Münchehofe is a tiny part of Berlin, so to speak, and yet strangely already a village in the best sense of the word, aside from a few inevitable Bacon Belt houses. In the small, well-kept cemetery, the GDR’s most famous and incisive rock singer is buried – Tamara Danz, the first female head of the group Silly. She died on July 22, 1996 shortly after the release of the album “Paradies”.
Tim Hofmann: Do you come here often?
Dirk Zöllner: Yes, at least twice a year. Münchehofe is not far from my apartment in Köpenick, and it’s on the way to the Baltic Sea. We always stop there. So many memories come back here and then I tell the stories to my children. Tamara was the godmother of my eldest daughter Rubini, at the time she had offered her two rubies for the ears. She still has it …
What a little cemetery. The bird of paradise finally stayed on earth …
It is normal that it is here and not on a tourist route. You have to want to come here. How did you get to her, Silly?
At first just for the music. “Mont Klamott” was actually the first record I bought for myself when I was 13. It sounded like western music to me, completely unusual. I didn’t even notice Tamara Danz herself at first, she was just part of all the fascination. The look came later, through these, finally, “exhibition texts” …
“Your cosmetic cannula penetrates your flesh into your feelings” …
Exactly. First in 1985 “Liebeswalzer” then, two years later, “Bataillon d’Amour”. It was all in one, it was raging in you, but to talk about it? I would never have dared. And she praised it so raw and poetically as a matter of course … at the time I could almost only hear it secretly.
Yes, it often went almost to the limit of embarrassing touch. Take “So ne little woman” – that’s not nice. It shows people how they are – but you don’t even want to look first.
You were already older, so could you start right with the lyrics?
No, first for the music. There was an incredibly detailed game in it – I was interested in that. But Werner Karma’s lyrics came right out in this incredibly intense performance, without great melodies. It went through my heart – you can’t describe it at all. In the Ostrock, there was almost always this pictorial mountain of words before, but it all felt like excess fat. With karma there was philosophy, it was suddenly fun to move through this labyrinth of thoughts. I had only felt that way in people like Peter Gabriel. And Tamara has offered this in this price range as well.
When did you notice Tamara’s role in Silly? I watched her when I started making music myself shortly after “Mount Klamott” and I crept into that scene. Sometimes there are people who have a noticeable aura – and Tamara had one. When she walked into a room there was a shake and everyone wanted to talk to her.
Surely that intimidated you, didn’t it?
Yes, at the beginning a lot. Above all, I was a fan and admired the slight detachment she showed on stage, she was a born star, she too had this heckling. But in private, she was completely different, almost hypersensitive and very sweet. In no time, she went from idol to colleague to friend, and it happened very quickly. Almost too fast, I think sometimes. But Tamara was such a person, she could make you fall in love.
I have to admit that I didn’t understand much about the GDR before the fall of the wall, and Tamara Danz’s lyrics played a major role. I found “Sons of Whores” from 1993 to be a very drastic record, because it was not favored by the West, but still was not Ostalgie. As if she wanted to continue this art, which she had cultivated in the GDR, in the turn and the rupture.
He hadn’t grown up – he had built it like an Amazon! Of course, she also made mistakes, Mathias Schramm and Thomas Fritzsching were heavily involved in Silly’s first success, which were then nearly ejected. Tamara has shaped her environment. And within a few years, she turned a strange dance group into the most interesting and best group in the East. And she went on and on, “February” 1989 was already a co-production with the West, so no one could talk to her anymore.
Sometimes she reminded me of Gerhard Schöne’s “yellow parakeet” that gray sparrows chop. Birds of paradise like Tamara Danz quickly found a lot of like-minded people in the GDR, so you might feel like the country had more of this variety than others – and then it turned out that sparrows were in the majority.
After the wall fell, she was disappointed. How slowed down. You have to consider: from your perspective, after that crazy climb to the top, it was practically on the verge of an international breakthrough – and suddenly the fall became relatively insignificant. It was hurtful to her. Similar to Rio Reiser, who died with the fall of the wall when leftist ideals shattered or dissolved into shame. It was not only the GDR that dissolved it. That’s why Tamara immediately looked for a new field, she immediately got involved in politics and got involved everywhere. I only really got to know him with the fall of the Wall. The GDR was important to her, we didn’t think we could be absorbed into a capitalist Germany.
Did she feel like a representative of the people? Idols are also chosen in a certain way …
I think it was a love that she has already returned. She certainly wanted to give something back.
Like many opposition artists, she came from a particularly privileged intellectual bubble which, on the one hand, has little to do with the normal population of the GDR, but on the other hand s attack on the system and wish to improve it.
In a way, yes. Although they did not live far from the people. Silly, Karat – bands like that weren’t stars in the sense of international stars, even though they played in the West. In the end, they only crossed the GDR, and they already had a lot of contact with people. Tamara had a very large circle of friends, she was also friends with Aljoscha Rompe from Feeling B, she admired Wolf Biermann as much as Gisela Steineckert.
Are we exaggerating it?
Yes! But I think you need it too. And she deserves it too. I mean, she started writing texts quite late and managed to catch up with the karma and even push it further in terms of content; put more heart into it. She had these huge, rich images that are never flat. She did it because she was smart, but also a bit naive. Yeah, it’s good to inflate someone like that. You can project your wishes into the process. This is what every family does. And when it works as collectively as with Tamara, it’s wonderful.
After this quarter of a century, there are sometimes years when I no longer hear Silly at all. But if you suddenly hear Tamara Danz singing again, it catches up with you immediately, and there is always that hope.
There are also very few East Germans you can really get hold of.
Suppose how you would have been today?
(thinks a long time) I don’t even know if there would be room for someone like her in our money country.
I would have been interested in her stance on current feminism after all the openness with which she spoke and sang about her own ambivalences as a woman.
I think she was too strong to see her transferred to other women. I mean, she was really hers and just put all the men around her in her pocket. You have to think about how she managed to keep Richie Barton in the group when she started a relationship with Uwe Hassbecker. Richie really liked her – the way she mastered this combination is not a role model for others. But then you immediately have the thought: A lot of things could have gone differently in this country, with such a strong number. Politics keeps art at bay these days – it probably would have slipped into it. With the only leftists or Greens today, it would have mixed a lot.