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PREMIERE: Tribute to Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider from Johan Agebjorn & Mikael Ogren

Swedish musicians Johan Agebjörn and Mikael Ögren are known for their richly textured and melodic electronic music — together they create nuanced and engaging ambient, trance, and cinematic music such as We Never Came to the White Sea and “Anamnesis.” (Agebjörn has also been part of the Italo revival outfit Sally Shapiro and has collaborated with artists such as Samantha Fox, Ryan Paris, and Tom Hooker for film soundtrack work.) One major influence on Agebjörn and Ögren has been Florian Schneider and his pioneering German band Kraftwerk.

Today, Vehlinggo premieres their upcoming single that serves as a tribute to this pivotal explorer — the song releases on streaming platforms on Monday, Sept. 28 (and tomorrow on Bandcamp). Agebjörn and Ögren also answer some questions I had about their beautiful song that is impeccably evocative of the late Schneider’s and Kraftwerk’s late 1970s, early 1980s music. Check out the song and interview below.

An Interview about Florian Schneider and the Tribute Song

Vehlinggo: Why is Florian Schneider, who died in April, important to you and what inspired you to offer this tribute?

Mikael: To me, Kraftwerk was one of the main reasons that I got involved in electronic music in the first place. I was only eight years old when I first heard Radio-Activity, and it was completely breathtaking. Kraftwerk has played a major role throughout the years in my dedication to electronic music.

Rumour has it that Florian was the one that actually was the brain behind the more obscure, experimental, and alternative elements of the Kraftwerk sound. “Neon Lights” and “Airwaves” are a brilliant example of the blueprint Florian specifically laid out for future electronic legends to come. In addition to this, Florian always seemed to be a very sympathetic guy — unpredictable but nice, with that special, kind of childish glimpse in his eyes. And most of the time with a genuine (but sometimes kind of a Mona Lisa) smile on his face. He will be sincerely missed.

Johan: Kraftwerk’s music has always been very important to me — so cold and warm at the same time. I keep returning to their albums, especially Radio-Activity and The Man Machine.

This was probably the last appearance of Florian.

Or look at this interview.

How can you not like him? This track is our way to honor him.

How did you replicate the late 70s/early 80s sound so well?

Mikael: Despite the fact that I’ve never been an analog purist (most of my synths are actually digital), one of the main things that made it possible for us to stay faithful to the ’70s and early ’80s soundscape is a kind of simplicity and purity we found mainly in a small miracle machine, namely the Toraiz AS-1. The AS-1 is basically a one-voice version of the polyphonic Sequential Circuits Prophet-6 that was introduced a couple of years ago as a predecessor to the legendary Prophet-5. So our tribute evolves mainly around a multitracked AS-1.

It contains some of the magic you could expect in analogue architecture, including drifting oscillators, which makes it possible to some extent to actually recreate the kind of slight sway you sometimes can sense in earlier Kraftwerk productions. There is also some sampled Mellotron — I could never afford a real one. Hopefully we managed to recreate at least some of the characteristics that lay within the very soul of the Kraftwerk concept.

Johan: Thank you 🙂 In addition to what Mikael said, we also strived for similar use of LFOs, portamentos, drum sounds/programming, vocoders, etc., as Kraftwerk did. It was quite playful to do it, probably because we both have listened to Kraftwerk so much, and also been influenced by them earlier (for example, in my use of vocoders and LFOs in numerous projects), so we had an instant mutual understanding about where the track was going.

The vocoder lyrics focus on how Florian’s music continues to vibrate in the universe.

agebjorn ogren kraftwerk
Photo by Naveen Annam, adapted by Johan Agebjörn using the same font Kraftwerk did on ‘Trans Europe Express.’
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