AOH :: EN-ESCH.TXT|
Laff meich gluiklich seim (Interview with En-Esch from KMFDM)
Taken from HTTP://www.phlab.missouri.edu
Magnet, January 1994, page 15
Laff mich glucklich seim
by Jeneveve Sutton
This article is (c) 1994 by Magnet magazine and Jeneveve Sutton.
Photograph from Article
(En Esch in upper left, and Sasha Konietzko in lowerright)
"Ask me a serious question, man," En Esch slurs, as we sit on a leather
sofa in a lounge at the TVT office during this year's CMJ convention in
New York City. "We're here to talk about KMFDM. Ask me about KMFDM."
Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist En Esch is not in the greatest mood,
and I can't say I blame him. He's been doing interviews all day, and you
can tell he's up to here with it. A bottle of Absolut vodka, about four-
fifths empty, rests on the table in front of him, the remaining liquid
tinted slightly pinkish (a splash of cranberry? Blood?). I take a swig of
the vodka (with cranberry) and apologize for being late. "It's OK, man,"
En Esch says, and sticks his tongue in my mouth. His publicist, Nicole
Blackman, sits across from us looking skeptical, while Steve Gottlieb,
president of TVT Records, sticks his head in for a moment and seems
equally unimpressed. I produce photos from time I spent with En Esch in
Europe, which he happily shows around, occasionally pausing to lick my
face. I make a lame joke about getting up close and personal with my
interview subjects. Noone else seems to understand that when En Esch
hasn't seen you in eight months - and he's nearing the end of a fifth of
vodka-this is how he says, Hi!"
Sascha (En Esch's musical partner and fellow multi-instrumentalist) and
his girlfriend leave, and I get the feeling En Esch misses his live-in
lover something awful.
To compensate, he picks a fight over the pronunciation of Angst, the title
of KMFDM's new album, a record that is outselling all its predecessors
combined. He decides I should pronounce it with a soft "a," as in hang,
like all of the Americans he's been interviewed by today; I try to
convince him I've always said it with a broad "a," like ankh, and that
I'm not patronizing him.
"I didn't like Money too much," he insists, as he turns his attention to
the interview. "I like this album way more. Money was done in a hurry, and
I was doing a major Pigface tour, so l didn't have much influence on the
album. I really like Angst. I'm totally down with it. We've tried to
involve guitar players, we tried to be like a real band, especially in the
creative kind of aspect. "
It shows. And since En Esch and Sascha are now expressing their own
idiosyncrasies through separate solo projects, they've tightened KMFDM
into its most cohesive and powerful entity thus far. En Esch, however,
doesn't see this as a conscious choice.
"There is no specific direction or development," he states. "We continue
to do our stuff basically in the same quality and intention." I disagree.
The quality of KMFDM's work speaks for itself.
Besides the bevy of interviews and photo shoots scheduled throughout the
weekend, En Esch and Sascha are scheduled to appear on a CMJ panel
entitled "Has Rock Music Become The Sex Education of the '90s?" Neither
has any clueas to why he's been selected for this particular panel,
unless it's that KMFDM's cover art has piqued the interest or whetted the
sexual appetite of some panel committee member.
This sparks a conversation between Blackman and myself about censorship,
specifically as it pertains to KMFDM's new video, "Drug Against War." The
video is animated and at one point depicts a man holding a gun to his
head; at another a woman holds a gun to a man's head, which is followed by
a multi-colored explosion across the screen. It was rejected by MTV.
I take the tape recorder away from En Esch, who's beginning to dribble
into it while repeating, "Nobody cares, man. At the end of the day, nobody
cares," and hand it to Blackman, who is becoming somewhat agitated.
"It premiered on Music Scoupe on Fox, and they apparently had no problem
with it," she explains. "That was network TV. No problem. Right now the
video's getting airplay at clubs and on regional shows... MTV is basically
the one that's giving us the problem. . . "
At this point En Esch starts chanting, "Fuck... Fuck... Fuck... FUCK!!!"
Blackman raises her voice slightly and continues. "They want us to make
edits. They want us to just cut the thing out so you won't notice an
edit's been made."
"We don't!!!" En Esch shouts gleefully, and Blackman smiles.
This is not the band's first run-in with MTV censors. The network
requested the band remove the word goddamn from its "More and Faster"
video a few years back.
When I speak with En Esch the next week in New Orleans I ask how the panel
"I was just glad that everyoe liked our video," he laughs.
And sex education?
"Sex education has to happen at home or at school. Music is more able to
transmit the idea of understanding, love and happiness. And that's more
important." He stops a few seconds, then finishes his thought. "I don't
feel any better than anyone buying our fucking record. As a matter of
fact, I feel the same. The music? Well, maybe it's God-given, maybe it's
Satan-given, maybe it's whatever the fuck. So whatever. I just do the
shit, and other people buy it."
New Orleans really agrees with En Esch and not just because here's no such
thing as last call. It's his own environment. It's full of contradictions
and craziness. He lives right on Bourbon Street, across from the country's
oldest continually operating bar. His girlfriend Isisis an ex-ballerina
who, due to injury, now plies her trade in the age-old rock-star-
girlfriend tradition of exotic dancing. Both she and the city are now the
main focus in En Esch's life. It surfaces in his words and music.
"The lyrics for my vocal part in 'Move On' (from Angst) are influenced by
living in New Orleans," he says. "There are these deep and intense, yet,
on the ther hand, reduced and minimalistic vibes. Here. you can hear the
screaming souls of thousands of slaves."
The three of us sit in a funny little restaurant in the French Quarter. I
say funny because it's about the only public place in the city without a
liquor license, because the place has linen tablecloths and napkins but
serves French's yellow mustard in huge, econo-sized bottles. And they've
managed to find a radio station playing everything from Doris Day and the
McGuire sisters to the theme from "The Newlywed Game." Not entirely
inappropriate as En Esch and Isis are celebrating the one-year anniversary
of the day they met.
The romantic atmosphere jogs his memory. "On 'Lust' (from Angst), we have
some German lyrics I wrote when I had a good time with my girlfriend," he
says, giving her hand a squeeze. He speaks rapidly.
"Leibe ist raub. Laff mich glucklichseim" ("Love is like a robbery. Let me
Just as I'm starting to feel like a third wheel, En Esch snaps out of his
romantic stupor and continues. "Yeah, there's definitely kind of a special
vibe happening. This city makes you think. I've never had a city like
that. Just walking around, on purpose, just sitting on a bench, thinking.
Never happeed to me in Chicago. There's no way I'd fucking walk in
Chicago. Here I'm walking around or sitting on my balcony jus to observe
"Sometimes getting depressed," he sighs. "Sometimes it gets too deep.
Once again he shifts direction.
"KMFDM can stand for anything you want it to be."
Liberating words from En Esch, a true industrial visionary whose talent
from combining vastly different musical components and styles often gets
him less attention than his bald head.
"The 'Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode' thing is on a lot of people's
minds," he drones. It's apparent that old KMFDM joke has lost its appeal.
And "Kein Mehrheit Fuer Die Mitleid" ("No Pity For The Majority"), the
other standby, seems too humorless for the somewhat mellowed KMFDM of '93.
So what now?
"I personally like 'Kalte Melkerhamde Furchtet Die Milchkuh' the best,~ he
I breathlessly await the translation of what's sure to be pure genius.
"That means 'The cowstands in fear of the milkmaid's cold hands.'
Basically we've decided not to answer this question anymore."
Angst, KMFDM's sixthalbum, marks nearly a decade together for En Esch and
Sascha Knietzko. Sascha lives in Seattle, and the two are as different as
he cities each call home. The distance helps the creative juices flow
without boiling over. "Sascha and myself are different, of course,"
explains En Esch. "But that's why we can still make things happen. Our
best and worst qualities are contrary. To put it simply, he's more
organized and stable, I'm more complicated and abstract."
Don't I know it. I dealt with En Esch's complicated abstraction traveling
with him through Holland and his native Germany last winter. I watched
from the passenger seat as he read a German road map and rolled many of
the 60 cigarettes he smokes a day, driving 100 mph in the rain, only semi-
recovered from the effects of anas-yet unidentified hallucinogen slipped
to us at an Amsterdam nightclub the previous evening. On four hours sleep.
The same schizophrenia that allows En Esch to pull off stunts like that
permeates his first solo release, Cheesy (WaxTrax!/TVT). The album is as
deceivingly simple as it is frighteningly complex. Just like him. From the
first track, "Go Insane," the listener is best advised to relax and go
with it. Enjoy. Stop thinking so hard, and don't take it too seriously or
you just might get sucked into his web of semi-insanity. And if all else
fails, remember this: He programmed most of it in his room at the YMCA.
How complicated is that?
"My fans have to be open-minded," En Esch insists. "KMFDM is more serious
stuff. By myself, I like to play with different sounds and styles in a
very humorous way."
One would suppose you'd have to have a pretty good sense of humor to
venture into the studio with Dean Ween and Andrew Weiss. The thing is,
many people are put off by his unusual appearance and what the press
release for Cheesy calls a "chilling, ominous stare," never realizing
they're dealing with a great guy who also happens to be an excellent
composer and musician. Kinda like the David Byrne of industrial music,
but with better social skills.
The Cheesy track featuring Weiss and Ween, "Daktari" (the only cut on the
album sung and played 100 percent manually-no programming), is a good
example of how losing something in the translation can make for some
rather bizarre lyrics.
First, the Eglish lyrics are lifted directly from Star magazine headlines
like "Specializers in Love, Loveless Motel." Then there are the German
lyrics, which translate to something like, "I'm your busboy, hotel boy,
pussy slave, whatever the fuck." And it gets even better.
"In the German 'Daktari' lyric, I'm singing about my father," En Esch
recalls. "He grew up afraid for his life, between ages seven and ten,
almost killed by American and British bombs (in WWII).
"I compare him with Brian's father [another character], who played with
his genitals in a ripe field of grain. I combine the whole thing with my
own history, an important line is, 'Don't expect someone to love you like
you are supposed to love yourself.'"
OK, so I'm a little confused.
"That's typical for me."
(c) 1994 Maget magazine and Jeneveve Sutton
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