Acts Magdalena
~interview by Jett Black

Veterans of the Gothcon 2000 experience Christian Merry and Rick Van Benschoten, an audio engineer, continue to sail onward via performing and setting sights to tour abroad soon. "Like the red sock in the white wash :) you'll never get that pink out." writes Christian. So it is with turmoil in life and development. Acts Magdalena feeds upon and transforms these red stains into the lyrical fabric of music included on their 4 track ep debut. In writing for Starvox.net, Stephanie Quinlan reflects,

Bands like Acts Magdalena... remind me of the savage power of the human voice when melded with stirring, primitive guitar strains. Every review of Acts Magdalena speaks with awe, and not a little fear, of singer Christian Merry's unique vocal style. Think PJ Harvey with her vocal chords ripped raw, or even more appropriately, Diamanda Galas with all her force unleashed. - Steph Quinlan
Please read on as Christian and Rick present thoughts and reflections into Acts Magdalena...

SV: Describe some of the creative techniques used to achieve specific aspects of ACTS MAGDALENA recordings.

Rick: Our recordings are more or less documentation. What you hear on the disc, except for certain moments that are open to improvisation, is what you hear live. The sound of the band is very much a function of the line-up, not studio techniques. Christian's voice is entirely her own. Other than the subtlest processing needed to match a single mono voice to a wide stereo track, I do nothing to her sound. Her tone and texture are natural. Most of the music is written on fretless bass, so there'e less emphasis on big block chord changes and more emphasis on melody and counter melody. It's also a five-string so the low end can get seriously low, as on "Elliptical Mind's Eye". Brandon's background is extremely broad, he's employing all sorts of techniques that are outside of traditional rock: mallets, brushes, a very mixed percussive approach on top of rock drumming. And Dave couldn't care less about rock guitar traditions. He approaches each song as something completely new, designing a texture that suits it's specific needs. We do very little unison, so we are usually weaving in and out of each other, each playing a different combination of rhythm and melody.

SV: Describe some of the processes involved in composing and evolving soundscrapes.

Christian: When I begin to write its usually a melody already in my head with syllabic textures- even if I don't know what the words are yet, I already know how they are going to fit. Usually the sound comes with an image and that guides the direction I take the song in. I rarely think- "I am going to write about nightingales". The thoughts just come, I can never predict what the sounds will make me think. A melody can come from anything and at any time- we have an answering machine full of song ideas that I have called in from the street or where ever. Then Rick gets a hold of it. Or its a melody I will write for a part he has. His playing is perfect for what I write.

Rick: At a certain point, composing sound is a lot like composing music. A texture presents itself mentally and then you go and find it. For example a new piece of music that we're working on, Christian had the melody and some of the lyric. She described the feeling she wanted the music to have, and I thought 'hmm resonator, reverb and volume pedal'. Once the tone is dialed on, you have your setting, the notes are the storyline. Other times you play mad scientist with a piece of gear, pushing it until it gives up something that inspires you. In the case of "Elliptical Mind's Eye" a new pitch shifter pedal had an arpeggiator patch that could be set to produce an organ-like overtone series. Once I heard it, I knew there had to be a song for it. If a new processor doesn't inspire a new piece of music within a few days, return it immediately.

SV: What images illustrate your visions of a "New Dark Age" ?

Christian: Familiar childhood things - almost everything but love and food. Life was very bad for me as a little girl and I lived inwardly trying to ignore the things going on outside my body. Its hard to do when things are actually being done to you and those inevitably color everything, but books were a savior. I also loved photographs of other places in the world-very distant isolated places that looked haunted. I wanted to live as a screaming wild child with my cat in a castle ruin scaring people, wearing white tattered lace gowns. Seriously I wanted to wander the wilderness being known as that crazy kid that lived in the trees. But I don't live so continuously in a fantasy world, life is wiser now, but I haven't changed all that much. When you grow up that messed up you get a kind of vision that doesn't stop. Hard to become a cheerleader when you grew up a gravedigger. Those thoughts have made my imagination wild - and given me the ability to see things clearly.

SV: How do environmental and social stimuli of New York influence the developments of ACTS MAGDALENA compositions?

Rick: I think the content of my music would be pretty much the same regardless of where I lived. What's great about New York is the pace, the current you can plug yourself into. It feels perfectly natural to be up all night working on music. And if you get hungry at 4 a.m., you'll probably bump into a friend on your way out.

Christian: When I came to New York it reigned in a lot of my fanciful tendencies (ah! the day job), but brought them all back as an art form - and gave me places to express it. NYC skies are grey even when they are blue, it's never silen t- there is always a distant rumble, there are people dying right next to you and you wouldn't know it. There are no forests or mountains, every tree was put there on purpose, all has been meticulously or badly planned, the air is unsafe to breathe, at any moment you could die in the most horrific way, terrorists can bomb you, buildings can burn and crumble, water can explode from the streets, it's nuclear ground zero, it is only a matter of time, but in it are some of the most beautiful things you will ever see - anywhere. Paintings, works of art, that you read of in ancient texts or that have changed the face of art are there in front of you. The sheer number of people living here brings you into contact with the slime but also the sublime. Life here is not a gently rolling hill, it is peaks and valleys of beauty and terror. It is everything but the easy way through. It colors your creative life differently that a stone farmhouse in an orchard would.

SV: What changes in the music industry have caught your attention most during the '90s ?

Christian: What I like is people getting more involved in their own future. I hate when I see these baby bands being led through the process by a rec exec- deciding where, when, who, and worse- how much, for every aspect of their album and tour. They don't realize they are just little fatted calves being cut-up and eaten and then... well. They usually don't end up with much unless they are willing to completely sell their souls and do some brainless forgettable pop, even then they still get ripped off. These pop singers don't realize how little they'll be acknowledged for anything of value other than money. I like the deals we see now where the bands are doing part of the process themselves like paying for the recording while the rec co pays for promotion etc. This to me means that more unique bands who can't and wouldn't want to get through to some blockhead A&R person, are going to get a chance to be heard.

Rick: Well, obviously the proliferation of the internet has changed things tremendously, but a lot of people don't realize that the same old problems just found a new way to express themselves. Spoiled trust fund kids are still able to buy themselves more exposure than everybody else, disposable pop music still finds millions of people to hum along mindlessly. But I'm just bitching. It's wonderful to be able to build a fan base in a country you've barely heard of. All the possibilities that seemed like distant fantasies are a lot closer now. As far as labels go, the short term mindset that has become so prevalent is very sad. Not that it hasn't always been there, it's just got so blatant and rampant now. Stockbrokers that only understood next quarter's returns have no place in the arts, or in the development of an artist.

SV: When not completely focused upon ACTS MAGDALENA, what do you do to support yourself?

Rick: I'm an audio engineer. Recording, mixing, MIDI programming, digital editing, mastering. I also do some part-time teaching at a school called The Institute of Audio Research.

Christian: I hated how this one singer was always referred to as "former receptionist"- so what, the girl got a job, she didn't add a meaning to her life. I am an artist but its all a part of my music effort. I know lots of actors who work as waiters, but they are still actors. Get whatever job you can to pay the bills, just don't forget who you "really" are.

SV: In what ways will ACTS MAGDALENA live performances differ from its recordings?

Rick: The live show is more extreme in both directions. The heavier material is even more over the top, and the ethereal pieces get very intimate, very close to the audience.

Christian: I want the recording to be basically be an invite to see us live. I feel music was meant first- to be performed live, and the recording to be the second thing, the memory of it- the thing you can take home. My regret is that unless its a live recording in a venue, with its inherent limitations, its hard to get that same crackling energy in the sterile studio environment. Something about people and energy, the drums right behind you... I am a bette in the studio don't get me wrong, but there is something intangible you only get there, at a show.

SV: Who are current members of ACTS MAGDALENA, and what roles does each perform?

Christian Merry- Singer,
Rick Van Benschoten- Bass (fretless and fretted)
Brandon Miller- Percussion
Dave McConnell- Guitar

Christian: I write the melodies and lyrics and do the band's artwork, Rick and I both write the songs and produce and we then get lots of great input and incredible music from Brandon and Dave. Rick also then records, edits, mixes, and masters the recordings. Every band should have a Rick. We also ALL do the glamorous mailing list stuff, and every other minute of the lives of Rick and Christian are spent doing all kinds of other band related stuff.

SV: Please describe the themes employed on recordings by ACTS MAGDALENA.

Christian: Usually the things we all feel, besides Love. Love is so covered by almost everyone else, and it frankly confuses me. At some point these people are singing about stuff they haven't been through - every song about love? How many forms of this emotion can one person have gone through. Maybe all. Who knows? But most of it sounds fake and desperate for a "hit". I didn't have much love in my upbringing - lots of sacrifice on my mom's part, but nothing like the love people talk about. So I won't presume, or pretend to know what I am talking about there. I do know what fear is, I do know what waking up and the nightmare is still there is. I do know what escaping physically, but not spiritually, is. I do know what loss of control is. I know lots of stuff and that is what I express.

SV: How do you relate with the music created for ACTS MAGDALENA?

Rick: There are many ways. I'd say the extremes are a pretty good parallel to the extremes in my personality, though the proportions are reversed. There are many mysteries and complexities in the music. I'm not exactly a top 40 kind of person either.

Christian: It is me, I do it without thinking "I'll do this and then have this other project I do." This is my only project. This is my identity.

SV: What would you like to accomplish through ACTS MAGDALENA into the dawning of the new millennium?

Rick: The Millennium actually means very little to me. Like so much of what people hold as true and absolute, it's completely arbitrary. Our goals are the same: find people that are unsatisfied with what mass media is offering them, the ones that know there must be something else out there, and give them a chance to hear our music. To that end we'll be completing our website, which will contain a lot of Christian's artwork and themes that are prevalent in both her art and lyrics. The EP is generating a lot of interest overseas, too. It is steadily growing into a CD and we'll continue to promote it through the press, the internet, and our live performances.

Christian: There is a value in expressing what others feel, things not so commonly expressed. I also need to do this to help make life make sense- there has to be more than what teachers and parents tell you there is. A house as my ultimate goal? A car in the garage? A vacation 2 weeks a year? Maybe for some, and I am not putting that down, but it is not right for me. I would like to reach a lot of kids and let them know that they are not alone in feeling the things they feel. They are not freaks. They are not outcasts. Their thoughts and feelings have a value on this planet and their craft, be it poetry, or art or music - whatever - should be seen and heard. Look beyond the neighborhood, go out into the world. When kids know there are others who have done it, they might take the chance too; better than dying in suburbia, or the inner city, or the countryside thinking you are alone.

SV: What other recordings, outside of ACTS MAGDALENA, have been released by its band members?

Rick: As an engineer and programmer I have been involved with hundreds of recordings. I do the occasional side-man session as a bassist. The most artistically significant record I've played on outside of ACTS MAGDALENA is the album "Is This My World That Hovers?" by the experimental guitarist Ken Rubenstein. Ken's a very dangerous person to work with and nearly insane, but a brilliant composer. There's also Adam Kane, a composer of soundtracks for independent films. I've played on a number of his pieces. Brandon makes a living doing side-man work and Dave has some previous work.

Christian: Independent releases will probably surface in the future. Right now the main thing is ACTS MAGDALENA. You can write to us if you want more info on the other stuff but it may not be in a readily consumable form right now. ActsMag@aol.com

SV: What will you entitle the next release by ACTS MAGDALENA, and when will it be available?

Christian: "Hunters and Spinners" is currently being worked on and different forms of it have been heard by many people and gotten us a lot of great attention. I can't say when it will be finally released, but it is in a 6-song EP form right now you can get from us.

SV: Who will be distributing your next releases?

Christian: We are, but larger distribution options are being looked at for the final work, especially internationally. We have had a great response in Europe and South America. (yes, in South America- there is a really cool gothic audience there)

SV: Where else might readers find releases by ACTS MAGDALENA available for purchase?

Christian: This will be our first. Older stuff will probably be available in the future but since we are an independent "operation" all of our efforts are going to this our finest line-up. We have had releases with other musicians that are good but we have out grown it and moved on to what we are now.

SV: What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?

Christian: I can honestly say I don't feel like I have any current "band" musical influences. I like the "western" structure of music - songs with verses and choruses and in this familiar musical scale. So, I am "influenced" by this style. But, I don't know of anyone doing what we do. I do admire some people, but they are not influences on me musically. I don't like to mention them because then people search for signs of them in our songs. Medieval English and European music and Celtic music may have been the influence that started me as a child, but even I am not sure anymore.

Rick: Again, what I am looking for most of all is time. There are so many songs left to finish from this period of my life. New influences aren't really a concern. I do enjoy listening to music very much though, and there are so many things I haven't been able to hear, so many artists I haven't kept up with. I'd love to hear some recent Jon Hassel, Harold Budd. I haven't heard any Eno since... Theres so much on the New York experimental scene I haven't heard. Marc Robot's - Los Cubanos Postizos - is supposed to be brilliant. I'm still kicking myself for missing the last Residents tour. The list is pretty endless. One recent record that really stands out though is Danny Elfman's score for "A Simple Plan" - too short but absolutely amazing.

SV: Which shows have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?

Christian: Honestly last year was all ACTS MAGDALENA for me. I do have to say I am looking forward to the NIN shows. Again, I don't do anything like Trent, but I admire him.

Rick: Zeena Parkins at Tonic.

SV: What motivates you to continue performing and recording music as ACTS MAGDALENA now?

Rick: The motivation is simple. There's nothing more satisfying than feeling a new song come together, walking off stage after a great performance, playing back a tape of a finished mix. These are the things I enjoy most in life.

Christian: The feeling that "this is right" - that this is what all the hell of childhood and growing up and all the bad things that happened - that this has made it worth living through. It is something I can look on with pride and not make excuses for, or be putting down as something that "needs work". I do that with so many things, but my art and my music are a hard-won quality that I feel I can say is my best. And it makes me know all those negative messages I got thru the years were not right, and I was right to try to get through them. If I died today, at least those who know me would have something to point to as an accomplishment - not searching for words to describe a mediocre person and to be kind. It would be obvious what was good about me.

SV: What mile-stones have been most notable for ACTS MAGDALENA?

Christian: Getting through band member changes. So many bands fear that down-time when looking for replacements and end up breaking up anyway and becoming burned out or bitter. Rick and I made it thru all the changes and have found two very cool people in Brandon and Dave. We have known very nice people in the past and changes did not always come from something negative-sometimes life choices (like cute bambinos) but those always meant the search through all the people to find the diamonds in all the rough.

SV: How would you describe your music, and your motivation to continue as ACTS MAGDALENA, even if you made it big in the music industry?

Rick: The core of the music would change very little. The same inspirations would still be there. The main difference would be in the quantity of music produced, since earning a living outside the band and managing the band takes up so much of our time. The motivation would only increase since we would be able to focus even more of our attention on the band than we already do. And of course not having to start a mix-down at midnight, after a 10 hour session would be a great relief.

Christian: Reaching people and traveling, seeing the world under the auspices of being a singer in a great band. Contributing to the world through music and lyrics- feeling the part of the world I belong to is so cool and so worth being in and sharing that. Meeting people I like and want to know better - increasing that place in my mind where I store experiences, and when I am so old I cannot move anymore - having some great "memory films" to watch. I can guarantee you our music will still be the extreme celebration it is now. Life has never been an easy-rolling valley. I'll never write pop music. I'll leave that to those who have lived easy-rolling pop lives. I know when I have no clue about something.

SV: Could you illuminate any significant details that may have influenced the development of sadness in your music?

Rick: What a great question. Everything is sad. People have so much potential for kindness and self-expression, so much of it is squandered on insecurity.

Christian: The biggest mistake a parent can make is to blame innocent children for their problems - and then take it out on them. You grow up confused, wondering what all the rage and abuse is about. And then, you get older in that world and it shapes you. Then you go to school and your teachers are not all, but mainly failures in life and try to pull you down with them. Clarity is a good thing to have - but I would have liked to have been blissfully ignorant sometimes and had good guides around me. Those early things stay with you and come through all your creative endeavors. Like the red sock in the white wash :) you'll never get that pink out.

SV: When touring and dealing with a million-and-one decisions, how do you manage to work so well together without the instruments in hand?

Christian: With this line- up we have not toured extensively yet. But we have been through a lot. If there were going to be major problems, there were plenty of places it could have come out by now. I suppose we could still pull each other's hair out, but hair grows back. We have minds and mouths and if something happens, you talk about it, work it out. We aren't in a coma.

SV: What particular interests might you explore along the route of this next tour, if opportunity permits?

Christian: Our next plans are for Europe with several other bands. I think I will try to not be so tunnel visioned about things. I have goals but I hope I can stop and smell the roses so to speak, too. Life is not so long, and who knows when you'll ever be back somewhere? So, I hope I can remember to enjoy things, too, and not just work, work, work.

SV: What new opportunities would you seek and develop to advance the music of ACTS MAGDALENA?

Christian: We have had film/TV people take our CD. I think that would be great to be on some good soundtracks in a meaningful way. Not that way where you are "on" a soundtrack but maybe your song was heard for one second on a passing car radio, or not heard at all. I may not turn down something like that though, if the movie/program is really fine, but I obviously have a preference. I love film, its a huge influence on me, I will make movies one day and take out my visual talents in our videos. So, to add our music to films is logical. But I don't think we'd fit most movie/tv soundtracks. That's a good thing.

Rick: Well, I've been sleeping around with an awful lot of people in the industry, but I'm not sure it's working.... (this is a joke-Xn)

SV: Any re-mixes from previous releases?

Rick: As an engineer I've worked on dozens of remixes, and my feelings about them are very mixed. We're not an act, we're a band. Remixes are, for the most part, a marketing device, and the initial inspiration for the song is usually the last thing considered. That said, some songs can find a totally different and valid way of expressing themselves with a new arrangement. I think that's pretty much the exception, but its good when it happens. Our priority is playing live, and I'm much more interested in developing new songs, so there's not much interest in remixing. I've got an excellent drum and bass arrangement for "Bullet" worked out in my head, though.

SV: What changes have been made in ACTS MAGDALENA during the last year?

Rick: Brandon and Dave have both been with us for about a year and a half. Brandon brought an amazing range of sounds and techniques and Dave brought an incredible sense of mood and texture. I think the deepest, most intense and extreme qualities in these songs are being brought out by this line-up.

SV: What songs have been in development since last year?

Christian: Too many to list in the 'up and coming' file.. We have song pieces lying about everywhere, and songs coming together. What is completed gets put into shows and then recorded. It's an on-going process. Some songs have spanned years in piece form, too. So, there is a lot to be done. Happily so.

Rick: This line-up has been performing a number of new songs: "Elliptical Mind's Eye", and "Wasteland", which are on the EP. "Trivial Master", and "Fires", which will be added to the EP sometime in March. "Rise and Fall", which will be recorded in March. "Low", and "Black Mountain" were debuted at our February 19th show at Arlene Grocery in NYC.

SV: Considering other musicians with which you have performed in the past, what experiences seem most memorable for you and what have you been able to draw out of those experiences and into ACTS MAGDALENA?

Christian: I know there are a lot of great bands here in NYC but I have only, personally, encountered very few. I think as time goes on we will be playing different levels of shows in different places and will probably meet more people that would better fit this description. I do think that I will experience much more- I hardly know everything- but I have seen a lot. I am not easily impressed but I do think I can be and probably will be.

SV: Where will you be traveling during the course of your next tour?

Christian: Europe, and then South America.

SV: When and at what location is your next tour set to begin?

Christian: Since the European journey will be with others, lots of details are still being worked on at this moment. We'll let you know when its finalized. It will be in conjunction with a festival in Germany.

SV: What gear are you using to develop music for ACTS MAGDALENA? Which songs required more significant development in production?

Rick: Christian relies on nothing but her voice. Brandon plays an enormous Ludwig drum kit and uses every inch of it. Listen closely to a song like "The Bridge" and you can feel the drums wrap around you. He'll play mallets and brushes on certain songs as the mood requires. Dave plays a guitar he built himself through Mesa pre and power amps, and a Marshall 1960 cabinet loaded with Celestron Greenbacks. For effects, he uses a vox wah, a Lexicon MPX-100, a TC Electronic G-Force, and a 25th Anniversary Limited Silver Edition Switchtek Pedalboard by RockOnnell. Dave is also using a baritone guitar on one of the newest songs, "Low". I'm playing an Elrick fretless five-string on most everything, with an MTD Grendel fretted five-string on "Rise and Fall." For amplification, I use an SWR Grand Prix Preamp with a Sovtek 12AX7LPS tube, a Dbx 160xt compressor, an ADA B500B power amp, and 2 SWR/Eden Cabinets, a 4x10 w/ tweeter and a 1x18. For effects I'm using two different distortions, a pitch shifter, a volume pedal, and an Alesis QuadraVerb Plus w/ a MIDI Controller pedal. The sound is all developed in pre-production and performed live. In the studio, it's just matter of capturing the best performances and letting the live sound come through.

SV: What more would you like to share with our readers?

Christian: Never give up hope, but also: don't be a fool. Don't go blindly into things. Or, on the other end of it, don't believe that you have to be led by someone. Prepare yourself for life by reading and observing and asking questions. Take crappy jobs, if you have to at first, and save up your money. Do what you have to do to get free. You know inside who and what you are. Who cares if your boss for the next year doesn't? Or if your co-workers think you're weird? Sabotaging yourself to spite others will only hurt you, and prove them right. Don't become some homeless drug addict just to prove you won't conform to society. Use it, then set yourself free.

SV: How can music enthusiasts best contact ACTS MAGDALENA for more information?

Christian: All the info you need for ACTS MAGDALENA is below. You can always write to us to order the CD.

SV: What other resources might be available for avid readers?

Christian: CDs and more to come in the future. You'll be among the first to know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For more info e-mail ActsMag@aol.com
Read The Interview - www.rockband.com New York Spotlight
http://www.rockband.com/news/199912 actsmagdalena.asp
*Named one of 1999's 20 Best Recordings by WSGR's Persy Grrl Radio Show*

*Nominated in Best Alternative Album category "Just Plain Folks" Music Industry Forum www.jpfolks.com*
Acts Magadalena music review @ Starvox.net by Steph Quinlan -
http://www.starvox.net/cdr/acts.htm

Beneath their skin: an interview with kaRIN and Statik of Collide
~by Wolf
 

The California based duo Collide have been treating us to their magnificent blend of industrial, pop and ethereal for almost 5 years now, but still remain fairly unknown in the scene. After several demos they released their first full-length, Beneath the Skin, on Re-Constriction Records, as well as the Skin single, followed by Distort, a disc full of remixes and unreleased/new material. Unfortunately Re-Constriction's existence ended and Collide found themselves without a label, but are in the process of finding a new one to accommodate them and their music. kaRIN (vocals and lyrics) and Statik (music) are among some of the nicest musicians I've had the pleasure of knowing on-line and were kind enough to grant me the opportunity to interview them for Starvox. Let's find out what's beneath their skin...

Aside from several compilation appearances it's been a while since any new material has come out. Is this (partially) due to the death of Re-Constriction, your former label? Can we look forward to a new full-length anytime soon?

kaRIN: We are working away in the studio now, but for us it can be a long process to make a song that we are both happy with. We both approach things from opposite directions and have different things that we want to get out of it. We usually go back and forth, layer and then scrap a lot, right now we are in the scrap a lot stage, itís a little frustrating actually. We were hoping to be finished by the end of this year. The death of our label has not really affected us that much, we were getting ready to move on anyway.

We miss Chase a lot though, it was nice having someone to take care of our details.

Statik: Right now we have narrowed down all of our song starts to about 9 songs that are in some form of getting finished. Some are probably 99% done, some are probably 30%. And some of those wonít make the final cut. So itís just a matter of really getting in there and trying hard to get these songs done and maybe getting a few more done. Easier said than done though.

What can we expect from the new material? Will it be a continuation of the sound of past releases or are you moving into new musical territory?

kaRIN: Hard to say ... I think although there are of course familiar elements, the overall sound is different--we are trying to move away from the wall of sound, mostly because we have been there. For us itís never been about a particular sound, itís always been about letting each song develop itís own identity.

Statik: Different from things in the past, I guess, but it has been a few years since Beneath the Skin. Weíre just doing what we like right now, as always.

Could you share some insights regarding the creative process?

kaRIN: Itís a fight to the death, as I mentioned we both have different things that we want to get out of the process.

Statik: Yes, itís a matter of building up the song and tearing down what we donít like, whether thatís musically or vocally. Sometimes we end up tearing down so much that we might get to where thereís nothing left that we really like, and scrap it and just start over...all that takes time and energy, so sometimes it takes longer than weíd like to finish a song. Sometimes a song comes together really quick though...those are usually my favorite.

kaRIN: Yes ...we like songs that write themselves.

Beneath the Skin, your first full-length, received a lot of praise from both press and listeners. But now that the production of that album took place almost 4 years ago would you, in retrospect, have done certain things differently?

Statik: I donít think in terms of what I would do differently. I just couldnít re-make that album. Iím not thinking like I was back then creatively and song-wise. Sometimes Iíll come across something that I did, that I had forgotten about, and Iíll go...hmm...how did I get that sound? or come up with that part? Thatís why itís always good for us to put everything down to tape or in the computer when the creative process is happening...if you donít get it at the time, you might not get it at all.

Collide's music has a very unique sound and isn't the easiest to categorize. In the past I've heard you described with vague terms such as "cybergoth" and "ethereal industrial". Where do you place your music and does this almost necessary evil of labeling bother you? Does it restrict, define or both?

kaRIN: I think we both just have a lot of influences and wanted to make something that combined all of the elements that we like. I do not feel at all restricted or defined by the labels we receive, as we get so many, it still leaves it wide open--I like that, I feel that we could add as many elements as we like in. Primarily we have to please ourselves.

Are there, both lyrically and musically, specific writers and musicians that stand out when it comes to your influences? Anyone in particular you'd like to collaborate with in the future?

Statik: We both have lots of different influences. It kind of depends on the day as to what exactly the influence is. Iíll stick some CD in my player and play it for like two weeks straight, and not listen to anything else, and then Iíll get so tired of it Iíll have to move on. I like to do that to a song I like so that I can get to know a song in and out...know all of the little sounds, and parts.

kaRIN: As for influences I have said this a lot , but I like things that appeal to me on all levels and remain timeless. Some of the best examples of this in my opinion are Kate Bush and David Bowie. As far as people I would like to collaborate with in the future, yes there are many, I love to work with different people--I think it always brings out something different in you. I am working on guest vocals on something new right now, but itís still too early to talk about.

(photo by Anthony Epes)
Speaking of collaborations... kaRIN, you worked with cEvin Key on his latest Plateau release Spacecake. How did this come about and what are your thoughts on working with cEvin?

kaRIN: It was a really great experience. cEvin is a great guy and we had been threatening to jam together for awhile. When we got together it was a really cool experience for me, he has an amazing studio filled with tons of keyboards and different gear. As you can imagine there is a lot of energy around cEvin and his house, in particular the vocal both is haunted, or at least I could say I felt a presence, so I just channeled my subconscious experience. I did not know that it would really be used for anything. I was happy when I heard that cEvin was using them, but I wished that I had had the chance to develope them a little further. When I heard the whole piece, I understood that he was going more for initial response than a finished feel. It was unusual for me not to have any control of the final outcome. I think of the vocals in it as being more just a part of the music. I see cEvinís work as visionary and I would love to work together more in the future.

Statik, you've done (and still do) programming/production work for other musicians. In the past you've worked with bands such as Tool, Econoline Crush and Love and Rockets. Do projects like that influence your song writing for Collide or is it an entirely different way of working?

Statik: There are different times, and ways of working on most projects. When Iím working with another band, Iím involved in adding parts and making the song that they are working on better in some way...whether thatís changing some of their sounds, adding a different part all together, replacing parts, working on vocals...whatever. For us though, of course, we have to come up with the actual song in the first place...which is the hardest part. Once the song is together I can really get into the production part of it which is more of the fun part. The actual writing is very hard work.
 

For some years now remixing has been a popular phenomenon in the goth/industrial/electronic scene and you've done your share of remix work as well for bands such as Frontline Assembly, Waiting for God and Diatribe. In 1997 you even released a remix album of your own, Distort. What is your opinion on this, still growing, remix trend? Is there a specific approach you use when remixing someone else's material?

Statik: First off I really have to like something about a song in order to remix it. Iíve never done a remix on something that I didnít care for in one way or another. After that Iíll strip it down to the parts that I think are the best, or the core elements of the song. Then itís just a matter of feel, and adding what works for the song...what do I think the song needs to work as a whole.

Do you have any remixes for other bands in the works at the moment? And is there anyone's music in particular you'd like to get your hands on to remix?

Statik: No other remixes for any other bands in the works, we've been busy trying to finish our own album. I would like to do one for Nine Inch Nails.

kaRIN, you're very active in other forms of art as well, such as painting, photography and jewelry design. Is there a link between those activities and the music, in terms of subject material and approach?

kaRIN: Yes, itís all connected in some way --I wanted to find a way to take control over my own world... so I started to create everything around me.

From interviews during both the Beneath the Skin as well as the Distort era I gathered that Collide has been somewhat reluctant to tour, mainly because you'd rather wait than put on a show that is not one hundred percent what you'd like it to be. Have you been performing since then and is there a chance that we'll be seeing Collide throughout the US after new material has been released or will you mostly remain a studio band for now?

kaRIN: Creating is my priority--I find time very short and I donít have near enough time to do that. My drive is definitely to put the energy into something so that you have the result, the work of art on the wall. For that reason, I am more interested in making a video than touring , as you have something finished in the end . I am not saying that we wont tour, but I am saying that itís not a priority for me at this time.

Statik: Itís not something weíre really thinking about right now. Thereís just too many other pending things to think about. Finishing the album, figuring out how weíre going to release it. Things like that.

On behalf of Starvox I'd like to thank you for being so kind to give us this interview and I wish you good luck with your excellent music, label hunting and life in general. It was, as always, a pleasure to communicate with the two of you. If there's anything you'd like to say in closing, now is your chance.

Statik: beware of poodles and alligators

kaRIN: that is stupid, don't put that.

Statik: no, you're stupid.

kaRIN: that's not a very good closing statement.

Statik: ok. forget the alligators.

kaRIN: he thinks he's funny.

Collide: Thanks for the interview and thanks for reading.

Official web site: http://www.collide.net

Kristy Venrick of Nilaihah Records and The Azoic
~by Jett Black
 

Nilaihah indie music label owner, Kristy Venrick, vocalist for the darkly electronic industrial dance sensation The Azoic, needs no introduction. It's all in there. Read on!

SV: Let's start with the latest news... RESISTOR, a compilation produced and released between Nilaihah and Arts Industria, correct?

KV: Yes, Paul from Arts Industria and I decided to join forces since we are such close friends and respect each others work ethic. He helped me choose the lineup and will be working with some promotional follow-up, along with Kevin's help (also from AI). It's mainly a Nilaihah Records release for ordering, promotions, distribution, advertising, and graphics. We hope to do more joint ventures in the future, if this proves to be a success.

SV:How many artists appear on this compilation?

KV: 17 total. 8 tracks with female vocals and over 74 minutes of music.

SV: And who is handling the promo distribution to key DJ's ?

KV: I am mainly, but Paul will help some.

SV: Who are a few of the top DJ's receiving RESISTOR right away and why were these DJ's selected?

KV:Yes, people I've dealt with in the past and who have helped us along the way and been supporters of our music/bands. Dead Air, IPM, Will Huggins, Alex Zander, Tommy T, DJ Squid, DJ Psonic, DJ Antithesis, Dachar, DJ K-Y, Scary Lady Sarah, and many moreÖ

SV: Where can readers possibly audition tracks from RESISTOR before buying?

KV: On the Nilaihah website at http://www.nilaihah.com/resistor.htm You can also order online via credit card, check or money order from there too.

SV: Briefly describe The Collective concept. And what is The Collective?

KV: The Collective is a group of 11 independent labels that have joined forces to get more music exposure as a group (or collective) than each of us could individually. We were all chosen based on our motivation, integrity, and music/releases.

SV: Who's involved within The Collective?

KV: ADSR Musikwerks, Arts Industria, BYTET, Catastrophe Records, Doppler Effect, DSBP, Flaming Fish, Inception Records, Magnetic Resonance, Nilaihah Records, and sevenbytwo records.

SV: How can readers discover more about The Collective on-line?

KV: At our website: http://www.underground-collective.com The full length CD's are all $12.97 which includes shipping in the US.

SV: When did you tour with The CruxShadows?

KV: The Azoic toured in September of 1998 with the Cruxshadows on several dates, but not in all the cities they played. We had a great time with them!

SV: Have you had opportunties to work with them since?

KV: We have discussed several opportunities, most notably compilations. We are both promoted on MP3.com by Mike Ventarola's Hidden Sanctuary radio <http://listen.to/hiddensanctuary/>. We hope to also work together again in the near future.

SV: When will The Azoic record and perform together again?

KV: We have been recording ever since the last CD with breaks for important steps in our life, like releasing other CD's, working more on the record label, buying homes, and in our personal relationships. We hope to tour later this year when we can release our 3rd CD.

SV: Where are you living now? And what's changed for you in the new setting?

KV: Columbus, OH. I purchased my own home last summer. A lot has changed. I have over double the space I had, tons of storage, all in my "new" 90 year old house.

SV: What did you put into your new home in terms of renovation?

KV: I renovated the bathroom, painted the kitchen, added glass block in the basement, and bought some funky furniture to compliment all the hardwood. I didn't have to do much. The house was in perfect condition and still has the old charm.

SV: What do you find most disturbing within the music industry today?

KV: People who try to scam free material. I've tightened up a lot on who I will send promotional material to because of this. People just assume they'll get things for free if they ask and take things for granted. They don't always consider all the hard, unpaid work that labels and musicians go through.

SV: What difficulties would you expect to tackle in touring again?

KV: Setting up the dates and organizing it to coordinate distance-wise is the hardest. That's why there are booking agents. ;)

SV: Have you lent your vocals to projects outside of The Azoic?

KV: There's been quite a bit over the years, but not all have been released. I recently recorded vocals for a Cocteau Twins tribute album with Oneiroid Psychosis, for Cleopatra, a new Manhole Vortex song called "Anemone," added backing vocals to Oneiroid Psychosis' 3rd CD and will soon be adding vocals to their new material. I have also worked with Dave Scott, iHannoa, Res.ullus and a few more live or unreleased.

SV: "Progression" is contributed to RESISTOR by The Azoic. Tell us about this song. What went into the production of "Progression"?

KV: "Progression" was a song that has taken many forms since it's inception. It is also a song about moving forward in life and relationships. Steve and I worked back and forth on this song until it was completed for the comp. It's not complete in our minds yet though. We hope it will take many other forms in the near future because we'd like to ask other artists/bands to remix it.

SV: How does "Progression" technically differ from previous recordings?

KV: It is more dance oriented, less angelic, and has a catchier melody than what we've written before. Our focus has changed musically to reflect what we've learned, what we're going through, and how things affect us. I've been experimenting with lower vocals and more layers and Steve is constantly playing with new gear so our sound will continue to evolve. I am very excited by this new direction, but we haven't forgotten our roots.

SV: Besides RESISTOR, what other compilations is The Azoic appearing on since Where Broken Angels Lie?

KV: The Unquiet Grave on Cleopatra, Circuit Noir 2 on the United Endangered Front, Dissent on Magnetic Resonance Records, Darkness and the Machine vol.2 on Carpe Mortem Records, and Songs for Marius on Final Exit Records.

SV: When not at Nilaihah HQ, how do you employ your time professionally?

KV: I am an architect. They always tease me that architecture is my temporary job here, before I become famous in the music business. ;)

SV: Are you attending to academic course work again?

KV: No, but I'd like to become a Professor of Architecture in the next few years.

SV: How do you manage to focus upon Nilaihah with commitments to career, education, et cetera.

KV: Well, basically I work on the label every weekend and nights as soon as I get off work. I also work some mornings before work. I just have to prioritize my work and personal time. That can be very hard to do when new CD's are released.

SV: What is the music industry lacking, perhaps dying to experience?

KV: Passion. I say this a lot, but listen to all the force fed crap people eat from the radio. They don't always go for the passion in the music and the lyrical content. Maybe that's why the music business can be so sketchy.

SV: How would you characterize the 'spirit of co-operation' and interactivity found in the 'underground' today?

KV: It's changed over the years and depends on where your "scene" was located and what "genre" you're into. I think we are at a high point again as far as co-operation in the industrial/gothic underground because of people like Jett Black, Michael Ventarola, Will Huggins, and events like Convergence, GothCon, Gothic Topic, etc. I've never seen people so fervent about what they are doing. It's a nice change and hope it continues.

SV: How have practices of interaction between musician and industry changed during the past 15 - 20 years?

KV: Obviously the computer and internet have become a staple for exposure that was virtually impossible before. It has allowed unsigned bands to promote themselves and smaller record labels to surface. I hope this trend will continue because a few years ago the majors swallowed up quite a few labels.

SV: Post-punk eras have evolved into a multi-faceted independent music underground. What do you believe has been lost in the process of evolution within the new music underground?

KV: Possibly unity because of all the sub-genres created over the last few years, but then that has lead to diversity as well. This separation has caused a lack of show support and support for the scene as a whole.

SV: Do you journalize your experiences?

KV: No, but I wish I did (or rather had the time.) I did in 1995 while in Europe.

SV: Over the past several months, with all the scores of submissions for the RESISTOR compilation, which bands that did not make the cut would you recommend to new music enthusiasts?

KV: Electronic/Industrial - Monstrum Sepsis, Testube, Thou Shalt Not, Dubok Ethereal/Darkwave - Per Somnia, The Unquiet Void, Deathwatch Beetle Goth Rock - Killing Miranda, One (both on Nightbreed)

SV: Which other unknowns have impressed you the most?

SV: Obviously God Module, Distorted Reality, and The Strand from the RESISTOR comp, but I've also been impressed with a lot of the new bands that are getting big now, like Assemblage 23 and Tapping the Vein.

SV: Over the past year, what were some of the most impressive live performances you witnessed?

KV: Covenant (which was over a year ago) and the Cult. I was impressed that they put on such a great show after all these years. ;)

SV: Which musicians does Nilaihah service on the label?

KV: Oneiroid Psychosis and The Azoic, but we are in negotiations with 2 other bands now. We hope to make Nilaihah an even stronger label in the future.

SV: What can we look forward to next from The Azoic?

KV: new CD this year and a tour to follow. We have it 1/2 complete already.

SV: Any news pertaining to Oneiroid Psychosis?

KV: Yes, they are working hard on rebuilding the studio, new material, and have been featured on numerous, new compilations, such as the upcoming Cocteau Twins tribute album, a Dion Fortune compilation, and Tinman's Ringworm v.1.

SV: How can readers interact and communicate more with The Azoic, and other Nilaihah recording artists?

KV: Through our extensive website at http://www.nilaihah.com. You can find bands, pictures, bios, news, reviews, merchandise, online ordering, and more.

Or listen to our music on MP3.com at -
http://www.mp3.com/theazoic for The Azoic, and -
http://www.mp3.com/oneiroidpsychosis for Oneiroid Psychosis.

Regards,
Kristy - nilaihah@nilaihah.com
Nilaihah Records - http://www.nilaihah.com
darkwave/industrial dance music featuring the sounds of Oneiroid Psychosis and The Azoic

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
RESISTOR compilation - official release date - March 28, 2000
featuring unreleased and remixed material from:
Fiction 8, Heavy Water Factory, Bio-Tek, Inertia,TNV w/ Athan Maroulis of Spahn Ranch, Attrition, The Strand, Distorted Reality, Oneiroid Psychosis, God Module, The Azoic, Manhole Vortex, This Ascension, the Machine in the Garden, Autumn, and Advent Sleep/Anita Haxsaw.

Industrial dance and Darkwave electronics with 8 female vocal tracks.
A must have for your music collection!

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+

Nilaihah Records
P.O. Box 82614
Columbus, OH 43202 USA

Lili Roth
~interviewed by Jett Black

Atlanta, Georgia: Home to fantastic musicians such as Lili Roth, or merely a launching pad for success? Find out for yourself. Let's start with Lili Roth, one of the most talented, seasoned, traditional, and yet, ironically, iconoclastic rock musicians Atlanta has to offer to the world today. Writing and performing for nearly two decades, Lili Roth now unleashes a self-titled debut, which has already received rave reviews such as the following...

Out of Atlanta's underground scene comes this inspiring new talent with self-driven ambition and inspiration. Her first independent self-titled CD is an impressive 12-song collection that showcases her diverse talent as a musician and as a vocalist. Through a wide range of emotions and themes, Lili Roth delivers an incredible collection of songs that can be called everything from blues inspired, rock, goth and pop. Her vocals move from deep emotional realms similar to those of singer Beth Hart to more whimsical, breathy airs similar to Carly Simon. I'm telling you, tuck this name in a safe place. You'll hear it again - this is only the beginning.
- Blu http://www.starvox.net/cdr/lili.htm
Be certain to investigate and audition this music for yourself at: http://www.largeorange.com/liliroth.html

And now, let's hear from the dark Mistress of the Muse herself, Lili Roth:

SV: Where do you do most of your recording?

Lili: LILI ROTH, my debut album, was recorded at Triclops Recording Studio, which some of your readers might recognize as the legendary production house which saw such complete album projects as Matchbox 20's "yourself or someone like you" and Hole's "Live Through This". More seminal perhaps to fans is that Billy Corgan et al recorded all of "Siamese Dream" at Triclops. The studio is now closed and mine was the last album recorded there. Rick literally tore the guts out of her like, to the day the last track was finished. Now with Triclops gone, which has taken a lot of the psychological strain off of Rick [and he has a whole interesting story about why that studio nearly destroyed him - you should interview him too], we record in the basement of his home, which is a large jobbie overlooking the Chattahoochee River here in Roswell/Atlanta. He ripped the expensive materials and equipment out of Triclops and stuffed it all into his basement. The place is incredible, a real cavern of sound.

SV: Where have you performed your music for live audiences?

Lili: I've performed at the Metroplex which was where the Sex Pistols premiered in America and which once stood here in Atlanta but is no more. I've also played many other places, but clubs where I sing seem to get torn down! Is this a reflection of me or something I wonder? Everywhere I walk I seem to bring revolution. I used to have a tattoo once, faded now, that was the rune for destruction, Hagalaz. That symbol brought me a lot of upheaval. Recently I've played very few "well-known" venues in Atlanta or Los Angeles, because I'm awaiting the right band. As you can probably surmise, not just anyone can get their chops around my music. Too many diminished chords. I mean that literally. I will however, soon be playing a special date exclusive at Nomenclature and this is a gift of Mike Cuccaro, to whom I owe much. Graciously he has shown interest in having me play live quite soon, and he knows I promise a desperate, dark, rather wicked show.

SV: Who is R.C. Meyer? And what role does Meyer play in the production of your music on the self-titled debut?

Lili: R.C. Meyer is Rick Curtis Meyer, who literally produced the album as well as did all the guitar on it. I do play guitar also, but not on this album. I'm shown with a guitar on it to keep idiots from shelving my album in the urban section of record chains. Rick picked me out of the sky blue to record this album, as he was looking for a project. There's a story behind this. Rick is a wondrous wizard, an absolute genius on guitar. Turns out, however, his favorite key in music is C#m, which is a keyboard key, but which guitarists traditionally hate because it's a difficult position for the fingers. If you need to know what C#m sounds like, generally it's the sweetest minor key and is enjoyed by goths tremendously, such as myself. Most Depeche Mode songs are in this key, and Siouxsie likes it too. I digress. Anyway, keyboardists like it because it's an easy finger position and guitarists hate it because on guitar it's just the opposite. Yet Rick, weirdo that he is, was a guitarist who LOVES it. I walked in the door one day wanting to get a demo made and Rick listened to my songs, and commented that they were in C#m or C#m-friendly keys, and we grooved. The rest was history. Rick is still my musical soulmate very much and we will continue to record and produce albums together, as each is the only one who musically understands the other.

SV: Who are the other musicians appearing on this recording? Tell us about their instrumentation and musical backgrounds.

Lili: The other musicians on LILI ROTH were non-goths, and I'm afraid I really don't know much about them. They were terrific guys, but they were hired guns brought in to realize my vision. Other than music we had little to ever say to one another. Mike Talbot was on drums and Joseph Luther was bass player. Both fine gentlemen, in their 20s, with wives and children I think. We had a few beers, but little else has transpired. They've gone on with their lives and I thank them and wish them the best. Joey Huffman was keyboardist on certain tracks, and he's a great guy I've had some limited post contact with. He was Matchbox 20's tour keyboardist and is a bit of a goth himself, or so he seems. Very serious, highly intelligent, and wears black exclusively. Plus, he's as suicidal as I am.

SV: Please describe the scope and purpose of Large Orange Music.

Lili: Large Orange Music is Rick's musical brainchild, the enemy of foolish music and prejudiced labels. His dream is to create a tidy boutique of smart, emotional artists and music and provide them all that a major label does, without the bullshit. It's basically your romantic naive dream of giving artists what they need and not hurting or harming them. Naturally, this has meant near bankruptcy for him but his vision is going to happen and quite soon. Internationally LOM is gaining much acclaim. It does, however, seem to be turning rather into a "gothic" label, whatever that means. Rick has poured his blood and soul into Large Orange and could answer that question so much better than I can.

SV: How has releasing the music on your debut album helped you personally?

Lili: It helped me to release a lot of sour, collected blood if that makes any sense. It was a catharsis really. I recognized that I could express anger in a constructive way, as opposed to a destructive one. I for one strongly think prisoners and violent people should write more songs. Rap "music" aside, ths could prove a rewarding action for both violators and greater society.

SV: You indicate that you have scores, perhaps hundreds of additional songs... Where would you like to put the theme of the next CD release? If you were to put another release together next week, next month, how would you characterize the themes on your next release?

Lili: Great question. Actually yes, I do have some 600 or so remaining songs and they kick my ass every morning screaming mommy mommy, when are you gonna do MEEEEEE. Rick and I have begun the first tracks of the next album, actually. The working title is "Shoeshines, Virgins & Marriages" and is taken from a Redd Foxx album from back in the 70s. I was being maudlin. But the music promises to be much in the same dark guitar vein as the debut album was, with some extra touches I've always wanted to try... such as Hugo Montenegro's "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" album, an absolutely, absolutely seminal RCA Victor album any musica appreciador should have, this album has had an incredible effect on me since I was a child. What I mean are big black chimes, howling wind, things that remind me of the Old West, haunted silver mines and dead soldiers. This kind of salt will permeate the album. But fans can expect the same tight pop structure, 4-minute songs, elegant bridges and dark chords. Similar wordy lyrics. I hunger to do this album. Every day I'm not working on the album, it hurts.

SV: When is your songwriting most productive? What brings you to a stage of, productive lyrical development?

Lili: I get the best songs at night, while I am sleeping or close to sleep. I dream many songs, and they arrive in completed form. I keep a small tape recorder nearby to hum or sing them. The lyrics and melodies tend to come together, or one fast behind the other. Late night is the best time for me. Also while driving, doing the dishes; several songs have come to bother me in the shower. I've had songs come while masturbating. I think mental auto-pilot summons the muse. I once read an interview in which Neil Finn {of Crowded House and Split Enz}, one of my major influences whom I adore the work of, mentioned that pot opens him up to particularly astounding lyrics. I haven't experienced this to be true in my case, but red wine can be useful. I'd say the best instigator of good songs is a difficult romantic breakup, or even worse, an unrequited passion.

SV: How do internet resources impact how you are able to expose and market your music?

Lili: The internet community has been wonderful to me and Rick. Every day we're counting our blessings and are deeply grateful for those resources which exist and those good people, like you, who know how to make them useful for us and informative to the collective wheel. Our website has informed thousands that we exist, people we would not be lucky enough to know or share our work with without the internet. I want to become even more internet proactive. One day I'd like to get into QuickWav movies and get some music videos up for people to watch them. I used to work for Hollywood and it is extremely satisfying to see the assholes of that industry bow down to the people at large. Viva el internet. I am enjoying it, although I am a newbie.

SV: Describe one of your more memorable performances.

Lili: One I intend to repeat. It was at this little club in Atlanta back in the 1980s, when I walked on stage wearing a taxidermied wolf's head as a mask with wolf's-fur epaulets and opera gloves, along with coarse black eye makeup and a shaggy tail. I tried to explain to the club owners that I was a Native American and that was how I came upon the wolf fur, tail, paraphernalia, etc., but they weren't having it. The owner's wife was a vegetarian and had them pull the plug on my performance, cutting it short. In retrospect, I think I get it now. I'm vegetarian, too, but certain relatives got me those wolf things and they were sacred in purpose. Frankly, though, it looked smashing onstage and I intend to repeat that attire again, soon. Maybe for Michael's show. The music I remember was especially sensual.

SV: What do you like to include in your stage performances?

Lili: Primitive drums. Intelligent lighting. I like drums from other countries, which means yes, I am in Earthshaking Music [very popular Atlanta percussion and ethnic instrument store known all over the world with HUGE internet presence] most of the time. In fact, I am really a serious fan of live instrumentation from all over the world. I have Japanese taiko drummers sometimes, and use an Armenian drum called the doira sometimes all by myself. I like dulcimer players, especially female dulcimer players on stage with me. Arabian and Middle Eastern string and wind instruments are also among my tastes. I do a lot of wild movement and tend to go for the cathartic over the sexual. But my shows tend to be very sexual and expresses the defiant, revivified sexuality of the abused child rediscovering itself. Pain, smeared blood, ashes; the symbology of religion, repression, destruction of that repression, and reinvention. Catharsis, I would suppose. We've got some good lighting strategies, as well as equipment, and Rick and I will be exploiting both of these in our upcoming shows. I particularly want to explore Judaism onstage and Jewish mysticism.

SV: Would you consider yourself a social heretic?

Lili: Quite. From early childhood I was made painfully aware that I was different from the rest of the children, and although this was a painful realization, I'm now quite thankful for it as it has not only given me definition and life. It also provides me a convenient forum for shattering the illusory security of the other children, and a lovely excuse for revolutionizing the saccharine little scheme they and theirs call popular music. I am very certain no album like this could effectively be done by a person admired and respected by society.

SV: From what have you drawn upon most to develop your music?

Lili: Do you mean the development of actual songs, or music theory? In the case of theory, I study music theory constantly; I heard a passing train from my brother's apartment the other day I catalogued the key of the train's horn as an FM6th [F major sixth chord]. So theory is never far from me. I can't even hear a song on the radio unless I'm silently figuring out every key in it. To write my songs, I rely on emotional pain or joy. Whereever the deepest pool is, I dive to find my black pearls.

SV: What is "taboo" in song writing, in your opinion?

Lili: Nothing.

SV: When did you start developing a commitment recording and performing music?

Lili: After the failure of my attempted Hollywood film career, late 1996. Before this I had merely dabbled. But following a catastrophic romantic entanglement with a movie director whose name I won't divulge, and after his subsequent and deliberate destruction of what had been a legitimately earned and studied-for motion picture directing career which was then on its ascent, I realized that "movies" weren't for me. There is already a Tim Burton, and I'm sure I would have been derivative in some way of his work, which I admire. BTW, he is not the director I was dating. Tim is too kind a person and frankly too absorbed in creating his work to fuck with some young kid's career because she broke up with him. This was a far more idolatrous and evil soul whose movies are riddled with the violence reflected in his personal world. I realized that music was the only thing that would save my soul. Songwriting literally rescued me from suicide. At least for now.

SV: Who has had the most influence upon your progression as a musician?

Lili: Neil Finn and Tim Finn, of Split Enz and Crowded House. The pair of them, and John Lennon.

SV: Let's talk about themes woven into the lyrics of your debut release. I notice references and allusions to heroin usage surface within lyrics of several songs. What experience in your life has contributed to such influence upon your music?

Lili: I was going through a dark period of my life when I had my first dream about the "heroin fairies", to which I referred in the song "A Sunday Morning". They were literally a Stygian trio of Iggy Pop-looking drag queens, draped in faded chiffon dresses, and they were winding a rubber shoot-tube around my arm while I was singing the song. At the end of the dream I had taken my first dose of heroin and was walking around in this room, with bandages taped to my arms and needles in both forearms, saying to myself "either this is the smartest thing I have ever done, or it's the stupidest." Then, I remember being trapped under these railroad tracks, being buried alive under all this black dirt caving in on me, and I could hear the train coming.

SV: How do you know when you connect with your audience?

Lili: I think most performers will agree with me on this: it is a sure moment, difficult to define in words, Jett, but you just know it -- this feeling of connection like a fine vibrating web across the room between you and them. A warm, palpable shudder maybe? I feel it like a heat or a chill, sometimes between my legs. Isn't that disturbing? I can tell when I've got the audience eating out of my hand and when they'd all rather be somewhere else. It's similar to knowing when a man or woman comes beneath you. Very similar feeling. Almost in the gut but not quite the same, more ethereal. But, you just know.

SV: What innovative concepts would you like to focus upon in your future performances, and recordings?

Lili: None I care to divulge, because when it comes to my ideas, I am insanely jealous of people taking them. Let's just say I have some good ones. You'll either like them, or be "what the fuck?"

SV: What is the greatest drain upon your motivation to unleash the music you produce?

Lili: The difficulty of finding quality musicians committed to sharing a project who can enforce my ideas effectively without attempting some kind of coup d'etat against the songwriter. The number one drain on good songwriters in this century is arrogant musicians who want to come in and change what you're doing as if they wrote it. You know who you are, and fuck all of you.

SV: How does recording and performing music allow you to communicate more of your perspectives?

Lili: The nice thing is, goth is the one music genre where the intelligent are allowed free room to express intelligence. This is a difficult question because the answer seems so instinctive, so obvious. Were it not for recording and performing, I would be dead by my own hand. I have certain perspectives on life, and death, relationships, and catharsis; I feel that marriage is bogus and relationships are by necessity these limp exercises in manipulation and control, so dull and predictable that sometimes you see a hot person and want to fuck them but then think, "why bother?" And yet you step into the sick dance anyway, fully aware of how the song is going to conclude. I have an intense love/hate relationship with women and that comes across in my songs... I happen to see most women as baby-craving, man-wrecking predators fond of shifting the blame onto men for making them that way, but on the other hand I see most men as cunt-craving, powermad psychotics eager to prance out into the world and see how many tender young hearts they can destroy, almost as a game... this bile comes forth in my music, and I am grateful for the recording industry and those who indulge me for allowing me to exorcise these demons. I really don't want to feel this way. I really don't want to be subject to such violent hatreds and paranoias... but this is who I am and yes, maybe performance allows me to exploit my pain for art.

SV: Describe some of the creative techniques and instrumentation used to develop your music recordings.

Lili: This is a question better fielded to Richard. I know we used a live 4-piece band. There is only one sample on the entire album. Saying this, I feel like Daniel De La Roche.

SV: How is isolation used as a theme in your music?

Lili: Both sonically and lyrically, Rick and I attempted to create an audio backdrop of extreme alienation, I do know we made conscious attempts at it. Certain flanges we used, certain reverbs and effects particularly on vocals. The vocal distortion used on "A Sunday Morning" was chosen very carefully to evoke the bleak mien of those lyrics. I do tend to write from very isolated themes, as I feel like an extremely hermitlike person. My degree of independence and my desperate need to be alone are extremely unusual in most women.

SV: Mirrors, and reflections, and stars are also themes mentioned in your lyrics...

Lili: Jett, you're such a Pisces. :) I've never noticed that. You're good. Your observation brings to mind a primal memory of mine, as a child, or another soul, kneeling gazing into a black scrying mirror. I have a strong, redolent, REAL memory now of staring into such a mirror and seeing stars streaking through it. What that means, I can't guess.

SV: What images illustrate your visions of a "New Dark Age"?

Lili: Well, this world has been in the New Dark Age as I see it since about 1987. AIDS has become our new plague. Similar to other plagues, it has no cure and will one day go sliding off the edge of the world like all the others, only to return startlingly again somewhere between 500 and a thousand years from now. People then, if we are unlucky enough to still have humans, will remark on their "news" programs about the unlikely recurrence of this ancient and deadly disease. But then they may have injections which will combat it. We are living in a time of extreme sexual repression, borne of the plague with which we live. A few years ago New York fashion design actually offered us severe dark robes and crosses devoid of sexuality but full of somewhat "gothic" monk and nun overtones. The magazines were generally scornful of it and this is when "grunge" came in, and Courtney Love tried to fool us the fashion-knowledgeable into thinking she invented the "baby doll" dress, which was in fact an early-80s invention of designer Betsey whats-her-name. Sex is treated by the media now the way it was in Europe's Dark Ages by the church: with self-righteous condemnation and simultaneous violent obsession. Men and women are at supreme odds against each other, and good! These are my indications of the continuation of the present Dark Age. Note how pervasive the church is becoming again. I expect the tedious re-ascension of open Satanism in Hollywood any time now.

SV: What changes in the music industry have caught your attention most during the '90s?

Lili: Generally the 1990s were the WORST period for music in recording history. We had grunge, which is essentially heavy metal done poorly and with less skilled vocal work, we had rap, which came about at the same time as the AIDS virus and has proven equally destructive and equally impossible to destroy due to its restless mutation activity, and now we have "boy bands" and "bubblegum pop teens" such as N'Sync and Britney Spears. Thus were the '90s. I'm glad they're over. One more year and new wave will officially return, the last of "alternative music" will finally be swept off of playlists, and maybe black people in America will finally learn how to play a fucking instrument. THAT would be a great day, wouldn't it???

SV: How do you determine what aspects of poetry, and lyrics will work with your musical intent?

Lili: Generally I collect rare poetry and can sense which song needs what fragment to enhance it. Sometimes it turns out to be the opposite of the one I expected. This was the case in "Girlie Thing To Do" on my album, where I was quoting the literature of Lloyd-Jones at the end. But I scarcely expect listeners to be burdened by guessing whom I'm quoting. I'd rather they just let the sounds wash over their emotions and let the general tone of the quote add to or detract from the whole song, according to their opinion at the time.

SV: What challenges have you experienced thus far in expressing your views through music?

Lili: Two mainly, one being the difficulty of finding committed musicians in the Atlanta scene who are dedicated to playing strong, good music and who don't want to just rewrite everything you do. The other being the racist attitudes of certain major and independent labels who feel that if you are non-white, you shouldn't be doing goth.

SV: How is decadence as a theme portrayed in your music?

Lili: I idolize a certain period in history when rock stars could be hedonist idiots who lived in hotels, woke up to bourbon, recorded their albums, trashed the studio, snorted coke all day, fucked like wildcats in broad daylight and then buzzed around with drag queens while supping speed in the club bathrooms. This era is the one most of my songs come from. I fully intend to recreate this little page from history. I'd love nothing more than to select the right co-conspirator, male or female, who wants to live this destructive life with me. But the 1990s made such consumption unfashionable, and now I have even 21 year olds addressing me with laughable ersatz "maturity" in their eyes about how they're looking for "higher things" than that. Party on, my brainwashed media darlings! It makes me giggle when some preschool teletubby lectures me on how they are too good for 30-something me because I still want decadence and consumption. These people do not realize they mainly dislike decadence because television tells them it is unstylish. Were they to taste it once, say at Glitterdome, their opinion would change. I think there's a social place for decadence. "Rock stars" as we would call them have a certain responsibility to society. They are Icari, Daedali; their purpose is to fly to the apex of heaven, sear under the bright sun, and wink out like meteors. We're the ones who self-destruct for your viewing pleasure. As Adam Ant said in "Press Darlings", we are "the ones you love to hate, so read on".

SV: What interests do you have in film?

Lili: I used to want to be a director. I spent long years working in the industry and thinking it would happen. Instead I got my reel stolen, my career destroyed, and my shit shoved out on the street. Generally I hate movies now, except for certain beloved works, and anime, which I love. I think film is an art form and has been much abused by Hollywood. We revere these assholes who go to work all day making movies we sadly love. I could tell you stories about most of the pieces of shit who work in that town. They're exactly the people you hated in high school. That said, Joe Christ gives me hope for the art form. Also, I do like music videos. I intend to direct my own for this and subsequent albums. I just haven't had the time to look for stock yet, and hiring crew is as draining as hiring musicians.

SV: When not completely focused upon recording and promoting your music, what do you do to support yourself?

Lili: I am a full time professional Tarot reader and counselor. I get paid to direct other humans in their lives. Mainly this tends to revolve around the usuals, career and romance. Occasionally, however, you do get the interesting questions. It pays very well and I am saving money for a house somewhere.

SV: Where are you living now?

Lili: I am living in my brother's apartment in north suburban Atlanta at the moment. Sleeping on his sofa. I am looking for a place of my own to roost at, but haven't quite found that right flat, house, etc. I like unusual places, either lots of sunlight, or none at all. I suppose the truthful thing to say is, I'm looking for either a dormer attic with skylights and new agey stuff or a dark garret suitable for a spanking. Extremes. Even in architecture, it's the story of my life.

SV: In what ways will your live performances differ from recordings?

Lili: The performance Mike Cuccaro is lining up will probably be me and Richard performing to tape. The reason for this is that it takes too long to assemble "the right band", and since the music is so nice on the reel, we figured what the hell. The album itself was recorded live, all of us there in a 30 x 30 acoustic room and me in a vocal booth, able to see them through a window as they played. So to play to tape will be an interesting departure. I hope I can bring in some things to liven it up. Taiko drums, doiras, exotic instrumentation... I used to own an esraj [Hindu cello] and I may just get it back from the store where the Changelings work. It would be haunting to play that sensuous thing onstage again.

SV: What other side projects are you currently considering and developing?

Lili: I WAS developing The Splendid Peacocks, my 1970s Glitter Drag and Decadence band, until the drummer got self-righteous with me and forced me to fire him. The bass player left soon after that to do blues music. Rick remained. I'm maturing a few other ideas in my notebooks. The Glitter Drag thing is hard to say no to. I dislike being "a solo artist". "Lili Roth". Who the fuck is that? I feel like goddamn Jewel or something. "Lili Roth. Alanis Morrisette." I should have just called myself Nothing. But to answer your query, I am working on another album, a little darker and dancier, called "Skip To My Lucifer". [And that title is copyrighted, so nobody better try anything. Hee hee.]

SV: Describe the feedback you have received in response to your music.

Lili: On the whole, it's been fabulous. The Atlanta Gothic scene has been so kind to me. Thank you... I am awed and surprised at the warm reception this album has elicited. Everyone has really intelligent things to say about it, and posits good things about the lyrics. I love my listeners. I have not sent the album to any labels, because these people are not paid to understand or enjoy music. It would be like showing a rasslin' fan a Joan Miro painting. There would be no mental connection. I'd like to thank Blu of Starvox for being so lovely and showing me such warmth and generosity; this lady is a saint and should be canonized. I also want to thank you, Jett, for your taste and discriminating intellect. And good questions, some of the best I've ever tangled with! Also a warm thank you to Kary Xian and Mike Cuccaro of Nomenclature. Lindsay, everyone, thank you for all your kind feedback and comments. Musically everyone has unanimously loved the album, which Rick and I were definitely unprepared for... although lyrically there has been some vague static about predictable firewalls like the heroin thing and my frank stance on women and women's issues. All in all response has been uncharacteristically beautiful. I thank you all for your kind responses! We hope to keep bringing you what you love.

SV: What will you entitle your next release, and when will it be available?

Lili: As before, I think 2 albums are in the works, and it depends on who makes it out of the gate first. There's "Skip To My Lucifer" and then there's "Shoeshines, Virgins & Marriages". Of the two, "Skip" is more quote-unquote "gothic" where "Shoeshines" continues the dark glitter and decadence phenomenon. As to when these come out, I'm hopeful that later this year around late summer you may see these out on the web. Rick's lovely wife Donna has given birth to their first child, so things on his end are a bit less allegro and more legato, but my fingers are crossed for August 2000. They'll be up on the websites, along with continued recording and performance updates.

SV: Who will be distributing your next releases?

Lili: We're talking to a few people, internationally and domestically. No decision has been made yet.

SV: Where else might readers find your music available for purchase?

Lili: I haven't looked into consignment but HMV showed slight interest a few months ago. I prefer to keep things on the web for now, so nowhere else, probably.

SV: What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?

Lili: I am keenly interested in the instrumentation of the Old American West. The way pianos sounded back then; big chimes that hang on hangman's gallows; the shanties and showgirl/hooker songs from that era. I listen to a great deal of Ennio Morricone and especially watch a lot of Sergio Leone films. Sergio Leone's depiction of the west is one that mirrors my soul. My soul feels like a bleach-white desert studded with the occasional cow skull, the ever-so-often buffalo hide. Packs of furious bloodthirsty Mexicans ride side saddle through my soul; Tuco is a figure from my dreams. These are scraps and tassels of things I'd especially love to express musically.

SV: wow! I had not heard about these hangman's chimes... how eerie.. and how intriguing. Any stories on that? Where did you hear about such things?

Lili: "Chimes" is an understatement. Rather these take the shape of huge vertical hanging iron cylinders, dangling from gallows that are no longer in service [some reservations in the West sport them]; struck by a large clapper, they sound huge and sonorous. Nothing in the world sounds quite like them. I intend to go out West and record a few tones for sampling purposes.

SV: Who is Tuco?

Lili: Tuco is a Mexican bandit character from many Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood "spaghetti western" films. He often represents the dark antithesis of the "good guy" Eastwood's character, The Man Without A Name. Where Clint is morally ambivalent, Tuco is violent and bad. Where Clint is ambivalent towards women, neither loves nor hates them but keeps them at a distance, Tuco uses and harms women. Tuco is openly greedy and is a bandit, while Eastwood only needs enough money to purchase a gun or a good cigar. Tuco is played by the actor Eli Wallach, who is not Mexican at all, but Jewish, and plays a Mexican bandit VERY WELL.

SV: Which live performances have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?

Lili: I'm always awed by the Cure. Also, ODK deserve looking into. This is one of the best bands in the world. Their frontman has what used to be called the "it". Cruxshadows also, their music is quite smart and extremely exciting, and I like that their frontman does not mince words in his lyrics. He gave us a taste of literature as well in the reading of Poe's "Annabelle Lee" and I was impressed by his courage. I'd like to see him quote Swinburne one of these days; I loved Nothing Inside but am sad they are not out and about that much anymore... I saw DCD some years ago and, of course, was floored. But my favorites are Myssouri and The Changelings, and, of course, Deep Forest which I was lucky enough to see in Japan.

SV: Backing up to now, what motivates you to continue performing and recording new music?

Lili: I think most musicians and artists will agree with this. It becomes that there's a pressure in your soul to release and birth all the new material that keeps coming, and it doesn't get "rotated" on the shelf. It just keeps building and building like a pressure cooker, and it's either you'll find the money to record another album, put together another band and go out there live, or you feel you will ACTUALLY DIE. That sounds like motivation to me.

SV: Looking back, what mile-stones have been most notable for you in the development and advancement of your music?

Lili: There are two. One, when Rick Meyer actually let me come out to his studio and audition my demo tape in front of him, because this was unprecedented -- he never does this for anyone -- and two, when Blu informed me she liked my album and wanted others to hear it. Those two things were like the clouds opening up and angels singing. That moment of, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaa...."

SV: Could you illuminate any significant details that may have influenced the development of sadness in your music?

Lili: We are all influenced, even if subtly, by the random and the unfortunate. I am no exception. What I do is step willingly into the blackness, record what I am undergoing, and endure the transformation.

Perhaps this makes me "un rock star", if one can accept my humble attempt at defining one earlier. Several milestones be there in how I became a sad person. I indeed am one. Almost every day I am deeply saddened by something. People affect me more permanently than they think. I used to be affected by relationships. My attempt at a relationship with my ex drummer was the last instance of that. He introduced me to an epic kind of sadness I had never known before. I am grateful for that, because it fueled an exceptional album. I do not intend to become that emotional again, so maybe my well of songs will dry up...? [laughter] I think hysteria influences us all.

SV: What new opprtunities are you exploring and developing to advance your music to the general public?

Lili: But I am not interested in introducing any work of mine to the general public. To those who are interested and will "get it", I am exploring photography, the idea of photos with certain themes and lyrics, music videos of course, and maybe a film. Mainly it's the internet I'm swimming through now, because the people I've met through it have been so wonderful and they are all SO INTELLIGENT... it's like meeting my real friends from childhood all over again.

SV: What songs have been in development since last year?

Lili: There's "Tonight", which will probably be on "Shoeshines, Virgins & Marriages"; it's got a thumping British George Martin/the Beatles sound with lots of Paul McCartney trumpets and horns, some strings. Very upbeat and it's in major key! Many people underestimate how much some of us do occasionally enjoy the dirty pleasure of a major key song... [laughter] also there's "Glad To Meet You, Melleironia", one of my favorites. It's about that beautiful androgynous young man we all know and have loved, who seems straight but is never quite sure, and for my listeners who are gay he seems gay but is never quite sure -- each of us has been tempted and destroyed by this individual, and we ALL KNOW WHO he is for each of us... for Thomas Mann, he was Tadzio. For Michaelangelo, he was David. For David, he was Jonathan... ha ha... but it's my paean to catching that boy right on the edge of homosexual defection and giving him a taste of country matters, even if just for a day. Every bisexual woman's dream of possessing the boy you just KNOW is going to be gay. It has an interesting sound, this song, which I love. Almost more than the storyline. And there are many, many more songs, too many to mention here.

SV: Which songs required more significant development in production?

Lili: I would say that deceptively simple-sounding last one, "Ceiling To The Sky". It took lots of manpower hours to realize. There's a bridge in the middle of the song with layers and layers of these fluffy vocals; actually, the conception of the vocal bit was easy, the easiest thing about the song. I took a break from recording the leads and went to get a cup of water in the lounge at Triclops that day, and I was pouring up water when the entire vocal bridge, overlaps, dubs and all came to me. Ask Rick about this story because he tells it so the best. But he and keyboardist Joey Huffman spent days working on that song, layering mellotron, my voice, shakers, flanges, harp glissandos, all kinds of things. It was the way I heard it in my head and Rick and Joey almost came to blows about just how long the breakdown was going to be. It turned out magnificently. But "Ceiling To The Sky" boasts the most elaborate and painstaking production on the album, and very much reflects the ends we'll go to again on the second album.

SV: What more would you like to share with our readers?

Lili: That I love you and will probably meet each of you before my life ends. Please, don't do heroin because I do. Continue to love who you are and remember that you chose to come here with a higher intelligence than the beasts crawling beneath you. Remember this when they offend those you love, and have mercy upon them. I'd also like to share a cup of sour cherry preserves and some wine with them if they're interested.

SV: How can music enthusiasts best contact you for more information about your music?

Lili: The primary website is http://www.largeorange.com/ where you'll find the present Lili Roth site. There is a shrine to me about to undergo construction, and it is at www.liliroth.com.

SV: What other resources might be available for the more avid music enthusiasts?

Lili: I would suggest they meet me in person after a show, and demonstrate their enthusiasm and interest with literate comments and views. If I figure they're really interested in learning more about the music and how it is created, I do invite certain people to the studio to "see how it works".

Thank you for spending time talking with me, Jett. I have enjoyed your questions and am humble and grateful for the opportunity to share some ideas with this very intelligent and tasteful audience. The gothic audience is truly the best one in the world.

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5 Audio clips from the CD can be auditioned via RealAudio G2 format, and the 12-TRACK CD may be purchased securely online at
http://www.largeorange.com/liliroth.html

Lili Roth http://www.largeorange.com/liliroth.html
email: liliroth@largeorange.com

Large Orange http://www.largeorange.com
email: info@largeorange.com

Michael Aston of Gene Loves Gezebel
~interviewed by BlackOrpheus

SV: Tell me a little about early life in Porthcawl. What was your educational background? Did your family support your musical aspirations?

MA: Gosh... My educational background, will this include a drugs test too? I can definitely recognise most drugs. I went to a Roman Catholic school, it was quite liberal and despite learning nothing of value beyond the scriptures it wasn't too miserable. My family encouraged me in absolutely nothing, in fact discouraged anything I ever did, I come from "The you'll never amount to anything" British background.

SV: Who was influencing you at that time?

MA: My greatest influences were 2 teachers, an English teacher who also taught football(soccer), He encouraged me enormously and singled me out as a promising writer and weirdly an athlete. I'd shattered my shin bone in a football game when I was barely eleven, I missed most of my first year never really bonded with fellow classmates on my return to what was a new school and became a loner and outsider as a consequence. I excelled at football, storytelling (by way of the weekly essay assignments which I welcomed).

An art teacher too was very supportive, I painted as I pleased and my only goal was to be as original as I could, I've never had the discipline nor the desire to pursue it beyond my own pleasure. I was accepted in St. Martins school of art in London or actually the principle who saw my portfolio said as much. I let it go as Slavaryan (gene loves J) was making waves (well ripples) and life on the stage was far more exciting though must confess the girls at St. Martins almost got the better of me! The final and most important teacher was schools tv which taught me great deal about modern history and that history has all the answers to our problems. Also that Josef Stalin was the most Evil man that ever lived. Roosevelt and Churchill were well past their prime and out of their minds and screwed up Europe and sent millions to their deaths after the mess they made... I'm rambling LOL

Musically, I was deeply influenced by the post punk anti art/music notion. I admired Television/PIL Slits d and The Banshees and Wire and Pere Ubu Talking Heads and Joy Division and Echo etc... I loathed Genesis and Floyd (though was fond of Syd's stuff). It was a great time post punk, the Blitz club in London, dressing up. Moving to Pimlico(used to see Diana Spencer every weekday as she looked after the aristocratic brats in the nursery next door remember the sudden media frenzy once Charlie got involved) and having artist wannabe's and fashion freaks as friends, never bonded with musicians as for the most part they are/were so square. Lot's of balls and country houses and party's... Had such a magical time.

SV: What early experiences in your career stand out as defining moments in your development as an artist?

MA: The artists I met set me free, paradoxically rock' n roll was utterly suffocating. The Eighties really sucked ultimately because I was trapped in the wanna be machine.

SV: How did they influence your values, and direction?

MA: In the late 70's early eighties I was completely liberated. But, after Immigrant we lost it , we picked up a sturdy no nonsense gutter player and well became very boring purely hedonistic (believe me that is not an oxymoronic statement). WE began to drown in high expectation and major label bullshit, we sold out, I actually passed out for the most part just being Not until I did Why Me for Triple X did I find my spirit again.

SV: I understand you recorded a few unreleased tracks with John Cale in 1984. What can you tell me about that experience? Has there been any contact since? Collaborations? What became of the music? Would you think it was worth releasing?

MA: We performed at the I.C.A. (Institute of Contemporary Arts) Rock week which was a annual event showcasing the more avante garde/cutting edge/alternative artists (note not characterised as Musicians but artists). John Cale had taken an interest in the bands after releasing a solo record with Beggars Banquet. He love d us. We even played with him at the Lyceum in London. He was phenomenal.

We flew to N.Y. to play our first ever shows in the U.S. at the legendary Danceteria. Ian Hudson inexplicably fired the bass player on the eve of departure and we almost took Julianne Reagan (later of All about Eve) as a sub. Well to cut a long story short we moved Jay to Bass and spent one of the weirdest weeks of our lives. Cale and the bands were marching with the Colombians and I was the only sober one there, Cale was nuts, he would flatter one moment and berate the next. I didn't mind too much as he was Royalty as far as I was concerned. The recordings were quite interesting and it's a shame but Beggars Banquet lost them? Unbelievable! I do have cassettes lying around somewhere. Still the whole trip was bizarre and absurd and perfectly in step with the G.L.J. of those years. and life got even weirder after that but I'll save it for the autobiography.

SV: "Why me, Why this, Why now," was an acoustic album as I recall. It was also intensely personal. Tell me about the forces that gave birth to this album. What do you think the merits of acoustic versus electric recording are in terms of communicating a particular message?

MA: The pure joy of it all. Words... are often enough. Was so wonderful to make that record. Mick Rossi the co-writer and guitar player was great to work with and so was Geza X (Formerly of the Germs). I found my feet again all my confidence returned. my former colleagues had destroyed so much in me. It's a real triumph for me that album, and it was concluded the day my wife gave birth to our first son. I love to record acoustically for the more intimate and sensual and of course if your lyrics are strong the impression is very powerful. I love to record electrically too because there are so many colours to the palette.

SV: I discovered "Edith Grove" by accident about the time it was released. Please tell me what the significance of the name was. What were, or are your feelings about this project? How would you rank it now?

MA: The name is from a road by the river Thames in Chelsea, it's notable for the first place the Stones set up with Brian Mick and Keef'. I love this part of London as there always been an air decadence and a little bohemian. Oscar Wilde and Whistler and anyone remember Gandalfs garden and the SEX PISTOLS... Worlds End is the neighbourhood, Victorian and eternally autumnal.

The album was a great collection of songs originally demoed in 1989 with an English band relocated in L.A. called The Promise. We got signed to Virgin Records in the U.S. and then I made a dreadful mistake and fired the band. I think I needed a rest after the pain of the treachery in the U.K. by way of my bro and former colleagues. So it was a great mistake, I should have taken a breath. Anyway what was ahead of its time in that it foresaw Nirvana et al as light and shade explosion and mute

pre-grunge in 89' was post grunge in 94? So the album lost it's potency for me. I think there are some wonderful moments though Kings Horses, Venus in rags and Under your Spell are fine. Pity, great band though, We went on to reform G.L.J.with Francois Perez replacing James Stephenson on Gtr at Jay's request. He ended taking my Gtr. player and destroying Edith Grove. There's a pattern to this LOL. One of the many times Jay interfered with my solo career to reform G.L.J.

SV: I hear many musicians say that they don't care how their music is received. They say "I make music for myself." This may be true if they are self financed. However, don't you believe there are practical considerations? If you are an artist under contract, don't you feel that to continue to make a living through music you have to think about what your audience is capable of accepting? If they don't buy, it has a very negative impact on your livelihood. It also sometimes raises some question about your ability to make money for a label, and thus affects distribution.

MA: That's very defensive and a real cop-out by many musicians. Of course they/we care. I think as I get older the less I care about the market forces. Of course it would be nice to sell a truckload of records but that's unlikely and if it were to happen I'd personally like to sell truckloads of records I believe in. I think you have to please yourself first and whatever follows will be just dandy. The great danger is going for the Major Labels as they really would prefer you sell zillions or none at all. For any band to sign to a major is madness and for 99.9% of us a HUGE mistake!

Better the indie route where the overheads aren't nearly as damning. Or even on your own. The internet is opening all sorts of doors. Majors are satanic. BEWARE. Ideal scenario, take the majors money, deliver the most off the wall avante garde noise you can muster (to retain your hip status) get dropped and use the massive advance to set yourself up. You don't need a manager unless of course you like being ripped off. Do it yourself.

SV: I think I heard you were a father? If so, what are the ages of your children? What are their interests, and your hopes for them? Is there a romantic interest in your life? How do these relationships enhance the emotion, and message of your music?

MA: I have almost 4 sons... Jo-Damien, Oliver, Alexander and Magnus Madog (Imminently) am married to a most talented and quite beautiful woman who has seen me through so many difficult times. We are ten years together almost and I thank god for her. She calls me the XY MAN!

SV: It's a long way from South Wales to Southern California. What decided you on your West Coast location? Is there some expatriate community, of familiar faces from the old days out there?

MA: I don't socialise so much but I do play soccer every Sunday with some Brit's. Ian and Billy from the Cult are regulars and it's a blast. That's the extent of community for me. I do miss Wales a little though and would like to return eventually to some Misty mountain spot.

SV: Well Michael, with over 20 years invested in making music; what do you see in the immediate and long term future?

MA: I'm currently writing a new record for Triple X and hope to release it this year. We have a lot of touring planned. I have to make up for lost time! I've always loved life on the diamond studded highway and performing. I would like to rebuild G.L.J. and rescue our reputation so damaged by the pinheads in the early nineties I'm really enjoying this period of my life and am without question doing by far my best work. I'm surrounded by dedicated and talented people. A great label and loyal friends across the planet. I have everything but the money and I'd take this deal any day of the week!

Web Site:
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL. NET
The Official Site for GENE LOVES JEZEBEL http://www.genelovesjezebel.net/index2.html
Label: Triple X Records
http://www.triple-x.com/index.html

Nightfall Interview
~by Vassago

Nightfall was founded in the early days of the last decade of the millennium by four young people with the only, sacred aim to create a small community; a sanctuary for their precious thoughts, dreams, and theories. The Parade Into Centuries album was a gloomy piece of art that made a lot of people wonder how a band from "sunny" Greece came to sound so pessimistic and dark. Diva Futura is the continuation of these questions.....and the band is still going without knowing what the future holds.

SV: Firstly, I'd like to say that it is more than a pleasure doing this interview with you.

N: Thanx John!

SV: Let's start with the fact that Nightfall are leaving Holy Records. After so many years to this label what reasons led you to make such a decision.

N: Holy does not respect its own existence anymore. It is a pity. Once started as an artistic oriented label, and now is struggling to make easy money without doing any serious investment to support such a motive. It is ridiculously stupid trying to fool everybody in the business, from fans to promoters to distributors to journalists and so on only for making a few quids. It is pathetic as well as miserable. We at Nightfall simply got bored of being used in such an arrogant way, and decided stop working with them immediately, despite our contract. Before we signed again to them, about one and a half year ago, we had been told that things would become better with good, dedicate work. We believed them. After all, we had been together since the first moment and we admired their faithful early efforts. But, instead of that, we got numerous complaints from fans about the difficulties to find our album in many territories, plus -and here's the worst part- we received complaints from our very own promoters, and the album's (co) producer about the absolute lack of sufficient communication between them and Holy. It is like Holy itself has blocked all the communication channels, thus boycotting the album's performance in the market. As you can imagine, the whole situation turned from a healthy, optimistic relationship to an endless nightmare.

SV: How does this end-of-relationship with Holy effect you and your band? I mean if everything was Ok would we have any new Nightfall cd/songs?

N: Actually, there's supposed to be a tour, first, and then probably a new album. The usual things to speak so. However, the way this relationship expires makes me feel kinda sad and sorry; you know, I have all those grotesque feelings every man has inside when a long, and quite successful in general terms, relationship ends in such a muddy lake of problems and complaints. Pity, isn't it?

SV: I really can not understand why suddenly Holy stopped caring about the bands and especially Nightfall.

N: When a band has no intention to tour; when it does not want a respectful studio budget; when it is happy with a small promotion campaign once its new album comes out; when it does not care if that very album does not reach every part of this world; etc, then Holy can do the job. Certainly. But, when a band is becoming bigger and bigger each year and requires more reasonable things from its label, things go that way: you either support the band or let it go for good. Holy wanted to keep Nightfall without being able to satisfy most of our needs, despite its earlier -fake- promises to us. That lack of responsibility is the main reason we got pissed off, really. We felt like fools, and maybe we are in this particular case.

SV: What are your thoughts about the future. Do you have any offers from other labels with which you'll continue?

N: We are kinda confused for the very moment, I have to admit; on one hand we want to do a tour for Diva Futura, and on the other we want to move onwards leaving behind anything related to Holy days. It is a pity not offering D.F. the proper promotion it should have gotten since the very beginning, really. At least, we keep on doing lots of interviews and stuff. Don't ask me about a new label yet. We're still negotiating  with Holy the price of our departure.

SV: Ok. Lets change subject and talk about music. You'll contribute songs for the soundtrack of Blood Kiss the latest film from Nightmare productions, USA. How do you feel since you are doind it for the first time?

N: Michael Johnson, the director of Blood Kiss, listened to Diva Futura, liked it, and asked us if we're interested in giving him the rights to use some of its tunes in his movie. We agreed, and that was it. The response of his viewers to our sounds is very positive. So, he thinks he is going to use some more of our music in the future. Nevertheless, for more accurate info visit: http://www.nightmareproductions.com

SV: Is this a way of approaching the USA market since Holy could not link to this market?

N: Actually, it is a way to prove that Nightfall can promote themselves better than Holy over there. Seriously, any label who thinks is doing its job properly, it would be really happy seeing one of its bands getting such a promotion. Moreover, it'd try to get some sort of advantage of the whole situation in order to expand its horizons in the specific area/market. But Holy didn't. Shame, isn't it?

SV: Tell me about your remix in Sabotage's song "Moon". How was this experience for you? I can say that according to your past you are attracted to experiments in music.

N: We have been asked to remix one track of this band, and then they would do the same to one of ours. It was a compliment for us, since Sabotage is a well known, experienced electro-gothic band. Technically, the whole thing wasn't something difficult for me, since I am familiar with electro sounds since 1991 (ironically, the year Nightfall were born). Yet, it is very rare for me to produce something like that professionally, and then to release it. Remixing "Moon" was very amusing; the track itself created some interesting icons in my mind, that eventually became the foundations of the remix I did later on.

SV: You renamed the specific song "Moon" to "Death Is Gay". Why did you gave such a name in the remix and tell me how death is a gay.

N: I have played with the words a little bit here. "Moon" was remixed by me, and I am a member of Nightfall, which is a band that -traditionally- deals with death. So, there comes the word Death. Concerning the word Gay, I have to admit that some of the best electro tunes/productions I have ever listened to were in some underground -so called gay- clubs down town Athens. To avoid misunderstanding: those clubs supposed to be gay ones, but actually attracted all the outlaw freaks of the city, including me. There, I got in touch with those weird for me at that time sounds, and it wasn't a 'one night stand' at all, but an affair that lasts up to now. There I learned almost all about electro music. So, that's how I came up with the word Gay. Btw, no, I am not gay in case you wonder about my sexual preferences.

SV: About Nightfall's line up. A new member is in the band. Miss Vega. What about her role in Nightfall?

N: She is here to give a boost in our stage shows. Having a tear drop of female aroma around us is always welcome, isn't it? We thought, since our lyrics metaphorically refer to that "she" all the time it'd be really good to give her some flesh and bones sometime in front of the fans. In early days such idea was kinda impossible due to higher cost, but now it's ok. So, we tried it out. And it works just fine.

SV: This is really something new and I think you are the first band attempting something like that. How the fans respond seen a female on stage with Nightfall?

N: Most of them stand there like mesmerized rabbits. Some others try to touch her. This is kinda risky though, cause she bites!

SV: If someone listen to your first and your last album he/she'll notice big big differences in your music and your voice performance. You have composed songs with elements from doom, goth, electro, metal, it seems that you are going to give birth to a new sound in music. Is this the real Nightfall sound?

N: The real Nightfall is the poetry along with the unique, characteristic way we produce music. I am afraid, we have not any specific sound as a band to stick with till the bitter end. It is the sophisticate way we are handling (our) art that gives a certain stigma to our releases. Especially regarding Diva Futura, we are very proud that it is almost impossible to find any similar album to it out in the market (European mainly) right now.

SV: Which are the major aspects for changing the style in your albums and what are your influences.

N: We don't believe we change our style at all. We only upgrade it. After all, there is no point repeating our selves. Pick up a track like "My Red Red Moon" from the Athenian Echoes album for example, and place it in Diva Futura. It fits, and it fits really well. Only the sound production is different, and that's due to the different studios involved. I know there are numerous people who demand their fave bands to sound the same from one album to another. Well, our people want just the opposite?

SV: Are you satisfied with what Nightfall has achieved? How important is the group for you and how is it being Nightfall's frontman and studying Management on the other hand.

N: I am very glad I have my own spiritual sanctuary where I turn my deepest emotions into pure art, without having anybody annoying me. I am very glad also that this thing called Nightfall has lots of supporters all over the globe. I am satisfied with our performance all these years, having in mind that our debut album was apparently the debut release of an entire scene (the Greek), and the debut of a record label (Holy) as well. Through this band I breathe; in a world full of deadly fumes I need my oxygen too. Studying management wasn't in my initial plans at all. Suddenly, I caught my self dealing with managerial matters on behalf of the band (mind there are no pro managers in Greece, so a band has to do almost everything on its own) in quite a satisfying level. It was then, I decided to expand my knowledge in such a field. For sure, I stopped seeing the music industry (call it underground or mainstream it is the fucking same thing) as an innocent dream-machine since then.

SV: If we could see pictures with your music what would we see?

N: A very long and expensive video clip, I guess. Seriously, I am so bloody weak when it comes to describing my own art. It'd be much more interesting to rewrite all the poems I have sung with Nightfall right here, right now and just staring at them, like a new born baby does the cruel real world. Believe me, I'd probably got different pictures than the "original" ones I got in my mind back then, during the days we built those albums.

SV: Any message to nightfall fans?

N: Come closer!

Paradise Lost Interview
~By Matthew Heilman

Paradise Lost formed in Halifax, England around 1989 and released their first full-length album entitled "Lost Paradise" for Peaceville Records in 1990. The band had a unique sound at the time, blending harsh, dark death metal with doom atmospheres and the occasional female voice or keyboard passage. The band expanded that sound further and further, pioneering the Gothic metal genre by unwittingly perfecting and setting standards that many young bands followed. Over the years, they released four more epic milestones in the genre, and recently modified their sound greatly with their last two releases "One Second" and their latest, "Host." The band, which once had primarily a loyal following of Goth, doom and death metal fans; has broadened their fan base by incorporating dark electronic elements and synth pop friendly hooks, though in no way compromising the integrity or raw emotion of their music nor drastically betraying the style they had become known for. I had the fortunate opportunity to interview Paradise Lost, and what follows is an overview of the band's death/doom past, the goth metal interlude, and the unique direction they now pursue.

STARVOX: In 1990, Paradise Lost released "Lost Paradise." Primarily straightforward death/doom metal, but with hints of the atmosphere to come. Due to your first two releases, you guys are regarded as pioneers of what is now referred to as the Gothic Metal genre. What inspired this blending of death metal with somber atmospherics?

NICK: We were into death metal and Goth music also....it's that simple.

STARVOX: With the follow up, "Gothic," this atmosphere was even more prevalent, as you introduced a greater use of keyboards and female vocals. You admit to be influenced by such bands as Depeche Mode and The Sisters Of Mercy. By titling the album "Gothic," was there a conscious effort to introduce a gothic element into the music? Were you at all attempting to broaden the definition of the Gothic or doom metal genre?

NICK: I didn't really think about it! We just bang out tunes we like, and DM are no influence for me, I'm afraid.

STARVOX: "Shades Of God" was released next, which now introduced a more prevalent use of acoustic guitars and a more traditionally Sabbath-friendly doom tinge. How do you feel the songs that appeared on this album expanded the sound of Paradise Lost?

NICK: It's pretty much a stepping stone album, Sabbath are a constant influence even to this day.

STARVOX: "Icon" followed, and the music became even more melodic, with the dual guitar harmonies atop watery guitar backdrops and a frequent use of clean vocals. How did this multi-layered guitar sound develop and what equipment did you use to produce it? (CHRISTENDOM is a masterpiece!)

GREGOR: We were riffed out and decided to pursue the style we'd used on tracks like "Eternal" and "Gothic."

STARVOX: After four albums that were released at one year intervals, the band had progressed at so rapid and successful a pace, what fueled your creativity and inspiration through this period?

NICK: Originality cannot be made, so describing inspiration etc. is difficult. We started the band 'cause we love music, nothing else. It's our life, it's what we do....

STARVOX: There seems to be a lot of religious imagery in the earlier albums, the band name itself coming from Milton's epic religious poem. What role does religion play in the lyrics and imagery of Paradise Lost? Is there an ongoing concept within the lyrics?

NICK: I find religion to be nothing more than feeble rubbish. It causes so much shit, people are scared to die. And rely on a religious crutch...that's fine! But do people really need to behead children cause they are from a different belief? Its' a fucking joke. Personal belief is fine, but that's where it should end.

STARVOX: Did you expect the overall reaction to your music? That several bands would arise and expand upon or emulate what you and Anathema and My Dying Bride had done?

GREGOR: Not at all. When we first started we were an amalgamation of our favourite bands and those bands were no different.

STARVOX: What were your opinions of these contemporary bands that appeared in the genre? Which ones impressed you the most? Which ones did you dislike? What are some of your favourite bands out today?

GREGOR: Celtic Frost were great. But at the time, most of the Goth metal acts just sounded like our "Gothic" LP.

STARVOX: "Draconian Times" was Paradise Lost's fifth release, and also the final "Gothic Metal" album, per se. The album itself is often regarded as one of the greatest CD's in the genre. Did the band feel that it had reached it's peak of creativity with this style? Or was it perhaps that there were just so many bands out there doing similar things? What caused the band to decide to take a departure from this style?

GREGOR: You hit the nail on the head. We reached the peak of creativity with this style.

STARVOX: Thus, Paradise Lost 'matures' as I usually say with the material on the sixth release, "One Second." Were you at all concerned with how earlier fans of the death metal style would react to it? Considering the backlash that such bands as Metallica and even My Dying Bride and Anathema received in some circles?

AARON: As always there are times that we nervously anticipate a release but not enough to alter out wishes to make the music we ourselves want to hear and we will always write for our own pleasure and enjoyment.

STARVOX: Obviously, Paradise Lost is quite comfortable with this new style and wished to pursue it further. Is this the reason you chose to have the next album produced by the same producer who had worked with Depeche Mode?

AARON: Steve Lyon has worked with many artists and it was his experience of working live musicians and technology together for recording was the reason for his appointment. And he is a nice guy!

STARVOX: Though many were sort of surprised at the direction of the new band, I think that the material on "Host" is some of the strongest to date. The common elements of the band are still there, especially the mood, though modernized with a fresher approach. Yet some narrow minded critics claim that Paradise Lost is now a completely different band. What would you like to say to these people that seem to resent the new direction of the band?

AARON: See what you think of the next album. Seriously though, "Host" represents how much we want to explore music as artists and as improving musicians, you have to keep music fresh for yourself because the minute you are bored creatively that is the time to rethink your direction.

STARVOX: "Host" was released in Europe in the spring of 1999 and has yet to be made available in the US. Why has there been so great a delay in a domestic release of the album?

NICK: I honestly couldn't say, it's difficult to assess the US situation without actually visiting!

STARVOX: What exactly does the album title represent? Is there a working concept within the lyrics or the simple though effective cover art of the new album? (the cover features the silhouettes of the band on a blurred blue background)

NICK: "Host" is multi meaning. Words that mean more than one thing are always more interesting

STARVOX: Nick, you appeared with Liv Kristine from Theatre of Tragedy on her last solo album. How did the duet on "3 AM" develop and will you be working with her again or any other artists in the future?

NICK: Her management approached me, it's a great song! I wish I'd written it!, I'm still waiting for Madonna and Cher to call.......

STARVOX: Between the "Draconian Times" and "One Second" albums, you guys released a few covers of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" and the Sisters' "Walk Away" as B-sides. These among many other B-sides are quite difficult for fans to locate, at least in America. Are there any plans to release a companion to the "Reflections" best of collection with a collection of B-sides?

LEE: To be honest, releasing an album of songs that made it to a b-side, because it wasn't good enough for the album, is not really worth it!!

STARVOX: Are there any new covers planned?

LEE: Not at the moment, but these things have a habit of turning up on b-sides.

STARVOX: Will Paradise Lost ever return to tour the US?

LEE: Hopefully we would live to come to the US. It's just unfortunate with the business side in the states which has not made it viable

STARVOX: When performing live, how far back into the archives do you usually guys go?

LEE: The earliest song in the set is "As I Die" from "ShadesÖ" As well as that we do play a handful of songs form "Icon," "Draconian Times" and "One Second."

STARVOX: Are there any plans to rework any of the earlier songs in the new style of the band? If so are there any plans of remixing them for future release?

LEE: I think early material captures your sound at a particular moment in time, so reworking them, unless they are drastically different seems a little pointless. It's better to keep moving forward.

STARVOX: When do you plan on returning to the studio? What new elements do you hope to bring into the band on the next release? Perhaps a stronger Industrial/dance vibe or something altogether different?

LEE: We will be recording a new album May-July. With regard to the direction it's definitely gonna have more of a live vibe to it, but the beauty of this band is that there's no boundaries in what direction we choose to go in. Our fans really allow us to change from album to album. I think they'd be disappointed if we didn't

STARVOX: Thank you all so much for this interview! We hope to see Paradise Lost on tour in the States sometime soon, and we anxiously await to hear what you have in store for us in the future.

Paradise Lost Is:
Nick Holmes - Vocals
Gregor Mackintosh - Guitars
Aaron Aedy - Guitars
Stephen Edmondson - Bass
Lee Morris - Drums/Backing Vocals

Discography:
Lost Paradise (1990 Peaceville Records)
Gothic (1991 Peaceville)
Shades Of God (1992 Music For Nations/Metal Blade)
Icon (1993 Music For Nations/Metal Blade)
Draconian Times (1995 Music For Nations)
One Second (1997 Music For Nations)
Reflection (1998 Music For Nations: Collection)
Host (1999 EMI)

The Painless
PO Box 411
Bradford, West Yorkshire
BD6 2LQ, UK

Telephone/Fax: +44 (0) 1274 391 728
Web Site: http://www.paradiselost.co.uk
All Images Used Kindly From Image Gallery Of The Official Website