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DAF - Sabine Raef
DAFPhotography Sabine Raef

RIP Gabi Delgado-López, co-founder of legendary German electro-punks DAF

The musician’s bandmate Robert Görl confirmed the news

Gabi Delgado-López, co-founder of the pioneering German band DAF, died on Sunday (March 22) aged 61, his bandmate Robert Görl has confirmed.

“I found out today that my longtime friend and bandmate Gabi Delgado passed away last night,” Görl wrote on Instagram, translated from German.

DAF – which stands for Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – first formed in Düsseldorf in 1978, initially as a five-piece punk band but later becoming the duo of Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl. Together, the two created a punk-influenced style of electronic body music. Their style emphasised physicality, primacy, and sexuality in contrast to previous German electronic groups like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, whose music was more cerebral in tone.

DAF’s album Die Kleinen und die Bösen was the first full-length to be released by the influential electronic/post-punk label Mute, but they found most of their success when they signed to Virgin and released Alles ist GutGold und Liebe, and Für Immer. These albums included tracks like “Der Mussolini” and “Sex Unter Wasser”, classics of German new wave that would prove to be influential in techno, EBM, and other styles of dance music. Matching DAF’s militaristic rhythms were provocative lyrics and aesthetic ideas that satirised, subverted, and queered totalitarian imagery.

“DAF was just playing with totalitarian images,” the musician once told Dazed. “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.”

In 1986, having broken up four years earlier and gotten back together, DAF released 1st Step to Heaven, embracing contemporary styles of synth-pop and dance music and singing in English for the first time. They would then work on solo and collaborative projects before reuniting again for 2003’s Fünfzehn neue D.A.F.-Lieder. One of Delgado-López’s most significant creative outlets outside of DAF was within Germany’s dance music scene, working with house music artists like WestBam to throw parties in the late 1980s and founding the labels Delkom Club Control, BMWW, and Sunday Morning. Delgado-López and Görl would reunite often though, with DAF together releasing new tracks as recently as 2017, and performing together just this year.