What comes in mind when hearing the names Jürgen Engler, Marcel Zürcher and Ralf Dörper? Die Krupps! Right; but since a few years they also started a new side-project called Die Robo Sapiens. This new band moves back to pure Electronic music and will mainly appeal for EBM fans. The German project signed to Alfa Matrix unleashing a debut EP in 2018. We next had to wait four years till by the end of 2022 they released the debut album “Robo Sapien Race”. This work is one of the best EBM albums from the past year which is clearly featuring explicit retro elements. An album filled with power and still a part of fun… and that’s what Die Robo Sapiens is all about. I asked Jürgen Engler a few questions for the interview.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You guys have been next to Die Krupps involved in multiple other side-projects but what does Die Robo Sapiens stand for? How did the project come to life and how does it feel to start a new ‘band’ when you’ve been involved in a successful formation like DIE KRUPPS for so long?
Jürgen: The idea for Die Robo Sapiens came to me when I didn’t get the budget from the record company that I needed to produce an Industrial-Metal album. I also realized that I always ended up writing songs from time to time that didn’t quite fit that Die Krupps Industrial-Metal concept. So I decided to leave those songs purely Electronic. I know we also have fans who are more into the Die Krupps-EBM style tracks, so why not cater to them and give them something they will enjoy? It is a fun project for me as well, I can really play around with all my analog synths!
Q: Listening to your music and the debut album I got the sensation Die Robo Sapiens move on there where Die Krupps started to play with guitars. Is this what you mean?
Jürgen: The concept picks up there, but isn’t restricted to staying within that framework. I wanted to create somewhat of a niche for us, merging hard Die Krupps EBM with the sound of Düsseldorf-Electro, and with that I mean the roots. Kraftwerk and Die Krupps may stem from the same city and we know each other quite well, but they were never a direct influence on me. But I understand that Düsseldorf will forever be associated with Kraftwerk, and their music breathes Düsseldorf. So it was a logical progression for me to combine these musical styles. It sounds unique, and expands the genres. Niemals stillstehen!
Q: While your debut EP was already released in 2018 it took a few more years to achieve the debut album “Robo Sapien Race”. Tell us a bit more about the writing and accomplishment of “Robo Sapien Race”? What have been the different stages in the writing and production of the work and what’s the input of each member?
Jürgen:At the time of the EP, I was ready to continue with the project, but the former record company threatened not to release the album if it was an all Electro album. They insisted on getting an Industrial-Metal album, so I was forced to move ahead and finish the new Die Krupps-album first. When that album was completed and the following tour, we continued working on the tracks that fit the concept. During the process it became more and more clear to me what the music needed to give Die Robo Sapiens a sound of its own. To me it’s always important to find your own style and niche. That’s how we did it since the beginning, don’t follow trends, spearhead them!
Q: It seems there’s a kind of concept behind this album dealing with ‘the dehumanization and technological dependency of mankind… without it you are nothing…’ How do you face this fact and how do you see the pros and cons of technology in the evolution of Electronic music -especially when compared to the 80s analog era?
Jürgen: I am fascinated by new technology, but I won’t let it dominate my life unless it is useful and making my life easier. Unfortunately, most people let technology dominate their life nowadays, and the balance seems off. We cannot make ourselves completely dependent on computers and machines, I personally refuse to becoming a Robo Sapien in my lifetime! We are the human race and should resist becoming one with the machinery. Although it’s a fascinating thought, it will be the end of humanity. I think the time will come sooner or later that man will be replaced by robo sapiens. I know I won’t be around anymore, and I have a feeling that’s a good thing.
Q: Soundwise you already mentioned the Kraftwerk-touch which is easily noticeable for the sound color and atmospheres but there also is the hard EBM side of DAF… and Die Krupps as well;-). How do you perceive it and was there something as a ‘Düsseldorfer’ scene?
Jürgen: DAF are not a Düsseldorf-band, they were from Wuppertal and part Austrian. But Gabi did start his musical career in Düsseldorf, that’s true. I was friends with him before he even started a band. Ralf and I knew Kraftwerk because we all used to hang out in the same clubs and movie theatres around town back in the 70s. I later became friends with Karl and also Wolfgang. I didn’t get in touch with them regarding guesting on the album, but it’s a nice thought and I will keep it in mind. Regarding the so called Düsseldorf-scene, sure there was a scene, and it was transitional when Punk happened. Kraftwerk, Neu, La Duesseldorf were the first wave, then came DAF, Die Krupps and Propaganda. We had our background in Punk, and not in the late 60s experimental strain of the Hippy scene. Although it produced very interesting bands, the two scenes never really crossed paths musically, until I tried to unite them in the mid 90s, when I brought members of Cluster, Guru Guru, Amon Duul, Faust and Die Krupps together to produce the album “Space Explosion”. It was an eye opening experience.
Q: What brings the future for Die Robo Sapiens? Is the album just a ‘one shot’ project or should we expect more stuff and eventually live shows, remixes etc?
Jürgen:This album is not supposed to be a one off, the project will continue. I am open to all kinds of adventures, even live shows, and I know Ralf is too, if we can find the time to do it. Die Krupps is and will always be our number one, but it feels good to have another outlet for the purely Electro tracks. I enjoy the different approach, and I’m also interested in defining the Robo Sapiens sound even more. The deeper you delve into a musical project, the more you understand its own mechanisms. And I believe Die Robo Sapiens has a lot more potential. Time will prove my point. Die Zukunft hat begonnen!
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