With his first solo album in over two decades, En Esch’s SPÄNK might just be one of 2015’s best albums; ReGen had the singular honor of speaking with the legendary electro/industrial figure on the album’s production and what audiences can expect from him next!
An InterView with En Esch
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
You ran a pretty successful PledgeMusic campaign for SPÄNK, and then went on tour for the album. How pleased are you with how the whole process of crowdfunding your album and tour went?
Esch: Yeah, it’s okay. At the moment, I’m just laying low and trying to overlook the whole process. In the long run, if you don’t have a real label, you need to put money into promotion; promoters nowadays are not promoters as they were in the old-school ways. They’re more like your friends that are helping out so they can see you in their town. The next time, I’m going to try to gain some money to put more into promotion, because that’s the only chance you have – you have to replace the record label like it was in the old days with yourself.
Yeah, I made something like 115% of the PledgeMusic goal, and a lot of that money went into printing T-shirts, applying for the VISA, and that alone took something like $2,500 because you have to verify that you’re an important person in this country. (Laughter) I mean, you decide… I’m just a lazy fucking bum from Germany.
You’d funded the album and then released it digitally, but then went with Jim Semonik’s Distortion Productions for the CD release. How did that come about?
Esch: Well, he is a friend and I’d known him before when he booked us in Pittsburgh with Slick Idiot. He had told me that he has the same distribution that Metropolis has, but he’s not a big label. He’d told me that he had a small label, so it was a favor to him and a favor to me, so it worked out well.
Do you think you’ll be going the crowdfunding route for the next album?
This was your first solo album in 22 years, and you had numerous guests that you worked with. What was different about making this album from how you did things in the past?
Esch: It’s not really that different – it’s actually always the same, you know? You have a certain connection of different compositions that you work on and that you want to work on further, certain ideas for certain songs, and that sort of thing. I’m very pleased especially with the songs I did with Trixie, because that was something I’d been working on with her before; I like this kind of coming back to old ideas that I never finished, and there are other tracks I’ve worked on with her that I hope to continue working on. The last thing I did with her was ‘Daydreams’ from Sucksess. I’ve always thought that my music is a little timeless – it’s not much different from how I’ve always done things, so it could be 15-years-old or 20-years-old, and it’s still the same kind of cool. Maybe I’ll make it more modern, but usually, with a song like ‘Daydreams’ or the songs on SPÄNK, they are more or less 85% older material that we get to make better and complete later.
It’s interesting because it does seem like certain songs – particularly ‘Slickalicious’ – are holdovers from Slick Idiot. What’s the current status of Slick Idiot? Is the band still active?
(Enter Mona Mur)
Mur: I’d like to join, actually! There needs to be some good female talent in with this thing, and I’ve been watching these concerts that people have been posting on YouTube, and it’s really good stuff, man. It’s like an industrial Grateful Dead. The concert was like an hour, and the encore and extras was two hours. So yeah, call me up because I’d like to do this.
Esch: You know, more and more people come to me and ask me if a KMFDM reunion will happen; of course, they mean a reunion between me and Sascha, but who knows?
You did some shows on the tour with GoFight and you did a cover of ‘Give the People What They Want’ on SPÄNK. What was it about that song that you decided to cover it?
Esch: Well, I kind of liked it. The reason I covered it was that I had actually worked on it a few years; they were supposed to do a remix album that hadn’t happened, and I was supposed to remix it. In other words, my cover version of their song was originally supposed to be a remix, and that was in 2012. Of course, I had missed the deadline because I got sidetracked, as so often happens, but then I don’t think they did the remix album anyway. I simply took the remix that I had worked on already and decided to make it a total cover song, so that was pretty easy to do. Plus, I like Jim Marcus a lot; we had worked together on a bunch of stuff, especially on those Pigface albums. It was good to play with him on those shows and do the remix/cover version; it was great fun!
What is next for you? Will there be another solo album in the near future?
Esch: Yes, I’m working on one. Of course, every record that you do is your baby and has its own reason to exist. What will the next record be? It can’t be the same record over and over; that doesn’t make sense. But when I was working on SPÄNK, I had so many tracks that I thought I would need to put out a triple album. So who knows? I will be working on the next batch of songs and will hopefully put out another CD, and it will also include Günter and Erica again, and maybe I’ll get Skold on there again. We’ll have to see.
You’d also done two albums with Mona Mur (three if you include the one with F.M. Einheit, Terre Haute). Are there plans to do another Mona Mur/En Esch album?
It does seem like artists have to be even more involved in the business side of things than they used to be; how do you feel that has worked out for you, personally?
Esch: I feel like I’m getting lame again, but in the long run, it is getting a little annoying because you want to concentrate on the music. I think it is too much to expect anybody to be an artist and a musician at the same time. It’s too hard; I’d rather not give a shit and concentrate more on my music rather than thinking about, ‘Oh, how am I going to promote this?’ and all of that shit. I have to spend some money and the money has to come from somewhere. I am planning to put out another solo record and then I’ll have to put some money into promotion and hire the people to do that; normally, that would be the job of the record company, but who knows? It’s all going to end up on Spotify anyway, and then nobody will make any money. It’s going to be old men and Top 40 cover bands doing Rihanna kind of music. It just seems like there won’t be anybody making real music except for amateur acts. It doesn’t make sense to have 10,000 streams and getting only like $0.10 for that. It doesn’t make sense.
Do you feel like anything can or should be done to change that?