Interview with Decoded Feedback
~by BlackOrpheus

Decoded Feedback is the dynamic duo of Canadian (Yone) and Italian (Marco).  While on vacation in the early 90's, they chanced to meet in an industrial club.  Finding that they shared a mutual passion for the strong Italian EBM scene of the time, they joined forces to form the band in 1993.  After an inspiring debut demo tape release that garnered a rave review from Belgian magazine  Side Line, they were picked up by Hard Records.  Several successful releases  later, the band has released it's most recent effort Mechanical Horizon.  It is a worthy successor to such excellent albums as Biovital and Technophoby.  It's with great pleasure, that I offer the Decoded Feedback interview.
BlackOrpheus:  Greetings Yone and Marco.  If you would, please detail the experience of how you two met.  Who approached who first, who noticed who first, and for what reasons?  Were you watching a band, or listening to a particular song  do you recall?  What most impressed you both about the other?

Decoded Feedback:  We met in an industrial club in Europe.  By chance, we just happened to start talking about music and from there we became friends.

BlackOrpheus:  I understand you're both heavily involved in music.  Who were your earliest influences as kids and why?  When you formed Decoded Feedback, what bands were largely responsible for the inspiration to create music yourselves and why?

Yone:  I grew up mainly listening to electronic music of all kinds, i.e. Mike Oldfield, John Michael Jarre,
ELP, Kraftwerk, & New Wave.  I was always fascinated by the power and beauty of synthesizers.  I was also into punk and classical too.  But I guess it was my early passion for electronic music that has always driven me back to it.  I listen to many different CDs depending on the period.  My all time favourites are Leather Strip, Skinny Puppy, Mentallo and the Fixer & Project Pitchfork.  Right now I have been listening to a lot of Jarre, Classical, movie soundtracks (electronic) Negative Format, Cleaner, Project Pitchfork, etc..... Too many good bands to remember.

Marco:  I also grew up on Kraftwerk, New wave, Jarre, etc....   But my real heavy passion was, and still is, for gothic music.  My favourite groups are The Fields of Nephilim & Project Pitchfork.

BlackOrpheus:  In my humble opinion, Bio Vital is your finest effort.  It marked the first time you'd included lyrics, I believe.  It bled passionate, soulful expression.  Not to take anything away from Mechanical Horizon, but what release is closest to your hearts, and for what reasons?

Yone:  For me, every one of releases represent something special to me.  It represents a time in our lives, so it's difficult to pick just one. Bio-Vital is probably my favourite, but Mechanical Horizon represents something different to me.  It is filled with more passion and feeling than any of our previous CDs.  It is a very special CD for me.

Marco:  Definitely Mechancial Horizon is my favourite.  It might sound weird, but I can't stop listening to it.  I think it's a CD that is deeper than our previous releases.

BlackOrpheus:  Tell me about Mechanical Horizon.  How did this particular album come to be?  Did you fully realize your hopes for it?  What if anything would you do differently?

Decoded Feedback: Like we said before, MH was a very particular CD for us.  Deeper and more emotional.  This CD has definitely developed into a darker, more layered sound.  And on some tracks the beats have slowed down, but the intensity has been emphasized more on the soundscapes than the BPM.  It felt like a natural process for us.  We never intentionally plan to produce a certain type of sound.  We just let our creativity take over and hopefully it will be successful too.  Through good and bad times, our music reflects our feelings and emotions of things either happening in our lives, or in the world around us.  Our emotions  come out in our music.  The angrier we are, the faster the song.  The slower the song, the more intense and sad the feeling behind it.  We are very happy with the results.

Mechanical Horizon is a real mixture between classic DF and something very different.  There are definitely the elements of the melodic and dark soundscapes, but there is also something more.  There is more variation on the vocal styles, more natural, less treated.  The tracks vary in style from "Desire", which is very reminiscent of our older tracks like "Euthanasia" or "Passion of Flesh", to the powerful but sad "Reflect in Silence".  From the pounding "Body-Haunted" (released only on the European album) to the elaborate "Immortal".  There is even a cover version of "The Sequel" by The Fields of Nephilim.  There is a lot of emotion inside this new album. Emotion & inspiration has driven us to create more powerful music.   And for
the first time ever Yone has written the lyrics to a track:  "Dark-Star".

The US release of our new CD contains 2 extra tracks that don't appear on the European version.  A new remix of the song "Fear" called "Fear 2000", and a CD-ROM video of "Relic".

BlackOrpheus: I've heard you have your own studio DefCode Lab.  At what point in your career did this become a financial possibility?  I know it is the dream of many a band, and a few have realized it.  What does it mean for you?

Decoded Feedback:  We started our own studio a couple of years ago, around the time of the release of Bio-Vital.  We were making enought to afford it.  It's great.  We mainly use it for Decoded Feedback, but
we also do remixes.

BlackOrpheus:  It is a reality that few bands make sufficient income from the music itself.  Is this true for you as well?  If so, what do you pursue vocationally in order to provide for equipment, etc?

Decoded Feedback: We make pretty good money, so we can afford the equipment and more.  But we do
have to work sometimes to afford food and booze :)

BlackOrpheus:  The last I'd heard, the band had relocated to Canada when the Italian scene died off.  In what part of Canada do you make your home? How do you find the scene there?  What clubs, djs, and bands should travellers look out for in that country?

Decoded Feedback: We live inToronto. Unfortunately the scene has died down a bit recently, but it will go back up soon again.  It always does.  We have (had) great clubs here.  Santuary closed last summer, but there are rumours of it opening again.  It was a great club:  7 nights a week industrial/gothic - 2 floors!  There is also Savage Garden that is 7 days a week industrial/gothic/new wave/synth pop.  And there are monthly events: Siren's fetish party and the Dark Rave.  So the scene is still pretty good.  All the DJs at these clubs/events are great.  Not sure of bands in Toronto.  Haven't heard any recently.

BlackOrpheus:  I'd heard something about a collaboration with spoken word artist Michael Mahan.  What became of that?

Decoded Feedback:  This project is on hold at the moment.  But we are planning to create music to go with his poetry.  We listen to his spoken words and then create the music around it.  His poetry is quite powerful.  We have already started, but I don't know when it will be released.  It is a very interesting project
for us.  So far it sounds really nice.

BlackOrpheus:  What is the most recent update on your Transceiver Unit side project?  Are there any other side projects, or collaborations you're excited to share?

Decoded Feedback:  Unfortunately our other partner in Transceiver Unit hasn't been available recently, so we are concentrating on a newer side project right now.  The style will be quite different from Decoded Feedback.  Things are still in the early stages, but we are working hard on new material for this project.
Hopefully there will be a release later this year.  Once we have things more confirmed, we will annouce it on
our webpage.

BlackOrpheus: As the year 2000 draws to a close, please share your top ten albums of the year.

Decoded Feedback: That is always very difficult to do.  Can't think of 10 at this very moment.  Ones that come to mind are Negative Format, God Module, & Cleaner.

BlackOrpheus: From an outside point of view, what is your opinion on the recent American presidential election spectacle?

Decoded Feedback: Interesting.  One thing that has been learned is that your vote counts.  And that they should make a universal voting system that is easy to understand so that this kind of problem won't happen in the future.

BlackOrpheus: I understand the music does well in Europe. How does Asia and South America respond to the band and industrial in general?

Decoded Feedback: We get a great response from South America and Mexico.  We would love to tour there :)  As for Asia, we aren't sure.  But we have had a good response also from Australia, South Africa
and Hawaii.  Cool!

BlackOrpheus: In the new album credits, you offer up special thanks to Carl McCoy & Fields of the Nephilim.  What lead you to cover the band?

Marco:  One of my favourite groups, and my biggest inspiration, have been The Fields of Nephilim.  It only seemed natural to finally pay homage to them.  "The Sequel" has always been one of my favourite
tracks by them.

BlackOrpheus: What would you like to express as regards your feelings towards the "Relic" video?  Did you participate in a technical capacity at all?

Decoded Feedback: Our friend Drew approached us about possibly putting together a video for us.  So we gave him live footage and some photos.  He took it from there.
It was all his creation.  He did a fantastic job!  We are very pleased with the results and we would love to produce another video with him in the future.

BlackOrpheus: I know you're involved with M.A.C.O.S. (Musicians against copywriting of samples).  Please detail your stand on this, and then compare it to the copywriting of your own material.  Do you feel that you'd be open to the sampling of your own material for uses other than those you agree to and are compensated for?  How does sampling from movies etc. differ from this?

Decoded Feedback: We definitely don't believe in copywriting samples.  Most of the time an artist will manipulate the original sample so it doesn't even sound the same.  It takes on a whole new soundscape.  An artist should have the freedom to use any sample to help create new songs, as long as they are not copying exactly someone else's song completely.  If you just sample a small piece, loop it, add effects, it becomes your own.  The same goes for movie samples.  They should be copy right free.  If anything, you are  advertising their movie, so more people will go and see it.  And if anyone wants to sample our stuff, go ahead.

BlackOrpheus: What's ahead for the band in 2001?  Any plans to tour North America, the West Coast in particular?

Decoded Feedback: At the moment preparations for a European tour is being organized for spring.  It's not confirmed as of yet, but it should be soon.  Once it is, we will post it on our webpage.  We are planning a mini tour of Canada soon, probably March.  And we will definitely tour the US in 2001.  We might split it into 3 parts:  west coast, east coast and mid west.  It's still being decided.  But we will definitely do a west coast tour this year.  We're  100% sure!  It's been a year and a half since we last played the west coast.

BlackOrpheus: I'd like to thank Decoded feedback for their candidness and time.  I wish you all the best from those of us here at

Decoded Feedback:  Thanks alot :)   Yone &Marco

Interview with Louisa John-Krol, Australia
~interviewer by Sonya Brown, America
February 2001
(photos courtesy of the Louisa John-Krol website)


Ariel, the latest cd from  Louisa John-Kroll, brings forth visions of a lovely floral garden on a warm summers day. Alive with dreamy lyrics and unique instrumentation (mandolin, firesticks, angel harp... even a string quartet!), you can almost see the brightly colored flowers and feel the warm sunlight touch warmly on your face as you journey through the tracks of Ariel. Lousia’s soothing voice whisks you upwards on delicate bird wings... wings that intertwine the flighted theme of Ariel from “Blackbird” to “Sentinel”.

As a teacher, faerie-singer and storyteller, Louisa draws inspiration from her Australian surroundings (where, she notes, there are more people in New York than in all of Australia). Also inspired by the music of Dead Can Dance, Louisa “draws a line between respect and imitation”. Louisa has gained  warmth from gothic/darkwave and ambient circles, where she finds more tolerance towards her interests in literature and mythology.

Let’s join Louisa as she takes us on a tour of this magical garden and tells us about fairies, trees, birds... and Ariel...
SB: How would you describe your style of music?

LJK: A fusion of ambientfolk / dreampop.

SB: Please tell us about your formal music training... What instruments do you enjoy playing?

LJK: I most enjoy singing. My training on piano, guitar and voice is rudimentary; my mandolin is self-taught, unconventional and fairly primitive!

SB: I notice a “bird” theme with your latest CD, ARIEL... please tell us about the birds that are referred to so often in your music!

LJK: The magpie’s warbling is one of the most beautiful sounds of Australia, present in the bushland where I was raised, and at our current home. One appears in our cd-art opposite a red parrot (rosella) of the Dandenongs. Both species are highly intelligent. Our opening song tells of a blackbird, an invader known as the flying mouse! My fascination with it is expressed in Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. The third song is about a wren, tiny birds darting among the high grass. I think they’re the fairy-wren or  blue-wren. The album closes with native birds recorded by Harry Williamson. Much has been said in our post-Jungian world about the symbolism of birds, whether we regard them as the first singers, or the key to flight.

SB: What does the title “Ariel” mean to you?

LJK: “Then to the elements be free” – The Tempest. Ariel is the elemental air-spirit of Shakespeare’s play.  One theme in the album is a sense that nature is alive with spirits. The original inhabitants of Australia expressed this belief in their Dreaming.

SB: Your music invokes visions of gardens, trees and flowers... what is your own backyard like?

LJK: Tumbledown fences and lots of trees: walnut, almond, guava, pomegranate, feijoa, tamarillo, fig, mulberry…. but the music refers to other places, such as the garden of Nobelius (in Emerald Lake Park,
Melbourne), or dreamscapes like The Garden of Live Flowers from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

SB: Where is your comfort zone? (where in the world do you like to retreat?)

LJK: A stroll in the bush to see the kookaburra.

SB: What is your life like in Australia?

LJK: Australia harbours political, racial and religious diversity; our elections are democratic, our population largely agnostic (about 10% of Australians attend church). We have a relatively good welfare system, including free health cover. But we still have a long way to go in reconciliation with indigenous people.

In music, we have our parochial blind-spots. Many Australian artists sign to foreign labels, or move overseas. (Nick Cave was treated so badly here that when our industry finally recognized him with an ARIA award, he refused it!) Years ago my music was wiped off reels, left in gutters and excluded from festivals. I’m grateful to Loreena McKennitt for setting a precedent that female songwriters can explore spirituality or poetry, yet Australian women are still expected to stick with relationship-anecdotes or contemporary issues. Folk purists remain suspicious of my interest in literature and mythology. There’s been some warmth from gothic / darkwave / ambient circles, who are more at ease with these subjects. Yet my experience of people with zealous spiritual affiliations (of any kind) is that they often carry a prescription; they expect the correct dosage of lingo and style. Resisting such pressures can be alienating, so I’m fortunate to have worked with so many open-minded souls.

SB: Aside from your music, what else fills your day?

LJK: I work as a secondary teacher, mostly with immigrants, some of whom are refugees. It is normal to see several races and religions represented in our classrooms. As this is a poor part of Melbourne there are struggles, for example if students cannot afford books. Our conditions are hard so I’m often exhausted before commencing a studio session. Coming home one day I saw, in my mind’s eye, a giant Red Balloon in the wires of the railway station. It was like, ‘oh, I’ve finally gone mad!”

SB: Please tell us about your family...

LJK: There are several immigrants in my family, including Mark who is Polish, and my father who is Welsh. Both overcame poverty and other hurdles. My sisters are kind and generous. I am close to my family, despite political disagreements. (Not so easy, as my father was a politician. Imagine protesting on the steps of parliament, knowing your Dad is inside!) Some people rebel when they’re young, then become conservative when they make money. I was the opposite. My radical awakening happened slowly. In spite of the party, my parents have been dedicated to assisting the disadvantaged, including the Koori (Aboriginal) community. Mum is a painter, formerly an art-teacher of people with intellectual disabilities.

SB: Do you perform live?

LJK: I perform as a faerie-singer / storyteller. There were times when I lived from that, but to finance albums I needed more substantial income, hence the decision to teach. Our population is too small to sustain lucrative touring. Did you know there are more people in New York than in all of Australia? We’re scattered over this vast continent! We call it the “tyranny of distance”, though this may also refer to historical isolation: surrounded by oceans on a land of Exile. (The internet is popular here!)

SB: Where and when will you be touring? Do you have any plans on touring the United States?

LJK: I am visiting Europe later this year and possibly USA. Two Americans whom I admire are the writer John Ralston Saul, and satirical comedian Mike Moore (‘The Awful Truth’)!

SB: Please tell our readers about the BLUE TREE label...


“I was of three minds
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds”
(Wallace Stevens)
Blue Tree is an imagined place. When I signed out of Hyperium Records (a German label for Heavenly Voices), it was with intent never to apply to a company again. My Australian edition of “Ariel” was already at the
pressing plant when word reached a French label, Prikosnovenie, that I had a new album. They wrote to me with respect and made an offer. We also had other inquiries. Regardless of the industry, Blue Tree beckons with renewal.

SB: You mention at your website ( once sharing a group house with several artists including Dawn Perry... who introduced you to the music of her brother, Brendan (Dead-Can-Dance). How has this experience, and the music of Dead-Can-Dance, affected the music that you create today?

LJK: Your question initially sparked recollections of wild whimsy. Like heading into the sea dressed as nymphs. Or holding a ‘Phantosea’ exhibition, for which Dawn sculpted a mermaid chair. But that wasn’t what you asked, was it?

Certainly, my soul felt the imprint of songs like “Ullyses”. I regard Brendan Perry as one of the great troubadours of our time. I was also one of Melbourne’s earliest supporters of Lisa Gerrard’s solo masterpiece, ‘The Mirror Pool’.

But I draw a line between respect and imitation. There are many excellent musicians who bear DCD’s influence more notably than I’ve sought to do. When Lisa’s husband kindly advised me to change my previous album Alexandria, I went against his advice because of cost, loyalty and aesthetic reasons. I haven’t heard from Jacek since, but trust he understood. By coincidence, soon afterwards we received a nasty anonymous email from a DCD fan. It pointed to an irony. DCD was the quintessential band that crossed boundaries. It epitomized integrity and freedom. If its legacy is now used by followers to attack a younger artist, then what was it all about? Changing myself for approval would betray what DCD meant to me. I cherish Lisa and Brendan’s music (together or apart). Their impact need not be so evident in a sound; it may live in a spirit of defiance. I am still moved by DCD’s song “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book” (words by Luis De Gongora). Amid the turns of fate this music is timeless, as if its spokes had not yet turned nor yet ceased turning.

SB: What are some of your other musical influences?

LJK: Ariel contains a tribute to Nick Drake, who died at 26 in 1974, leaving behind some of the most beautiful recordings of his generation. (My song ‘Salamander’ refers to the artist symbolically as a creature who lives in fire.) Mentors include Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and as a child in the 70’s, Abba & Stevie Nicks. For a big hug, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald. For high voltage, PJ Harvey, Bjork. Monumental albums: Peter Gabriel’s “Passion”, Alan Stivell’s “Renaissance of the Celtic Harp”, Led Zep 4 and Arvo Part’s “Arbos”. I’m into Stoa, Vas, The Moors, and music on Prikosnovenie like Rajna or Les Secrets De Morphee. My taste encompasses early music such as Purcell and Campra, later composers (Respighi…) leaps to triphop/space/alternative-pop from The Starseeds to Scala, Nanaco, Shai No Shai, Splashdown, Mazzy Star and a vast array of ambient artists: Ashera, Stephan Micus….and so many other wonderful artists.

SB: Please tell us about some of the other artists that helped contribute to ARIEL...

LJK: Brett Taylor produced most of Ariel, scored for the string quartet and played most percussion, guitars, bass and keyboards. During this project he married the flute-player, Samantha. (Their duet on ‘Tale of a Thorn’ was so intimate that I removed my vocals from it.) Meanwhile our pianist, Richard Allison, fell in love with my sister Rebecca while out from England. There is a lot of love in this album!  Another producer / musician on Ariel is Harry Williamson, who played charango and an angel harp he made. He has worked with Gong, Sting and early Genesis members Anthony Phillips and Peter Gabriel; I recommend Harry’s duo Faraway and await his solo album. We were lucky to have excellent sessionists such as Caerwen Martin (cello) and George Vi (violin) from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. There is also a riff by Melbourne guitarist Andrew Persi. Two other musicians who shared their studios are Lindsay Buckland (whose releases include ‘Beautiful Fig’ and ‘Getting Karma’) and Sean Bowley, founder of Projekt band, Eden. His forthcoming album is full of ghostly atmosphere with a voice that has notably mellowed.

SB: Please describe for us the “storytelling guild”... how did you become involved?

LJK: This is a group interested in the ancient oral tradition of storytelling. I became involved through Australia’s first faerie shop, Wonderwings. Starting as an assistant, I was fired for inefficiency. Then after seeing me in a theatre troupe, the proprietor Anne Atkins hired me as a performer. She also promoted my recordings. The storytelling craft was taught to me by an old storyteller Nell Bell, who invited me into the Guild and passed on a lot of faerie history.

SB: What is the “Magic Kingdom” referred to at your website?

LJK: You mean the Magic Theatre? This is a reference to “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse. The Magic Theatre – for madmen only!

SB: What might the future hold for Louisa John-Krol? What are you most looking forward to?

LJK: I wish to be at peace with whatever fate brings. Somewhere in the glamour and clamour of the last century, it became attractive to be a ‘professional artist’. Maybe that was realistic in the boom decades. Have we forgotten, how many artists in earlier centuries worked in humble jobs? Was the ‘fulltime artist’ myth disempowering for my generation? Lack of a fall-back trade has plunged many into unnecessary hardship, enabling record-companies to call the economic shots. Sure, stepping out of the ‘rat-race’ is a legitimate decision. But can we also redefine what it means to be an artist? To re-enter the fray….and from our base metals make alchemy, spin hay into gold?

SB: Feel free to add any other comments!

LJK: A few lines from Nick Drake’s song, ‘Riverman’ (on Five Leaves Left):

“Going to see the Riverman / Going to tell him all I can / About the plan / For lilac time.

Contact Info:
Blue Tree
GPO Box 2210T
Melbourne 3001 Australia

Track List for Ariel:
Red Balloon
Numb the Wren Tear
Nobelius Garden
Beads of Rain
The Seagiant
Alice in the Garden of Live Flowers
Tale of a Thorn
Anemone Falling

Album: “Ariel” Australian edition
To be followed by release in April on Prikosnovenie, France
Early enquires: Louisa, email:

Getting In Touch With NANO.
~An encounter by The Rev. A.  Strangerz

It's a Sunday and Los Angeles does not care.  It is not too chilly in the November night, and there are artist buzzing about  Orsini's.  Yes, it is the night of the Gothic/Industrial event "Communion" , but there is even more going on than that!  It is the listening party.  A party that celebrates the use of to promote new artist, and to share favorites with others as well.  A range of music from Hip-Hop , country western, Madonna, to Darkwave, Gothic, Ethereal, and Industrial.  All of which has it's more know acts, and also its less known ones!  Yes even country has talent that is not being exploited in it's pop machine.  Yes!  Industrial music has some popular hits (especially in Germany.)   The one thing that brings it all together, is the music FAN.  Short for fanatic.   Well my encounter with the next artist, not only propels her into my own "Women Who Rock:"  category.  She also has me thinking that she could easily play on the fanaticism of music fans everywhere.  Her name is Regan, but her music is NANO.  She likes dance music so on you can find her as NANOBEAT!

Rev S.  So tell us about NANO.

Regan.  It's a project with all my personalities.  (giggles)

Rev S.  And how many is that?

Regan.  6 or 8 (deadpan) No, really I have a primarily classical background, I studied classical piano since about 3rd grade, and opera since about 8th grade.  That brings an interesting dimension to the electronic music that I do.  I typically use Trip-Hop beats, or world music beats.

Rev S. You said 'Trip-Hop'?

Regan.  Yes!

Rev S.  Great, I love that label.

Regan.  That's how I characterize some of the rhythms.

Rev S. For those of you who don't know what Trip-Hop is, I want Regan to give us as an example of a band that uses Trip-Hop beats!

Regan.  Why don't you, so I can be sure I am on the right track...  I just think of it as Hip-Hop beats with psychedelic and experimental melodies and harmonies.

Rev S.  Some consider 'Tricky'  Trip-hop...

Regan.  I love Tricky, but he can get monotonous if you listen to a whole album...

Rev. S.  Massive Attack has some Trip-Hop moments.   Same with Bjork.

Regan.  I love Bjork too!  I use a lot of middle eastern modes, and a lot of Classical music structure.  I find it hard for me to write in regular dance music structure, because my brain seems to work in Bulgarian times.  Like 13/8  and stuff like that,  So everything I write I have to take a beat out of it.  Because it's all in 5/4 or 9/8ths or 13/8ths, and it is a pain in the ass!

MY BRAIN IS DIFFERENT! (slight squeal, or giggle during this part...)

Rev S.  Yeah, I think measuring things like that could be very difficult to somebody, even if your classically trained.

Regan.  You'd think playing Mozart for 14 years, would put 4/4 in my head, but it rally hasn't.  I also studied some Jazz in college, I can't play Jazz keyboard, but I love to sing Jazz.  Jazz feels very very natural to me so I do a lot of jazz vocals in my stuff , and some Opera vocalizations.  I try to be experimental, and push the limits, but I guess everybody does.

Rev S.  Well not everybody unfortunately.  Some are very happy to find a narrow niche they can claim.

Regan.  I used to work with a partner, and since I have worked alone, I think it was necessary to first work with a partner, and gain some confidence. Now that I am on my own I find the things that are most stimulating are the ones that are the most challenging.  I mean I am really bad at percussion.  I spend most of my time now, doing most of the percussion stuff.  It is really cool to be challenged like that.

Rev S.  So you are planning to do some live work?

Regan.  I 'd love to do something live!

Rev S.  Studio work is easy, with multi-tracking, and digital processors.  If you go out live how are you going to do it alone?

Regan.  I record most of the backing tracks to CD.  Then I have a DJ effects unit that I use to effect the music real-time.  I can put in 32 bars of just drums, and I can put it through an effects module and significantly alter the sound.  I also have a couple synthesizers and sound modules that I use, and I can play keyboards live.  I am used to singing and playing keyboards at the same time.  So I will be bringing my multi-tasking ability to performing electronic music isn't that hard.

Rev S.  So you bring several instruments and switch around maybe?

Regan.  What I do have is a synthesizer with presets, sounds that I have already decided to go with the songs.

Rev S. Sure , that makes sense.

Regan.  I am pretty much an improviser, so I rarely play completely what I have written for a song.  I really freaked my old partner out that way.   I just love to perform with no rehearsal.  I find that so stimulating, I mean it was so exciting!  I come up with great stuff that way!

Rev S.  yeah I used to play, but I lost so many band members that way...

Regan.  I will rehearse , especially since I am going to be multi-tasking so many things.  I am going to have to rehearse a lot of so I can get comfortable with the different mediums.  Yet I Love to just get out there, and the music starts . and everybody is looking at you.  I just wrote this song, and I laid it all out the day before, and I made some notes, but I hadn't had all the lyrics figured out.  I just improvised it, and I interacted what I was going through...   I have this one song that is entirely interactive with the audience.  I sing through a vocoder.  There is this piece playing in the background.  My partner used to go between he drums and the different elements.  I am going to have to have a more pre-recorded way of doing that for now.

Rev S.  Vocoder, isn't that the 'Frampton comes Alive" instrument that is played with the mouth. (also used by Ween.)

Regan.  I don't know about that , what I have is played with your voice,  and it runs through synthesizers to produce different effects.  You can do all sorts ofd horrible things to your voice that way.  My favorite emphasizes your overtones, so if you sing with a lot of vowel sounds it can sound really cool that way.

Rev S.  Who are some of your influences?

Regan.  I really like industrial music it always been...(lost thought?)  I like Front 242...

Rev S.  When you think of a vocoder, Skinny Puppy, first comes to my mind. (Especially the song Warlock. )

Regan.  I am not that familiar with Skinny Puppy.  I listen to them a lot in High School though.  I am sure if I went back and listen to some Skinny Puppy there is more of an influence there than I can pin point right now.

(At this point Regan and I are distracted by the combinations of music, the fairly sexy antics of a Madonna video, and a couple whom we believe is about to advance their relationship to a more 'orgasmic' level within a few feat of us..)

Rev S.  How soon till you hit a few cities or a tour?

Regan.  I actually played a gig about a month a go.  I threw a birthday rave for myself.

Rev S.  Birthday RAVE!!!  Well that's life in LA for you.  How big?

Regan.  About 200 people.  It was pretty cool  I had a couple DJ's and we had enough people to pay them, and party pretty cool because all my friends are DJ's. We broke even, which is good for the kind of parties I like to throw!

Rev S.  Where was it at?

Regan.  It was a t Studio 7 , a little bar in Burbank.  A great location.  Despite some managerial issues, but it was great ,a and a lot of fun!

Rev S.  Yes!, all those managerial issues we all have to deal with here in the music world.

Regan.  I love performing, and I much rather arrange my own situations, than to have somebody else put it together.  I never trust anyone else to do it right!  So I played there, and I have a 45 minute set.  I'd like to have about an hour soon.  or an hour 15 minute set.  I have two songs I 'd like to put up on  I have some promotional packages that I should get finished.  I need to send them out, and solicit cities, and I might need help managing parts of the tour, or representation in other cities.

Rev S.  So we are talking spring at the earliest?

Regan.  It just depends on the length of the tour, the set and the cities.

Rev S.  So for now we can find you on

Regan.  Yeas I am there, with about 6 to 8 songs.

Rev S.  We look for NANO then?

Regan.  Actually it is Nanobeat.  Very soon will be available with links, and pictures.

Rev. S.  Why NANO?

Regan.  It is a scientific term that I have always loved.

Rev. S.  NANO-second etc.

Regan.  Yeah! Yeah, and I am a painter and writer as well.  My whole artistic interest is the war between technology and nature.  To me NANO is a term that is visceral.  It is related to time, and my whole concept is the struggle between Chaos and Order.  That seems so cliché, yet  the contrast  between the strange and the beautiful is outlined in my music.  I want to present ideas that may be very disturbing, yet present them in a way that many may find them alluring.

Rev S.  Sounds fantastic actually.

Regan.  My paintings are all like that too.

Rev S. Do you have you paintings on the Web?

Regan.  Yes I do have work on the web.  I want to get some good scans, and they will be present on .

At this point we digress in conversational material again.  Our friendly neighbors had finished , and walked away.  This led to many things that I will omit.  Yet the most important discovery is that Regan is in the latest Eric Knoll book.  Also has a thing for the lifestyle of the Dominatrix.  We discussed the # of ex's we both have in Eric Knoll books.

Rev S.  Lets briefly touch on the subject matter of your songs!

Regan.  Well, I am a very sexual person.  So almost all my songs have some sort of erotic content.  Usually it's too subtle, unless you really listen to the words.  There is one songs that hopefully they will play tonight.  It is called Oblivion.  It was about an experience I had on L.S.D.  where the Goddess came to me, and I had to learn to let go of everything and go down on her.  So I had to give into that and pleasure her.  The song I wrote about that the lyrics are like " her thighs lay open, dark lusciousness."  I played this song at my college graduation, and my Dad was in the front row.  I tried to mumble some of it, but I know  he had an idea what I was singing about.  (giggles uncontrollably at the thought )

Rev. S. So you sang that at your College Graduation?  Performing arts, right!

Regan.  My College graduation I played Rachmoninov, Chopin ,  I sang some Jazz tunes, I sang some classical stuff I had written, and the second part was like a rock concert.  The lights went down, and the music was really fucking loud, and I came  out and sang my first couple of songs (as NANO).  Pretty Cool!

Another song is about submissive ecstasy.  I was trained to be a slave by a man here in LA he was fantastic.  I am not sure if has heard the song, but  I sent him the poem. I  wrote it  on a parchment, I might have signed it in blood, who knows.

Rev S.  So very multi-versed individual here.  (laughs)

Regan.  I am just a sensation junkie.  I am a creation junkie. I am a slave to beauty.

Rev S.  Sensational creational junkie, the inter-active tour with NANO.

Regan.  That would be great.   Bring the body paint.    It is al the same.  Sex and spirituality.

Rev. S.  I have some of these theories too, and yet when I try to expand on them they don't seem as well received as when you do.  (laughter again..)

Regan.  Like I have said, Sex is my  Philosophy ,and pleasure is my God. Hmmm, I think I said that,  it sounds too good, maybe it was somebody else (laughs)   I am a hedonist,  an intellectual hedonist. I find it so pleasurable to create and to learn , life is about that I am so lucky to have enough time and money  to do the things that I love.  And Yea!

Rev S. Yea!   I will end it there , on that note.  Thank you Regan,  that was fantastic.

An interview with Ryan Henry
~by Matthew

Virginia’s NECARE have earned some of my highest and deepest respects and praise this past year.  My words are limiting when it comes to describing what this project has brought to the Gothic/Doom Metal underground.  Taking the bleak and desolate stylings of the influential leaders of the early 1990’s Doom genre and pairing it with the morose Romanticism of today’s leading bands, Necare have pierced me through with their honest and forthright music, yielding some of the most memorable and depressively gorgeous melodies to be wielded from any instrument. Not to mention, a host of passionate, introspective lyrics and multi-faceted vocal expressiveness, instilling them again as representatives of something much more inspired than the average dark music act.  Here is perhaps the first glimpse of insight behind this young band as related by Necare’s central figure, Ryan Henry.  An intelligent, articulate, and well-educated musician and artist, it is no wonder that such grandiose eloquence is at the core and the forefront of this gifted band that is erupting at the seems with potential success in the darker pastures of the Gothic and Doom Metal undergrounds.

Starvox: How did Necare form and who comprises the band?

Ryan: Necare began in 1997, and it was formed by Greer Cawthon (drums) and myself. The situation behind the formation of Necare was simple. We were both in a band that seemed to be going nowhere, playing power metal songs with a clean vocalist -- conventional stuff.  I had always wanted to do something more than that. I asked Greer to record some ideas I had on his four-tracks, and Necare was born.  At present, Greer and I form the nucleus of the band, with Andy Henson providing lead guitar on occasion.

Starvox: So Necare is essentially a two-piece with session musicians. I would assume this makes the logistics of playing live and recreating the band’s sound on stage very limited?

Ryan:  As a complete misanthrope, I will say that playing live has never been something I have particularly enjoyed. I had a few bad experiences playing in live bands in college. If live performance is in the cards for Necare -- and who's to say it's not -- then we will only do it if we can completely recreate the sound of the albums. That will be a logistical nightmare. As of now we don't have the capital to do this, nor can we find enough musicians interested in playing our genre in Central Virginia (the latter is the biggest problem).

Starvox: What exactly does "Necare" mean? It is Latin, correct?

Ryan:  Church Latin. It means to "kill violently with malice aforethought.” It is pronounced "Nec-car-rey".

Starvox: How do you think the band's moniker, being rather violent in meaning, relates to the rather depressive and Romantic gloom of the lyrics and music?

Ryan: Our name doesn't mean that we write lyrics about murder and sound like Cannibal Corpse.  It is a play on the dichotomy of heaven and hell, a name that evokes brutality and music that displays finesse with aggression. Hey, it works for Rotting Christ, no?  It is a reminder that although death can be romanticized, it is still a violent, tragic affair that completely terrifies all of us.

Starvox: So how would you describe the style and 'theme' of the band as a whole?

Ryan: The theme is that of ‘heaven and hell’ -- to juxtapose beauty with anger, terror, and decrepitude all at once. Many of our songs focus on the concepts of loss and grief. Sometimes, the loss we speak of is not limited to death.   The style is early Doom/Death.  I grew up listening to Death Metal. The old greats -- Autopsy, Pestilence, Carcass. One thing I could never really fathom was how deep and disturbing the music could be, and yet how impersonal and dare I say, cliche, the lyrics became after a few years of a hundred copycat Death Metal bands. Then, Paradise Lost came along for me. Their style was completely new. Until I discovered them, I never even conceived that two styles like Doom and Death Metal could be brought together. Death is a reality that will affect us all – it isn’t just an event viewed impersonally.  So many bands don't seem to realize that when they write lyrics to songs. I suppose they just feel like “shocking " their audiences by writing about butchery and carnage. What of the loss, though?

Loss is worse than death, in many ways. Losing love or hope is as real and as painful as watching a loved one die; and can be as terrifying as the thought of one's own eventual demise.

Starvox: That early influence by the ‘big three’ (Paradise Lost, MDB, and Anathema) rings loud and clear. Would it be correct to say they are your primary musical influences?

Ryan: Ironically, we never really set out to "copy" those bands. I think that their music was so well ingrained in our psyches that the music just emerged that way! But yes, those bands are our primary influences, especially their earlier stuff. Early My Dying Bride wasn't too beautiful or avant-garde, in the way that people speak of their sound was once TERRIFYING! If you don’t believe me, listen to “God is Alone”. Hearing My Dying Bride circa 1992 was like listening to someone passing a death sentence upon you!  That is the feeling we wanted to capture…that sense of aural decay. With that, we felt that interspersing small, punctuated bouts of serenity and beauty into the music would be even more jarring and unsettling.

Starvox: Last year, Necare released its first formal EP, "Ophelia" and you are about to release the debut full-length "Rite Of Shrouds." How has the band progressed from the Demo EP to the new release?

Ryan: Well, as of now, our working title for the full length has become “Appassionata.” The progression has mainly been in focus our efforts more on conventional instrumentation. We felt that "Ophelia" was eclectic -- and, while I like the structures and abruptness of the songs on the demo -- both Greer and I wrote these songs with less shifts between "metal" and " not metal" and more of a focus on completeness and continuity.  The quality of our recording has also improved.  It has become more cavernous. The guitars are much stronger, the drums more abrasive, like old John Douglas drums on Hammy-produced Anathema albums (laughs). I just had to make the comparison, since everyone else already has!

Starvox: The new album features a reworking of a track from the demo entitled "Juliet Consigned To Flames Of Woe." Tell us a bit about the difference and development of the new "Juliet (Libera Me)" compared to the original.

Ryan: This version is more of an interlude, or more accurately, an afterimage of the original on the Ophelia demo. We basically did this version without guitars and drums. Once again, this offers quite a stark contrast when juxtaposed between two full-on doom/death dirges. The original version of the song I still consider to be one of the best things I have played a part in writing and the lyrics were certainly the most painful to pen.

Starvox: Why would you say those lyrics in particular were so painful to pen?

("In your eyes are raging seas
  You won't see my misery
  How could one so merciful
  Rend my soul to save it
  Seduce me and then turn away
  Hold my hand and clutch my throat
  You have always been the one
  To break my fall and kill me...
  ...In your grip is suffering
  My one wish: to end this pain
  Draw my hands across your face
  And kiss your lips before me
  See through my recalcitrance
  Hold me's my last chance
  You can take my life from me
  and damn me to adore you... ")

Ryan: They were reflections on the love I felt for a woman whose affections for me turned to scorn and revulsion.  In that song I made tangible the horrible inner pain that I had gone through over her.  It was painful, yet ultimately cathartic.

Starvox: I want to talk a bit more about the lyrics. Due to the literary Romanticism that shapes the style of your lyrics, would you consider what you are doing in some respects 'Gothic?'  As your style of Doom is often referred to as 'Gothic metal.'

Ryan: Gothic, yes, but mainly in the literary sense and especially the artistic.  I always view music holistically with all other art and I feel that ‘gothic’ doom/death is years too late. The lyrical conventions are more akin to Pre-Raphaelitism, like tonal paintings of pale Waterhouse maidens in dark, foreboding glens.

Starvox: Originally, you intended upon actually using a Waterhouse painting for the cover of the next release, again a pairing of the Arts with your music. What happened with that idea?

Ryan: Once again, it was too extravagant an expense for our meager funding.

Starvox: So you opted to use your own photography this time, like your “Ophelia” illustration on the demo?

Ryan: Yes, I did. I felt that I could in some way capture the desolation of the music that we had written and translate it into a visual medium. The “Ophelia” cover has a funny story behind it.  The picture of Ophelia I drew that ended up on there was for a Kate Winslet website. It was basically her as Ophelia, representative of that role, which she played in Branagh's “Hamlet.”  I’m sure if she ever sees her likeness on the cover of it, she will be none too pleased with us.

Starvox: I doubt that! I hear she is quite a wild English broad! Damn cute too! But all too married...

Ryan: Lamentably. I'll admit that I pined over her after seeing “Titanic.” Go on, laugh if you will!

Starvox: It’s hard to laugh through my own tears. I am still lamenting her wedding!  But back to the matters at hand, the image of the drowning Ophelia is a reoccurring image in your lyrics on the demo.

"In the moments before she falls into the stream
Doubt assails her conscience, sorrow wracks her being
Letting go, she drowns
Her arms drift cruciform on the onyx tapestry
In the twilight mist rises from the surface
I reach into the water to touch her pale visage..."---Necare "Azrael"

Ryan: The Ophelia imagery was, as you probably know, a recurring archetypal vignette in Victorian literature and painting.  It is the manifestation of a complete and total embrace of mortality, with the final step being the crossing over -- whether intended or accidental.  So hopefully, our lyrics, albeit limited, reflect that same archetype of mortality embraced. Necare is all about trying to invoke feelings along the lines of...say, Thomas Hardy, in “Jude the Obscure.” – where he wrote of a man beset with tragedies, each one a degree worse than the next.

Starvox: You are very steeped in classic literature and the fine arts, what is your personal educational background and how did such a 'hobby' if you will, develop?
Ryan: I discovered the Pre-Raphaelites while attending the College of William & Mary.  I was majoring in history and focusing on, of all things, Art & Military history. My professors were scornful of the Pre-Raphaelites, but I saw so much of myself in them that I made sure to write as many papers on them and read every book I could find dealing with the subject. I also enjoy the Barbizon school and the Romantics, as far back as Thomas Gainsborough. As far as literature, I have read for pleasure a great deal of Victorian novels and novellas.  I have done and still do all of this in between writing and playing music.  Somewhere the distinctions get blurred and one thing influences another.

Starvox: There is a lot of, I guess you could say, 'mystique' about the Gothic/Doom genre, the composers etc really *do* live a life of solitude. Would you say you are more of a traditional Romantic or perhaps a modern day Pre-Raphaelite then? Perhaps less misanthropic? More romantic?

Ryan: More misanthropic, actually.  And believe me, as disdainful towards the conventions of modernity as Swinburne and Rossetti. Less romantic and more cynical and bitter rather.  I do fancy the term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’. I think they had it right. They were in a similar situation as a few of us doom musicians are today.

Starvox: When you say 'us doom musicians' would you say there is a closely knit unity or 'informal union' between today’s Gothic/Doom metal acts, both in Europe and The States?

Ryan: That I don't know. There is definitely a ‘scene’ in the US; a scene that we are not really a part of. With scenes come hierarchies, politics, backstabbing.  Basically, they are microcosms of society. I think musicians do much better when left to their own devices --to develop their own sounds and ideas in situ. I will say this, though: all of the people I have corresponded with that play the music of this genre are exceedingly cool and very open-minded to hearing and trading new music.  As for myself -- the only person I can speak for -- I feel almost like Necare is completely alone geographically, and so in order to survive and make a name for ourselves, which we have yet to do, we have to walk the line between misanthropy and openness.

Starvox: Considering the pensiveness and intellect behind Necare and other bands of this genre, in what ways do you think that the common stereotypes of 'heavy metal' are dispelled?

Ryan: Dispelled, you ask -- as I raise a two-horned hail and grab a beer from the fridge?!?!  I have always accepted and forgiven the stereotypes associated with metal. I am just at home listening to Judas Priest as I am to Saturnus.

Starvox: (laughing) I mean in terms of the stereotypical lyrics and image of 'metal' that due to music’s changing atmosphere has become quite clichéd these days.

Ryan: Most people in America think of metal as what is in the mainstream.  Nowadays it’s this god-awful rap-influenced noise. That is not metal; just as “glam” in the 80s was not metal.  Frankly, the metal I have listened to -- that has influenced me -- has never been mainstream. Instead, I have always found a maturity and dignity in the genre’s underground. I first discovered this with Iron Maiden – sort of the dark horse of 80’s British Metal -- and as I grew older and delved more into this underground, I was greeted with such divine rapture as Candlemass and finally Anathema. These bands may have had an image, but it was the MUSIC that made the difference. I never saw a picture of Anathema; never saw a video of theirs until I had been listening to them for years. The "image" that the band portrayed to me was one of my own imagining. The same holds true with many other bands that I respect. Good Doom music is the most emotional and impassioned form of expression, in my opinion.  It stands to reason that stereotypes will be broken once the surface has been scratched. I think if substance were to triumph over image, the carnage-strewn battlefield would be the shifting surface of the Doom metal genre.

Starvox: Necare seems to avoid the trappings of token female vocals and violins and use them very subtly and let the guitars carry the melodies and set the mood. How long have you been playing guitar (and other instruments) and how did you come upon the instrument?

Ryan: I was a latecomer to the guitar. I have been playing for about six or seven years now. One of my college roommates sold me a black Gibson Epiphone with half of the electronics gutted. I spent a summer hammering out chords and writing crude songs; teaching myself to play.  I am not a lead player. I have never been interested in writing and learning solos. I feel that textured harmonies above rhythms are what I was designed to write. I took a divergent path, then, in my guitar playing from a lot of my peers locally. Everyone around my hometown wanted to learn Metallica solos while I was more interested in picking apart rhythm and harmony from the bands I listened to.

Starvox: A lot of the bands you mentioned you listened to and were influenced by have changed quite a bit over the years. What is your opinion of the newer directions of bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema, MDB, Theatre Of Tragedy, Moonspell, etc?

Ryan: I still like most of them.  I just view what they are doing now as separate from what they once did. I don't ever see Necare taking such a direction as Paradise Lost or Moonspell has.

Starvox: What are some of the current bands then (metal or non-metal) that strike a personal chord within you as of late?

Ryan: Ahhh, the playlist! Lately, I have been listening to Saturnus, Venom, Anathema (of course), Draconian (A great Swedish band on, Divine Silence, Evoken, Dissection, Iron Maiden, Cradle of Filth, At The Gates, Burzum, Kataklysm and in the non-metal realm, Sopor Aeternus. There is little more depressing than the “Dead Lover's Sarabande II” album. I have also been listening to the soundtrack to “The End of the Affair” and “Braveheart”. Oh, and Loreena McKennitt.

Starvox: With playing live out of the realm of possibility, Necare is building a reputation on Can I assume then you are a supporter of downloadable music and Napster?

Ryan: Absolutely.

Starvox: Currently, the band is unsigned and you are pressing the next CD yourselves? When can the general public expect the release of "Apassionata?"

Ryan: We are still in the "mastering" phase. The "blow a great sum of money on replication and distribution" phase will probably transpire next month. So, cutting through the bullshit, by March or April.

Starvox: And the CD can be obtained through you guys directly then? (Ed.- The “Ophelia” EP is available as a D.A.M. CD from

Ryan: We are still trying to get our ducks in a row on how we are going to distribute it.  But for now, yeah, it will be available through us.

Starvox: In terms of the future, where would you like to take Necare conceptually and/or musically? Will the guitars continue to serve as the integral instrumental force rather than orchestral keyboards or live symphonic instruments?

Ryan: If I had an entire orchestra at my disposal, there would be mass symphonic havoc. Until then, I'll settle for my ESP Explorer and a session violinist.

Starvox: What do you hope to achieve with Necare? What do you want a listener to walk away thinking and or feeling?

Ryan: The power of music is the ability to exert control over the listener's emotions.  The greatest seed we wish to plant in the heads of our listeners is complete unease about life, spirituality, and ultimately, reality.  The rest of the conclusions are for the listeners to draw on their own, through the filter of their own experiences and perceptions.  That we can't control, and we do not wish to.

Starvox: What are your general thoughts on the music industry and/or the current metal 'scenes' - i.e. black metal, death metal, etc.?

Ryan: I view each band individually, and not as part of a collective scene. There are good bands and bad bands in every genre. For me, personally, being in Necare is not about "breaking into a scene". It is like this: If I didn't have music, I would have no voice at all. I would, like Salieri in Peter Schaffer's “Amadeus,” have been given a longing and then made mute. Nothing is a more callous fate. Necare is my musical expression, and musical expression will always stand stories above scene acceptance for anyone who considers him or herself a musician.  My only hope is that a handful of people will listen to our stuff and feel something about us, be it disgust or bliss...

Starvox: More than likely it will be the latter. Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions!

Ryan: It has been an honor to do so.

Necare is:

RYAN HENRY: Guitars, Bass, Keyboards,Lead Vocals
GREER CAWTHON: Drums, Keyboards, Guitars
ANDY HENSON: Lead Guitar

Necare - Official Website:

Necare - Mp3 Site:


Theatre of the Macabe
~interview by michael johnson

With a new album due out this summer called Manifesting the Sorcerous Lore, Theatre of the Macabre vocalist Lord Ornias and guitarist Le’ rue Delashay took some time to enlighten me as to what makes this unique black metal outfit tick.

Starvox: What makes Theatre of the Macabre stand apart from other bands?

Ornias: "Theatre of the Macabre" is comprised of members who create towards the achievement of mutual ideals and goals. On the basis of this analogy, it is important to note that "Theatre of the Macabre" will always stand as a monument to the very essence of who we are as creative individuals, separating us from other bands by our very own existence.

Le' rue Delashay: Ornias speaks truth in that the musick is our monument, our way of speaking the very essence of what we believe. I would be glad to stand with other bands of like mentality, though here in America those of like mind
are few and far between, ...Bands of notable exception are; Impaler, Venificum, Demonicon, Somnus, and Autumn Tears, hails to you all...

Starvox: What is your take on the black metal scene?

Le' rue Delashay: Theatre have been around since back in the day...we formed in '93 and kept it together till 96', now we have completed our cycle and once again work to unleash the stuff of nightmares upon all you out there. As for Black Metal, I see an overabundance of ideas based upon what has already came before, the Kings still wear their Crowns, but a new breed is brewing, and one day they shall usurp the throne.

Starvox: What is your response to critics who say black metal should not be keyboard driven? (The symphonic elements removed)

Le' rue Delashay: From the perspective of an artist, I would have To say; "The concept of Musick is to manipulate
waveforms into sounds called "Musick", the sounds of many bands are limited to the field Of Bass, Drums, Guitar(s), and Vocals. That in itself limits the amount of sound capabilities you have to work with...A keyboard, or synth, has the capability (with the advent of modern technology) to create or capture any sound physically possible, thereby widening the spectrum from which the musick can express itself. I ask you this; would you limit yourself to painting a picture using only the primary colors? It is all in the choice of one's palette.

Ornias: All are entitled to their opinions, and as Le' rue Delashay has stated, "It is all in the choice of one's palette." I find that such arguments as "the symphonic elements should be removed" of A particular genre, are often based on the status of the current trends, or supposed ideologies, usually bearing no musical relevance.  Genuine musick stands on its own, regardless of its comprised elements.

Starvox: Who are/were your greatest influences?

Le' rue Delashay: I appreciate the abilities of Strong Minded individuals who have modeled reality to suit their will. Among such a list I would name Leonardo De Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, Aliester Crowley, Nicholas Tesla, Anton Szandor Lavey, Nicollo' Paganinni, Emperor Norton, all among others....

Starvox: What are your religious beliefs?

Le' rue Delashay: I would say my beliefs are more in the Spiritual realms than anything religious, as the very term Religion implies herd mentality and submissive thinking. I relate that which occurs in my life as that which is meant to be due to cause and effect; you control your reality, not the other way around. Many are the flock who hide in the shadows of Archetypes and figureheads, but I choose to walk under the light of the Morning star.

Starvox: I noticed that most members of black metal bands today have surnames.  What is the importance of this?

Ornias: The importance of the surname is a question of a personal nature that should be asked by individuals who chooses to adopt, or create an identity other than their birth name. I chose a surname as a decree of spiritual manifestation, opposed to the relation of an established scene, or genre.

Starvox: What do you want fans to know most about what you do?

Ornias: All of Theatre of the Macabre's accomplishments of past, present, and future, are the direct result of a tribe of individuals who have strived to overcome the mundane tribulations, in which, we all must face. Hail to all of you... who face adversity with strength and conviction! May you persevere through your true wills desire!

Starvox: You have said that the hidden track on "A Paradise In Flesh & Blood" is a ritual.  What does this ritual concern?

Le' rue Delashay: Isn't it obvious?!?

Also check out the review of Le’ rue Delashay’s solo album “Musick In Theory And Practice” in this months
issue and be on the lookout for his new one entitled “The Law of Octaves” coming soon!

Root of All Evil Records:
Theatre of the Macabre:

Unto Ashes
Interview January 2001
~by Matthew

Unto Ashes are responsible for the seminal release Moon Oppose Moon, which with its oppressive and dense mediaeval imagery and somber romantic aesthetic easily became one of the most impressive albums of 2000.   The band was recently signed to Projekt records and their moniker is currently at the center of a whirlwind of enthusiasm within the dark music scenes.  I caught up with Natalia, Michael, and Melody to discuss the past, present, and future of Unto Ashes and found them all to be receptive and highly insightful people, and I am pleased to present this truly wonderful discussion with one of the most important acts to have emerged within the last few years.
Starvox: It has been quite an exciting year for Unto Ashes.  You guys recently signed with Projekt records, and they have re-released your first full-length album Moon Oppose Moon.  How has the record been selling?

Melody: It seems to be doing really well, though we haven't seen the actual stats yet. All I know is it has sold out of most of the record stores in NYC that I had seen it in, which is definitely positive!

Michael: The main thing is that Projekt is doing a great job making Moon Oppose Moon available to people; we've got some really enthusiastic letters from people all over the world, so clearly the process is working.  What matters most is that the people who are intrigued by what they hear about Unto Ashes can actually obtain some of our music. If Moon Oppose Moon went platinum then it would prove to me that we had doneSomething horribly wrong.

Natalia: Right, and then we could probably support ourselves financially giving seminars on Doing Things Horribly Wrong. <laughs>  All kidding aside, we're really pleased with how Projekt has boosted our visibility – when you play this sort of music, of course it's never in anticipation of amassing any wealth, but simply to get your CDs in front of listeners who are able to appreciate it.  And since signing with Projekt we've connected with many more such listeners; it's been great sharing our music and meeting like-minded people.

Starvox:  You recently played a break-through show at Seattle's Convergence 6.  What are some of your fondest memories from that experience?  How were the crowd reactions?

Natalia: I've been to nearly all the Convergences and never dreamt we'd be playing one someday, so the whole experience was climactic.  We couldn't have asked for a more attentive crowd -- lots of beautifully painted eyes riveted stage ward.  I picked up a very positive energy, almost a sense of trust, from the people flocked in front of the stage, swaying and writhing. Performing is a real high when you see faces entranced and transformed like that.

Michael: The organizers of C6 were absolutely first-rate, and I salute their enormous efforts before, during and after the event.  Also, I was also very impressed by what I perceived as a very warm sense of community among all the participants.  We very much enjoyed performing for these people, and of course we were delighted that we could enchant their lives for awhile.  We got many positive comments from people afterwards; we certainly sold a lot of CDs and merchandise after the show!

Starvox: There is a lot of cross-breeding within the band, a lot of 'musical chairs' shall I say, so when performing live, what is the primary line-up and what can an audience expect of Unto Ashes on stage?

Melody: The primary line-up these days consists of me, Michael Laird, Natalia Lincoln and Ericah Hagle; with onstage guest appearances by various different singers and musicians. We look forward to adding more surprise guests to our live shows in the future -- it always makes for a lot of fun and variety for the audience, especially our NYC audience who may have seen us numerous times. It's definitely never the same show twice.

Michael: We change instruments between almost every song! In the past our transitions were sometimes too long, but we've got things tech'd out much better now; we don't want to give our audience a chance to recover from the previous song.

Natalia: I've always loved the lack of fixed roles in Unto Ashes, especially coming from a classical background, where you play your instrument that you've studied for twenty years and you don't dare touch another. Even most bands seem to restrict themselves to front man, lead guitarist, bass player, etc.  However, every musician has something only he or she can do and it's been amazing to work in a band that taps into that -- where we can experiment, do things we never did before, and expand as musicians, not just as keyboard players, singers, or drummers.  And since we use so many unusual instruments, we all share duties on hammered dulcimer and tabla, bells and dumbek, psaltery and mandolin.  And as Melody said, we often ask guest musicians to join us, which I think enriches everyone's experience, audience, guests and certainly ours.

Starvox:  So how did all of you decide to take up this particular style to express your musical vision?  What are your musical backgrounds and how did it lead to ritualistic and period music?

Melody: My musical background is kind of a mess. <laughs>  I played piano as a child and got into a performing arts middle school for playing the violin, and then switched to vocal while at that school and was also in the choir. As a teen I sang for an all-girl rock band and went to a lot of dark and/or heavy music shows which influenced me in many ways back then. A love for the history of certain periods, particularly the Medieval led me to do research on different aspects, including costuming and music.  And of course bands like Dead Can Dance have been a major influence on the way I look at music since they have such an original style and still were able to touch so many different kinds of people. We are led to believe we have to fit into a certain niche in order to get anywhere, that we have to be easily labeled, and that is difficult for us, being such a hybrid of so many different things. Also, during the recording of “Moon Oppose Moon” there were at least four Pagans in the group and therefore a lot of the music we were doing ended up being kind of "ritualistic" even if it wasn't planned that way. I don't think we ever made a decision that this is the "type" of music we would do, more that we like certain different things and sounds and when they are combined this is the way it comes out of us.

Michael: I don't know if anything was really "decided on," certainly not regarding a particular style; if there was any type of group consensus, it would be to NOT follow a particular genre. Our music has always been informed by a number of diverse musical paths, including, but not limited to, ritualistic music, medieval music, industrial music,death-metal, doom metal, experimental music, electronic music, apocalyptic folk, goth, thrash metal, etc. On first listen, Unto Ashes probably sounds like none of the above; on subsequent listens, it probably sounds like all of the above. As for my musical training, I don't really have very much; I played percussion in junior high school, and then in college I was involved in making experimental music, and I did a lot of work in the recording studio – to this day the recording studio is probably my best "instrument."

Natalia: I studied piano performance and music history at the Oberlin Conservatory, so as you can imagine, a lot of that shows up in my playing and songwriting.  At the same time, my musical taste runs very eclectic, from Hungarian folk music to classical to punk.  In my CD player now are Samhain: Initium, Coil: Horse Rotorvator, a compilation of early medieval polyphonic music, Oingo Boingo: Only a Lad, and Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss.  My companions in this group have equally diverse tastes, so when we began playing together it wasn't a matter of settling on a style, but simply on what we wanted to convey in each song.  Taken as a whole, our output became our "style."  As for the ritual aspects of our music, I think Unto Ashes appreciate music not only as emotional narrative, but as a form of power: invocation, cleansing, oblation or even revenge.

Starvox:  What exactly is the appeal to you all personally about the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Romantic eras?  What ideals or philosophies of these times do you integrate into your everyday life (day jobs, careers, etc)?

Melody: For me I have a love for the beautiful yet tragic, and I see a lot of certain eras really embodying that. I mean, read some books about the wives or children of Henry VIII to start with, and it's all there. Beauty, horror, romance, lust. These are the things that appeal to me as a human being as all these things are part of our lives. Sometimes
I think that everyone is too busy being concerned with the stock market or with their computers and video games and gadgets that people have forgotten what it is like to really communicate and to really *feel* and live life. It's much easier to watch TV than to talk or to feel pain or think about the things that bother you or to try to do something about these things.  I wouldn't say that I integrate these periods into my everyday life so much as I read about them a lot, and think about what it must have been like to live that way, with death all around all the time, and still go on living life and going to parties and falling in love. The human psyche is an amazing thing.

Michael: For me I'm drawn to all types of ruins; by definition, ancient literature is a type of ruin -- its author long dead, usually forgotten. I get a special feeling when I discover a really obscure ancient text which seems to call out to me from time's ravages, hopefully it'll be something degenerate, cryptic, blasphemous, wicked, perverted, or just very odd. Also, I enjoy setting certain poems to music, not only ancient but modern, thereby giving life to these words on paper, and exalting them through song where they may more fully live and breathe, at least for awhile.

Natalia: When I began studying German I really connected with the early XIX. Century Romantics, who in turn linked themselves spiritually with the medieval era in valuing twilight areas of the human experience: the illogical, the secret, the transcendent, everything that is imbued with more than one meaning. The Romantics in particular entwined art, religion and love in a way that has never ceased to fascinate me.  There's nobarrier between these things and my daily life; even with the intrusion of daily realities I always like to imagine other ways of seeing and thinking, or remember a strange dream, or play games with words or sounds.  Sometimes I think past centuries look richer to us because they didn't draw such a firm line between reality and states of imagination.

Starvox:  When you play this kind of 'ancient' music on the appropriate period instruments, do you at all feel that you are tapping into a distant realm or perhaps in some respects the spirit of your ancestors, or even revisiting a past existence all together?

Natalia: Playing an old instrument is like opening a door to a forgotten room in a vast house. You don't know what may happen in that room, but you may be sure your experience will be unique.  As with all forgotten places, you aren't completely certain you belong there -- you're letting the outside world in -- but that's part of the attraction.  This room was our ancestors'; now it's ours.

Michael: Since the beginning of time, regardless of the instrument(s) we utilize to make music, the act of creating and listening to music allows the human animal to transcend the pain of existence. The most ancient instrument
of all, of course, is the voice, followed by a percussive attack on something. These are the primal musical instruments – and not surprisingly, they remain the primary musical instruments to this day. Personally, I try to treat all musical instruments with an almost sacred reverence -- because without them I could not live. I enjoy playing exotic instruments; but I also like synthesizers too. They are all like a type of breathing apparatus for me, without which I would surely drown.

Starvox: There are several different tongues spoken in the lyrics of Unto Ashes - From German, French, Latin, and standard as well as Middle-English. Are these lyrics culled from texts or have each of you studied a particular language?

Melody: I studied Latin in college and was a classical studies minor so therefore I was exposed to a lot of old texts and different languages. On “Moon Oppose Moon,” "Quid Vides" which is in Latin was written by Michael and the German song "Der letzte Ritter" was written by Natalia. They are both more advanced in foreign languages than I, Natalia in particular speaks about 5 languages.

Natalia: I especially love the texture and literature of German, Hungarian and Latin, though I've also studied French and Russian.  As we value the foreign and the ancient, we'll often set texts in, for example, archaic Hebrew (now in the works, in fact). We write many of our lyrics in other languages for the sheer rightness of the flavor. "Der letzteRitter" and "Ein Fluch" ("A Curse") (as you'll hear on “Saturn Return”) would sound vastly weaker in any other language but German.

Michael: "Quid Vides" is a poem I wrote in Latin because no Latin text existed that described what I was going through at that time -- it's a poem about flesh, about remembering, about drowning, about being blinded by obsessive love.  The words to the song "Estuans Interius" were culled from the Carmina Burana (Germany, 13th-century, anonymous) which we set to music ourselves; it's an absolutely astounding text – the passage we selected is one of many about depravity -- and cannot in any way be improved.

Starvox: You all derive your influences from many different sources, but mainly literature it seems.  Who are some of your favourite authors and how have they inspired or affected what each of you contribute to Unto Ashes?

Melody: Some of my favourite authors in no particular order include Kathryn Harrison, Martin Amis, Edward Gorey, Carol Queen, Jeanette Winterson, Carolly Erickson, Pablo Neruda, Anne Sexton, Rachel Pollack, Pat Califia, Kathe Koja, I could really go on and on -- I read constantly.  I don't know if these authors have inspired me so much as they shape the person that I am and therefore if I write lyrics or do anything creative it somehow affects the overall hue of my work.

Michael: My friend Erichte (formerly of the Black Metal band Ancient) has infected me with Tanith Lee, who is probably one of the CRUELEST authors I've ever encountered... People seem to enjoy sending me weird poems or books, which I of course welcome! One of these poems was actually "Sonnet Macabre" which we made into a song for “Moon Oppose Moon.”  I love all forms of degenerate literature, including Dostoyevsky, Camus, Sartre, Bulgakov, Ambrose Bierce, Pauline Reage, Robbe-Grillet, Beckett, Nabokov, etc., etc.

Natalia: As I previously mentioned, I'm very spiritually close to the early XIX Century German Romantics such as E.T.A. Hoffmann, Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, etc. In addition to mainstream fiction, I love science fiction and fantasy and believe much of it is unfairly relegated to the "genre fiction ghetto," although in my opinion, those authors are the inheritors of the Romantic and Surrealist movements in literature -- for example,Philip K. Dick and Shirley Jackson.  Early in my life, British fantasists had a huge impact on me... Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Louise Cooper, and much later, Storm Constantine. Also, I'm sure this is fairly common, but reading Tolkien inspired me to try writing my first book at 14 (I've subsequently atoned for that with a recent novel, The Mirror).

Starvox:  Lyrics by Carmina Burana, Theodore Wratislaw, and several anonymous traditional works have ended up in your music.  What are some of the future literary interpretations for us to look forward to?

Michael:  Right now we are in the process of recording our next album, and there will be several such poems that we made into songs; I don't want to spoil any surprises but I can say that one of these poems is a sonnet by Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, which is the very poem that inspired me to start making recordings under the name "Unto Ashes."

Starvox:  Often when people hear a band that has an obvious mystical or occult vibe to their music, use multiple languages, etc, they often misinterpret them as a Satanic band.  Granted, a lot of this stems from stereotype and lack of investigation, but how would you illustrate to the common listener the difference between Satanism and Paganism in your music?

Melody: All I have to say is in order to believe in Satan, you have to believe in a particular religion that includes Satan in its mythology, which I do not.

Natalia: Is there a "common listener?” <laughs>  Having grown up in the bramblesof Christian Fundamentalism, I must say that Melody's argument, though logically sound, wouldn't fly with a "born-again" Christian.   Their outlook: everything is either "of God" or "of the Devil."  Doesn't leave much room for dissent, does it?  Unfortunately, there is little you can do with such a mindset.  My own emergence from the child-logic world ofChristian Fundamentalism was painful: once I determined that I needed to conduct my own spiritual search rather than swallow a religion whole, there was no way to  communicate with anyone still in that world.  I had to give up the idea of convincing any of them that I was not simply in error, a "lost sheep." News: I am neither a sheep, nor a child.  To step out of that protected, blind spiritual space is to face the full danger ofBecoming ourselves, discovering what we actually believe, even if our beliefs have no recognized name.  Music is similar: we must somehow make contact with the music that's actually within us, not what we think will please other people.

Michael: The point is to be able to think for yourself – to create your own morals, your own gods or goddesses, your own beliefs, your own ways to walk through this life with honor and integrity and decency. All belief systems are problematic because they were designed by human beings for human consumption. One of the responsibilities of being ahumanist is to investigate your own beliefs, while informing yourself of others -- it maycome to pass that you believe in nothing.

Starvox:  Do you feel that Gothic music has become saturated and that perhaps the term 'Gothic' is used much too frequently?  That it should logically be reserved to describe music such as yours and say, Sopor Aeternus or World Serpent bands that actually  express an element of the literary Gothic in their music and lyrics?

Melody: I think that would be very smart, but it seems that Gothic, or at least "goth," has come to represent a type of music which is mainly electronic and very step-sisters-of-mercy, which I don't find compelling or original. I doubt the use of the word will change much at this point regardless of what happens in the music scene; so we often get lumped in with bands that we have nothing in common with. It's a shame in some ways because someone new to the whole genre may pick up two "gothic" CDs and get two completely different things and that can be extremely confusing for a novice. I do like the term "Apocalyptic Folk" however, and I do use that to describe some of what we are doing to anyone who would understand that term.

Natalia: Some of the confusion arises out of various phases "Goth" music has been through.  As I see it, the original wave of "Goth" music was a sort of Victorian-flavored punk -- some of it arty, surreal, and morbid (Bauhaus, early Cure, Siouxsie) and some of it more absurdist or quasi-satirical (Virgin Prunes, Alien Sex Fiend, the Damned,etc.).  Five years down the road "Goth Rock" made its appearance, the prototype being the Sisters of Mercy.  With its elemental chord changes and cross-pollination with metal, Goth Rock was a more brawny, less effete, and highly imitated style.  Another eight or so years brought us "Gothic/ethereal" music.  So really, the competition for the term "gothic" is getting rather fierce at this point, and increasingly more meaningless. I don't think we're going to have much luck reserving the term for selected bands, though.  Our only recourse is to just go ahead and create music, and try to describe it in unloaded terms.

Michael: Probably Unto Ashes should be classed as "Gothic" rather than "Goth" music, although admittedly our music is difficult to categorize -- in any event, categories are simply vehicles of convenience anyway. The term "Gothic" has been misused since the Renaissance era (by Italian artists to denote a type of medieval architecture that they condemned as barbaric). If there's an "over saturation" of "goth" music and "goth" culture, that's fine with me -- as we move ever closer to the Apocalypse it's comforting to me to see more black-clad brethren crawling the Earth, in malls, in schools, in fields, in cities everywhere.

Starvox:  These next few questions are in reference to specific song lyrics.   "This Duration Of Emptiness" is best remembered by its ultra-unnerving chorus, " Our Love was like a child that died." Where did such a dark metaphor come from?  This is an especially unique yet chilling line.  Is there a story around it you could relate to us?

Michael: I must accept the blame for those words. They originated in a therapy session -- I basically said: "I just can't get over this breakup, I don't think I can ever get over it" and the therapist said: "You *can* get over it; you *will* get over it. There's only one thing that a person can't get over, and that's if they have a child and it dies. They might be ableto *endure* the rest of their life, but they will never get over the death of their child." So somewhere in my diseased brain I must have said: "Alright fine: then our love was like a child that died." I had already made the music to this really depressing-sounding song, and I told Melody "I'm going to make a song and the chorus is going to be: Our love was like a child that died." She probably said: "That's nice Michael." So maybe a couple of months later I went to see the woman who I had been having this gigantic heartbreak over -- we sat in this park, and there were all these children around; and the finality of what we had was crumbling all around me, as these little kids were playing on the swings and laughing -- I just felt so incredibly hollow and numb. When I got back to my house I wrote down all the rest of the words in about 2 or 3 minutes. I love the lap-dulcimer part that Paul came up with, as well as Natalia's DX-7 sound -- the first time we heard it everyone just roared "That's the SH*T!"

Starvox:  Lilith is an overwhelmingly fascinating character throughout occult mythology, with several variants to her tale.  What inspired Unto Ashes to write "Conjuration To Lilith?"  Are the lyrics based upon any particular text?

Michael: I was making some music with Suzy Melendez and said to her: we need a song about Lilith -- can you write some words for me? And she basically scribbled down some phrases all over this piece of paper, which she gave to me the next day; and I LOVED it, and with complete surprise and sincerity she said "Really? Are you sure?" And I said "Yes, it's wonderful..." It was perfect for what I wanted, and I was so inspired that I took the words and modified them a little and added some of my own and made a song, which I gave to her on her Birthday which is on February 23rd, and she really liked it, so I was very happy... And then with Unto Ashes we took this fairly simple folk-song and added all these textures and made it into something much more interesting, more ritualistic sounding.  Although the words did not originate in ritual, they certainly have been subsequently.

Starvox: There seems to be recurring themes of sickness, drowning, perhaps a more natural 'fear' of death mixed in with the more esoteric lyrical themes.   Almost as if we should fear not only what's lurking in the dark per se, but also what is looming in broad daylight.  Would you agree to that overall interpretation of your lyrics?

Melody: Things in broad daylight often look a lot scarier than in the dark. <laughing>

Natalia: We hope not to simply add items to a ‘fear’ list, but to accord all darker human sensibilities a place.

Starvox:  Natalia, you had said recently that your music is 'too disturbing to be considered ethereal' or something along those lines.  I agree, and I think a darker spin on the genre is much welcomed, as there are enough 'pretty bands' out there.  But overall, with such a dark, misanthropic tone to Unto Ashes, what messages if any, are you hoping to convey?

Natalia: Dark, yes; misanthropic, no -- after all, misanthropy is the hatred of our fellows.  If anything, it is because we identify so keenly with suffering that we focus on it: all cruelties intentional and unintentional; the madness of love and its eventual loss, the disappointment of being misunderstood even by those who know you best.  The distance between two people is incalculable and surprising.  Happiness is not a lie, but it is rare and often fleeting.  Modern people do not want to admit this -- maybe it would interfere with advertising's empty promise: "Buy and be happy!" Previous centuries understood suffering was a given,but as Melody said above, those people lived with death all around them and were *still* able to weave joy and wonder and music into the tapestry of their lives.  It's almost as if the present era feels forced to exclude the darkness to see the light, whereas others drank deeply of darkness to better know both extremes.

Starvox:  Besides the full length "Moon Oppose Moon," you are offering a limited edition EP entitled "Forever Sick" on your web site.   The aggressive, death rock-esque material on this CD is obviously much different than the mediaeval styles on the full-length.  Will you continue to have this sort of duality in the band, or will you eventually mesh the two styles together?

Melody: Our second full-length CD "Saturn Return," which is currently in production, is stylistically more akin to "Moon." It is different in some ways, but the overall feeling is similar. We do however plan to release another EP at some point with more of the odd songs that wouldn't quite fit in with the overall sound of "Saturn Return."  I personally believe an album is a complete work and to include songs that don't exactly fit in and make the work a whole seamless piece would be a mistake; therefore we released the songs you find on our EP "Forever Sick" instead of on our forthcoming offering.

Michael: We're happy to hear that our 4-song EP "Forever Sick" gets played in clubs; it's like "negative pop" music: music that makes you want to dance but makes you feel bad about yourself at the same time.   Some people like the EP more than "Moon Oppose Moon"; other people like "Moon Oppose Moon" more. Both records were made by Unto Ashes, like two sides of the same coin. Our next record, "Saturn Return" will have acoustic and electronic instruments, sometimes *both* in the same song. As usual, the songs will be focused on exploring the more disturbed aspects of our psyche (which the nineteenth-century English Romantics described as "The Beautiful and the Terrible").

Natalia: If anything, I think we'll continue to explore many influences in our music, though we will always seek to present it in coherent forms. Every member of the band is infected with wildly divergent musical tastes, not to mention a healthy curiosity, and I'd expect to see that germinate over time.

Starvox: Unto Ashes are also slated to appear on the upcoming Rozz Williams tribute, contributing a rendition of "Cavity - First Communion."  Your version is quite cool, keeping the original death rock feel yet integrating harpsichord and hammered dulcimer.   Why did Unto Ashes choose this particular track and how did you approach the song?  Was it kind of an experiment to see how well the different styles go together?

Michael: I have been a great fan of Rozz's Christian Death for many years. The song we chose, "Cavity: First Communion" is the first song on the first Christian Death album; their song is a masterpiece in every way, almost sacred in its way -- and I knew it would be very risky to attempt a cover of such a colossal song, especially if *Rozz* sang it originally -- because who can compare to Rozz? -- Or Rikk Agnew on guitar?  So we knew that there was no way we could or even *would* try to be like Rozz's Christian Death. The logical way to approach it would be as if Unto Ashes was trying to play it, which meant a total disregard for previous conceptions. About a year or two ago I remember learning "Cavity" on my hammered dulcimer, to the amusement of both Melody and Natalia.  Little did they realize that I was actually  plotting and scheming to make a full-blown Unto Ashes version of "Cavity" complete with cellos, synthesizer, electric and acoustic guitars, electronic drums played real-time, etc.  Behind Melody's lead vocals are some eerie processed vocal tracks by Natalia and Ericah, as well as a brief visitation from Rozz himself.

Melody: I have been a Christian Death fan for about 13 years and was really excited about the prospect of doing a cover, especially since all proceeds of the Rozz tribute are going towards the purchase of a tombstone for Rozz at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. Approaching it was a little scary at first, especially since I was singing and I know Rozz fans can be rabid about him and I didn't know how it would be received. So far I have heard nothing but positive feedback about it and I look forward to the compilation's official release.

Starvox:  What is your opinion of Valor's Christian Death?  A lot of his music experimented with complex instrumentation more than Rozz ever did…just curious what all of your takes are on this rather 'controversial' subject.

Melody:  I am definitely in the Rozz camp in the endless Rozz VS Valor argument. I do like certain things that Valor has done over the years but in general find the work of Rozz to have been genius and don't find Valor's work as compelling.

Michael: I am in agreement, however let the record show that Valor is all over "Ashes" and holds the distinction of having written one of the most beautiful Christian Death songs of all time, namely "When I was Bed" which is absolute genius.

Natalia: Well, I can echo that.  The "custody battle" is the worst thing about the two camps -- it should make musicians very leery of their own egos; the music always ends up suffering.

Starvox: This question is geared toward Melody.  I understand that you grew up listening to older metal and more aggressive punk music.  Have you heard any of the newer European metal bands like 3rd & The Mortal , The Gathering, Mortiis, or In Extremo to name a few that use mediaeval or Gothic imagery in their repertoire?

Melody: This is actually a great question for Michael, who has been going to death metal shows constantly! I did grow up on the metal scene and saw bands like Metallica and Slayer in a tiny club called L'amour before anybody really knew who they were. I also frequented the legendary CBGB's because they had all-day hardcore and punk matinees every Sunday and you only had to be 16 to get into them. I have heard some of themore recent death/black metal stuff that is happening but in general I don't enjoy it very much because I am a fan of lyrics and vocalists. A lot of those type bands seem to be lacking either a depth of lyrics or have a singer I have trouble appreciating. I do still listen to Slayer on a semi-regular basis and look forward to seeing them on their next tour.  If anyone wants to send me CDs or tapes of the above mentioned bands, I would bemore than happy to give them another shot, as the only band you mentioned above that I actually heard is Mortiis, and it was very little at that. I'm always open to new things. {Melody Henry, PO Box 298, NYC 10012}

Michael: I have a very special place in my heart for early hardcore punk, such as Black Flag, Wasted Youth, Minor Threat, Big Boys (from Austin -- they were amazing), Void, Youth Brigade, lots of DC and Cal-hardcore. These bands CHANGED modern music: they showed that you do not have to prostitute yourself to a record company to express yourself musically; you don't even need any musical training; you don't even need money.  But armed with energy, drive, spirit, and dedication, they reinvented the way that music is made and received. I salute them all. Let's face it: the Sex Pistols sound really average today -- but Black Flag still sounds HUGE!  I'm proud of merican hardcore -- these people showed me what's important in music. Lately I've been listening to lots of Black Metal like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Solefald (from Italy -- they're incredible),  Burzum, etc. As for Death Metal, I have to say that the sickest, the heaviest, the most technically innovative, and the most brutal band right now is NILE, from South Carolina (!) -- they absolutely SLAUGHTER with their perverted Egyptological doom metal -- when I saw them play live I was completely shattered: immediately after the show I bought all their CDs and waited around for them backstage to get their autographs!

Starvox: That’s awesome!  Nile are one of my favourites as well.  No one can touch them, in terms of their intellect or brutality.  In regard to the future for Unto Ashes, the next CD "Saturn Return" is scheduled for an early 2001 release from Projekt.  What can we expect conceptually and musically from the next album?

Michael: Like I said, we are still deep in the recording process, but there are some very exciting things in the works. I don't want to spoil any surprises -- but I can say that we're very pleased by the final mixes we have achieved. But we can't know how other people will respond to the next record; basically we have to try to be true to ourselves.  In general, we are very severe critics of our own work. I love tweaking in the studio to get things to sound exactly right. It's exactly like painting to me.

Starvox:  Are there plans for a more extensive tour with this release?

Michael: Well, right now we're really focusing our energies towards the recording process, which demands a great amount of energy and dedication. After we have the CD mastered and all the artwork completed, maybe then we'll start thinking about it.

Melody: We have tentative plans to play at a festival in Houston, Texas in April and we do hope to see some of Europe this year for sure.  Anyone interested in booking us for shows or festivals please do write to us at -- I could definitely see us playing at some of the big dark music festivals in Germany or England sometime soon.

Natalia: We'd love that!  Visit our website,, for more information on us.

Unto Ashes is:
Michael Laird
Melody Henry
Natalia Lincoln
Ericah Hagle

Susannah Melendez
Catherine Bent
Kit Messick
Spider Grandmother
Louise Landes-Levi

Unto Ashes – Official Site:

Unto Ashes – Mp3 Site:

Projekt Records:

P.O. Box 298
Prince Street Station
New York, NY 10012 USA

Clan of Xymox
~interviewed by BlackOrpheus
(photos by Blu)

If there is a greater pleasure than that of interviewing a band you've revered since your school days, I have yet to find it. The idea would have been unimaginable to me back in the mid eighties.  In the year 2000, one of those bands is here today. Their career has spanned over fifteen years, and they continue to create relevant and vital music in the present. They've endured label changes, rotation of members, name changes, and a wandering style. If you've had the  opportunity to see a live show, I'm sure you've wished to replicate the experience with a great live album. The wait was a long one, but it's here. That isn't all, there's a new single as well.  Enough suspense then, it's my  great pleasure to herald the arrival on Halloween of Clan of Xymox new single "Liberty" and their long awaited Clan of Xymox - Live. The following is my  interview with the band.

Black Orpheus: I've heard about the disaster that was Leipzig. In retrospect, what are your feelings about the event?

Ronny: The Leipzig event is one of the most enjoyable every year, unfortunately there was a huge chaos this year. As no one really knows what happened apart from the fact that someone made a runner with all the proceeds we felt like informing people who went to the Leipzig festival to share our experience 'through our eyes only'. In a nutshell: the 4 day festival was reduced to a level that not one of their advertized top acts played at the festival, whole stages were cancelled and in the end only one stage was kept open to console the audience with the help of volunteers and the remaining bands stuck in Leipzig, trying to make things happen still by performing short sets.

We played a few weeks ago the 'Herbsnachte' at Raben , Rabenstein , which was a very well organized event, in a castle close to Leipzig and everything went well, and a lot of people who were formerly involved with the Leipzig Gothic Treffen before were part of the organization for this festival. I can certainly recommend this festival for whoever wants to visit these parts of Germany next year. A lot of people were very grateful that we came to the region again (and played)

Black Orpheus: Has any legal action taken place?

Ronny: I leave those things to my agent who deals with problems like that.

BlackOrpheus: Had you had similar experiences in your career, that compared to this?

Ronny: This was the very first time in my whole career, so it had to happen one day I guess, but I feel more sorry for the public who payed for the tickets who were practically worthless. A lot of people tried to salvage the big disaster and so in the end there was still a good atmosphere apparently.

Black Orpheus: How does this event shape your future response to participating in such events?

Ronny: Events like this get a bit more scrutiny from the agents involved and will demand more securities from certain regions and promoters.

Black Orpheus: I was somewhat surprised at the fan base you have in Latin American countries. It really is a testament to music's ability to cross cultural divides. How would you account for your appeal in such places,  which are bastions of support for such very diverse genres of music? How would you describe the concert experience in this part of the world vs Japan, Europe, or America?

Ronny: Well, maybe you can call them absolutely "mad" in South America's really great how they show their enthusiasm for us and give us this heartwarming feeling that we belong there, that they are the long lost relatives finally connecting with their loved ones. In those regions they just give you this great feeling of being welcome and we made so many friends there! The brilliant thing about for example South America is that there is such a strange mix of people and its culture's that express themselves in the architecture of buildings and life styles.  Also a lot of people cannot imagine that there is a big interest in bands who make "dark" music, but when you go there you can go to a lot of great gothic clubs and certainly there is a lot more to do than you can imagine. I guess the climate plays a big role as well, to my experience the more South you go the more people enjoy life to the full, whilst in the more Northern climate where everything is more cold and bleak, the people are more reserved by nature.

Sometimes you get a feeling of being some sort of "filthy rockstar" in South America, it is weird to walk in countries like Chile, Argentina or Brazil etc. when you walk on your day off in town and people come up to you constantly to ask for autographs and having their picture taken. First you think " how do they know us?" But then you find out they have seen the videos on the national music channel and yes they recognize you from the video.

After a show it seems the whole country knows you. When we played in Mexico we were national news, we were on the news, our faces were printed on every national newspaper and of course the next day when we went to see the Maya temples in some remote area even an old women selling souvenirs to tourist had read about us and asked for an autograph, so that is a very strange experience, but of course a lovely and flattering one!

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

Black Orpheus: I understand you recently signed the Israeli band Sophya to the Clan's new label Stichting Xymox Control. Please share a little about the band, and your hopes for them. When will they tour?  How will they be promoted?

Ronny: We just fulfill the role as looking for talent and license the band after we have signed them to another label who can do a much better job than us. It is just bringing the (future) bands to the proper label. We are not actively looking for bands, but sometimes there might be a band making music which I feel the world should know about.

Idan from Sophya is a DJ in Israel and contacted me in Amsterdam whilst on a visit here. We had a drink and he gave me a demo of his band. The next day I listened to it , liked it immediately and I asked him what his plans were. From that moment it became a reality that I should do something with it.  Now they are performing in Israel and they hope to come to Amsterdam at the end of this year. They will perform in Europe, while living in Amsterdam.

Black Orpheus: I've noticed in recent years its become more common to see a band spawn a label of their own. This is true of the Clan as well with Stichting Xymox Control.  What leads a band to create a label of their own?

Ronny: It is just a construction to have a little more freedom and I guess if you are interested in the workings of the music industry than it is sometimes a good thing to keep a lot of aspects in your own control.  Still you need the record companies to agree on this sort of construction.  But in a way they like it as well because the band is responsible for all the budgeting and artwork.  I guess for a beginning band it is better to be signed directly to a label as most people have great difficulty in understanding the standard working procedures.

Black Orpheus:  What advantages if any, are there to doing so?

Ronny:  You can present your own contracts and terms.  Still the label also has to agree with these.

Black Orpheus: At what point in a bands fortunes is it practical to undertake this?

Ronny: That is up to the interest and personal status of each individual band.

Black Orpheus: How long has your label been in existence now?  How many signings have you done, and who are they?  What added responsibilities does it entail, and has it been worth it?

Ronny: My first label was with the release of "Subsequent Pleasures" in '84, then later in 1991 I started the X-ULT label which I closed a few years later as I wasn't too happy with it all. ("Metamorphosis") We started the label again with the album Creatures of COX, and the only other band signed so far is Sophya.  In a way nothing has changed for Clan Of Xymox as we always had total control over our albums and artwork, so that is why we just chose for setting up a label as this is a more logical form for the band and it's legal construction. Each signed band will take some time away from what Clan Of Xymox is doing, so I guess we won't sign too many bands unless we feel very , very strongly about it. Also a band might want to be signed directly to a label, without being on a sub-label.

Black Orpheus: Having worked with the majors and indies, what are the differences in how business is conducted between label and band?

Ronny: Majors can throw big budgets at you, spend a small countries annual income on marketing, hire an equivalent to a " NASA technology " equipped studio, sign a band for life if they want to and have no problem kicking you off the label if you do not meet their million /billion selling figures. The contacts between the Major will be through a professional manager as the corporates at the Major label hate to have to deal with amateurs.

The Indie label is most of the time started by a music freak who got frustrated because all his favorite music was not available, most of the time they are idealist, dreamers and good natured people with a big heart for music and a little business sense grows with it in order to keep their head above water. The relationship between band and label is informal and they hate to see a professional manager telling them what is wrong with the marketing campaign ( if any) etc.A lot of networking is conducted through friends and other people who share their same enthusiasm for music.

Black Orpheus: What differences if any, exist between Americans and say their European counter-parts? Would you say "industry" people are pretty much the same the world over, or are there appreciable differences in how one culture relates to the artist versus another?

Ronny: My guess is that the world got a lot smaller and most of the big differences have completely vanished. As always you can only judge people on who they are and what they do and not of where they're from.

Black Orpheus: I can hear the differences between early Clan of Xymox, Xymox, and the return to Clan of Xymox. Your Xymox period was another direction for you, I believe. Do you feel it was an entirely satisfactory one, or was there some dissatisfaction that signaled the return to the familiarity we associate with early Clan of Xymox? Can you elaborate on this?

Ronny: A brief history : I started Xymox in Amsterdam with recording / releasing Subsequent Pleasures on my own label (1984). Of course I wanted to tour , so I asked my at the time girlfriend Anke to play the bass live and sing on one of my tracks of Subsequent Pleasures and later I asked my former roommate Pieter to play live, the keyboards.  Looking back I still have good memories of it's creation. At the time I studied ( media studies) and tried to make some music, but most of the time didn't have a clue what I was doing on the keyboards. It was recorded on a portable 4 track recorder.  Also it was a period when you had to play everything in real time. The whole process taught me a lot about the workings of music in general.  Now
looking back at those tracks I find them pretty chaotic.

The good thing about "Subsequent Pleasures" was that one day when I was promoting the mini-album in Nijmegen I met Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance in a restaurant. They were having dinner at the same table I was sitting and they told me they were the support act of the Cocteau Twins.

After talking for a while they invited me to see the show and asked me to come backstage after the show. There I also met the Cocteau Twins. This was the first real life encounter with 4-AD artists.  I gave Brendan a copy of "Subsequent Pleasures" and we kept in contact.  A few weeks later he asked me if Xymox wanted to do a tour with them in the U.K. Of course we felt honored and accepted the invitation...

Soon Ivo Watts , the label boss of 4-AD offered us a recording contract.  The result was the album Clan of Xymox (1985) and later Medusa (1987).  After "Medusa" and the "Million Things" single, we got sucked into the situation that our new management at the time (Raymond Coffer) took us on board. He was only managing Love and Rockets at the time and we thought it was a good idea to have a manager with not too many acts. He came up with the idea for us to leave 4 AD and sign to a Major label as in 1988 our records were only available in the USA through import, costing our fans double that of domestic released albums. After us, Raymond Coffer signed the Cocteau Twins and persuaded them as well to leave 4 AD. You can well imagine what Ivo (4 AD) thought of it all.  In a year we had the company of other bands like Curve, Ian Mc Cullough (Echo & the Bunnymen) and the Sundays on our management .  It seemed that his main job was to take bands from Independent labels and flog them to Major labels.  Since we were signed to Wing (PolyGram) it seemed everyone in the USA knew us.  Also in Europe they noticed our band was getting in the bigger league. We got a lot of new fans who never heard of 4 AD before. The album "Twist of Shadows" sold over 300.000 copies.  We played a lot of live dates in the USA and hence got ourselves known.  Although we were getting bigger, I never liked  the fact that we got more pressure to "score" some sort of top 40 hit.  I never perceived the band as a commercial vehicle so that's one of the reasons the album "Phoenix" was our last on PolyGram.  I have learned the lesson not to sign with a major label as I think they are not in it for the music, but for the obvious reason to sell a product which has to sell millions in order for them to be interested in it.  It's very impersonal and it operates as a big multinational.  It is frightening to know there are only five major ( maybe even four by now ) labels dominating the whole music industry. That's the reason people should give independent companies their full support.  Every record we make for an independent label (and buy from) is one step forward.  Also I should add that we of course do our own management, also a step forward in being totally independent.  In the beginning of the 90's " Phoenix" period , Xymox was in a real identity crisis.  At the time all sorts of people were telling me in what direction the band should go.  At the time I was living in London and I think the worst thing about London is that it really wants you to be the hippest of the scene. You can't help but get caught up in that musical trap. That's why there is already on "Phoenix" an indication of moving towards a sort of Manchester dance area, which was coming up in the UK in the early 90's.  Even The Cure got caught with their "Mixed Up" album then.   A lot of people left the Gothic scene and started making Techno.  "Metamorphosis" and "Headclouds" are just a follow up on that general mood everyone was in.On "Headclouds" Xymox tried to combine dance grooves with melancholic sounds plus dark vocals.  It was part of an experiment of which we have now steered clear of.  Personally, I find it always interesting if a band tries something different for a change as it is easy to repeat your same sound over and over until people are sick of it.  Not too many people appreciate a band changing or trying something different (see Depeche Mode, Front 242).  After "Headclouds," I moved back to Amsterdam and had a short break from making music and regained my interest by meeting different people, going to Industrial / Gothic parties and basically re-discovered myself again.  In a way I felt like I came full circle again.  With the album "Hidden Faces" Clan of Xymox had returned to the right path, getting a lot of attention, rave reviews and indie chart results in the underground scene and after recording of Hidden Faces a different period for me set in, we started playing live a lot and I got more and more aware in which direction I wanted to go and felt most comfortable with.  The album "Creatures" was written in between one and a half year of touring and the writing process was different than the others as each time something occurred or caught my attention,I translated this almost directly into music, that's why it sounds like the most homogenous album recorded by Clan of Xymox ever and as far as I can see also the darkest one to date.You can simply say this was my reflection and inner mood after the release of " Hidden Faces."  From writing the first track I already knew and felt the direction of "Creatures", the running order on "Creatures" is nearly a chronological running order of the way the music was written and all tracks I wrote are used for this album.  The new album had again met with  rave reviews and numerous articles in prestigious music magazines around the globe with several high positions on the alternative charts peaking at DAC number 4 for several weeks.  In the Orkus issue of May 1999 in Germany COX was hailed as , band, act and tour of the month in May ,and the album "Creatures" album of the month with a review placing number 1 of their charts and number 2 in Soundcheck of Sonic Seducer/Zillo.

As you know Clan of Xymox always delivered an album with a hybrid combination between keyboards and guitars, only the overall atmosphere this time is much darker than the previous releases.  As far as I can see this is the line I will follow for the future as I feel this suits me the best and feel the most comfortable with; the dark side of Clan of Xymox!  Still I feel all the described above had to happen in order to get where I am now and to feel what I feel now, there is no action without a cause for action, so therefore I am glad to have experienced all the facets in our musical history.

Black Orpheus: I thought I'd read somewhere about your music being used to score a Dutch documentary about natural disasters of all things?  How did that transpire?

Ronny: We just heard that to our surprise whilst watching it. TV programs have their own programmers who pick the music they like to put underneath the images.

Black Orpheus: What tracks were chosen to illustrate which particular disasters?

Ronny: The intro of Stranger.   Also Stranger was used in the "Hitchhiker" episode, but also other material was used for all sorts of different footage's over the years.

Black Orpheus: I know there is a lot of opportunity for certain bands to score movies these days.  Have there been any other offers? Is there any interest in this for you?

Ronny: I am sure Metropolis being in the USA will concentrate on that, and when we can deliver a track for a good movie I would be very happy about that.

Black Orpheus: Do you keep abreast of the projects of former members of the band?

Ronny: No, I do not keep contact with any of the former members. They just carry on with their lives, I suppose and have no aspirations in the music world. People come and go in my life and they were part of my life for a short or longer period, but I am not asking about your old friends from 10 years ago, how much do you still see of them, or know what they are doing?
Just to indicate that a band also just reflects life and that just because they played in Clan Of Xymox does not mean that we should keep contact for life.

Black Orpheus: What top five bands, and albums would you deem the most influential - inspirational in
the course of your career and for what reasons?  Who are you listening to currently?

Ronny: Changes all the time, it really depends on my mood.  In general my whole CD collection is /was / must be / influential on me in some way or the other. I listen to most releases sent to me by the record labels, however I will go out and buy Placebo's new album tomorrow.  I am very curious as I liked their previous ones.  Still spinning today is Morthem Vlade Art's
both albums (which is a French band signed only in Europe by Pandaimonium), and Exovedate.  Of course the Metropolis releases are getting played on a regular basis, especially Wumpscut and Love Is Colder Than Death!  German Compilation records I also enjoy, so I keep up to date with most German releases.

Black Orpheus: I thought I remember reading in an interview that you'd said you didn't look favorably upon remixes.  I couldn't help but notice that the release of "Liberty" included a Greg Rule remix of "Liberty".  Has your position on remixes softened
since that interview?

Ronny: Well, you have to see it from my point of view I guess, the release I make is the one I am 100% satisfied with ( otherwise , what is the point) anyway, I am open to interpretations of the original track and than make it in something totally different track, which is to me interesting as well. So Greg made a total different track out of the original one and I think that will add to the single.  I guess in the immediate future I will ask some artist to do some remixes, the only problem is sometimes that the programs have to be compatible with each other and that they have to work on a MAC!

Black Orpheus: You've been at your craft for fifteen years or so now.  Has the band achieved the goals you set for it?  What remains for Clan of Xymox in the future?

Ronny: Luckily I have never set any goals.  I just do what I do and that's my only goal in life; keep on making music.

Black Orpheus: In conclusion on behalf of StarVox.Net I'd like to thank the band for it's time, and candor today. I wish you continued success with these new releases, and into the future. I'd like to extend a very special thanks to Metropolis Records as well.  I encourage all of my readers to have a go at these fresh new releases.

Clan of Xymox