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Paul Kalkbrenner (German pronunciation: paʊl ˈkalkbrɛnɐ) (born 11 June 1977) is a German live act, producer of electronic music, and actor from Berlin. Because he breaks down his tracks into elements that are reassembled onstage, Kalkbrenner is considered a live act, as opposed to a DJ. He is most known for his single "Sky and Sand," which sold over 200,000 copies, went platinum, and was highly charted in countries such as Belgium and Germany. He is also known for portraying the main character Ickarus in the movie, "Berlin Calling", which ran for several years at Kino Central in Berlin.
Paul Kalkbrenner grew up in Lichtenberg, Berlin, which was deep in the eastern sector of the city before the Berlin Wall came down. At the time of the Reunification of Germany, Kalkbrenner was only thirteen years old. It was then that he began to play records to his peers at the youth clubs of Berlin, despite his 11 p.m. curfew set by his mother. He played together with his good friend Sascha Funke, who he met at his school and discovered that they both shared a common interest in techno. Greatly admiring the Underground Resistance from Detroit, both Kalkbrenner and Funke spent the years between 1992 and 1997 delving into record bins and familiarizing themselves with the best techno releases of the day. It was this and a radio show they listened to every Saturday (Rave Satellite) that led them to the techno scene. Meanwhile, at school, he learned to be a trumpet player and studied music theory. After spending many long and sleepless nights on the dancefloors of e-werk, Planet and Walfisch, the dream was born to make music himself. In 1995, at the age of eighteen, Kalkbrenner worked for two years as a cutter in the television industry to fund the equipment he bought for production. During that time, Kalkbrenner and Funke lived together and began producing music on machines they both bought and borrowed. After getting into music production, it is then that Kalkbrenner decided he would like to only perform live with his own music.
Before Ellen Allien established BPitch Control as a record label, she was throwing BPitch parties all around Berlin. It was at one of her parties that Kalkbrenner and Funke met Allien. She came over to hear what they were working on, gave a few recommendations, and in 1999, Kalkbrenner released his first tracks as the Friedrichshain EP on BPitch Control under the name "Paul dB+." After releasing two albums, "Superimpose" (2001) and "Zeit" (2001), Kalkbrenner began to see album releases as his preferred format. His melodic sound, with its affinity for grand emotional gestures, obeyed the logic of the dancefloor, but his third album,"Self" (2004), introduced a narrative aesthetic. The track "Gebrünn Gebrünn", released one year later, became a crossover hit. Kalkbrenner released six albums and ten EPs with BPitch Control, until his amicable departure in 2008.
After his release "Self" (2004), Kalkbrenner was approached by Berlin-based film director and long time supporter of his work, Hannes Stöhr, with the proposition of creating the soundtrack for Stöhr's movie about a Berlin DJ during the 2000s. In the course of their exchange, Stöhr had the realization that Kalkbrenner would be the perfect choice as the film's star. Kalkbrenner accepted the offer and they decided to title the film "Berlin Calling." In late 2006, he moved to Aix-en-Provence, South of France with Sasha Funke for six months to work on the soundtrack. The hit track off of the album, "Sky and Sand" was produced with the vocals of his own brother, Fritz Kalkbrenner. 2007 saw Kalkbrenner's return to Berlin, in order to film the movie. Although the film is fictitious, Kalkbrenner was able to relate to the film's main character, Ickarus who is mentally destroyed by the scene but still holds many amazing musical ideas inside his head. It is perhaps because of that correlation, that Kalkbrenner's first venture into acting was well executed and successful. Ickarus is also a representation of who Kalkbrenner did not want to become. After the movie's release in October 2008, the album went platinum with over 200,000 and the song "Sky and Sand" topped charts for weeks. The movie premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland and was well received, turning in a cult classic in Europe. It broke the record of longest run film in Germany, with over 145 weeks of continuous screenings at Kino Central in Berlin. In 2009, the movie was released on DVD.
Paul Kalkbrenner Music:
In 2009, after receiving widespread acclaim for "Berlin Calling - The Soundtrack" (2008) album released on BPitch, Kalkbrenner decided that after ten years, it was time for him and the label to split ways. He believed that the label did not have what it took to support his artist growth, to propel him forward. Wanting to do his own thing, Kalkbrenner created Paul Kalkbrenner Musik as a platform for his own music. Kalkbrenner set out on a sold-out, intensive, twelve-city tour in 2010 that was filmed with the help of the team that created "Berlin Calling," and released as "Paul Kalkbrenner 2010 - A Live Documentary." Since the label was begun, it has seen the release of two albums. "Icke Wieder" (3 June 2011) which was heavily supported by DJs like Sasha, ranked number two in German music charts, and ultimately reached gold status with over 100,000 CDs sold. The tour for the album brought together over 125,000 fans. That same summer, Kalkbrenner came to Ibiza for the first time to speak at the International Music Summit and play at one of Ibiza's renowned clubs, Amnesia. Most recently he has released the album "Guten Tag" on 30 November 2012. On 25 August 2012, a few months before the release of Guten Tag, Kalkbrenner married Romanian DJ/producer Simina Grigoriu. In February 2013, he began to tour to support the new album in Europe and the U.S. "Guten Tag" has topped charts in both Germany and Switzerland.
In 2015, he announced the release of the "Florian Trilogy" of three related works as a warmup for his planned album titled "7", to be released on August 7, 2015. The music video first episode "Cloud Rider" was released on May 18, 2015. The lyrics and vocals are performed by D Train with You're the One for Me. Episode 2, called "Mothertrucker", was released on Jun 12, 2015. The third and final episode of the trilogy, "Feed your Head", was released on July 17, 2015. The lyrics for this song are from Jefferson Airplane with White Rabbit. Paul explains in this article how the Florian episodes came to be. The episodes are set in America where techno was born. But it has been excluded for quite some time. The episodes explain how Florian eventually gets techno back to America, where it all started.
Production & Live Set Up:
Kalkbrenner uses software synthesizers, sequencer (Ableton Live) in combination with MIDI controllers, hardware synthesizers and drum machines for his live shows. It is a set up he feels comfortable with, and does not foresee changing. In the early days, for production, Kalkbrenner used a Roland sampler, Amiga 500, Amiga 4000 Turbo, DAT, Roland S-750, and EFX to name a few. Since 2001, however, he sold all his equipment and only uses Ableton Live for music production.
Paul Kalkbrenner is a grandson of the East German artist Fritz Eisel.