Edwin Alter, of Die Sektor, and I had the chance to talk recently about some remixing and things for the new [product] album/EP and it turns out he’s had a lot of the same experiences I have had with music. I asked him to do this interview based on some questions I had, but also because I know it would be interesting for fans to read about things that they might not have heard about yet, like the new (new) Die Sektor album that is in the process of being mastered now! 

Interview: Die Sektor


Current Release: Applied Structure In A Void
Label: COP Int, Noitekk, DWA

Die Sektor released Applied Structure In A Void in early 2011, which turned out to be a very different album than I think most people were expecting. Overall I believe it was extremely well received – Did you expect some flack for sort of abandoning the A-typical TerrorEBM sound?

EA: Yes, we did. We had no doubt there would be a fair amount of misunderstanding and those who wouldn’t give the album a chance. However, we were unsure what the broader reaction would be and were very surprised at how well it was received by parts of our audience. There is a sample in the first song on the album of a man playing Russian roulette. I interpret that sample as Die Sektor playing Russian roulette. Fortunately we won.

There were a lot of different influences sighted for Applied Structure; what were some of your influences vocally for the new songs?

EA: We are big fans of various vocalist and their styles but try to go our own way and not use the influences in songs consciously. Going back and listening to the album I can hear certain influences more strongly. Daniel Myer (Haujobb), Ogre (Skinny Puppy), Skold/Sascha (KMFDM), Trent Reznor (NIN), Dismantled and Marilyn Manson. Lyrically Raymond Watts (Pig).

Following the release, you guys hit the road for a little bit and played a number of shows on the southern east coast here in the US – What cities would you most like to play in the future?

EA: The big cities always stand a chance to bring a large crowd. New York, L.A., Chicago. Most cities we have played we would play again. We seem to have the largest fan base in L.A. so we want to make it out West in 2012.

Do you have any plans to take Die Sektor overseas/out of country, and if so – where would you hit first?

EA: We would love to play Mexico City again and we have a good fan base in South America and Mexico so that would be great but nothing planned right now. We had plans to take the show to Europe in 2012 early on but have since changed those plans to a possible West Coast tour instead. One of the problems we have faced going to Europe is that we have a 4 man band. We have received offers and interest but for a band of our scale they want us to have a 2 man band to cut down on cost. We have been working this winter on making a 2 man Die Sektor set with the same quality and impact. So we will see what happens.

If you could tour with one band (in current rotation) who would it be?

EA: Best case would be a good mainstream act along the lines of NIN or MM so that we could get exposed to a larger audience. If I was to go with more industrial related bands then KMFDM or Combichrist. You know the tour would be organized well and you would play to good size crowds. I think it would be most fun to tour with DYM, vProjekt, SML8 and Omen Machine.

There is already talk of a new album – How far along is it, and do you have a title yet or any common themes?

EA: It’s complete. We are getting our tracks ready for mastering. The artwork is almost complete along with all titles. It’s hard to say when it will come out as it takes a few months to master, manufacture and package the album. Then the label has to find a good release slot. We have heard from March to May.

The album is titled “The Final Electro Solution”. As far as theme we describe a combination of a concept album of a mental and physical apocalypse, a sarcastic stab and a nervous breakdown- in stereo. Lol

It has a much darker tone than Applied Structure both in sound and lyric.

Is the new material primarily software or hardware based? And what are your views on the advantages of either one?

EA: The first Die Sektor EP Scraping the Flesh was more hardware based and written almost entirely on a Yamaha Motif. Since that point Die Sektor has been 90% software. There are plenty of occasional Motif appearances and some cameos from the Nord lead. Software is so much easier a simple to write with when you are recording everything into a sequencer like Logic. Die Sektor uses a lot of sampled sounds and we make our own sounds by layering samples and synths so the workflow is easier when working with software. The only real advantage of hardware is if you find an amazing sound that you can’t recreate in the box. You always have the option of writing some midi sequences into your sequencer and then dialing up a sound on your hardware synth if you can’t find a good soft synth sound. That method has been used in the DS studio several times.

I know that Daniel Grant has his own side project going, Chloral One – are there any other projects sprouting off from within the Die Sektor camp?

EA: Scott had one called A Silicon Wasteland that has a few songs floating around on the web. That project morphed into a new project that we will announce after the next album. It has a very mainstream electro/alternative sound with some dubstep elements. Scott also has some solo instrumental stuff floating around under the name sK0tt deadman.

We have been putting together ideas for a new project we are going to work on after this next Die Sektor album. It will be mainly instrumental but will not have any boundaries of genre. No restraints. Not sure of the spelling yet but the project name is Fuck You.

You had mentioned to me in an earlier conversation that Die Sektor had fans popping up in Middle Eastern Countries, which have been under some turmoil recently with protests and all kinds of governments being overthrown. Do you believe that industrial music sort of follows political turmoil or social unrest?

EA: I think music is often found everywhere and always. The tone that it takes can tell you about a time and place, communicating what words alone can’t explain. I would be willing to bet if any industrial music was to come out of those regions that it would be very dark. But I might argue that since they are at least making music, music with a strong beat too, that they are expressing a form of freedom and showing perhaps a flash of optimism.

Are there any clubs that you guys frequent in the Atlanta area that I should check out if ever to stop down south?

EA: There’s pretty much a constant rotation of different club nights I will usually check out a few times.

Every tour has something ridiculous happen, no matter how small it is – Did you have any ridiculousness happen on your last outings?

EA: No doubt there was plenty but most of it too embarrassing to bring up. There was a venue where we had to steal power from another business. One of the guys in one of the other bands knew how to do it. Getting dressed and doing makeup by a cell phone flash light while people keep walking in on you. A lot of stuff like that. Maybe just as much lameness as ridiculousness.

If you could make a music video for any of your songs, which one would you choose?

EA: A new song called “The Final Electro Delusion”. Off the last album I would say if we did one then it should be “Accelerant” probably. For fun I would pick “Dissector”.

Are you playing any video games right now, and if so what system is your preferred system?

EA: I prefer the PS3 system hands down. Right now I am playing Skyrim. It’s really good. I prefer RPG’s usually but I like a few action games like Arkham city and Assassins Creed. Daniel is playing Skyrim too right now.

What new release are you currently listening to? EA: Been on a kick lately looking for rare and obscure late 50’s early 60’s music. As far as new releases for 2011 I probably listened to the new Dismantled and new Haujobb the most. The Korean pop band 2NE1 had some cool stuff in 2011.

What would you say was the most influential album when you think about when you first got into industrial music?

EA: NIN “The Downward Spiral”

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, and we here at A Dark Figure are definitely looking forward to your future endeavors and seeing you on the West Coast sometime in the future!

EA: Thank you. Look forward to doing it again someday!

Distorted Memory, for me is a very influential band not only for my own music, but for many others I know. The sound is very distinct, and different from a lot of music out there right now - very broadly influenced. “Burning Heaven” was a pretty pinacle album that I definitely think you should revisit. “Swallow The Sun” (2011) however, is a groundbreaking album. It combines a lot of tribal and rhythmic sounds, which I usually am not a fan of in industrial, and a very raw aggression that is presented perfectly by the images of the album. I had the great opportunity to work with Jeremy on my latest EP, and I can honestly say it is a spectacular remix, and was a spectacular experience overall. I had the opportunity to catch him via email this week, and he specifically requested some obscure questions, siting that he is bored to death of your regular-I-dont-listen-to-your-music-really interviews! I did not disappoint. This is a fan interview for fans. 

Interview: Distorted Memory

Swallowing the Sun was a very different album, both in theme and general style, than Burning Heaven –What were some of the thematic or literary influences for Swallowing the Sun?

This should be an easy question to answer, but it’s not, simply because Swallowing the Sun was written over such a long period of time (4 years). So the influences weren’t specific, over that time there were many different ones, some that I probably can’t recall at this point. But I think the biggest underlying theme or idea that was running through my head during writing was in regards to the destruction of our planet. The album isn’t an obvious “save the planet” type hippy album, but most of the songs do center around the notion that we are headed in a direction that we may not be able to turn back from in regards to how we treat the earth. In a way Burning Heaven had a similar theme, but it was more hidden in anti-religious metaphor. As far as literary influence goes the work of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris always play a role in my life and my music.

The vocal style is also much different on Swallowing the Sun, much more raw sounding – How did you come to this new style and do you think that you will continue to use it on future Distorted Memory releases?

It pretty much started with live shows. I decided early on that I wouldn’t be able to match the vocal processing used on Burning Heaven in a live situation. It would leave too much room for potential feedback issues. I also don’t like the idea of live vocalists drowning themselves in effects. So when we started performing that material live I decided to strip down the effects to just a little pitch modulation and delay. By doing this I was forced to create more of the distorted, evil tones with my own voice. After doing this for a while my keyboardist at the time said to me that the next album should have vocals similar to the live stuff. When it came time to record the albums vocals the new member, Tim, was brought in and it was his job to record and engineer the vocals. He comes from a rock background and pretty much flat out said that he didn’t want to do anything with lots of effects. So from there we started experimenting with getting the tone we wanted just by using different microphones, preamps, and my own voice. I am pretty happy with the result, and the new direction. I don’t think it was perfect on Swallowing the Sun, so the next album will continue in this vein but will be even more refined.

Distorted Memory in studio!

What one piece of hardware do you think is critical to your studio set up?

Well avoiding the obvious computer, audio interface, monitors answer I’d have to say the NI Maschine. Although it is technically software with a controller, that controller has proved to be my most valuable piece of kit lately. My studio has seen many different hardware synths go through it over the years, most of which only stay for a while until I realize that I only had gear lust for them and they weren’t actually that important to my creativity. Of all the synths I’ve owned over the past decade (Virus C, Virus TI, Blofeld, V-Synth, MS2000, Waldorf XTK, and a bunch more not worth naming) the only ones that have stayed as permanent fixtures are the two Viruses. However the NI Maschine won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It got a lot of use on Swallowing the Sun. All of the percussion was programmed on it. It was especially useful when creating all of the tribal percussion on the album, which I programmed myself, no loops were used. I don’t think I would have been able to create realistic world percussion using only a midi editor.

Secondarily to the last question, what hardware would you most like to get, if money were not an issue?

Well if money wasn’t an issue, if I won the lottery for example, the first thing I would buy is a Euphonix System 5-MC…but running at over $100,000 I don’t think that will happen anytime soon :) I need to start writing more commercially viable music.

You recently went to the US for your first show at the Cyber Genetic Winter Festival in Texas – What are some differences between Canadian audiences and American Audiences?

I can’t say that there really were any huge differences. I can say though that it was amazing to see so many people from so far away going crazy to our songs and singing along to all the words. Actually there is one big difference between American and Canadian audiences, the Americans are hilariously paranoid about smoking weed and getting caught. In Canada no one thinks about that, if you want to smoke a joint you go outside and have one with the other people smoking cigarettes. Not that I am a big smoker, but I always find it funny when people at a show are “looking for a place to smoke”….only in America.

Distorted Memory live in Texas!

What additions would you make, again if money were not a factor, to the live show?

I would love to have a dedicated light technician, video technician, and costume designer. The video technician is something that will probably actually happen if we do a road tour, the only thing stopping it at this point is that it is too expensive to add another person for fly in shows. If money was not an option I would find and hire whoever is the art director / costume designer for Fever Ray as they are making use of a similar aesthetic that I envision for Distorted Memory.

What is the most influential live show you have ever seen?

Ever? Well there are a few that stand out. Austra and Peaches are two big ones for me. But the number one is as far removed as you can get from industrial music. Leonard Cohen, to this day it is the best performance I have ever seen. It also taught me a lot about what it means to be a performer. In the same respect all the bands I’ve ever seen that don’t play the songs you are expecting to hear have taught me not to do that. It is our job to play the music people want to hear, not just the newest stuff that we ourselves are currently enjoying. I don’t care how sick I get of songs from Burning Heaven, I will always play a few because I know there are people in the crowd wanting to hear them.

When you aren’t making music, or working the day job, what other hobbies do you have?

I think %90 of my time not at work, or producing is taken up by listening to music. I have a sick addiction to music. I spend a questionable amount of time searching out new music If I don’t find something new every few days I go crazy. Aside from that I enjoy cooking. I grew up in a typical Ukrainian family where food=life=love and this has always stuck with me. My wife is a vegan, and I am a farm boy who loves meat so I have learned to be a very creative and efficient cook. I also spend a lot of time watching movies, and tv series that I like…and way too much time doing nothing productive on the internet.

What was the first industrial CD you ever bought?

I actually remember this, Skinny Puppy – Bites and Remission. I was maybe 12 years old and I often listened to this experimental radio show on the CBC where they played stuff like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and some early industrial. Anyway, I was in a used CD store and saw this Skinny Puppy disc, I hadn’t heard their music but recognized the name because it was mentioned on that radio show, so I bought it. I still remember coming home and putting it on. From the first seconds of that disc to the very last I sat in awe. My life was changed forever.

Do you go out to clubs often, and if so, what are your views on current “dance hits” within the scene?

Almost never. Mostly because the Industrial night here, which can barely be called an industrial night, is so sad that I can’t be bothered to go. I am really not interested in hearing Marilyn Manson, NIN, Rob Zombie, VNV track from seven years ago, rinse repeat on my saturday nights…. If we had a club night on par with some of the bigger cities I would probably go more often, but even then maybe not because I am not really that into “club” music. I am a pretentious music snob. I’d rather sit at home with a beer and listen to some Legendary Pink dot’s on vinyl through my disgustingly overpriced audiophile set up :) I will be really happy if industrial ever returns to it’s roots and starts bringing some art back to the music. Hard house died in 2000, but unfortunately it’s lifeless zombified remains stay strong in the EBM scene.

If you could re-score any movie, in your own style, what movie would you choose?

That’s tough, do I pick a movie that I love but has a score I do not like? Or a movie that has a score I love, but I would also like to work on? I am going to say The Last Temptation of Christ simply because it is one of my favorite scores of all time and I would like to challenge myself to live up to that standard.

What new releases are you currently listening to?

Lot’s, but since I just compiled a list of my favorite 2011 releases I’ll give you that:
1. Austra - Feel It Break

2. Of The Wand & The Moon - The Lone Descent

3. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
4. Gazelle Twin - The Entire City

5. oHgr - unDeveloped

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. We are looking forward to future Distorted Memory releases and more US shows!

Cheers!

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