Interview: Sebastian Meissner (Klimek)

Sebastian Meissner is a producer, radio content producer, composer and the author of a homonymous project Klimek, as well as Random Inc, Random Industries, Bizz Circuits and aUTOkoNTRasT. He was also a member of the experimental duo Autopoieses. His releases have been issued on such labels as: Mille Plateaux, Ritornell, Kompakt and Anticipate Recordings. Sebastian Meissner’s recordings may be also found in the catalogs of Sub Rosa, Raster-Noton and Cronica labels.


1. Hello Sebastian! Tell us where are you and what do you do at this moment?

I have lived in Berlin since 2006. In 2010 I shifted the primary focus of my work from music and sound art to radio productions for German public radio broadcasters such as Deutschlandfunk and WDR. I write, direct and produce mostly one-hour radio documentaries focusing on political, religious and cultural identity topics. 

Sometimes I also compose exclusive music scores for those broadcasts. Since 2010 I have made 25 such radio features.

Here you can find my radio-productions including several music mixes.
2. Did you leave the musical industry? What is happening with all your projects? For example Klimek: Is it closed or will be continued?

Personally I wouldn't call it music industry that I was part of, but rather an international experimental sound art scene. The economic realities of this scene changed to an extend that I couldn't find enough incentive to continue producing albums and doing live gigs essentially for free.

But I never quit producing music & sound-art. Last year I put out 11 Klimek albums on vinyl in an editions of one copy of each album. I call this platform GOULDEN - making a refference to the defunkt European currency and to the golden color of the inside of those record sleeves. On the covers are original drawings by my wife & partner Emily Hochman. They can only be heard at special events.

More info you can find here:

It turned out that since I didn't have a CD/album to sell the interest of media was zero, and without album-reviews you don't get bookings. At the same time I grew increasingly tired of self-advertising on social media. So I guess only few people got it that in 2016 there were 11 Klimek albums out. Me and Emily, we did a couple of listening-sessions for this GOULDEN project in some galleries here in Germany and Los Angeles.

3. On what music you grew up? What are your musical tastes or interests? Do you have an authorities in musical world?

The first music I can recall myself of consciously listening to and developing a personal relationship to were records of my grandfather with a certain latin vibe that were sung in Esperanto. I remember also when my parents bought a 7'' of Blondie's Heart of Glass – which I put on auto-repeat quite often. At home I was exposed to the music my father was listening to: Led Zeppelin, Tangerine Dream and Johnny Cash. My own first record was High Voltage by AC/DC.

Currently I am mostly listening to & studying Caribbean music styles, jazz from the 20th century, early documents of African-American music expressions. I also study African music history and ethnographic sound documents from around the world.

I don't think that I have musical authorities. I don't like the idea of “ranking” & “top-10-ing”. There are many forms of musical expressions and each of them has their own beauty.

4. Are you interested in what is happening on the musical scene at the current moment in time? Are you listening to the new recordings or it doesn’t seem to be interesting for you?

I try to keep myself as up-to-date as possible, but I find the vast majority of recent music productions - be it experimental electronic music, dance floor music, pop etc. - not very interesting.

Mostly I have the feeling like I heard it already many times and I miss the spirit of taking music styles to truly new places. I guess that's why I ended up turning my attention to music history. From contemporary music forms I get the most from free-improvised and noise music.

5. Could you name your favorite guitar players?

6. We saw your photos on flickr and instagram. Everything looks like a real deal. Is photography just a hobby or is it something you do professionally?

When I am researching a topic I collect sound and pictures at the same time. When I write my radio documentaries those pictures help me to recollect my impressions and sometimes they accompany my radio features on the webpages of the radio stations I work with.

7. What interests you the most in life? What is able to surprise you? If you like reading books, could you name your favorite authors? What are the sources of your inspiration?

Life itself is an inspiration: trying to understand what it means. And who are all those people around me, how do we influence each other and what we can come up together in our life spans.

8. You've travelled quite a lot and you've seen a lot of cities on various continents. What do you remember most vividly? Has there ever been an extraordinary situation or event that forever left a mark on you?

The most significant journey of my life was when, as a 12 year old boy, my parents fled with me from communist Poland to West-Germany. It was a foggy night in 1981, the streets were full of snow and we had 2 suitcases and one blanket with us, literally leaving everything behind. The marital law was just about to be enforced over Poland.

9. What needed to happen for project Klimek to exist? Is there a backstory or a reason for this project's existence in the form of searching for the most appropriate shape of the content?

Klimek is my Grandmother's maiden name, to whom I dedicated a track on my Dedications album – For Zofia Klimek & Gregory Crewdson. My intention was to juxtapose in the title something I would call a staged desperation against the real life desperation of my grandmother. Her father Anton Klimek was a Polish resistance activist who was imprisoned in Auschwitz. He took his life by throwing himself on an electric fence. So using this name is maybe an attempt to preserve a memory about those two family members of mine.

10. Who is Sebastian Meissner?