Gudrun Gut has been an active member of Berlin’s experimental underground music scene since the early ’80s. After a brief stint in Blixa Bargeld’s EinstЯrzende Neubauten, Gut gained recognition leading the all-female post-punk group Malaria!. Malaria! disbanded in the early ’90s and Gut spent the next two decades composing film soundtracks, running two record labels, recording and producing other artists and presenting the Ocean Club radio show alongside The Orb’s Thomas Fehlmann. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that Gut released her first solo album, I Put A Record On. With so much going on, it’s easy to see why an official solo LP was delayed for so long. Yet Gut reveals there was something else in the way.
“I always wanted to do a solo record but it took me ages. I had to have the confidence to do it. That was the problem,” she confesses.
In late 2012, Gut followed I Put A Record On with the dark and abrasive electro outing Wildlife. Neither record betrays any trace of artistic insecurity, but working solo certainly imposes a lot of pressure. “As an electronic artist you’re there all alone,” Gut says. “I do everything. A full album is like, ‘Oh boy.’ A lot of stuff goes into the album from myself.”
As a means of alleviating these pressures, Gut has followed both albums with a collaborative record. In 2010, Gut and Antye Greie released Baustelle,and her next release will be an album with Hans Joachim Irmler from German cult rock band Faust.
“[After working alone] I need to have some feeding with other people. I love doing that,” she says. “If I would have a band it’s easy, but I don’t. Rather than having a band I work with different people.”
This might suggest that Gut enjoys collaboration far more than the draining solo experience, but she’s always lured back to working alone. “I don’t have to discuss anything – that’s great,” she chuckles, before adding: “I have to discuss with myself and I’m pretty critical. If a bass drum doesn’t sound like I want it, or the snare… every detail is discussed with myself.”
Gut’s unconventional and defiant attitude continues to inspire experimentally inclined musicians all over the world. In 2001, the sustaining influence of Malaria! was represented by the Versus EP, which featured a crop of young artists covering Malaria! originals. One particularly well-loved track from this release was the Chicks On Speed version of ‘Kaltes Klares Wasser’. “It was a really important thing for them and for Malaria! too,” says Gut. “It was great, in Germany it was a chart success. So that went really well for both of us. Chicks On Speed were not famous before that.”
Speaking of covers, Wildlife features a re-interpretation of Tina Turner’s reverberating ’80s smash ‘Simply The Best’. This might be the most anomalous recording in Gut’s entire back catalogue, but she’s enthusiastic about her choice. “I wanted to do a cover version so I went through all these weird songs. I mostly had weird German ’30s stuff, then somehow I found [‘Simply The Best’] on YouTube and I just started doing it and I thought, ‘Oh! I want to do this one.’” However, Gut’s moody industrial rendering basically excludes any chance of a hearty Jimmy Barnes-style sing-along at her upcoming Sydney gig. “When I finished the album I played it to [my best friend] and she didn’t recognise it at all. She said, ‘It sounds so commercial, it’s really unusual for you to do something like this,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s Tina Turner,’ and she couldn’t believe it.”
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