The Father of Strange Electro Pop: An Interview with Olaf Krautwurst of Blinky Blinky Computerband

Germany’s Blinky Blinky Computerband is the brainchild of Olaf Krautwurst, known for multiple projects dating back to the early 1990’s. This project started in 2012 and Olaf is the only static member, collaborating with other artists from time to time. He is the purveyor of what he calls “strange electro pop”, but hear me now, despite the light-hearted name and their own style of electronic music, Blinky Blinky Computerband are putting out well written, sophisticated tracks that rival that of any other artist out there. Whether you’re looking for something ethereal, industrial, or simply something to bounce your head to, I can promise Olaf has something for you.

With a new EP entitled Blue Ice due out in March, Olaf has taken the time to talk to Echosynthetic. It’s time for everyone to take notice…Blinky Blinky Computerband are probably one of the best bands you’ve not had a chance to hear. Now is your chance to dig in! They’ve got an extensive discography to explore at Bancamp. And now, without further delay…..Olaf Krautwurst:

Echosynthetic: You started this project back in 2012. How has Blinky Blinky Computerband grown over that time?

Olaf: I started Blinky Blinky Computerband as a successor of my former project Inside Agitator, which was active between 1994 and 2012. Like Inside Agitator, Blinky Blinky Computerband is a one-man project. I have a normal daytime job so I can do my music in my spare time. For me, this all is a fun thing without trying to make any profit. After I released the first album “We are …” I got some good responses which forced me to write more songs and release them via download and cd-r. In 2015 I made a wish comes true and I released “Strange Electro Pop”, the first “real” cd since I started making music in 1992. This cd was followed by an experimental cd called “Fractured Sign” and the latest cd “For a Better World”. Since the second album “Requiem Für Seltsame Kreaturen”, I worked with some guest musicians for some of the tracks like Van Bauseneick, Henning from Synergy or Darrin from Psyche who wrote lyrics and did the vocals on these tracks. On “For a Better World” I also had Michael Arnold who played guitar on half of the songs. The last big thing until today was the first live performance of Blinky Blinky Computerband at the first Strange Electro Pop Festival in Braunschweig last year.

Echosynthetic: You’ve coined the phrase “Strange Electro Pop” to describe Blinky Blinky Computerband. What do you think sets your work apart?

Olaf: Because I do this all for fun, there is one person who must be convinced of all I did – and that is me! Sure I am happy about everybody listening to my music and the really good response, the radio plays on online radios and the support I get from the people who like what I do, but I did not try to write a song and think “who will listen to it and could like it”. With Blinky Blinky Computerband I always try to do what I want and it is not important for me whether there is a commercial market or not. There are so many different styles of music in my work. There are ambient songs like “Tropfwasser”, EBM songs like “Walls”, industrial songs like “Killing Machine” or radio-friendly electro pop songs like “Stille”. I do not want to put me into musical borders. I think the term “Strange Electro Pop” is a good description because I always try to have some pop elements in my music, but everything else is possible, too. 

Echosynthetic: You’ve been very active making music for a lot of years. What influences have shaped the way you write songs?

Olaf: The influences for my lyrics are coming from things happening in the world. I have lyrics about drugs, war and other terrible things which are not personal experiences. But when I write lyrics I try to describe what I see and feel. The influences for the music are coming from different sides. Sure I am influenced by lots of music I was listening to in the last thirty years! I was mainly influenced by the old EBM and electro pop music of the late eighties, by New Wave and “Neue Deutsche Welle”, Industrial and Gothic. I did not try to copy these music styles, but I cannot deny that there are elements from this music in Blinky Blinky Computerband. Another important part of my writing is doing experiments with sounds until I have an idea for a new song. 

Echosynthetic: What do you use in the studio to record your albums?

Olaf: In the early days I worked with lots of hardware synthesizers, outboard gear, and a big mixing desk. But today I have a very small and comfortable setup. I use a pc with Steinberg Cubase, a Steinberg UR44 audio interface, a Novation Ultranova as midi-controller, and a really good pair of studio monitors by Adam. I also use some plugins inside Cubase, like my favourite VST synthesizer Omnisphere by Spectrasonics, and Retrologue and Halion Sonic by Steinberg. For the drums I only use Groove Agent by Steinberg. For the mixing and mastering, I use mainly software from iZotope. 

Echosynthetic: Your last full length album, For a Better World, has a lot of different sounds, from industrial to synthpop. Do you plan out your albums or do they grow organically out of work in the studio?

Olaf: No, I do not plan anything. I produce demo tracks without any idea how they will fit on an album, so it is possible that some tracks will not be on an album. It is also possible that I delete tracks when I do not have the right idea for it. And sometimes I found out that some tracks are good for a different release like the “Blue Ice” E.P. which will be released on 1 March 2017, which features a collection of electronica and ambient songs. 

Echosynthetic: What do you have planned for 2017?

Olaf: If possible I would like to release a new album at the end of the year and I hope to have some live performances.

Echosynthetic: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing music?

Olaf: I like listening to music! I enjoy concerts and I am also a fan of computer games. My favourites are Battlefield and, of course, Rock Band and I like to see good television like Doctor Who and Stranger Things. If I am doing something outside my home, I like to have a walk somewhere at the sea.

Echosynthetic: If you could only own three albums, what would they be?

Olaf: A very hard question! There are too many good albums that came out during the last thirty years. But they will be definitively from the eighties. Possibly something from Skinny Puppy or A Split Second, maybe the first album by Numb, or something from SPK and Psyche. 

Echosynthetic: Best live show you’ve ever been to?

Olaf: Another hard question! At the end of the eighties I saw really great shows by Cassandra Complex, The Weathermen, and the Legendary Pink Dots. In the last few years my favourites were Escape with Romeo at Detmold and the really brilliant show by Marc Almond at Hamburg last year. Sorry that I cannot name only one.

Echosynthetic: To someone who might be reading this and hearing your music for the first time, what do you want them to know about Blinky Blinky Computerband?

Olaf: “Please don’t take it too serious!” and “Always try to think outside the box!” I am doing my music for fun and I hope everybody listening to it can feel this. Furthermore, I hope that the people are more open-minded to discover new and unknown music besides that of the big names out there. 

Please, if you haven’t already, give the tracks I’ve linked here a listen and then head over to the Blinky Blinky Computerband page or his Bandcamp. The music is really good and really affordable. You can also follow the band on Facebook. I’d like to thank Olaf for the fantastic interview and the opportunity to learn more about him and his music. Cheers!

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