Junto Profile: Andreas Winterer, aka Krakenkraft

From Munich, Germany: breaking rules and making "boring" music

This Junto Profile is part of a new series of short Q&As that provide some background on various individuals who participate regularly in the online Disquiet Junto music community.

What’s your name? Andreas Winterer aka Krakenkraft aka Etherkraken. Kraken-, because I always loved Krakens. Just look at this video! And -kraft for a mixture of many reasons … Ether because … I don’t remember. These are just names that had to be unique.  

Where are you located? I have lived in Munich, Germany, for 34 years or so. My flat is near the Isar River, which is nice for walking, and five minutes to the Viktualienmarkt, which is a mixture between a fruits and vegetable grocery store and a tourist hell. The musical influence of Munich is zero, as Munich is a very small town and poor in underground culture, compared to Berlin or Vienna. But in the late ‘90s there was a secondhand synthesizer store in a neighborhood called Haidhausen, and without that shop and a used, cheesy Kawai K4 I once bought there, I might never have started making music.

What is your musical activity? I grew up in the 1980s in a small town and all I had was a Telefunken reel to reel tape and a clumsy Philips cassette recorder, and I made noise collages with them, and sci fi audio dramas (that mainly spared the dialogue parts). All these were bad. But I think there is a straight line between this time and the music I do as “Krakenkraft” today. 

I’m simply enchanted by all kinds of sounds and noises, and this magic is usually more important to me than a formal musical structure or than serving expectations. I’m doing music primarily because I want to hear this music. For example, for years I’ve been searching for an eternally lasting, hardly (but still) changing sound, with which one can somehow become one (may sound esoteric…). But I’m also addicted to other peoples music and Bandcamp is a cornucopia of musical expression.

On the other hand there is my love for sequenced music in the style of Klaus Schulze’s Mirage, Michael Hoenig’s Departure from the Northern Wasteland, Peter Baumann’s Romance 76, or Michael Garrison’s In the Regions of Sunreturn, and I cannot stop myself from wanting to do more traditional music like this, and that’s what I try as “Etherkraken.” I sometimes think this is backwards nostalgia, but on the other hand playing blues and swing cannot be bad just because people already played it decades ago.

My primary income comes from creatings words. Music always offered me the opportunity to get along without words, to think completely without words, and it can’t really be explained in words why this or that is and must be. If I could reboot I would become a professional musician; maybe then I would write for fun …

What is one good musical habit? If you want to be successful (clicks, reach, sales), you have to study and follow the rules and break them only if you have a good idea about what you are doing. 

If you just want to make music, you can make all the music that you want to and not give a toss about any expectation anyone could even think of. 

But even then rules are important, because creativity, imho, comes from restriction, and that’s why I like the Disquiet Junto: It’s a weekly nonsense restriction you can follow voluntarily — or ignore it at all. 

What are your online locations? Soundcloud and Bandcamp (Krakenkraft, Etherkraken) are my primary hangouts, because most of what I have to say is sound. I’m just lacking the sense of mission you really need to be successful on media like Instagram. I did some videos on YouTube, but I have not made something very interesting yet; ”Another Wound” and “p-brane transition” maybe best define the direction I want to go. 

What was a particularly meaningful Junto Project? I like to remember all my Disquiet contributions, especially the collaborations. An example of a solo is disquiet0451: music inspired by a line from A Wizard of Earthsea: “For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before and after,” which led to “A Tentative Approach to Silence,” in which I actively sought for silence. When I hear this piece, I can’t believe I made it. (In some way Marc made me make it.)

Regarding your earlier comment about knowing and breaking rules, could you share examples of rules you have broken — perhaps successfully and unsuccessfully? It all depends on the rules that surround you, or the genre labels and how you interpret them. When I was young, “new wave” meant something completely different in my peer group than what Wikipedia defines today. And for years I thought I was making “ambient” music, but today I think I never really stuck to the original ideas (of Satie? of Eno? of me?), and I don’t even understand what is meant by that label anymore. 

Supposedly, Vangelis once said that new age gives “untalented people the opportunity to make very boring music.” (My favorite Vangelis is Soil Festivities. If this ain’t new age, I don’t know…) And the general rule of music (writing, art) says: don’t bore the listeners (readers, viewers). But I like making boring music as much as I like listening to it. A few weeks ago I was invited to play at a sleep concert, where musicians play all night for sleeping people. I took that as a compliment. On the other hand, these are just new rules; no musician would put a loud kick drum in there at 3:23 in the morning just to demonstrate his independence.

I consider “Waking Up in a Strange Room” very traditional Berlin School (again a questionable label), but I don’t think most fans would agree, as it lacks many rule ingredients. The same goes for “Watering,” a bonus track to a mostly sequenced album, which is free from synths at all, but ( I swear!) totally inspired by Edgar Froese’s Aqua (and I almost broke my neck recording the water), so how more Berlin School could one go?

Ultimately, I believe that there is no such thing as failure when it comes to breaking rules: rule breakers always win from the rule breakers’ point of view. (That should make us a little suspicious, though.)

Today we seemingly have a lot of freedom and can make the music that we want. Even if we do not strive to be heard and find an audience, we want to hear what we decided to hear. And the “genre” label/tag is (besides the artist’s or publisher’s name) the only navigation we have. (One could argue that we should always listen to unknown genres, but I’m not into thrash metal, even if I can respect whatever they do.) 

But does it work? I struggle a lot with these things. On the one hand, rules are important because they define what I as a listener can expect or what I as a musician want to give the listeners as a helpful context. But, of course, they are also a prison that restricts, and who wants to be restricted? But if no one adheres to genre conventions, then genre labels itself become worthless as a navigation tool. (I have no way out, and I’m afraid what I’ve just said has surely already been said by 50 others, talking about genres like “triple-plugged psystep.” As an electronic musician I don’t even have the time to learn the rules for all these electronic genres.) 

Given that rules are a key part of how the Disquiet Junto functions, do you regularly break the rules that form the weekly assignments? The easiest way to make music for Disquiet Junto would be to just send in what you made yesterday and cleverly explain that it follows the rules (because complicated blah) or breaks the rules (because more complicated blah). Betrayal, and I may have sighted such (even from me), but no one would complain.

Personally, I usually try to start seriously with the project idea. Sometimes at least integrating the idea into something that’s only half done. So the challenge in Junto for me is really to follow the rules and not break them, and that’s what makes it so interesting for me. 

I broke the rules intentionally with project 0525, Magic Number (1 of 3). One had to record the first third of a trio. Normally with collaborations I try to do something where other people can easily add something. I would consider that an unwritten rule, because you want to collaborate, it makes no sense to undermine that. In “Nine​-​Eight” I intentionally made something very difficult, knowing no one would complete this track and yes, nobody did, not even the usual suspects. Such a shame, I was so curious what other people could make of it … I think I may not break this rule again.

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