I’d been planning to write a piece on Silvia for some time now. Yet despite several attempts, I could never quite see it through. Something had kept me from it, as if I wasn’t worthy to touch upon such a mysterious blast from the past. Perhaps it should’ve been kept there, in memories. But since Dark Entries (who else?) has released a reissue last month I thought I’d better get to writing it quick.
I found out about the record a few years ago. I had just started collecting vinyl and was beginning to look beyond the general stock at Clone Records in Rotterdam. Back then I’d play much more straightforward techno when I would DJ, but I was always listening to a wide range of other music too.
It wasn’t a super unknown record, but at upwards of £150 it was very out of reach anyway. Now I know some people who would pay that amount of money for records, but I’m not one of them. So as any sane person would, I soulseeked it.
When I first heard Silvia’s voice I was immediately hooked; for reasons that I still can’t comprehend might I add. The singing is generally monotonous, the basslines aren’t that complex, the drum programming is quite simple (especially considering it was produced by Herr Stumpff) and its overall momentum ain’t anything to die for either.
Yet, this record changed me. I was in love. With Silvia.
To my surprise, Silvia never released another record. Who was this mysterious woman, who has never been heard from again?
Silvia is the self-titled album of Silvia Nemanic and lead singer of Der KFC Tommi Stumpff. It was originally released in 1982 on Schallmauer – a German punk and new wave label founded in 1980 by two brothers and record shop owners Lothar and Eckhard Rieger. It went bust three years later in 1983. I don’t think the Rieger brothers realized what gold they had in their hands with this record, because with regards to the early death of their label, they had once offered this explanation: “Who needs Tommi Stumpff’s friend Silvia with her bad DAF rip-offs?”
Tommi and Silvia had dated in the 70s back when he was the singer of Düsseldorf punk band Der KFC. Some of you might know him from his early work (which is amazing); others might recognize his sound from the relatively recent Macadam Mambo hit record by Traxx / Npnk – Revenge of the Poulet Cat, which features two edits of Tommi Stumpff’s original tracks “Crêve Petit Con” and “Helden Sterben Nie Allein” from the 1982 album Zu Spät Ihr Scheißer.
Silvia basically landed this particular album by accident. It just so happened that back in 1982, Der KFC had completed recording work on their new album a day earlier than expected. Rather than let their extra time at Düsseldorf’s Klangwerkstatt studio go to waste, Tommi quickly wrote up a few extra songs; and given Tommi and Silvia were dating at the time, they thought it fitting that she should sing on it, despite her lack of any prior musical experience.
Years later, Tommi would publicly state that Silvia’s contribution to the album was not to be neglected, explaining: “Silvia had co-shaped the general concept; meaning that she had indicated the general direction of both the music and the lyrics.”
For the album cover, it was said that Silvia – a punk girl at heart – had received a major overhaul to give her a true New German Wave (NDW) look.
I would’ve loved to see what Silvia looked like pre-makeover. I’ve always felt that the sleeve image was slightly out of tune with the rawness of her voice. In fact, she had a much lower voice that they’d pitched up to match the instrumentals. Although I’m a big fan of Josh Cheon’s label Dark Entries and own a lot of the records they’ve reissued, I have mixed feelings about the rereleasing of Silvia. I must admit I’d immediately ordered a copy once I found out, but something tells me that this will be the end of an era for me.
Sometimes the mystery and the hunt can be much more exciting than actually getting your hands on the treasure itself.
Now that this dream is gone, I’m not sure how I’d feel, because what is a person without dreams? As my love Silvia had sung beautifully once, this might just be… Das Ende Vom Traum.
Dark Entries. (2017, February 27). Silvia – Silvia LP. [Product Page]. Retrieved from:
Minimal Wave. (2007, December 13 ). Silvia LP / Tommi Stumpff [Forum Post]. Retrieved from: http://minimalwave.com/forums/viewthread/783/