The first ever Kraftwerk conference took place in Aston, Birmingham today – though Wolfgang Flür, who was in the notoriously private band for more than a decade, didn’t show up for his headline talk.
The two-day academic conference dedicated to the German band was called Industrielle Volksmusik For The Twenty-First Century: Kraftwerk And The Birth Of Electronic Music In Germany and was held at Aston University yesterday and today (January 21 – 22). It attracted professors, fans and contributors from as far as Switzerland and the United States, as well as musicians including Everything Everything’s Jeremy Pritchard.
Various seminars focused on the cultural and historical origins of the electronic band’s music, including seminal albums ‘The Man Machine’, ‘Autobahn’ and ‘Trans Europe Express’. As the BBC reports, Stephen Mallinder, from Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire, kicked off the event with a talk entitled Modernity and Movement, explaining how Kraftwerk directly influenced them when they formed in 1973. “It’s really interesting talking about music from the early days,” he said. “It’s reinforced thoughts I already had and what it meant to be making music at that time and growing up listening to Kraftwerk.
“It was an introduction into a different world. We listen to music, we dance to music, why not get together like this and discuss music?”
Conference organiser Dr Uwe Schütte, reader in German at the university, added: “I am amazed that no one else has done this before, that is the reason why I organised it – a conference was long overdue. They are the most important band in the world in the way they changed music. They called it future music and their future is our present.”
Asked about the no-show by Wolfgang Flür’s, who was scheduled to read extracts from his memoir Kraftwerk: I Was A Robot and take part in a Q&A session, Dr Schütte said: “It’s disaapointing, but maybe that’s what you expect from Kraftwerk.”
Meanwhile, Jeremy Pritchard called the event “incredibly nerdy”, stating “I’ve made a lot of notes, and it’s been pleasingly low brow in places as well, so good for the layman like me.”
The conference is planned to take place again next year.