Keeper of the Seven Keys: Record Producers’ Practices of Preserving German Metal

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Issues around heritage and preservation of musical culture have been increasingly discussed in popular music studies in recent years. Studies have explored the challenges of music museums (Baker, Istvandity & Nowak 2016, 2018), grassroots activism and online documentary of heritage objects (Kaun & Stiernstedt 2014; Bennett & Strong 2018), DIY music preservation (Baker & Huber 2013; Baker 2016), community archives (Flynn 2007, 2010; Flynn, Stevens & Shepherd 2009; Baker 2017) and “heritage rock” (Bennett 2009).This research explores a group currently understudied in popular music heritage research: record producers. This group of professionals is crucial to all commercial popular music creation as they are the artistic executive of the music industry (Burgess 2013) and mediators between artists and audiences (Hennion 1989). Some producers established renowned recording studios that are cherished by metal fans for being sites where favourite records were created.The presentation focuses on metal music from Germany, which emerged in the 1980s and became influential worldwide. The research is based on case studies of three of Germany’s main metal producers: Siegfried ‘Siggi’ Bemm (b 1956; Woodhouse Studio), Karl ‘Charlie’ Bauerfeind (b 1963; Twilight Hall Studio) and Harris Johns (b 1950; Music Lab Studio). In-depth face-to-face interviews as well as study of online materials will be used to explore how pivotal producers of Germany’s 40-year old metal tradition do document and preserve footage and recorded material of their productions. The interviews will reveal production material is archived, and they will show consequences of technical development that make music recorded on dated mediums unusable for re-releases. This touches upon issues such as diverging views between artists wanting to re-release older work in sonically improved remixed form and the audience’s wish for authenticity of the original release (Bennett 2009). Other practices of preserving German metal music tradition discussed will be the producers’ use of photo albums and artists’ guest books, studio-focused websites, social media, fan merchandise and community-based regulars’ tables.
Period21 Jul 2020
Event titleLondon Calling: 15th IASPM UK and Ireland Biennial Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number15
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational