INTERVIEW: Blixa Bargeld On Desertshore

Blixa Bargeld talks to us about his Desertshore vocal. Picture by Thomas Rabsch

We come to the fourth in our pieces on X-TG’s Desertshore with an interview with Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubauten, who provides vocals for the two German language tracks on the record, ‘Abschied’ and ‘Mutterlein’. Apparently he was one of Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson’s first choices for the album, which makes abundant sense: Bargeld’s vocals, whether in Neubauten or other projects like excellent Alva Noto collaboration anbb, have always been delivered with absolute precision, and it’s this that makes these two tracks such a success. You can listen to a live remix of ‘Abschied’ at Pitchfork. Last week we spoke to Blixa via Skype (interrupted by his postie) about his role in Desertshore.

What is your relationship with Nico’s music?

Blixa Bargeld: I was born in 1959 so my musical socialisation starts somewhere in the 70s. I was not too far from the actual release of all these records. I did, and I believe I still possess these records on vinyl from when they came out.

When you go involved, you did vocals for all the tracks, why was that?

BB: I believe that it was Sleazy’s wish that I sing the two German pieces on that record. I was not too comfortable doing that because it felt like I was just being the German voice, so I said let me sing on all of them, and maybe they will all surface somehow. It was great fun. Of course Nico has a very strong German accent in her singing, which is part of the charm. The thing that I noticed when I was doing it is that the singing is much more thorough than what I thought when I just listened to these records when I was younger. It is very, very strict, which surprised me a little bit. I tried to keep that, as strict as she did it. Not with the same kind of Arabesque variations that she put in there, but doing similar things.

She made some singles before she was involved in the Velvet Underground, she was on the path of being a pop singer, and I think some things got in the way of her being a pop singer, but she did actually release some completely uninteresting singles. Did you know that she played in Fellini’s movies? She is the prostitute in La Dolce Vita, the one that lives in the half-finished building. That’s Nico. I met her once in Rotterdam at a Festival where Neubauten was playing, we just had a courteous conversation, nothing deeper.

How did it work with the actual putting together of the tracks?

I got sent all the things that Peter Christopherson had prepared in a very odd way. They usually contained the original Nico recording and some words put on top of it. Some of them I had to re-edit a bit, and some I had to ask Chris and Cosey to look at them again. We worked until these backing tracks that Peter had started to prepare were fine to work with, and then I spent two days in finding an attitude for each piece and sang on it. It was a lot of fun. My favourite piece on it was ‘Afraid’, Peter Christopherson did something really strange with it.

Desertshore / The Final Report is released next Monday, November 26th on Industrial Records. Chris and Cosey will be doing a Q&A about the album the next day (27th) at Rough Trade East, London.

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