TO MOVE ON AND EXPLORE NEW TERRITORIES INSIDE OUR MICROCOSM
A CONVERSATION WITH THORSTEN QUAESCHNING OF TANGERINE DREAM
Tangerine Dream was formed in 1967 by Edgar Froese, and until his passing in 2015, Froese was not only the original member but the only consistent member over the years. This is a band that has a brilliant history and a long list of members. The impact that the founders of electronic music had on music cannot be summarized in one article. From 1967 until their debut album in 1970, Tangerine Dream performed and toured and built their sound, so when their debut album, Electronic Mediation was released, they were ready and prepared to not only launch a band but an entire genre of music.
In 2005, Thorsten Quaeschning joined Froese and the band as a keyboardist, vocalist and drummer. In 2005 Tangerine Dream released the album, Jeanne D’Arc – La Révolte Éternelle (Joan Of Arc – The Eternal Revolt) on which Quaeschning contributed a number of songs and co-wrote some as well. Not only was the album well received, it set the course of the 2000s era of Tangerine Dream, and upon the passing of Froese in 2015, Quaeschning became the leader of the band and carried on with the band. The trio are currently on tour and played Toronto on October 3, 2023. Recently, I had the chance to ask Quaeschning some questions about the current tour and the band in general.
“It’s both pressure and an unbelievable honour to be part of that history,” Quaeschning reported. He is also quick to point out the idea behind the band was always to keep moving forward. “The idea and the concept was always to move on and explore new territories inside our microcosm, to be contemporary or even indulge the longing for futuristic visions.”
But that doesn’t mean that fans attending the concerts shows don’t have high expectations and hope to hear some of the songs that Tangerine Dream are best known for, keeping in mind the band has released over 100 studio and live albums and that does not take into account the 30 plus soundtracks they have released over the years. This does impact the band choosing a setlist that they hope will satisfy old and new fans alike.
For Quaeschning, picking the music is relatively easy. “This is relatively easy, because all three of us share the love for 70s and 80s Tangerine Dream music to be exact from 1974 to 1987, then we are skipping the 90s and early 2000 and play songs from 2005 and our new albums.” Keeping in mind, however, that some of the songs prove to be a bit challenging to the band. “All songs are challenging on different levels, it’s all about showing respect for the composition and finding sounds, some new, some old and alternative versions.”
Like many artists, he does not have favourites or songs he prefers to play over others. In picking his favourite songs, he hits a stumbling block. “Impossible to say… but often it’s the session at the end of each concert, as it brings the biggest surprises, even to us.” But even stumbling blocks provide interesting music and opportunities to create new music.
For Quaeschning, performing the classic Tangerine Dream songs, many of which he was not part of when they were recorded, is not too much of a challenge. In many ways he thinks back to what he learned from Froese. He also draws inspiration from the older songs. “Everything we do has an impact and inspires us to write new music. Edgar taught us many rules and production concepts that are going probably much deeper than most people would expect. Scales, programming Stepsequencer and even patching sounds.”
Besides learning (and maybe relearning songs), planning a tour takes a great deal of planning and skill. “For the US part of the tour we had to think about the instruments and equipment a lot, as we couldn’t just bring the huge amounts that we usually use back in Europe,” said Quaeschning. “It is a challenge to make it work and shine even with fewer instruments. Other than that, we rehearsed many many pieces, so we’re able to play different set lists every night.