Clan of Xymox: Notes from the Underground
~Interview by Catherinna
additional question by Blu
(photos courtesy the official website; live photos by Blu)

Clan of Xymox's newest release Notes From the Underground, is truly a musical gift of beauty, darkness, and taunts the part of the soul that keeps you coming back for more.  If you haven't had a chance to immerse yourself in the their latest release, I highly recommend running out to the nearest local record store (or ordering it online) and treating yourself, to one of the best darkwave albums of  the year! Clan of Xymox has undoubtedly become a legend in their own time (As if there was any doubt ;) . They continuously prove, that despite this growing melting pot of musical diversity, they still have what it takes to invoke the musical spirit in their fans and mesmerize their listeners to a new level of consciousness. From their first self titled release in 1984 to their latest release Notes From the Underground in 2001, they never cease to amaze their fans and continue to grow stronger than ever, in the Gothic community.  Curious about the album?  Wonder if they will tour in the US or Europe next year?  Read further to hear what Ronny of CoX has to say about Notes from the Underground and things to expect from them in the near future.
Catherinna: What was the inspiration behind your latest album Notes from the Underground?

Ronny: The initial intention is always to make a most beautiful album as possible, the way I go about it is that I never have a clear idea of what direction I will go until I start writing, mostly the sounds I use and like will dictate me as it were in what direction I am heading. The mood is than set very easily and the track starts to take over, dragging me totally into it and  giving me the whole mind set to start creating the whole sound scape and mind set.

Each track I approach this way so basically what happens is that over a year of writing you get as it were four seasons and moods of my personal self translated into words and music.I never sit and start without feeling inspired  or the will to look for interesting bits and pieces. Of course in the past I have tried to write because of a deadline or so but that never worked for me, I rather delay than force myself. To me music has to come from the heart and there is no such thing as dictating yourself to be creative, you have to feel creative otherwise nothing worthwhile will come of it.

When I finished the album I was  going through some old demo's and I had a sudden urge to make "The Same Dream" a bit more up to date, this is the only song which  existed already for years  but never used before. When Sonja Rosenblum of the band SOPHYA came around my studio I asked if she would sing  a few lines in the song so in a way I keep the sort of tradition to  use a female vocalist  so in the end it became a bonus track on the album.

C: Notes from the Underground seems to be very club friendly. Did you do this on purpose or was it just something that evolved in your writing?

R: Hm, it has all sorts of tempos on this album, from slower songs to mid and more up beat, so  it's  quite varied. Of course there are several tracks on "Notes from the Underground" which I know DJ's love to play in clubs, so I guess it's also a club friendly record.

C: Personally, I think the entire album of your latest release Notes from the Underground is a complete success and will receive a tremendous amount of attention this coming year!  If you could pick any track off of this album to be the "hit", which one would it be?

R: Hm , that is a most difficult question for me, but since you tied my hands behind my back I'll give in and answer:  I would start with the first song "Innocent" ..... and follow with the second track.... "I want You Now" ... etc.

C:  What type of feedback have you received on this album?

R: We are in every magazine in Europe with the new album getting great reviews- articles, a lot of fans mail us direct on our homepage and are telling their impressions and thoughts about the album, by the sound of it they like it a lot too. The press in Europe (I haven't read the US press yet !) is extremely positive about it , so I guess my mission for the new album is accomplished. Yesterday we entered with the album on the number 4 spot ( new entry) in the DAC chart, so we're pretty happy so far..

C: I have noticed as of late, that COX has been playing many German music festivals.  Do you enjoy playing a show at these events and what is your overall take on these types of festivals?  Do you prefer the smaller ones to the larger? Do you see any performances at future German festivals in 2002?

R: It is always fantastic to play on M'era Luna  or any other festival, the shear crowd in front of you listening to your music is always breathtaking. When we started it was completely full up till the very far back. We played already two new songs from "Notes From The Underground" for the very first time so we were all quite nervous about that. When we finished our set we were completely ecstatic as we played and felt great. It was a weekend festival, lasting two days so we had  enough time to see a lot of bands.

I love the German  summer festivals, indeed they are huge,  people are mostly dressed in black or very alternative.  Of course there are smaller type of festivals but to me Mera Luna is a special festival, the surroundings are great too, it's held on an abandoned airport. Likewise  is the Zillo festival , a bit smaller in size  ( still 10.000 people) but as a location just ideally situated in the mountains (hills)  next to a lake and surrounded by woods. I can go on like this as there are also a lot of smaller sized festivals held in idyllic castles etc....

For next year I already confirmed our appearance on the Wave-Gothic Treffen 2002 , so that's the only festival which plans that far ahead from  as we speak.

C: Do you forsee a US tour in 2002 as well?

R: Well, not really seems no bands are flying over to the States, or most foreign bands are canceling their already scheduled tour in the States. To me it doesn't seem the right time to think about touring in the States either.

C: What is the biggest difference (besides size) between your live shows in Europe and in the US?

R: That after a few shows in Europe we can go home , we drive back and forth , in the States you have to tour at least 2 months in order to pay back the bill for the night liner....

C:  Do you have a favorite COX live performance?  If so, where and what album were you touring?  What makes this particular performance stand out in your mind from the rest?

R: When we were recording our live shows in Central-and South America (released  2000 called "Live" ), during our shows we experienced the southern mentality of music lovers , maybe you can call them absolutely's really great how they show their enthousiasm for us and give us this heartwarming feeling that we belong there, that they are the long lost relatives finally connecting with their loved ones. In those regions they just give you this great feeling of being welcome and we made so many friends there ! The brilliant thing about for example South America is that there is such a strange mix of people and its cultures that expresses itself into the architecture of buildings and life style.Also a lot of people cannot imagine that there is a big interest in bands who make "dark" music, but when you go there you can go to a lot of great gothic clubs and certainly there is a lot more to do than in Amsterdam.

The thing I never forget is that when we played in Mexico's former Olympic stadium I saw the strangest things happening, people were literally walking on each others heads in order to get closer to the stage, girls were fainting and every once and a while they had to be dragged over the fence in order to bring them back to their senses. The cheers were simply deafening, this will never come across on a CD, you just had to be there really!  Also the stage was amazing, we had Rui (drummer) and Nina (keyboards) coming from under the stage on these risers slowly upwards , it was hilarious how big this stage was , that is why we put the stage on the artwork as it was fantastic what a good job they did on designing a stage like that, it was slowly sloping so of course you had to be careful how you walked on stage and trying to keep a good balance.

C: What type of things inspire you to write?

R: Often I get inspired by just a single sound which triggers my imagination and make me visualize some sort of sound scape and a direction I can build towards with other sounds, as soon as some sort of order is shaped into the sound collage it will dictate itself some sort of direction. Maybe a few words will match some chord structures so I get some idea of what I want to write and what words are suitable to match the created atmosphere  which sort of triggers my emotional world. The lyrics are based on events mostly experienced by myself or what I have seen around me and of course when you think about all the things you have experienced you will have a lot to write about.

C: I recently read in an interview you did with Sideline magazine, that stated that you have given permission for someone to put together a remix album of tracks off of Notes from the Underground, none of which will be CoX remixes.

R: Yes, well I asked individual bands to remix each a song from  "Notes From The Underground", at the moment a lot of different bands and artists are re mixing the songs from "Notes From The Underground". It is the first time COX are giving all tracks of an album out of hand to be re mixed entirely. I don't know if it is going to be danceable mixes or interpretations of the artists as I leave them naturally complete freedom in what they are going to do. I prefer however that they put their own signature on the track, so basically COX  sounding like the artists who are re mixing.

C: Any idea as to when we can expect to see the release of this album?

R:  the idea is to release it somewhere in 2002. I don't want to say too much about it now as I want to talk about it when it is coming out......

C: What label is producing it?  Any word yet as to who might be doing some of the remixes?  Inquiring minds (especially Dj's) want to know ;)  And will you have any say in who does the remixes?

R: :) I will tell you all about it when it's going to be released

C:  If you could be any type of vegetable what would you be and why?

R: What vegetable did you smoke to come up with a question like that?

C: If you could live anywhere in the world where would choose and why?

R: Well I live in Amsterdam , The Netherlands and that is the choice I made . I like to write music here as no one really understands what I am doing.....The advantage of the Netherlands is that it is in between the bigger countries of Europe, so if we have concerts all distances are as great.

C: What do you like do doing in your free time?

R: absolutely nothing

C:  Sex or foreplay?

R: Are you proposing?

Blu:  At the very end of the song "Anguish" there is a hint at a keyboard melody line that I noticed appears in "Something Wrong" and again, in the beginning of "The Same Dream" which works quite well in my opinion. Was this a conscious effort to draw the songs together as a collection or in theme?

R: Did you notice this after smoking the same vegetables as Catherinna or before ?

B: This CD, while being very modern sounding and club friendly, also showcases your talent at writing instrumental soundscapes, as with the track "Mysterium." Most of the songs on this CD also begin with very complex and texturized introductions. What inspired you to begin to add these kinds of elements?

R: When I want to write a new song I always begin with making small soundscapes , setting the mood. It always starts with a few right sounds..

B:  "The Bitter Sweet" is a song that morphs and changes quite alot in tempo and in mood. Wonderfully unpredictable, it does not follow the generic chorus/verse/chorus structure of a song. Was your song-writing technique different for this CD and did you set out to make more complexly structured pieces?

R: I think I just write the way I feel it should go, having said that Mojca always helps me with criticizing whatever I show her so she always gives me  feedback or proposes to cut things short or change a chorus line etc.

So I guess in the end we have to agree about the song otherwise it would not feel right .

B: The color and design of the CD is just beautiful... is there a story behind it?

R: Mojca always listens many times to the whole album she needs to design a sleeve for and then starts slowly compiling images and textures fitting the music, so in the end the sleeve represents her image interpretation of the album.

B: What makes you happy?

R: Nothing on the moment, especially because I stopped smoking a week ago !

B: Favorite book or movie?

R: My favourite book would be "Russian 19th -century Gothic Tales", with a small golden bat on the black cover. The book is beautifully illustrated and is certainly my prize possession.

My favourite movie is maybe "Bitter Moon" about a couple looking for thrills and playing games with people ( with Hugh Grant) or "Papillon " with Dustin Hoffmann as a convict on a barren island trying to escape.....

B: After 15 or so years of making music, are you comfortable with the fact that many people now consider you a gothic music legend?

R: That's all fine by me, I'm  flattered, although for me it's more important that people like what I do now than what I did in the past. To me that's natural drive for an artist to look ahead instead of looking back.

Clan Of Xymox – Official Site:

Metropolis Records:

Interview with Østen Bergøy
~by Matthew Heilman
(All live photos belong to:

Norway’s Tristania are currently one of the most popular bands in the forefront of the symphonic metal scene. Their refreshing blend of refined orchestration, apocalyptic choirs, and both aggressive and melodic metal sentiment has pushed them to the top of the scene since their inception in the mid-nineties. The band continues to outdo their vast (and often vapid) competition by delivering breathtaking scores and diabolic compositions. Though many follow in their footsteps and are attempting to cash in on this the most exploited of metal’s recent trends, Tristania prove they are ahead of the game with their third and newest release, “World Of Glass.”  Østen Bergøy, one of the band’s three lead vocalists, offered some insight into the band’s philosophy and their latest masterful opus.
Starvox: There have recently been several line up changes within the band.  Can you update us on the latest line up and the reasoning for the changes?

Østen: I am probably the wrong person to answer this question, considering the fact that I am one of the two "new" members.  But what I have been told is that there had been both personal and musical disagreements between Morten and the other members of Tristania. We are sure that Morten will continue to make music, and wish him the best for the future.  Kjetil Ingebrethsen has replaced Morten Veland.  He is doing the extreme vocals (a good replacement) and I (Østen Bergøy) am singing the clean male vocals.  I have also contributed as a guest-musician on both the previous albums. This time I have contributed with some of the lyrics as well. Andes Høyvik Hidle (guitar) and Einar Moen (synth/piano) have composed the music on “World Of Glass.” Vibeke Stene is the female voice of Tristania.  Kenneth Olsson is the drummer and Rune Østerhus is the bass-player.

Starvox: The latest release “World Of Glass” is a magnificent, epic release. I personally find it to be much more emotional than the more the more progressive and technical mood of “Beyond The Veil.”  Was there a conscious effort to let more of the icy feelings of “Widow’s Weeds” resurfacing in the music this time around?

Østen: Hm. No. This was not decided consciously. “World of Glass” reflects new impulses and still it contains basic elements from the previous albums. I think it sounds like Tristania,  but more mature. Tristania is not afraid of trying out "new" musical elements as long as it can add new perspectives to the sound and improve the music. This is one of the major strengths of this band.

Starvox: You guys do a cover of the song “The Modern End” from the band Seigmen.  What can you tell us about this band and what lead to the decision of covering it?

Østen: All of the members of Tristania are fans of Seigmen.  They were a really big band in Norway in the 90`s and one of the best live acts I have ever seen. I think they released their last album in Europe as well, but they hardly sold any copies at all. The band changed their lineup, their musical style, and their band name. Now they call themselves Zeromancer, and are more "industrial" NIN-light. We all loved the song, and we decided that if we could make a Tristania version of this song that would fit the album, then we would do it. It's one of my personal favourites on the album. Check out Seigmen.  Zeromancer seems to be close to a commercial breakthrough in Europe.

Starvox: “The Modern End” and “Deadlocked” have a minor club appeal.  What role do electronics play in the future of Tristania?

Østen: We will use electronic elements where we find that suitable, but we will never be a techno band! <laughing>

Starvox: You have released several EPs including the first, self-titled release and the “Angina” single.  Do you have any plans in the near future to release another EP possibly containing songs not included on the album or remixes?

Østen: No. Not that I am aware of.

Starvox: Can you tell us a bit about the song “Selling Out?”  A lot of fans that got wind of the track list prior to the album’s release were a bit nervous about that song.  Why did you choose such a title for the song?

Østen: Haha! Really? I wrote the lyrics for that song, and I think the title suits the lyrics.  The words are not about a musical sell-out; it is more about loss of ideals. Sometimes, when you spend too much time on your own, you think too much, you ask too many questions.  And sometimes the conclusion is that life has no meaning. "...An overdose ofnothingness.." I like the violins, and the way Vibeke sings the soft parts.

Starvox: Pete Johansen from The Sins Of Thy Beloved contributes violin to the CD.  Do you at all fear that fans will think there is some kind of competition between the two bands?

Østen:  No. TSOTB are friends of ours. If the fans want to compare them with us, they are welcome to do so.

Starvox: What would your response to critics be who think that you guys are ‘stealing’ the violin, since it was so integral to TSOTB?  I personally think that the violin is awesome, but not as important to the sound of Tristania as it is to TSOTB.

Østen:  Actually, we wouldn't care! Pete contributed on “Widows Weeds” before he joined TSOTB. We use Pete because he is a brilliant musician, and he has got some great musical ideas. On the “World of Glass” album, he also wrote lyrics for one of the songs ("Lost") He plays the violins on “Beyond the Veil” as well.

Starvox: The music of Tristania is on such a grand scale, that listeners are often overwhelmed with the complexity and intensity of the music and all its symphonic orchestration.  What kind of musical schooling did the band members receive?  Did you all grow up in musical families?  How did all this talent manage to find its way in one single band and where did it all come from?

Østen:  Again, you are asking the wrong person. I THINK that Vibeke received musical schooling of some kind and that she grew up in a musical family (Stene Gjengen) But the rest of us just share a genuine passion for music, for listening to music, making music, and playing live.

Starvox: Can you describe the writing process?  Who comes up with what parts, and how long does it take to finalize the arrangements to a particular song?

Østen:  I don’t know how the writing process has been on the two previous albums, but this time around, Einar and Anders have made all the music. They have been working very close, sometimes songs are "born" out of ideas- chords, themes, a guitar riff - anything. Then the "work" with developing the song(s) starts. When the melody lines for the different singers are being made, we (each singer) work close with the composers. We try out different solutions to make it sound right and to fit the lyrics into the music. Listening, second opinions, choirs, etc.  Making music takes time. Sometimes you can finish a song in a day, but usually it takes more. Some of the material on “World of Glass” was made before we went to France to record it, but a lot of it was made in the studio as well. All the choirs were arranged by Einar in Marseilles, France.

Starvox: I want to jump back a bit to the “Widow’s Weeds” album.  How did the song “Angellore” develop?  Any chance of doing more straight up Gothic Rock songs in the future?

Østen:  I don’t know. I guess it was written by Morten and Einar. I was asked to do the clean vocals, I was singing in another band called Morendoes.  I knew some of the members from Tristania before they got signed on Napalm (the music-scene in Ryfylke isn’t that huge.) “Angellore” is a song that is quite different from the rest of “Widows Weeds”, and also from the rest of the music that Tristania has made.  If we come up with a good idea for another "straight up" gothic rock-songs, and it fits the Tristania concept and sound, I guess we would include it on an album. Can’t see why not.

Starvox: Tristania formed in the mid 1990s in Norway.  The Gothic Metal scene was still an up and coming genre at the time, with bands like Theatre Of Tragedy, Moonspell, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost in the forefront.  When you guys began assembling the band, what were your intents and goals?  Did you wish to take the symphonic elements that characterized Goth metal to a higher degree or did the epic scale of the music just naturally appear?

Østen:  Vibeke`s voice invited us to use classical elements and choirs -  this is my personal opinion.  I guess Tristania dreamed about making music, releasing a few albums, touring, playing at festivals, and they had visions about becoming a big band. The members of Tristania were really young when they signed with Napalm (Anders was 17.) Young people dream a lot.

Starvox: The Gothic Metal scene is REALLY crowded at the moment.  It seems there are tons of bands that are attempting to produce this kind of music, and the quality of it is becoming very diluted.  Bands are over using the same elements, and attempting to integrate rather amateurish electronic and darkwave passages into their music.  How does Tristania manage to stay on top, and constantly outdo the competition?

Østen:  We have developed our own sound, and our music is quite diverse.  This means that we keep our minds open, and try to avoid the gothic clichés. My opinion is that there are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music.  Crappy bands will not survive.  We make the music that we feel like, but we don't consider ourselves to be competitors with any bands.  Getting good reviews is nice of course, but the most important thing for us is to be satisfied with ourselves.  If people like our music it’s like a very nice bonus.

Starvox: Several Norwegian bands have made an impact on the dark metal scene.  How has the rich history, mythology, and geography of Norway influenced Tristania?

Østen:  The Norwegian history and mythology has not influenced Tristania much. Personally, I think that using Viking cliche`s is the wrong way to go for any Norwegian band.  It’s like a cheap trick to get attention.  Let’s face it: the Vikings are dead! They have been gone for several hundred years. The countryside in Norway can be pretty spectacular and I guess that the nature around you always will affect every kind of creative process - consciously or subconsciously.  Like any surroundings, I guess.

Starvox: After only having released three full-length albums, Tristania is cited as being a significant influence to several bands.  With this many people taking note of your sound, what bands have influenced Tristania?

Østen: My Dying Bride, Cradle of Filth, Type-O-Negative, David Bowie, Radiohead, Muse, Massive Attack, Anathema, Samael, Moonspell…

Starvox: We as American journalists ask this question unto all of the European bands we interview:  Are there any plans for Tristania to tour the USA?

Østen:  Yes, there are plans, but the dates aren’t ready yet. We want to do as much touring as possible.

Starvox: With the current political status in America, does the album title “World of Glass” eerily and inadvertently reflect the vulnerability of society?  Since the album was released prior to the attack on America, obviously the correspondence between the terrorist attacks and the album were unintentional but in what ways do the themes of the album reflect this tragedy?

Østen:  Eerie indeed... “World of Glass” is one of the titles of the songs on the album, so obviously that's where it comes from. Still the title was perhaps subconsciously chosen because we felt it reflected the window of fragility and vulnerability that separates us from disaster. Some of the lyrics can be interpreted in a political way, especially “Wormwood.” The working title for the lyrics was “The Sins of George,” and I guess you see where the reference goes.  Either way, with all that's going on in the world right now, the title has an apocalyptic ring to it. But the title also reflects a change in the themes of the lyrics. All of the lyrics are less gothic and more personal. I think that is one of the main strengths of the album.

Starvox: Thanks so much for your time Østen!

Østen: Best Regards!

Tristania is:
Østen Bergøy – clean vocals
Vibeke Stene – female vocals
Kjetil Ingebrethsen – guttural vocals
Andes Høyvik Hidle – guitars
Rune Østerhus - bass
Einar Moen – synths & programming
Kenneth Olson - drums

Tristania – Official Web Site:

Napalm Records:

All live photos belong to and are courtesy of:

~interview by Adrian
(pictures courtesy of soulwhirlingsomewhere official website)

It is always interesting to see how sometimes life imitates art and art imitates life. To flip through Michael Plaster's lyrics of his project Soulwhirlingsomewhere you would have the acute idea that he was a fragile hermit hiding in the darkness of his own despair. How far from the truth reality is in this case. Not really knowing what to expect when I contacted him, I was more or less prepared for a deep and introspective journey into what makes this man tick and what kind of road he takes on his voyage into loneliness. Instead I got a playful, not-too-serious guy who seems to be incontrol and not to obsessed about love, as he would lead you to believe in his songs. Moody, dark, depressed, and beautiful are all words that have been used to describe his words and music. Maybe the fact that music can tame the savage beast of heart break and exorcise the demons of the past is true. In Michael Plaster's case, it seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered. Maybe the whole goth community can take a lesson away from this, no matter how dark and miserable you want to appear, sometimes life and its lessons is meant to be enjoyed, and every so often laughed at.

StarVox: Ok, so who is Michael Plaster?

Michael Plaster:   ummm. the person you are interviewing. just some mopey guy who writes music and complains a lot.

SV:  What is your musical background? When did Soul Whirling Somewhere come into existence?

MP: well, as far as background goes, I took piano for a few years when I was a kid - you know, the way parents "make" you get involved in some sort of activity like that when you're young. I liked baseball until I got hit in the face with a pitch. anyhow, I took guitar in my teens. bought my first synthesizer when I was about 14 and started making these embarrassingly juvenile overdubbed tape-to-tape little snippets of songs. I was seriously into Depeche Mode at the time. anyhow, over the years I just kept screwing around with music. making my own junky little recordings. about when I was 18 or 19 I started in two other bands. one, Zeta, was a really, really electronic thing, and later on Firecracker, a really shoegazey early 90's kinda thing. anyhow all the while I began accruing some real recording gear and found myself writing lots of stuff that didn't really fit into the other bands. mostly the crap you hear on Eating the Sea. anyhow I had come across Projekt Records and absolutely loved Sam's stuff (this was when Projekt had basically 2 bands on it.) sent him a letter. we corresponded for a while. then just decided what the hell and sent him a demo of 'swim.' I guess he liked it. so here I am now.

SV: Over the course of your releases, there seems to be a strong sense of loss, almost an "anti-love" journey that you unravel for the listeners. Care to share what/who sparked these intense yet strangely beautiful songs?

MP: well, I don't know if 'anti-love' is the right word. but I think I jumped into the mind-set of thinking I knew what love was way too early in life. I suppose im not the most stable person with whom to have a relationship.  but the first girl I ever thought I loved seemed to set the stage for the way I'd feel for the rest of my life. or up until now, at least.  not that I blame anything on her specifically, as it's actually due to the way I infatuate myself with someone when in love, which in-and-of itself I suppose isn't a bad thing, but I never really got down how to deal with it when it fell apart, which most things ultimately do. which is what most of the songs I have ever written are about; the messy 'aftermath,' so to speak.

SV:  Your first two releases, Eating the Sea and Everyone Will Eventually Leave You have a distinctively "electronic" ethereal sound while Hope Was and your new cd Please Sennd Help have a definite earthier, acoustic sound. Why the change of direction?

MP: well, I think a big hunk of it was simply me getting better at recording, getting new instruments, and shifting to composing most my songs on acoustic guitar rather than on the keyboard. and id be lying if I didn't say a lot was due to the music that I listen to. I had gone from listening to a lot of electronic stuff early on to enjoying more 'song-based' bands like Red House Painters, American Music Club, etc. nothing, though, was ever an actual decision of "I'm gonna start sounding more acoustic" or anything like that. I think its just the way one's music evolves over the years.

SV:  If you had the chance to change one thing in your life, no questions asked, what would that one thing be?

MP: hmmm. well, to be perfectly honest, nothing. don't get me wrong - I most certainly haven't had a splendid time in life, but I think I subscribe to that whole 'butterfly's wings' thing. by which I mean if things were different for me in the past, I might not be where I am right now in life, not that that either is a bowl of cherries, but I really hate change. and I suppose everything happens for a reason, good or bad.

SV: How do you go about writing songs? What is the starting point and how does it develop?

MP: uhh, its not as magical as one might think.. heheh.  the words are just things I write whenever or wherever in my life. and the songs just happen out of nowhere. if im sitting on the couch I may suddenly just pick up my guitar, screw with the tuning and something just happens. call it serendipity if you like, or don't. but it just "comes to me." the rest of the actual blood and sweat comes in the recording and arranging of it.

SV: Have you worked with any other artists, Projekt or otherwise?

MP: nope, not yet. Ryan from lovespirals and I have always wanted to do something, but its not so easy when you live in a different state. and a few years ago Vidna Obmana got in touch with me. apparently both of us really thought it would be cool to collaborate on something together, but he's on an entirely different continent, so again the distance thing came in to play. I'd still love to do something with either of them, or even black tape or whoever, but it's unfortunately a matter of finding time, of which there isn't much.

SV: Do you have a 'special someone' in your life at the moment?

MP: heck no.

SV:  If there was one thing you had to hate in this world, what would that be?

MP:  hate.  (isn't that cute - im being ironic!)

SV:  What does a 'live' set usually consist of?

MP: well, up until recently, it was just me on an acoustic guitar. but the last show we did, Benediction - a benefit for the RedCross, was a little more your typical kinda band thing. me on electric and vocals, Jason Farrell on drums (he played on Hope Was) and our friend Greg Gibbs on bass.

SV:  Who inspires you the most?

MP: most the people in my life. non-musicians, you know? I mean, sometimes I'll put on an old David Sylvian album or something like that and, in a sense, get "inspired" but I think that's more of just a feeling that I'm not doing anything, and that just kinda gets me to be productive. but as far as what or about whom I write, it's mostly the people or things in my life. and, of course, girls.

SV: Favorite movie, book, or artist?

MP: well, I can't really pick one. ummm. I really hate list-makers when it comes to this sorta question, but I guess I have no choice. Movies: The Thin Red Line, A.I., The Elephant Man, Magnolia, Jacob's Ladder. Books: anything on physics; Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies, Hugh Ross, John Gribbin. and of course the Bible. Artists? this could be too long, but... David Sylvian, Pieter Nooten, Red House Painters, AMC, Idaho, blacktapeforabluegirl, Cocteau Twins, Smiths, Vidna Obmana..... the list goes on.

SV:  Hope Was is a very epic collection of songs and has been on constant rotation in my disk player. What is the story behind it and why did you make it a two disk set?

MP: because im a frighteningly obsessive man. umm, well that CD is obviously about Saraa, the girl with whom I had a long, too-intense relationship. and I know many people think the album is a little overkill, but it was just kind of a cathartic thing where I needed to get EVERYTHING out before I felt I could get on with things

SV: How would you describe your new cd?

MP:   hmmmm. well. I don't know. It's always hard for me to describe my own music... im sorry. go read the reviews I guess.   :)

SV: Do you find the area you live in reflecting in your music and do you see the state of the world drifting in and out more often than not?

MP: hmmmm. well im not quite sure. I mean, sonically id like to think that my music is rather lush, but where I live, Arizona, is a rather dead, barren place. maybe it comes through and I just can't see it. I think Steve Roach, for example perfectly captures the feel of the desert. he lives in Arizona as well.

SV: Who are your favorite Projekt bands/artists?

MP: Vidna Obmana, Love Spirals, Steve Roach, blacktape

SV: Who has done your cover art work? They are always extremely beautiful and very connected with the contents of the disk.
MP: I've done all of them except for Eating the Sea, which was done by Susan Jennings who used to do a lot of the early Projekt releases' artwork.

SV: What are your plans for the next five years?

MP: wake up. eat sandwich. go to bed. wake up. eat sandwich. go to bed.

SV: Do you ever sense a break in the storm? Will we all be surprised to find that one day Soul Whirling Somewhere has gone synth-pop or even 'Pop' and on the top of the charts?

MP:  oh most certainly! I also think one day pigs will fly, hamburgers will eat people, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics will reverse itself.

SV: How does the recent MP3 revolution effect you as an artist? I have noticed that you have several of your tracks on, does this help in getting your name spread around a bit more?

MP:  to be honest I have no idea. I would certainly hope so, but... if nothing else, I'd say it at least helps those who are curious about my music but haven't yet shelled out the money to hear it first.  but whether it's really as supportive/promoting of a community as it tries to be remains to be seen. my initial guess would be that most people who get to my MP3 page are being directed there from either the Projket website or the sws website.  maybe im selling it short.. I dunno

SV: If you were a comic book character who would you be?

MP: im not real sure, but whoever it was im certain would be real confusing and boring to watch.

SV: Alright, I want to thank you for your time with these questions.

MP: thank you.

SV: Anything you would like to finish off with?

MP: nope.


Eating the sea
Everyone will eventually leave you
Hope was
Please sennd help

For audio of selected tracks, please visit

for contact info, write

label info at

Maufactura/Converter/Sonar Review:
A Collective - Late But Not at all Forgotten!
The Vogue - Seattle, WA
~reviewed by Mistress Catherinna
(Photos: Dj Hana Solo, Manufactura Comments: Steve Saunders, Mini Interview with: Scott Sturgis)

I would like to preface this review with an apology for getting it out so late!!  It's truly amazing how quickly and often, one can get caught up in their many alternating responsibilities and let something slip through the cracks.  It's not a great excuse, but hey, I was intrigued enough by the show, to still want to share the information I experienced and learned with others! So that must count for something right?  Hence the well deserved title "Late, But Not At All Forgotten!!"

The only down fall to writing a review so late, is that all of those wonderful rants, compliments, suggestions, criticisms that one experiences at a show are not as intense as they were that very night.  However, on the upside, this show made enough of an impression in my mind, that most of it is still pretty vivid!!

Originally, I did not plan on going to this show, as I haven't really been able to cross the line to the 'other side' and understand this genre of music so to speak.  To be quite frank, prior to seeing this show, Noise, just really wasn't my cup of tea nor did I have any interest in spending my time at a show.  I have tried to listen to various CD's by different artists, but just really never quite got into it at all.   I decide to jump out of the box, a little with this review and take a different approach.  In this review you will encounter: a small interview I had with Scott Sturgis of Converter, my take on the show and an small review on Manufactura from a promoter here in Seattle, Steve Saunders.

I ended up attending the show due to a conversation several people were having about the vary same views I have pertaining to Noise.  I decided that A.) I would never truly understand it unless I gave it more of a chance.
B.) Maybe I would be surprised.  C.) Experiencing a live show might be better than trying to listen to a CD. and D.)  Two of the bands are people I know and figured extra support is always appreciated.  So off I went!!

I arrived at the show around 10:40 pm. and realized I had missed Manufactura.  This is unfortunate as it was their first live show and from what the audience remarked, they did a really good job. I decided in all fairness that it would be more tastefull to ask a patron/fan to write a brief summary of their take of the Manufactura portion, rather than trying to write up my interpretation from audience comments. His comments follow:

Manufactura~ a perspective by Steve Saunders

When I attended the Sonar/Converter/Manufactura show, I knew what to expect from 2/3s of the acts...but I had little idea what to expect from Karloz M's sonic endevour, known as Manufactura.  I had heard a little of his material before, but peforming live is an entirely different animal...and this was Karloz's first time on stage. Needless to say, I was quite skeptical of the overall satisfaction I would have as a result of Manufactura's set.

Boy howdy, do I love to be proven wrong and greatly surprised! Karloz, with live assistance from Dre (of Noise Box, Data Bomb), proved his project to be a elektro/noize hybrid to be reckoned with. Excellent rhythm structure, pounding beats and super-charged attitude ensured instantly a place for Manufactura in my heart. If you like harsh ebm/electro and would like to cross-breed it with rhythmic beat noize, then you ought to love this project.

Now, as per usual fare, the live show itself was a bit lacking...but I have discovered that it's quite normal for a "noise show" to be a little on the boring side stage show wise. It's understandable though, that nervous must've been racked considering it was Manufactura's debut performance...little things could have been done to make it better...such as Dre being more visible, because even behind Karloz, his energy was pretty intense, and the mastermind himself was buried behind his equipment.  However, if the above are my only complaints, then I am happy. Others were happy to at Manufactura's overall performance. I do hope they play again soon, for it is always a treat to hear a "noise band" that doesn't suck serious eggs these days.  If you hear about Manufactura traveling to your neck of the woods, check them will not be disappointed.
-Steven Saunders

Converter V.S. Sonar~ a perspective by Catherinna

Now, as stated before, I walked into this show blindly.  I really wasn't sure what to expect and wasn't sure if I would enjoy myself musically. Converter put on a very powerful show!!  Up until now, I really didn't even understand how anyone could dance to Noise, but Scott, opened my eyes!  The Vogue had an excellent turn out for the show which I am sure helped in atmosphere of the club, but the crowd combined with Converter is what made the energy level rise in the club!!

Converter started out the set with a white strobe light which faced the audience.  This strobe light really set the mood for what the crowd was about to experience, as Scott spewed out the raunchy beats, samples, and underlying electro hard bass beats.  There were many times when I found myself looking around at the crowd and feeling like I was at a rave only on the dark side.  This music reminds me very much of trance/house music only with static beats and noise looping through the varying thickness of layers. I was actually quite impressed with the show overall and thought it was absolutely amazing how Scott pulled in the crowd from the get go, as if they were hypnotized and they didn't stop until Converter's set was over!! Personally, I had to move away from the direct line of sight, as the strobe light was directed at the audience throughout the entire set.  I was getting nauseous, I suppose the hypno therapy didn't work so well on me :)

I did enjoy the show overall.  I remember a point where I felt like between the music and the strobe light, something had reached into my soul, shredded it, put it back, but yet I was at ease.  I guess I could see this being an attraction to this genre for some.  And the draw seems to make more sense. I suppose now in retrospect, that even my opinion has changed somewhat, as I would enjoy seeing Converter play again.  So whether it was the energy or the live music or the two combined, I was able to step out of my typical likeness of music and experience a whole new sense of uneasiness.

Now Sonar had the complete opposite effect on me.  I was completely bored, as I believe much of the crowd was as well. Many people started filtering out after a few songs.  Maybe it was the fact that they were the last of three similar sounding bands, and people had their fill as of then.  It wasn't because it was late, as I distinctly remember them starting it early and that being why I had missed Manufactura.

I felt like Sonar lacked originality. Most of the songs sounded the same to me, and definitely did not capture my interest at all.  Again, I am not the best judge of this as I am not really a fan of this genre of music, but it just didn't do anything for me at all.  This is somewhat disappointing as Dirk Ivens of Sonar, is the mastermind behind Industrial's infamous project called "Klinik" and his more recent project "Dive".  Both of which I feel hold more talent and promise.  The truth be known, it is possible that Sonar is just a type of Noise genre that I don't care for more so than the other, and my ignorance to each classification could stand in the way of my overall opinion of this part of the show.

Interview with Scott Sturgis of Converter
I would like to close this review with a small interview I decided to do with Scott Sturgis of Converter concerning noise and some of the differences in genres of NOISE.  What prompted me to do this, was the fact that Starvox mainly reviews artists that are in the gothic/darkwave genre (although we do have our share of experimental, some noise and such).  I thought that readers might be more inclined to give the varying degrees of Noise projects a chance if they had more of an idea of where it came from and what they can expect from it.  I know it would have helped spark my interest more, had I realized it wasn't always just NOISE in a raw and unnerving form.  I really encourage you to continue on to the interview portion of this review, as Scott has an excellent attitude about his musical direction and just simply RAWKS for humoring me and answering my questions!!
Catherinna: What is Noise?

Scott: I think the simplest way I can put it, in my own words, is that noise in its most general sense is anti-music.

Catherinna: What is the difference between Noise and Power Noise?

Scott: Noise is generally considered "white noise", without much of any structure.  Power noise, on the other hand, is typically relies on structured arrangements and heavy percussion.

Catherinna: What do you consider your project/sound to be?

Scott: Converter is definitely part of the "power noise" genre.  It has its moments of ambience and atmospheric tracks, though.

Catherinna: Did you ever produce any other types of music and how would classify it?

Scott: Yes, I have several projects... they include music in the genres of dark electro, ambient noise, death industrial, idm and dark-hop.

Catherinna: Why did you move into this music direction?

Scott: I've nearly always been drawn to dark music, so I was a fan first. As for my own music, it's just the stuff that comes out when I write music.  It just sort of "happens."

Catherinna: What type of musical influences do you relate Noise creation to?

Scott: Many different bands have influences throughout the history of music. Strangely enough, I believe classical music tends to be high on many musicians' lists of influences.  The atmospheres and moods, the dark tendency of much classical music, the musical boundaries the composers crossed... it all figures in.  More recently, I'd say many have also been equally inspired by the bands at the roots of industrial music like Throbbing Gristle, Puppy, Neubauten, etc., etc.

Catherinna: Do you consider Noise to be similar to Techno/Trance type music?

Scott: I think it certainly can be.  We are all crossing borders and experimenting with many similar sounds, song structures and software.  Whether this is a direct result of being influenced by either genre's music or if it's a coincidence, I don't know.

Catherinna:  When listening to Noise or creating Noise, where does it take you?

Scott: Sometimes into a realm of complete chaos and other times one of structure and order; Sometimes it's a great way to release the stress of the day or clear and unclutter my mind.  It all depends on the track and my particular mood at that moment.

Catherinna: Where do you think it takes your audience?

Scott: Hopefully to the same types of places... or maybe even "further out".

Catherinna:  Do you think Noise will evolve into another music form?

Scott: I think it already has to an extent.  You hear bits of noise here and there in nearly all forms of music now.  I think it has a lot to do with the role technology plays in music composition nowadays.  There's a lot of room to tweak things during the writing and recording process, so many people take advantage of that and throw in bits of noise every once in a while. Some of  us just use it more than others.

Catherinna:  Anything you would like to add?

Scott:  Listen closely... noise is everywhere.

I certainly have gained alot of respect for the genre and what's behind NOISE, since I received this completed interview from Scott.  I think his closing words are in a sense the best way to end this review.

"Listen closely... noise is everywhere!"