Interview with Hannes Stöhr

Director & Scriptwriter

"The shamans of the party nights were always the DJs, and their beats were the soundtrack for the personal film that unspools differently for every participant."

How did you get the idea of making a film about a guy who makes electronic music?

In the 90s I spent several nights in dark basements at Strobo's and saw several sunrises after long party nights. The shamans of the party nights were always the DJs, and their beats were the soundtrack for the personal film that unspools differently for every participant. Every now and then I went to the E-Werk, the Casino, the Tresor or the Bunker, or to open-air raves like Fusion. But I was never the classic raver who would sit out the whole week waiting for the action to start all over again on the weekend. Still, I was always fascinated by this world. What I always really liked was that to get people dancing, you didn't need someone to come out on stage and pass on his message with lyrics like the rock shamans did. If the music was good, I could dance for hours. It's the same today, even if my big party years are over.

I was excited by the stories of the DJs who traveled the country with suitcases full of records, and I wrote down my first ideas. The film was to play out in the Berlin club scene; the musician in my film was not supposed to be a superstar, but would have to live and fight for his art. Even while I was shooting "Berlin is in Germany" (2001), the WDR "Scene of the Crime" episode "Odins Rache" (2003) and "One Day in Europe" (2005), I often went dancing to relax or reflect. It became clear to me that the film had to play in the present and not to rehash the 90s again. Why do a film about the past, when the present is so exciting and the past can be found in the present anyway? I began to note down characters from real life who would be playing a role in the film. The film also doesn't portray any 20-year-old ravers or 25-year-old students, but rather the Generation 30 plus x. Ickarus, the label boss Alice, Mathilde and Corinna, the club boss Tom, Erbse – these are all characters who became what they are in the 90s. I always carry around with me the feeling for a story for a long time before I can write down the basic outline.

How did your collaboration with the lead actor and film musician Paul Kalkbrenner come about?

That was in late 2003 and while I was looking for the right music for the film. I was in the Arena with a couple of friends at a Bpitchcontrol party and Paul was the DJ, or, to put it more precisely, Paul was playing live on his computer. Shortly after the beginning of his set, all you could hear was noise, static – a super-mega disaster, since there were surely over 2000 people in the hall. There was a wrong connection in the cables somewhere. Paul began switching cables on the stage – it was absurd, an absolutely grotesque situation. That was the first image I had of him. Then in 2004 Paul released his album "Self." "Queer Fellow," "Castanets," "The Grouch," "Dockyard" – that was film music, that was emotional electronics.

I told Paul about my idea of making a film and he immediately found that appealing. I accompanied Paul to several gigs in Germany and abroad, and he also made a couple of remixes for the soundtrack to "One Day in Europe." For me, Paul's music stands out through a clear structure, a good feeling for dramaturgy, a great sense of melody and a love of detail. On stage he communicates with the audience through musical ideas, and knows exactly when something new has to come. What always fascinated me was that Paul composes his music on his computer and then goes on stage with his own music, and plays it live on the stage, as it were. He can keep on intervening according to how he feels the moment. To create something on your computer and then to go on stage with it – I've always been able to identify with that. Scriptwriters, web designers or many other artistic professions basically do the same today.