Hans Nieswandt was born in 1964 in Mannheim, Germany. For over 20 years, he has been as highly-respected as he is active in the worlds of DJ and club culture, electronic music production and discerning pop journalism. Extensive DJ and lecture tours have taken him from his chosen hometown of Cologne to destinations around the globe. On his own and together with Whirlpool Productions, he has produced six albums and countless remixes. The esteemed publisher KiWi in Cologne has brought out three of his books. Nieswandt has been hosting his radio show on the WDR station Einslive every Wednesday night for years now. This is a man who broadcasts on many channels!
Hildegard Knef remixed – 12 versions by Hans Nieswandt
In the summer of 2011, when the Hamburg label Bureau B knocked on Hans Nieswandt's door to propose the production of a complete Hildegard Knef remix album, the Cologne-based DJ and producer didn't need to consider it for long. Almost exactly ten years before he had made a remix of a song by this legendary German chanteuse ("Bei dir war es immer so schön") and had since always touted this work as one of the best remix experiences of his entire career.
The reason for this was the special quality of the raw material – complete, digitized orchestral tracks from the early and mid 70s, played by Germany's finest musicians and recorded with the best microphones in rooms with ideal acoustics. And having Hildegard Knef's voice as a dry a cappella is something so incredibly rare and precious, which most people never get a chance to hear. The idea to again be able to dissect and reassemble twelve of these masterpieces was irresistible to Nieswandt.
And technology had developed greatly in the meantime. This served as a reason for Nieswandt to opt for a strict working method: only with a very few exceptions for kick drums and bass lines, he used only this stunning original material, adding no additional plug-in synthesizers, drum machines or other samples for the remixes. After all, there is so much you could do with the existing material on its own! Thanks to the latest software and Nieswandt's well-known craftiness, he could transform the swinging rhythms of the drummer into a reggae beat or a house beat according to mood. Just by rethinking the balance of the mixes as well as through reduction, something amazing came to light: the drummer, otherwise hidden deep in the mix, actually has a really rough groove. The bass, which in those days was usually mixed way back, has a rhythmic structure of enormous capacity and punchiness, especially when flexing the beat, that is, using modern tools to put in on the grid and pump it up.
Working with this heavy duty, low-slung foundation, Nieswandt then gradually rebuilt the songs. Like refurbishing an old building, he preserves the character of the old architecture, but brings it up to date with new cables, optical fibers and all kinds of electronics in order to make it available for new residents – or in this case, new listeners. Retaining the original character was a primary concern in this project. That – in addition to the brilliance of the musicians, Hildegard Knef's captivating vocal performance, her marvelous spirit and the astonishing directness of her lyrics – is what makes it possible to present this music to a new generation through a new medium. If voices like this were still to be found today, and lyrics like these were still written in this day and age, then this record would be absolutely modern.