POP Montreal | German electronic band Tangerine Dream continues to innovate and improvise

Interview by Zenith Wolfe

Additional Information

The legendary German electronic band, Tangerine Dream, is on its way to Montreal! With more than half a century of history, around 100 published albums, and a penchant for improvisation, Tangerine Dream’s shows are wildly unpredictable and invigorating.

PAN M 360: I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times over, but where did the name Tangerine Dream come from?

Thorsten Quaeschning (band leader, keyboards, guitar, drums): There are a couple of different answers and we’re not sure which one is right for today because there is no right one. Maybe it’s a Dali painting. It sounds like something from a Beatles song. It’s a sort of weed or grass. Or it’s just a good name. I’m feeling number three today. 

Paul Frick (keyboards): One anecdote that’s unconfirmed and maybe not true is that the founding members misunderstood lyrics from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

PAN M 360: It’s good to have a little mystery around the band. It makes things interesting. Further to that, you’ve been around for a long time – you’re nearing your 56th year soon – but all the founding members have been gone since Edgar Froese passed away in 2015. How would you say that you’re all keeping the spirit of the band alive?

Thorsten Quaeschning: Most of the founding members left in ’67 except Edgar. It’s between an honour and a feeling of pressure to be part of this kind of history, but it feels great on so many levels. The concept from Edgar was that the band could last for hundreds of years since the concept is more than just a single member. 

Paul Frick: Thorsten’s been in the band for 20 years and I’m the newest member, around 3 years now. I’m here because Thorsten trusted me to. In one way, we pay a lot of tribute to old pieces from the 70s and 80s, as well as the 2000s and afterwards, by just playing them with different set lists every night. We play them in our own sound – we respect the pieces but they don’t sound exactly like they used to on the old records. Obviously, for us, it’s important to still look into the future and not become a museum. The most important means to do that is to perform a free, instant composition session after every fixed program. We, of course, try to pay tribute to the legacy but we’re also more spontaneous, daring. 

PAN M 360: You have a lot of genres that you’ve experienced, from surreal krautrock to progressive electronic, and you’ve also dipped into lyrical and classically inspired songs a lot. How do you keep coming up with fresh ideas when you’ve already explored so many musical concepts?

Thorsten Quaeschning: The idea over the last year has been to go back to pure electronic music combined with an electronic violin. Going to the core and taking everything from the 70s and 80s combined with today’s technology and the expertise of everyone in the band. You have a palette of colours to choose from and it’s easy to take more of a classical approach or a psychedelic mood with all the fixed scales and drumming sequences. The idea of creating music from the moment also evokes the environment of the day: the venue, the size, the seating, and the audience.

Paul Frick: On this tour, what Thorsten does is find the greatest resonance for the low bass. Whatever will make the ground shake in the most beautiful way will be used as the ground tone, and then we choose a BPM. In terms of old or new, a big pleasure of making music with Thorsten and Hoshiko Yamane (violin/viola, cello) at Thorsten’s Berlin studio is that there are all these synthesizers from different decades. Some are very old and were used on old Tangerine Dream records, and some are very new combined with new software. It’s not a dogma type of thing where we do everything with the old stuff, but it’s there and we can use it in new ways – music technology has progressed a lot in the past decade, and we feel very lucky to be able to use it all at once. We have so many colours available.

PAN M 360: Tell me about some of these colours that went into your latest album, Raum.

Thorsten Quaeschning: Raum was recorded during the pandemic. If there was one good part about it, it’s that it gave us a chance to focus on just the music for more than a year without being distracted playing live concerts. We spent so much time together in one room trying to find the right sound. We learned from the sessions we played every night and we played with all the music happening at the same time and interacting, where normally in studios you record track by track. We morphed the sounds into each other. If everything’s running at the same time you tweak things in a different way while editing. That was the idea of Raum.

PAN M 360: Is Raum the main thing on your agenda for your upcoming POP Montreal performance?

Thorsten Quaeschning: It’s a big part of it because it works well in live situations. That show will be a combination of 70s music – nothing before ‘74 because it was probably never meant to be reproduced on stage, so normally between ‘74 and ’87. Then we skip more than a decade and start from 2005 on. 

Paul Frick: The set list isn’t decided just yet but there will be a few pieces from the new album.

PAN M 360: Why would you say it’s important for you to perform at POP Montreal specifically?

Thorsten Quaeschning: I think we played there before in 2012 or 2014. It’s an unbelievably great festival with a good-sounding hall. It’s great to be back in Canada and especially in Montreal, which has had a great musical heritage for years.

Paul Frick: Montreal is also concert number 17 of 19 on our tour. Now we’re sitting in Philadelphia.

PAN M 360: Of course, Canada’s been far from the only stop on your tour. What have been some of the highlights while going across the west?

Thorsten Quaeschning: The day before yesterday we played with Julie Slick in Seattle. Austin and San Francisco were great, as was the first in Miami.

Paul Frick: So far, we’ve had three invited session guests. We try to give them room to highlight them because there’s always a surprising dynamic with them. We’ve had Steve Roach, Robert Rich, and Julie Slick.

PAN M 360: Is there a guest for the POP Montreal show?

Thorsten Quaeschning: Not yet, but there could be! Sometimes it’s spontaneous. We know a lot of people, but often we’re not sure where they live or where they’re located in North America. With Julie Slick we were just calling her, and with our luck, she was playing in the city we were in the day after. It’s a privilege to know all these people.

PAN M 360: We bet you’re also quite excited to head back to Germany for the series of concerts you’ll be doing there in October.

Thorsten Quaeschning: Yeah, we have two days off to sort some things and then the rest of the month will be concerts. The first one is on the 10th until the 30th, then we have five days off before the UK and Poland.

PAN M 360: We hope you can catch a little bit of a break between all those performances! Thanks for your time.

Tangerine Dream will perform on October 1st at l’Olympia at 8PM. INFO AND TICKETS HERE.

Latest 360 Content

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique | Club Sagacité at the Festival, San Farafina explains

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique | Club Sagacité at the Festival, San Farafina explains

Piknic Elektronic | Jordan Gardner, from TO to MTL “for the artistry”

Piknic Elektronic | Jordan Gardner, from TO to MTL “for the artistry”

Domaine Forget 2024 | American Landscape at the Domaine, Nicholas Walker tells us about it

Domaine Forget 2024 | American Landscape at the Domaine, Nicholas Walker tells us about it

Festival de Lanaudière 2024 | Yoav Levanon, prodigy in recital or with orchestra

Festival de Lanaudière 2024 | Yoav Levanon, prodigy in recital or with orchestra

Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | A Chat With Ibibio Sound Machine  Frontwoman Eno Williams

Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | A Chat With Ibibio Sound Machine Frontwoman Eno Williams

Valérie Ekoumè on tour in Canada : mutual love and jubilant rhythms

Valérie Ekoumè on tour in Canada : mutual love and jubilant rhythms

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Pahua, New Under the Mexican Sun

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Pahua, New Under the Mexican Sun

Festival de Lanaudière 2024 | Quatuor Diotima in Quebec: musical dialogues from past and present

Festival de Lanaudière 2024 | Quatuor Diotima in Quebec: musical dialogues from past and present

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Pahua, New Under the Mexican Sun

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Pahua, New Under the Mexican Sun

The Festival d’Art Vocal de Montréal Opens to the General Public

The Festival d’Art Vocal de Montréal Opens to the General Public

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique – Luiz Salgado and his “caipira” guitar

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique – Luiz Salgado and his “caipira” guitar

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Bombino: human warmth with the beat of the desert

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Bombino: human warmth with the beat of the desert

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Queen Omega Extends Her Kingdom to MTL

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Queen Omega Extends Her Kingdom to MTL

Domaine Forget 2024 | Cape Verdean breezes in Charlevoix with Lucibela

Domaine Forget 2024 | Cape Verdean breezes in Charlevoix with Lucibela

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique | Def Mama Def, Women’s Karma

PAN M 360 at Nuits d’Afrique | Def Mama Def, Women’s Karma

Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | ALBERTO SALGADO: Embracing Brazilian Traditions and Modernity 

Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | ALBERTO SALGADO: Embracing Brazilian Traditions and Modernity 

Truck Violence Burns It Down and Starts Again

Truck Violence Burns It Down and Starts Again

PAN M 360 aux Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Plus qu’un “fils de”… voici Kirá!

PAN M 360 aux Nuits d’Afrique 2024 | Plus qu’un “fils de”… voici Kirá!

Jowee Omicil invites the liberating spirits of Bwa Kayman

Jowee Omicil invites the liberating spirits of Bwa Kayman

Dobet Gnahoré: an angel comes and stays

Dobet Gnahoré: an angel comes and stays

Baltra at Piknic Electronik | From lo-fi house to now

Baltra at Piknic Electronik | From lo-fi house to now

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko: A look back at the CMIM and a glance forward

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko: A look back at the CMIM and a glance forward

Love Heart Cheat Code, new push from Hiatus Kaiyote

Love Heart Cheat Code, new push from Hiatus Kaiyote

Suoni  | Sick of Fun

Suoni  | Sick of Fun

Subscribe to our newsletter