Paul Kalkbrenner is a German electronic musician and actor from Berlin.
As of 2010, Paul Kalkbrenner has tallied up more than 15 years of experience as a producer and live act. The early 90s after the Berlin Wall fell were formative years for Paul, and after spending many long and sleepless nights on the dancefloors of E-Werk, Planet and Whale, the dream was born to make music himself. A job as TV editor got him through the mid-90s and financed his first music gear. By this point Paul had already decided that he did not want to be a typical DJ playing other people’s records, but rather to play only his own music, live in a club setting. His first tracks as Paul Kalkbrenner were released in 1999 on Berlin-based BPitch Control (the newly founded label from Ellen Allien) as the Friedrichshain EP, titled after his home district in the city’s east. A series of further singles and two full-lengths (Superimpose and Time) followed, plus continuous live performances.
Together with Paul Kalkbrenner, BPitch Control gained a strong momentum. Paul’s third album Self (2004) would mark the beginning of a new era. His melodic sound, with its affinity for grand emotional gestures, obeyed the logic of the dancefloor, but Self introduced a narrative aesthetic, serving as a soundtrack to a film that did not exist (at least, not yet). „Gebrünn Gebrünn“, released one year later, became a crossover hit.
In early 2006, German director Hannes Stöhr, an avid fan of Self, decided to get in contact with Kalkbrenner. His idea was to produce a film about a Berlin techno musician during the new millennium, and Paul would compose the soundtrack. The two met, traded ideas and experiences, and soon after began working on the screenplay’s first draft. In the course of their exchange, Hannes had the realization that Paul should not just contribute the music, but that he would be the perfect choice as the film’s star. Without hesitation, Paul accepted the offer. They decided to title the film Berlin Calling.
For the soundtrack’s production, Paul and his friend (and Bpitch colleague) Sascha Funke spent half a year in Aix-En-Provence in southern France. One song already had a title: „Sky and Sand“ with vocals by brother Fritz Kalkbrenner. Upon Paul’s return to Berlin in 2007, the filming began, and the finished work was brought to German theaters in October 2008. Berlin Calling and Paul’s debut acting performance received positive reviews, and the film, thanks to its authentic depiction of the Berlin club scene and drug culture, became a cult classic.
The soundtrack and especially the single „Sky and Sand“ broke many sales records. That track in particular went gold in Belgium where it remained in the charts‘ Top Ten for weeks. The 2009 DVD release of the film brought Paul to a new, much larger audience around the world. By the end of the year, Paul separated with BPitch Control after a decade-long relationship to take the next steps of his career alone. In early 2010 Paul completed a twelve-city live concert tour throughout Europe (with over 50,000 tickets sold within just a few weeks), followed by many headlining appearances at summer festivals.
Kalkbrenner uses software-synthesizers, sequencer (Ableton Live) in combination with midi-controllers, hardware-synthesizers and -drummachines for his live shows.
On April 12, 2011, Kalkbrenner announced the album Icke Wieder, scheduled to be released on June 3, 2011 via his own new label Paul Kalkbrenner Musik. About the album, he stated: „There won’t be any singing on the album, no music of tomorrow either, it feels generally more like… well, old times“.