Story: Jack Foley
SO who is Schneider TM, you may ask? Well, his Reconfigures
album is out on April 26 and he is rapidly becoming one of the
most sought after remixers around, thanks to his quirky, idiosyncratic
Better known as Dirk Dresselhaus, from Berlin, some of his favourite
music includes The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Richard D
James, Autechre, Sun Ra, Shuggie Otis and Daniel Johnston.
One of his particular favourites is Neil Young's 1982 album,
Trans, where nearly everything was played through a vocoder.
"It's definitely one of my main influences for doing the
Schneider TM stuff," he explains. "It's a really strange
record, really great."
Schneider TM's acclaimed second album, Zoomer, was recorded
in Dirk's Berlin living room studio and released on the City Slang
label in September 2002.
Since then, he has travelled Zoomer around the world with a three-piece
band comprising of longtime friends and collaborators, Kpt Michigan
and Christian Obermaier.
Together, they played 130 live shows in the last year and a half,
taking in most of Europe, the US, Japan and Brazil.
By the end of the year, Schneider TM were invited back to the
UK for a full headline tour, as well as by the BBC, to capture
them for a live session on John Peel's programme.
Peel has become a strong supporter of the Zoomer album,
as well as Schneider's now classic version of The Light 3000,
recorded as a collaboration with band member, Kpt Michigan.
In February 2004, Schneider TM performed show number 130, appearing
at the increasingly renowned Transmediale Festival in his home-town,
"This festival is probably one of the best festivals we've
ever participated in. It's not too big, there's so much different
music, all kinds of electronic and noise music," he enthused.
"I think the situation in Berlin is quite extraordinary
because it is very cheap to live here, so you can afford a more
relaxed way of working. So people get deeper into what they want
As part of the driving force behind Transmediale, the Berlin-based
duo, Rechenzentrum, had had a particularly strong influence on
Dirk's immediate musical environment.
On Reconfigures, the collaboration with Rechenzentrum
saw the addition of vocals from German indie rocker, Marc Marcovic,
'which was a total coincidence', admits Dirk.
"We were just having a beer at my place one evening and
I was playing the track," he recalls.
"Then we decided to record his voice, and I was dubbing
it live.. we were jamming together, playing guitar and singing
strange lyrics in fantasy languages and stuff."
Another touch of luck came following his remix of The Faint's
Conductor, which prompted the band to invite them on a
28-date tour of the US.
Comments Dirk: "The America tour topped all expectations,
basically. We had the chance to play in front of a really big
audience every night, with between 800 - 1,800 people.
"So many people didn't know about Schneider TM and hadn't
heard this kind of music at all before and that was a really good
situation., We felt a little bit freaky... like the Velvets in
the 60s, but people really liked us!"
Improvisation is also a key part of Schneider's approach, so
a recent chance to perform a live version of Dirk's take on a
Turtle Bay Country Club (TBCC) track was welcome.
TBCC is the project of legendary Hamburg reggae and hip-hop producer,
Matthias Arfman (who mixed several tracks on Zoomer) and
the line-up for Schneider TM's show in Hamburg included James
Brown and Bootsy Collins drummer, Tony Cook.
"We played my remix together - using the basic tracks and
he played over it. He's the funk!" admits Dirk.
"I was playing six-string bass, really fuzzy, more of a
noise thing over it all, really fucked it up. And he was like
'yeah, yeah man, you're really good on this thing, keep playing
Dirk's approach to Lambchop's The New Cobweb Summer is
a classic example of his 'versioning' technique.
"In some tracks the piano or vocal, I cut up and put it
in a straight tempo and some other sounds like the saxophone.
"I sample them and play new things on the MIDI keyboard
with the original sounds so there's a lot of original sounds it
in but played completely differently.
" It's about using original tracks and also seeing if it's
possible to add new material and what kind of direction you can
"I try to treat the songs as though they were my own songs
and give them a Schneider TM dress."
Recorded by Schneider in Lanzarote, this mix of Cobweb
is definitely a Summer dress.
Speaking of Summer, it was at a festival in Switzerland where
Dirk met the Manchester duo Lamb.
After seeing Schneider TM perform, Lamb's Andy Barlow and vocalist,
Lou Rhodes, asked Dirk to 'version' some of their material, the
result being Schneider's remake of the Lamb track Wonder,
a restyle that is exclusive to Reconfigures.
"The way I do music, for example, it's very much a reflection
"Basically, it's folk music I would say. From the main vibe,
telling strange fluid stories about whatever and everything you
see, or I see, or we see or whatever, somehow affects the music
very much," he explained.
"It's difficult to do political music, but music is more
often alternative to politics because... music connects people
Photo by: Gerald Von Foris