I will have to preface this piece by saying that I have been there for a majority of the creation of We Are the Cause of Our Own Despair, because I live with Wes from reakt[ion], and that it has been a pleasure watching this EP come together. WATCOOD is the follow up EP to 2011’s debut EP, Attrition,which brought a hard EBM dance beat down on the Portland crowd with distorted vocals and political undertones. WATCOOD, however, is a step in another direction. Presented at a slower overall tempo, WATCOOD delivers an avid punch in the guy of the human condition with intense breakdowns and just a hint of wobble bass (often found in dubstep.) But make no mistake, this is not a hybrid dubstep project – reakt[ion] manages to bring these elements very clearly to the world of HarshEBM, along the lines of Die Sektor’s Final Electro Solution.
The lyrical content of WATCOOD is something to be mentioned as well. I felt that the content of the first release, while well written, was too politically focused and ignored personal reflection. WATCOOD however is an open wound bleeding out, the words raw and freshly carved out. It is refreshing, to me, to hear such honest, and personal lyrics from this project.
The rainy season had just started here in Portland, Oregon, which tends to last a majority of the year, and it was a lot colder than I expected it to be. I stopped in the army surplus store, which was conveniently located next to the restaurant, to pick up some fingerless gloves for my freezing hands. Nicholas’s is a small hole in the wall Lebanese restaurant just over the bridge on the Southeast side of Portland. Having been here many times I knew to arrive early, right around the dinner opening, to avoid a seating delay. The small restaurant sat about 30 people total, a true homage to Portland’s small big city ambiance; the half finished ceiling can attest to this. Taking a seat in the back I read over the questions I had prepared for the interview with Michael, knowing however that I would probably not get around to many of them due to the nature of the conversations we had in the past. The industrial scene in Portland is a small and cozy scene in which a lot of musicians are familiar with each other and are often on first name basis. I have spoken to Michael many times throughout my years in the scene and am a big supporter of Dead When I Found Her so this kind of prying into his life and music was nothing new to me; I have often prodded him for advice for my own project and shared similar stories.
After waving Michael over, we ordered promptly and began our discussions, talking first about our day jobs and regular people lives, and then moving then into the music realm. Michael works in a job that I would consider mentally taxing, and I was curious whether or not it went home with him and had in some way found its way into the music, as these things often do. Having experience from my own job, I was able to relate to the amount of disconnection he spoke of when talking about work issues and being able to leave them in that environment. The food arrived in the form of large Mediterranean-style bread and many plates of vegan mezza - a collection of chickpea, caramelized onions, and lentils. Every once and a while I would glance at my questions and try to steer the conversation towards them, but in the end we were just two nerds talking about music.
Skinny Puppy, an obvious factor for the everyday world that both Michael and I live in, came up in traditional nerdcore fashion. Too Dark Park played a large part in shaping the atmosphere of Dead When I Found Her’s new album, Rag Doll Blues, which was apparent and respectable to me. I think that the modern musician should spend more time in the pre-90s Skinny Puppy collection. Michael said that he tries to make the music that still holds strong to him, like Caustic Grip by Frontline Assembly; what he loved about these classic albums was the inventive sampling and atmospheric elements that are lost in today’s music. Rag Doll Blues uses an ensemble of custom shaped samples and horns that were not in the previous release, Harm’s Way. Another noticeable difference is the lack of guitars, which Michael says was not intentional. Up until the very end of the album he had been trying to place guitars in at least one track, but it just never worked out the way he wanted.
Another influence I was curious about was a strange Kate Bush feeling the new album had to me, which I find an infinitely beautiful addition to the sound. This is credited, Michael says, to the horn samples and the differences in timing. Tracks like Doll Parts really set this out from any tracks on the previous album. There is always an inherent fear when following up a debut album; will it sound too much like the last, will it just be a fancier version of the same songs, or will it be so completely different that fans will not like it? I shared my own fear of this, having recently released my debut album, and how I felt that most people in the genre simply just perfected the skills they had used on their first album and did not bother to venture out into different realms. In this respect I felt Rag Doll Blues was a perfect transition from Harm’s Way.
Dead When I Found Her has been labeled “Old School Industrial,” which to me is kind of an off putting label. Michael said that he did not mind this label at all because that is what he likes, old school industrial. He also expressed that he did not care for these subgenre labels and that since he has grown up he did not have the patience to keep up with the Aggros and the EBMs. We also discussed what a lot of people call “horror industrial,” and how the original label was a pretty great representation of the music, which at the time was based around horror movie samples.
I asked Michael if he planned to go out on the road and support the album with touring. He replied that when he was younger, like me, the urgency of leaving town and being on the road was far more abundant, but now as he holds a more permanent job and has had these experiences, the inclination towards a stage show has dwindled. He wished only that he would be able to release studio albums and have people respond well to them, and he said that if some of these shows came up, and he and his partner had time in their work schedules to take off, he would love to play live.
Having recently seen Suicide Commando up in Seattle, I brought up an interesting new implementation that I had observed – an Apple iPad on stage with live filtering and remixing. I asked if Michael had any plans to go out and buy any new hardware any time soon. He stated that he liked the idea of hardware synthesizers, and turning knobs is always fun, but in the end the software equivalent was good enough for his creativity. We discussed Ableton Live 8 and the difference between the DAWs that are out today (I personally favor Logic Pro Studio but understand the need to be comfortable in your creative environment.) We talked about how Ableton Live 9 was a mythical creature and seemed to be never coming out. Ironically, one day later the new features were leaked on the Ableton Forums – it was as if they were there listening to us, secretly stealing our hummus when we weren’t looking. Sneaky bastards.
Artoffact Records has been pushing Rag Doll Blues quite strongly, which is extremely good for Michael and Dead When I Found Her. We spoke about the release and how he had expected it to go versus how it was going now, which if you have not had the chance to check out any of the social media websites has been very well. Artoffact has really made it a point to focus on some of these newer bands and push them as far as they will go right away, to the point where the label executives contact me here directly and ask how it is going and how our dinner went – you can tell they are just huge nerds like the rest of us. Michael said that the reception of the new album has been more than he could hope for, and that all of the promotion around the album’s release took him by surprise at first. There is something to be said about a label that is upfront with you and in frequent contact.
As dinner wrapped up and the conversations centered on the local scene and the frustrations over finding the right MIDI controller, we took to the wet streets and went our separate ways. Reflecting now, I see Dead When I Found Her as not only a local act that has been paving the way here in Portland for band like my own, but has been paving the way worldwide. There are not too many albums that have come out in the last year, that I would consider under the Industrial umbrella, that have moved me emotionally like Rag Doll Blues. There are a lot of nostalgic elements in that record that really hit a chord for my old school nerd love for Horse Rotorvator that I had forgotten about. It is a great album, from start to finish and I encourage you to listen to it if you have not.
Today saw the release of the new Distorted Memory singleTemple of the Black Star. Couple of things about this release: It’s free, it’s a work of pure art, and it is a prime example of what we need from industrial/electronic music in the here and the now. Presented in nine movements, Temple of the Black Star is what Distorted Memory has referred to as a ritual track (a collection of tracks mixed into one strong piece of art.) Needless to say there are lessons to be learned here kids, so go buy yourself some Mackie monitors and blast that shit as loud as you possibly can - it’s the only way to summon the dark souls back to the earth.
In all seriousness though - best thing I have heard in months, it is free and you have no excuse to not get it right now: It was self released
I have personally known Wes from reakt[ion] for many years now and have had the privilege of watching this project grow from the ground up.Like any project, there are many phases and years of progression, and I am happy to say that reakt[ion]’s first demo ever “Attrition” has been well worth the wait. There are many elements in “Attrition” that are perfect examples of what is to come from reakt[ion] – hard driving bass lines, epic ensembles, and socio-political expression!
The first track “Sinner” has come in and out of the project from the very beginning – the Harbinger Mix however is a much more advanced and developed version. Solid bass driven song, it makes for a good dance floor track. This is one of those tracks that is straight up aggrotech, in a very good way. Samples, stabbing religious statements, and epic string lines that come in and out in waves of intensity.
Following “Sinner” is another hard hitting aggrotech song “Human,” this one however, has a less traditional 4-on-the-floor drum/snare combo – which I like a lot because it still holds a good dancing rhythm. There is definitely a message in reakt[ion]’s music, and I think that is very important to good, meaningful industrial.
The demo as a whole is very satisfying because there is a lot of varying sounds and influences with one central sounds and theme. I believe that the future of reakt[ion] is something to be carefully watched. There is a lot of time and effort put in to the production and recording of the songs and you can definitely tell. When you listen to this demo, keep in mind that his is the first printed demo from reakt[ion]. It’s pretty amazing and I believe it is underrated.
C-Lekktor Announces New CD and Japanese Limited Edition:
Cop International artist C-Lekktor announce a new CD and an expansive Japanese Limited edition to include a whole hell of a lot of remixes by such artists as Grendel, Cygnosic, Studio-X, Detroit Diesel, God Destruction, Psyense, Alien Vampires, Acylum, Fabrik-c, Antythesys, Preemptive strike 0.1. Terrorkode, Cedigest, Extinction Front, and Scamp Revolver!
I received an actual hard copy of this CD in the mail, which is always an awesome thing!
The first thing I will say about Nahtaivel is that it is definitely a very progressive blend of Black Metal strain and current industrial, which is a really good thing in my book. I was a big Black Metal fan when I was younger, so a lot of the influences for Midnight Sessions hit home for me. I like it a lot.
I was a little shell-shocked at first by the lack of “Four on the floor” beats, but I think that is what makes this album so great, is that it is very untraditional in that sense. I hear a wide array of influences from both worlds, and I think that really makes the style stand out from what is being released today. There are a lot of sounds that I haven’t heard used in a long time within the more Terror-y stuff – fat moog synths, detuned chords, vocal styles that change (oh burn!)
Another thing that I like is that there is a different style presented as the album goes on. There is a little bit for everyone who likes spooky music. It reminds me a lot of Alien Vampires at times.
The music itself, on a composition level, is very detailed. A lot of layers, a lot of changing elements that work really well together. There is also a lack of structure that works really well for the style (it’s not verse chorus verse chorus stuff – lots of break downs and goodies in there.)
Then, with tracks like “Audition” I hear a lot of Velvet Acid Christ mixed with some classically awesome robotic vocals (which I sometimes frown upon because it is a little over played now a days – but his tone is really nice – reminds me of Columbine.)
There are also tracks like “The Wheel of Vengeance” that are slow and brutal, a lot of hardcore influence there with the break down beat. I like it a lot. It plays to my interests.
The title track, “Midnight Sessions.” is by far my favorite thought. Right out of the gate there is this super epic saw-synth pattern, which is the foundation of the song, that you hear and go – oh, this is going to be a really good song. “Midnight Sessions” is like if Dimmu Borgir made industrial in the Godless Savage Garden era, really well. I would imagine this song going over really well live. It starts out pretty epic – but as the song builds in itself, it gets more and more brutal. At about the 2:45 mark, it really comes to full force. Very very good.
I would suggest this album for anyone who likes Black Metal, horror industrial, TerroEBM, Aggrotech, Dimmu Borgir, Velvet Acid Christ, etc. If you are like me, and you go dancing a lot, and you’re used to pretty traditional 4-on-the-floor industrial, I would also suggest giving it a second listen to get it to really sink in. YOUR STUCK IN YOUR WAYS GOOD SIR! EXPAND! But for you there is a track that will stroke your techno generation ego - “Bugs” is a solid dance beat.
(The Nothing Real EP is available for Free Download on BandCamp)
Please excuse the short nature of this review, I was only sent three songs from the EP and that I dont really feel like rambling. That being said, the three tracks that I did receive are very good!
Digiflesh is an independent music project from New Jersey her in the USA. Very secretive. Very under promoted.
There are a lot of elements in the Nothing Real EP that I enjoy. There is an underlying old school EBM feel. I hear a lot of Front 242 influence, which I think needs to come back on a broader scale. “Locked Inside,” the final track of three, has a very headhunter feel to it, which I thoroughly enjoy. It is a little out of the ordinary for me to be alright with cleanish vocals (because I’m a terrorEBM snob,) but the vocals presented on Nothing Real are very solid – reminds me of Neuroactive a bit.
I am definitely looking forward to more material from this artist.
For over 20 years Suicide Commando has annihilated dance floors all over the world. A figure head in the industrial scene and a pioneer for HarshEBM, Suicide Commando is definitely a force to be reckoned with. On a more personal level, I’ve drawn countless influence from many a Suicide Commando song for my own music, and Hellraiser holds a special place in my heart from back in the Dungeon days in Hawaii.
First of all, really big congratulations for making it for 25 years! That’s pretty phenomenal for any band, let alone an industrial band. Your sound has grown largely throughout the last 25 years, but I feel like you are still true to the original Suicide Commando signature sound. A lot of bands have problems with either repeating the same album over and over again, or completely changing their sound and alienating fans – How do you “keep it fresh,” for lack of a better term, in the studio?
I don’t know, I never gave it any real thought as I’m just doing what I feel is right. But I guess it’s a combination of a lot of things that keeps Suicide Commando fresh. I just try to blend my roots of old school electronics with today’s sound and I guess that still works for me. I think many people soon get stuck in a certain time and don’t evolve anymore. I just try to keep the good things from all periods in time, so from the eighties electronics till today’s more upbeat club stuff, and combine those elements into my sound.
With The Suicide Sessions, you went back and re-mastered the first few CDs as well as some unreleased material – what was it like going back and working with those older tracks, and did it give you any ideas to reincorporate into the newer material?
It actually was really interesting and fun to go back into time and my own history. Before I started working on “the suicide sessions” I didn’t listen to my older works for quite some years, so it almost was refreshing to hear those old recordings again. I realized how much my sound evolved after all those years and it indeed gave me a boost and hopefully new inspiration for the new material I’m starting on right now.
2011 seemed to be a pretty busy touring year for you, playing your first show in North America at the Kinetik Festival in Canada, as well as many, many other festivals around Europe – Do you have any plans to come back to North America, and will we ever see a full US tour?
Yes, the plans are there for sure, now we only need to realize those plans. Unfortunately it costs quite a lot of money to tour the US, only the necessary visa’s for our entire crew already are really expensive, but we nonetheless hope to find a way to make it all happen in 2012, so wait and see. With some luck we at least will be over with a couple of shows.
You’ve worked with Jan, from X-Fusion/X-M-P/Noisuf-x/Merch-x, on not only the mastering for the last handful of releases, but also Kombat Unit. There are stout rumors here and there of a full length Kombat Unit release – is there any truth to that?
Yes and no, plan indeed is/was to finish and do a complete album with Kombat Unit. But unfortunately both me (with Suicide Commando) and Jan (with his projects and mastering job) hardly find any time at the moment to work on more material, so I fear we’ll have to at least delay those plans. But we still hope to finish that album sooner or later.
What is one piece of equipment that is pinnacle to the Suicide Commando studio?
Well, without my computer I would be a bit helpless today, but who wouldn’t be in today’s society, so I guess that doesn’t count. So I’d say my Roland JP8000 is my most valuable piece of gear at the moment as it was responsible for so many Suicide Commando clubhits so far.
The X20 box set included a DVD of live footage; do you have any plans to release another live DVD/documentary?
I don’t have any concrete plans in that direction at the moment, also because it’s a very expensive thing to do if you want to do it in a professional way, but never say never. So I guess sooner or later we’ll do another live documentary, but not in the very near future as I now first plan to work on a new studio album.
If you could tour with any band, at any time in history, which would it be?
I’ve been touring with many of my favorite bands over the years, bands I admired when I started doing music like Front 242, Klinik, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy … I never expected that one day I would join stages with these legends, but it did happen, so I’m already a happy old guy.
What was the most influential live show you have ever seen?
That’s a difficult one. For me the most influential shows doesn’t necessarily have to be big shows, for example I’ll never forget one of Front 242’s first shows in a small club in Belgium back in 1984. I guess most of my favorite shows go way back in time with bands like Front 242, Klinik, Alien Sex Fiend … from the more recent shows I guess Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly are among the better ones.
What are some lesser known artists that you are currently listening to, and that you think people should know?
I get to discover many bands while being on the road or through the World Wide Electronics label I’m running, some bands definitely worth giving a listen, in my opinion that is, are vProjekt from Australia, First Black Pope from Italy, or yet Nano Infect from Greece.
What are some new(er) releases you currently have on rotation?
The first album from vProjekt “exhilarate and disgust” got some heavy rotation, furthermore just checked out the first album from Surgyn, the new album from Project Rotten or even the latest album from John Lord Fonda which is quite different stuff, more minimal techno oriented.
What would you say are some essential CDs to have in any industrial musician’s library?
Essential definitely should be the first works from Klinik (like “sabotage” or their masterpiece “face to face”), Front 242 (from “geography” to “tyranny for you”), the first works from Skinny Puppy and Leaether Strip, even the older works from Fad Gadget. From the later works I’d say “music for a slaughtering tribe” from :wumpscut: is an essential release, or even “mindstrip” from myself …
When you’re not making music, or on tour, what other hobbies do you have?
Unfortunately there’s not much time left for any hobbies at the moment. Having a job, doing music and being a father of a 2 year old kid hardly leaves any free time I’m afraid … The few free moments I’d like to catch a movie or just watch some TV, even play some xBox once in a while, but that’s about it …
What advice would you give new, budding artists in the genre?
An advice I always give to the newer generation of artists is to do the music they love to do and not just try to be a copy of this or whatever band, they should enjoy making music without thinking too much of how they could sound like Combichrist or VNV Nation. The fun aspect of making music always was and still is a very important to me. I also would say the new kids should have some more patience. I have the impression that many kids starting to make music want things too fast, today they buy a computer and tomorrow they want to be the new big stars of the scene. But it doesn’t work like that. Sure it became much easier and above all much cheaper to create music these days, all you need is a good computer and some cool softsynths, but they forget that it also takes time to mature and create an own sound and be original. Nowadays you get way too many poor releases simply because they were done way too fast.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to A Dark Figure Music Blog, we are looking forward to future releases and many more tours!
XP8 had a great remix on the newest Aesthetic Perfection CD that I really enjoyed, but I had never taken the time to go out and buy any of their CDs. I really wish I had now. 10 years later, XP8 really impresses me for a band that I had never heard. There is a lot of really good elements in the music that directly appeal to me.
I was sent the newest EP “A Decade of Decadence,” this morning, and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. If you have been reading this blog, you should know by now that I like dance, 4 on the fucking floor, industrial and have a soft spot of screamy aggrotech/HarshEBM. What you don’t probably know, is that I love early 2000’s Futurepop. I have a big closet hard on for old VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk because I came from a mainly techno-based background (explains a lot huh?)
XP8 “A Decade of Decadence” is a shining example of cross over industrial. Now, what I mean by that, is that they have a lot of traditional elements housed in Futurepop of the early 2000’s mixed in with scoring aggression. I hear a lot of Apoptygma Berzerk in there in both the music style and the vocal style – and not full on Harmonizer Apop either – more 7 Apop.
There is a lot of jumpy synths and standard beats, and epic choirs and dancing – it’s really a flashback for me. I think it’s really excellently put together. I’ve been looking for a band to replace Apop in my collection and I can say that XP8 has filled the void for me. Songs like “Bullet Hole” and “Decadence” are just trips down that perfect lane when you were first learning to dance by watching everyone move and feel on the dance floor, awkward and shameful you kept with it, and before you knew it you were mouthing the words not giving a shit about everyone else. That’s how XP8 makes me feel – like I want to get out on the dance floor and feel the music extremely loud.
There is something to be said about Futurepop that I like, because there is a lot of bullshit out there, especially right now (VNV Nation you cocks.) I’m pretty snobby about Futurepop specifically because it is really easy to mess up. But songs like “Burning Down” and “Wake up!” transition me nicely from the HarshEBM I am known to push here. “Burning Down” has a lot of darker tones and distorted vocals – a good way to trick your purist friends. What I would call the title track, “Decadence,” takes the album for me though – very emotional in that proud way, but still could work on the dance floor. Really good synth work and layering for this one.
Overall, I would suggest XP8’s “A Decade of Decadence” for anyone who likes early Apoptygma Berzerk, Glis, Cesium137, GASR, and to dance. This would also be one of those bands that you could take your girlfriend to and enjoy yourself too (which is hard to do unless your girlfriend has an affinity for angriness.) I know that I will now be going back into their collection and checking out some previous releases. I am thoroughly impressed.
[[Also, as an afterthought, For your information: this is a collection from a decade of music…in case you didn’t get that.]]
I had the chance recently to talk with Erica Dunham from Unter Null and now the growingly popular Stray here in Portland, OR. I have followed Erica’s music for a long time and am a consistant fan, so it was really great when she moved to Portland and I had the opportunity to open for Unter null a handfull of times and get to know her. Stray, which started as a side project of Unter null has really taken on it’s own form and following. It’s safe to say that Stray will soon become an equal successor to Unter Null and lay some solid foundation in the female fronted world of Industrial/EBM. I have had the opportunity to hear bits and pieces of this new album coming together and I can tell you that fans of Unter Null and Stray will be very pleased with it.
Current release: Let Me Go (upcoming - no date announced yet!) Label:Alfa Matrix
You’ve released a number of albums under Unter Null and are preparing to release a second album for your primary side project Stray – What are your general distinctions between Unter Null’s newest album Moving On and the new Stray album?
Well, Moving On was written over the course of a few years, with a few interruptions during the recording process… The latest Stray album, which I just finished writing, was also written over the course of about, well… 4 years; pretty much since I finished that last Stray album. When I’m writing for Stray, I feel more freedom in the creative process to express a more gentle side of myself. However, Stray was never meant to be a ‘light’ project, nor was it meant to be ‘happy’ just because the content with Unter Null is angry, brooding, and pissed off. Stray kind of reflects the feelings of despair and sadness when that anger wears off. Lyrical content aside, the writing process of the music is approached in a very different way; I can’t really describe it, but I’m in a different headspace when I’m writing for either project, and I have to focus on one or the other so I don’t start melding the two projects into one. It’s very important that they remain separate.
Do you have a projected release date for the new Stray Album?
It’s looking to be early Springtime of 2012, so not that far away. I’ve mentally cut myself off from writing any more for the album, and the artwork is finished, so it’s just a matter of sending it off to master and wrapping final details and more business and paperwork aspects of releasing an album, which is a bit tedious.
How do you view the music now compared to The Failure Epiphany?
Improved by leaps and bounds. Here’s how I look at it, though: I’m not embarrassed by anything I’ve ever released because that is what I knew then and what I wanted to write then. Every day is a new day to learn something, to improve, to expand your skills, and so is every album, and every song that is written. What I know now I probably didn’t know then, but it’s the accumulation of practice and learning and applying new knowledge that is important, and it’s important to keep evolving as an artist. I would hate to be writing the same album over and over- that would be a personal hell. I want every album I release to be better than the last, and sometimes I can be kind of an asshole to myself because of expectations I hold myself to…. but that’s okay.
What were some influences, musically, that you had when shaping the new Stray album?
I listened to so much different music over the years it took me to finally finish Let Me Go that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few artists or bands, but I listened to a lot of Halou, Blue Foundation, Mind.In.A.Box, The Flashbulb, Moderat, Faunts, Röyksopp, Covenant, Raison d’être, Wovenhand, Nick Cave… and on and on. I’m pretty much all over the place with music and I like a lot of variety. I wouldn’t necessarily say that any one of the artists I’ve listed influenced Stray, but I sure have enjoying their creative output.
What is your most important piece of gear in the studio for the critical Stray sound?
I’m a Native Instruments whore, so I pretty much need everything they release. That being said, I use Absynth, Reaktor, and Kontakt heavily, and I rely on an enormous sample library of real instruments (piano, cello, violin, strings, voice) for composing not just Stray material but Unter Null as well. As a lover of classical music, I find it absolutely necessary to incorporate traditional instruments into electronic music.
You’ve gone on a couple tours with Unter Null, do you ever plan to take Stray out on the road?
I’ve actually answered this question with a firm “no” previously, but as Stray is turning more into a second main project for me, I do think it’s something I definitely plan on doing in the near-ish future. I have a lot of ideas of how to present the project, visually and whatnot, and I’ve talked with a few people about live collaborations, so we’ll see how that turns out.
If you could add any one thing to the live show, if money were not a factor, what would you add?
A full choir and orchestra.
If you could tour with one band, throughout history, who would it be?
First choice hands-down would be Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads era when he was working with Kylie Minogue and P.J. Harvey… that would have been a kick in the pants… Rammstein, but that would fit more with Unter Null, huh? And absolutely Nine Inch Nails. Amazing stage production!
What would you say is the most memorable show you’ve played?
In spite of all the shows I played overseas when living there, and in spite of playing bigger cities and bigger venues, and in spite of shows from years and years ago, this one is a bit more recent. We played with Nitzer Ebb right here in Portland, but it was the first show where it felt like I had a full band to work with, and we were working together well. The energy from the audience as well as everyone on stage was incredible and that performance felt absolutely magical. I strive to feel that again.
You’ve recently voiced your intention to return to living in Europe – Do you believe German, or even European audiences in general are more receptive to our style of music?
Receptive? Yes. A lot less reliance on guitars in Europe. I love guitar mixed with electronic music when it is done well, but in America it seems people are raised to think that all music must contain guitars, otherwise is it automatically lumped into the category of “that trance shit”. …Despite the fact that I believe Europeans to be much more open-minded and accepting with the arts.
When you’re not making music, for either project, or working the day-job, what hobbies do you have?
The problem is, is that any free time I have these days IS spent on music. I work an insane amount of hours, and what precious little time I have left over is to rest and to create. Hobbies, though, I like to create. Can I be as generic as possible? Haha. I just love making things, whether it be material or food or music- pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I spend a lot of time planning and plotting, making to do lists, setting goals for projects I want to start.
What release are you most looking forward to in the early parts of 2012?
2011 was a really good year for strong music across the board; a lot of the electronic heavyweights (hehe ;)) released really solid albums and it seems like for the first time in a long time innovation and a breath of fresh air has been breathed into music once again.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with A Dark Figure Music Blog, I look forward to the release of the new Stray album as well as possible live ventures soon!
Grendel’s new album “Timewave: Zero” was announced earlier this week, which is really exciting for me because I’m a sucker for Grendel. I’ve been a fan for a long time and I can say that Grendel was definitely one of the bands that influenced my own style a lot. “Harsh Generation” came out, and to me, it changed a lot of things for me. It was a very aggressive, dance-y albums that had a lot of depth and character that was lacking at the time in the industry. “Chemicals + Circuitry” came out and it was just a tease. A lot of good remixes and a sample of what’s to come.
Amduscia – Death, Thou Shalt Die Out of Line Records (2011)
For those of you who are oblivious to news within your community, Edgar Acevedo, who was the driving force behind Amduscia died in March of 2010 due to complications with Leukemia. Their record label Outofline’s official statement was:
“After the tragic untimely death of sound wizard Edgar Acevedo in March 2010, it was not clear whether the fourth studio album of Amduscia was ever to see the light of day. His brother Polo, the band’s shouter decided that there could not be a better legacy for the Mexican band, completed the album by himself and had it produced in a German studio. “Death, Thou Shalt Die” has become an album that is hard to top in terms of intensity. Amduscia have not sounded this compact, aggressive, striking and club-compatible since their debut. Now, the band rises like a phoenix from the flame, with a record that sounds like a challenge – a challenge to the grim reaper himself!”
And goddamn is it a good album! It is always tragic to loose someone close to you, and a lot of people don’t recover from it. It seems to me that Polo did what he knew how to do, and really put all of his feelings in to the music. R.I.P is a really epic song directly about Edgar’s death, and I can honestly say that I felt terrible after listening to it – which is exactly the way you were supposed to feel. You know, you might say, why do you want to feel terrible when listening to music? That’s how you know it’s a really well constructed song. It put’s you right there with him, mourning.
Aside from the obvious undertones, the album is constructed beautifully – a very solid step forward from the previous album Madness in Abyss. It is unclear whether or not Polo will continue the project beyond Death, Thou Shalt Die, but I really wish that he would. Songs like Solo Maquina (Antihuman Remix) are monumental dance floor hits along the lines of previous Amduscia jems Melodies For The Devil and Sad Warrior Soul.
I would recommend this album to any one and everyone who listens to industrial. It is really a phenomenal piece of music. The end track ripped my heart out.
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!
Portland locals, and Artoffact Records artist Dead When I Found Her are notorious for their obscurely immense cover versions of classic tracks. This one, however, is especially a treat. Kill To Cure by Skinny Puppy is not a track you would really know unless you’re a huge nerd like Michael (DWIFH) is - it was never released officially! Kill To Cure was a live only song. So to cover it was incredibly difficult and meticulous. Which makes it even more awesome.
Current Release: Wintermute (2011) Label: Artoffact/Progress Productions
Wintermute, your latest full length album, has received a lot of critical acclaim since its release earlier this year – What were some key differences that you have made from The Room to Wintermute?
There is some big difference between the albums we’ve done, especially between the room and wintermute. We wanted to take our sound further. We wanted to put some more pop music into the mix. We also put a lot of time into lyrics and the vocals. We wanted them to be in front, and the music in the back. we also moved further in our skills to mix and produce music as well, so the developing of Necro Facility is on its right way.
When The Black Painting was presented to me for the first time, by a trustee record store owner here in Portland, Oregon, as a modern Skinny Puppy. That is a compliment, of course, but do you feel like that kind of assumption burdened your music style?
No, of course we are very flattered to be compared to one the best bands in the world. we are proud of that, but people need to compare stuff to make sense to them. We don’t aim to sound like Skinny Puppy, when we started Necro Facility we were that old, so the musical influences were kinda small, and the best band we knew was Skinny Puppy. Now when we are older and have the opportunity to find new music easily and buy music everywhere, all the time, we have a much wider spectra of influences. Thats way we want to take Necro Facility further in the sound as well, because we love so much music.
What were some influences you had while working on Wintermute?
Everything from, dubstep, grindcore, hiphop, jazz to pure billboard pop. We love music, and the best thing we know is to find a new good song or album!!
Do you use primarily hardware or virtual instruments when you compose?
We have primarily used virtual instruments but we have recently starting working more with hardware. The 2 first album in our bedroom, so it doesn’t matter what gear you got, its only how you use it.
If you could have any one piece of hardware, from any time period, and without monetary constraint, what would it be?
Don’t know why, but Korg MS-20 always been one of our favorites.
What new releases have you been listening to recently?
love the new Noisia stuff he´s releasing!! really great!
Do you have any plans to go on tour in North America?
Would love to go there. Hopefully in the future, Necro Facility never played in America, yet..
The last time I saw a live video, which I admit has been awhile, from Necro Facility, it was just the two of you- do you have any plans to, or have you already expanded to more people on stage?
We will not extend people on stage, we used to be 3 in the band. and one time 4, but that ended when we forgot one of our band members in germany after a show heading back to sweden.
What was the most influential live show you have ever seen?
The knife at arvikafestivalen in sweden a couple of years ago. That was pretty awesome.
If you could go on tour with one band, which would it be?
Probably one of the bands on our label, they are all kickass good people.
What was the first Industrial CD/Tape/Record you ever bought?
Skinny puppy - Too dark park
Here in Portland, “Do You Feel the Same,” from Wintermute, is weekly on the playlist at our most prominent industrial dance night, and packs the dance floor – Do you go to night clubs often, and what is it like to see the reception of one of your songs?
We don’t go to the industrial clubs so much anymore, we often work so much or we party at other places, but i know happens. Its always strange to hear you’re own music, then u just go sit in the bar and stare into the wall for a couple of seconds.
What was it like working with Covenant on the Lightbringer single? (This is also on a weekly playlist at our most prominent club here in Portland.)
It was really fun, and a really cool collaboration. We are very happy with the result of the song and is impressed by covenant to release it as a single!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with A Dark Figure Music Blog, I am looking forward to possibly seeing you live sometime in the near future, and also any releases you might have.