band was called UBIK after a sci-fi book. The band had a brass section and was very much New York No Wave influenced .. remember James Chance? In both bands I screamed and ripped strings (guitar and bass) .. and then suddenly there were the horrible 80s and New Wave was dead …. and I looked .. and found the *Cassette Scene*.
tribe4mian: Can you please fill us in about “Der Mondane Tiger“? What is it all about ?
LORD LITTER: This is a co-operation with Andrea Splisgar. She is an *all around* artist (her first official appearence was in Fellinis last movie) – performing, building sculpturs, working with graphics, etc. Since 1999 we cooperate whenver she needs sound for her work, which is very often.
Recently we produced several short movies for a new art / fashion scene. The last movie Chapter 14 “THE DREAM OF THE DISEMBODIED BIRDS” won the festival “A Shaded View on Fashion Film, 3rd Edition”, Centre Pompidou, Paris on September 2010, category: Best Sound, produced by me. We cooperate in a perfect way, because we are influenced by almost the same artists/directors.
tribe4mian: Which are your favorite movies?
LORD LITTER: With the start of what I call the DVD *revolution* I went ‘n bought *all* movies / TV series / etc. that ever influenced me decades ago. Said bye bye to today’s absolutely disgusting tv / cinema / general entertainment world .. and felt extremely inspired (again). It’s quite impossible to answer that question – I can name certain *scenes*.
First, I guess I have to mention the Euro Intelectuals of the 50s/60s/70s .. mainly Luis Bunuel!!! I guess an always-No.1-movie of mine is his “Le Fantome de la Liberte“. Then there was inspiring material from the early 70 US-American Sci-Fi directors .. showing me possible realities. .. movies like “Soylent Green” and “Westworld“. Then the glorious gothic horror – Hammer movies from the 50s, 60s .. Roger Corman/Vincent Price from the same period … and in recent years I finally found all the Euro-Art-House-Trash from the 60s/70s/80s which is most inspiring these days .. the one to inspire me most is Jess Franco!!!
tribe4mian: I have here your 1989 release, “Tales about Death, Destruction and Everyday Fascism“. How many releases do you have? Which was your first one and when was it released?
tribe4mian: I remember one day you told me you also moved from the position of musician to the position of promoter. In general, what is your opinion about the music industry?
LORD LITTER: I think from ca. mid 50s to ca. mid 80s there was a kinda balanced situation where some people did the music and others sold it to the masses. The developement of the culture happened so quickly that there was always something new growing in the *underground* … new / *honest* sound … to be sold by people only caring about the money. All that stopped in the mid-80s. Ever since, the biz side of the game alway tries to *create* something to sell. In recent years it’s all these casting shows. All this leads to a situation where we have all these 15-minutes artists. This *official pop culture* does not exist anymore, because it only could happen by being fed from a *real* underground. Today I only hear sounds I’ve heard before. The days of innovation are over … from Elvis Presley to Karlheinz Stockhausen - we had it all. It can’t be repeated.
Then we always had the so- called independent scene. Don’t forget, the label that *made* Elvis, Sun Records, was an indepedent label. Today’s independent labels act like the mayor labels in the old days. I have quite a good situation to realise all this as a DJ who went through the 80s – working with the hardcore independent scene, the *cassette scene*. These people really only did it for the music. A company today just has to sell items to pay everybody. Today’s general biz situation is a completely profit-aimed one, so… one just has to *sell*. I really can’t blame anyone. But I can’t take *them* seriously .. and I totally left this world.
tribe4mian: For some years now you have your own radio show on Radio Marabu. I have about 15 cassettes of your show. What is this radio show for you? When did you start it?
LORD LITTER: I think the show always has been an excerpt from what I listen to… what inspires me… it’s like sitting in my studio talking to me and I play my favourite songs of that very moment. There was a moment when it almost decayed… when it became a promotion instrument… that was ca. 2000 to 2005. I produced up to 10 shows a month for 3 stations and started to HATE music – I had to listen to 5 CDs every day, started to think in airplay categories .. ‘n I realised what music and biz means…
… Today I’m back at the 100% fun level… once a month I present classics that I realise once *defined* something… I think I seldom present the names that everybody presents again and again .. I combine that with musicians / bands I know on a quite personal level, that promote themselves. Music as part of the human being… not as a good to sell / promote … so I think I’m back to the spirit of the first show in 1987 …
tribe4mian: I asked a mutual friend, Don Campau, what would he like to ask you and he said: “What keeps him creating? What continues to drive him? What inspires him? What has he learned about himself from his art?”
LORD LITTER: ha ah aha haa .. a real good one!! Don should know .. he’s as mad as me! .. with his Living Archive website he is back on the road of innovation too!! .. I think once I stop being creative I’ll die .. and I mean it exactly like I said it. I realised what keeps me creating .. drives me … is a permanent process of re-defining … learning .. stopping .. analysing .. starting new at a different point. Like from 1984 to 1999 I spit it all out… from my first solo releases to the live period of my Litter & The Lazy Sleepers band. Then I entered the period of thinking – planing – creating, so my new CD took me 3 years … and “what have I learned about myself from my art?” ALWAYS keep analysing .. defining .. re-defining .. learning .. NEVER stop. If you feel too comfortable, try to find out why and then change it .. there is ALWAYS a deeper level of *truth*. If you stop … you die … I NEVER would have learned that about life without my *art*.
tribe4mian: At some point your style changed into rhythm and blues. Why?
LORD LITTER: I guess you mean Litter & The Lazy Sleepers… from the mid to late 90s? That was a perfect combination of the boys I had met after my Das Freie Orchester (DFO) days – DFO was an .. well lets say *avangarde* band from East Germany (GDR) I joined the very day the wall fell .. the most adventureous *on stage* days of my life. The concept of the band was “we have no concept”. The moment we entered the stage we absolutely had NO IDEA what would happen next… freedom pure!! When it became obvious that there was no freedom in the *new Germany*… only profit was allowed. That became a reality ca. 1993, DFO fell apart. .. I met other people in East Germany who came from the Blues scene .. I was always into R&B (the rock R&B from England) .. so the combination was Litter & The Lazy Sleepers playin’ some kind of .. well *hard Blues*. After 5 years I had one of those *moments* of my life… something told me to move on… I NEVER could be still on stage playin the same old R&B these days …
tribe4mian: I got to know you back in the late 80’s because of the cassette scene. Your name is also mentioned on the “Grindstone Redux” documentary and the truth is, a lot of artists out there got in touch with a lot of people thanks to you. Would you like to give us an idea of the European cassette scene? How did it work and what was your part in it?
LORD LITTER: I think what made me go crazy in that direction was that I had a management company in the 80s. We tried to be an *honest* connection between artists and the music-biz. After 5 years I realised it’s absolutely not possible. (Explained above.) At the same time I found the so-called *tape scene* and realised a scene that I was looking for… only in it for the music / art. I don’t know if the European scene was different from the scene elsewhere – it was all about creating, exchanging, communicating, building something different. So, I tried to connect as many people as possible and by doing so spread my music all over the world. To talk about all this would be TOO MUCH – just let me mention the worldwide distribution/promotion network KFR I was involved in, or my radioshow, that right from the start would only promote real *hard-core independent* sound, etc. With an idea about a different culture – the letters that were exchanged were as important as the music. So all efforts to say today’s *social network scene* is the dream come true of those days is obviously wrong and a stupid joke .. to put a badly produced MP3 somewhere and so called *friends* leave comments like: “Wow – cool”… If I compare that with the *communication* I grew up with … well I’ll no longer comment on all this.
tribe4mian: What do you think about the internet? Do you think the internet has impacted the evolution of the cassette movement?
LORD LITTER: Well if we are talking about a real alternative one has to work with all these new ways in a controlled / knowing way. If you use the hyperlink structure of the internet to get your stuff to as many people as possible, you gotta play the so called *social network* instrument. This network is built to connect everybody. The owners of these networks use this structure, which gets them data, to make big big money. They make money with your “wow that’s cool” comment .. they make money with the pictures of your birthday, etc. So, if you use these structures to sell your stuff, you can built a small biz that really works. I know of musicians who play the Facebook game for 4 hours a day. This reaches enough people to buy your products and fills the venues you play. The *avangarde-days* of the internet are definitely over. It’s only and all about money (as usual). I very much doubt that the disscussion groups have the same effect the personal letters had in the 1980s. It’s all too much these days. Today’s task of the individual is to find the extremely limited info that really helps. One million pages of the internet are a sea to drown .. one thoughtful letter is a source of inspiration. Hey don’t get me wrong – the internet made me a free person! But I really studied that (special school)… the way the structure works, etc. I just see too many people these days drowning in the new media world. I don’t blame them… it’s all too much… and it was too soon.
tribe4mian: Which artists inspire Lord Litter? Since you always had the chance to listen to a lot of music, what kind of music was your favorite for most of the years?
LORD LITTER: I guess I can say… always the music that the *masses* were not listening to. It’s difficult to explain, but I realised that whenever I talked about an artist (even when I was a teen), most people said they never heard about him/her. The first time I realised that was when I was exploring the different solo musicians that came out of the Bonzo Dog Band. Neil Innes, Roger Ruskin Spear, Vivian Stanshall .. and related bands like Grimms. *Noone* knew them – I thought they were extremely inspiring because they were offering *something different*. Also the musicians offered incredibly strange stuff – for a very short period even what one could call *pop culture* offered sounds to inspire me. One of those unforgetable records is the Metal Box by Public Image Limited. Known names? .. well yes .. but I rather was looking for obscure follow up bands by ex pop singers who freed themselves from producers, etc., like “Ellis” .. the band from Steve Ellis, who had huge 1960s hits with Love Affair. I guess I was always trying to *look behind*. Words/lyrics? Ray Davies!!! Today I almost only listen to the people I present at my radioshow – update free producing musicians from all around the globe. Plus, I have incredible fun exploring some classic artists I missed in the early years .. like – I bought *all* Bert Kaempfert and *all* Beach Boys releases in recent times .. oh what an inspiration!
tribe4mian: Can you tell us about the “Shared Night Series” and your new CD titled “No Harm Done“?
LORD LITTER: The Shared Night is a concert series organised by Jens Fischer, who is the muscial director of the Blue Man Group, which may be *famous* all over the world. The idea of the series is that there are so many inspired musicians that he and his wife Alexa (also a musician) know, who would love to have a platfrom to try things all just for the fun of it. So one can’t make much money/fame or whatever at these nights. But we always have a full-house these days and the variety of the artists is incredible. Some are high class / trained musicians who make a living playin with today’s *names* .. but they all come to the Shared Night to have the *real fun*.
I do the hosting (now co-hosting with Radio Marabu DJ Marcel Fischer). The hosting is more a show of its own… with… no it’s not possible to explain. Come check it out, every first Monday of the month at the B Flat in Berlin. The Shared Nights now have their own show at Radio Marabu, the station that broadcasts my radioshow, Lord Litter’s Magic Music Box. Since January 2011, Radio Marabu broadcasts on a daily basis, which brought much more listeners/cooperations, etc.
All this was such an inspiration to me that I think it really influenced my own music, so my new CD “No Harm Done” is the first CD since ages that I really like and like to spread. I was pretty bored with recording another and another CD .. but that changed. Already 5 new songs almost finished.
tribe4mian: I hold here in my hands this photo of The Lord Litter Band. Would you like to share with us some memories from that era?
LORD LITTER: That was the band in between DAS FREIE ORCHESTER and LITTER & THE LAZY SLEEPERS… called The Lord Litter Band. It had Gui, the ex-drummer of Das Freie Orchester. Plus it already had Sven, the guitar player that stayed till the end of it all in 1999. We played some .. well.. Country-Punk-N-Roll … I guess. It was all my songs taken from the cassettes I had produced.
tribe4mian: What does future hold for Lord Litter?
LORD LITTER: I realised that I’m right now entering a new period. Everything starts on a different level. Everything is back to a very healthy situation that I mainly can control. No need to make money with my art (but some money comes!) and interesting work all over. More solo work, mainly recording. Back on stage with Litter & Leech, my duo – we finally found what we were looking for since 2006. Two electric guitars and my voice and all our own songs. Der Mondaene Tiger will have inspiring new work (more movies, I guess) and my radioshow now reaches a cool amount of people .. so it all looks extremely fine!
If you want to get in touch with me please do so – LordLitter@LordLitter.de. I answer all personal mail. Facebook invitations, newsletters / MP3s / etc – well today’s ususal internet-mainstream-dirt is totally blocked by a carefully worked out system that eliminates all this.
Many thanks for the interview! .. made me think about myself. Always important!
Greets .. cheerz ‘ have a great life!
Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview, Lord Litter. I know it will interest a lot of people and I hope you had a good time answering my questions.