Plastic Noise Experience's Stephan M. Kalwa (Your Schizophrenic Pal)

Interview by Daryl Litts

In_Faction Magazine: I know you two live far away from each other, and you've said it's a convenience as far as partnership goes, but do you ever get an idea that requires Claus' presence? Do you ever forget or lose ideas that you might have otherwise tried if you worked together more often?

Stephan: No. First of all, I never had an idea witch requires the presence of anyone. I am able to realize all the things in my mind and the question of the forgetting an idea because of the fact that, we are working on our tracks on our own, sounds as the same silly thing to me. The primary thing to me is the sound of a track, the drum-rhythm, bassline, "melody" and things like that ... if I do not like a new try some days after the programming, Claus wouldn't get a chance to hear this in any way ... So, where is the different of distance??? Second point is, that I am always travelling to Claus for recording-sessions. So if I need some other equipment, or if I would ever need an advice or something, there is always the ask presence!!! A real band-feeling, or what you ever expected.

In_Faction Magazine: Like many artists, you don't seem to be directly involved with your music scene. Do you feel isolated from fellow European bands, or are you just interested in creating your style of music?

Stephan: Hmm, yes and no together...This mostly depends on your definition of the things. What is a direct involvement in whatsoever??? Germany is a small country, but when you travel away from your hometown, lets say for 100 km, everything has changed. The people who listens to this kind of music look different, feel different and speak another language (slang). They even understand different bands by terms like "electro", "industrial", "crossover" or "techno".
This mostly depends on the DJs in the sometimes rare discotheque. And the music played there forms these terms. In my opinion there is no German-Scene, but something like a union of local areas under special conditions.So in what should I be involved with??? I go out some nights in these discotheque, and I am sure that only a few persons will recognize me, but this doesn't matter to me. I like to be undercover. The people are more themselves in this position. And I made the experience, that the old style is in the way upfront nowadays. Ever disco in this region is playing the very old material ('85-'95) for at least three hours the night. So I guess that is some form of involvement in the scene. Not so close as in the beginning of pne, but still. A nice joke that is typical to me (to explain my scene-shyness) is, that a colleague of me in the internet-firm I am working for, realized about one year later who I am. She has nearly everything of pne, is a real fan and noticed a photo in a magazine, so I had to confess.
To the second part of the question I like to say, that I am really just interested in creating my style of music, but this doesn't let me feel isolated. For several bands it is a self made isolation, because hmm, lets say these guys are not on my wavelength. I am more a fan of fantastic/fantasy things, and my brain is triggered by art and beauty and therefore perhaps rotating somewhere in the orbit or ever higher, and some other guys are more trigged by drugs, sex and normal life ... these things let my brain crush back on earth to reality ... witch is not always nice ... !?! But there are several European bands like "Dive", "Covenant", "Paracont", "Suicide Commando" ... and so on, who means a lot of fun meeting them.

In_Faction Magazine: I know you've stated that you listen to bands like Front 242, FLA, etc., but many think that influence implies clone. How do you come about your compositions...are they thought out, or spontaneous?

Stephan: They are all spontaneous. It depends on my feelings, the inner heart,what kind of music comes into the computer. When I am in bad temper ... pray to god, there is a special want for distortion-drums, and so on. But a special sound mostly triggers a special sequence. This goes along with the programming of the synths. A new sound opens often a new world, and leads to a new track. Because everything goes then some kind of automatic.

In_Faction Magazine: Do you ever hear anything on other bands' albums that you wish you'd done first? Do you envy anyone, or hold any particular band in high regard?

Stephan: Yes, all the stuff made by "Kraftwerk" !!! And perhaps some tracks of the old "The Klinik" stuff. These are the bands I hold in high regards, but the new tracks of "The Klinik" say nothing to me. And the "tactical neural implant" from FLA is also an ever lasting CD in my opinion. But I am not envying these bands, they have done good work and I like to thank you for their CDs, but that's all. Sometimes it's fun to realize, that a new track sometimes sound like one of these bands and therefore directly goes into the trash can ...

In_Faction Magazine: You've mentioned that you prefer the word "artisan" over "artist" when describing yourself as a musician. Do you feel as though PNE is a different breed of electro music in itself, more like audio collage than industrial or EBM in their usual sense?

Stephan: Yes, sometimes it feels to me that pne is a different breed. Butthis is independent from my definition as artisan. I don't like the term artist, because to me an artist is a very special person. And I don't see myself as special. Another point is, that I never studied music. I am even no trained musician, the only instrument I ever learned to play (with no success) was a flute nearly 20 years ago. In my point of view an real artist is doing unbelievable things with his or her instrument, in real time. So nobody of the today’s modern music scene. I liked this term of an artisan so much in the relationship to industrial-music. I still feel more like a steelworker, but in a closer view this seems to fit better to "SONAR" and "DIVE" and even real industrial-bands.

In_Faction Magazine: Since PNE's been around for a relatively long time (longer than most electro bands last), but do you ever get discouraged with progress, or time? How do you think you've progressed since 1987?

Stephan: Sometimes you feel a bit discouraged, when you look upon bands from Germany who started at nearly the same time, and you realize that some of those bands make their third or fourth US-Tour and you have never been there. But I don't like these bands very much, so everything is missing to me is brain-amputation, a major-record-deal and a chart-place. So everything is fine ;-)=
The progress since 1987 is not so big in this relationship, but in the musical way there was a great progress. You can hear it on the CDs I hope, although some people say the old aggressive stuff was better. I like the "rauschen"-stuff very very much. It let me recognize some "Jesus and Mary Chain"-influences, OK they made guitar-music, but they had their place in my life and even people who don't listen to electro-music can see this.

In_Faction Magazine: What's the next step in your development?

Stephan: First of all, make a final cut with KK, some kind of never ending story!!! The last joke was the unknown movement of them ...Then a new album with a major-record-deal ... Wait and see ... perhaps a world-tour ??? ;-))