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Interview with: RAINBOW SERPENT
Date: July 14 2010


Classic electronics beyond the Berlin School tradition: an interview with Rainbow Serpent (aka Frank Specht and Gerd Wienekamp)

Guys, first of all, how did you meet, how and when was Rainbow Serpent founded as a band? Did any of you already make music of your own before that?
Well, we first met at an astronomy association as we realized that both of us liked the music of Klaus Schulze. This happened in 1992. From the on we started to make music together.
In 1994, we were asked to give a concert on an astronomy event. This made us decide to found Rainbow Serpent.

Is there an assignment of tasks between you two when you compose music?
No, we both make our own music. If we plan a cd release, we check what tracks we both got, if any of them will fit together or how we can connect them with each other.

In 1995, the band was able to release "Futuregate" on the Ardema-label, run by Arndt Maschinski. How did that happen?
We got to know Arndt Maschinski right after our first concert, where he had a cd- stall. He called us in early 1995, telling us he wanted to release a cd of our music - so we did.
Before that, we contacted a few other labels in the scene, but the only sentence we heard every time was: We don't take newbies!
So we have to thank Arndt for introducing us into the scene!

How would you describe the musical development you guys went through on the next three albums ("Voyager", "Mosaique" and Sequel to Voyager"), also released on Ardema. Any other thoughts and memories when you look back on them?
Our musical development is strongly influenced by the available technology. In addition, gained experience over the years plays a major role. And finally, we are also influenced by other artists.

For "Pulse", Rainbow Serpent switched to Mario Schönwälder Manikin-label…
Well, Arndt quit his label and we asked Mario if he was willing to release our music from there on….

Although the music of "Pulse" -like the previous albums- continues in the footsteps of the Berliner School style, what new elements and ideas were displayed on this recording?
From our point of view, the music of "Pulse" comes next to the Berlin School style. We never plan our music to go in a certain direction. New elements came available for our music as we were using newly developed and current technologies.

The music for "Voices of the First Day" was inspired by an upcoming gig at UK's Jodrell Bank. How did work on the music start?
When we were asked to play at Jodrell Bank, we had to produce new music. Inspired by the radio telescope and our own activity as semi-astronomers, we wanted to create an astronomical album.
After playing this new music at Jodrell Bank we decided to make a studio album of the concert.

Gear-nerds always love to hear about the instruments an electronic musician uses. So what has been the status-quo on this matter for Rainbow Serpent? Any favourite instruments among them?
During all the years we have been making music, our equipment has often changed. There are few instruments we regret we have sold, such as the Ensoniq TS-10, Roland JP-8000 and the Ensoniq ESQ-1.
Currently, we are working with the Access Virus TI, Korg Z1, Omnisphere, Elements and Stylus RMX.

In 1998, Gerd's solo-album "Kontakt" was released under the moniker Der Laborant. What was the reason for this solo-effort, what concept and music did you have in mind?We create our solo cds from the remaining tracks that don't make it to a current Rainbow Serpent cd. That doesn't mean they are bad or anything, in most cases they don’t match with the concept or don’t fit musically with the other pieces.
Gerd was a fan of the TV series "The X-Files", so he named the tracks after some titles of the episodes.

Frank, you followed with you own solo-album "Sebastian in Traum". What's there to tell about this "baby" of yours?
Well, when I first heard "Audentity" by Klaus Schulze in 1983, I decided to name my first son "Sebastian", as I love the musical story about "Sebastian im Traum".
Ten years after the birth of my first son, I had enough remaining tracks to create a solo cd, which I dedicated to "Sebastian".

What’s there to tell about the 2001-album "Voices of the First Day", and the period of silence that followed…. After 2001 we again changed our equipment, and fro there on we had to learn the ins-and-outs of the new instruments and software. It's a normal creative break….

The "silence" was broken in 2005 with the (concept?)release "The 8th Nerve". How difficult was it to come up with this new album?
It never was nor has been difficult for us. There just was so much new technology we had to control.

The last recording of the band is the live-album "Live @ Liphook 2007". How did you get involved in this festival, how did you prepare for it?
During a few years, we performed no concerts. But in 2007, we were invited to the US "Ricochet Gathering", followed by the "Hampshire Jam" in the UK.
The outcome at the latter occasion was great and as its quality was also very good, we decided to master the Hampshire recordings and to produce our first live cd from it.

I heard you guys played another live-gig in fall 2009 at the Electronic Circus festival…
Well, both 2009 and 2010 are highly influenced by the collaboration with Isgaard. So we played some of the new tracks at the concert in fall 2009, which actually were still without the voice of Isgaard..

Anything else you like to share?
Currently we are working with Isgaard (aka the classically trained female singer Isgaard Marke; editor). This female singer is known from Schiller’s debut cd, and the tracks "Ein schöner Tag" and "Dream of you" (with Heppner).
We started the collaboration in May 2009 with a few different tracks to get to know each other and to find out which direction we could go with her. Making electronic music with a human voice was a new and difficult experience to us.

Rainbow Serpent & Isgaard in the studio

But the voice of Isgaard currently expands our music, giving it a new dimension. We sincerely hope our fans will like the outcome as much as we do. The release date of the new album called "Stranger", is scheduled for 9 October 2010 on Manikin records, so also in time for E-Live 2010.
Meanwhile, you can hear preview one track of the new album on Rainbow Serpent’s Myspace page.
In addition, we’d to thank all our fans around the world. Thank you very much for your continuing support!


* Futuregate (1995)

* Voyager (1996)

* Mosaique (1997)

* Sequel to Voyager (1999)

* Pulse (2000)

* Voices of the first Day (2001)

* The 8th Nerve (2005)

* Live@Liphook 2007 (2008)


* Der Laborant – Kontakt (1998)

* Frank Specht – Sebastian in Traum (2000)


© Bert Strolenberg

Artist Date of interview Description
RAINBOW SERPENT July 14 2010 Classic electronics beyond the Berlin School tradition: an interview with Rainbow Serpent (aka Frank Specht and Gerd Wienekamp)
ROACH, STEVE September 20 2008 A constant, deep connection to the soundcurrent: an interview with Steve Roach
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