I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Everything got discussed; houses were occupied: an interview with Gudrun Gut

by Network Awesome
Aug. 27, 2014
Gudrun Gut is a fixture in the Berlin scene. She’s been in a position of respect for a long time and while it’s difficult for an outsider to really understand the subtleties of any scene, I can tell you she's a presence that’s impossible to miss. In 1979 she burst on the German music scene with her group Mania D then formed the hugely influential “Malaria!” a few years later.  Founder and owner of two labels, Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik, she also hosts and co-produces OCEANCLUB Radio with Thomas Fehlmann on Radio Eins since 1997 in Berlin. We’re pleased to present this collection of videos and Gudrun was nice enough to answer a few questions for us.

NA - You grew up in West Berlin, did you grow up in the music scene here or did you get involved later on?
I’m not sure what you mean with later on. I did not join as a child but was active in the music scene since a teen. Worked in a underground mail order in the Luenebuger Heide and then in Berlin got quickly involved with other music lovers.  Punk helped to get me out there and "just do it".
NA - As Mania D then turned into Malaria! the city and music scene also changed. How did Malaria! React to the changes and react against your own past?
Hmm, since we lived in the city we were pretty involved and didn’t so much react- we were active.  The changes were fluent, with Malaria! We wanted to play as much live as possible and travel the world and we did.
NA - Do you think the scene was open to your woman-based projects or were the punks and art-rockers just a bunch of jerks?

My memory tells me it was all equal. There were a couple of female bands around and with the punk attitude everything was possible, all start with zero.  So yes it was okay.
Anyhow Berlin was then pretty political - the women’s movement was big and relationships were discussed and the gender role was a subject. This was in the air from the hippies and anarchos and 68 generation. Around 1978/9 Berlin was very different politically than other cities I have been to at that time. Everything got discussed; houses were occupied.
NA - So then if so much of the social and political theory was coming out of hippie culture (and I presume also routed through the universities) how did Mania D differentiate itself from that?
With Mania D we did music that was not heard here before.  We used tapes and played crooked songs and wore boots. We didn’t play the flute. It was drums, sax and bass. It wasn’t songs - more open tracks with athmos.
NA - A little something happened in 1989 in Berlin. The political changes had a vast effect on all aspects of life in Germany and Europe as a whole. Can you tell us how the reunification impacted your own work?
End of the 80’s the Berlin underground scene was pretty uninspired. Very dark and negative.  I was thinking of moving to Barcelona and then this happened - so exciting! New clubs, new people, the city expanded immensely.  It was pretty much the new club scene like Ewerk and Tresor and WMF that was influential then.  During that time I started a spoken word project with Myra Davies were I did the music - a solo emancipation for me, and then the Oceanclub thing.  First an album then a club of like-minded. Now, it’s still the radio show.
NA - Your music constantly evolved over the years and continues to more forward today. Can you tell us how you evolved into your relationship with techno, and eventually into your involvement in Oceanclub Radio?
I was always interested to dig a little deeper.  First with Mania D and Malaria! In the studio asking, “How does production work?” then “How does a record company work, what is the music Biz about?”  One led to the other.
With Matador we started producing on computer - first Atari then Mac.  To have control over the production, in the 90s, I re-released the Malaria! Stuff on Moabit music on CD.  In 1997 I founded the label Monika Enterprise and the same year we started Oceanclub radio. The following year I was working more on other music than my own, did some curating etc (i.e.: Marke B & 4 Women No Cry) so I became involved in young artists music.
In 2007 I finally released my first pure solo album and that marked another change: back to the roots.  Since then I concentrate more on being an artist and creating music again.
I try to still have the label running but organized the workload with lots of freelancing jobs.
Techno: the minimal style reminded me of the 80s. This consequent style.
NA - We've been looking back at your work, but our collection ends with your recent video "Drilling An Ocean". Can you tell us about your music today and what you're working on?
That was a project together with AGF (Antye Greie) and was my last big project "Greie Gut Fraktion - Baustelle" and was all about construction.  “Drilling An Ocean” is a love song. The work with Antye was very interesting for me - she is a very skilled producer and we both are quite fast and intuitive creators but quite different background- east / west. She really surprised me with her talent and force.  We just finished the Greie Gut Fraktion remix album "Rekonstruktion" were we both did remixes as well.
Now I’m rehearsing with Matador again! We will have a gig in Berlin end of August and for me it is very exciting to work with my old friends - Beate Bartel and Manon Pepita Duursma.  We are rehearsing and remodeling a track from Matador called "Paradise" into a 15-minute live version. Then I’ll do some film music and I’m working on my new album that should be ready end of the year.

Questions by Network Awesome writers and editors. We're a lot of fun - you can find us at apocalypse-themed parties, museums of science and industry, and snarky media-obsessed websites.