conceptual composer, music producer, performer and writer Holger Hiller has produced a number of blueprints equally friendly to the mainstream while staying fairly avant-garde by his principle creative standards. He has contributed to the search for identity in German popular music, as well as to the application of montage principals and integration of diverse styles into global contemporary music through his personal vision. He is currently based in Berlin.
Born in Hamburg at the end of the fifties into a working class background, Holger Hiller becomes immersed in many aspects of pop culture at a very early age. Learning classical guitar, he develops a love for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. At around 12 years Holger meets the influential band “Faust” and gets into contact with the experimental life styles of the late sixties. In his teen years this leads to an interest in the works of Sigmund Freud and the creative methods of “automatic writing”. Due to his unstable family background Holger drops out of school to play in a number of local bands. In 1976 he is being taught concept improvisation by Lilli Friedeman, a pupil of the German composer Paul Hindemith and despite their age gap, she is over 70 years old, the two develop a close friendship. In the process Holger becomes familiar with the work of orchestral composers of the twentieth century.
punk new wave scene in Germany
Influenced by punk music Holger develops his own vision of how the DIY approach could be adapted to defining a new identity to German music. The result is the founding of the band Palais Schaumburg in 1980, whose unique sound and lyrics become one of the major influence among German musicians and artists during that period. Being Palais Schaumburg's singer, Holger’s texts provide a network of complex textures of meaning in the groups work.
solo career and London years
Holger enrolls for art school, and becomes interested in cultural theory. He composes a short video opera called "Guten Morgen Hose" in 1982 together with Andreas Dorau and supplies the text.
In 1983 he embarks on a solo career, with the release of the debut, Ein Bündel Fäulnis In Der Grube, an album ahead of its time, pioneering the use of sampling and lyrics based on structural methods.
Hiller moves to London, after an extensive stay in Tokyo, which sees him tour Japan and Europe with synchronised video projections. As samplers and computers become available to a wide audience, Holger applies the idea of montage as a major compositional principal to music and to the synchronisation of sound and video. He produces a music video in collaboration with the video artist Akiko Hada and the musician Karl Bonnie entitled Ohi Ho Bang Bang. It is composed from film cut-ups and noises that are turned into music entirely by the editing process of the video.
Due to low sales and continuing financial pressures, Holger works in the studio of Mute Records as a music editor, operator and remixer, absorbing the upcoming trends of electronic dance music, while the theoretical work of Roland Barthes and Frederic Jameson become a new source of inspiration, resulting in dance-remix style deconstruction of his work in collaboration with DJ AJ of Renegade Soundwave. As his financial situation worsens, Holger commutes between London and Germany, making music for TV commercials.
In 1995 Hiller releases a very personal audio documentary entitled Little Present which details his visits to his five year old son in Tokyo. Although separated from the child's mother, the two are very close and when the boy moves to London in 1997 Hiller gives up music for three years to spend more time with him.
In the late 1990s Holger is involved in a variety of projects, electronic music workshops and an art exhibition at the Pudel Club in Hamburg. The year 2000 sees Holger working extensively on producing, arranging and conceptually developing an album with the female vocal group Azucar Letal in Havana, Cuba, as well as defining and launching a new Latin crossover style called Electrolatino and recording an album for Mute Records.
The year 2001 sees Holger going through financial and personal crisis, during which he moves to Berlin, to take a long creative break. In 2009 Holger finds back to his creative energy, performing live in Berlin, France and the Netherlands. In 2010 Holger plays several concerts in Russia and Barcelona, followed by an exhibition in 2011 with painter Albert Oehlen in Berlin, showing works combining musical montage with visual prints.