Recorded August 4th, 2013 + + + for OBSKÜRE magazine (issue #17) + + + Questions by: Vincent Tassy (thank you for your patience!)
Could you talk about your relation with Poe’s work? Is he the poet that left the most powerful mark on you? I feel that your entire work is touched by the shadow of Poe, and that Poe’s poetry is a way for you to tell the depths of your soul…
It's funny that you ask ... well, maybe not funny, but interesting ... because only a few days ago I was reminded of my very first encounter with the works of POE. It was in third or fourth grade, so I must have been either eight or nine, and we were reading "
The tell-tale Heart
", in a German translation, of course ... or maybe it was read
us, I cannot quite remember, I don't even know if we were actually told the name of the author ... well, we probably were, but, if so, that information obviously went straight into one ear and out of the other, because even back then I had no interest in people.
However, I only mention this, because, even though I didn't care who the author was, the story itself, or rather, the images that it created in my head left a deep impression on me. I was strangely attracted to the story ... I felt there was an enormous power behind it ... but, since I was so young, I didn't really understand the connection. I didn't know, why I felt the way I felt. The images, however, that were conjured up that day, they never left me. I still remember them.
So, flash forward a few years ... at the age of twelve, when my depression started to become heavier, and I thought of suicide as an option for the first time ... I gradually drew the cloak of darkness around me, if you wish, and slowly descended down into the world of shadows, and in the course of that I tried to find solace in the world of classical phantastic literature. You cannot imagine my relief, that sense of
, if you wish, when I discovered that someone, I had already encountered, had actually been waiting for me there all the time.
It was about 3:00 o'clock in the morning, and I was way too tired to type, so I just recorded everything to have it transcribd later. For the actual article my answers were translated into French ... and if you are interested, you can order the printed issue of the magazine right HERE.
As I said, it was 3:00 a.m., so forgive me, if I am basically mumbling my way through this interview. ENJOY (if you
It was about 3:00 o'clock in the morning, and
I was way too tired to type this
, so I just
everything for a change, to have it transcribed later. For the actual article the answers were translated into
, and if you are interested (as you should be),
you can order a copy of the printed magazine
As I said, it was 3:00 a.m., so I am basically just mumbling my way through this interview. Don't get confused, because I am also reading the questions to myself (well, except for the first one). Oh, and
there is also a bit of music in there
...somewhere. You can also download the audiofile of this interview from
Would POE be the perfect reflection of your soul?
AVC:You know, this may be an embarrassing thing to admit, but ... honestly ... you have no idea how right you are. When I began to work on
, I approached the poems from the outside, if you know what I mean. I met them like old friends or acquaintances, ghosts, I had already encountered in the past ... but when the album was completed ... and that's actually the embarrassing part ... I had completely
that those words had originally been written by a different person. I felt like they were my own, as I had made them my own. In fact, they felt more like SOPOR than SOPOR did ... if that makes any sense to you. I didn't just adapt them to music ... - I adapted them to
There is a sound, a sort of funeral whistling, that comes often in your music, especially since "Children of the Corn" (for instance on "Dreamland" or the wonderful "The Haunted Palace")… it makes me think of old horror movies. Are those movies getting a growing influence in your work?
AVC:Umm ... I know what you mean. That's the old theremin. The sound is almost synonymous with old black & white science-fiction and horror movies, yes ... it's the sort of instrument you literally expect to hear when you think of these films ... and I cannot deny that I am actually very fond of it. I have always been. It just suits me perfectly. Aside from the errie atmosphere it creates, it's also a lovely bridge between the coldness of the synthesizer and the warm of the violins. It combines, it balances the extremes ... and that's what I am all about.
Do you like the movie "The Oblong Box" with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee? That’s the only Poe story that you interprete and which is not a poem but a short story…
AVC:To be honest, I cannot remember it. I know that I have watched it, but it obviously didn't leave any impression on me. Otherwise I would remember it. Unlike Roger Corman's adaptation of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, also with a divine Vincent Price ... in dark velvet and bleached hair ... and generally divine and beautiful ... and breath-taking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is my favourite POE adaptation. That one definitely has left a lasting impression on me ... until this very day.
Was it hard to choose the poems that you would put to music?
AVC:No, and yes and No. Where shall I begin? Hmm, OK ... when you listen to "
", which is the last track on CHILDREN OF THE CORN, you can hear that there is a destinct DEAD LOVERS' SARABANDE vibe in the string section. Well, maybe
cannot hear it, because it's rather short, and there is a lot of other stuff going on, but it
there ... take my word for it. Or, actually, I can play it for you. Wait a second ...
plays fabulous music
... so, this is the kind of mood I was in when the album closed. When I finished it.
After I had finished CHILDREN OF THE CORN I had this feeling that I really needed to go and clean up my house ... as in to revisit old recordings that I had never been happy with, those that still carried an importance, that were still relevant to me, those I still felt a connection with. And, naturally, the first thing that came to mind were the POE adaptations. Most of all "
", from that unlistenable piece of shit SPIRAL TRAVELLER album. God, I hate that thing, but that's public knowledge. I'm allowed to say that. I did it.
You see, my initial idea was to do a mere 12" single with "
" on side one, maybe, and "
" and "
" on the other. But then suddenly "
" had a twin brother, and on top of that my label suggested that I should do at least a 7 track mini-album instead of just a 12" single ... so ... pfff ... I thought 'what the hell', and re-did
of my POE tracks.
When you are still in the early stages of an album, things tend to be vague, and you're not always sure, in what direction the albums wants to go. You're not quite certain of its purpose. But as you work on it, things always become clearer, gradually ... and so, after a while, I realised that
in fact wanted to be an album ... and for this I needed more material. So, initially, on a conscious level, that was the only reason why I was looking for further poems to put to music ... but, naturally, I couldn't just pick anything at random. There had to be a connection.
A Dream within a Dream
", of course, was an obvious choice ... and the only other two poems I could think of doing were "
The Haunted Palace
" and "
The City in the Sea
The funny thing about "
The City in the Sea
" was, that I had never really read it before. I mean, yes ... I had read it once or twice, but only cursory, and as a consequence, I had never really understood it. Also because, in my memory, it had blended together with Jacques Tourneur's film "The City under the Sea" ... also with Vincent Price ... which, I guess, is why I always believed that poem describes some sort of ghostly submarine habitat. What a joke.
The Haunted Palace
" it was similar. Even though it is actually part of my all time favourite POE story ... the masterpiece which is THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER ... I was never really aware of it. Again, yes, I had read it a few times on it own, but, because of my careless reading, I actually believed that the poem was about a haunted building. I mean, how ridiculous is that?! Can you believe it?! However, when the album was finished, "
The Haunted Palace
" turned out to be the
songs that actually makes me shiver ... it still does ... and when I listen to the album in one sitting, the very moment this song ends and the first notes of the last song begin ... I start to cry. Every time.
When I began working on
, the poems and I were merely like friends or acquaintances ... but when it was finished ... we had become
Did you re-record all musical versions already made because you didn’t like the first substance anymore? The new "
The Conqueror Worm
" or "
" are all slower and less synthetic – keyboards and electronic effects are totally banished in those new versions.
AVC:No, not all of them. I actually quite liked the instrumental version of "
" on SANATORIUM ALTROSA ... I could have pronounced that more German, by the way ... and even "
" from the SONGS FROM THE INVERTED WOMB I was always fine with. "
", however ... urgh, no ... I didn't like that one a bit. Ironically, I thought that would be the one track I would have the least trouble with. You know, just record it again in superb quality and, voilà, job done. But ... umm ... no, it's just never that easy. The very moment I put the CD in the player I felt like running out of the room. God, it was dreadful. To me this old version was repetitive, boring and generally awful. I mean, I did still like the melodies and all ... they are beautiful ... but the song needed serious improvement! -- Which it got, and now it's perfect.
Do you conceive the ancient body of art as something needing permanent recreation/updating?
AVC:Umm, no. Not when it's done correctly in the first place ... only when the inner conflict, which had been the source and reason to create a certain song in the first place, hasn't been properly dissolved. In other words, when a topic is still relevant, then ... yes ... it sometimes can be neccessary to have a look at a song again.
When there’s an instrumental part in a song, is that a way for you to translate what the "blank" of the poem makes you feel, a manner to catch the listener’s attention on something that he could not notice, because "nothing is written" between the verses?
AVC:Yes. I remember a similar question from a German magazine ... only with a more negative attitude ... regarding the song "
To walk behind the Rows
" from CHILDREN OF THE CORN. They actually suggested that I had run out of words half way through the track. I mean, imagine. What they obviously didn't know or understand was that, even
words, you can still tell a story ... simply by choosing your orchestration, your instruments accordingly. There is atmosphere, melody ... all these things. They all have meaning. They transport information. They are not just pretty noise, you know.
", for example, there is a reoccuring instrumental phrase that has the same function of a chorus in a popsong. It repeats and emphasises the essence of the song. Naturally, the is no such thing as a chorus in the original poem ... so here the instrumental part gives you space ... and time ... it allows for you to let, what you have just heard, sink it. -- You know, space is important in music. It's not just the notes.
Why have you chosen to make an instrumental version of "
" whereas there wasn't one on VOYAGER? How do you perceive the link between the two parts of this song?
AVC:That just happened. It needed a twin brother. That's how it wanted to materialise. It was just too complex for just one entity. It's...umm...as I just said: instrumental music
transport information as well. So, just listen to it, and maybe you'll figure it out.
Are there other poets you would like to explore through your music?
AVC:Hmm. No. Not really.
Could you tell me some words about the booklet which goes with the CD? I didn't have a chance to see it yet. Whom did you work with, to create it?
AVC:Well, there are actually two entirely different editions ... the vinyl version and, as you just said, the CD book. The vinyl cover features an older photo from the HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GHOST session, which was photographed by Ingo Römling, and that was later transformed by Natalie Shau. It also comes with two posters and a booklet of wonderful black & white illustrations by Keith Thompson, which are somewhat reminiscent in style of Harry Clarke's POE drawings. It's all really beautiful and otherwordly, if you wish.
The CD book, on the other hand, features 156 pages of mere photos. It's not meant to be particularly artistic. It's just ... photos ... if that makes any sense to you. It's not supposed to be a visual translation of the poems. It's more like a simple, private photo-album.
What’s your favourite of Poe’s poems? I feel something very strong with "
", when I’m listening to your version…
AVC:My favourite poem had always been "
" ... but that is not true anymore, because now it is
in its entirety. That may sound odd or even arrogant, but I don't mean it like that. It's an entity of its own now.
is my very own connection to POE. The spirit of POE.
What does it mean for you to end this album with "
A Dream within a Dream
"? The most lightful, and maybe the most moving song of all, for me… Which personal feeling does it reveal? A desire to leave life and vanish into the light?
A Dream with a Dream
" was the only possible conclusion of the album. It's the moment when I cannot hold back my tears any longer. There is a moment in "
The Haunted Palace
" when everything becomes quite and there is the sound of wind blowing over the tops of the ruins, and that's when there is a chill running down my spine, literally. I can feel my heart in my throat ... everything gets pulled together inside of me ... and when the first notes of "
A Dream within a Dream
" start, I can feel the tears running down my face. Every single time. It is a very sad song.
You had told me, when CHILDREN OF THE CORN was released, that every piece of your work was like a seed that you could watch growing. What do you feel now when you’re listening to A TRIPTYCHON OF GHOSTS?
AVC:I still like it, fortunately, but of course it's completely different than
. "Ghosts" was meant as a sexorcism. It is naughty, ironic, sarcastic all that ... and in comparison almost
is the exact opposite of that.
Do you regularly come back and listening to the previous works you've made or is there a detachment phenomenon for you, once a thing's done?
AVC:Both. I do feel detached from my old recordings ... like they were done by someone else and not me ... and whenever I listen to them ... for
reason ... I am therefore always surprised at how complex the songs are, and how insightful. It's strange, really. I go like:
gosh, it's really brilliant. How did he know?
Ah, well...and then I remember.
Have you started to work on new material ?
AVC:Gosh, you're nosy. Umm, yes, I actually have recorded another album. Now you know. And if it goes to plan it will be out in February.
Thank you for your answers... I guess that you hate interviews and that it seems useless for you to explain something that we should be able to feel when listening to your music... Would you say there's a part of you suffering when you face promotional obligations? ;)
AVC:It's not that I expect people to understand any of the SOPOR albums, what they are about, or even to feel what I feel. That's silly, ridiculous. That is impossible. No, the reason why I find interviews that are meant to promote an album, so extremely difficult ... if not to say down right
... is because all I wanted to say, all I
to express, has been said on the album in question. In other words, when an album is completed, I have nothing left to say. So, each time I receive questions from magazines, my reaction is always:
you just listen to the album and leave me the fuck alone?!?
-- Haha, That's it, there you have it. Sorry. ;)
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