Image Of Life is an interesting person, whom you may or may not know, but that’s irrelevant. According to himself, at least. He heavily indulges in what he calls “nihilist pop”, a sub-genre which he himself has coined. Not much can be said about him, but the overtly misanthropic and nihilistic music that he makes. The first album that appeared was a self-released cassette titled “Last Letters From Leper Colony“, which featured ten songs, all written between the years of 2010-2012. After being featured on Kristopher Reinshagen’s list in “favorite musiks of 2012“, on the ninth place – he delved into further anonymity. Until he surfaced once again, now to be featured on the Chondritic Sound roster, as he released a double-single in 2013, by the name of “Weight Loss In Wartime / Walking In The Dark“. This original minimal synth purveyor is not to be known, but we shall make sure to know him a little bit better. Therefore, I asked him a few questions, ranging from his albums, his person and a little bit of everything you’d ever want to know about nihilism.
I basically know nothing about the person behind Image Of Life. Who is that person, and why are you shrouded in anonymity?
– Image Of Life remains uncredited to keep it fully separate from my other recorded output. I don’t want these recordings to rest on the laurels of any of my past accomplishments, but to be a unique voice apart from what I’ve done before or names i continue to produce work under. It’s interesting to me that you assume this is the work of one person and not more.
Have you been active in any projects before Image Of Life?
– Yes, and it’s probably not hard to figure out which projects those are, but disclosing this would negate the above answer.
You paint a pretty bleak picture with your lyrical content. I know that I’ve called it “nihilistic” and you seem to attribute that to yourself. How do you apply that nihilism and what does it mean to you?
– Nihilist Pop is a term I coined to describe the music Image Of Life produces. It is not a definitive subgenre, but is meant to define the sentiments expressed in these songs, which are overwhelmingly anti-humanist, misanthropic, and arranged around a philosophy which suggests absence of a shared reality between living things. Not all songs are tethered to these principles, and deviations from these are meant to highlight the contradictions inherent in myself and in all things.
Apparently, you’ve been active since at least 2010, when it comes to writing content for this project. Your first release was a self-released cassette titled “Last Letters From The Leper Colony”, and the material for it was recorded between 2010 and 2012. Could you tell me how the process went for recording and thinking out the material on this cassette?
– It was an incredibly slow one that should have been completed sometime in 2011, at which point nearly all the songs were written and recorded. It was just a few decisions that delayed this collection by a year. Despite its delay, I think it’s release happened at an ideal time, and there are no regrets. As far as the composition and recording process goes, I’m sure it is similar to that of most musicians using only electronics, but maybe mine suffers from being more sporadic.
Would you consider yourself to be a part of your local scene, or do you have any interest in the scenes that have been created that include minimal synth/industrial/synth-pop/crossover-acts?
– I have a handful or friends and acquaintances that are active in the dark electronic underground, to cast a wide net over things, but I feel little affinity with them artistically, and many would agree that no such scene really exists here in LA. I do feel linked to other artists that are on the current Chondritic Sound roster, and many of these people are friends. As far as “interest” in these scenes, I have little, but there are certainly a number of artists currently producing work which I enjoy, chiefly the projects of Sean McBride, whose idiosyncratic songwriting and mood are totally unmatched, the projects of the artist “1/2” from Croatia, and Body Of Light, a group from Arizona, are all artists that come immediately to mind.
As you write your material, what kind of message do you want to put out there for those that listen to your music? Is your content created from personal experiences or is Image Of Life simply a front to put out anything you’d want to write?
– Image Of Life does deal mainly with personal themes, though not exclusively. There is no unified message. These songs are based on experiences which guided me toward the conclusion that humanity can rarely be trusted, and is not meant to continue much longer, and has thankfully sealed its fate for it’s coming demise on this planet. This is probably an appropriate place to mention that Image Of Life bears no political allegiances or religious beliefs.
Your first “real” release is a single with two songs, titled “Weight Loss In Wartime / Walking In The Dark”, which was released on Chondritic Sound not too long ago. That begs for the question if you’re planning to release a full-length album or an EP in the near future?
– I’d like to think that my first real release was the 45 minute cassette i issued myself. There are no definite plans for future releases, but there are plenty of recordings that need to be finished and will likely be issued as a cassette and LP on Chondritic Sound, sometime in 2014.
Those two tracks also appear on your self-released cassette. Did you simply want to put it out on Chondritic Sound because it would reach more people, or how did you go by to get it released there in the first place?
– Only “Weight Loss In Wartime” appears on the cassette. It was issued as a 7″ with an exclusive b-side by Chondritic Sound because owner/operator Greh Holger is a very dear friend of mine who offered to issue that song as a single.
What kind of influences do you have when you create your music? Are there a lot of older minimal synth/industrial/synth-pop acts that have affected you in any way?
– My primary influences are personal experiences, many of which relate to my disaffection with humanity, as well as metaphysical paranoia, a secondary theme that inspires me. The above genres you listed are indeed very close to my heart, and have been with me since childhood. I first heard what is now known as “minimal synth” on underground radio in 2001 and it has left a lasting impression on me. I’ll spare you the list of bands, many of which might be obvious to anyone who has heard Image Of Life. But beyond underground electronic music, i think even earlier influences that shaped my artistic inclinations were my fondness for supernatural and occult-related movies and books i was exposed to at a young age, as well as the freestyle dance i heard on the radio as a child. The exaggerated, often somber melodies of that style of dance music really captured my attention, and these show up in much of my work as Image Of Life.
In 2012, Nostilevo honored you by ranking you as nr. 9 in his “favorite musiks of 2012”. So, I was wondering, what kind of response have you gotten for your music since you started this project out?
– There has been very little response, but what little there has been is overwhelmingly positive. I’ve done little in the way of promotion for Image Of Life, so any positive feedback has been a pleasant surprise. It was indeed an honor to be listed by Khris is his “best of” list. I am a fan of his work as Liable and the Nostilevo imprint.
When I ask questions, I talk a lot about different things regarding music as an art form and how the state of the music is right now. What do you think about music as it is now and how do you view the music industry by itself?
– I think it’s an exciting time for underground electronic music. There are many new artists emerging with impressive content, chiefly many of the artists associated with Ascetic House and Chondritic Sound. As an industry, i have little regard for it. The underground has always had a careerist drive, even in times when that has been unfashionable. I’d love to be able to profit and survive solely on the earnings from my art, but cannot indulge in the “kiss the right ass” ethic that guides success in the underground, making no mention of commercial music. I’m satisfied to be writing and recording music at a pace which suits me with no regard for its success or its position as “art”.
I’ve also been curious about the artwork for your records. What motives were used for both of the releases, and do you make these yourself?
– The images I use for records and tapes are guided by an appreciation for classicism and romanticism, as well as esoteric content. The images I choose are relevant to the recorded content, if only for reasons I choose not to disclose.
I’d like to thank you for taking your time to answer my questions. So, what’s happening in the near future?
– Image Of Life will continue at it’s own crawling pace while other projects demand my attention, but will not be neglected nor discarded. Thanks for taking an interest.