From the Funky Mofo archive: RichandKool. Rob D Rich and Serge Kool. Two guys, one French, one American, living and making music in Berlin. Their latest release: “Wingman”, a song with pumping beats, some crazy rhythms and lyrics about going for girls you don’t particularly fancy to help your mates out! An interview about dreams and vampires! Ready, steady…GO!
Céline: Who’s who in the band and how did you meet?
Serge: We started a couple of years ago, as a more or less electronic duo, well rather electronic than band, with Rob. We played a lot of gigs, most of them in clubs, accompanied only with samplers and mics. We had this magnetic tape playing in the background and we added a few instruments on top. Then one of my mates, James, who is a drummer, joined us for a German mini-tour at the end of last year. Since then the three of us have been developing the band concept and welcomed a guitarist, Daniel, better know in Germany under Nachlander, whose music is Elektropop laid on German lyrics. As I said earlier, everything started two and a half years ago. We were four musicians with projects of our own and we tried to create a new scene in Berlin, following CBGB’s (New York) example, that is to find a derelict-like bar with little customers, convince the owner to let us play, get money from punters at the door to cover the band’s costs and let the owner rip profits from selling drinks. We found such a place and started playing there once a week, two of us were performing on stage whilst the other two were looking after the organisational side of things. At the time the team was Nachlader, Marco (aka 9), Rob and me and we all had separate projects. From then on we started to work together, with this idea of helping one another, like when I was playing Nachlader would jump on the synths, when Rob was playing Nachlader would also accompany him. This created a certain confusion as to our four different projects, people assumed we were a band. So we carried on and the RichandKool name appeared.
C: Is there a particular reason behind that name?
S: It’s a funny and short story, we were watching late night TV and this program was repeating footage of 70s bands. There was this Italian band and one of their singer was called Serge and my mate Marco then screamed “Look, Serge: it’s cool!” and that was that.
C: So, nothing related to Serge Gainsbourg or Kool Shen (from NTM 93)?
S: No, nothing at all! (laughs)
C: How did you come to sign to CrossHair Music?
S: We’ve known Desi (from Kitty-Yo) for years now, she’s followed the band’s progress from day one. We always hoped we could released some sounds on Kitty-Yo’s label but Desi told us she felt it wasn’t the right platform for RichandKool to get started with. Also we didn’t feel quite ready to record a whole album.
Then “Wingman” got made and Desi was getting ready to launch her label, so it happened like that.
C: Could you tell us what “Wingman” is all about?
Rob: In the U.S. we have this idea that when a guy likes a girl but she’s accompanied by one of her girlfriends, a friend of the guy would jump in to provide the other girl with his company. It’s that kind of thing that, even if the friend doesn’t really fancy the girl’s friend, he doesn’t mind talking to her so that his mate can make a move with the girl that caught his eye, right? So, that was the initial idea with “Wingman”, but it also encompass anyone who is willing to do something for someone in order to let them go after what they want.
C: There’s an idea of detached or gratuitous generosity within the concept, isn’t there?
R: Yes, there’s little emotional involvement, apart from the one with your friend.
C: Are you working on an album right now?
R: Yes, we basically have almost an album worth of songs ready, we just don’t yet have the set up to put it out. There are some things in the works but nothing’s is for sure. We’re hoping that’s in the Spring 05.
C: Will you be touring the album, in Germany and abroad?
R: Of course, that’s the plan. So far we’ve been well received, in England in particular. We haven’t played there yet but the Brits who saw us play in Germany said we would rock it over in the UK!
C: What’s your favourite colour?
R: It’s a tough one! I guess in the end I would say yellow actually.
C: Tell us about the last dream you had…
R: It was a very strange dream, we’re thinking of making it into a video. I am driving with a friend and her car swerves off the road, she realises that we have to get back on the main road as we’re on our way to a party. She tries to go down on this little dirt road to get back on to the road but she can’t and she pops a tyre trying to do it. So I get out of the car and say “I’ll go to the party place and tell them we’re going to be late because we have a flat tyre”. In the dream I can walk faster than in life, as you do in dreams, and as I am leaving I notice a car behind with some people in the back, beeping. I go off, walk to the house and my friend’s there, she says “Oh, it’s too bad, you’re going to be late. Just remember that it will be after dark when you get here and we’re vampires. So you’ll have to be careful.” So I say “That’s cool, but do you have any suggestions about what to do so we feel a little more comfortable?” and she replies “That’s very easy, you just have to keep singing a melody and we’ll party with you, we don’t care”.
C: I can’t wait to see the video!
R: Then I start walking away, and I turn around and say “But the sun is out, what about this “vampire thing “ with the sun?” and she’s like “Oh, that’s just a myth.” I run back and the sun is going down behind me. I get back to the car just as it’s getting dusk. I notice that the people who where in the other car are not there anymore and I start seeing little bats flying around, so I start singing one of our songs. I change the tyre, get in the car and we drive off, my friend and I. We get to the house and I just tell her “Wait a minute, I’m going go check it out, just keep singing, I’ll be right back”. I go into the house and there are all these little animals running around, like vampire animals running around in the main hall. I’m not really sure what they are, armadillosor whatever else, it’s really strange, like desert animals. So I jump up on a chair and I‘m moving across the room, singing a melody. I woke up my girlfriend, ’cause in the dream I’m getting so tired of singing the melody that I start going “blablablablablabla”! And then I felt like something was going to get me so I screamed out of my bed in the middle of the night. It’s for one of our songs, “I’m Under Construction”! So I think in the video we would have it like we make it to the party room and here’s everyone, they’re a bunch of vampires but everyone is just singing and partying, so it doesn’t matter.
C: Is there a particular reason that made you decide to settle in Berlin?
R: Basically, I was always doing music but not able to do it all the time, when I was in the States. I came to Berlin on vacation with a friend who had a friend here. So I came here for a little bit, I loved it and I stayed.
C: How long ago was that?
R: That was five years ago!
C: Last question, who’s the Daddy?
R: The daddy? What, er? I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me!
We ended the conversation on this uncertain note, Rob seemed slightly disturbed by my last question so much so that, about an hour later, I received a call whilst at the supermarket buying mushrooms for a pizza I was cooking for dinner that night. It was Rob, asking what exactly I meant by that question. I laughed. I hadn’t thought anyone would feel so concerned, and explained to him it was just a joke, I meant to unsettle the interviewee and it worked. Rob then provided the answer I wasn’t quite expecting: “It wasn’t me, I was wearing a condom!”, then invited himself for dinner with another 15 of his mates…not! However, if you happen to invite him for dinner, I know he loves caramel desert, so there you go!