Blixa Bargeld

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Blixa Bargeld
Blixa Bargeld.jpg
Background information
Birth name Christian Emmerich
Born (1959-01-12) 12 January 1959 (age 55)
Origin West Berlin, Germany
  • Musician
  • band leader
  • solo artist
  • spoken word artist
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass guitar
  • keyboards
  • drums
  • percussion
  • synthesizer
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts

Blixa Bargeld (born Christian Emmerich on 12 January 1959) is a German-born musician active in a number of artistic fields. He is best known for his studio work and live performances with the groups Einstürzende Neubauten and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.


In 1980, he founded the music group Einstürzende Neubauten, which has released numerous albums and singles, performed all over the world, and still exists to this day. His stage name comes from Blixa, a German brand of blue felt pen, and Bargeld, German for cash. Bargeld also refers to German Dada artist Johannes Theodor Baargeld.

From 1983 to 2003, Blixa Bargeld was a long-time guitarist and backing vocalist in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Bargeld also sang several "co-lead" vocals with Cave, such as on "The Carny" and "The Weeping Song." Nick Cave first saw Bargeld performing with Einstürzende Neubauten on TV while The Birthday Party (Cave's band at the time) were touring in Amsterdam. He described the music as "mournful", Bargeld as looking "destroyed", and his screams as "a sound you would expect to hear from strangled cats or dying children."[1]

He is credited with playing guitar on the Gun Club song, "Yellow Eyes", on their 1987 album Mother Juno.[2] He also played on the album Novice by Alain Bashung in 1989.

Since the middle of the 90s Bargeld has appeared live with his solo Rede/Speech Performances. During these performances, usually supported by Neubauten's sound engineer Boris Wilsdorf, he works with microphones, sound effects, overdubbing with the help of sampler loops, and speaks English or German. The performed pieces include such curiosities as a vocal creation of the DNA of an angel and a parody of a techno song.

In 2007 he started a collaborative project with Alva Noto called ANBB, an abbreviation of Noto's and Bargeld's initials. An EP, Ret Marut Handshake was released on 26 June 2010, followed later that year by a full-length album, "Mimikry".

Dr. Jennifer Shryane in her book Blixa Bargeld and Einstürzende Neubauten: German Experimental Music. Evading do-re-mi. (Ashgate, 2011) explores how the themes and threads of Bargeld’s work with Neubauten find even greater variation and experimentation in his performance work outside of the band. For example, the range extends from his surreal, electronic Dadaist-cabaret Rede and collaborations with Alva Noto, to his expert direction of Coetzee’s Warten auf die Barbaren for the Salzburg Festival in 2005 where he employed multi-layered symbolism through an ice-white setting and an interplay of voices, screams and noise.

Jennifer Shryane’s book particularly examines his vocal strategies and his trademark scream (describing the scream in dance terms as the endless pirouette or unanticipated giant leap) and the labyrinthine concerns of his texts – all through Artaudian performance theory (The Theatre and its Double, 1938). She also stresses Bargeld’s passionate stance on the socializing aspects of music (a la John Cage) citing his comment on Grundstück that ‘it’s the social aspects which are important for me’.

In June 2013, a collaboration with Italian composer Teho Teardo Still Smiling was released on the Specula record label. A music video for the song "Mi Scusi" was published on the Teho Teardo YouTube channel and a corresponding Italian tour is scheduled.[3][4]

Personal life[edit]

Blixa is a school dropout and he left his parents' home in the late 1970s. A 2008 documentary featured him visiting his mother and talking to her about his childhood and the relationship he had with his parents.[5]

He had a short romance with Cinema of Transgression's Lung Leg, documented in Nick Zedd's Totem of the Depraved.[full citation needed]

Blixa Bargeld is married to Erin Zhu. Together they developed the concept of web-based fan subscriptions as a new and innovative business model for the music industry. The couple is featured in the 2010 book Designing Media [6] by designer and IDEO co-founder Bill Moggridge.[7] Blixa and Erin are among 37 design and media personalities highlighted in the book.

The couple resides in San Francisco, Beijing and Berlin with their daughter.[5][8]

Blixa was a vegetarian for 30 years, breaking with this lifestyle citing the difficulties he had eating vegetarian in China, where he lived with his wife.[8]

He was also a smoker for a long time, but quit smoking in early 2000s[when?]. A sound of Blixa smoking a cigarette is a part of Einstürzende Neubauten's song "Silence Is Sexy" (2000), which could be heard both on studio album and live performances of 2000 world tour.


His current guitars of choice are a Fender Jaguar and a Fender Mustang, as seen on the concert DVD God Is In The House, the partner documentary No More Shall We Part, and various other media appearances. Initially he used a battered Hofner Model 173 and a red Hofner Colorama II until they "broke down." After his effect pedals were stolen in the early eighties, he has exclusively relied on the Fender floating/dynamic tremolo (like the Hofner units) which both raise and lower the pitch, Fender Twin amplifiers, metal slides, and changing his amp settings for each individual song to create a unique guitar sound.[9] He also makes extensive use of the Lexicon JamMan for vocal loops.

Solo discography[edit]

  • 1995 (1995) – "Commissioned Music" (music commissioned and performed for various theatre plays – including a version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow")
  • 1996 (1996) – "Die Sonne" (with Gudrun Gut and Members of the Ocean Club, album and single)
  • 2000 (2000) – "Recycled" (soundtrack composed by Blixa Bargeld, arranged and directed by Tim Isfort and performed by his orchestra)
  • 2001 (2001) – "Elementarteilchen" (audioplay based on Michel Houellebecq's novel Les Particules élémentaires)
  • 2006 (2006) – "Blixa Bargeld liest Bertolt Brecht Erotische Gedichte" (spoken voice recording in German of Bertolt Brecht's erotic poems)
  • 2010 (2010) – "Ret Marut Handshake" (EP) (collaboration with Alva Noto under the moniker ANBB; on the Raster-Noton label)
  • 2010 (2010) – "Mimikry" (with Alva Noto as ANBB, on Raster-Noton label – album also features contributions from Verushka)[10]
  • 2013 (2013) – "Grand Hotel Tbilisi" (track on the compilation Songs of Decadence: A Soundtrack to the Writings of Stanisław Przybyszewski)[11]

Other recordings[edit]

  • 1993 (1993) – Radio Inferno (see also: Inferno)[12](MP3s)[13]
  • 2013 (2013) – Still Smiling by Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld (Specula Records)[4][14]
  • 2014 – Spring by Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld


  • Recycled
  • Die Totale Therapie
  • Die Terroristen!
  • Wings of Desire (as himself, during the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performance)
  • Dandy (1987, directed by Peter Sempel)
  • Nihil oder Alle Zeit der Welt (as himself, 1988, directed by Uli M Schueppel)
  • Kalt wie Eis
  • Jahre der Kälte/Frozen Stories (filmmusic, 1993, directed by Uli M Schueppel)
  • Liebeslieder (1995)
  • Palast der Republik (2004)
  • Halber Mensch (2005)
  • On Tour with (2006)
  • Listen With Pain (2006)
  • Blixa Bargeld: Rede / Speech DVD (2006)
  • Elektrokohle – von wegen (as himself, filmmusic, (1994, directed by Uli M Schueppel)
  • Hornbach commercials (German hardware store) reading tool catalogs as spoken word


  1. ^ EN: 20 ans de Nostalgie
  2. ^ Mother Juno album sleeve.
  3. ^ "Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld in concert". Teho Teardo. Teho Teardo. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Sam Wiseman (25 June 2013). "Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld – Still Smiling". The Skinny. Radge Media Limited. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Mein Leben – Blixa Bargeld" (Documentary Film directed by Birgit Herdlitschke, ZDF / ARTE, Germany 2008)
  6. ^ "Designing Media Interview of Blixa Bargeld and Erin Zhu". Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  7. ^ "Ideo". Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  8. ^ a b Ich war ja nie der Punk, der vorm Postamt rumsteht, 2009 interview, (German)
  9. ^
  10. ^ DNC. "Tiny Mix Tapes Review of Mimikry by ANB". Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  11. ^ "Various – Songs Of Decadence: A Soundtrack To The Writings Of Stanislaw Przybyszewski". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Musical Radio Theater Version of Dante's Divine Comedy". 
  13. ^ WFMU's Beware of the Blog. WFMU. 18 February 2007 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Teho Teardo (10 April 2013). "Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld - Mi Scusi (video edit)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 

External links[edit]