KITSCHKRIEG - KITSCHKRIEG
I still remember exactly what it felt like. Everyone who was there remembers that, and everyone was there, at least those who are always there. The line in front of Prince Charles club went as far as the street, everybody hoodied up because it was winter and the air was cold. Everyone wanted to be on the guest list, standard: a Thursday evening in Kreuzberg. And yet something was different that evening. There was a certain excitement in the air. The energy was everywhere, in the back of the small backstage room, where someone was seriously trying to hand out a setlist, and in front of the, well, fans. There were actually: fans. Those on top of the small podium - which back then, in December 2016, felt like the really big stage - seemed a little overwhelmed. Those down in the club were happy and a little proud: a wild mixture of ecstasy, togetherness and the vague feeling of justice. The right ones are winning here, and I'm part of it. We are all part of it.
You have become part of a youth movement, someone wrote on the Internet the next morning. That’s not completely right. On that evening, on which KitschKrieg performed their music together for the first time, more than a youth movement emerged. Hope arose that evening..
You have become part of a youth movement, someone wrote on the Internet the next morning. That’s not completely right. On that evening, on which KitschKrieg performed their music together for the first time, more than a youth movement emerged. Hope arose that evening.
Nothing and nobody else has made more of an impression on german music culture in recent years than KitschKrieg. The reduced sound. The black and white imagery. The DIY approach. This whole idea, rarely a face, but showing all the more of yourself. KitschKrieg never said more than what was necessary, and that's probably why everyone listened to them. Your songs have stayed, almost in spite of them. Nowadays, you have this ritual, always on Thursdays, when you check out the new music at 11:59 pm and find all sorts of things, just no new music. KitschKrieg never took part in this cynical raffle for positions, plays and cash. They just made the music they found inside themselves when it was so quiet around them that you couldn't miss it. By following this ethic, they made it to number one on the charts, received numerous prices and platinum records. It was definitely not the plan all along. But they have shown that it can be done. Even when nothing really works anymore.
KitschKrieg’s astonishing path from the flat share project to the most important phenomenon in recent German pop history is well documented. It’s been told in numerous interviews, from Symbiz and SoulForce, from Braunschweig and Krefeld and Cologne to Kreuzberg. You also know the images: splash! Festival in black and white, everything black and white. Nevertheless, in a strange way they remain unreal, as unlikely as this triumphant advance was and is. Especially the picture from splash! 2019 will remain: A whole festival crowd in front of a stage, a gigantic, completely disarming discharge of honestly felt love. Nobody could name it precisely that night, but everyone felt it very much: That something special had happened here. After Trettmann became a star, his producers could have done pretty much everything the so-called industry has to offer, with an additional zero after the decimal point. But freedom has a lot to do with evading the ideas and expectations of others. KitschKrieg looked at it all and then decided to make their own album. Because they have always defied service logic and thought more like a band - albeit with the unusual line-up of laptop, levels, lens and collective emotional supervision.
In one of our many conversations about how things can go on when you've suddenly reached your goal, Fizzle once said to me that the KitschKrieg album was “the essence of what we’ve learned in the last few years” and at the same time “the next step”. I think he didn't give it much thought at the moment. It was rather an answer out of embarrassment, from the perspective of this slightly fuzzy phase in which the pieces of the puzzle slowly came together, where everything happens and you begin to feel that something special is coming up again. Yet there is much truth in these words. “KitschKrieg” is in many ways what KitschKrieg have always done. But is it more intense, deeper somehow, also more radical: the intoxication is more intense now, the Blues has gotten darker. There are a few new accents, for example a loose Rave energy that runs through many of the songs, and a couple of guest musicians that you would not have expected in their cosmos: Nena, Bilderbuch, Modeselektor, an autotuned Jan Delay or the goddamn World Boss himself. The essential questions, however, have remained the same since the flat share, since “KK1”: When Quincy Jones or Bob Dylan think about the DNA of a good song, what does that mean for us? And what is possible if you dare to really think it through, to close it?
There is no need to ignore it. KitschKrieg have entered the phase in which the advances and compromises typically kick in, the music somehow becomes better and at the same time more neutral. It is perhaps their greatest achievement that they simply denied this dynamic. Freedom also has to do with not making the supposedly sensible decisions and instead taking a closer look. Music and the work that comes with it always had a therapeutic effect on KitschKrieg, in a very tangible sense: the daily studio routines, the definition and adjustment of the process itself, the constant examination of one's own work. What is it actually what we’re doing here? And what should it be when it's done? There have already been many producer albums in german hip-hop. A few were very good, many rather bad, most of them just completely irrelevant: a few beats and a few friends who just had time and a few rhymes to spare. With the “KitschKrieg” album, on the other hand, every song is essential in the truest sense of the word: the essence of a moment, a genre, an idea. Great rap shit under the auspices of grime and trap. The summit meeting of Peter Fox and his governor in today’s streaming world, Trettmann. The perfect pop song about the monster under your bed that you're only afraid of until you hug it. The feature Drake didn't get. Antisocial gangster shit that’s even more antisocial than all the other antisocial gangster shit out there. A utopian love song that takes everything complicated out of the most complicated thing in the world. The light side of power. The dark side of the night. All of this sounds light and heavy and as natural as little else in this country, which has always liked to copy and has missed the actual topic in all its fidelity to form. “KitschKrieg” is music about the world and a bit about KitschKrieg itself: condensed in many, many rounds, taken apart and reconstructed in such a way that it creates new meaning.
Quick joke: Walter Gropius, Rick Rubin and King Tubby meet in Berlin’s Goerlitzer park. One of them says... Okay, seriously now: The clichés of Bauhaus, minimalism and the mixer as an instrument are often used and abused. In KitschKrieg’s art, however, these cultural lines of tradition actually converge in a very natural way. °awhodat°, Fiji Kris and Fizzle have always upheld this idea: that an idea unfolds special power when it is freed from all accessories and ballast, when a bassline hits the stomach and a word hits the heart. On “KitschKrieg” they consistently think this through to the end. Influences from Dub to Drill, Afrobeats to afterhour meet timeless songwriting and a radical imperative for maximum reduction: digital sound system music with the energy of trap and techno, full of subtle melancholy and an unwavering belief in musical continuation.
It's a Wednesday evening in May. It's quiet outside, Corona has paralyzed even Kreuzberg. Inside, a bit too slowly, a kind of reggaeton dub riddim hums through the room, which seems even more isolated than studios do anyway on this particular evening. There are weeks in which everything suddenly stopped, only - of course - not the music. I look around. I notice how sparse the room is. Two carefully calibrated ATC boxes, a table with a laptop on it, plus a leather couch for guests, of whom obviously not many come. There are no memorabilia, just a gold plaque on the floor next to the sofa, leaning indifferently against the wall, as if someone had forgotten it. The room could seem cold, but the music makes it warm: this idea of how history continues. The sound systems in Kingston. The beat that came to Panama, Puerto Rico and Colombia and finally went around the world because the internet and millions of ravers wanted it that way, all the way to Kreuzberg. It sounds like a memory and at the same time completely new. Boom-ch-boom-chick. Clash and clarity, soul and structure, loops and life, eternal night and new light. Because it always goes on. Let's push things forward. Standard.