SOUNDTRACKING: Ten Minutes With Legend Damo Suzuki Before His Show At The Waldorf
by Daniel Colussi | There’s only one Damo Suzuki. His run as the vocalist with German avant-rockers Can from ’70 to ’73 was the golden era in which the band produced their most celebrated albums, each one bearing Damo’s inimitable presence. The man is a human lightning rod, a vibe-receptor of frequencies that most of us never knew existed, his vocal approach joyfully bouncing between Japanese, Enligh, French and German, or else just inventing new words/sounds as he goes along (listening to those Can albums, I really have no idea what he’s saying but still I get what he’s saying, you know what I mean?). As a solo artist who tours the globe, Damo embraces the eternal by living in the moment, so for his performance at the Waldorf’s 3D Music Festival you can expect a totally off-the-cuff, spontaneous come-together between Damo and Vancouver’s own Von Bingen; a night of unique, unrepeatable music. Because that’s just how Damo rolls. If you’re ready for Damo, he’s ready for you. Read on…
You’ve got a totally unique and personalized vocal style. What are some vocalists that you admire? Where did your vocal style come from? How did you develop it? It’s nothing to do with just vocalisation to talk. You find your self in social. If you’re not working for industry, you’re very free. You’re free from the system, from authority. Just find yourself and make your own. This fits into anything you do in your life. [Everybody] has one life on this planet. Everybody has a right to live free and do their own thing. But unfortunately, not that many people are able to do this, losing [their] own time for somebody else’s profits. It’s always been a problem in human history. Some idiots like to have power over people, pushing them like slaves. Authority, Establishment, Kingdoms, etc…what is this? I began my life. I didn’t choose to take a position. Freedom is creative. Everybody can be creative. To your question: I’m being Damo Suzuki, and this is the best I can do.
What are you earliest musical memories? What was the first music you heard that really excited you?
Any of the classical music I heard from my sister’s collection: Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart. She was working at the bank. Wvery birthday, she bought me a musical instruments. She didn’t ask me even if I liked to play or not. So I had a clarinet, saxophone, guitar, banjo, organ……
You’ve been working on this Never Ending Tour/Network project for many years. What are you hoping to achieve through through your collaborations with sound-carriers around the world? Networking with people on both sides: sound carriers and audience. Free energy is all you need. This is against any kind of violence in this world. I started to perform with unknown people, to create free energy on the spot. It was in 2003 that I began with this style to perform every performance with different sound carriers, without any rehearsal. I heard the news that the US [was] bombing Iraq when I arrived at J.F.K. Airport from the West Coast early in the morning. There [were] many demonstrations against [it] all around the world. Millions of people went into the streets [...] If you’re free you just ignore violence. Violence is not creative. It’s just ugly. Since then, I create time and space in the moment with ever-changing local sound carriers around the world. This, I feel, is like my mission and what I have to do. Everybody needs mission, right?
What makes a good live show for you? What makes it special? Every show [is a] good live show as we’re creating energy. Nothing commercial. Very organic and super natural. In a way, social…quantum physical.
What does Instant Composing mean to you? Things I do best out of myself. It fits together with my life and philosophy. Against this system, neverending…Everest is everybody’s wish.
What do you like to do when you aren’t on tour? What do you do in Cologne? I’m arranging all [of] my tour by myself. It’s a one-man company. I arrange shows, book flights, correspond, etc. There are many things to do. Fortunately, for a few months I don’t have to care about arranging shows in Italy. Ale, the booker from Rome, asked me if he could arrange my shows in Italy. So we did first small tour last week. Normally I don’t work with a booker, but he likes my music and he likes what I’m doing and he has an agency and not many artists are involved. Also, it’s important that he is a young, respectable person. Not seeing money in his eyes. I mean, with this kind of music you’ll never get rich.
You’ve travelled the world and lived in Germany for many years. Do you have any opinion of Angela Merkel’s statement that multiculturalism has failed in Germany? I’d never [been] interested in Angela Merkel or German politics. I don’t believe in all those politicians, not only in Germany, [but] everywhere. I don’t like this word, “multiculturalism”. People should believe in themselves, not under the nation, not folk, not colour, not sex, not social class, etc. Everybody has to be be himself or herself.
As a young man travelling Europe, busking on the street, did you ever imagine that you would still be making music this long? I don’t think I’m making music at all. I’m being Damo Suzuki, that’s it!
Damo Suzuki + Von Bingen are at the Waldorf on Sunday April 1st for the final night of their 3D Music Fest. Tickets at the Waldorf, Zulu and Red Cat.
Zulu Records veteran and tunage aficionado Daniel Colussi is the Music Editor of Scout Magazine.