Email interview with Ingo Bischof - august 2002

Photos partly borrowed from, partly by Skiold & Andi Gorres

Michael Bohn: When did you start to play music ?
Ingo Bischof: At the age of 8.

Michael: What instrument ?
Ingo: Piano

Michael: What kind of music made you interested in playing yourself ?
Ingo: Classical music

Michael: How did you become a musician ?
Ingo: I felt I had some talent, and so it became my desire.

Michael: Which are your most important musical influences ?
Ingo: Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Stones, Spencer Davis Group, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Zawinul, Mahavishnu Orchestra and funk at any rate.

Michael: What are your most important personal influences ?
Ingo: My parents, Karthago, Kraan, Guru Guru,...rock, jazz, indish and classical music.

Michael: Who do you listen to for the time being?
Ingo: Classical music and jazz

Michael: What older stuff will you never get tired of ?
Ingo: The same

Michael: Are there music types /genres you dislike ? Why ?
Ingo: German folk music / modern classic, (mostly)

Michael: How about composers like Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Martinu ?
Ingo: Oops, I think that's a misapprehension, I like them all but Martinu whom I don't know. I related more on the contemporary ones like Henze etc. I don't understand what they're doing, and even more, I don't feel it.

Michael: Claude Debussy claimed that music expressed or contained feelings, Igor Stravinsky meant the opposite: it's just notes.
What is your opinion about this discussion? Can this be viewed out of a cultural context - western/eastern?
Ingo: I would agree with Debussy, and I nearly can't imagine, that Mr. Stravinsky denies feelings and imaginations of music. Obviously all are notes, but of course they want to be filled with contents, and that's not a technical process.
From the cultural standpoint of course Europe was and is much more "head orientated" than Africa, Asia and to some degree America, so you absolutely can view all that in a cultural context too.

Has the english rockscene ever meant anything to your musical career - I think of bands like Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, etc.?
Ingo: In the early days especially the band Remo Four and Stevie Winwood, but also Soft Machine, who I think arouse my love for the odd meters, cause they did them in a very rockmusic-like and dirty way.
Yes was more responsible for the metaphysical / majestic division whereby no one ever could reach them. King Crimson was slightly too dark for me, Genesis almost too pop'ish and the others didn't quite draw my attention. Stones, Cream and above all Hendrix, I also would like to mention as
important influences.

Michael: Is jazz dead ?
Ingo: No, but not really popular at the moment.


Michael: What relevance does Kraan have to you, and how do you see your relevance to Kraan ?
Ingo: Well, I'm the 4th man, and I think a quite good one. Besides I act as a chain link.

Michael: What's the special thing about Kraan, which made and still makes you wanting
to be a part of it ?
Ingo: It turned me on - and that's what it still does.

Michael: What was the difference musically between playing in Karthago and Kraan ?
Ingo: Karthago was more orientated in anglo-american styles, Kraan in contrast had already developed one of their own.

Michael: What is a typical Kraan song - what should be there to make it sound right (Most fans agreed that Kraan X did'nt sound Kraanish enough) ?
Ingo: A melody, a bass which formes the whole thing harmonicly and interesting, never heard chords, sexy rhythm and lots of magic.

Michael: How is the typical procedure when Kraan makes a new song ?
Ingo: Various, sometimes someone has a nearly complete song, sometimes different parts from the members are put together and become something typical this way .

Michael: As the only member of Kraan that has a formal musical training, how do you communicate your ideas to the rest of the group ?
Ingo: By simply playing it to them, if I have something special in mind. In case they like it, everyone finds out himself what matches to it.

Do you write guitarparts for Peter or do you show some chord progressions and let him decide what to do with them ?
Ingo: Since Peter has his very own special approach to music (until today I don't know how it works for him), and this is also expressed in his style, mostly it works the way, he himself developes something which very good corresponds then.

Michael: What is the difference in workingmethod from the times around 'Let it out / Wiederhören' and now - was it more jambased then ?
Ingo: Basically I think nothing has changed, besides the fact that we were younger and a little more impetuous.

: How do you see Hellmuts bassplaying compared to other basplayers you have worked with ?
Ingo: Most bassplayers are more inconspicuous, do more act in the background, for the audience as well as musically. Hellmut manages to pull the bass out of the dark and to make it more experiencing for the audience. A great achievement, I think.

Michael: I think your sound is an important part of the Kraan sound - Widerhören, Tournee, Flyday and
Nachtfart has your fingerprints.

Ingo: Thanks

Michael: You are not credited for many compositions, why ?
Ingo: Formerly we were credited all together, later the real authors.

Michael: What would be your 3 favorite Kraan tunes ?
Ingo: Let it out, Yaqui Yagua and Flyday

Michael: Kraan have started to record a new album, will you compose any songs ?
Ingo: Some parts anyway.

Michael: You live in Berlin, the others in southern Germany - is it a problem ?
Ingo: No, that's no problem.

Michael: Is Berlin different musically than the rest of Germany ?
Ingo: Sometimes things appear earlier here, but all in all it's similar.

Photo: Andi Gorres
Kraan Live in Ulm 2000

Playing keyboards

Michael: You have played so many styles, from Gitte Henning (danish sing-a-long
singerin, German pop scene) to Karthago (rock) and Tavil (sort of Techno with jazz &
Indian flavour).
Is it difficult to do so many different things, can you avoid loosing your own style/personality in this ?
Ingo: In first case it's a challenge you have to meet, and if you do that not too long, or from time to time only, then there's no danger to loose yourself. (But I know people who did, unfortunately)

Michael: Who have been your major influences in playing keyboards ?
Ingo: Jimmy Smith, Steve Winwood, Jan Hammer, George Duke, Zawinul, McCoy Tyner, etc.

Michael: What qualities do you admire with a keyboardplayer (technically - musically)?
Ingo: Rhytmic precision, harmonic overview, tasty sounds, hot soli

When listening to Kraan Tournee, I believe I can hear both Jan Hammer and
Herbie Hancock... But you have a soft melodic tone of your own, easily recognizable, how did you develop this ?

Ingo: Well, to make music you need a sound which turns you on and stimulates you, and therefore I've always tuned my sound in a way I rather like and that's what I'm still doing today.

Michael: Do you have any favorite chords ?
Ingo: Yes of course, the stranger the better, I like chords you can't decode that easy, but a normal minor7 can be wonderful too.

Playing odd meters often makes a tune more dynamic, as typically seen in balkanmusic. Kraan often made tunes where 6/4 - 6/8 is used in a sort of polyrythmical way (with 4/4).
Do you have any favorite meters to play in ?
Ingo: I nearly like all strange meters, 5, 7, 11, 13, 15 ...
Unfortunately you can play it only very seldom, cause everyone thinks people wouldn't like it, or couldn't move and dance, which even might be slightly true in Germany.
In addition not every musician can play it. You have to make sure, that it sounds flowing and not so bumpy. Together with Butze (Fischer) I've played many strange meters.
And for example the middlepart from Vollgas Ahoi is 15/8

How would you like your keyboardplaying develop in the future ?
Ingo: Still improving my personal sound and making it even more recognizable, besides searching for "new" chordstructures, and improving the soli.

Michael: In rock music the keyboardplayer is often just making a a 'gravy of chords' behind the vocals and guitars, to fill out the 'space' between the rythmsection and the melody, to make up the harmonic progressions (because the keyboardplayer is the only person who can)...
Its that a role you can recognize - how do you feel about it ?
Ingo: That depends on the stylistics, playing a popsong you have to be aware of particular things, you have to play song -useful -helpful. Voice and song are in the foreground.
But you have the possibility to cover much with all your different sounds. Even though that's fun, at long term for ME it's not the right thing. I need more freedom, need to play 'myself'.

Is it different in jazz-fusion?

All in all yes, but even here are differences.

Michael: You are making a soloalbum - what kind of music will it be ?
who will be playing on it ?
Ingo: Because I'm still at the planning and developing stage, I can hardly answer. Hellmut and Peter will play some stuff, and there also will be some voices hopefully, and I'd like to have a woodwind instrument too.

Michael: How come you haven't made one before ?
Ingo: I simply didn't feel the desire untill now.

Michael: How do you compose - is there a method ?
Ingo: No, it's various. When I have new sounds in most cases I have some spontaneous ideas, or there's a drum loop running and so on, sometimes when I'm sitting at the piano. It depends.

Michael: Does it happen that you can't find a conclusion while working on a tune ?
- In case, how do you handle it ?
Ingo: I Put the tune aside and then listen again after a while, with distance. Then I usually can make some steps forward. If not, forget about it.

Michael: Who would you like to play with - if your dreams came true ?
Ingo: Allan Holdsworth would'nt be bad.

Michael: He is also one of my favorites. What does he mean to you, what do you like about his music/guitar style ?
Ingo: I like his melodic feel and his phrasing.
His sound is always special and somehow hot. But the most important thing about him is his musical ability and taste. This guy plays soli, which are unimaginable, very difficult and complex, though tasty and emotional.

Michael: Who are the other great German keyboardplayers ?
Ingo: Related to jazz there are some: Brüninghaus, and Christoph Spendel, Wolfgang Dauner was quite good too, he did a lot of experimenting at that time, quite avant garde, but returned later to Jazz.
Joachim Kühn also is a nice guy (we frequently did sessions at the Quasimodo in Berlin, Hellmut had some gigs with him too). He had a very fundamental classic education and played quite wild then (80ties), somehow like Maccoy Tyner, but also standards, very good.
Related to rock there's no one coming in to my mind at the moment, but there are some very good young people, who's names I just haven't got in mind (not meant arrogantly).


Michael: How did the Tavil project come up ?
Ingo: In the 70ties I played together with Butze in a band called Guru Guru and we both agreed, that Günther Reger played fantastic.
At that time Butze just started to study the tavil (southindian temple-drum). About 2 years later we all were in Berlin and founded Tavil, and tried to harmonize the indish rhytmic and "drumlanguage" with our western structures. So it was tavil, keyboards and sax.
Months later we recorded several tunes (of which also 3 are on the CD) with an 8 track machine. Then we had a break for more than 10 years, and in the middle of the 90ties we finally met again, made new tunes and recorded them, and that became this CD.
(Fortunately we did, because otherwise we would have had nothing, and couldn't have created something new either, because of Butze's unfortunate death in march this year in India.
I'll try to rerelease the Tavil album.

Michael: Do you listen to Indian music ?
Ingo: In the seventies I've listened to lots of indian stuff..

Michael: Where did the main inspiration to Tavils music come from ?
Ingo: Here one has to say, that much is inspired by Butze Fischer, at least rhythmically. Harmonics - structurally, it's mainly done by me. Günter Reger tops it with his intuitively played melodies.
Of course the music is very much influenced by south-indish drum music and western jazz- and rockharmonics.

Michael: The third tune 'Bangra' reminds me slightly of Weather Report (before
Pastorius), is that on purpose ?

Ingo: No, that's not on purpose, it rather happened. Of course we all were and are influenced by Weather Report and so you can hear it from time to time.

Michael: The albumcover of this first release is puzzling me. It doesn't say Tavil anywhere (at least in western letters), it says Selected Sounds - why is that ? It doesn't seem to be the result of 'effective marketing' ?
Ingo: Selected Sounds is a series by EMI. A socalled catalog CD (there are hundreds of them) for film and radio broadcast, where every editor and director, if he hasn't got own music, can search and maybe even find something suitable.
Here we are categorized under the rubric: Images of Trance and Rhythm, so Tavil doesn't make any difference here. We didn't find a company for a regular release, so we did it just to release at all, to earn at least a little money for our work.

[ For those who doesn't know Tavil, here is a tune as .wma (kind of .mp3) for download: Hakim 5,4 mb ]

Keyboards & Hardware:

Michael: What keyboards make your heart tick - Grand piano, Hammond, fender rhodes, mini moog, Yamaha dx7, Roland d-50 , Korg M1, etc.?
Ingo: I have and had them all - Dx-7 I can't hear anymore. Korg wavestation I still like very much.

Michael: Are different keyboards different animals, or are they just sound variations ?
Ingo: The main difference between a guitar and a piano / organ is, that I can't affect the toneheight with a keyboard, in opposite to a guitar. With a guitar I can make tremoloes and pull tones up to one tierce higher.
Then the mini moog appeared, and from now on also the keyboarders had the possibility to modulate and bend, which turned out to sound somehow like guitar or flute. I also partly played very "guitaristic" then.
But still the difference remained that the moog is monophonic, and the dream was to be able to play such a synth polyphonic. Well, and then the prophet 5 appeared and from that time on even that was possible.
Besides you do have to make a difference between a B3, a rhodes and a synth. The first is an organ. Tones lasts as long as you push the key. On the piano the tones die away quite fast, so you have to push new ones more often, and the synth can perform both, so he is a combination of both varieties.
Of course all the keys behave very differently:
Organ = quite light. Piano with weighted keys = rather hard, and the synth very light, whereas this is actually the most difficult, the hands are tending to cramp because of the lack of resistance. (there's no weight to push against).
All in all: You have to adjust yourself to each instrument, but I would NOT say that I play basically different therefore - which perhaps might (I don't know) happen to a guitarist.
But if you mean that a keyboard, this artificial, rigid instrument should appear NATURALLY, then it's not quite easy. By playing naturally I don't necessarily mean the sounds, but the manner, the way you play the keyboards.

Michael: Do you have favorite keyboardsounds (or sounds from other instruments)?
Ingo: Steinway, indian violin and flute, a full stringorchestra.

Michael: What do you use now in Keyboards, amps, effects... and what would you like to have?
Ingo: Roland mk 80 (rhodes), Nord lead 2 rack, played via Dx-7 keyboard, Wave station, Akai 3000xl, Ultra proteus, Kawai 5000r, Target mixer, Lexicon reflex, Ibanez echo device ("step on mine"?), Peavey 800w amp
and 2 jbl monitors of the cabaret series 400 watts each.
recording: Power book G3,400 hrz., Hammerfall dsp soundcard, Multiface, Unitor 8, Behringer ultragain pro, channel strip, Tannoy reveal monitors, Mam pa 100 studio amp .

Michael: Does the new technical possibilities (samplers, sequensers, etc.) inspire you? How ?
Ingo: I work a lot with it, as described before. anyhow there are enormous potentials in it.

Michael: Can it 'sterilize' the music in the process for you, so that the music becomes automatic / non living ?
There is that danger, but I mostly record live and only "quantizise"(?) when it's absolutely necessary. Therefore rhythmically it's not super-perfect, but it's alive.

Michael: The production of an album often influences the sound a lot. ECM is wellknown for a particular sound. What kind of sound are you going for ?
Ingo: That's hard to answer, I like warm, strange, fragile, distorted, clear, spacy sounds, actually nearly everything but shrill. It simply has to sound GOOD.

Dense / dynamic / open / lots of ambience etc. ?
Can be all of it, that depends on the tune, but transparency is important.

Michael: Are you sponsored by any company ?
Ingo: No

Michael: For any particular reason ?
Ingo: I'm not a business orientated character, so something like sponsoring doesn't happen to me. Consider that they also must feel I could be useful for them (and the big companies probably have no need of sponsoring me).

Saltlageret - Copenhagen 79 Photo: Skiold


Michael: What is a musicians life ?
Ingo: A good one, even a wonderful one if you can make a fair living from it.

Michael: What is the real purpose of his job ?
Ingo: To feel and generate magic, and to make the listeners feel it too.

Michael: How is the music business ?
Ingo: Dirty, immoral, criminal, unfortunately. But there are also some honest people.
Selling is getting more and more difficult and no one really knows how it will turn out to be.

Michael: How would you like it to be ?
Ingo: Difficult question, money shouldn't be that much important.

Michael: Do you like touring ?
Ingo: Oh yes, but it shouldn't last too long.

Michael: How is Germany today compared to the heydays of Kraan 75-79 - Politically /musically ?
Ingo: Many things which were unthinkable at that time, have become normal in todays society. All in all the society has become more liberal and less nervous and frightened.
Musically there are more and more music-designers, who are not actually playing musicians, but who can make wonderful things with nowadays technical equipment (sometimes terrible things too).
In both groups you can find these and those. But there are still very exciting things going on.

Michael: Are there any bands musicians you would recommend us to notice / listen to ?
Ingo: Kruder und Dorfmeister are interesting, Freundeskreis is also quite good, besides there are many other things you hear, also in the technoscene, but unfortunately I can hardly remember the names. Music to movies and commercials are sometimes also very well done.

Michael: Where is popular music going in Germany ?
Ingo: I think all kinds of styles will survive if they are strong, good and authentic. Something new will only be developed by mixing different styles and different ways of production.

Michael: Is it's position in society, and it's power different from that time ?
Ingo: In those days music was more related to social changes, today it's more protection and increase of personal freedom and individuality. Commerce has got a far too big influence, unfortunately I think.

Michael: Do you read litterature / poetry ? If yes, what kind ?
Ingo: I read novels but also psychological themes for example Edmund White, Amistad Maupin, Mark Matousek, Klaus Mann, Andrew Holleran, Jossi Avni, Hesse, Dan Millman, Chuck Spezzano, etc.

Michael: What are the ingredients in a good rocksong ?
Ingo: A good melody upon a thrilling rhythm and an even more thrilling refrain, (hookline).

Michael: How does good poetry differ from a good rock song ?
Ingo: It's considerably more quiet ! and maybe not that abstract, but both can cause the same. It's inspiring and extoling, it's culture.

Michael: What do you like to do when you're not making music? Are there any
other passions beside music ?

Ingo: Architecture is very interesting to me and I'm also interested in cars since I was a child. Arts can also touch me very much and affect me in a creative way.

What are you most thankful about ?
Ingo: That I was given a musical talent (what else should I have done with my life?), and that I'm healthy and alive. Thanks !

Michael: Thanx for the interview and the great music !

O.K. - No more boring questions : -)

German/English translational help mainly by Chrille but also by Skiold.