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911 Turbo Bring German Techno to Canada’s Prairies

The electronic music duo aren’t going to let being in Saskatoon and not being German stop them from making German techno in Saskatchewan.

Photo By Tristan Becker

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan may be thousands of kilometres away from Germany and the Autobahn highway, but talking to 911 Turbo, you’d never know. 911 Turbo is a German techno outfit from the middle of the Canadian prairies, and although none of its members are remotely German, they speak in convincing accents and wear the leather pants, brightly colored sunglasses and gaudy jackets that evoke the stereotypical Euro-trash club goer. Everything the band sings and says—even their tweets and Facebook posts—is done in a German accent. This might all sound weird or absurd, and believe me, it is, but it’s also what makes 911 Turbo truly unique and hilarious.


911 Turbo’s music is heavy on the synths and pseudo-German accents. Their music is old school, beat-driven European weirdness. The influence of electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk is obvious; simple, but catchy melodies, repetitive vocals that are heavy on the delay and reverb and of course, loads of synths. Yet 911 Turbo keep it light-hearted and its member definitely lack the stoic nature that is prevalent in many of Kraftwerk’s music videos and performances. With song titles like “Mein Porsche,” “Lipstick Lovestick,” and “Straight to Ze Top,” it’s clear that these guys are out to have fun with their music.

911 Turbo has two core members: Von Hattie and Von Trask. The band has seen a number of others join periodically, but Von Trask informed me that “They are many makes and models, but you can’t have 911 Turbo without Von Hattie and Von Trask.” Von Trask invited me to one of the band’s practice sessions, which took place at a karaoke bar in Saskatoon. When I arrived, Von Hattie and Von Trask were already a few beers deep and had ditched the karaoke hits in favor of their own songs. As the lyrics to Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” roll silently across the screen, Von Hattie informs me that they actually say “Won’t you be my cigarette? In the Discotheque.” Through the entire hour-and-a-half I spent there, neither of them broke character for a single second. Von Trask and Von Hattie are so committed to the German techno gig that even when we settled down for a question and answer between songs, they insisted on doing the interview through the karaoke mics with the delay on, giving the whole thing an echo-y sound which Von Trask said fits the band’s new stadium sound.


Photo By Tristan Becker

Von Trask and Von Hattie’s enthusiasm is infectious and soon enough, their songs about driving too fast, lasers and random sex had me wanting to trade in my Chevrolet Cobalt for a Volkswagen and cruise the autobahn. Just like 911 Turbo itself, their lyrics are completely over the top. One of their newest songs, “Cruise Control” features the lines “The ivory seat covers in my car were very expensive, and highly illegal. Let’s drive into the horizon. What will we do when we get there? Maybe have some sex. I hope we don’t wreck my seat covers when I get you in the backseat.”

What I saw in that karaoke room on a Thursday night offers a pretty good glimpse into what 911 Turbo’s live shows are like. Through their performances, they look to capture the look and feeling of a German club, circa 1975. The shows are about more than just the music; they’re about the experience. This is because 911 Turbo isn’t just a band, it is performance art. It starts with the fake accents, absurd costumes and over-the-top lyrics and ends with the energetic, club atmosphere of their live performances. Whether they’re playing in a basement bar with ten people in the crowd or at a strip club between the dancers and the crowd, 911 Turbo wants to show their fans the time possible.

Noisey: What is German techno to you guys and how’s it different from other electronic music?
Von Trask: Probably the German accents.
Von Hattie: And the driving force, in that we’re driving faster than everyone else. But sometimes, you have a band like Kraftwerk, who just puts it in cruise control and takes you on a journey on the Autobahn. But most of the time, in the modern day, it’s about going faster than the other guys.
Trask: That’s a very deep question you ask. Too deep to dig into just yet. You have to let the booze do the talking.


How did a German techno band end up in Saskatchewan?
Hattie: Potholes.
Trask: Yes, exactly, that’s the short answer. The long answer is that the crowds have given us something we just can’t find anywhere else.

911 Turbo is about more than just the music: it’s about the party too, right?
Trask: It’s more about the lifestyle.
Hattie: It’s about breaking the speed limit. We just try to take it faster and higher to places where nobody has ever been. We’re just trying to explore the space…the outer space. We’re trying to get into the scientist, black hole shit space. We’re trying to get everywhere. That’s how big 911 Turbo wants to be.

What inspires you guys to do this?
Trask: The booze, the ladies, the smoke machines and laser beams… the love of the game. That’s another deep question. It’s like asking ‘why do you want to be alive on the planet Earth?’ It’s a loaded question. It’s because ‘why not?’ We know what to do. But what do you do? Maybe you come to the show, you have the Jägermeister bottle and you don’t remember it, so you go and see the next one and we keep putting out the hits.
Hattie: It’s not that it’s about the party as much as the party is about everything else.

Tell me about some of your best party stories.
Trask: One time they caught people having sex at the show in the back. That was a nice notch on the belt. We are making the music people want to have sex to, in the bar.
Hattie: There was one time in Calgary, Alberta where the smoke machine set off the old school fire alarms. So we were playing and it was very smoky, and then the firemen started walking across the front of the stage and we thought ‘oh, we are being followed by the male strippers,’ but then we realized that there were seven or eight firetrucks out front of the venue because they thought we were burning the house down. Which we were. They knew we were on fire.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen another band member do on stage?
Trask: We’ve played naked. We’ve done many crazy things. We have had to yell at other band members. Sometime we smoke the cigarettes on stage, inside.
Hattie: We’ve seen a band member fall off the stool of the drums because he was too drunk to play live. Lots of the stories are illegal though. We don’t know how much we can say. Like driving down the Calgary freeway in reverse… I was not there. We’ve done that, but I was not there.

Scott Davidson is a writer living in Saskatoon - @TheEveningRed