Provocation, taboos, and the subverting of expectations have always been at the core of DAF’s campy enactment of totalitarian manoeuvres, lustrous hard-bodied sex, arty abstractions, and politically-charged mockery. In their own words, “We make music for the booty and for the brain. Music that is rhythmic and intelligent at the same time. The main thing is that it makes you move.”
Known as the fathers of EBM and forefathers of electro-punk, the Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft formed in 1978 and consists of Gabriel "Gabi" Delgado-López on vocals and Robert Görl on percussion & electronics. Between the years of 1980 and 1982, using classic-jazz-tinged percussion, a legendary Korg MS-20, and a fetishistic, militaristic "Spraechgesang," four albums (Die Kleinen und die Bösen, Alles ist Gut, Gold und Liebe, & für Immer) released in quick succession left the music world forever changed. From the get-go, Delgado-López and Görl set out to challenge even those who meant to be most provocative themselves – the punk circles at Düsseldorf’s infamous Rattinger Hof, for instance. Says Gabi: “Robert studied music. I was rooted in the the punk scene though I never wrote ‘Sex Pistols’ on my leather jacket, but rather ‘Yves Saint Laurent’ to provoke the Punks.”
DAF wanted to keep up the energy and DIY philosophy of punk but through an utterly new, as-yet unheard sound based on new electronic machines. With a stripped-down mix of aggressive militant beats, minimal synth-lines, and expressive vocals, they created a style that is as cold, calculating, and uncompromising as it is corporeal, arousing, and hedonistic. Little did they know that this would end up providing a new blueprint for electronic dance music for generations to follow; an electrifyingly corporeal, disciplined, and mobilizing music in perfect unity with elliptic, equally arousing German lyrics shouted in imperative speech. This signature vocal style, made famous in songs like "Tanz den Mussolini", was an echo of the old Hollywood movies that the Spanish-born Delgado watched as a kid, and that fascinated and amused him with their depiction of Nazis that did nothing but shout commands. DAF have described their music as a substitute for sex, drugs, and violence.
DAS IST DAF, the first authorized biography of DAF, was published last month and revisits the band's almost-40-year history. A new box set of their seminal first four albums, produced between 1980 and 1982, was also published by Grönland Records this September. It includes remixes by Boys Noize and others.