Kraftwerk's seismic impact on popular culture provided entire cities with the tools to re-invent themselves.
In North America, Detroit emerged from its post-Industrial slumber to gift the world techno, with each member of the Belleville Three maintaining a lasting commitment to the German group's music. In the UK, Manchester maintained a similar trajectory with the intensity of post-punk giving way to the Acid House revolution.
Two figures stand tall in this transformation. New Order helped pioneer the idea of electronic pop music in this country, and Kraftwerk were so impressed by their output that the German group famously paid a (somewhat bemused) visit to their Manchester studio.
A Guy Called Gerald – real name Gerald Simpson – emerged from Moss Side, supplying Acid House with its most recognisable UK production in 'Voodoo Ray'. Later spearheading the Jungle movement, the producer remains a powerful, forward thinking force in British dance music.
With Kraftwerk recently signing off their Tate Modern residency, ClashMusic asked New Order's Stephen Morris and A Guy Called Gerald to talk about their Kraftwerk experiences.
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But Kraftwerk – how could I deny them? To say they were a big influence is a massive understatement, without Kraftwerk I don't think I would have become interested in electronic music particularly the way they used electronic rhythms. Everything they do is both perfect art and perfect pop music. Done on their own terms and outside of the mainstream – I used to wonder what went on at Kling Klang studios and how they made their records. One of my favourite bits of Telly from the late 70's was Kraftwerk on 'Tomorrow's World', I think it was the electronic drums that looked like they were played with knitting needles that did it for me – It was amazing, electric drums I had to get some. So yes Kraftwerk big, big influence in very many ways.
– Stephen Morris
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A Guy Called Gerald…
What is your favourite Kraftwerk album?
How did you first come across the band?
I think I found them in Yanks Records on Oxford Street, Manchester in 1983.
What impact did this have on you?
It was fitting to the music I was into at the time, electronic music music was coming of age and for me who grew up outside of the rock world everything was normal to my young ear. I was born a stranger but when I heard Kraftwerk it ripped through the fabric of music as I had come to imagine it.
What influence has the album played on your own career?
It got me interested in pure synthetic sound – when I heard 'Morgenspaziergang' the 'bird in the water sound' made me realise that you could build sound out of simple tone and that's all I needed. Before I had played a synth I knew I would be able to make any sound I wanted and that was before samplers. Today you just need "a name and to be loud" and good marketing to influence.
What are your current thoughts towards the band / album?
It still holds up today, we have more tech but most just want fast-cheap-stupid. I cherish the sounds originally crafted by them. I still learn from them. There's nothing for me to learn from now but I hope being inspired is the best drug.
Will you be going to the shows?
Maybe if I'm free, I prefer to just listen though
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Want to check out our verdict on those fateful shows from Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern? Click here.