Pin It
DAF - Sabine Raef
DAFPhotography Sabine Raef

Watch the new video from cult German electro-punks DAF

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft celebrate 40 years as a band with new track ‘Die Sprache der Liebe’ – watch its S&M torture garden video now

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft are pioneers of German electronic music. When they formed in Düsseldorf in 1978, DAF were a five-piece punk group, eventually developing into their most-mythologised formation, a duo of Gabriel Delgado-López and Robert Görl. Where other German electronic icons like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were far more precise and cerebral in their approach, DAF’s albums were far more physical, hedonistic, and pleasure-focused than anything produced before, with militaristic drum-march rhythms, visceral synthesiser basslines, and lyrics satirising totalitarian imagery.

The duo’s new boxset DAS IST DAF collects many of the band’s classic, 1980s-era albums alongside a handful of remixes and new songs. Today the band released the video for those tracks, “Die Sprache der Liebe”. Recorded as recently as last spring in Berlin, its title translates to ‘the language of love’. “It’s what I call a ‘sex track’,” says Gabi Delgado-López, “putting the emphasis on the fact that sex is the ultimate form of communication in all love-relationships. DON’T TALK! DO!

Its video appropriates hardcore fascist imagery, set amongst the sparks of a metal workshop-cum-torture garden. It’s familiar territory for a group that spent the best part of the 80s subverting totalitarian imagery and body fascism. Today, of course, right wing nationalism is back in the news, in both the resurgent European far-right and in the overt displays of white nationalism in campuses across America. “DAF was just playing with totalitarian images,” says Delgado-López. “I think that the real problem behind the rise of right-wing populism – xenophobic tendencies, nationalism, and other nasty side-effects of globalisation and internationalism in general – is that the ‘established’ parties and political leaders are adapting to these tendencies to regain votes, and now they themselves represent a lot of these issues. Beware of the so called alt-right, but first of all watch May, Merkel, Trump – they are our real problem.”

The DAS IST DAF boxset arrives during a period of renewed interest in DAF’s work – the duo have been making live appearances at techno events across Europe recently, like this summer’s Dekmantel festival in Amsterdam. “We wanted to re-release our classic albums as if they were actually brand new albums and not part of a ‘back catalogue’,” Delgado-López explains. “Our audience is changing a lot in a way that more and more young kids are discovering DAF, and at our concerts we can see that phenomenon. When we started a few years ago playing live again, the majority of the audience consisted of ‘old’ fans and followers, but now 80% are young people. They were not even born when we recorded the albums included in the boxset, so for them it is ‘new’ music.”

Future releases will see DAF reissue other albums not featured on DAS IST DAF, such as 1986’s 1st Step to Heaven and their 2003 return 15 Neue daf Lieder, as well as a live album. Eventually, they’ll issue a brand new DAF full-length, too. “These two new tracks are the first tracks we recorded for the new DAF album, and were important as far as that they set the parameters under which Robert and me will work in the near future,” says Delgado-López. “Not only concerning the musical style but also production techniques and other artistic matters.”

One of the parameters set for themselves seems to be the continued use of the Korg MS-20 synthesiser that’s been a staple of their sound for decades. “Unfortunately Robert still insists on using the Korg,” Delgado-López jokes. “I always try to convince him to check out new state-of-the-art synths – in my opinion they sound much better than the nostalgic analogue machines – but Robert loves his old Korgs, and I want him to be happy. At the end of the day it does not really matter what tools you use, the important thing is to have good and new ideas!”

Among the remixes featured on DAS IST DAF is a rework of “Der Mussolini”, arguably the duo’s most famous song, by another electronic pioneer – Giorgio Moroder. “I was really happy (and proud) to have Giorgio doing the ‘Mussolini’ remix,” says Delgado-López. “You must know that hearing Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ as a young kid was on one of my first nights out at a gay club in the Ruhr-area. It was my first serious musical experience – a real initiation – when I heard those synthesiser sequences and Donna Summer's sex performance voice. I thought… ‘That’s it! If I ever do music, it will be sex-plus-electronics.’ In a certain way, this is the original DAF idea.”

Grönland released DAS IST DAF on September 29