Berlin’s Paul Kalkbrenner is a unique international talent. After several chart topping albums, amassing millions of fans and headlining festival mainstages around the world he has become one of techno’s biggest superstars.
In the year following his eighth and most personal album, Parts Of Life, Paul Kalkbrenner was in perpetual motion, a 2019 European solo tour saw him sell over 100,000 tickets, and become a fixture on festival mainstages normally reserved for rockstars.
Following Parts Of Life, Kalkbrenner has been equally prolific in studio, with a string of releases that have included singles No Goodbye, Parachute and the Speak Up EP. These releases are a departure from Paul's traditional album format, and mark an evolution in his artistic approach, that can be traced back to his 2017 Back To The Future project, signifying a freer, less inhibited and looser approach to his creative process. These new releases have been some of Paul's best received to date, with No Goodbye registering over 20 million streams, and Parachute securing a coveted Pete Tong Essential New Tune and widespread radio airplay across the globe upon its release.
Paul Kalkbrenner’s demanding productions are full of energy; they exist to take listeners away from the everyday, from the weekly grind, into rapture—into art, ecstasy, absurdity, friendship, hope and love. Just 12 years old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Techno music became a way of expression and for many, Paul included, the soundtrack of Germany’s reunification. In the autumn of 1992, together with his friend Sascha Funke, he started DJing at local youth clubs. Very quickly Paul and Sascha were either DJing or obsessively collecting records as electronic dance music’s first tidal wave spilled over dance floors in Berlin’s soon-to-be legendary clubs Tresor, Planet, Walfisch and e-werk. As much fun as DJing was, Paul wanted to play his own music live.
His first tracks were released on Ellen Allien’s newly founded Bpitch Control label in 1999. In contrast to the darker, monotone sounds that characterized techno at the time, Paul’s music was more melodic and enriched with a warm, dubby feel. After a number of 12″ singles, Paul realised he was better suited producing albums. In 2000, he released ‘Superimpose’, followed by ‘Zeit’ one year later. His third album, ‘Self’ from 2004, resonated beyond the dancefloor and took the cinematic quality of his music to new heights—an indication of what was to come next.
In 2004, Berlin-based film director and self-confessed Kalkbrenner fan, Hannes Stoehr, got in touch with Paul. He was planning to make a movie about an electronic musician in Berlin’s techno scene and wanted Paul to produce the soundtrack. As the script for the film developed, Hannes suggested Paul might be perfect in the starring role.Paul produced some of his most diverse and mature compositions yet, which would later make up the soundtrack for ‘Berlin Calling’. He started shooting the movie upon his return to Berlin, with the result being an unconventional but outstanding performance. Somewhere between Paul Kalkbrenner and his character Ickarus, an intimate dialogue developed between actor and audience.
‘Berlin Calling’ became a surprise hit, and a German cult movie in its own right. It drew audiences all around Europe and stayed on the big screen at Berlin’s Central Kino for several years.
The soundtrack went platinum and the single „Sky and Sand“spent over 121 consecutive weeks in the German singles charts—a German record.
At the end of 2009, Paul split with his longtime label Bpitch Control to form his own independent imprint, Paul Kalkbrenner Musik. A sold-out European tour and a documentary followed. The documentary remains an intimate insight into Paul’s life on the road, sprinkled with his dry, deadpan humour. Between June 2011 and November 2012 Paul released his fifth and sixth studio albums ‘Icke Wieder’ and ‘Guten Tag’. These two self-released albums went top five in his native Germany, with ‘Guten Tag’ also topping the charts in Switzerland.
In 2013 he completed a tour in USA, Canada and Europe with stops at the Coachella Festival, headlining Rock En Seine and Pukkelpop. His remarkable live performances saw him earn headliner positions for renowned festivals such as Garorock, Hurricane, Southside and Electric Picnic, alongside Florence & The Machines, Iggy Pop, Kendrick Lamar, blur, The Libertines and Nicki Minaj.
In 2014 Germany’s Federal Government asked him to play a headlining show in front of the Brandenburg Gate in a historic ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He performed to over 400,000 people, it was another milestone moment in Paul’s career.
Paul signed a long-term deal with Sony International/Columbia in March 2015. The album, aptly titled ‘7’, was released in August 2015, and it saw Paul work with vocals for the first time since his chart-topping, record-breaking single „Sky and Sand“.
In an unprecedented move by the label, Sony and Columbia provided him total access to their Legacy vaults, allowing him to incorporate vocals from previously-unsampled music icons Luther Vandross and Jefferson Airplane.
The album was a success across Europe, hitting No. 1 on the charts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Top Ten in Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. It earned plaudits from the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Village Voice, Mixmag, and others.
In 2017 he celebrated his underground Berlin roots with his “BACK TO THE FUTURE” mixtape series, a trilogy that chronicles his personal history of electronic music’s arrival to Germany as heard on the radio during his teenage years. The series went viral, amassing over 1,5 Million downloads. A 10 country BACK TO THE FUTURE tour sold out within minutes.
2018 saw him release his eighth studio album, Parts Of Life, a definitive record for Paul, deeply personal, imbued with invigoration, a raw embodiment of Paul’s inimitable grand techno sound.