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Old October 27th, 2008, 08:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
Occam's Razor
Andreas - LotFP
 
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What does not KILLL you...

Next Life is a duo that touches metal only marginally, or at least: metal how LotFP perceives it. Nevertheless they join the ranks of those recent groups that blend heavy guitars with the odd sounds of old time video game consoles. Interesting enough for me to listen to the short eruptions that form their first recorded effort Electric Violence and contact Hai in Norway, the half of the band with Vietnamese roots.

Is it the short attention span of today's culture that makes for such short songs, or is it the lacking substance of your ideas and ressources?

We have always been very inspired by computer game music and hardcore punkrock. Both of these genres tend to have fast and short compositions. Much computer game music, especially from Japan, has a strongly ongoing drama that keeps progressing until a certain point (about one to two minutes) and then repeats itself. It is possible to recall this in many 2D games where music plays a great role in the narrating of a story, and also it has to keep up with the high tempo of fictional universes built upon simple elements.
In our case as with computer game music, I guess it is a way to keep up a high level of intensity and at the same time not to become monotonous, so that both player and listener become occupied with constant progression untill the next level appears. In a way it should match the tempo of modern consumer culture such as TV and newspapers, but as we try to be untraditional in terms of emotions and drama-building, the songs may - as compared to pop-culture - often remind of "find one/many error(s)"-pictures. There is something wrong that keeps them from becoming TV- or radio-hits, which we find great in terms of being progressive, but also a little bit sad because less people will get into the music.

In terms of longevity, can you think of Next Life as a long-standing outfit that in the future will be revered by a group of fans and spoken of in terms of "classic songs", like bands from the old days of rock?

Hehe, I think that would be the main goal of every artist - to be remembered and to be influental over time. The music scene today has become so big with different artists and styles, and as you said, they most often only succeed for a short time before the next big thing comes up. Even the bands that I am most inspired by such as Zeni Geva, Earth Crisis, Assück and Infest have barely made it to the "history books", so from these observations I cannot see that Next Life will survive any longer than most of today's underground artists. If Next Life or even some of the songs were to to become classics in the future, then we would consider this band project a success.

Is Next Life serious, in that you want to convey anything special beyond the sheer fact that you mix old 8-bit-sounds with elements close to metal?

The mix of 8-bit music and metal has become a style. In Next Life, the goal has always been to mix different genres in order to create an arena to cover our complete musical potential. The style itself is less important other than for maybe describing the music. We actually use anything that we find spine-chilling (again something we have learned from game music), but since me and Trond both grew up and worked a lot with 8-bit sounds plus hard rock music, these genres often surface in our music. The fact that Trond creates many of the sounds we use on Commodore 64, and that many of our base sounds are from Commodore Amiga and various old-school consoles, has certainly put us into the 8-bit metal genre. Actually though, we would more like to call it "electro-violence" as this is a more open and correct expression for us. We are much inspired by digital universes, not only 8-bit, and there has always been a great portion of the hardcore subgenre "power-violence" as we see it.

Would human vocals work well with your music?

We tried that in 2006 after “Electric Violence“ was released, and it did solve some problems live-wise, as it is easier to create high energy on stage the more people are on it. But we did it too fast and without a vision that was clear enough. It resulted in an electro-clash and kitschy musical expression that we simply could not live with, being so proud and happy with developing music purely based on rhythm and melody. Instrumental music is really an abstract expression that will become unique more easily than if you add a person's voice, face and lyrics to it. We want to explore music as an expression itself. Alos, we never stop being fascinated by the fact that there is no real answer to why human beings react how they do to different tone combinations, rhythm progression, the way songs are composed and so on

Do you sample sounds only or do you also actively implement and manipulate them?

We do whatever it takes to fit any of our sounds into the music, both sampled and generated. We never sample tone combinations or a complete rhythm, as we want to compose as much of our music as possible on our own. Manipulation is most often necessary for sampled sounds to fit into our songs, but we do sample voices from movies and computer games. In these cases the samples have not been altered much except for some EQ-stuff.

Where do your musical roots lie, and why do you think that guitar music, the attitude behind it and old video game sounds match one another?

I guess this has partially been answered above, but here is the story concerning myself: I got a Commodore 64 in 1984 and became addicted very fast to the games and sounds. I remember playing Exploding Fist so loud that I blew the speakers on the TV at home. In 1987, I learned to play guitar and got into better and better bands by the years. However, it was hard keeping bands together for a longer time in the small town I came from, either because people needed to do other things, or just because they were too bad musicians. So in 1995, I started using my Amiga as drum machine to play really tight riffs together with my older brother and a friend. In 1999, I visited my home country Vietnam for the first time. Driving by car through the entire country and at the same time listenening a lot to The Last Ninja 1 & 2 and Zeni Geva who used synthesizer in metal music in a way that I found very innovative and inspiring, the vision became more and more clear. What really meant something to me at that time was experimental punkrock and game music. These also had something in common, as game music has many connections to rock and metal, after all. Then I went back to Norway, and voilá.
It was hard to predict if Next Life would succeed in getting any listeners, but I chose to do it simply to cover my own needs to listen to very hard, dynamic and melodic music. It was only when my friends convinced me to do a show that the project became a band.

What is "Kampfkultur"? - It sounds kind of martial.

In order to earn money from art and music in Norway, one must have a registered company. I decided to call mine "Kampkultur" instead of "Next Life", as I also do other things such as theater, gallery, film, and so on. Next Life is a division of the company Kampkultur. I like distinct and straight-to-the-point music and colours, I have also always been inspired by political art, although I mostly work without words or lyrics. It felt natural to name the company after that. The company itself is not supposed to be a war institution, but as war and politics obiously are reasons for people to do anything, the art around it has become very strong as well. It is this art that Kampkultur draws its inspiration from – alongside more positive stuff as the divine, friendship, astrology and technology.

Is it necessary in post modern times to gather elements from various fields to create something that is supposed to be "new", or do you see any possibility for an artist to produce original art just out of him- or herself?

We live in times of much information; you cannot grow up without getting into the many music styles that exist, and that in itself can become a limitation. The culture around you becomes the universe in which you can choose and to which you relate when creating own stuff. But how did the earlier composers come up with new styles? I guess it happened over time (with some exceptions), and we will hopefully see over time that our generation will bring orginality to different fields in one way or another. That aside, I quit watching TV at the same time I founded Next Life to not be too informed. I can say that it has left me with a certain lack of knowledge about society and social development, but hopefully, it also has done or will do something to Next Life that is positive.

In this context, how do you see your band's abilities to progress - are you a flight of fancy as a musical entity, or can we expect a certain development? Have you already said everything you wanted to say, and if not: what is there in addition?

We want to keep the future open for Next Life. In that way, it can perform dramatic changes more easily if desired, and we may become influenced by things left unconsidered so far. However, I also admit we always try to lay out strategic plans in order to forsee problems regarding the music industry and our audience to legitimate the name Next Life, which for us means many things. To be one step ahead of ourselves and the music buisness is one of them, and as we see it, that won't come out of pure improvisation.

www.electricdungeon.org


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Old October 27th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
Occam's Razor
Andreas - LotFP
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
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and...

Killl is another Norwegian oddity that – apart from lush namedropping – has crude music to offer. What is also interesting is the refusal to put out any music in conserved form other than the dvd format, given the possibility to visually enhance it. Given this, it was refreshing to share Are's views on metal and its neighbors, high-flown aesthetics and a no-frills approach.


What was so attractive about the thought of abandoning your former bands - some like JR Ewing with a strong reputation and probably having been about to break through - for a project that does neither release albums nor follows any interest to find a label? Also, you play a type of music which to describe as "uncommercial" is still put mildly...
Killl was something that happened on the side of our other projects, not instead of. Some of us have moved on to other bands, some still work with their longtime bands. KILLL was formed on request by a promoter who listened to our drummer Martin talking about the idea. We were booked to play a festival in Oslo based on sheer trust, and we all met at first to take a picture for the program. Most of us knew each other, but we were all busy in different projects and saw the concert as a one-off affair. All the tracks were made in some three days.
Since then, most of our concerts and tours have been based on requests, such as the Norwegian tour when we were invited to expand the visual elements of our show, which now is a crucial part of the experience. The composing of tracks follow the same gung-ho approach; anything else would be too time-consuming and make Kill a too demanding project given we are all busy with other bands and activities.
Most of us are central in organizing our other bands (a total of some 14 bands), so Killl is very different, much more democratic and fast - no dwelling on complex ideas. Anytime we have tried that, it has lost in favor of simplicity.
When KILLL was started, it was a way for us to leave our musical habits behind and do something else. It is still an experiment as far as Iam concerned. Part of that is the setup: There are no amps on stage, the drummer plays an electronic kit, and we run all the sources through my mixer, opening up for primitive use of effects and – quite often – silence. The music is made to be played live, a studio record would be completely awkward. Which is why we are releasing a dvd, not a record.


What is your conception of Jazz as opposed to conservative notions about the genre (the American songbook, swing and bop). Do you follow the different currents of contemporary jazz or are you, after all, subscribed to the standards and classics?
The jazz parallel is not really relevant given only one of us has ever been playing jazz.


Do you think - also with respect to the meticulous divisions into "sub-scenes" - that rock/metal and jazz have something in common? Isn't it - on the other hand - rather impossible to reconcile jazz and rock/metal because the free-form- and improvisational approaches per se contradict the thorough compositional principles of popular music?
Yes, very much, and it does not stop there, of course. Basically though, I am more interested in attitude and methodology than genre tags. For example, I don´t really like the Naked City version of jazz and metal fusion. To me it´s still oil and water, it is jazz-informed minds introducing metal elements into an essentially open-ended jazz form - which is jazz nevertheless and not a problem in itself; I just do not appreciate the use of humor. It only underlines the “we know what we are doing” attitude, which is so far from the metal attitude. The metal attitude is about doing ridiculous things without any shame, only occasional insight and brutal energy. Metal is escapist music for the working class, theater for the poor, anger with no address.
Equally problematic is the opposite: musicians all of a sudden “dumbing down” and turning true, gentrifying their t-shirt and record collection to a mint condition grimness, as if they never listened to hip hop or pop. I´m interested in music where the fusing or transcending of genres happens as a consequence of following ideas and experimentation - from whatever limited set of tools you have. Maybe that is why I tend to enjoy bands who are moving from metal into other genres more than the other way around. Experimental black metal moving into ambient and electronic through experimentation with duration and noise textures, death metal moving into frantic free-jazz via the fascination of complex drumming and lightning speed riffs, doom metal moving into minimalism and physical sound through adoration of bass, sustained notes and volume... and equally much, musicians where metal references are nothing but a starting point for an ongoing exploration, such as James Plotkin, Mick Barr and Justin Broadrick.


Given that metal and rock are allegedly popular music styles (I mean, fans even complain if bands do not play guitar solos live the same way they can be heard on studio albums), do you want to break out of pop by stressing the jazz in Killl?
What has been a weird experience with Killl is how easy it comes across to people from all over the place. It is strange how we got an audience through not trying. If it is because of the lights and backdrop, the music or the combination, is hard to say. The unusual aesthetic surrounding and the music do force the audience to reconsider the relationship between the two, maybe making it easier for people to approach it. I really don´t know.
Anyone who has heard Fenriz of Darkthrone Deejay - which he actually did for our first gig - knows that there is no contradiction between having an open musical mind and making specialized music. The semiotic juggling of genre tags is very boring. The use of musical tools from all corners of experience is very natural. Killl does not claim to have anything dramatically new to contribute. We have simply said no to a few dominant elements of these genres, such as the inverted catholic aesthetic, and included a tad of electronics. The rest is very basic, bordering on primitive use of compositional ideas.
Why the three "lll", and brash and blunt choice of band name, which evokes images of nothing but violent (metal?) music rather than sophisticated and allegedly "intellectual" avant-garde stuff?
Musically and visually, Killl incorporates a lot of binary and contrasting action: on-off, hi-low, loud-quiet, short-long, clean-distorted, composed-improvised, bright-dark, color-no color. KILLL was the first and most simple word we grabbed that embodied this type of “no”. Visually there are no curves in it, which is a hint at the digital instruments in our music. The third L is a greeting to our Swedish neighbours in Gothenburg as well as a welcoming to our fifth member, Kyrre, the man behind the lights.
What are your aims with Killl, considering the refusal to act within the common realms of music publishing, advertising and so on?
Again, there is no agenda from our part to pitch ourselves as anti anything, but by not subscribing to the noise of a music market in painful transition we can allow Killl to be a rare yet semi-cyclic event where we can do something we do not do elsewhere. We appreciate people coming out for it but we don´t ask pretty please. There is enough hustling in our other jobs.


Does an artist's aesthetic narcissism ("I have something unique to say musically and will do anything to get it out!") have to outweigh his personal narcissism ("oh look, I am a musician with glossy long hair - please love me!") to create something permanently relevant?
As much as I am a sucker for mythology, be it black metal or Egyptian, I have always felt that the most dangerous music does not need theater - it is terrifying in itself. On the other hand, music is ritual and ritual is visual. The combination of the two becomes ritual with relevance, a rare commodity these days. As author and philosopher Joseph Campbell would say, we are in a time where Christianity has monopolized ritual and we are stuck with an aesthetic not representing the times we live in. Not to say that this was a conscious take on that, but when light man Kyrre developed the stage show we are using today together with me, we wanted to explore an aesthetic that cultivated the rgb color logic of led-lighting - very un-metal. We made a 20 x 4 meters backdrop to frame the stage we play at and create a consistent look for all venues. The colors of the patterns on the backdrop are calibrated to be as close to the rgb color temperature as possible. Switching on and off series of quick color changes, the leds animate the patterns of the backdrop by turning “on and off” colors. The result is a simple but effective optical phenomenon of moving patterns causing occasional nausea. Each song of the set has a different color code, and the concert takes you through everything form one color modes to the full spectrum stroboscopic shebang.
Originality: I am sure all artists feels their music is very relevant, and there is definitely a difference between ambition - which is personal - and result, which is for all. Therefore, when one in addition knows how to evaluate work changes over time, it becomes obvious that pinpointing the relevance of music is only possible after time has passed, especially when it comes to ones own music. Personally, I am not bothered by the thought that KilllL is tossed out with the trash in the future music canon. I am having too much fun doing it, and that is my only aim... Less so with other work I do, which I think goes for all of us.


In return, can you imagine that metal and rock with trivial lyrical subjects and "primitive" musical substance can outlast time, also with respect to the relative youth of the genres?
Easily - if not, I would be a snob. I can get moved by anything that deals with the human condition, basically. Most experimental music is polished formalism, which I enjoy, but it is definitely more a spice than food. Experimentation is no endpoint in itself, it´s a constant reminder, reassessing and reestablishing of the dearest things, the basics. Killl is not a negation of the other music we have done; it´s a cleaning up of the tool box, a cold shower followed by a good drink, a celebration of music in crude form.


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Old March 4th, 2009, 11:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
Jim LotFP
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These have been added to the main site:

Killl: http://www.lotfp.com/content.php?interviewid=74
Next Life: http://www.lotfp.com/content.php?interviewid=73
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