Station 17 is a collective of musicians gathered from a Hamburg welfare community of mentally disabled persons.
Significant for connecting people with and without disabilities in a musical context, the group has earned much respect throughout the special needs community, as well as the underground music scene. They have worked with numerous high-profile musicians, ranging from members of Krautrock bands like Can and Neu! to electronic producers such as Thomas Fehlmann and Pole. Additionally, their music has evolved from the more esoteric experiments of their eponymous 1990 debut to techno and electro (on albums like 2001's Hitparade and 2006's Mikroprofessor) to accessible, politically charged indie pop (2014's Alles für Alle).
The group formed out of several late-'80s sessions led by social worker Kai Boysen. Recognizing the immense therapeutic value of music, he organized several jam sessions of spontaneous music. The Phonogram record label stepped in by 1989, financing an album on the condition that all proceeds were plowed back into the Station 17 studio. With limited help from a few professional musicians (including Holger Czukay from Can and F.M. Einheit from Einstürzende Neubauten), six residents of the center recorded several long, improvised jam sessions for a self-titled debut album released in 1990. After 1993's Genau So, a theater group was formed from the project, sparking a series of appearances on television and at festivals, plus the documentary film Station 17: Der Film.
With 1997's Scheibe, Station 17 began moving from a more abstract, instrument-based focus into a form of electronic pop with ties to '70s godfathers Kraftwerk as well as the more recent spate of listening techno. The theater wing continued performing, and took their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream all over the country. One of German electronic music's most devoted disciples, Thomas Fehlmann (Palais Schaumburg, Sun Electric) produced Bravo, Station 17's fourth album, for a 1999 release. Fehlmann also proved indispensable in the hiring process for their 2001 remix album, Hitparade, which featured the top rank of German electronic producers (Pole, To Rococo Rot, the Modernist, Steve Bug).
In 2006, Boysen founded a label called 17rec., and Station 17 returned with Mikroprofessor, their most purely electronic release to date. Goldstein Variationen, which featured collaborations with artists ranging from Michael Rother of Neu! to indie electronic artists like Schneider TM and Barbara Morgenstern, appeared in 2008, with a remix album eventually following in 2011. The same year also brought Fieber, which preceded the polished, urgent pop album Alles für Alle in 2014. Both albums focused on the group's philosophy of inclusion, and their belief that all of the group's members are qualified, regardless of their disabilities. In 2018, Bureau B released Station 17's full-length Blick, another collaboration-heavy release that counted Faust, Andreas Dorau, and Ulrich Schnauss among its participants. ~ John Bush & Paul Simpson, Rovi