Premiere: Machine-Age – Episode 2 – Zarkoff

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This is the first international episode of Maskinåldern. For this episode it is called Machine-Age. Time for everyone who speaks English, to listen. Episode number two of this podcast-series contains a longer interview with the Croatian-born producer Saša Rajković – also known as Zarkoff. He’s been having a surge in the international scene with releases together with Popsimonova, but also under his own alter-ego. Besides that, he’s part of a group called Florence Foster Fanclub together with his friend Jasmin Yas – whose new endeavor just happens to be called Honored Matres – which Zarkoff had a split-release called “Pannonia Noir” with, released on Kraftjerkz Records just recently.

Whilst it stands clear that he’s got a lot of passion for music, he’s had a long road to even get there in the first place. Some things you may not know about him that you’ll get to know more about here. From having a working-class job to being a promoter, live-performer, studio engineer and basically an artist. One of his most alluring releases to date under his own moniker Zarkoff, have been the “Die Brücke” album that was released on J.A.M. Traxx not too long ago. An album that captures the historical significance of his collaborative effort together with Popsimonova, but also where he’s heading in the future.

The most significant thing he’s been imprinting with his vocals (and work) recently has been with the super-group Sumerian Fleet, together with Mr. Pauli and Alden Tyrell. This year they released the much acclaimed album “Just Pressure” on Dark Entries Records – a much revered San Fransisco label. Besides that, Zarkoff have mastered Legowelt’s latest “Crystal Cult 2080“, becoming more and more involved with the label Créme Organization, mastering and helping with different releases both for that label and the sub-label R-Zone. Now it’s time for him to tell his story and you get almost an hour long interview together with exclusive unreleased material, from demos to a session recorded with Sumerian Fleet in 2013.

Welcome to Episode number two.

Tracklist:

1. UZS – Izgled
2. Le Chocolat Noir – Pasto Nudo (Borgesia cover)
3. Kali Jugend – New Body Beat (Demo) (Unreleased)
4. Kali Jugend – Vapor (Demo) (Unreleased)
5. Synth Lab Recording 7 (Unreleased)
6. Dan White – S I Tape
7. Tony Blood – World Of Blood (Tony’s World Mix)
8. UZS – Emisije u zrak (demonstracija)
9. Hawaiian Surfer – Big Wednesday
10. Synth Lab Recording 4 (Unreleased)
11. Zarkoff – I should leave (Demo) (Unreleased)
12. Session 2013 – Den Haag – Sumerian Fleet (Unreleased)

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Some questions for Ray Creature!

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Ray Creature is a band that I thoroughly admire since hearing their first release “Don’t Stop Talking EP” which was recently put out on NO! Record Label. Both of them are Americans and I first thought they were a band, but they’re actually a duo. This duo is compromised of Jon Erich Booth and Natascha Buehnerkemper, having been Jon’s solo-project at first it transformed into a duo. Which is both surprising, since most of their sound is so underrated and explicitly great that I actually wouldn’t have thought that it would’ve not been a band, but hey, here they are. Right after their first release they actually had another one which is getting put out by Sister Cylinder, a full-length S/T debut album. I wanted to clear out some things that I wanted to have answered, so I put out a series of questions which they answered. JEB stands for Jon Erich Booth and NB stands for Natascha Buehnerkemper. Enjoy it. You might also enjoy the freely downloadable track “White Suits” – taken from their S/T debut.

It’s interesting to note that you’re a duo. I would’ve expected it to be a whole band, considering the variety in your sound. Why are you a duo and not a whole band?

JEB: – That’s an effect of layering instrumentation. We take ideas from No Wave and other minimal aesthetics, but our music is in no way minimal. If a song calls for more instrumentation, we add it. Natascha and I have similar ideas about music, and we’ve found ways to reproduce the songs live, so adding more musicians seems unnecessary at this point. Anyway, it’s hard to find people who won’t dilute ideas with compromises or conflicting theories about how the music should work.

NB: – Ray Creature actually started out as Jon’s solo project, and I joined in August of last year. My addition brought along with it the possibility to add even more dimension, both live and recorded. When we play live, there’s so much going on in the backing tracks, having just two of us brings a minimal element to the live shows that is counter to the complexity of the music, which I think makes it more exciting. On another note, being a duo as opposed to a whole band gives us a lot more flexibility regarding touring and shows. Less scheduling bullshit to deal with.

You started out with three demo-tracks and later on you were picked up by NO! Record Label, or how did it go by? What went into recording “Don’t Stop Talking”?

JEB: – When we played a show with Dry Socket, Dylan Ettinger couldn’t make it so Joseph McGlone, the founder of NO!, filled in on synth. After the show he expressed interest in putting out a cassette tape. We had already been producing the self-titled LP with Scott Ferguson of Sister Cylinder Records, so we took an extended version of the opening track, “Don’t Stop Talking,” and three other tracks that didn’t make it on the record and packaged them together as the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP.

“Don’t Stop Talking” is our modest attempt at an austere funk track. Like most of our songs it started with drum machine and bass. The interplay of the guitar, my and Natascha’s vocals, and the lead synth followed from an attempt to keep an unvarying bass line interesting over the course of several minutes.

NB: – I view the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP as a companion release to our LP. It seems that it might be confusing to have two separate releases coming out at the same time on different formats, but in my mind the cassette release was perfectly timed. Even though some of the songs didn’t make it onto the LP, I think they’re really great, and they fit well with the LP aesthetically. It’s possible that we could end up going in a slightly different direction with our future releases, so it’s exciting that all the songs from this songwriting phase were able to make it onto some physical format at once.

Why did you decide to go with such a varied sound, was it the result of experimentation during a long period?

JEB: – I try not to over-determine the music with genre requirements or restrictions. Each song points in its own direction and writes itself to some degree. That’s to say, a set of elements in a song will suggest further styles of instrumentation, which lead to unexpected sounds and song structures. This can create weird stylistic juxtapositions, but it also sets up dramatic transitions within songs, which I think is one of our strengths. For better or worse, that’s the only way I’ve been successful at songwriting while keeping myself interested. There are enough people writing minimal, genre consistent electronic music —I don’t see myself contributing much of interest to that.

NB: – It actually opens us up to being flexible for different shows. Depending on the bands with which we’re playing, we might decide to play our more poppy, dancy tunes. Or we might decide that it’s more appropriate to go a more abrasive, dark route. Since our songs tend to go in a few different directions, it really opens us up to being able to play with lots of different types of bands.

You’re going to have a self-titled debut album out in June with another label called Sister Cylinder. I also noted that you’ve gotten mastering help from Mahern Audio. Have you been mastering your releases on your own before this, or what? How did it feel to have your debut mastered there?

JEB: – I recorded the self-titled LP and recorded and mastered the “Don’t Stop Talking” EP, but I’m an amateur engineer and a dilettante mastering engineer. Since I’m untrained I end up trying too hard in that area. I was exhausted with recording by the time we had the LP mastered by Mahern. I felt relieved to have songs taken out of my hands and began trying desperately and unsuccessfully to forget about them forever. I’m proud of them, but I’ve grown to hate them in some ways. They’re like time-sucking kids I was ready to kick out of the house. Any opinion I have about them is by now irrelevant.

Since you’re going to play a lot of shows in the near future, what are your experiences when playing live? In what way are you stoked for your future performances?

JEB: – We now know the songs well enough to occasionally forget we’re playing them, which is ideal. I like presenting the music at shows, but from the perspective of live performance, the idea is to let the songs go and be inside them rather than exert control over them. We’re touring with Bad Psychic, another electronic act from Bloomington, which is a pleasure because the music is great and the style works with ours. So I’ve been looking forward to every show.

NB: – We’re writing to you right now from Nashville, TN on our third day of a two-week tour. I think this is true of most bands, but people get the best idea of what we’re like from our live performances. We play pretty loudly with a lot of speakers and the live, often repetitive drum parts add an element of intensity that I think people find entertaining, even if they may not be digging what we’re actually playing. It’s always hugely rewarding to see people in the crowd looking pumped about what we’re doing, and it’s a huge payoff for all the hard work we put into this.

It’s nice to be having a freely downloadable track from you. Could you tell me something about it and also what’s in store for you in the coming months?

JEB: – “White Suits” is what passes for another Ray Creature dance track. There was some debate over whether or not to include it on the LP because of its length and atmosphere, but I think it ultimately worked. I tend to think of it as an alternate approach to ideas we were trying to get at with “Don’t Stop Talking.”

In the coming months we hope to start recording our second LP. The plan is to write more relentlessly aggressive songs and incorporate more of Natascha’s vocals alongside my own. Beyond that, we hope it will inspire some confused sexual feelings in people who thought they weren’t confused to begin with—the noblest ambition of rock music.

Down below you can find the track “White Suits” which is freely downloadable as a part of this questionnaire. Hope you enjoy it and do listen to their sound from their own Bandcamp, too, as a complement. If you want to buy it, you should check out Sister Cylinder.

Interview with Ivan Antunovic of Small Doses!

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In Croatia we found Ivan Antunovic. Now, Ivan isn’t like everyone else. He has his own micro-label, does professional design work for a living, create music and also makes a fanzine. He’s been active in different groups in the Yugoslavian, now Balkan, underground. His alter-egos range from Half Releases to Innumerals, from his zine Small Doses to his designer-ego Nieuw NDG. This man has as many aliases as only he himself could know. Since a few years back he’s mainly been concentrating on releasing different singles and mini-albums alongside his fanzine. Even though the fanzine comes out every once in a while, he’s made a name for it through his proffesionality and originality when it comes to the design of the zine itself and all the macabre subjects which are disseminated within each number. He’s taken it from number one to number six – the last-mentioned due to be out in the very near future. I wanted to get the larger picture of what Ivan Antunovic actually does, how he copes with his egos, the climate in former Yugoslavia, his relationship with those he works with when doing the zine, the releases that are put out by him, his different projects before every alter-ego and many other things which you may find interesting.

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Exclusive Interview with REDREDRED!

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Michael Wood. The name might not enlighten you that much, but he’s the man behind the solo-project REDREDRED that garnered a lot of success through the label Function Operate. A widely appreciated artist that has been a rising star since they decided to completely disappear. After that event, he got on the roster of Dark Entries Records, whom is currently in the process of mastering – and then re-releasing his first release – on vinyl. Featuring it with tracks not heard before that he had in his repertoire, making his first move from “Pattern Completion” on cassette, to vinyl. Michael has since his rise towards the stars been interesting to me, with the warmth of his analogue electronics, his electronic body music approach and new beat-outfit blended together with general electronica – would make anyone whom like these genres, respect his ingenuity. I’ve interviewed him via mail, asking him about his first release, the deal with Function Operate, his future release, philosophy, individual tracks and much more. As I was going to post this interview, Michael said he would create a track for this occasion. So I waited until it was complete, and it was overwhelming to realize that he made that track just for this. Listen to it yourselves, the track is named “Dialog” and does in many ways represent the time which he spent being interviewed by me. Enjoy this.

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Interview with Austin Rathmell of Hollow Haven Design!

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Austin Rathmell, now who may that be? He’s the front-figure for the solo-project The Way To Light, and he has his own graphic artistry Hollow Haven Design. Having worked with different labels and artists with the latter, and he’s also done splits with his solo-project together with Crawl, Horders and Feral. There isn’t much more that I knew about him at the time of this interview, so therefore there’s a lot of information that you shall receive when reading the interview. I ask him about his graphic artistry, The Way To Light, his discography, and some more things.

What’s known about you is that you are a graphic-designer, under your own brand Hollow Haven Design, and a musician who goes by the name of The Way To Light. But what’s your background besides that and who are you?

– My name is Austin Rathmell. I am and sorta always have been a reclusive introvert. In high school when I wasn’t at a local show I was probably spending time at home alone listening to music. I was one of the only people I enjoyed being with. If that makes sense. I’ve always been somewhat of an artist, but it was only within the past few years that i’ve really begun to push myself and tap into it. After high school I began delving into bands that really changed my perspective on life. Amenra (and all the surrounding side projects), Integrity, Neurosis… to name a few. These influences and my seclusion were the platforms for which Hollow Haven Design and The Way To Light rose from.

What were you doing before, that was in any way related to music or art, before Hollow Haven Design and The Way To Light?

– Before this I played guitar in a band called Botfly. It was a fun ride, but was very dysfunctional and it came to its inevitable end. The end of that band was the beginning of the path I’m now on. I wanted to be able to do everything myself and not work with or have to rely on anyone. And I had some minor roles within Botfly that had to do with art. But it wasn’t until later on that I really began progressing.

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So what was the first “trip” that Hollow Haven Design embarked upon, and was this simultaneously as The Way To Light arose – or simply earlier or later? What were your first concerns with those projects?

– The Way To Light came before Hollow Haven. I started The Way To Light a few months after Botfly disbanded. Hollow Haven was only started recently. There weren’t really any concerns with TWTL, I just wanted to create something different that I wanted to hear. I never cared whether anyone would like the project or not. Hollow Haven of course was different. I had been doing designs for my own projects as well as others for about a year or so. So Starting Hollow Haven was to somewhat put a label on my work as to be able to get in touch with more people in a somewhat professional way.

I know that you’ve created artwork for Die Song, and your own project. But what did you create during that one year, when it comes to other projects and people enlisting you?

– I did work for a small tape label based out of austin called Red River Family, I did a set of patch designs as well as some J-card artwork/layouts. I also did some designs for a band called FALM. To be honest it wasn’t a very busy time for me, I merely did things here and there, but that was the beginning sparks that made me want to dive in as I have.

So, have that created any other opportunities thus far?

– Yes, I’ve been able to get in contact with more people interested in my work. As well as work with Die Song on a few of his releases, and I hope it all continues. I’m hoping to make this year extremely busy for myself, pushing out a ton of art and music.

What kind of graphic artistry influences you when you do your work? Or do you simply have something asked for, and do it within your own means?

– Most of the time I find it works best when someone wants something done that they give me a very rough idea, or simply something they want in the piece, then let me do it my way. When someone comes asking for something very specific, as in they just want to use you as a tool to design the exact image they have in their head, nothing that great comes out of it. I mostly do Photo-manipulations. I love blending images to together to get real obscure forms. So at this point Ive already fallen into the style I love, so that in itself is my influence when creating. My main intent when making an image is creating something that has a strong emotion within it, while still being greatly obscure. Almost as if viewing something completely unattainable .

How do you apply this when working with The Way To Light? You’ve currently released an EP and two splits with other bands. What’s the difference in the method, when you work with your music, as opposed to your graphic artistry?

– I have actually released a tape, a CD-EP, and 3 splits. The Way To Light is an obscure thing to me. Its something completely unattainable, vague,  and entrancing. Whenever I begin a song, there is no formula I go off of. I just build from scratch and let it sort of take its own path in a way. It has become a big part of me. Its a way to express the human experience of life in a way that is truthful. It is enigmatic, as life itself is.  The process for me is essentially the same between the different mediums. Layering different textures respectively, subtly. In most cases there isn’t a final image or sound in my head that I am trying to achieve, I merely start with something small and basic, then begin building upon it. Then a point is reached where I know its done.  In a way, I think both projects reflect each other and give off the same atmosphere. Even though TWTL is done strictly for myself, and Hollow Haven is more directed outward towards others.

So why do you confine yourself within neo-folk and ambient?

– When I first started, this style of music was very foreign to me. But once I had completely immersed myself within it I fell in love with it. There was no turning back. This style I have emerged upon has allowed me to express my work in a way that I don’t think would work well in a different genre. But even then, I don’t consider TWTL “confined” within this sound. I try to do something a little different with each recording. I don’t want to create the same album, the same release over and over. So I never limit myself to what should or shouldn’t be tried. TWTL is an expression of the human experience. So whichever Idea is being presented, the aural side will reflect that. Whether neo-folk, dark ambient, a blend of the two, or something different entirely.

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Could you outline the specifically themes of each album? Since you seem to be doing something new every time, don’t they follow anything?

– I think its best that the releases are to be determined by the listener. I don’t like to describe all that goes into a release, its better that the perceived takes their own explanation and emotions from it. Each release has a slight different feel, a slight shift in the atmospheric texture. Listen, and feel it, each one will speak to you differently.

What would you say, as a listener, gives you a shiver down the spine each time you listen to it?

– When I hear that perfect combination of riffs that sing together, with an eerie voice whispering over it, with the atmospheric moans of drone behind it all. Its a perfect combination in my mind when emphasizing emotions and heart felt experiences.

You’ve done a lot of splits, but could you tell me why you’ve chosen the people you’ve chosen for those splits?

– The first split with Feral and Wrecca, (originally supposed to be only Feral) I decided to do a split with Feral because I had heard his sound already and thought the 2 projects merged well. Feral has strong references to nature and I use a lot of that in my imagery as well.

The Second was with Crawl. This is a local friend of mine whose project is unmatchable. Although both projects are pretty different in sound, it was great to have a split between 2 local solo projects that are very different from what is going on in this city. As well as the 2 songs we used for this release go very well together! Even though one is a very heavy distorted piece of hatred, and the other a slow haunt, the atmosphere is there.

The third was with Horders. I have been a big fan of Give Up and Horders for a long time! So it was great to have a chance to work with him. I think Horders and TWTL are very similar, yet very different as well. So it made a lot of sense to do this split. I think this split is the most “alike” sounding on both sides out of the 3. Even though I wrote heavily in ambient drone, they both just sound good together.

Where are you from and what does this localness mean to you, if we speak about Crawl – for example?

– I am from San Antonio, Texas.

There really is no great local community when it comes to underground music. Only a few projects that I think are truly talented and try pushing themselves creatively. Crawl being one of them. I have always wanted TWTL to be a part of a creative community, but there just isn’t the right people in this city. Or maybe I just haven’t met them yet. Who knows…

What have you got going for you for the next couple of months?

– I will be releasing a full-length album for TWTL very soon. The album is in the mastering process and will be complete very soon. To follow that there may be some live performances. On the Hollow Haven side, I have some new pieces in the works, some personal, some for a few projects!

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Kim Sølve tells us about the Kids’ World EP!

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Blitzkrieg Baby have been featured here before, as well as a more personal portrait that came through an intimate interview with your real persona. What’s going to happen now?

– First up is getting Kids’ World EP released. It has been a long time coming, but 2013 proved to be a year of great ordeals that postponed a few things musically. Despite being built from music spanning many years, Kids’ World EP is a snapshot of the Baby right here, right now, with all its children’s diseases on display, grinning at the camera.

So, this is the first time that Blitzkrieg Baby is featured on the best label around (in Sweden) right now. Why did you pick Beläten, or why did he pick you?

– It is the first proper Blitzkrieg Baby release on Beläten, yes. But Blitzkrieg Baby’s Your Happy Place opened the A Somatic Response compilation that came out about two years ago. Thomas Ekelund (of Beläten and Trepaneringsritualen) and me have stayed in touch since long before that compilation, so long that neither of us remember when and how we first got in touch. I am very glad to be doing a Blitzkrieg Baby release through Beläten as I, like you, hold the label in high regard.

I know that it’s about the same insane martial industrial pop that’s coming through. Have anything changed since your last release, or is this more of the same?

– Blitzkrieg Baby is gradually changing all the time, in many directions. There has never been very set parameters for what Blitzkrieg Baby is musically, and we are working on music in several directions as we speak. The core, however, is the same.

Could you tell me how it was to record this record? How long did it take, what did you have to do and did you ever hit upon a greater problem before finishing it up?

– Pretty much everything by Blitzkrieg Baby has been boiling beneath the surface for years already, since the project was initiated back in 2001. This means that everything we release has a trail going further back than the few most recent years. This EP has material that stretches back to the last half of the nineties, as well as music finished the last few months. Also, Anders B. of Mind & Flesh is a prominent presence through all these tracks, and his contributions is one of the unifying factors. Kids’ World EP is a 40 minute EP, while the debut album “Porcus Norvegicus” was a 30 minute full length. That makes sense doesn’t it?

Now, tell me whatever you’d want to tell me. What track is it I’m going to get and what is the inherent meaning with it?

– I am handing you Kids’ World, the title track. I feel this is the pinnacle of Blitzkrieg Baby is at this exact moment.

1. Kids’ World

– “It’s a kids’ world, we are your family now, we teach you how to kill.” The world is not a pretty sight, and here is a pop tune to accompany the images we don’t want to see. From all of us to all of you.

2. Loop

– This is a lyric Mr. B wrote about paranoia.

3. The Swine Supremacy

– Human nature.

4. Those They Could Not Fuck, They Killed

– An instrumental ballad.

5. Half Pig Half Man

– Aren’t we all?

6. Broken Child

– Our childhood never leaves us. Mr. B decided to sing my lyrics as if it was a lullaby, so now it is.

7. Incinerator Symphony No. I

– This track has stems going all the way back to the mid-nineties. Together with Anders B., I was deeply into Industrial music and we began doing sound experiments and industrial-sounding recordings besides playing in a band together. This is when he started the earliest incarnations of what is now Mind & Flesh, and the foundations for what would later become Blitzkrieg Baby were laid down. Incinerator Symphony No. II was featured on Porcus Norvegicus. The third symphony is in progress and can be expected to appear on a later release.

8. Children In Uniform MMXIII

– A reworked track from Porcus Norvegicus, thematically close to Kids’ World.

9. Your Happy Place

– This is the first lyric Mr. B wrote for Blitzkrieg Baby. This track originally appeared on Belätens A Somatic Response compilation. I found it reasonable to conclude the EP where the official collaboration with Beläten first started.

Interview with Frank from The Harrow!

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The Harrow. A band that simply showed up in the catalog at Function Operate, last year. Having just released their self-titled EP, their first offering from the realms of shoegaze meets coldwave and post-punk. It might actually sound like a great combination, and it might also be commonplace – but somehow, The Harrow is something different. There is something about their music that is so eloquent, that is so simple, but it feeds into something different. It’s pretty easy to say that something is different, when there are so many bands and different constellations out there. But I’m telling you that they are. Most of the members, if not all of them – come from different constellations. Frank, who plays the bass, synth and program their drum-machine – have that background. He’s also been in numerous different bands. I asked him about different topics, ranging from art itself to the band, but also New York and what it’s like to be a band in the Big Apple. I sincerely hope that you enjoy this interview.

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