Carl D. Erling
Always at your service
by Torsten Schäfer, 2016
Many bands find sponsors and mentors over the years, but they prefer to stay in the background. Just think of Mute boss Daniel Miller, who steered the career of Depeche Mode in the right direction. Or George Martin, who catapulted the Beatles into the pop Olympus as a producer. Deine Lakaien also had a fifth Beatle for years: Carl D. Erling. He not only discovered the duo and signed them, but was the good soul of the band for a long time.
Through word of mouth and recommendations, Deine Lakaien’s first album got into the hands of Carl Erling in the late eighties. At that time he was running the label Gymnastic Records, which later became Chrom Records. “I was fascinated,” Carl remembers the first impression. “‘Wasted Years’ was first etched in my mind. I’d never heard anything like it before and I immediately had the feeling that I had to share this music with others. I liked this melancholy mood: never depressed, sometimes self-ironic, a language of the soul. This indefinite feeling of being understood. Especially these eccentric electronic soundwalls by Ernst in combination with the then still somewhat introverted, but already expressive voice of Alexander had taken a strong hold on me”.
Erling took the young band under contract, which could celebrate its breakthrough with “Dark Star” a short time later. In the following years the band went up steeply, which pushed Erling’s one-man-label to the limits. In addition to organizing the label, Erling took on management tasks, created artwork, accompanied the band on tour and was even responsible for the lighting at the Dark Star concerts. The bigger the project Deine Lakaien became, the more tasks he gave up. However, he kept an advisory voice for artistic questions and promotion. So it’s no wonder that Erling is always considered a mentor of Deine Lakaien. Even if he himself is more modest in his own role: “I always saw the whole thing pragmatically: I had this band, this incredible
Music and the small label - and saw all the work that had to be done, that went beyond the normal activities of a label, but somehow had to be done. So I just started to work on everything. But I don’t want to take the credit for it alone: With Oliver Wegener from AMV [Alster Musikverlag] I had a good consultant for many years who knew the music business well and appreciated the band.
In the middle of the NuIler years, Erling gradually withdrew from the music business and his label baby Deine Lakaien. “After 20 years of exhausting label work, the longing for something new was there for me,” he says, “because even the most exciting projects become routine at some point. Deine Lakaien were well accommodated and the continuation of the band was secured with new management, major label and the accompanying publishing house.
Chrom Records is now run by Ernst Horn as an artist label, while Erling runs an internet agency. But after all these years of break he has his fingers in the pie again today. He has designed several websites for Horn and the band, including the current website of Deine Lakaien. Even today, Erling still appreciates the dynamics of the band: “This struggle for musical expression. What it’s like when the guitar songwriter meets the avant-garde electronic tinkerer. What pleased me was the high level of mutual respect and the solutions that emerged from the tension between the two, which ultimately makes Deine Lakaien’s music so varied.