Sascha Konietzko - MDFMK / KMFDM
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 2000
There is a short list of people who actually get Sascha Kozientzko's humor. To be honest, it doesn't seem as though many people find him all that funny, to the contrary, he has a reputation for being a bit of a prick. The truth of the matter is that his personality probably lays somewhere between the two extremes but at the end of the day it really doesn't matter. What does matter is the music and the music of Sascha Konietzko is pure genius, most everybody can agree on that.
KMFDM had a long and varied musical run with Sascha twisting and turning the twelve notes available to him in strange and unusual ways. In the beginning, though Sascha had the drive to make music he didn't have the cash so, he put together KMFDM as an avante-rock troupe that used inanimate objects for the tones that he wanted to move from his mind to other people's ears. This ability to use what and who is available accented the entire life of KMFDM until Sascha decided it was time for a more drastic change. Sascha disbanded KMFDM completely in 1999 and erected MDFMK in its place, which, despite the mirror image implied by the name, is a very different animal than KMFDM ever was yet it is still solidly identifiable as Sascha Konietzko.
A few years back Konietzko described himself to Rolling Stone Magazine in this way; "I am like a little kid who tramples his toys then wants new stuff." That quote is a better aid in comparing Sacha's sonic past with his present than I could ever hope to manage. What I can say, and with great conviction, is that the first released track by MDFMK, "Missing Time" from the "HEAVY METAL:2000" soundtrack, made a fan of me within the first thirty seconds. It is easily the most appropriate song, texturally and lyrically, for the film and makes the soundtrack an absolute necessity to own. The story is similar with the full fifty-three minutes of the bands debut disc. This disc surpasses all expectations made by the "Missing Time" single and would seem to leave the band poised on the precipice of even greater success and notoriety and I don't think Sascha cares one bit.
MDFMK is definitely a cybertronic creation but the plaintive wail of the vocals betrays the project's human heart. MDFMK is a trio with Sascha directing guitarist Tim Skold, the lone holdover from the latter day KMFDM, and the indescribably beautiful Lucia Cifarelli in a sonic sound play that is equal parts Techno and Metal and slightly louder than WWIII. MDFMK, the album and the band, is an exciting start to something new lifting off from the KMFDM launch pad.
Never having met or spoken with Sascha before and relying solely on what has been written about the man I half expected a five minute interview with an arrogance just this side of Johnny Rotten. What I found was that, at least on this day, Sascha is one witty and insightful guy with an obvious passion for what he does. He has a complete lack of pretension and I doubt if compromise will ever truly be a part of his vocabulary. By conversations end it was apparent that the only people that really see Sascha as a prick are those who have tried and failed to shape his music and image for him. He is an anarchist of sound and if you are into burning a piece of the establishment down he's there with you otherwise, you can just fuck off.

DAVID LEE: Are you tired of being asked why you reversed the spelling of the bands name yet?
SASCHA KONIETZKO: The reason for inverting the name was that it was the solution to bringing my old career into my new life, to carry it over, so to speak.
DL: Despite the difference in name and a slightly different texture to the music it is still identifiable as a work by Sascha Konietzko.
SK: I agree, absolutely.
K2K: When you decided to end the old band and start this new one were some of the people around you urging you to keep the old name despite the change?
SK: No, because the people that cared would definitely be able to follow along. It was more like a statement, a very KMFDM-ish kind of statement based on the underlying humor that KMFDM carried with it through the years. Instead of calling ourselves, 'THE LORDS OF shit" or whatever, we will be MDFMK. It was just a fun idea and the craziness of it is what drove Tim and I to actually do it. "Wow, that is fuckin' weird, let's do it!"(laughs)
K2K: As far as the fact that you are a solid three piece now as opposed to a musical collective, how did the two approaches differ to you as you are now able to hold the finished product?
SK: It was different in as much as there were no more compromises. In KMFDM there were a lot of situations where people were pulling in different directions like, "Hey, turn the guitar up" or "Hey, turn the guitar down" and stuff like that. Here it was more like there was only one way to make it right so lets do it. There was no questioning or arguments or tears or anything!(laughs)
K2K: No smashing of guitars? "No, I will not turn it down!"
SK: Right!
K2K: When you were deciding on what it was you wanted to do after putting the old band to rest, was Tim always in on those plans or did he come along later, after you told everyone that KMFDM was dead?
SK: Tim and I had this long conversation of the last KMFDM tour and we basically touched base you could say. I wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life from there on and I just knew that I wanted to do something new. I basically proposed to him, "I would really like to do something new with you, where do you see yourself going over the next couple of years?" He said that he was going to pack up and move to Seattle and that was a good enough statement to me.
K2K: Is Seattle where you live now?
SK: That is where I used to live, I live in New York City now.
K2K: Has the environment that you were living in helped to shape the music that you were making at the time?
SK: I am not sure. At first I ended up in Chicago because my label was there. Certainly the climate of what was going on at the time, all of those bands collaborating, it certainly influenced the way that things were going. It made the stuff that KMFDM was doing definitely harder. Then after a while when things were falling apart with the label I decided that I was just going to move somewhere else and I figured that I would go to the West Coast and check it out. I fell in love with Seattle, the environmental beauty caught my eye and I figured it was a good place to write a record and I ended up there for a number of years. Then at some point I decided again that it was time to move on and try something new.
K2K: When you were living in Seattle, with all of that environmental beauty, did that have a least some effect on the lyrical aspect?
SK: No, I mean, obviously not. KMFDM got harder and harder as the surroundings got more serene. Gunther moved from Hamburg, Germany to some place out in the woods of British Columbia and En Esch was in New Orleans so no, the surroundings never really influenced the content so much as how we went about it. If you have a quality of life that surrounds and comforts you and you can relax then your work output tended to double and that is what happened to me, I started working like crazy.
K2K: You were doing a lot of production at the time you found Lucia Cifarelli and, I guess, that is where you poached her from to be your new singer?
SK: I was actually just doing a remix and I had never met Lucia until she came out to Seattle to try out for the band. There was just something there, in her voice, that just fascinated me when I did that remix and it was still there when she came to try out. We met, Tim, Lucia and I met in the studio and we just gelled in an instant, there was no question that she would be the right match.
K2K: Having a female that is as attractive as she probably didn't lessen her chances any?(laughs)
SK: It never hurts!(laughs) We would have gone for someone that maybe isn't that beautiful and maybe doesn't stand out that much if fate had played it differently but this is the way that it went.
K2K: The first thing that anybody heard of this band was from your contribution to the "HEAVY METAL: 2000" soundtrack, how did that come to be.
SK: It came about at an early stage of the MDFMK album when we got a call from the producers of the movie and they wanted to see what KMFDM was up to at the time. We told them that KMFDM is gone and they said, "Well, can we still get a track?" We said, "Sure!" We fired them the track and they loved it and we cut a little exclusive deal with them for this track and there it is.
K2K: Did you see any film clips from the movie or know how your song would be used in the movie before you did it?
SK: Not at the time. In the mean time I have seen, pretty much, the whole thing, and it is fine. Many times with movies the music doesn't have to be made for it, it happens very often that the music just seems to gel.
K2K: With everything that you did with KMFDM, it always seemed like it would be perfect for use in movies and with other forms of media, have you given thought to mixing more of your music with other media in the future?
SK: That is a really good point and I wished that a lot more stuff would come my way but, unfortunately, there is still this kind of stigma of being very hard edged and super underground so a lot of people don't allow themselves the chance to even look into working with us. It is still something that is very much for the insider and not so much out in the open.
K2K: When you play live will you be playing mostly stuff from MDFMK or will the occasional KMFDM song poke its way into the set?
SK: Well, we are really thinking very hard about that and I really want to avoid the career retrospective thing by any means necessary. There is enough MDFMK material to fill an evening and if there isn't there is still that transitional period between KMFDM and MDFMK were Tim and I, essentially, made the "ADIOS" album that came out under the KMFDM moniker but was really a transitional type of album and we can always play a couple of tracks from there.
K2K: Have you had much response from the fan base as to what they want to hear?
SK: I think that for the hard core fan, they would really like to hear something like, "Godlike" or "Light" at the live show but I think that will be for the next tour. At this point it would be really great to concentrate on the new stuff and see how that comes across.
K2K: Is there a lot of production for the live presentation of this album?
SK: The production at this point is pretty much standing.(laughs) There are a couple of aspects that I can not really talk about at this point because the surprise momentum will just be lost but it is going to be very technological. There will be no drummer and no bass player and a lot of electronic gear and heavy machinery and a lot of multi-media stuff. At the same time we are not one of these lame electronica bands that just go onstage with a couple of keyboards and spelunking lights strapped to our heads. I think it is going to be a good mix of technology, high energy and those kinds of things.
K2K: You have been doing this for so long that you have become known as one of the forefathers of the genre, how do you feel about that?
SK: I don't like that. It puts me into the old camp and I don't like to do that. I am still hungry for new stuff and, I think, when I stop breathing, that is when I will stop experimenting.
K2K: Have you ever thought of taking elements of things that you did in the past and reintroduce them, maybe like the beating on inanimate objects?
SK: There are bands that have perfected that to a "T" so why do something that is already perfected? It is not a satisfying thing to me anymore. I think that my main drive from an early stage was to go into electronic music and at some points I had no money or means to get synthesizers and other equipment and it sufficed at that point to just make a ruckus and create mayhem but at this point I have grown out of that spontaneous sort of thing, I like things to be kind of orchestrated now. To be predictable in a way where I can say, "OK, letting shit get out of hand is fine and dandy but it is really cool to start some mayhem when you are in control of it."
K2K: Who do you consider as your contemporaries?
SK: There are a slew of bands out there, even though they may not know it or admit it if they heard me say it, there is the whole German Hardcore, Digital Posse. ATARI TEENAGE RIOT, EQUATOR and that kind of stuff and then there is ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION and to a certain extent, MASSIVE ATTACK, they are all peers in a way. Then there is the whole techno/rave scene where they are all just pumping out records, which is definitely a familiar train of thought for us.
K2K: Do you think that the electronica scene feeds off of itself? Are all of these people that you mentioned doing anything unique?
SK: That is a Russian trick doll type of question, I mean, yes and no. Being one that doesn't like to categorize things I would have to say no but on a sort of spiritual level I have to say yes because the wheel wasn't invented someplace and then traveled around the world, it was probably invented in several places at around the same time because the time was just right for it and the human brain had developed to the point that they could all fathom the wheel. So, in a way, that is a primitive analogy but I think that it is how things go, there is a scene building around the world. Sure it is propelled by mechanisms like the Internet but there is definitely a ripeness in the air.
K2K: You mentioned the Internet, is that a tool that you fear at all as an artist because it really is a powerful thing to be able to get an idea from someone and manipulate then market it as your own, literally in minutes?
SK: No, I think that it is great. The minute that they released our album in Japan with two bonus tracks on it someone uploaded it as an MP3 and within hours people were talking in newsgroups in America about the tracks. It is like, "Hey, it is getting around and that is cool."
K2K: If you had to project where this new band will go, using all the ground that you have traveled already in your career, where would it end up?
SK: Well, I think, like we said in the beginning, the main incentive in doing something new was to put the fun back into it and that is really the only answer to that. I can't do things because I have to do them, I can only do them when they are fun for me and I can go to sleep at the end of the day and go, "Wow, what a fuckin' great day!"
Written by David Lee Wilson

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