This post ran originally on THUMP Germany. Egotronic's "Raven gegen Deutschland" (raving against Germany) was what first got me into politics. To be perfectly honest, when I first heard it, I thought "raven" (to rave) was a person's name—though, to be fair, I was only 13 at the time. The lyrics still would have made sense—the song could be about someone named Raven who's going up against the political system in Germany. But I found out later in life what the song really meant.
In his autobiography Raven wegen Deutschland [sic] (Raving because of Germany) Egotronic frontman Torsen sums up the process of writing it as follows:
In 2006, there was an increase in the number of Nazi attacks on left-wingers and "foreign"-looking people [in Germany]. Torsun and a few of his friends took their truck to a dance demonstration against these Nazi attacks. They brought along banners and a couple of cardboard signs that referenced the legendary Slime lyrics "Deutschland muss sterben, damit wir leben können" (Germany must die so that we can live): "Deutschland muss sterben, damit wir raven können" (Germany must die so that we can rave).
A few days later, Torsun decided to change this slogan into "Raven gegen Deutschland" and write a song around it.
An "anti-fascist" music video that a fan set to the song "Raven gegen Deutschland"
When the song came out ten years ago, it was one of the first to combine electronic party music with clear left-wing, antifascists, and even anti-German politics—and it became pretty popular in doing so. "For myself, the statement behind the song was something along the lines of: Yes, we're partying. Yes, we're going over the top with it. And no, we're still not ready to accept conditions as they currently are," says Torsun to THUMP over the phone.
A lot of people in his scene were ready to rave against Germany. However, for a long time, a lot of left-wing venues took a critical stance towards electronic music. "At the beginning of the 90s, when I really started getting politically active, [the left-wing scene] only really tolerated drunken parties at social centers," recalls the Egotronic founder. "Techno and drugs were incredibly unpopular back then." But, as he describes it, the scene changed over time, so by the time the song came out it was much more open to electronic music as a whole.
"Techno and drugs were incredibly unpopular back then" — Torsun
Either way, "Raven Gegen Deutschland" definitely played a big role in paving the way for electronic music into the left-wing scene. For many, the song became the soundtrack of a new party lifestyle, which started to coexist next to the political activist work.
"The cokehead and pillhead anti-fascists loved [techno], of course," says Daniel Fallenstein of "Raven gegen Deutschland," who saw this song as "the beginning of the end" for Egotronic. At the time, the journalist was deeply entrenched in the city's electronic scene. "The song "Ten German Bombers," a cover of a British football chant by Torsun feat. Koks & Pillen from two years before, "was much better, despite [Torsun's] awful German accent," says Fallenstein."And when "V36" [also by Egotronic] would come on 12 years ago in some smoky, boiling hot, overcrowded living room in Friedrichshain, the feeling was unbeatable."
Torsun, at any rate, thinks it's great that Egotronic played a part in that: "I definitely think I have the right to claim that we were partially responsible for getting electronic music accepted at social centers." Peter, Egotronic's live mixer, comes from the techno scene and once said that Egotronic got more people into techno that any techno DJ he could think of. Torsun's band was one of the forerunners of political electronic music, too. "We were pretty much the first pure electronic act that made waves across social centers throughout the country," he says.
Egotronic upped the ante in 2011 with songs such as "Tolerante Nazis" ("Tolerant Nazis") which referenced "Raven Gegen Deutschland."
The fact that "Raven gegen Deutschland" got so popular is due in no small part to its catchy melody and a chorus that makes you want to chant along. The song also brought Egotronic to a wider audience, even beyond the anti-German scene. (The Anti-Germans are a faction within Germany's radical left that opposes German nationalism and other social constructs).
However, not everyone is happy about the increasingly electronic feel of left-wing music: "Some members of the anti-German scene claim that Egotronic brought in the dumb partying more commonly associated with the classic techno scene," explains Marc, a fan who's been familiar with Egotronic and Torsun since 2012. However, Marc is certain that this development isn't just Egotronic's fault, and identifies several contributing factors instead.
"Right now, I'm more about attacking the shift to the right, and isolationism" – Torsun
Daniel Fallenstein also recognizes—and criticizes—this new kind of hedonism. For him, "Raven gegen Deutschland" is one reason why "these days we [now only see] a pathetic version of anti-fascism out on the street [in Germany] that doesn't even address concepts such as right-wing populism and the Identitarian movement, and which definitely can't sustainably counteract them." Meanwhile, Torsun himself wouldn't write the song the same way if he did it today: " Right now, I'm more about attacking the shift to the right and isolationism, and that's exactly what the songs I'm writing right now reflect."
Regardless of whether "Raven gegen Deutschland" is responsible for dumb partying in parts of the anti-German scene or if it represents the 'beginning of the end' of Egotronic, this song and its lyrics still undeniably enjoy cult popularity across a broad swathe of the left-wing scene—and not just among the anti-Germans, either.