zaterdag 25 juni 2016

Psy'Aviah: continuing with albums with guest singers was a natural evolution for me

Psy’Aviah has released a new album, the seventh already: ‘Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars’. It is the second album - after 'The Xenogamous Endeavour' - since the project took a new twist and appealed to guest singers on CDs, and it appears to be a success once more. Soon, the group will also be back on stage. We went to ask out masterbrain Yves Schelpe about what has happened in recent years.

Hi Yves. You just released ‘Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars’, which gets great reviews, just like its predecessor ‘The Xenogamous Endeavour’. Are you satisfied?

Very satisfied, especially because, after ‘The Xenogamous Endeavour’, I was suffering from a writer's block. So I tinkered a lot and searched for what I wanted to do, what I wanted to write. I'm so glad the songs, as well as the choice to work with guest vocalists are appreciated.

‘Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars’, it sounds almost biblical... Can you say something more about the title?

It is twofold, firstly because this is the seventh studio album, and secondly because life is a bit the same, 50/50 good and bad. I also wanted a reference to the inspiration for this album, the film ‘Interstellar’ (especially on the track ‘Alcubierre Drive’). All this is contained in the title of the album.

Now we're at it, the meaning behind 'The Xenogamous Endeavour' intrigues me even more ...

‘The Xenogamous Endeavour’ was the first full album with a new twist for Psy’Aviah. All the songs had a focus on guest singers instead of one permanent singer. The title is a reference to that ‘attempt’ or ‘challenge’ (endeavor). ‘Xenogamous’ itself means cross-fertilization, the cooperation with all sorts of vocalists and crossing different elements from many genres - something that most people already associate with Psy’Aviah.

Previously, Emélie Nicolaï was the regular singer. The inevitable question: what happened that caused the split with Emélie Nicolaï?

Let us briefly say that there was a discrepancy between the bet, or call it motivation, to further expand the Psy’Aviah project. I wanted to try more, experiment and write more songs and demos. I do not blame others if there is not the same interest or input, but ultimately it is simply a logical choice for a project to survive when you find that the input is not balanced.

Was it an obvious choice to move on and rely on guest singers?

It kind of was, as guest singers were already present on every album. It's something I always did and that I like to do, because it's gives you the opportunity to find the perfect match for each song. So continuing with albums with guest singers was a natural evolution for me, and gave me the freedom to also experiment more in the writing of lyrics and vocals. In that sense, the cooperation is virtually the same as before. I write demos, lyrics and vocals - some guests do write their own lyrics and vocals - and send it, as in the period prior to this new concept.

On ‘Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars’, there are a lot of male singers, while only female singers participated on ‘The Xenogamous Endeavour’. Why?

I was used to work with a woman's voice, so on ‘The Xenogamous Endeavour’, I continued in that direction. But for ‘Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars’, I wanted to use male voices, which often can give a totally different character to a song or story. It also fits perfectly into the story of the new album. And, as always, I wanted to try new things... It's a miracle that some fans still can follow.

Psy’Aviah is known for its many elaborated video clips that you make for the songs. This must be a considerable investment of money and time. Why do you attach so much importance to the clips?

The majority of the videos are own productions, so we usually can save on the budget. But it is certainly very time-consuming. I think a video is important because it can give an extra atmosphere to a song, or even an extra dimension to the story of the lyrics. Furthermore, I think it is always much nicer to see a moving image then a static picture on with the music underneath on YouTube... The value of YouTube is to make motion picture, right?

We now count ten Psy’Aviah releases, if we also include EPs and singles. How do you feel when you look back at it?

Really fine. I never expected that I would ever do those things when I started as a 16 year old boy. It doesn’t amount to so much in ‘the grand scheme of things’ - but the feedback from fans on some songs, the personal stories… They are so nice to look back on. Furthermore, I certainly never expected that after I was busted from the music school by my teacher... Never give up, I'd say.

The sound of Psy’Aviah has become less aggressive over the years. Do you mind if I say that Psy’Aviah has evolved from dance to listening music?

I certainly do not mind. It 's not about making loud music, but about telling a story. Some songs need a harder sound; others need a more synth pop and trip-hop feeling. I always try to add a dark atmosphere in there. A song like ‘Frozen’ might not be the hardest track, but it does have an acid bass line. ‘Not What I Expected’ is not the most aggressive track either, but it does have the edgy feeling with lyrics that stand for something. We’ve actually never done an album full of very hard hitting electro, but it's true that we are exploring more genres like trip-hop, synthpop or ambient. However, each album has its harder songs such as ‘Deliverance’, ‘Wild Ride’, ‘Before I Die’, ‘Not What I Expected’ et cetera... So I can definitely find myself in your comment - but I certainly do not mind. It's an evolution, and that is something Psy’Aviah has always stood for: ‘Open-Minded Electronic Music With Heart & Soul’.

You will be playing live again soon, for the first time since you played with Praga Khan in January 2013. Your first appearance new style will be on the next Dark Entries Night, on September 9 in Kinky Star in Ghent. Did you miss the stage?

I certainly missed the stage. After two albums - and in a sense also the ‘Future Past’ EP - I thought it was time to release the new songs live, especially since the last two albums were very well received, both inside and outside the scene. Several people had already asked if we could perform live, but I had to puzzle to see how to do this, since each song was recorded in the studio with another singer. So it was searching for the perfect singer for this.

Was it difficult to find a new live band?

In terms of guitar player I had already a strong man: Ben Van de Cruys. He knows his stuff and gives the songs an extra dimension live. That was not a problem. For the vocals, it was a quest! I encountered many different singers, who were all very good at their thing, but just were not all-round enough. I then gathered my courage and asked Marieke Lightband - known from KOALA, Talent winner of the Low Countries, experienced with numerous appearances at home and abroad - to see if she would want to sing the varied Psy’Aviah genre... and she did! A long search, but quality always comes first, both in the studio and live. Ben knows exactly how to fill things with his guitar work and Marieke has a nice timbre and a vocal range that can handle all the songs I have made in the studio. This means that we give the songs a pretty surprising twist live. The first rehearsals run smoothly, and we are really looking forward to it! See you there!

Psy'Aviah: website / facebook

Dark Entries Night XV met Psy'Aviah en Karl Hefner & Hugh Lagerfeld

zondag 19 juni 2016

Lupi Gladius: We can say that we’re living the “death of Europe” and there is nothing that we can do.

Fabio Vitelli asked me if I was interested to do a review for his latest single by his project Lupi Gladius. We already knew him from his band Hidden Place, but Lupi Gladius makes dark folk music in the style of old Ordo Equilibrio, so it was obvious I was interested! So interested that after hearing those two songs, I felt the urge to give Lupi Gladius a forum to talk about themselves. 

DE: Can you introduce Lupi Gladius to our readers?
LG: Lupi Gladius has born in 2002 in a small town  from the south  of Italy called Pisticci.Our passion and love with some kind music atmospheres together with our love for art,(literaure, history etc.) nature let starts everything.Then there were not so many bands in neofolk scene.It was really a music for few,yes, as now, but not like 14 years ago.Remembering well it was more underground than now and we have from that time really nice memories , from music to our time spent together.

DE: You and Sara are related, brother-sister?
LG: Fabio and Sara are brother-sister.This is an interesting question because many get confused of it ☺

DE: Can I say Lupi Gladius is a sideproject of Hidden Place, or do we have to see both bands as two different entities?
LG:They’re two different projects but they’re just one entity also because we’re the same members,except the male singer.Obviously both projects make different kind of music,one neofolk, another one new wave. We think that in Hidden Place you can notice Lupi Gladius influences as in Lupi Gladius you notice Hidden Place influences although they ‘re two different bands

DE: While Hidden Place is a darkwave/synth based bands, Lupi Gladius chooses the path of dark folk/martial. In which outfit you feel yourself the most comfortable?
LG: We feel comfortable in both outfits. They’re different but at  the end you feel the same approach to music.It happens sometimes,when we finish to write a song we ask ourselves: “Do you think this song is for Lupi Gladius or Hidden Place?”.So we decide with which project fits better that song .As composition is in a way the same outfit, as arrangements is of course different.

DE: You started Lupi Gladius in 2002, but it took ‘til 2013 before the first cd was published, why so long?
LG:Yes, true.In 2003 we stopped with Lupi Gladius til 2013.This because we spent all our time with Hidden Place.We dont why this ,but it has happened.Maybe we could have published more Lupi Gladius albums but we dont know if we would be satisfied for it.We think that it’s not needed to make many albums otherwise you risk to be repetitive and ,in our opinion, unsatisfied except if you are a “pioneer”of scene like Death in June or Current 93 or Sol Invictus, or you are able to make an album different from the previous one giving something new.Making many albums similar  is quite quite annoying.We focus on quality and variety and not on quantity  and repetitveness of songs.At least we try!Thankfully there are also bands that fit with our opinion.

DE: In the past the members of Lupi Gladius did a guest performance on La Mia Piccola Guerra of Egida Aurea, was that because you were already friends, or how this that collaboration took place?
LG: We have been glad to take part of “La Mia Piccola Guerra” as guests and this happened because of beeing friend with Diego Banchero.It has been a nice experience !

DE: On Lucania, Lupi Gladius’ first album, Spreu & Weizen and Waffenruhe did a remix, two fantastic bands in my opinion. Imagine you have carte blanche, which artist(s) would you love to work with?
LG:We would like to work with Death in June (including old members) and, as well ,with David Tibet.We think they’re fathers of our music scene.We would love to have Douglas P or D.Tibet with their vocals ☺

DE: Is De Sideribus the harbinger of a new album, are you working on it, and if so, can you tell us more about it? When will it be released, and is it on a label, or just as the single self-released?
LG:For now there is not album planned but you never know,things can change and we could release it.We’ll see.

DE: We all know Italy had some of the best bands to offer, especially in the dark folk scene, which automatically brings high expectations to listeners when they know a band is from Italy. Do you see that as an encouragement or more as a restriction?
LG:We are happy to hear that italian bands are followed abroad.We think that in Italy there are many interesting bands and ,as italians,we are so glad for it.The thing we like about italian scene is that every band gives something of itself and ,because of it ,bands are different eachother and so good .It’s hard to find here bands doppelganger

DE: When push comes to shove, what are your favourite albums in the dark folk/martial genre?
LG:There are different albums that we love like “Nada”, “But What ends when the symbols shatter?”, “Rose Clouds of holocaust”of Death In June,” Trees in winter”,”Lex Talions of Sol Invictus”,”Thunder perfect Mind”,” Island” of Current 93.We are quite sure we would say more  other albums of bands mentioned.

DE: In dark folk and martial there will always be the endless discussion about politics. I see music and politics and two different matters, but apart from that, what’s your look at Europa of today, and the world in general?
LG:The european situation is sadly bad and in the way how it goes, let us think that it will be always more worse.Yes this our opinion seems so negative but it is like that.

We can say that we’re living the “death of Europe” and there is nothing that we can do.We ‘re hearing just  nice promises and words but we dont see any facts.

DE: Are there plans to perform live with Lupi Gladius, and if so, where and when can we see you guys play?
LG:Like for a new album we will see also if we will perform live.Just need wait for a bit and see how things evolve.

(Dimi Brands)

Lupi Gladius

dinsdag 14 juni 2016

The Arch: We have no control over our inspiration and the anarchy of our imagination.

The Arch has recently released ‘Fates’, an album that should resonate for a long time. The band is thirty years old and continues to play live and compose new songs. We wondered how a band could keep playing for so long, and went to them with our list of questions.

You now exist for 30 years, and you still have three original members on board. How is it possible that the Arch has endured for so long?

We suppose it's because we're friends. We really like to meet each other, to be together in our rehearsal space. If we don’t make progress on an evening, we still had a cozy and relaxed time together. We have had a number of ex-members who have stopped, but we can still call them friends, all of them.

How did The Arch start 30 years ago?

Several members knew each other, but played in different bands. One evening in 1985, we were together to jam and ‘Revenge Revival’ was the result. Another song from that memorable jam was ‘Gaga à Gogo’, but that number has completely disappeared in the mists of the past. Anyway, ‘Revenge Revival’ was the trigger to move forward together.

Your first EP ‘As Quiet As’ was an instant success. Songs like ‘Revenge Revival’ and especially ‘Babsi ist Tod’ still haunt you. How do you feel when you hear all those references to work that appeared 30 years ago?

The first record is very important for every band. It is the embryo of the future career. For early fans, the impression lingers longer. But there's more. The big advantage of this first record was that our songs were very simple, one guitar and one sequence. After that, we were less easily satisfied. Songs became more complex: an additional sequence here and an extra guitar there…. Before you know it, you are working too hard on a song, actually ruining it. With music, more than anywhere else, 'more is less' is an important motto. Regarding this point, we had a lot of discussion within the band. While working on a release, we need to take distance from the fact that we listen to that song a hundred times, and may be tired of it. We must always consider an issue from the viewpoint of someone who hears it for the first time, for the first listening is the most important.

You have worked with Ludo Camberlin for many years, the man who produced many important Belgian bands besides his own Poësie Noire. Few people remember that, but the early 90s you, The Neon Judgement and him formed the ‘Louvain-rave-on’ scene. The intention was - if I understood it correctly - to grow more to the dance scene. How do you look back at that?

Musically, we have no plan. We jam together and we don’t know in advance what will come out of it. We have no control over our inspiration and the anarchy of our imagination. We are rather the followers of it, or even the slaves. The people who are kind enough to listen to our work, will label in one way or the other, perhaps leaning towards the dance scene. We have no choice but to accept that judgment.

I was struck by something as I scrolled through your discography: ‘In Sofa’ from 1997 is quite hidden away. It is impossible to listen to songs from this CD. Why is that?

‘In Sofa’ was a disaster in the sense that we mandated the mastering to our former record company. But they just laughed at it: no mastering, everything right on CD, so the sound is flat and quiet. We should let those songs be mastered again by Kenny KGB.

Actually, ‘Fates’ was produced by Kenny KGB of Simi Nah. The CD also appeared on Simi Nah’s Why2K label. How did the collaboration come about?

We were looking for someone new to mix us live. CUVG, Pieter and Ivan knew Kenny. And he went on tour with us. He did the mixing so well that we asked him to also mix and master ‘Fates’. He did so with such skills that we can say that his contribution to ‘Fates’ is essential. No ‘Fates’ without Kenny.

‘Fates’ goes further in the direction you turned to with ‘Engine in Void’. You use more variety, more atmospheric songs, trip-hop influences, background vocals by Chiffon's Tale ... Do you feel that you opened a new chapter in the work of the Arch? 

If a band is presenting a new album with thirteen unprecedented numbers, it's always a new step. That will also be the case with the next album, on which we are already working. In addition, if people as Chiffon’s Tale and Kenny KGB come in, you automatically go in unprecedented directions in comparison to the past. A new chapter, as it is called.

You all have a family and a job. Yet I notice that you are playing regularly in all corners of Europe. How do you manage that?

That is a very puzzling: higher mathematics. Peter, Ivan and CUVG are independent and can take their leave when they choose to. Ian has a crazy job as a forester and can also freely choose his leave.

You spend a lot of attention to the lyrics. These cannot be empty talking, as you once declared in an interview. It is noteworthy that Ian Lambert - who takes care of keys and programming - provides a lot of the lyrics, but also some outsiders work for you. How do you set the standard for a text?

We try to put something in it which will make the listeners think, whether or not with a specific reflection on their own lives. We have always enjoyed working with texts by ‘outsiders’, in so far as that term is valid. As long as they have something fascinating or intriguing as message.

You already had songs with German titles - ‘Babsi ist Tod’ and ‘Die rote Kapelle’ - but with ‘Immerzu’, you also have your first song sang in German.

This text is actually a poem written by a girl who is shrouded in mystery: Pia. Only Ivan knows her, the rest of the group would like to meet her sometimes and learn to know her. But she remains conspicuously absent and invisible. Her poem fitted well on a blues jam that we were working on, and so ‘Immerzu’ arose.

You wanted the new album be your masterpiece. At least you said so in an interview from 2013. I think you succeeded. What do you think about it?

It's up to the fans to decide, but we are very satisfied. We have borne thirteen children, who can now live their own lives. We'll see what becomes of them. We now begin creating the following children ...

Pictures: Xavier Marquis (BIMfest 2015)

The Arch: facebook / website

donderdag 9 juni 2016

The Arch: Fates

It's actually surprising how long The Arch are already active. They were formed in 1986. Thus, they are now celebrating their 30th anniversary. That deserves something special, and this new ‘Fates’ album is just perfect as a birthday gift.

The perseverance of the group - 30 years is a very respectable age - and songs like ‘Babsi ist Tod’ - the most famous song of a band so often comes from their very first release - and ‘Ribdancer’ - released in the successful decade change of 80s to 90s - have put them on the map. Not only in Belgium, for The Arch plays throughout Europe and is very popular in for instance Spain and Germany.

Although the sound of The Arch has obviously evolved during these 30 years, there is a clear common thread in their music: the combination of danceable beats and harsch guitars. They are not the only group using this combination, but they certainly have a very recognizable style.

The Arch obviously have tried to broaden their sound in recent years. That was certainly the case on predecessor ‘Engine in Void’ and to a lesser extent to the more danceable ‘Beating The balance’ EP. ‘Fates’ is it just the superlative of the efforts to do so.

Opener ‘Lady Gasoline’ is quite poppy and could even be played on commercial radio, though I have realistic expectations about the prospects in this respect. ‘Robot Sapiens’ should directly appeal to your dance muscles. The title track combines industrial rhythms with melodic guitars, while ‘Spear of Destiny’ may well appeal to the goth rockers. It goes without saying that the lyrics are full of literary and historical references. Ronny Moorings sings on ‘Monsters & I’, and it should not come as a surprise that Clan of Xymox lures behind the corner here.

The second half of the disc is more experimental. The rhythm slows down on ‘Immerzu’, a ballad in ¾ sung in German. ‘One By One’ sounds nothing like The Arch with its bluesy rock, but ‘Brain Duck’ somehow restores the classical sound. ‘Empty Garden’ sounds like an atmospheric dance number, while ‘Deaf and Blind’ does sound a little psychedelic. ‘Frozen Jungle’ does what a closing song should. It is a slow and claustrophobic song with several voices and an extraordinary build-up, breathtakingly beautiful.

I think I can say that ‘Fates’ is the most varied The Arch record in history. That does not come at the expense of quality, rest assured. Rather on the contrary. It is actually their best record ever.

Xavier Kruth 

The Arch: facebook / website