Konrad Kinard has a long and somewhat chequered history with Berlin
A multi-discipline artist and liver of life, he started out in Texas where he grew up among the shadow of The Bomb. He relocated to New York where he experienced the zeitgeist of the mid-80s, performing, recording and working with influential artists and dance groups. He found himself in Paris at the end of the 80s, and set down in Berlin at the end of that turbulent decade, arriving in time to live through Berlin establishing itself as the new cool place to be, electronic music to the fore, and ran a club, Sexiland, in an abandoned U-Bahn station in Mitte, where the techno DJs of the day would come to spin records after their stints at E-Werk and Tresor.
Shifting to London late 90s, Kinard started the record label Incinerate Media, based in Brixton where he took over the studio of Duran Duran’s old guitarist, in the middle of the drum n bass days where Brixton was the hub of all that was humming in London.
After a stint back in Berlin where he ran the arts and performance venue SIN , where English stand-up comedy (the new rock n roll, according to Kinard at the time) in Berlin got its start. Then a relocation to Leeds, UK.
Through it all Kinard has worked tirelessly at his art, relentless in his digging into himself to find where the thread of all this had started, of how he had become who he was.
Better dead than red
Kinard’s upbringing in Texas in the later years of the Cold War, he realised, had had a devastating effect on him. “Better Dead Than Red” was both a clarion call at the time and the name of one of his singles of his last work, the Masters of War album and performance piece.
He speaks of his father building a nuclear shelter and explaining to his son that once they had shut themselves in, Konrad’s neighbourhood friends would be left outside in the nuclear winter. The door wasn’t going to open for them.
Down the road was the military base from which the US president would run World War Three after Washington had been made uninhabitable. Konrad’s father would be the president’s physician if this came to pass.
a lifelong obsession in perceiving , finding, attempting to understand america
All this led to a lifelong obsession in perceiving, finding, attempting to understand, America. Which makes even those songs that he wrote about that time and place a long time ago as prescient and immediate and focused on today’s world, today’s society, today’s United States, as anything.
Masters of War was recorded as an album but conceived as a performance piece. A piece that he performed with a line-up of impressive musicians in old churches and gallery spaces in the UK.
prescient and immediate and focused
Berlin has always held a central fascination for him. It was somehow the centre of that whole cold war thing. And it was where the new Europe, perhaps, was born, out of the rubble of the DDR failed state. It has always been the place that he gravitates back to.
Which is why it makes it especially fitting to bring his War is Family show to the city where it makes the most sense.
Konrad Kinard has performed and or written with/for The Woodentops, La La LA Human Steps, Slash Orchestra, Rhy Chatham, Me Wee Beasty, EIEI Oh!, Sonicvariable, Zero Ping, Arthur Russel, Karole Armitage and several experimental theater and dance.pieces