Alexander Hacke and Danielle de Picciotto are both world-class musicians and pioneering artists. It is possible to be the former and not the latter, but Hacke is a founding member of and bassist for German industrial noise titans Einstürzende Neubauten, one of the weirdest and most life-changing bands in history. His wife, Danielle de Picciotto, who plays with Hacke in Crime in the City Solution and helped found Berlin’s Love Parade events, has herself been a large part of the music scene in multiple projects. Hackedepicciotto is their revelatory co-experiment in soundscapes which value the cathartic more than the contrived. The group’s latest effort, Menetekel, is a remarkable and unusually colorful journey that follows the duo’s creative north star through soundscapes ranging from ominous to elevating. I was thrilled to touch base for an interview with the philosophical group prior to their upcoming gig at The Beverly Lounge on Friday, Dec. 7.
Morgan Y. Evans: I kept thinking of how daunting it is to have the space to ask you just a few questions as there is so much about you both to ask about. My mind kept returning to the fact that your music feels like it stems from such a “core” center place of what feels like reflection and honesty as well as the excitement of creative birth. I don’t know your spirituality or lack thereof but the music feels like it is reaching for the sacred or something. What inspires you at this point in your lives to keep experimenting?
Alexander Hacke: Yes, with our music we try to tap into a source of higher power, if you will. Creating the sonic landscape of it and resonating with each other and our audience while doing so comes with an intensity, which hopefully unlocks an advanced state of awareness. Ideally we then manage to surpass the mere rendition of songs and instead reach with the vibrations a different state of mind with everyone involved.
Danielle’s lyrics also speak from the heart and are aimed to open a deeper understanding of life in the hearts of the listeners. It’s hard to put a tag on it, but spirituality certainly comes close to describing the background and motivation to our artistic endeavors.
Danielle de Picciotto: We have been nomads now for almost eight years and the impressions we have collected over the years traveling the world is one of our inspirations. The other is how to survive such a restless life and our turbulent times — this has in fact influenced us to turn to meditation and spirituality in various ways. It seems to be the only way not to become too despondent. In our music we try to transport all of the contrasts of fear and hope — in other words, what life is all about.
MYE: “All Are Welcome Here” is almost soothing like a lullaby and with melodic dual vocals, but there is an underlying ominous feeling as well. I couldn’t help but think of the hysteria in the United States because of border xenophobia and sort of lament how I wish people knew how my dad always spoke in awe of how he saw Ellis Island for the first time after crossing the sea after being in World War II displaced persons camps in Germany from fleeing Stalin with my great aunties as a kid. Anyhow, your song was very moving and I wondered what was the impetus for writing it for you both?
Danielle: As we have been nomads for such a long time I started thinking about what the basics are that everybody needs to survive and came to the simple conclusion that we all need food, drink, a roof over our head and friendship. The basics of life are so simple and powerful. If we could we just concentrate on this our day to day life could be so much more peaceful and fulfilling.
MYE: The first song I listened to was “Dreamcatcher,” so slightly out of order. Not sure why. But I guess we are used to being attention deficit these days and the album format, while being superior, takes a back seat at times to the sort of banality of streaming songs as “singles.” Your work pleasantly resists that as each song is almost a separate little ritual world or mental setting, really honoring the work by allowing each song to grow or be itself fully without restraints. Not that pop format is almost bad and of course you have both been making music that defies the easy way out for years. The songs all work together but also feel like meditations so you could start anywhere. The Norse group Wardruna has that affect on me as well. Was this intentional for Menetekel?
Danielle: Our music is the soundscape to our lives. So all the music we compose and play is basically one huge symphony which is made up of different moments.
Alexander: Each of our pieces has a life on its own, definitely. They all seem to come from the same murky backwaters of our collective unconscious mind, but as soon as they have arrived and first manifested themselves as a basic track, they are all demanding certain attentions respectively. The music tells us what to do. There’s no formula we apply in order to create it and therefore there really is no fixed order one should listen to the records. We merely provide a sequence, with a dramatic development, which will lure you into the album, or concert for that matter, so we can captivate you within the confines, but left to your own devices at home, you can certainly find your individual way in. You just have to realize that there is no way out.
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