In recent times, the name Josie Pace has been popping up in our social media news feed and suggested YouTube watching. She is the epitome of a punk riot girl, looking to knock you on your arse with her no nonsense, industrial rock music and style. Pace, after a raft of singles, has signed to Negative Gain Records, released her debut album, IV0X10V5 and is about to go on tour with Aesthetic Perfection and GENCAB, so there is no better time to talk to Josie about what has lead up to this point.

Josie Pace, welcome to the Onyx Thunderdome, where alt music reigns supreme.

You are from Detroit City, home of Motown Records and Alice Cooper but to name a few musical wonders that have sprung from there. Did this have a huge influence on you throughout your childhood?

Detroit sound has definitely influenced me throughout my entire musical journey. Glenn Frey in The Eagles was a huge writing influence on me. Growing up listening to them shaped the way that I structure my songs. A lot of Motown, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, influenced me very young as well. I remember my entire family jamming in the car to “Superstitious” by Stevie Wonder when I was maybe 7. Small moments like that really solidified my desire to be an artist. Another Detroit band that has influenced me quite a bit is Jack White continues to create fresh, unique, and meaningful music. He has even influenced a lot of my newer songs as well.

What is the alt rock/darkwave scene like in Detroit?

The dark wave scene, while still a bit of an underground genre, is small but strong. I feel we are very dedicated here in Detroit and we all know how hard it is to get to the next level, so we help each other in any way that we can.

Josie, you posted a video on YouTube, which was seen by Musician/producer Ken Roberts and since then you have forged a musical partnership with him. What is it like working with Ken and how do you complement each other?

Working with Ken really took off from the beginning. He has been in a few successful bands in the past and I trust him with situations that I am unsure of because of his experience in the music industry. We became very close friends and I can now practically read his mind! We always bounce ideas around and work together to create new music that really pushes the boundaries of not just the genre we are in but pushes the boundaries of art itself.

Do you find he pushes you to delve further into your craft?

I’d say he definitely thinks much higher of myself than I do. Even though staying humble is important, it is also important to give yourself credit where credit is due. Ken believes whole heartedly in my abilities whether it be writing, playing guitar, performing live or shooting photos and music videos.

There have been a number of singles released before the album and 8 of them are on your debut album “IV0X10V5”. Your original tracks seem more synthpop based and become increasingly brash and abrasive, embracing a punk attitude. Do you feel this is true for yourself?

When first working with Ken, we decided that releasing singles and a music video every few months was the best way to gain momentum in the industry. It took a few years to really dive deep into the genre and to try new things and create songs that pushed the envelope. While I love all of the songs, when we decided that it was time for a full length album, I knew that not all of the singles would make the cut. I’ve grown a lot in my art and in myself throughout the years and I wanted the album to be something that was true to my journey. I dove deeper into my writing and pushed myself lyrically. I feel like the album is a more mature reflection of myself. It has a clear sound and each song resonates with me on a personal level.

Two singles were recorded with Sammi Doll, “Perfect Replacement” and the cover of the iconic Placebo track “Pure Morning”. You both sound like you bounce off each other brilliantly, so how did you end up recording with Sammi?

Ken and I are big fans of IAMX and decided, while working on “Perfect Replacement”, that it would be great to collaborate with someone new. We simply sent her an email. Honestly, a lot of the collaborations and the cool things I get to do, were just because we asked. Sammi sent an email back and was ecstatic about collaborating. After meeting up with her and recording the song and music video, we all became good friends. So when we started work on the Placebo track “Pure Morning”, we called her up again. It seemed like a perfect fit and the message of the song, female friendship, really manifested in the music video (especially the bloopers!). Sammi is an amazing friend and such powerhouse and she is so much fun to work with.

Negative Gain is a well-respected label in the industrial scene. How exciting was it to be signed and releasing your debut album with them?

I was extremely excited to be signed with Negative Gain. Being signed to a label was one of my life long goals. After a few Zoom calls with Roger and Micah about possibly working with them, the family oriented approach to their label was something that really stuck with me. I will divulge that when they had agreed to sign us, I was teary eyed. All of the hard work was coming to fruition and it was a big deal for me. I love working with them and we all push each other to our fullest potential.

For me, I got the feeling, the overall theme of surviving against the odds. What does the album mean to you?

I feel like the album, to me, really encapsulates throwing out your doubts and growing from past mistakes, definitely surviving against the odds like you mentioned. It was only after I had finished the album that I noticed a theme, but I feel like that gives it it’s authenticity. I write as a form of therapy so it only makes sense that the years I have been working and trying to push forward in the music industry, came out in my songs.

Which track would you say is your favourite or best represents Josie Pace?

Man, the track that most represents myself? All of the tracks have pieces of me nestled into them. But I’d say the most raw of them that really captured how my head and my emotions take form is “Vicious”. After the sudden and tragic loss of my close friend, Alyse, I wrote everything that was in my head. Every night that I stayed up crying, I wrote to express my grief and my sadness, my emptiness and my confusion, my anger and my acknowledgment that she was taken too soon, too young, too violently. “Vicious” although it shows how much she means to me, it also shows my vulnerability. I was reluctant to release it or to even record it at all. Not only because it was physically hard for me to get through without choking up, but also because it shows a side of myself that is raw and hard to manage at times. “Vicious” is quite literally my emotions through a very hard time in my life.

What music was the gateway drug into the industrial rock scene?

I’ve always been into rock, no matter what kind of sub genre. I listen to everything and anything that feels authentic and stirs emotion. The Industrial Rock genre really catches my interest especially approaching it the way that we do. Creating a heavy electronic based sound from songs written on acoustic guitar is a challenge and it also creates a strong song no matter what genre you change it into. Industrial is very messy and heavy but it is also purposive and precise.

Who do you listen to now that gets your blood pumping?

Recently I have found myself listening to Alice in Chains. His voice was so iconic and the song structure is so different. I can really learn a lot from their songs. Other than that I am listening to my own album to prepare for my first North American tour with Aesthetic Perfection and GenCAB. If I don’t get excited listening to my own
music I’m doing something wrong.

Did you miss performing live during the depths of the plague
(Covid)?

Without a doubt. During covid we obviously all had a moment (or ten) of uncertainty and fearfulness of what the future holds. I remember at the beginning of 2020, I hadn’t gone to the studio for at least two months. I remember just siting in my writing room and kind of realizing that the future was so unknown that I had a bit of a breakdown. Obviously, after picking myself back up, I decided to hit it harder and I recorded the rest of my first album “IV0X10V5” and we filmed 6 music videos. Even while doing all of that I missed performing live. The human aspect of performing live can’t be matched, I love getting to meet new fans and feeling the energy of the crowd. It is my favorite part of the artistic process.

Can you tell us about the live shows you are now involved in?

I am absolutely ECSTATIC to announce that I will be joining Aesthetic Perfection and label mate, Gen CAB, for the American Psyco Tour starting in October! We are playing 40 dates throughout the US and Canada. This is my first tour and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

If you could pick one Michigan musician (dead or alive) to record with, who would that be?

I would have to pick Jack White. He has done so much throughout his career and he has constantly pushed the envelope and broken boundaries of genres while keeping a very dirty Detroit feel.

What is in the future for Josie Pace?

While I am preparing for my upcoming tour, I am also working on an EP with new music videos as well. Obviously another full length album is on the way in the future as well. I am hoping to jump the pond when it comes to playing live. Getting to Europe would be a dream.

Thanks for rocking with us Josie!

IV0X10V5 | Josie Pace (bandcamp.com)

JOSIE PACE | OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Josie Pace | Facebook

Negative Gain – Obey the Noise

Negative Gain | Facebook

Melbourne’s Roles, are about to release their debut album, There’s A Space, as of the 1st of September. In the lead up, they had a sign up induction and people were able to access the tracks for free, with exclusive content including videos for five days. Louise Love and Luis Gutierrez make up this lovely duo, and their style is abrasive guitar, married to 80s styled synths and Love’s sweet vocals, that creates a post-punk/art rock explosion. We wanted to know what makes Roles tick, so of course we asked them.


Dear Lou and Luis of the band Roles, welcome to the up side of down and reverse is yet another way to continue on a journey.

Hey Adele! Thank you for interviewing us. Lou here, I am going to answer these questions in first person on behalf of Roles.

How did Roles come into being?

My previous music project was a solo electronic pop-thing called Louise Love. I put this on ice in 2016. Looking back, I can see how personal demons played into this. Pursuing music is a tough road even in the best circumstances. I kept trying to push through, but I burnt myself out with all the trying.

After a while, I needed to be creative again. At first, I told myself I was developing an art-project, not another music thing. But it ended-up becoming a bunch of songs.

Coming from Melbourne, what musical projects were you involved in before Roles?

Luis is originally from Caracas and we met in my home town of Fremantle. We have been in Melbourne for about 7 years, before that we were in Hobart for a while. Louise Love (solo) performed in Melbourne from 2015 to 2016. The act also played in Hobart from 2013. Roles is the first music project for Luis. He did however do visual artwork for Louise Love.

Back in WA, I did all kinds of different original music projects. I started singing in a punk band during my last year of high school and kept going from there. I was never really punk. I used to hang around with a group of punks and goths at high school, but I didn’t know how I fitted in with them. It was the same with music. I spent longer than most trying to find my own voice in my song-writing. It wasn’t until I started electronic music production, that I started to feel even close.

Melbourne is a pretty cosmopolitan place and was hit hard by the Covid lockdowns, this especially so for the entertainment industry. What was this like for you both?

Not being able to play or go to gigs sucked. We are yet to make a profit from music, so we weren’t affected like people who make a living from the Arts. Melbourne has the best live music scene in the country, It was really tough on the venues and they are still trying to recover.

Apart from that, we were fine. Luis was able to keep working from home and he was allowed to go see his horse, so he got through it okay. I got job keeper, which was a welcomed paid staycation. I feel sadness that other people suffered and that lives were lost, but I was lucky and made the most of the experience. Having the world slow down, gave the time I needed to work out a lot of my personal shit.

What is the premise behind the name Roles?

We all play different roles in life. It’s good to be aware of that. It’s also a good practice to ask who or what it is that is playing those roles.

Also, the song writing method means that each song is telling someone’s story, so we are playing that role for a few minutes.

Most of your music is based on audio recordings of interviews and conversations. What is it about this style of medium that inspires you?

Every song lyric (so far) has been created from audio transcribed into text. This is cut-up and whittled down into simple lyrics. Each lyric aims to maintain the original meaning and/or story of the speaker.

This was somewhat inspired by PJ Harvey’s work on ‘Let England Shake’ which explores English history and war-time experiences. I loved the idea of not writing about your own personal experiences. It opens up creative possibilities and can evolve your worldview in the process. This approach also harks back to more traditional song writing; as it was used to convey shared stories and teachings.

Who is the main writer or is it a shared exercise?

I write and arrange the songs, but Luis is a big part of Roles.

Luis is a production consultant on each song, nothing gets to the final stage without his approval. He just gets the sound and I trust his judgement on the music more than anyone else. While I often get cranky when he criticises something, I usually end up agreeing with him and fixing it. He has a good ear and very refined taste.

He is a talented visual artist and contributes to Roles in that way. He also created the VolcaFM synth programs I used for the final arrangements. Learning to play the live synth parts was his first experience as a musician and at performing in front of people. He’s really committed to the project.   

I noted that Luis’ playing style reminded me very much of Gary Numan…. does Luis have a small crush on the Numan?

We like Gary Numan, especially his early solo work! Was never a deliberate influence, but we are very happy to sound like him.

How would you describe Roles musical sound?

We describe the sound as post-punk and post-pop. Neither of us are very good musicians, but the song structure is strong. Our minimal approach to the arrangements helps to keep all our earnestness in check.

There’s A Space is the debut album. How excited are you both to get this out into the world?

Very excited. But we are also looking forward to finishing this process so we can focus on the second album release. The songs on the ‘There’s A Space’ are old to us now, but we have to remember that most people haven’t heard them yet. Maybe we should have pretended we just wrote them!

How long did you take in the creation and did covid play a part in this?

The album took about a year to write. But it was about two years until it was recorded, mixed and mastered.

The album was ready at the end of 2019 and scheduled for release in 2020; but life had other plans. Before we strayed from our original release schedule, we did drop a couple of singles from the album. The first of these was Empty Room. That single launch was the last gig we played before lockdowns swept in.

Do you have a favourite child off the album and if so, why?

For Luis it’s a draw between She Was No Acid Head and If I Meditate Enough.

I honestly don’t have a favourite. Sometimes when I’m playing one of the songs from the album, I’ll suddenly hear or understand it in a new way and I’ll fall in love with it all over again.

My favourite song is always the song I’ve just written. So right now, it’s something from the second album. 

For you guys, it is fairly obvious that art is just as important as the music as exemplified by your special pre release Roleout. Why is this and what was it like doing the prerelease?

We wanted to give the album opportunity to connect with people before launching it into the void. We made a 5 day experience of bonus material. Those who signed-up got 5 daily emails linking them to a hidden webpage, which revolved around two songs from the album. Each song came with audio, a music video, a vlog and graphics. There was other art and behind-the -scenes video. It was in the theme of an online ‘retreat’.

It was an ambitious attempt at marketing the album in a different way. We thought we might reach more people by offering them an experience rather than just the album. The modest number of loyal fans who actually viewed the webpages, really seemed to enjoy it.

It was a huge amount of work making all the videos and art, but the pandemic gave us lots of time. Putting the webpages and tech stack together also took a while. We don’t regret doing it and can probably use the videos and art in other ways. We also developed a lot of new skills and confidence which we can take with us.

How have you incorporated your art into the music?

Roles began as an art-project. I brain stormed and researched the themes I wanted to explore, which led me to the audio recordings idea. I eventually realised I wanted to write songs again, but I wanted to do it as an art-project.

I decided to use pre-defined artistic constraints as a way to open up my creativity. It sounds counter intuitive, but it works! Only using transcribed audio for lyrics was one constraint. I then made ten song sketches, using only bass, kick and vocals. For the final songs arrangements, I chose a limited number of instruments/sound and stuck to those.

Both of us also do a lot of video art for Roles. And as I mentioned, Luis does lots of visual art for the project. 

Roles is playing live to support the release of the album. How much fun is it to get back to live performance?

We are very happy to be playing live again! We did do a lot of livestreams during lockdown, which kept the flame alive, but it’s not the same. We also love going to gigs as punters, it’s great to be back out at our favourite live music venues.

This is the obligatory, what music or bands got you into the scene?

If we ever get let into a scene we’ll let you know!

But this is more likely a question about our influences. I’m really bad at this stuff. I’ll try, but It’s hard to narrow it down:
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Total Control, Sleaford Mods, New Order, Leonard Cohen, Radio Head, Chicks on Speed, Björk, Brian Eno, The Cure, CC Dust, Talking Heads, Anne Clark, PJ Harvey, YACHT, LCD Soundsystem, Bush Tetras, Peaches, Sonic Youth, Adult, Fleetwood Mac, Erase Errata, The Native Cats, Chook Race…I could go on, but I think that’s enough.   

Who do you listen to now?

We are really into the local scene at the moment, getting out to watch gigs. So lately, it’s been acts such as Plaster of Paris, Miles Brown, The Techno Biddies, Party Pest, Hot Dog, V, Astral Skulls … tonight I’m going to the single launch for Pretty In Pink. 

You find an old suitcase, with a tape reel inside of an interview. Who do you wish it was and why?

My maternal Great Grandmother. She died very young under mysterious circumstances. No one talked about it much, so I’ve always wondered what happened to her. That was back before there was so much awareness about mental health. I think hearing her story could help me understand my own experiences with that side of the family. 

What is in the future for Roles?

Roles are currently working on our second collection of songs; the theme of this collection is death. This work mainly involves interviews we have conducted with various people, each song a conversation about death. I even interviewed myself for one of the songs, it’s a banger!

Thank you Lou for being an willing participant in this interview as well!

Roles | Facebook

Roles – the band (rolesband.com)

Short Attention | Christopher Thomas Richardson featuring Roles | Roles (bandcamp.com)

I was brought up on classical music, not opera but all the masters and musicals. When I was sent the Crooniek album Trails Of Time, I will admit, it was a strange experience listening to each track, struck how it was like hearing brass bands in my childhood, mixed with modern guitars and a darker ambiance, a sorrowful heart so to speak. The album has a gothic essence of family, loss and memories of dark histories, set to a style called neo fanfare. There is probably no one better qualified to tell you about the Belgium band Crooniek, the music and their debut album, than the man behind this project, Gerry Croon. I invite you to the fanfare!

Welcome Gerry Croon, from Crooniek, to the hallowed halls of Onyx where time is just an abstract concept.

Hey Onyx, thanks for the support!

Gerry, you play the cornet. How long have you been practicing with this classical instrument and when did you think, I can use this in more than jazz?

Yes, I play the cornet. I started, at the age of nine playing the cornet, in our local fanfare. Later, I started playing in different ensembles (fanfare, brassband), but I always felt the need to have a band of my own. To do the things I really want to do. And that is to combine my two musical loves – gothic & brass/fanfare music – together in an unique blend. So I’m not into jazz. The cornet is not a typical jazz instrument, it fits in many genres. At the age of 17 I lost my self in the dark music, favoring bands like Das Ich, Arcana, Tristania, Goethes Erben and of course, Lacrimosa!

You hail from Belgium, so what is the alternative dark scene like where you live?

Yes, there is a alternative dark scene in Belgium, like most of the European countries. As you may know, I also write some things for the Dutch online underground magazine Dark Entries (www.darkentries.be). About the dark scene, it is alive. Not exactly in my hometown, that is rather a small village, nearby historical cities like Brussels, Mechelen and Leuven. Concerts and parties are scheduled, luckily there are enthusiastic people and organizations (like http://www.portanigra.be) who have the guts to do so. Believe me, it is not easy to organize things, and it is even more difficult to make them even profitable.

There are two projects you are involved in. Winterstille is one and the other Crooniek. Which one came first, and did it influence the other?

Correct. Winterstille went first. In 2020 we released the CD ‘Puin van Dromen’ by the label Wool-E Discs (www.wool-e-discs.be) This is a project (dark folk/chanson/gothic) I started with Xavier Kruth, whom I’ve met by Dark Entries, where he is also an editor. Xavier is a self made man, singing, playing the guitar, writing his own songs. In a way he was looking for a band to help to get these songs recorded. Because he knew about another project of mine (www.olivier-crooniek.be – 2018) , we agreed to join forces and establish this new project Winterstille. First, we thought to call this project ‘Xavier & Crooniek’, like the project with Olivier. But after thinking it over, we decided to go for Winterstille, which is German for ‘Winter silence’.

And yes, the new album of Crooniek is influenced by Winterstille. We always evolve, always trying to make something new, better. But also keeping looking back and have our musical history embedded in our musical path. Two songs on ‘Trail of Time’ are new interpretations of songs by Winterstille.

Crooniek just released the debut album “Trail Of Time”. How did you get together a large group of classically trained musicians to record this album?

I’m blessed to have them! Most of the musicians you can hear on ‘Trail of Time’ are friends, some go way back. One of them is Jan Croon, my nephew who was there from the start in 2005, when we were just a instrumental ensemble. And Annelies Callewaert (melodic percussion and flute) is the woman I married in 2009 😉. A few members are new forces, just to complete this project. You know how is goes: you spread the word and the right people will find you.

The style is called neo-fanfare, which until now I had never heard of. Can you tell us about this style?

Because we use typical fanfare instruments like alt saxophone and flugelhorn, but not in ‘regular’ fanfare way, we called in neo fanfare. It leans on to neo classical, also favored by the people who like darker goth sounds. Perhaps a synonym could be gothic fanfare, but I leave that up to the audience and music reporters.

There are also modern instruments such as electric guitars and bass but no synthesizers. Was this a conscientious thing or did it never suit the style?

In a way, it was already a selection of instruments. If you would asked me my dream, I would like to record an album with an entire brass band, combining harsh guitars, bass guitars, drums and dark vocals. Perhaps someday? But to stick to the question: the electric guitars and bass guitars (and sometimes synths) where absolutely necessary to create the sound the voices in my head tell me to do. Could you image whether there would be electric guitars when Richard Wagner was composing? I’m absolutely certain that he would also have uses bass guitar and electric guitars: it just gets a full, dynamic, deep dark sound, other instruments cannot manage

The title “Trail Of Time” refers to a point in your life when you start to reflect on your life? What caused you to start this reflection and how does that tie in with the music?

I think the cover says a lot: two hands, one pocket watch… four generations. My father’s hand passes my grandfather’s pocket watch to the child hand of my son. It symbolizes time passing by as well as the inevitable fact that someday, time will run out.

Thematically, this album reflects on the concept of time. In particular, the inspiration for ‘Trail of Time’ is the conflict between the known past and the unwritten future. The future remains hidden and we do not yet know it. But we do know the past.

This album is a nostalgic journey through my past, my musical projects (‘Parade of the ‘Funeral Fanfare’) and my relationship with my own birthplace Kampenhout, a small village in Belgium, known for its chicory cultivation. After all, at a certain age, you realize that time is running out and, without realizing it too well, you sometimes start to look back (‘When I look back upon my Life’). And do you ask yourself, did I do it right (‘G &B’)? Could I do better or would I do it differently now? Have I listened to the right advice (‘Would you wake me up in Time’)? You realize that you have lost friends / acquaintances along the way, because your life path is going in a different direction (‘Nieuwe Dromen’). Although this continues to gnaw, you have to accept this. Everyone is looking for new ways. But it still gnaws at your mind. The sickness of my mother set the lives of my family upside down (‘On the origin of Sorrows’). Everyone also sees that the world is changing very drastically, due to human intervention. While in the past time seems to move slowly, humanity now appears to be driving the world into destruction in an express train (‘The 6th Extinction’).

As mentioned, the village Kampenhout where I live, has also an unique history and stimulating sites. On ‘Trail of Time’ a few peculiar subjects are transformed musically into melancholic songs. We pick out three of them.
For example, ‘At the Lemmeken Monument’ is a tribute to the victims of the plane crash, which took place in 1961, near my hometown.

On Wednesday, February 15, 1961, a Boeing 707-329 of Sabena, the national Belgian airline, crashed in ‘Het Lemmeken’, a district of Kampenhout. All of its sixty-one passengers and eleven crew members were killed in the accident. Among the passengers were the entire American figure skating team (US Figure Skating Association) on their way to the Prague World Championships. Young champions, some of them no older than sixteen, on their first ever trip abroad, en route to their moment of glory.

On the chicory field where the Boeing fell, two young men were working. Michel Theo De Laet was fatally hit by flying debris, while his workmate Marcel Lauwers lost a leg. He was dragged from among the rubble by an aunt of Theo’s. He is the only survivor of this terrible crash.

‘Condemned to the fire: Josyne Van Vlasselaer’ goes further back in history, to the ancestors of the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Distant ancestors of Ludwig van Beethoven lived in Kampenhout. One of them was Aert van Beethoven. He was married to Josyne Van Vlasselaer. She was arrested on August 5, 1595 by order of the mayor Jan-Baptist van Spoelberch on suspicion of witchcraft (“suspitie en inditie van soverije”) and taken to a Brussels prison. Villagers had accused her of having a pact with the devil, because four horses had fallen dead in places she had passed by.

Of course, she denied the allegations, but exhausted, she admitted everything on the torture rack. On the eve of her execution, she made a failed attempt at suicide by swallowing potsherds. She was condemned to the stake (“gecondemneerd tot de brand”).

Only one woman was ever sentenced to death as a witch in Brussels, and that was a distant grandmother of the famous composer

‘Melancholy at Torfbroek’
The Torfbroek in Kampenhout is a remnant of a vast and unique swamp in the Low Lands, fed by very calcareous groundwater. It offers a unique landscape with large open ponds and is the last remaining refuge of several plant species in Flanders. It is one of the most valuable nature reserves in Western Europe. But above all, it is also a place of deep melancholy.

And so song does have a story to tell, either about the world I’m living in …

It is interesting to see that the tracks are written by different members of the group. How does this change the sound of the album for you?

As by the other albums I was involved with, together with Crooniek, we strive to make very variable albums. No two songs can be similar, every song has to be unique. So different song writers, definitely helps to make a sound variable as possible.  

Which do you feel is your favorite track off the album?

Without any doubt: ‘Would you wake me in time’. I wrote the music, Xavier made an excellent text that fits close to the music. This song is inspired by bands like Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and the amazing Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. Two bands I appreciate a lot! In a way, this is by far the ultimate neo fanfare song on the album: combining rhythmic brass sounds, blending softly with the enchanting voice of Elisabeth, supported by dark organ sounds and funeral bells.

Do you associate music closely with art as this is the impression that I perceived?

Interesting question. I’m an art historian, so yes, I appreciate art. Especially medieaval art: the gothic cathedrals and the paintings by the Vlaamse Primitieven, like Rogier Vander Weyden, but also baroque art, with artists like Caravaggio. I like it when albums have an Classique painting on the cover or uses elements out the art historian catalogue 😉. But for this album: no paintings were involved inspiring me. As you could read earlier: this album reflects personal experiences.

Crooniek plays live concerts. How different do you think it is setting up for your live shows as compared to a regular band?

Actually, we still need to play our first show with the new album. As you can imagine: it is not easy to get all those musicians together: I would need to get 10 to 16 musicians together. As we have all jobs, families and work to do … not easy. And the songs are complex and not easy to get them live on stage. I think ‘Trail of Time’ fits best at your living room, enjoying the sunset with a good glass of red wine. But when the opportunity crosses our paths, we of course will play live, hoping to persuade the audience. Crooniek can be combined with Winterstille, because all the musicians of Winterstille are also involved in Crooniek.

What is in the future for Crooniek and Gerry Croon?

We would like get into the hearts of many people around the world. That’s why we make music: we want to touch people. I think every band strives to do so. So we appreciate you effort for this interview, perhaps the audience will like us. Time will tell …

Thank you for giving us the inside view! 

Many Thanks for the support! We appreciate it a lot !!

WED088 – Trail Of Time [neo-classical/neo-fanfare/gothic] | Crooniek | Wool-E Discs (wool-e-discs.be)

Crooniek | Facebook

April saw the fourth Black Angel album released, named The Black Rose. The unashamedly gothic project is the brain child of Matt Vowles, a Brit living in the USA, who is the writer, producer, mix/master and musician extraordinaire, with actor Corey Landis, giving Black Angel it’s voice. The album harks back to the the period of time in the mid 80s when goth rock bands such as The Cult, Sisters Of Mercy and The Cure were at their zenith but with a modern twist. Vowles is a very busy fellow, but luckily for us, he found the time to answer some dark and burning questions.

Matt Vowles, welcome to the bowels of gothic central, where black is the absorption of all colour, and therefore superior!

Young Vowles, cut his teeth on the post punk fare of the 1980s, in England. What was it like for you growing up in that era?

Very exciting, this was all new, punk had come and gone and had pretty much left a big exciting scar so it showed that the music industry wasn’t necessarily just dominated by the large record companies, maybe there was something more, and there was. It still baffles me how without the technology of the Internet that we have today, how did so many people know about the new Gothic bands that were coming along and being played in clubs. Every week in Bristol at a club called The Whip that would be something new, some new Gothic or Gothic rock tune that the DJs would play, along with the staples of the time already established like The Sisters of Mercy and The Cult to name just a very few. Along with the fashion and the lifestyle it was a very exciting time to be a 15-year-old.

When we are young, we tend to listen to the more popular acts i.e. The Cure, Sisters of Mercy etc., but as we look back, we gain a new appreciation for other artists. For me these are bands like Play Dead, Danse Society, and such. Which acts did you latch onto as a kid and what did you find yourself getting into later?

Yup, absolutely that, it started with The Cure and then progressed into The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Bauhaus, and then over the last three decades, although I do listen to more obscure Gothic- and I do listen to current up-and-coming Gothic rock acts – I still return to and favor the staples, there was a reason they were huge at the time and that’s the reason I still listen to them now.

But you did not stick with the post-punk genre as your followed music as a profession. Can you tell us about your music career before Black Angel?

That is true, after I went to film school in Manchester I spent a couple of decades just listening to very different music, I guess it was held together by 80s new wave and new romantic but my Gothic rock playlist as it were was one of many and not my main focus. As I worked and still work in the film and music industries you are exposed to a very eclectic bunch of musical styles and genres, being from Bristol, I followed the trip hop path for a while and had some success with a act called ‘Interstate Royale’ and got a whole bunch of streaming and TV and film placements. But my heart wasn’t really in that, it was more for financial rewards so one day I decided to just pack it when and just do something that I wanted to do for me, whether anybody liked it or not, and that’s how Black Angel was born.

Did you find that the foray into more mainstream music and film left you with a larger skill set?

It did for sure, I find that as a sound re-recording mixer and sound supervisor, and mastering engineer, you are learning still every single day – and all of that experience helps, and sometimes in the smallest way, but, it’s great to have that wealth of experience and be able to apply it to what I do now. I am very fortunate to be able to work with some of the most incredible engineers, mixers, and composers in the industry and all of that rubs off and it’s a very privileged place to be.

You have moved to the US, setting up a studio there and in 2019, Black Angel brought forth the debut album The Widow, which was very well received. How exciting was it to know people were hungry to hear your music?

It was quite a surprise, I set out with this project to do something that made me happy and if it wasn’t well received, it didn’t really matter.

When I started on “The Widow” I spent many months head scratching and wondering just how I could come up with music that had influenced me in the past with the Gothic rock genre, but sometimes it’s very easy to overthink it and that’s just send you down the wrong path.

So when “The Widow” came out I was very surprised how it was received and it was more like it made me feel as though I was part of a club of people that just appreciated this music and I was able to share it with them.

The singer on “The Widow” was Robert Steffen but by the second album, “Kiss Of Death” in 2020, you had changed leads to Corey Landis. How do you think this changed the sound of Black Angel, if at all?

It change the sound very much, after the widow I wasn’t happy with many things, this included the music and the production values so having Corey come along for “Kiss Of Death” just really help slot things into place and says out in the right direction.

Can you tell us how you met Landis and became the voice of Black Angel?

After “The Widow”, I wanted to make a change and so I started talking to the local Gothic rock community and stretched out across the world as far as I could and nothing happened, then one day, after I pretty much given up, Corey reached out to me out of the blue and as they say, the rest is history

In quick succession, there was the third album, “Prince Of Darkness” in 2021 and the newest, “The Black Rose” released April 2022. You guys are really pumping out the albums, so are you aiming for an album a year?

Pretty much, I’m a bit of a workaholic and I just love doing this so much it seems as though we are on target to pretty much knock out one album per year. As soon as I finish one album albeit my plan is to take a break or do something else but I’m back in the studio with a bunch of ideas that I’ve been recording on my phone was mixing the last album and I really want to try them out so as soon as I’m done I’m trying out new ideas and then I’m back in the saddle and writing the next album

Incredibly, most of this has been accomplished during all the lockdowns with covid. Did you find all that helped or hindered writing and recording?

This works fine, I’m the musician on the albums, apart from the odd session player that I might use so for me it’s just organizing my time and then Corey, as an actor here in Hollywood, his schedule is very busy so it really works well for him to work remotely.
So I’ll send him over guide tracks and he’ll send me back finished tracks and then if we need any tweaks we will just get together and discuss any notes and he’ll send me any fixes so it just works out perfectly.

THE BLACK ROSE ALBUM – ART Eshmoon DM

You must be pleased with how much love “The Black Rose” has been receiving within the gothic community…?

It’s fantastic, as I said earlier, I feel as though it’s more of a club, we are all in this Gothic rock club and I’m just sharing songs with other people that I hope will appreciate them. It is fantastic of course when people buy the album – we will still like to personalize all of our deliveries and I normally send a note or something signed or a guitar pick or a button and it’s really great when people post pictures on social media of them it just makes it more of a Gothic rock family.

Do you have a particular favourite track off the new album and why it is?

I don’t think I really have a favorite but I do feel really good that there’s not any filler on here, I’m previous albums I think there’s a couple of killer tracks and then some mediocre ones and then maybe some of that are not that good but with the black rose I feel is though we’ve got some really good bangers and then some more diverse softer material but I’m not feeling as though there’s not really any filler on there which I think when you get your fourth album can just be an easy thing to do, in fact, as we move forward I think I will be a lot more diligent that the tracks have to be better and better and the album fuller a more complete before it gets released.

How would you describe the sound of Black Angel and how would you like to see it evolve in the future?

It’s definitely Gothic rock with the emphasis on rock, we not really post-punk, I want to be able to feel the energy in the tracks, and as for the future it is definitely more of the same.

Will Black Angel at some point play live or is it a more studio-based project?

Yep, that is the plan, we would really love to play some larger festivals, even if we are the first one on the roster for that day, I’ve been in bands over the years that just tour around the place to smaller clubs, and I know that’s super important and I’m not saying in any way it is not, but, I would rather be writing in the studio and concentrating on that for right now, I’m really hoping someone will invite us to play a festival

What music inspires you these days?

It’s the old staples, I could put on Siouxsie and the Banshees “Happy House” and still scratch my head on how incredibly well written that is and wondering if I could ever write anything like that.

What is in the future for Matt Vowles and Black Angel?

Who knows, I’ll do this as long as I love it, and I absolutely love it, so I have no plans on going anywhere……soon

Spooktacular Mr Vowles. Thank you for your time and goodnight! (Promptly swishes into a bat and squeaks off)

Thanks so much for the questions, I really appreciate it when people do the homework and pose questions that are relevant and interesting so I’d like to thank you guys very much for including us.

The Black Rose | Black Angel (bandcamp.com)

Black Angel | Facebook

Black Angel News | Facebook

MATT HART has been crafting his own science fiction world with music, over the last few years. A dystopian world, visited by alien machines whom have no interest in terms of peace but rather to overrun the planet and rid it of the human vermin. The machines lower the temperature to suit their needs and force the original inhabitants to burrow into the very ground to escape the tyranny and also keep warm as a global ice age ensues.

This brings us to BELOW THE TERRA PT.1, the latest of HART’s album releases, which follows the human’s plight as they scramble to ensconce themselves deep underground, though this is surviving, is it living? The three singles that have so far been lifted, give you a good gist of what this album is about but also a feel for the general earth crackling ambiance in the thumping rhythms, bristling electronics and, of course, HART’s howling, gravelly and often defiant vocals.

Techno married to an angst ridden industrial abrasiveness, each track telling its part of the story, such as “THE LAST RAVE” which is the humans coming to terms that their numbers are dwindling and this might be the last hurrah or “TO THE CORE“, where humanity is digging to escape and the machines can be heard in their triumph. All extremely catchy and very dance floor friendly but I noticed this album has less of a guitar influence and a lot more synth. Why may you ask? Well, I did just that, plus a few other burning issues…..and a word to all aliens, don’t mess with MATT HART because he will totally fuck you up, stone cold….

Welcome to the rabbit hole MATT HART, our domain. In case of alien robot attack, the exits are here —>, <—-here and under the dining table.


Matt, you are a pretty busy guy. Your paying day job is a musician, you have DJ’ed at London’s Slimelight Club amongst others, you have your own Twitch DJ channel, recording and playing live gigs. How do you fit all this in and do you like to be this busy?

Honestly, I’ve no idea how I fit it all in! I’ve got a lot of energy and so I guess keeping this busy is a good way to burn it all off, but I definitely know how to relax too. On the promotional side, my awesome wife helps massively with that – networking, sending my music out, keeping my bio and FB updated. She’s highly organized and I’m a complete creative, so it’s a good balanced system we got going. Also, with my job, I’m travelling on a coach/train often so that gives me opportunity to put my headphones on, turn my laptop on and just plug in and write. Some of my favourite tracks came from using “on the road” hours to focus.

So talking about recording, your new album BELOW THE TERRA PT. 1 is a corker! How long do you think it took you to write and record it?

Thank you! BELOW THE TERRA PT.1 took around a year to write, in a slow process as stated above – about grabbing time here and there while travelling. All the other busy hasn’t allowed me to write much faster! That said, when I’m on a roll I can write a track in a few days! It’s just getting that space time to do it! Hmmm, guess that gives me some food for thought, if I cut all the other busy things out, just think how quickly I could get music done! But, but, I do love the other things I do too, balance, right!

Do you find song creation an easy thing or would you say that you find it a painful process at times?

It’s generally easy. I have quite a good template process that I can dive into and start creating quickly, however, sometimes writers block does strike and I just can’t get anything down. When this happens, I know to just walk away and give myself some time. Stepping away from something gives you opportunity to gain fresh perspective on it. I’ve also found a great way to get past a hurdle is to work on someone else’s music, so I really enjoy doing remixes for that reason.

BELOW THE TERRA PT. 1 is part of a much bigger storyline. Can you tell us about this apocalyptic tale you have envisaged?

Technically, BELOW THE TERRA PT.1 is a sequel to my album TERRA 3808 (Nov 2019), which was about the war on the machines. This album, BELOW THE TERRA PT.1 is about humanity surviving in the icy wastelands of 3808 and below the machine overlords on the surface. Being as this is a PT.1… there’s going to be more to the story, just not sure what that will encompass as yet.

Have you always been a big fan of science fiction?

Yes, as far as I remember, I have. I love the Matrix and the Terminator movies. I think I watched the Matrix so many times I wore out the vhs! I’m particularly interested in machine worlds, and how/what that means for humanity. Could we survive, are we headed to that future? Machines already run so much of our lives, and there’s different ways to measure the positive/negative aspects of that. I’m also a huge fan of the Halo world: books, game etc and definitely the visuals – you can likely see that in my album artwork a bit.

Industrial music lends itself so well to this genre, do you think that is another reason you are compelled to perform this style?

I was always a fan of heavy metal and industrial metal but I think as I started clubbing in London I was influenced by the harder dance floor sounds of EBM and dark electro and found myself gravitating in this direction more strongly. Being able to write and perform industrial music, basically as a solo artist (though I have an excellent live guitarist Jerome Badoux) has allowed me to have control over the whole process. The bonus of creating without hardware, provides a different type of freedom — will mention again about all my travel, so this works for me. That said, I regularly record the guitar parts and wouldn’t give up any of my guitars hanging on the wall – I just don’t use them as often as had done in previous years. Sharp edge sounds and aesthetic, what’s not get onboard with!

This album seems to less guitar based and becoming more electronic focused. Was this a conscious thing because the machines have taken over?

Haha! Great observation and comment, but no, it was driven from a place of not having my guitars readily available to me, during a lot of the writing process for BELOW THE TERRA PT.1. Writing solely on a laptop allowed for the focus more on the electronic elements. However that’s a really interesting point that I hadn’t really thought about! I was also wondering that since the humans have spent all their time simply working to survive and get away, that they too in a way have become machines, shadows of their former selves in the current situation…… Society certainly has become less of a military faction and more of a resourceful entity but there is definitely still humanity residing inside them. It’s actually a theme I’ve been batting around for writing new stuff, and in another vein, that as they band together that their humanity actually becomes stronger, as they actively work together.

Which track off the album did you enjoy recording the most and why?

To be honest I really loved what I did with LAST RAVE! I set out to write a heavy club track and I totally feel I achieved what I was going for. I had it in mind that I wanted it to include guitars as well, as I’d intended for it to be done live with my guitarist, Jerome – so it has an extra heavy chug chug sound to it. It was just fun writing a classic rave-centric track that was heavy at the same time. Am also quite pleased with the video produced for the track. It’s footage from appearances at Elektro Vox and Resistanz festivals, both in April 2022, London and Sheffield respectively and premiered on Communion After Dark – wowza, right! If you want a glimpse of the kind of energy I bring to a stage, it’s a good video to watch. It’s up on my YouTube >>> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VrlDE2gaDJJJfMjGqo4UQ/videos

Covid is such a bugbear for live music currently. Are you doing or going to be performing live shows?

So, since the UK came out of lockdown I’ve had a few gigs/festivals as noted above and recently I opened for Leaether Strip in London and the weekend of 9 th July, I performed at a post-apocalyptic festival a could hours outside of London called Road 2 Ruin. Talk about a fitting environment for me! Wasteland crew and fire, it was incredible. Up next, in chats about a small gig in Scotland in August, tying that into some holiday time up there. But I really want to start putting some good focus into writing new music for the next album…… I’m really pleased with how tracks from BELOW THE TERRA PT.1 fit into my live set though, heavy, driving and really danceable – great elements to a gig!

You did a brilliant remix on Simon Carter & Fabsi’s new album and you have been popping up as a guest mixer on many other tracks. Who else have you remixed recently and is this one of those things that makes you really happy?

I do really enjoy doing remixes. Sometimes it’s the perfect break from your own music too. To be honest, I’m not a fan of recording vocals so when I get someone else’s vocals on a track to remix I jump at it! I love reconstructing other bands tracks and making them different, often giving them a more dance floor sound. Recent ones out are the Synapsyche “Silvertongue feat Danial Graves” and the Antibody “I Don’t Understand” remixes! Haven’t seen this done by anyone else (so feel quite innovative about it), but I’ve got a page on my Bandcamp where I list all the remixes I’ve done (a compilations page too). Think it’s a great way to cross-promote and the list of artist names I’ve worked with is impressive and I’m proud to have worked with them. There’s more I’ve done, that haven’t been released as yet — but watch that page, things just waiting in the wings 

Your world is invaded by crazy alien robots and the only way to stop them is by being the ultimate DJ and up loading a song into their collective hive mind. What do you up load and why?

John Cage – 4’33. Don’t give them anything to feed off. Just silence.

What is in the future for MATT HART?

As I said I have a few MATT HART remixes for other artists to come out and I have the first remix from BELOW THE TERRA PT.1 coming out very soon… ABSOLUTE ZERO (ROTERSAND classic ride rework) releases 26 th July, 2022. This is a real banger, it’s entered the DAC (that’s the Deutsche Alternative Charts https://www.deutsche-alternative-charts.de/) at position 4 and that’s mega mega!

Pre-save = https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/matthart/absolute-zero-rotersand-classic-ride-rework-rotersand-remix
Pre-order = streaming services, iTunes etc
Order = https://matthart.bandcamp.com (on 26/07/2022)

I’m also looking to release some more original material before the end of the year as well! Keeping busy – you know it!

Thanks Matt and we know the Rotersand mix of “Absolute Zero” is going to be a killer dance thriller.

BELOW THE TERRA PT. 1 | MATT HART (bandcamp.com)

MATT HART | Facebook

Seven Federations is the industrial brain child of Todd Ruzicka, whom is also behind the project Immune System, and he recently released his latest album, Bengamin. The album ranges in musical inferences, from the big time band swing in the title track “Bengamin“, to the futuristic “Captain Sicilano (First Federation – Italian Division)” and even the taste of a Latin mass in the interlude “Ite Missa Est“. Most of these tracks have a heavy accent on the guitar, which drives through the music, pushing it on and giving it teeth. The album was mastered at The Cage Studio, in Coventry by Martin Bowes of Attrition fame. So, with this in mind, we thought we would ask Todd a few questions about Seven Federations, the album and does he have the power of time travel…. yeah you are going to have to read on to find out.

Welcome to the Dominion of Onyx, Todd Ruzicka of Seven Federations, within the Thunderdome, though currently it seems more like an echo chamber.

Your current project is, of course Seven Federations but what was Todd up to, in the years before this project? 

Since 2005, I’ve been heavily involved with my project, IMMUNE SYSTEM, which I started while I was living in the UK. IMMUNE SYSTEM was more electronic than “industrial” and I had a bit of success with the releases and with placing some tracks in indie films.  But around 2018, I started feeling like I had painted myself into a corner, musically. I felt like I needed a total change and that change was SEVEN FEDERATIONS. Now, with a bit of hindsight, SEVEN FEDERATIONS doesn’t seem like such a seismic shift away from IMM SYS, but it was the shift in my mindset that I needed to feel “creative” again. 

Todd, you live in North Dakota. What is the dark alternative scene like in North Dakota?

I don’t know. I don’t think it exists but, even if it did, I doubt that I’d be invited to the party. However, we are fortunate to have a really wonderful underground radio show in Fargo called Adam’s Archive on 89.1 FM.  Adam, who is also a good friend of mine, plays some of the coolest and darkest music you’re likely to hear on the airwaves. Both IMMUNE SYSTEM and SEVEN FEDERATIONS get some airtime on his show and it’s been quite a help.

When did you first get caught by the industrial/electronic bug and decide this was something you wanted to try? 

I think it was probably when Pretty Hate Machine came out, although I had also really become enamoured with Depeche Mode by that point. But PHM really hit me sideways. I hadn’t been exposed to super dark, harder electronic music like that. I had heard some Skinny Puppy but, honestly, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at the time. Pretty Hate Machine combined song structures that I could relate to, but used a whole different sonic palette. And then, of course, The Downward Spiral just changed the game entirely and I caught “the bug,” as you say.

Who would you say are your musical influences… the people and acts that got you into the music? 

Since I’ve been a drummer for as long as I can remember, my first influence would have to be Buddy Rich. I grew up with his Swingin’ Big Band live album. But pop and rock always resonated with me more. I LOVE Billy Joel. Except for his “doo-wop” phase. (Billy Joel Doo Wop sucks.) And you’re in Australia, right? I always loved Colin Hay and Men at Work.  I have to admit I also loved 80s glam rock when I was a teen and that made an imprint on me, for better or for worse. And then later, I got way into heavier music but always had a love for metal with a hint of industrial that also had a GROOVE. I think that’s important. So much of what we term “industrial” music is full of cool SOUNDS but no there’s no real SONG to speak of. You need both. And again, Trent Reznor became a hero of mine, in the way that he could marry musicality with a real knowledge of digital sounds and soundscapes.

Todd, your first album, “The Arrival”, was released in 2019 and far as I can tell, this is the first offering under the banner of Seven Federations. What inspired you to create this project? 

“The Arrival” was the first record, correct. It was fairly ambitious, as it’s a concept record but not so “concept” that you can’t just enjoy the songs on their own. It’s sort of a modern gnostic storyline about drawing down the Demiurge and the events that occur with the main character.  Without getting too mystical, “The Arrival” almost literally wrote itself. It really just appeared, one song at a time. And apart from that, I barely remember making it.

You have released your newest album “Bengamin” and the origin of this name is Hebrew. Why Bengamin, why a buzzard/vulture on the cover and is the buzzard, Bengamin?

Bengamin is the Buzzard of the Apocalypse, mentioned periodically in the Old Testament and referenced heavily in Revelations. He has the gift of prophecy. He can also tap dance.

The track “Bengamin” seems to have a swing/boogie feel to it. Was this intentional?

Yes. I imagined it almost as a soundtrack to some scene in a honky tonk bar somewhere on the outskirts of town.

The track “Brickface” is getting a lot of airplay. What do you feel about this track appeals to people?

I think it’s just a catchy, anthemic track that gets stuck in your head a bit. It’s sort of custom-built for an arena sing-a-long . . . in my MIND.

Overall, the album has that harder edged guitar sound to it. Is this a preferred musical element?

It is with SEVEN FEDERATIONS. If there was one thing I was going for with this project, it’s a much heavier, guitar-based sound. That’s probably the main element that separates it from IMMUNE SYSTEM.

Martin Bowes of Attrition fame, mastered the album at his Cage Studio. What was it like for you having Bowes do this for you and why did you choose Martin?

I’ve been very lucky to have had two of the biggest names in industrial music master my tracks: Martin Bowes and Jules Siefert, both in England. It’s just a sense of being in good hands with them, and knowing that they understand this style of music. And they’re both super-easy to work with. Even though they’re both big names, they are still open to suggestions from the Peanut Gallery; i.e. ME.

One has to wonder if you have a time machine, as you state that “Ite Missa Est” was recorded live in 2030, in Prague…..is there something you aren’t telling us?

Time travel has long been an interest of mine and I’ve had a fair bit of success with it.

Who do you get a kick out of listening to now?

Mostly “Yacht Rock” artists: Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Air Supply. That kind of thing.

What is in the future for Seven Federations?

Promotion of the new record, considering the next step for new music and having a long talk with myself.

Thank you for joining us in our contemplations!

Well, thank you for having me!

Bengamin | Seven Federations (bandcamp.com)

Seven Federations | Facebook

Autumn Tears is a name from the 90s, synonymous with gothic music inspired by classical/traditional styles and they have married a split album, Widowing/Possessing, with the newer dark folk project, Zeresh. Ted Tringo is the man who has continuously been at the helm of the US band, Autumn Tears since 1995, which has picked up steam in the creation of new music in the last few years. Zeresh is Israeli musician, Tamar Singer, who also sings for Autumn Tears, so it seems quite natural for these two projects to share a split album. Windowing is the Autumn Tears half and it has pulled together musicians who play traditional instruments and vocalists of such a high caliber, so the tracks are rich, ethereal and romantically dark. Possessing is of course Zeresh, and it weighs more in your heart, an overwhelming sadness and torment. The instruments are often far more modern in this production but just as eerie and beautiful as Widowing. You can hear the Singer’s homeland influencing the undercurrent of the songs and the sound of the music.

So, we bring to you an interview in two acts. We we very luck to interview Ted and Tamar about their respective bands, their influences and above all the split album. If you love Dead Can Dance or remember the 90s, when Arcana, Lycia and Autumn Tears were the medieval babes of the scene, you should indulge in this offering of Widowing/Possessing and read on!

ACT 1 – AUTUMN TEARS

Greetings to Onyx’s dark side of life and the winter garden, Ted Tringo of Autumn Tears.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the opportunity 🙂

Autumn Tears has been around in different forms since 1995, with you as the permanent founding member. Did you think Autumn Tears would still be around, creating music and the and still this popular, more than quarter of a century later?

Honestly I had always planned on it as once I began Autumn Tears in 1995, I envisioned it being around for decades. What I had not anticipated was the long 11 year hiatus that I took from 2007 until 2018. Thankfully that is in the past and I don’t plan on ever stopping again.

You released the albums “Colors Hidden Within The Gray” (2019), “The Air Below The Water” (2020) and “The Glow of Desperation” (2021) in very quick succession. Each of these were very highly involved albums as far as people contributing their talents and orchestration. What prompted this surge of creativity?

I think most of it stems from the bottled up creativity I had stored from the 11 years which I was not active. I had a lot of time to reflect and to study music, that in the event of a comeback, I would be more than prepared with ideas and the musical knowledge to give Autumn Tears all that I could.

It was the 2020 album, “The Air Below The Water”, that first saw you collaborating with Tamar Singer. How did you first come into contact Singer?

I first discovered Tamar and Zeresh when I was asked to take part in the ‘At Sea Compilations’ – “Snowflakes”. We both shared songs on the comp and as soon as I heard Zeresh, I knew Tamar had a very unique and special sound which I felt would be a wonderful addition to the Autumn Tears ever evolving sound.

Singer also performs under the name of Zeresh and this year, Autumn Tears and Zeresh released a split album together. What was the thinking behind this and who first suggested this joint operation?

I actually suggested this to Tamar a few years back. I was completely taken with Zeresh upon my first listen and have become a fan ever since. I felt a split release would be a great way to share our collective works with our respective fans and let them experience music from both of our projects. I’v always enjoyed split releases so this was a great experience to be able to be a part of one together with another music project that I love.

Autumn Tears is on the first half and it is called “Widowing” which is also the seventh track on the split, that features Singer. Why did you choose this as the title track and does it have any particular significance for you?

The significance of the title ‘Widowing” is about loss and acceptance, and I felt that having Tamar sing on the title track was important as It not only bridges the gap between the two releases, being the last song on the Autumn Tears EP, but also it flows right into the first Zeresh track having Tamar be the lead singer on both songs back to back.

You have access to all these gorgeous female and male vocals. How do you ever choose who sings what and how lucky do you feel having access to such talent?

Some of them I sought out and some I was already familiar with. Caroline and Darren Clarke from the acoustic opera duo Trovatori I discovered on Fiverr and they have been permanent members ever since, of which I am very grateful for. I also discovered Ffion Elisa on Fiverr as well. Dawn I have known for over 20 years having been the lead singer for Rain Fell Within who were signed to my label back then so my appreciation for her is a given. Of course Agnete from Madder Mortem and Ann-Mari from ex The Third and the Mortal were both long time favorites of mine so I am very thankful for their appearances.

Again, there has been many musicians you have collaborated with to create “Widowing”. I was wondering about how you ended up recording this album, as I can imagine Covid would have played havoc with your plans?

Well like many musicians nowadays, thankfully Autumn Tears has also benefited from the power of the internet and of remote recording. It of course makes everything possible with all of the different members living all over the world.

There are very heavy accents of middle eastern influence, like in “Of Sun, Sky and Rain”. Is this a style of music you particularly enjoy or find enhances the exotic flavour of your music?

It’’s actually both. I have always enjoyed Middle Eastern music, and having Soroush Abedi as a member of Autumn Tears, he is very skilled in many musical styles and able to authentically incorporate the Middle Eastern and instruments into the Autumn Tears style to create a very unique fusion which I think only helps to enhance our overall sound and diversity.

For me, “Bringer Of Balance” is just spine tingling with the entwined male and female vocals in an almost baroque style. Do you have a favourite track off this album?

Thank you so much! I am sure lead singer Darren will be very happy to read this. It is hard for me to pick a favorite as I enjoy them all very much, but I think I may still have a soft spot for the title track ‘Widowing’ as it encompasses the feel of the album as a whole. Of course if you ask me tomorrow, I may have a different favorite ;).

Even though bands like Dead Can Dance had started in the 80s, it was really in the 90s that medieval/classical gothic styled music really took off. You are still producing that style today, however to my ears, it is much more refined and cohesive. Do you feel this way about your music now as compared to the original albums?

That was always my goal with Autumn Tears. I will always appreciate the early sound we developed back in the 90s, however it was always my goal to mature Autumn Tears with real classical instruments and musical style to hopefully one day try and carve out our own sound. Hopefully we are aa little closer to doing so now 27 years later. 🙂

I am curious as to who were your inspirations in music when you first started and if there are any newer loves you have now?

Back in the 90s when I began, my influences ranged from DCD, to Stoa, Anchorage and Arcana, (Arcana’s – ‘The Song of Mourning’ actually helped to kick start my desire to write Autumn Tears music) and now I think I am more influenced by modern and traditional classical music as well as cinematic score and soundtracks. I think I will keep evolving the styles while still retaining our core sound.

If you could choose any musician to record with (alive or expired) for the next album, whom would you desire and why?

There are so many I admire that I would love to work with but if I had to choose one, I would have loved to collaborate with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. I actually dedicated the 2019 album ‘Colors Hidden Within the Gray’ to him.

What is next for yourself and Autumn Tears?

We are currently working on our next full length album which hopefully will be ready by the end of the year.

Thank you for the enchanting and haunting music, as well as your time Ted.

My absolute pleasure, thank you!

ACT 2 – ZERESH

Zeresh is your project and I believe it came into being around 2017/18? Also what prompted you to create Zeresh?

The name “Zeresh” came to be around 2017 but the idea and many of the songs existed long before that and were waiting for me to be able to give them some kind of an output.

In June 2017 I did my first solo concert and that’s when the need for a name became obvious.

My debut EP ‘Sigh For Sigh’ was already recorded at the time yet I struggled hard with mixing it since I had zero knowledge or experience of how to do it.. but once it was completed I embraced the name Zeresh for this project.

The name Zeresh seems highly symbolic. In Persian it means gold, in the old Testament Zeresh is a wife, as well as being linked to meaning strange or misery. Why did you choose this name?

First of all I liked how it sounds – yet it seemed a bit too “black metal” for my project.. It didn’t feel right for this purpose but I loved the name so much that I’ve decided to name my beautiful black cat ‘Zeresh’. After doing this, I got “jealous” and stole the name for my project too.

I also liked the fact that in the biblical story, even though she was a side character (Hamann’s wife) she was the smartest and most evil figure.

If you don’t mind me asking, what is the dark/gothic/metal scene like in Israel?

I’m glad you asked because I love the Israeli scene – we have a lot of wonderful bands and musicians over here. Some of them are very very special.

The local Gothic scene is tiny, almost nonexistent but the general dark scene here has some wonderful projects. 

Also, our metal scene is pretty rich and ever changing. Israel has some bigger mainstream-ish metal bands and some very ‘strange fruits’ (which are usually my favorites);.

I’m probably forgetting many other great projects but here are some of the ones (which are still active) that I love the most from the local scene:

Kadaver, Choshech, Kchörtoo, Ketoret, Zimmer Witch Night, Winterhorde, Rain Dirty Valleys, Kluvim, Prey For Nothing, Sleep’s Sister, Agnivolok, Kip, Kashaiof, Subterranean Masquerade, Seven Morgues, Obsidian Tide, Svpremacist, Bormavet, Dukatalon and more.

There is also the doom project Cruel Wonders. What drew you into the realms of neo-classical/neo-dark folk?

I’m into dark music of all different genres and kinds, both as a listener as well as a musician.

You have not only collaborated with Autumn Tears but also you did the split album with them. What was this like for you as an artist?

Amazing! Working on the split album has been an honor and also very special to me because I tried to take my songs to be’ more romantic’ while Ted took his songs to a darker place this time, so they would fit well together.

Also, Ted is really wonderful to work with, both artistically and personally.

Your half of the album is called Possessing. Could I please ask about the concept behind Possessing and how you feel it couples up with Widowing?

My half of the album is about obsession; holding on to a relationship that’s not there, not being able to get another person out of your head or to let go.

The way I see it ‘Widowing’ (the part by Autumn Tears) is about loss; but from a “healthier” perspective – sort of the other side of the same coin.

Which do you feel is your favourite track off this album and why?

I can’t really say too much about Possessing but even though it’s hard to choose – my favorite song from Widowing is “Unmaker of worlds”, simply because it’s absolutely perfect!

It’s dark, heavy and intense musically and lyrically. Plus, I just love Caroline Joy Clarke’s vocals there. 

I actually admire all the other Autumn Tears singers and musicians and I still can’t believe I’m sharing music with those extremely talented professional musicians.

If given the opportunity to do another split album, would you do it again and are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?

I’m actually working on a short split collaboration for a local label as we speak and I would love to do more in the future.

I would gladly collaborate again with everyone I’ve worked with before so far.

The list of musicians I’d be thrilled to work with for the first time is endless but I’ll try to sum it up somehow: 

Rïcïnn, Kim Larsen (Of The Wand And The Moon), King Dude, Darkher, Darkwood, None, Les Days, Liturgy, Leya, Natural snow buildings, Ungfel, The Drows, The Devil’s Trade, A. A. Wiliams…

It really is a Never-ending list so I’ll randomly stop here.

What musicians/bands or type of music first dragged you into the scene and what ignites your soul now?

I’m not sure which scene I should refer to, but if we’re talking about ‘non-standard’ folk, the first ones I listened to as a teenager were: Current 93, Death In June and some other similar and related projects.

Nowadays I still listen to a lot of different types of neofolk, dark folk, industrial and also just plain beautiful folk.

I love it when folk music manages to somehow fit in nicely with industrial.

Anyhow, here are some examples of things I love in particular:

Of The Wand And The Moon, Sangre De Muerdago, Laura Marling, Rome, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Darkher, Aggaloch, Hasta LA Victoria, Nebelung, Darkwood and many more.

I also listen to other genres – from black metal to classical music, experimental, drone and lots of other things.

Taking possession completely off the tracks here but if you could be possessed by one deceased musician for a day, to let them record one more track, who would you let use your body?

The obvious answer would be Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith, so I’ll go with that.

What is in the future for Zeresh?

The next Zeresh album is almost 100% written but I have to produce it. It is going to be darker than anything I’ve done so far.

Nowadays I’m actually working as Zeresh on a short split collaboration for a local label. It’s a project I’m doing with one of my favorite Israeli bands – ‘Ketoret’.

Besides that, I’ve already recorded a song for the next ‘Autumn Tears’ album and we shall start writing the third ‘Cruel Wonders’ album pretty soon.

I’m also involved in a new project with my husband who is the other half of ‘Necromishka’ (and mostly known as ‘Kadaver’) plus another of my favorite local musicians – Shay Mizrahi, of ‘Choshech’. I’m not sure if it’ll be a 3-way collaboration or whether it’ll have its own name.

And lastly – we’ve been producing a split album between ‘Necromishka & Agnivolok’.

I’m planning to remain busy..

Autumn Tears (bandcamp.com)

Widowing / Possessing | Autumn Tears / Zeresh | Zeresh (bandcamp.com)

Autumn Tears | Facebook

Zeresh | Facebook

2002, Alexander Azzi, released his first EP, Here I Stand under the moniker, Perfect Dark. It was a massive hit with the hardcore/gabber scene and twenty years later, he has dropped a new single, “I’m Still Standing“, with it’s huge booming, rapid fire beats, that are meant to get a sweaty, raucous dance crowd, bouncing on the balls of their feet like maniacs. Do you know what gabber means? I didn’t until this interview, so I suggest you dig in and get educated by the man who is pumping up the beats, Perfect Dark.

Welcome to Onyx, Alexander Azzi, also known as Perfect Dark.


Thank you very much for inviting me onto your page for a bit of digital chin-wagging.

Gabber first started in the 90s, in the Netherlands, especially in Rotterdam. When did you first experience this style?

It all started around 1999 for me. This was during a time when I was already getting my name out as a multi genre DJ, but at the same time I was trying to figure out what type of specific genre was the best fit for me and what I wanted to be known for. The only stipulation I had was that it had to be hard and aggressive because that’s the type of music I generally enjoy in my everyday life, such as Hardcore Metal, Punk, and Oi!.

During this time period the best place to go to get vinyl records in my area, specifically for rave type DJs, was a place called Satellite Records in Boston Massachusetts which was about an hour from me where I live in New Hampshire. There was not a genre that didn’t exist in that store. The place was legendary. Everything from the most chill Downtempo, to the hardest fastest 300BPM+ Terrorcore. What made this place even more awesome was there was about 10 Technics 1200 turntables available to be able to listen to the tracks first to make sure it was what you wanted before you bought it. Sadly, it’s no longer in business along with most other DJ record stores in the world. Thanks a lot Spotify.

The day I went down there I was browsing through various styles of music and that’s when I came upon a bin of records simply titled “Hardcore” (which is another name used when referring to Gabber). I already knew this was what I was looking for just based on the genre name and some of the album cover art that was staring me in the face; skulls, fire and brimstone, demons, and wizards shooting fireballs out of their hands. These are visuals aren’t ones you normally see on record covers for records sold at a DJ record stores. After listening to the first record, I knew that Hardcore/Gabber what is the sound that fit me the best. Hard skull-crushing kick drums, sinister synth melodies cutting through as if they were conceived from two serrated knives slashing their razor-sharp edges onto one another, and vocals that could easily have summoned a demon from hell or fit nicely onto a Hardcore Metal song. All of this dropped into a tempo that is equal parts dance and mosh pit worthy.

I found artists like Neophyte, Rob GEE, Evil Activities, Bass-D & King Matthew, Art of Fighters, and Rotterdam Terror Corps. The list can go on and on. I bought a whole stack of various Hardcore/Gabber records and that’s how it all started.

Back in 2002 you released the EP, “Here I Stand” as Perfect Dark, which introduced you to the hardcore/gabber scene. What had brought you to that point in the scene?

About a year into working hard to make a name for myself as a Hardcore/Gabber DJ, a friend of mine, John Manning, known as DJ Midas was having a conversation with me and I clearly remember him telling me that if you want to go further out beyond just being a DJ then you have to start making your own music. I listened to every word he said and that’s when I started to learn how to produce Hardcore/Gabber music almost immediately.

When I say immediately I don’t mean I just woke up one day and I knew what to do with a software based audio workstation and understand MIDI controllers etc. but I knew immediately that I needed to learn more than just mixing records and that’s when I started gathering the tools required to figure out how to make this stuff myself.

I did my research, applied what I was learning and eventually after about a year or so I was in the process of producing complete Hardcore/Gabber tracks.

As I was diving deeper into producing music another friend of mine got me in contact with Rob GEE. If you recall, I mentioned his name in one of the records I purchased the day I discovered this genre of music. I found out that he lived in New Jersey which technically is local if you consider living in the Northeast of the USA the local area amongst states up here. Him and I started to talk, and we became friends. He even gave me a shout out on his mixed CD “Vitamin GEE” that was being released during that time. That small gesture meant a lot to me considering I was still an unknown little dirtbag from New Hampshire and here was one of pioneers of American Hardcore/Gabber adding my DJ name to his thank you/shoutout section on his CD cover insert.

In 2001 me and Rob made plans to finally meet in person at a big event he was DJing at where the Dutch Hardcore/Gabber production team Neophyte was headlining. This place was at the legendary Limelight in New York City.

He already heard some of my productions prior to that night but it was important for us to finally meet up because he was interested in helping me with my first music release and I wanted to show him that I was serious in this commitment and appreciated his intentions.

A couple months later I signed a Sony/ATV publishing contract, and my first 6 song EP was in motion to be released with the title track “Here I Stand“ through Rob’s record label at the time known as ADAM Recordings (ADAM stands for Aggressive Dance And Music) which has now become GEE thAng Music in the present day. I believe it was April of 2002 when it hit the record store shelves worldwide.

The EP did very well. What was it like for you, Alexander, to see all those people dancing to your music?


I felt like I was part of ‘the club’. It was a great feeling to know my record was sharing the same space as all those other records I discovered years back at Satellite Records in Boston. What made things even more satisfying was I was able to go and physically purchase that record myself out of that very same bin. 

Because of that feeling, to this day no matter if it’s a vinyl release, one of my songs featured on someone else’s compilation mixed CD, a CD that I had a part in producing, or even a digital download, I still purchase a copy myself and put it away in a personal security safe that also holds the masters and project data to every song I ever made. Even digital downloads get put on a small flash drive and then put back in the safe.

The best feeling, however, is to watch or know that people are enjoying my music enough that they are willing to get up on the dance floor and sacrifice a few minutes out of their life to enjoy something I created.

You didn’t stick to the hardcore/gabber sound, instead, creating metal inspired dub step under the moniker, Drop Goblin. What drew you into this genre?

Well to get to Drop Goblin one needs to understand what happened before that. After some years in Hardcore/Gabber I decided to walk away from it because I wasn’t feeling as creative as I was in the beginning of my career, and I didn’t want to produce music at a lower self-standard. So, I quit. I took some time off in the mid-2000’s and then one day I heard Dubstep. I don’t remember what song it was, and I don’t remember if it was aggressive Brostep or more traditional Dubstep, I just knew that the bass was heavy, it had a cool wobble to it, and I really enjoyed listening to it. 

That re-ignited musical interest and creativity to start producing again but I wasn’t going to bring the “Perfect Dark” name back and confuse people with such a different sound. I did know that if I was going to make this type of music then it was going to be on the aggressive side of things just like the way I did with my Hardcore/Gabber songs but I also realized there wasn’t much Hardcore Metal ‘riffy’ Dubstep stuff out there, so I had to figure out how to incorporate the metal style sound with Dubstep and make it work myself through trial and error.

One attribute that was an advantage for me was that most dubstep is 140 bpm which in a Hardcore/Gabber sense is slow, but the good thing about that tempo is that a lot of Hardcore Metal breakdowns are slow and heavy and work very well at that BPM, so I started making typical Dubstep patterns but also mixing in heavy low-end baritone guitar riffs into them and double bass kick patterns in most of my Dubstep productions. Not all, but most.

While I don’t promote the Drop Goblin name anymore, if anybody would like a good example in how I incorporated the metal riffs into those tracks I would suggest going on YouTube and doing a search for “Drop Goblin – One Jaded Asshole“ in order to get a feel for what I was doing at that time. 

I guess the money question is, which style of music do you enjoy more?

Hardcore/Gabber. Hands down. That is where I feel at home. The Dubstep phase was simply me jumping on the genre bandwagon since I had nothing better to do at that time. Even the name Drop Goblin was a last second decision that doesn’t even make sense to me. It’s just two words put together and I only had a weekend to figure out a name to give to Reid Speed of Play Me Records who was releasing my breakout track “Dubstep Believe It” at the time and it was down to the wire and figured “Drop” like a Dubstep bass drop, and “Goblin” because why not?

I could have just started producing Hardcore/Gabber again. It’s not like anything was stopping me, but I wasn’t mentally ready to come out of retirement as Perfect Dark, nor did I even consider it. As far as I was concerned Perfect Dark was my history with no plans to return. But hey, Dubstep took me by the hand and said, “Hey Alexander, I see your not doing much lately, how about we take a trip down sell-out lane and make some music together on the Dubstep hype train… everyone else is doing it”. The truth is though, I never felt fully comfortable or felt like it was “me” in that genre. It wasn’t all bad though, I made it into the Beatport top 100 Dubstep charts with a few that made it into the top 10 at the time, but I am glad I am done with it. Nothing beats the intensity of the driving pace of Hardcore/Gabber and I am happy to be part of that family again.

In 2021, you decided to resurrect Perfect Dark and to mark the 20 years difference in releases, your return single in “Still Standing”. How much does the title alone mean to you?

It means everything to me. More than most people realize at this moment. To the majority it will be just a new song released after many years of me being in retirement. I reckon to my fans of the past (and any new ones in the present) it is exciting and hopefully “Sill Standing” gives the impact I feel in my heart that it does. The deeper the rabbit hole goes, however, the more the story gets interesting. Let me lay it all out for you guys and gals:

In 2002, my debut vinyl EP “Here I Stand” came out on ADAM Recordings owned by Rob GEE. The photo for the album cover was taken at a specific location in New Jersey and the graphic artwork was done by a graphic designer named Sergio.


Fast forward to the release of “Still Standing” and it comes with a huge fun fact:

The release is the sequel to the title track of 2002’s “Here I Stand”. The photo taken of me for the release cover was taken at the same spot in New Jersey as the 2002’s photo shoot of “Here I Stand”. The graphic designer who for all I know could have been long disappeared, dead, or fully retired from graphic design by now was still around, and he was able to resurrect the original “Here I Stand” project file from 20 years ago off of a old school Zip/Jaz Drive, and he was able to layer the same original graphic design effects on “Still Standing” with just some color changes to give it its one unique identity. And to top it all off, Rob GEE and his label (now known as GEE thAng Music instead of ADAM Recordings) released it.

Let that sink in for a moment. Two Decades of non-communicative space in between, and somehow all the same artistic, human, and business logistics from “Here I Stand” were incorporated into the release “Still Standing” without even one technical hiccup. This could only happen once in my lifetime.

There is a remastered version of “Here I Stand”, coming out. What was the thinking behind this and is it an incredible feeling to know a whole new generation are going to hear your music?

Right now there is a process going on to not only remaster the entire 2002 “Here I Stand” 6 song EP, but it will be re“mixed down”. Not to be confused with ‘remixed’ where new productions are made from other people based off the original songs. What I mean is all the separate elements of the original project files are being re-analyzed and brought back to life using newly updated know-how and processing tools to bring the best out of what was originally produced. And then they will be remastered. It’s not every day that you can strip down project files that were produced over 20 years ago and revisit the production process to give them new life.

I figured that putting in all this work would be a thank you to anyone out there that is still around and remembers me and that release. And of course, there will be many new ears that will hear this music for the first time.

Not only will the EP be completely re-engineered but will also be available for free. I will not be selling this release. The main outlet to get this release when it’s out (no date set yet) will be the #1 source for all Hardcore/Gabber music: Hardtunes.com.

But wait, that’s not all. There will also be a bonus track included in this release which will be a completely new and reimagined version of the original “Here I Stand” single with a more modern updated sound. When the original producer makes a new version of an existing song they made, this is typically known as a VIP (Variation in Production) but “reimagined” sounds cooler.

DJ Rob GEE was involved with “Here I Stand” and you have signed with GEE thAng Music, which was originally ADAM Recordings, whom you first released that EP. What is it like to be back?

The way him and I converse now after all these years with nearly no communication is a special thing. We talk nowadays as if there wasn’t a minute that has passed us by. In 2002, he gave me my opportunity to show the Gabbers of the world who I am. And while I realize that this genre is a bit smaller than Mainstream EDM, the term “Gabber” which is Dutch for “Friend”, is bigger than any other sound out there, and that also relates to humans as well. Rob and I are and forever will be Gabbers. Having such a large gap of time and reconnecting the way we have has proven that. He believed in me back then and took me under his wing. He didn’t have to. In fact, he originally created ADAM Recordings as a vessel to release his own music and had no plans to sign anyone else on until we met up. I feel blessed that I was his first artist other than him on his label and here we are now in 2022, a bit older, a bit wiser, still crazy idiots, and still refuse to grow up but he opened the doors for me once more to help me come back out of retirement.

This single is just the warning salvo, as the rumblings are that you are gearing up for a bigger release. What are we in for?

Another fun fact: For the past year and a half I have been making quite a few tracks. In fact “Still Standing“ was not my first production I started and finished when I decided to make my return. I produced that song sometime after I already had about two or three other songs already finished. They just haven’t been released yet

The reason why these other songs have yet to be released is because I was not going to put out any other original song before “Still Standing“. Like anything in the music business nothing happens overnight so there was a bit of a waiting period to get this track out. I could’ve had other songs released first but having good self-discipline and being patient paid off considering the story of the “Here I Stand” and “Still Standing” connection.

Of course, if you look up any recent releases you will notice there are two remixes that I did prior to “Still Standing”. Since those were remixes of other people’s music, I don’t really count those as my official kick-off return but more of just testing the waters of how the way things get released and how things are approached in this new day and age.

At the time of this interview other original tracks that are in line for a release are titled: “Knuckledust“ (with remixes by Masters Of Noise/Dedicator and TerrorClown) and “Edge of Madness“ (with a remix by VOLAK). I also have a remix of “Riot in NY” I did for Rob GEE which is going to be the next release with my name attached to it coming up.

You are correct about a VERY big release coming down the pike. This is something very special to me. Another big production I’m looking forward to having the Gabbers of the world hear is my official remix of the mega-hit Hardcore/Gabber song “Schizophrenic“ by the legendary production team Rotterdam Terror Corps. This was one of their biggest hits in 2002. It was an honor for me to be the official remixer of this song of which has never been remixed before (not even unofficially). This remix will be coming out on their highly anticipated new album I believe later this year.

Alexander, you have dabbled in different styles with several projects in that 20 year period. Do you think in a way, these other styles have enhanced your ability to write as Perfect Dark and do you think it has changed your composing style?

Yes, absolutely it has helped. Music production isn’t necessarily like riding a bike though; once you learn doesn’t mean you will always be able to ride smoothly. Sometimes the terrain you are riding on changes. Technology has changed over time. It can be intimidating to make changes in the way you produce, the tools that the productions are made on, and the overall change and evolution of the music industry. If you want to have any chance at all in making a success of yourself, then you must push forward and accept all those changes and make them work to your advantage.

I started producing when computer-based programming was just breaking through. The effects and instrument plugins were still trying to prove themselves to the sceptics, and hardware synth keyboards were still the tried-and-true method of pattern and melody making via MIDI into the computer.

And then came the Drop Goblin era. While I wasn’t making Hardcore/Gabber, I was presented a whole new world of production methods and new software’s that allowed me to do things I wanted to do back then but didn’t have the know-how or the capability do via hardware at the time. While I admit Dubstep was just a phase and I never was truly comfortable in that genre, had I not pushed through it at the time, learned new techniques and explored new plugins that helped inspire me to make the sounds in my head become sounds in real life, I may not have had the self-disciplinary path laid out for me to come back as Perfect Dark and start producing the music I am doing now.

As far as composing style, sometimes you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I have methods that work for me, and I have stayed with these methods since the beginning. I don’t necessarily think I am saying anything too extravagant or noteworthy but, the name always comes first. I have an iPhone full of future track names. The names inspire me in how the song will sound which also includes the lyrical content if there is any. I always start with a small kick and percussion sequence in the beginning to give me a groove and I continue building as I go from there with a big blank space ahead of me. I never lay out a generic full kick sequence from beginning to end first and fill in the gaps and build on top of it. I start to get lost if I do it that way for some reason. Another thing is that I allow my mind to be creative during the time of the morning where I am still partially awake and asleep at the same time. Most of my melodies are derived from those moments. Naturally if I go back to sleep, I risk forgetting what was being conjured in my mind so I normally grab my iPhone and “hum” the idea into my voice notes so I can circle back to it later when I am looking for a melody to work off from. 9 times out of 10 though if I am feeling the momentum of a track, I will come up with something on the spot and completely forget about my rolodex of pitchy out of tune “hum” recordings sitting in my voice notes. There are many. Maybe someday I will release them as a fun bit of audio for people to enjoy at my expense.

What acts/projects heavily influenced you into getting into music?

For Hardcore/Gabber, I would say that Neophyte was my biggest influence. They are the legends in Rotterdam Holland that helped bring this genre to the ears of the world. The crew isn’t so much a crew anymore and in the present day it’s just a single entity known as DJ Neophyte, but the music, regardless of if it’s the classics or the new stuff, the sound is very inspiring. The production style is more of a bouncy triplet signature style pattern and has this ‘follow the bouncing ball’ type of rhythm to it. If I could recommend song to capture the interest of someone not familiar with this style, search on YouTube for the track “Skullfuck” (also producer credited as “Masters of Ceremony”). It’s and oldie but still my top number one favorite of all Hardcore/Gabber music.

I can’t ignore the Hardcore Metal influences though. Without the following bands I would never have had a love for aggressive music: Sheer Terror, Blood for Blood, Madball, Hatebreed to name a few. In fact, the gang vocal and metal style breakdown in “Still Standing” is completely inspired by the styles of Sheer Terror and Blood for Blood who are two of my most favorite Hardcore Metal bands of all time.

And while I wouldn’t say the following list directly inspired me as a producer, I still want to give some honorable mentions because they were a big part of my overall love for aggressive music and helped me get where I am today: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, GWAR, King Diamond, Anti-Heros, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, and a lot of other various Street Punk and Oi! bands.

Are there musicians or DJs that you love to listen to these days?

You know, I don’t really listen to many DJ’s or Producers of electronic music much on my own time. I think if you eat bologna every day in the morning, afternoon, and night it will eventually drive you nuts. I feel that when I listen to any kind of Electronic Dance Music it’s when I am within that environment, and I can appreciate it more that way. Think of it like this: I used to eat Chinese food almost daily because I love it. However, after a while it loses its treat’ness. It’s no longer a special taste to look forward to on certain days after not having any because I was eating it all the damn time. So now I eat it once a week. Sometimes even once within two weeks. I have learned to appreciate it again and no longer take that food craving for granted anymore. Same with music. Just because I produce electronic music doesn’t mean I have to listen to it constantly. Which means when I am at an event that’s playing EDM, I can appreciate the sound more since it’s not being drilled into me daily. Some people think EDM producers only listen to what they are involved in. Not me.

What I have been listening to lately is Ghost, The O’Reilly’s and the Paddyhats, Volbeat, a lot of various Skacore, one of my favorite bands Nightwish is always in my playlist, and John Denver. Yes, John Denver. John is one of my favorite solo recording artists.

If you could go back to the 90s for a day to visit a musical icon, anywhere in the world, who would you go see and where would they be?

John Denver died in October of 1997, so if this is a question of anyone living, I would say John Denver before he died. It doesn’t even have to be a one-on-one interaction. Just sitting in a crowd of people witnessing greatness would be an honor enough for me. I just never got the chance, and it sucks. Ted Vigil was cool to see as a VERY convincing John Denver impersonator and he put on a hell of a show, but that still doesn’t count.

Now if we flip the script and speak of any music icon that is no longer with us anymore, I will again say John Denver. For more reasons than just wanting to be able to see him live, but in addition I would want to know how or if he would have continued his music career. And if so, would he have stayed true to the old way of sound recording? Or would he have embraced the newer technology that is available today to really bring out his sound to an industry standard level. I might sound crazy, but I sometimes sit and stew over these thoughts wondering how he would sound today if he was still alive.

What else is in store for Perfect Dark?

I am just going to keep on keepin’ on with the resurrection of the Perfect Dark name and see where it takes me. I have a lot of work to do though. The old schoolers remember me, but I have a whole new generation of new schoolers to introduce myself to. I feel the “Still Standing” track is a good start, and it has a cool backstory, but that track is just me slightly opening the door to peek into what’s happening on the other side. Once it’s wide open I would like to think that the momentum will really start to take effect and I will be playing more events and being able to interact more personably with my current and future fans. Time will tell!

Thank you, Alexander, in joining us!


It was my pleasure. Stay hardcore guys and gals.

Perfect Dark | Facebook

GEE thAng Music | Facebook

With the release of the debut album, The Egg That Never Opened, on the 17th of June, with the record label Art As Catharsis, you may or may not have heard of High Castle Teleorkestra, but I can promise you, that once you have, you are very unlikely to forget. A core of six members, dotted around the world, whom have been associated with some big name musical acts, plus the ability to draw on other talented musicians to further enhance their sound. What is this sound you might ask? Constructive insanity comes to mind but it is more than that. These guys are the musicians that other musicians tend to get really excited about with their alternative, progressive, instrumental mixtures of tasty perfection. Crazy good at what they do and while there is an assault of all these different genres, they craft it into tracks that are seamless, occasionally haunting and more often than not, a lot of fun. There is a pervasive feeling of joy from this band that goes into bringing each piece to life and it translate into the music. Tim Smolens and Chris Bogen are the originators of the band, so who else better to talk to about this juggernaut that they have brought to life and how important castles really are in the alternative rock scene.

We at Onyx go to extreme lengths to interview creative people but storming the battlements is a first for us, so we bid thee welcome to our nightmare of siege weapons, cool pointy things and comfy pillows. Well met on the interviewing battlefield, Tim Smolens and Chris Bogen of High Castle Teleorkestra.

Professed as both recovering professional musicians…. I find this statement misleading, as I am sure that neither of you have ever been able to give up the music drug. How did you get sucked into this life of moody tunes and can you tell us about your former shady lives, as Tim you were in Estradasphere and I.S.S. to name a couple of bands and Chris in the snotty named Doc Booger.

Chris: The HCT bio tells lies! I have never been a full-time pro musician though Tim has a few inhabitants in his brain and he could technically be considered as two recovering professional musicians. I’ve mostly done a lot of extremely low profile, community and friend oriented music projects that are usually left unfinished. I’ve been persistently doing home recording stuff since the mid 1990s with a few scattered live band situations. Doc Booger was my first “commercial” release and this is my third. Every band needs a luckiest member sort of hobbit character and I guess that’s my gimmick.

Tim: Lies indeed! Given the fact that we are such small beans in this giant burrito game, it is necessary for us to embellish a bit just to help us feel like we have something to contribute to this world of interesting music, especially at our ripe old ages. Truth be told, I am not sure I ever fully made a living from music but I can tell you that I have made 1000s of dollars from music in the last 30 years!

We gather you became domesticated, settled down, had jobs and even spawned?

Tim: Living the life of a broke musician throughout my 20s, I was certain that I never wanted kids. “Somehow” my wife became pregnant and I just embraced it. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me, saving me from the sad lifestyle that so many contemporary musicians must endure. There probably hasn’t been a worse era to be a professional musician given that most people don’t buy music anymore. I would venture to guess that a majority of the public doesn’t care much for music at all other than in the most superficial of ways. So I have been married for 15 years now, have 2 kids, and make my living as an ER nurse. Even though it is hard to work music into that busy schedule, and I certainly test my wife’s patience with how much time put into it, I am under no pressure whatsoever to make a living from music although it would be a nice goal to strive for.

Chris: I was a semi-pro/amateur domesticated human for years which is probably why it took me so long to finally release some music commercially. I became professionally domesticated over a decade ago. Now there are three other people in the house that look just like me. My wife and kids are very supportive of the music project and aren’t at all sick of hearing me play the same parts over and over and over again to perfection.  And yes, full-time jobs outside of music since 2004 in the Computer Science field. I have a Ph.D. in Comp. Sci. and it has afforded me a lot of great opportunities to do interesting work and live a balanced life.  I am currently a full-time family dude, a full-time cyber security architect, a part time instructor, and a part time music dude. See. Balance!

Obviously, at some point you thought stuff this normalcy and had the idea to create some monstrous amalgamation of musical talent, calling it High Castle Teleorkestra. WHHHHHYYYYY?

Chris: I think we both hit a point in time when we were itching to create something big and prove something to the world. We knew it was time when some dramatic montage music played in the background of one of our thousands of Facebook chats.

Tim: The fact that Chris and I have stable jobs and families afforded us the luxury of having a man-cave project that our spouses would be in favor of, at least initially until they realized the depths of our obsession. During the pandemic it dawned on me how many super talented musicians I knew around the world and I didn’t see anything stopping me from forming a novel “band” with some of them.

Did covid influence this decision and maybe wanting a castle as well?

Tim: Covid was a good excuse and false pretense for making the band. A group of international talent forced to collaborate remotely due to restrictive lockdowns makes for a great narrative but the truth is we would likely be working this way regardless of the current situation on the global chessboard.

Chris: I’m going to be that annoying music snob guy that says that I’ve always wanted a castle even before everyone else wanted a castle. COVID had nothing to do with it though because we were already working together remotely having never met one another face to face.

Also, why a High Castle? Why not just a normal level Castle with a regular moat?

Chris: A high castle offers the best defense in depth strategy and you have a pretty damned good view.  It’s like having a belt with suspenders. And who said we didn’t have a moat?!

Tim: It is good to have a lofty goal even if you only realize it partially. Plus with a higher castle you can see your enemy encroaching and give you ample time to prepare to fight or run for your life like a coward.

For those unfamiliar with the composition of the band, could you give us the lineup of the members and the associated acts?

Chris: Stian Carstensen is from Farmers Market and he is our resident virtuoso. Stian always raises the stakes on our songs and makes us want to quit trying to play musical instruments. Timba Harris is from Estradasphere, Duo Probosci, Ultraphuana, and a former Secret Chiefs 3 collaborator. Timba has a unique way of arranging and performing the perfect sort of provocative and rich string parts to our already dense tunes. Dave Murray (Estradasphere, Traun) is our resident metalhead and polyrhythmic guru, and he’s managed to get some amazing drum tones in his humble home studio setup. Bär McKinnon (Umlaut and Mr. Bungle)  is one of the most unique songwriters around and is a songwriting gemstone of our band,  and he also covers much of the woodwind work and vocals on his tunes. I play guitar and some other stuff sometimes (noise collages, synths) and do my imposter syndrome undistinguished member routine with expert precision. Tim (Estradasphere, ISS, former Secret Chiefs 3 collaborator) plays bass, piano, sings, is the chief producer, and he’s a pretty damned good cook (sorry, had to talk about food after so many words about music).

Tim: Yeah, what he said.

How the heck did you manage to gather this bunch into agreeing to being a part of this?

Tim: It is funny because when I first had this idea of forming a remote band and Chris and I set to work on a few songs, we had these guys on the roster in mind. We really took our time in asking them to officially join the “band” (courtship) because we wanted to have them play on some tunes first and be impressed and intrigued; sort of a proof of concept of the “business model.” We finally popped the question and they all said yes and we set out making more kids. This wedding night still goes on and on.

Chris: Tim and I prepared a demo of Klawpeels and Tim shopped it around to his well-established friends. I did my part by sitting back and pretending it was completely normal to be in a “band” with this roster of musicians. 

A lot of these guys have been in some pretty bizarre projects, even you Tim playing live with Mr Bungle (all hail Chris Patton, Lord of the Bungle). Did you guys’ ever think…’what the fuck have I got myself into’ or was it like a comfortable set of shorts where the arse is not completely worn out yet?

Chris: I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing with these guys in HCT so I am just gonna stick with that Hobbit thing I said earlier.

Tim: To clarify, I have not played with Bungle. I did program a majority of their complex multi-keyboard setup for their California tour and they did open for my band Estradasphere as a secret warm up show for that tour. I have played live as the bassist for Bungle side project The Secret Chiefs 3. I have definitely soiled my shorts before but at this point they are pristine untl the upper thigh chub rub stench sets in.

As the name suggests, Teleorkestra, the music, is a mash of electronic and modern instruments mixed with traditional instruments plus also incorporating a vast array of styles…. sometimes all in the same track, which is bloody impressive. How did this all come about?

Chris: Our influences and interests are all over the map and combining them under one banner doesn’t seem so unusual to us. I think we just focused on each song and did our best to serve each one sonically. Somehow the track sequencing (which was sort of decided by chance) works as a satisfying progression of moods and sounds.

Tim: By the prefix “tele” is meant “at a distance” which is how our band conducts its activities.

Be honest, is it easier having your band mates as far away as possible and do you sometimes ignore their text messages and emails?

Chris: It probably makes it easier being apart  because we would end up spending hours and hours together in person slaving over these mixes and parts. Tim and I did have a few days together in person like that midway through the project when I visited him in Colorado. I’m looking forward to some more days like that because there’s nothing quite like nerding out over some music you’re excited about with a good buddy. I never thought to ignore his messages though..

Tim: By keeping these egos at a distance we avoid the drama that close-quarters band activities inevitably brings forth. Although that was not the rationale for the genesis of our group it is a pleasant side-effect. In seriousness, bands usually do end up fostering interpersonal drama and our way of working remotely is a good way to filter a lot of that out.

Your debut album is “The Egg That Never Opened,” a title that implies the loss of something important or I could be completely wrong, and it is all about the Castle dragon. What inspired you to name the album after the epic first track (which is this quasi metal, confused French/German oompha band with a sea shanty singing barbershop quartet, on a Hawaiian holiday in space inspired piece)?

Chris: Dragons are cool though I did make one very angry once near Lonely Mountain. That’s another story though.

Tim: The album is indeed based on the Philp K. Dick Book “Radio free Albemuth.” The book is 30 chapters and we decided to take it linearly so it will be a trilogy and the 10 songs on this record represent the 1st 10 chapters. The phrase “The Egg That Never Opened,” is taken directly from chapter 1 and seems to imply a main character, Nick, whose life is in a rut, stagnating, with no obvious hope on the horizon for working his way out of it. But he has lots of positive qualities and interests that could have indeed led to a more colorful life; potential that was never realized.

Chris: Damn you, I was trying to be cagey and mysterious and you gave away the keys to the castle.

Is it true the album is an exploration of a Philip K Dick novel and have you recovered from this?

Tim: Yes, it is an adaptation of Philip K Dick’s discarded novel “Radio free albemuth,” which he ended up rewriting to become “Valis.” We have not yet recovered because we are still in the throes of it with the next two parts of the trilogy.

Chris: Yes and No.

Each track has a myriad of influences, that come together and just seem to work. With the members of the band being so far flung, how do you manage to write these grandiose pieces?

Chris: There’s typically a very strong vision for each song and a good template set forth before individual band members start tracking parts. There is some cross collaboration on the songs and arrangements early on though typically one member begins with a very firm idea and we work hard on firming up the foundational aspects of a demo – tempo map, mockups of essential parts, etc.

Tim: Most of the projects I have ever done have involved mixing and matching genres that usually are not found in the same song or even the same album. It is something I have gotten better at over the years and I feel is finally really clicking in a fluent way. You wouldn’t think that some of these mixtures would work well but on this record they feel natural and not contrived. European metal waltz. Romanian folk metal. Doo-Wop surf, and so on. 

Technology now allows musicians to remotely record and share. Which member has the job of sewing it all together?

Chris: Tim does. And then me and the rest of the peanut gallery bust the seams and Tim has to do more sewing. I tend to eat a lot and not get enough exercise, so bursting seams comes naturally to me.

Tim: In general it is me that hosts the master files and I do the majority of editing and production but I am in daily contact with Chris on all the specific details. I am someone who loves teamwork and collaboration so having him to bounce ideas off is huge for me. I may be doing a majority of the grunt production work but his influence on this record cannot be overstated. Him and I rarely disagree and if we do it is in a friendly manner. The other guys will chime in if they have a suggestion. Bar is pretty specific related to the songs he wrote, so dialing that in on his 2 songs was a bit of a challenge to suit his fancy, but I think it all worked out really well.

“Mutual Hazard” was released as a single and it is a whirling dervish, magnetic and alluring, will probably drunkenly stab you later with a goose sort of thing. Who was the mastermind behind this track and what inspired you, as it is brilliant?

Chris: Dave Murray is the mastermind behind the metal aspects of the song which also contain the unorthodox polyrhythms. He arranged the guitar parts and I performed them with very slight modifications. Timba wrote and recorded the stunning string parts. As said, Tim was the mastermind of fitting all these disparate pieces together and making them work – with a little help from me and others in the peanut gallery. Most of the rest of it is in letting the performers and the melody shine. 

Tim: I will add that the song is a traditional Romanian folk song and Stian is master of that style so he was very helpful and played some mean accordion parts as well as rhythm guitar (a nuanced rhythmic style that fall squarely outside of Chris’s wheelhouse). Stian brought in 2 guest players a Bulgarian violinist and a cimbalom player which really added to the authenticity of the folk aspect.

Interestingly, you are on the Art As Catharsis label, who are Australian, which leads us to ask why an Aussie label and how has that worked out for you?

Chris: We saw Crocodile Dundee and Young Einstein when we were kids and it inspired us to go buy boomerangs, big knives, and score an Australian label contract. When our music reaches the masses in Australia we are hoping to star in our own American-in-Australia wacky rom coms. I’m from Louisiana so I’ll be in Alligator Yankee. Who knows what Tim will do. But for real, we really dig Lachlan Dale (label manager) and his mission at Art as Catharsis. I’m proud to be a part of the AAC family.

Tim: Australia has been a great supporter of interesting music over the years. Mr. Bungle was very successful there and Estradasphere has many fans down under. It seemed like a natural fit to us. Art As Catharsis is a great label that has been a launching pad for many creative acts.

What bands and acts influenced your music insanity?

Chris: Chet Atkins, Arthur Lyman, Dick Dale, Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Esquivel, Perrey and Kingsley, The Three Suns, Luiz Bonfa’,Taraf de Haïdouks, The Shadows, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Santo and Johnny, Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, The Ventures, Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Harold Budd, Beach Boys, Slayer, Metallica, Death, Meshuggah, Steely Dan, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Mancini,and on and on. 

Tim: to add to Chris’s nice list I would nominate Ennio Morricone and a variety of Italian film luminaries (Piero Picciono, Piero Umiliani, Bruno Nicolai, Nino Rota, and many more.), Joe Meek, The off kilter “world music” explorations of the label Sublime Frequencies, the harmonic mastery of Jacob Collier, Sam Cooke, a huge variety of Doo-Wop artists and so much more.

If you could have a guest musician or two, join you and it could be anyone, re-animated or living, whom would you dearly like?

Chris: If I had that kind of power then surely I could get more than one or two! Though there was one time where I had that wish while making the album:  I would have really liked to have brought in Jean Jacques Perrey to do some crazy tape splicing stuff on the title track of our album. I would also have loved to have had Arthur Lyman play vibes on Placentia.

Tim: I would love to have Jacob Collier,whom Stian has collaborated with,  guest on a track. I would bring back Joe Meek to produce surf songs for us, and a guest appearance from legendary studio drummer Bernard Purdie would be swell. (Chris: aw hell yeah!).

What is in the future for the eclectic High Castle Teleorkestra?

Chris: A short stack of filthy stinking $10 (USD) bills to divide amongst the band members so that we can take our families and significant others out to pick out their favorite pack of chewing gum or single serving hard candy piece!  

Tim: We can hopefully finish off these next 2 albums to complete the trilogy before our bodies become infirm, we are wearing depends, ambulating with a walker, and falling frequently in our low-income nursing homes before we finally break that hip and the trials rehab prove to be the final blow. We will keep plugging away as quickly as our busy family lives will allow.

We thank you kindly for your parley, Tim and Chris, and we also know this album is going to knock some boots off!

Chris: Thank you, it was a gas!

Tim: Yes indeed, we loved this unorthodox interview.

Music | High Castle Teleorkestra (bandcamp.com)

High Castle Teleorkestra | Facebook

art as catharsis – search results | Facebook

Be afraid, be very afraid for they are out there in you garden, under the stairs and in your saunas. We are talking GNOMES and they apparently are trying to ruin your day. For years, there have been voices in the wilderness, warning us of the peril. One such soothsayer is TFG, formally of the Finnish band TONTTU, whom is spreading the word via the medium of music but also in this interview. Before reading, find yourself a safe place, a soothing drink, a second set of underwear and snacks because you are in for an education about our ancient enemy —-> the pointy hat vermin. Flamethrowers and gnomes and kangaroos…..oh my!

Welcome to Onyx, Tonttufindergeneral Hanz-Baal (later on referred as TFG). You will be happy to know that the windows and doors will be bolted for the entirety of this discussion, so there are no pesky intruders. We even checked the biscuit jars for infiltrators.

Well thank you, nice of you to acknowledge that there is huge demand for my wisdom.
Bolted doors and windows let alone removed eye lids and tongue are a great start, my absolute approval for taking those necessary measures. I would burn that biscuit jar but that’s just me… Being known for nuking couple of backyards does miracles for one’s reputation!

So, how may I help you? Let me guess, you might have some enlightened questions about the gravest of issues: Gnomes and all around gnomishness destroying our way of life and the planet itself. I bet this is about those particular issues and I am more than happy to oblige, we might even talk about Anti-Gnome / Pro-Gnome Muzikk/zakk while we are at it and if I feel praised enough. To protect and to burn:

Let us start.

Soooo, TFG, when did you become aware that Finland has a severe gnome issue?

Gnomes are everywhere and Finland is part of that everywhere so there you go… Also that horrid enabler Santa lives in here so that also is a huge warning sign…

But gotta say the core crew of TONTTU lives in the most happy township of Finland and our country being often selected as the happiest country in the world… I must say that Anti-Gnomen can make the difference! But it was all different before we came to play: Everyone was drinking and sulking and committing murders and suicides and thingies like that, abominous. They praise us as national heroes nowadays and gotta say they just might be right at that.

But yeah, vigilance is always the key when noticing things other (lesser) people often miss.

How did you find out about the gnomes and what their mission is?

When stumbling on the first hardship in life: My milk was a bit too warm to my liking and the biscuit was a bit on the softer side… I realized instantly that there is no other reasonable explanation to that than gnomes! No way around it. And oh boy was I right, as usual I might add.

After careful studies I proved my theory right and now the majority of scientists approve my thesis as the ultimate truth… At least those scientists I approve of, but they are far better than those other ones I cannot stand so there is no comparison at this point.

The final truth is that gnomes cause our every hardship without a reason of a doubt, there is no denying the science behind that phenomenon.

Their mission? To liberate us from our existence, to gnomify us, to drive us into extinction or help us to do it ourselves… They are the pure evil unlike us people with our caring and helpful attitude. we could do nothing wrong even if we tried to, gnomes on the other hand praise greed and money and care nothing about other species let alone this planet, pthui…Oh how much I despise them and their vile ways!

Gotta say after telling my sophisticated ideas some might consider me as totalitarian Phantom, you know that lovely story about that heroic chap wearing blueish spandex outfit beating up bad guys? Ah, if that was the case I only got that Ring of Evil as I do not seek for good people to bash (only those doing the gnomes’ deeds or being one of em), even though I am intrigued to hit them with that Good Mark Ring so that I would remember them later on – I am sure my comrades would approve that idea. But flamethrower and gnomes are good enough for me. Yeah, some may see me a bit “totalitarian” but I myself see me as an extremely liberal nice fella, a hero if you will, who is up to nothing but good ideas, for example the final solution for those gnarly little pointy hatted critters – who on earth would oppose that?

You created the band TONTTU, which literally means gnome, in 1994. Did you think the war against gnomes would be going on for this long?

Not quite sure of the year but thinketh it was a bit later, but who cares anyways! Our first “Kabouter Dämmerung” was released early 1997 or late 96 or something in between but the first version of “Saunatonttu” came into existence somewhere between 94-95 so you are not that wrong.

The official TONTTU as a project came to fruition circa 95-96 with me and Petja and in the studio Toby was added into mixture. But who cares about exact years, gnomes invented time anyways and we must resist their schemes with all of our strength plus additional 27 percent – at the very least.
Next in line was our second ep “Gnomedrome” including remixes from the first one and our first martial ditty “Taisteluni.” That one is a beast made with excellent taste, for the most part politically correct…ish.

Then Petja got kidnapped by gnomes and we do not negotiate with them so…
Out with the old and in with the new: “Some” time passed and we continued with new crew including brilliant Großinquisitor Rudolf Von Deer and with some compositionary help from High Commander Hephzipah later on. Fun fact: Rudie was in da house when we came up with Saunatonttu way back when so this move made perfect sense. This crew came out to be the core for later TONTTU-endeavours. We released “Nekrognomekon” (with those 2 older eps and brand new ep “Der Zwergenhammer” in 2013) and then made our first full length / long ep “Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4 (Mastering the fine art of gnome eradication)” 2014 – that was the first one through that lovely label Panicmachine. Brilliant album by the way, very hateful and lifts one’s spirit to the max and beyond!

Enough of this subject, I think.

TONTTU was meant to be just a nice little military special operation but it turned out to be total war. Gnomes did not surrender, submit or just die so they gave us no choice. We are just making this world a better place for everyone and in the process some MAGGA may occur. Not clear enough for you? Make Anti-Gnomen Great Again that means but I would even go as far as to say MAGGS meaning Make Anti-Gnomen Greater Still! Glorious, even if I say so myself.

If at some point all the nations decide to declare me as the most benevolent supreme leader, which I obviously already am at some level, I will humbly and most gracefully accept. If that is to happen I will make sure to make this world such a safe place that no one will even dare to think otherwise, you know I am begin to feel quite sentimental here, just thinking of all the torches and pitchforks we can carry in all of those joyful little hunting parades we will arrange and what not!

Everyone will have to make some minor sacrifices and naturally some will have to compensate for others but in the end everyone wins as some fortunate ones even will have the splendid opportunity to become martyrs for this sacred cause – no greater glory! Where is those darn fanfares when we need them? Execute those slackers responsible for this humiliation! Ummh… Sorry, just got a bit carried away but hey, everyone would agree with me in the future if not for now… As you were, ahem.

Be as it may: “Gnomes may come and gnomes may go but Anti-Gnomen lives forever.”
You all reading this might like to have a motivational painting in your wall saying that, if I may say so… And soon it will happen anyways…


What is your official designation in the band and other band members, who are obviously not gnomes?

If talking about late TONTTU core crew:
*Tonttufindergeneral Hanz-Baal: Vox, Lyrixx, all around bossing around – initiative so to speak. The propagandist.
*Großinquisitor Rudolf Von Deer: Muzikk, Mixx, Mastering.
*High Commander Hephzipah: Composing, (later on) Voxx.

You might like to check those involved in Gnostrogoth separately and naturally Freiherr was in our two latest albums, bless him and his suspicious beard!

In these newer projects with TFG (TONTTU) I do what I always do: Lure people in starting the project usually, make lyrixx and voxx and spam it around afterwards.
usually my name is to be found in the title featuring, but there is also projects with “proper” name like Wake Island Rail, Hollow Columns…

How did you and your comrades in arms come together against the marauding hoards?

With the core crew: Nothing like old comrades fighting side by side in this horrid but necessary war! So first we knew each other and then bought a shared second-hand flamethrower. Nothing like old friends singing kumbayah while covered in gnomes’ blood!
Comrades that joined later on are mostly the spoils of social media that I got lured into my boat (called “MeHtzGnomz 1.”) The blessed filter of Anti-Gnomen, yes.

Your sound has been most eloquently described as anti-gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal. Would you say this was fairly accurate?

Well as I invented it I do most certainly agree!My ideas more than often “rule” and are “hip.” Been talking to some wretched souls and quite many do in fact think that it really is the word to describe our muzikk. I do not encourage people to disagree, but still.
We do mix those musical elements with solid message, thus it depicts the sound and idea most definitively.



How does your music translate into fighting the gnome scourge?

Not quite sure what you mean but as usual that does not prevent me from giving my opinion! But if I got you right our music is highly militant and martial to raise the spirits of future martyrs! Also our lyrics give some nifty tricks how to get rid of those pesky little wankeroonies and/or tells tales about their schemes. If you ever have stumbled on our neverred “Tonttujen Kestit: Jälkiruoka” (from AGD4) that might just explain everything… It is quite graphic little ditty to say the least. I think it is one of our most praised endeavours to this day.

All our digital albums include line by line translations as do our videos, so I advice everyone to see what the lyrics are all about. Not for the faint of heart I might have to add.


TONTTU are on the UK label Panicmachine. They seem like a nice bunch. Do they believe in tricky gnomes, how do they help in the war and does the UK also have a gnome problem?

Panicmachine – I love em, they have been nothing less than supportive to the max and I think our synergy is more than great. It is symbiotic relationship, I would say. Of course they do believe in those bearded mothergnomers and they have seen the benefits of Anti-Gnome Muzikk in practice protecting their HQ by listening our musikk 25/8
.
UK has a huge gnome problem! Pip-pip cheerio for the past glory of that land, sad to say…
Maybe they will wake up at some point and notice, that being a wanker or a tosser is not the way to keep the country great, but we will see. Gnomishness is what gnomishness does and it can be conquered if there is will to do so… But there are ways to convince common people to bite their own legs so gnomes do not have to bother… Media and social media can do wonders when people are eager to believe the gnarly whispering voices of em turtoidian gnomes.

Must say they have got great bands though, I find Midnight Configuration and Chaos Bleak as very Anti-Gnomen, for example… Not to mention Fear Incorporated (will mention them every gnomin’ time I will get the chance and most probably even if not).


Your first ‘proper’ album came out in 2013 called Nekrognomekon, so how do you feel your sound has changed since this album and did you get any feedback from the gnomes?

Well hard to say as it contains 3 of our first eps but when we reached the martial sound of “Taisteluni” and continued that idea with the 2013 ep “Der Zwergenhammer” with the new crew I think we found our way. Basically the same recklessness is there all the way but maybe we focused on certain style of perfecting it.
Adding High Commander into the mix in the next release brought some more classical take into it and there we were… Thinking afterwards “Riimuja ja Tonttuja”-album kinda was the ultimate showdown for that style and shows what polished Ant…metal might be like.Rudie really took that to extreme s and we got some great feedback. Freiherr von Gargamel joined us on that album and looky looky his specialities: Violin, Viola, Recorders, Tin whistle, Mouth harp, Baglama saz, Mandolin. Highly folkish and finely tuned!

Our last album Gnostrogoth was done quite differently and it sure involved same elements but the approach was quite different, we were more like doing a jukebox than solid, integral release.

Feedback? Hahhahahah, you gnomin bet! Finnish gnomesian media hated it and that is one of the main reasons I decided to go on! First positive reviews came from that questionable character Mr. Gullotta / Brutal Resonance and from respectable P. Emerson Williams / Intravenous Magazine – yes, the very same Williams I learned to know after this review… Anti-Gnomen goes a long way.

Also heard couple of gnomes commenting it and it went like this:
“EEEÄÄÄÄÄÄRRGGGGGHHHHYYYYYYYY…..GHRLGURG!” Not quite sure if I got it totally right, but found em dead afterwards and that made me realize the potential of our muzikk.


Most recently members of TONTTU have been involved in collaborations with other artists. Can you tell us how you came to recording with Australia’s Captain Kangaroo?

GENERAL Kangaroo SGS, ahem!
What a lovely little hippity-hoppity that unsung hero is! I think I have got Mister Rowland from Disjecta Membra to thank for it if my memory serves me right, thinketh he mentioned about a nice kangaroo he ran across while on tour. That nice kangaroo also happened to be fierce and relentless roaming around the wastelands of Aussieland… Also that blessed creature was hating gnomes like no kangaroo before, it appeared we got along just fine him praising my… Ummmhh… he must have praised something I am sure… And me admiring his slick moves and blistering hatred towards gnomes, not to mention his balalaika skills!
Blaa and blaa and we ended up doing couple of collaborational dittys first as music videos and in the end released as an… drums… EP!!!!! You would not have ever guessed that, huh? It came through No Devotion Records and includes couple of smashing remixes, you must check that out.


You also have collaborated with many of the acts signed with Panicmachine, most recently, EPs with Phobos Reactor. I must ask, what was going on to make these EP?!

Phobos Reactor is not signed to Panicmachine, I kinda dragged them there with these collaborations, you can find their magnificent original stuff from here: https://phobosreactor.bandcamp.com/
They are from Germany by the way and I love to work with them, always a pleasure. We have done 4 eps so far and so proud of them all. The most notable thing is that only one of them is “openly” Anti-Gnome Muzikk, our latest classic #FOLITWIBG. Heheheh, you were brave enough to review it, my highest regards for that! Utter coolness. That was the only one with me only and PB – others also showcased my dear collaborator HCH.

“Enneuni”-ep was Finnish spoken word with short stories, fables if you will. “The Daily Torture of the Commonplace” and our our earliest collab “A Dream Within A Dream” are in English viewing this world through slightly sardonic lense. Ah, goode olde world views in there, gnomes not mentioned but more than present in these ones.

By the way we did a little project within a project in Gnostrogoth album as Phobos Reactor was inside TONTTU and damn did they provide or not! Spoiler: They did.

As for collaborating with actual Panicmachine artists must mention Veil of Thorns and P. Emerson Williams (he also makes all the groovy cover art for us, kudos!) We have made one ep “012333” and that was surprisingly for No Devotion Records-label. Other collabs include for example project Gnomenblut single also with Dean from Bleeding Raven / Gnostic Gorilla. There will be more different collaborations in the future rest assured,

We have released numerous projects featuring myself under the name TFG (TONTTU) in Panicmachine and the story is always the same: Panicmachine seems more than happy to release my collaborational endeavours and I drag more and more willing victims in there. Bless their dark hearts.
Gotta salute especially my Norwegian comrade Ron of Simplefixty, skål!


The gnomen seem to bring people together, even if they are a blight on the world, don’t you think?

How can anyone sleep while gnomes are not burning? Need is must and people with any brains see the necessity of joining the cause or perish in flames of the all devouring gnomishness.
Anti-Gnomen is really the greatest filter for human character, hands down.
I very rarely get disappointed with people engaging with The Cause, naturally some gnome sympathizers try to sneak in from time to time but that just improves our defence systems.
Praised be!

Did you quote Midnight Oil when you referred to burning gnomes while people sleep and are they part of the underground fight?


They stole that from me and without a trace of shame adapted that for their own evil deeds! Should have gotten paid because of that but being the generous person I am I let them get away with it… For now… That is just because they are talking about burning and I just cannot be that angry with them because of that. Soft spot and all that.

One of my favourite movies in the Swedish vampire movie, Frostbitten, where one of the teenagers stabs a vampire with a garden gnome (death by gnome). Are vampires and gnomes natural enemies?

Vampires are in fact nothing more than mosquitoes that has been possessed by gnomes so that incident must be just some perversed vision of some horrible Swede! It is a gnome eat gnome world after all so everything is possible in the end and I know cases where gnomes and their collaborators are just having obscurious fun by playing dead / killing each other. We must remember that dying enhances their red magikk so they can have fun and reap the benefits at the same time. Damn them and their weird ways! Vampire movies and literature are very popular, yet another example of how gnomes redwash media and try to gain the status where people see them as a desirable form of being, like accepting someone pulling your teeth one by one… Damn humans being so gullible, we will remember THAT kinda sympathisers when the tide turns…


What bands or artists got you into music BFG (Before The Gnomes)?

Oh Lordy, that is a tough one… Those leading straight to Anti-Gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal as follows: Laibach and Skinny Puppy (always!), NON, Keuhkot (Finnish avant-garde), Two Witches, Blood Axis, King Diamond / Mercyful Fate…Add folklorian truths, some political insights and some tasteful humour + what ever sounds good at the moment = You are set!

Been listening to music all my life and got sweet spot for hippie/heavy time: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath etc… Then again early metal like Judas Priest. Black Metal like Emperor and Thorns, Isengard and Storm… Not to forget Urfaust. Hahahahha and must not also forget Venom, Celtic Frost and the almighty Triptykon! At some point really liked neo-folk, even though it is a chess game for some highly gnomesian things. Same goes with martial industrial that I music wise enjoy immensely, acts like Puissance with extremely sardonic lyrics, ooooh…

Naturally darker electro/industrial like Ministry, Leaether Strip (ooooh, Science for the satanic citizen sure is close to my heart), Front 242, all those greats. From the goth side of things Sisters Of Mercy and Christian Death with Rozz…

Cannot remember all of them neither have I enough space to name them all but my opinions sure trump all the questionable scientific facts or what not alternative truths! If someone disagrees may that scoundrel negotiate with the business end of my flamethrower, enough said.


What musical acts do you enjoy now?

Laibach! Hahahahhahah… I think in the later spectrum I would have to mention Fear Incorporated and everything else Sir William makes like Dark Sinfonia, Gnostic Gorilla (especially their fantastic album “St. basil’s Asylum), Korpituli & Iku-Turso (Finnish black metal)…

I am not too keen to find new music, but sometimes comrades really bring some seriously neat stuff to my attention. I also often find myself listening to comrades’ bands like Choronzon, Sounds Like Winter, Harmony Garden etc… Couple of newer acts I really do enjoy: Wargasm (UK) and Bloodywood – heheheh, new school Nu Metal! Got soft spot also for Linkin Park, Mushroomhead etc. so nothing new there.

But all the old ones usually stay there and add couple of bands to the list there and then. No matter of the genre as long as it is good. Talking about hard to define everyone should listen to Rummelsnuff, that man is a hero in my eyes (and ears)!



How may others join you in the war against the pointy hatted little beasties?

Hmm, respectable question indeed but all this makes me wonder whether your intentions are pure? Maybe you are collecting classified information for your little friends? Let us believe you for now, but consider yourself warned…

Kill a gnome, heck, kill two while at it! Resist all gnomishness, burn your sauna down and/or make/listen glorious Anti-Gnome Muzikk and force other people to do the same. There are many ways and you will find yours if you want – the main thing is to stay alert and be suspicious about everything and/or everyone. Loose lips cost human spleens so be sneaky whatever you choose to do.


Do you think they will ever join forces with the Norwegian trolls, and could there be a black metal/industrial album on horizon to combat them?

Some forms of gnomes have (d)evolved from gnomes like we inform for example in our song “Peikosta tontuksi.” So answer is probably so. We have in fact made couple of red metal dittys found from our album “Gnostrogoth.” W.V. Obscenvs Tomtenkopfff kindly provided us with couple of splendid tunes while joining us with the last TONTTU-album. Maybe we will visit those glorious moments with my feat-stuff later on, let us see. Something may be in the works.


What are you going to get up to in the future and will gnomes be involved?

To extinction and hell if people are not repenting and making the change needed! SHTF and TEOTWAWKI is upon us and we can hear gnomes laughing escorting us there! Behold: We are all doomed!
Oh… You meant future projects… Ummmh… But I won’t take my words back as they are the truth and the wisdom.

As TONTTU is done and dusted in the most glorious way I will continue my path with smaller projects with other musishuns, a ditty here & ditty there featuring TFG (TONTTU)– basically having a good time and getting more time for eradicating actual gnomes, you dig? Some projects are hibernating as gnomes seem to bother those trying to collaborate with me – wise of them but very annoying for me not knowing if we ever get there with all the projects… Well, I can only do my part if others provide what they have promised too.
Dunno whether this or my next Finnish EBM-collab (about chilies and stuff) is out first, but it will be a blast – like the joyous last project with Exemia, what a brain melter that was!

Yes, fighting gnomes is essential and I will never abandon that – needless to say of course.
Do remember: Everything is always about gnomes, one must only stay vigilant enough to spot that. The golden rule states: “If you have got the slightest of suspicion: Eradicate!”

Must not forget that The Book is coming! It may take some time, but “Gnomeus Gnomeficarum” will explain everything and then some, with my trusted comrade TJB Morrison as the main author and P. Emerson Williams illustrating it nothing can go wrong when telling about my glorious tale! Huzzah!

Thank you TFG for your time and good luck in fighting the good fight!

Thank you to you too, may gnomes never slurp your spleen or worse (if that is even possible). T’was a pleasure indeed and keep up the good work.

PS: If you ever want to feel the joys of martyrdom just give me a nudge!

TFG out. Fanfares?! DAMMIT!!!!


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Music | PANICMACHINE

General Kangaroo SGS feat. TFG (TONTTU) | General Kangaroo SGS feat. TFG (TONTTU) | No Devotion Records (bandcamp.com)

TFG (TONTTU) Presents: Der Kompilazion​-​e Magnifique, Perkele! | TFG (TONTTU) | No Devotion Records (bandcamp.com)