Conny Plank – The potential of Noise

Conny Plank – The potential of Noise

a film by Reto Caduff and Stephan Plank

Germany 2017, 92 minutes, German-English original version with German subtitles.

With Annette Humpe, David Stewart, Michael Rother, Gianna Nannini, DAF, Scorpions, Whodini, Ultravox and others.

Konrad „Conny“ Plank (1940-1987) was one of the most innovative sound designers and music producers of his time. The recordings that were made in his legendary recording studio in Wolperath near Cologne from the 1960s onwards revolutionized the music world. He pioneered Krautrock and paved the way for electronically influenced pop music. Bands and artists like NEU!, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Ultravox and the Eurythmics recorded with him and still emphasize the influence he had on their music. Without Plank, Gianna Nannini would probably have sung in English forever, and had he been more sympathetic to a certain Bono, U2’s „Joshua Tree“ would sound very different today. – When Conny died at the age of only 47, his son Stephan was just 13 years old. 25 years later, together with co-director Reto Caduff, he set out to find the man he often only experienced behind the mixing desk as a child. At the same time, it also became a search for his father’s artistic legacy. He met up with Conny’s old friends and companions: with Annette Humpe and the Scorpions, with Gianna Nannini, Devo, Ultravox and many more. Private, mostly unreleased archive footage, alternates with personal interviews in which the musicians* provide insights into Conny’s meticulous and highly empathetic working methods. The emotional portrait of the legendary Conny Plank thus also becomes a fascinating journey through the national and international pop music history of the 70s and 80s.

Director Stephan Plank about his film:

My father was the music producer and artist Conny Plank. Kraftwerk, the Eurythmics, Gianna Nannini, David Bowie, Brian Eno, NEU!, Ultravox, Killing Joke, Les Rita Mitsouko, Can, Nina Hagen, DAF, Ideal, the Einstürzende Neubauten and countless other musicians recorded their songs in our home studio.

We lived on a farm near Cologne. Our house was always full of musicians. We were like a family, living together in the same house, eating at the same table, brushing our teeth at the same sink.

When my father died, I was 13 years old. He was an elemental force who had infinite strength and creativity. He was a pioneer who anticipated technical developments and shaped new musical styles. But he was also Hamburg’s only chain-smoking marathon runner. He is said to have hardly slept for over two years, rode his bicycle across the Alps to Italy and could tell jokes that had people roaring with laughter on the floor.

My father worked around the clock. And I practically grew up in the studio. He was permanently present, but not really available. In fact, we only had a few moments together.

As a little boy, I didn’t understand my father’s work. All my life I’ve been defined by him. Everywhere I go, I am introduced with the words, „This is Stephan, Conny’s son.“

Twenty-five years after my father’s death, I was ready to confront his myth. I wanted to find out what he left behind, how strong he really was, which stories were true and which were not. During my work on Conny Plank – The Potential of Noise I found answers to these questions.