Ain’t no party like a local German student party, right? Whenever you had the chance to attend one of these enigmatic events in the past years one thing was pretty sure. During the peak of the night a wise DJ would play a strange German track that basically consists of a pumping hard techno beat, a dirty bassline, a little cowbell and some unintelligible raps in German language. Every native in the room might know the words and maybe even the foreigners could join in the chorus when it went ‘Yippie Yippie Yeah. Krawall und Remmidemmi.’
The simple but effective party anthem, Remmidemmi, became a must-have on each party whether you were in Cologne or maybe even Salzburg. The phenomenon behind it was a rap collective from Hamburg – DEICHKIND. It really is hard to explain the fascination behind the band whose name translated means ‘dyke kid.’ But we’ll try anyway. The group got its roots in the vital Hamburg hip hop scene of the late 90s. It was the time when crafted and eloquent German hip hop language finally found its own voice. Together with other acts like BEGINNER, EINS ZWO or DYNAMITE DELUXE the guys from DEICHKIND belong to that interesting movement and scored a few classical hip hop hits before the whole national rap game got a bit dirtier and moved to Berlin.
Many bands split up and were clearly lacking of success with DEICHKIND being one of them. They were basically broke and on the verge of collapse when they changed everything. Their mood, their spirit and their sound. That was exactly ten years ago. The band changed hip hop beats with a heavy techno foundation; they dressed up in garbage bags, vandalized on stage and literally stopped giving a fuck. Remmidemmi was the ultimate musical manifestation of that spirit – an endpoint and a new start. ‘Success is a gift but we were never aiming for it’ tells us Porky, one of the three rappers of the collective, when NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION met the band in Berlin. He confirms that there is ‘a general ‘fuck it-attitude’ that all members have in common. Over the years that attitude become the credo and their ironical tracks with sometimes flat messages become the concept. The self-taped garbage bags became designer garbage bags, their anarchic shows became theatrical musicals, DEICHKIND became an idea and not a band. Philipp Grütering aka Kryptik Joe is the last remaining member of the original formation but the line-up changes always helped moving the idea forward. ‘The band is changing but this is no intention, it’s a natural progress,’ explains Porky
You’re moving forward with every record although it looks like a hard job constantly coming up with newer and bigger ideas. Aren’t you afraid of failing?
Porky: No, because there’s no such thing like a sell-out or a commercial background. We’re quite lucky to be that successful with a thing we do that’s quite stubborn. We’re not afraid of becoming smaller again. We’re not afraid to fail. I’m a musician in the end. It’s what I’m doing and I’m glad I can do it. I recently read something about TOM JONES who’s only doing blues these days in smaller pubs and he seems quite happy with it. (laughs)
You started with garbage back costumes now you have suits that are made out of smart phones, it seems. Do you feel a certain pressure to constantly top things?
Porky: We’re facing that problem ever since we released Remmidemmi. I mean, of course, the whole production got bigger and bigger and we have no problem of tearing it down again as well. But in the end we’re cryptic flash-heads and our ideas just float out of us. DEICHKIND basically just wants to exist. Even not topping it would top it if you understand that.
Most of you are in their forties and you still rap about ‘youth subjects.’ Aren’t you scared of being forced to live a life as lifelong teenagers?
Philipp: No, not really. It’s a part of my life. And it would be boring if were forced to change ourselves just because we’re getting older. We just founded our own record label, Sultan Günther Music, so we think a bit of the future and what might come after DEICHKIND. Exploring new things has always been one of our main motivations. I got a bit tired of just performing on stage. Henning aka ‘La Perla’ once decided to not be on stage after all and focus entirely on the production of the show. So, it’s always in motion. But, in the end, making music and bringing joy to the people is always the most fun.
And the group’s forthcoming new record Niveau Weshalb Warum (basically a play on words that only work in the German language but it can be literally translated to ‘Standard Why How Come’) is full of fun. They rap about forced optimization from society (Denken Sie Groß/ Think big), first world-problems (Mehr als Lebensgefährlich/ More than dangerous to life), their despise of socializing with people (Hauptsache Nichts Mit Menschen/ Mainly nothing with people) or the antipathy for social media (Like Mich Am Arsch/ Well… we’re not even trying to translate it). They like to define their songs as a ‘reality check’ on the world we live in, always packed with irony and exaggeration. ‘Finding relevant topics is always hard but in the end there’s enough bullshit in society,’ explains Porky. Making an actual song out of the particle of a thought is the hardest part.
Porky, the former bassist of the band remains the chilled-out member of the band; Philip is the elder of DEICHKIND while Ferris MC (who joined the band in 2008 after already having a successful solo career in Germany) is the maniac. ‘We’re multiple individuals with multiple opinions,’ explains Porky.
‘We’re like a piece of soap, you can’t grab us because we don’t want to be grabbed. We’re a collective, respecting and inspiring each other.’
You guys played at Roskilde before and in London as well. Your shows are colourful celebrations if extravaganza. Are their any serious thoughts of bringing it to the world or is the language barrier a big problem?
Philipp: This subject is always a matter from time to time, definitely. People keep telling us things like ‘Man, you gotta go to Japan, you will blow off.’ Okay, well, that could be. Although people still think that from the pop business – you don’t get famous overnight. We’ve been working for 15 years to get where we are at the moment, here in the German-speaking area. Of course, the show aspect could definitely work in China. But you have to work hard on this. Either way you go the hard slog which coasts an immense amount of time or you have a massive international hit. The first thing gets naturally harder since we all have families now and are not 18 anymore. But we simply never had an international smash hit. Would be easier if we would make such music but honestly, we don’t. We’re busy enough over here.
You could definitely partner up with DIPLO and MAJOR LAZER, I think.
Philipp: Indeed, but I think even the guys from MAJOR LAZER have to put a lot of time and effort in their touring schedule in the US.
And maybe you’re a bit too German as well.
Philipp: Yes, we’re definitely representing the German mentality in a very weird form. DEICHKIND is always made out of opposites. Commercial approach vs. art, masks vs. our real faces, music for us vs. music for the masses. These questions are always circling around us. But now it’s not about the persons anymore.
Does this also count for the lyrical content? You rap a lot about heavy partying and your despise for labour and social roles. Don’t you sometimes feel the responsibility to step away from the irony?
Philipp: Well, people who know us know where we are politically located on the map. People will get what we think of certain things although we always discuss these things in a band. I always find it difficult to force an opinion on the people in a song. It’s not music’s job to do it, at least not on an obvious level. Songs are here to make your own opinion out of it. Sometimes our songs are platitudes and quite often people take them serious but I’m not holding that against them. I respect them for their honesty.
And that’s the fun phenomenon you witness when attending a DEICHKIND show. You’ll find all sorts of people there. From drunken narrow minded teenagers, to economic students, to punks, rap fans and maybe even people who discuss the intellectual aspect of the group’s ironic output. There’s room for everyone in the microcosm of these madmen. If you understand the words it’s more fun but no necessity. ‘We’re aware that we make mainstream music but it’s still authentic,’ explains Philipp.
It’s never really clear where the irony ends, the lines between art and anarchy really become blurry multiple times between a DEICHKIND show. They give alcohol to their audience, they have trampolines, bicycles, tons of confetti and even a rubber boat. Hell yes, their last show even featured a gigantic beer barrel that rolled through the audience. Nothing is stupid enough and the band only knows what the Niveau Weshalb Warum shows will bring.
Although DEICHKIND have no current plans to conquer the world their sound is a contemporary clash of electrifying and powerful electro rap. EDM soundscapes meet ironic and critical lyrics. They might be a local phenomenon but it would be a good thing for the world if this quite intelligent concept will find imitators all over the globe. Yippie Yippie Yeah!
Niveau Weshalb Warum
Label: Sultan Günther Music
01. So’ne Musik
02. Denken Sie Groß
03. Like Mich Am Arsch
04. Powered By Emotion
05. Porzellan Und Elefanten
06. Was Habt Ihr?
07. Mehr Als Lebensgefährlich
08. Der Flohmarkt Ruft feat. Herr Spiegelei
10. Die Welt Ist Fertig
11. Niveau Weshalb Warum
12. Hauptsache Nichts Mit Menschen
13. Oma Gib Handtasche