Innovators & Instigators: Inside The Methods Of Techno & EDM Progenitors DAF

13 November 2019 | 9:59 am | Cyclone Wehner

Before DAF hit our shores for Melbourne Music Week, frontman Gabriel Delgado-López shares some personal insights from four decades at the coal face of EDM. By Cyclone.

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German electronic pioneers Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF), made up of Gabriel Delgado-López and Robert Görl, have been innovators and instigators since 1978. Unsurprisingly, they have some opinions on the musical, and cultural, shifts that have come since. Here we've asked Delgado-López to share some of the methods and mindsets behind his work both within and without the groundbreaking project.

The Value Of Going Incognito

DAF have a deep history in electronic music as a combo, but both Delgado-López and Robert Görl also have individual profiles in the German techno underground – and beyond. With DAF rupturing in the early '80s, Delgado-López unveiled a solo debut, Mistress, exploring his Latin influences. He subsequently ensconced himself in Berlin as a DJ/producer. Delgado-López has long assumed (anonymous) handles for his own projects. "I never use my name 'Gabi Delgado', because I prefer to be acknowledged for what I do without people knowing really that I'm Gabi Delgado of DAF. So I like to diversify." Mysteriously, he currently DJs as Leon Santos. "I'm quite known in especially Miami for Latin house music." Meanwhile, Görl – who sang 1983's sublime Mit Dir ('With You') for Mute Records – further dabbled in synth-pop on his English language LP, Night Full Of Tension. Görl even cut a duet, Darling Don't Leave Me, with Eurythmics' Annie Lennox (he'd played drums on the Brits' first album In The Garden, co-produced by the late Conny Plank).

Routinely Break Routine

DAF aren't big on touring, preferring one-off shows. Says Delgado-López, "We don't want to have routine on stage. After three gigs, then you have the same set and then you know what you are doing; you know the way you want to perform the track; how to dance, how to move… We don't like that. We really want to constantly improvise and have new stuff… That's what excites me about music. I don't want to be repetitive. I don't want to eat the same dish every day." Despite their name, they've never performed Stateside (DAF's inaugural show in Los Angeles was postponed last year). 

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Be A Social Media Butterfly

Delgado-López has an unusual social media strategy. He keeps his promotion "personal" rather than clout-chasing – using multiple accounts. "When I do social networking, when I reach the 2000 [follower mark], I stop this page – next page – because I don't like these big structures. I think small is beautiful. It's better to have hundreds more pages with 200 followers than one big page with 200,000 followers."

On Punk Vs Techno

DAF are revered as techno rebels, but their roots lie in punk. And Delgado-López considers the latter to be more inherently revolutionary. "Techno is last year's model, but it still works… There is a youth movement that wants to change your life, and wants to change the system, and there are youth movements that just want to change your weekend. So, after the hippies, there was the disco. The hippies wanted to change the world, disco music just wanted to change the weekend. Punk wanted to change the world; techno just wants to change your weekend."

And East Vs West

Germany formally reunited in 1990. But, while 9 November will mark 30 years since the Berlin Wall was breached, the country's economic, social and cultural divide continues. Once a Soviet satellite, East Germany is seen as poor and politically reactionary. Yet Delgado-López's perspective is more positive than that of mainstream media pundits. "I must say I prefer East German people to West German people because they are much more open and much more interested in what you are doing; how you are. They're not so keen on having social status; of having a car and having this and having that. East Germany is very much what you are, and West Germany is very much what you have."

And, finally...

There's New DAF In The Works

DAF are plotting their first original album since 2003's comeback, Funfzehn Neue DAF Lieder (15 New DAF Songs), which took in their George W Bush missive Der Sheriff (Anti-Amerikanisches Lied) ('The Sheriff [Anti-American Song]'). "There are plans to do another record," Delgado-López shares. "We'll probably go the beginning of next year to the studio to make a new DAF record – a new album."