Hong Kong Syndikat – Too Much
What was the relationship between politics and music in the 80s? Excluding the fact that there was a whole vein of real protest, especially in England, but also in other countries (just think of the “Politicians’ Granny” of Tears For Fears in Sowing the Seeds of Love, or Everything But the Girl with When All’s Well), then there were other songs that recalled aspects of politics but in a much lighter context or completely disconnected from historical events. And so there was an Election Day by Arcadia, we had the song The Politics of Dancing by Re-Flex … and what about social organizations? Well on this we were strong: we had the most transgressive and provocative union in the world: the Hong Kong Syndikat!
A group absolutely on the border between madness and genius that was formed in 1980 in Berlin (or rather, in West Berlin) where three guys from Bremen were trying to wrest a contract from a label. And in fact they succeeded, making a very electronic German pop out of the box. In particular, among the three boys there is one who will become a little better known over time, Gerd Plez. The surname Plez is pronounced almost like the word Platz, which means Square, or at the plural form Plätze, on which the puns of his friends often focus.
In particular, when they have to find a name for the group, they refer to one of Gerd’s passions, who was a great admirer of everything that came from Hong Kong, in the 80s a distant but also mysterious and fascinating reality, and a border between the British empire and China, between her majesty and the dragon society. Plez was often referred to as “Hong Kong Plez”, which often became Hong Kong Platz. And a part of this game ended up in the name of the group, with the word Syndikat calling to a tone of seriousness.
Between 1983 and 1984 an important thing happens for Hong Kong Syndikat: on the advice of the record company they decided to switch from German lyrics to English lyrics, which quickly led them to have a certain fame especially in America. And of course it also helped them in Europe, where they first made an album produced by Rusty Egan, former member of Steve Strange’s Visage at the time of the unforgettable Fade to Grey, and then in 1985 they released their third album Never Too Much. After having obtained a moderate success with Concrete and Clay, they entered the history of the 80s with the incredible success of Too Much.
The lyrics of the song are more than allusive, I would say that they are really explicit, about a man who is exhausted by the relationship with his partner. During the day he is exhausted by the work he does of her to guarantee her a certain standard of living, and at night he is of course exhausted by her unstoppable exuberance. The video became famous not only for the more than explicit allusions, but also for the image of Hong Kong Syndikat as a somewhat rambling group, but definitely ironic and witty.
The fame of the Hong Kong Syndikat after that moment took an irreversible downward trend and in fact they disappeared from the scene of the 80s. In fact, in the period between the eighties and nineties we find Gerd Plez (who incidentally was the one with short hair, with the jacket, perhaps the most serious of the group) as a songwriter, especially in German. He also collaborated with Falco, writing the lyrics for some songs of which the best known was perhaps Tanja P, nicht Cindy C., inspired by supermodels Tatjana Patitz and Cindy Crawford – evidently Falco and Gerd Plez had passions in common.
In short, Hong Kong Syndikat obviously are often included in the category of the meteors of the 80s, but even in their case the success, however quick and short, was actually based on genius and musical skills. The syndicate of music!
Hong Kong Syndikat on Wikipedia