zaterdag 31 december 2016

Sistema bezopasnosti: In periods of trouble, appealing to eternal values as traditions, love, art, brotherhood and friendship always had a positive result

Neofolk from Russia. As fans of both neofolk and everything Russian, it had to attract our attention. When we were confronted with the eclectic oeuvre Sistema Bezopasnosti - or ‘Safety system’ - we felt like we discovered something special. When we found out that the man behind this project - Vladimir Doronin, also known as VlaD or Letzte Soldat Nord - also taught published on philosophy, we crawled into our pen to ask him a few sharp questions. And of course we got as many sharp answers back on subjects like neofolk in Russia, Siberian punk, esotericism, spirituality, rebellion and the relations between East and West.

Hi VlaD. Sistema Bezopasnosti was created in 1993 as a rock band. From 1993 to 2000, you enjoyed considerable success, toured Russia and even had a deal to record with the famous Russian rock band DDT. Can you tell us more about the forming of the band and the beginning years?

Yes, of course! I founded the rock band in 1991, under another name at first. It is called Sistema Bezopasnosti - System of Safety - since 1993. It was a chaotic but very interesting period. Big changes happened in our country, society and in people’s life. Crisis in one sphere was compensated by rise and development in other ones, including in the arts. For us, the 90s of the 20th century became a time of searching for ourselves and our creative way and style.

We made a few demos and recorded our first official album in 1994. There were a lot of underground concerts and festivals that gathered many, many people. By the middle of 90s, Sistema Bezopasnosti became very well known in some circles and we ranked as a leader of the Siberian Punk movement. Siberian Punk has a special place in general Punk with its geographical facilities - basically it’s three cities: Tyumen, Omsk and Novosibirsk - and because we didn’t put the accent on the image and music, but on our intellectual-poetical side.

Siberian Punk differed with its harshness and rigidity. It was never orientated towards the western analogies. It often had a folk base with a ‘raw garage sound’. We did everything ourselves, in line with the ‘Do it yourself’-principle: self-made instruments and equipment, soldered strings, self-made drums, percussions, hand-painted posters… Even the records were duplicated and distributed by ourselves. We still use this principle and all of our experience in this field. Slowly, our albums on compact-cassettes were distributed around our country.

Yuri Shevchuk of DDT learned about us in 1996 and invited us to perform with DDT. So we performed on the big stage of a stadium for the first time. We have a warm relationship with DDT. We used their recommendations and made our own home studio. We started to perform outside of Siberia, in the Ural, then in Moscow and since 2000 also in Saint Petersburg.

You took a turn towards neofolk around the beginning of the new millennium. Why did you decide to turn to neofolk? Did it affect the position of Sistema Bezopasnosti in terms of success?

I am a music lover since a long time. I try not to miss new records and I have a huge interest in different music styles ranging from classical to avant-garde and experimental; from folk, reggae and jazz of the 20s and 30s to brutal directions: metal, noise, industrial, electronic. So I don’t stay within one musical genre.
The style changes became an eye-opener for our label back then, but also for the public and even for the musicians with whom I played apocalyptical folk or dark folk. It wasn’t so popular in Russia, only in circles of big music lovers. I also didn’t know about this kind of rock music. We called the style which we played ‘experimental psychedelic punk rock’, close to the band Swans. One day, when we started playing ritual music, the drummer of band Grazhdanskaya Oborona
(Citizen Defense) - who took part in the recording of our albums - told us about a band called ‘Current 93’. He said that we sounded almost the same.

I’ve found a record of this band, listened to it and understood that it was really close to what we were doing. We never were orientated on someone. We played what we liked. Sometimes we supposed that we were the only ones who played this music, and even now I think that not many bands play like that. But we hoped that there would be someone else playing this unique music somewhere. It’s interesting that in my opinion, Current 93 are now playing psychedelic rock with a ‘dirty garage sound’, which reminds me of our sound in the end of 90th. As for me, I want to have a clean transparent sound.

My education and self-education played a big role in the style’s changing. My first education is classical guitar and folk vocal. I went on folk expeditions around Siberia and the Ural when I was a student. I was in remote villages, gathered folk songs, epos and etc. My second education is culturologist and my third one philosopher. This all and my enthusiasm in the esoteric slowly lead me to the changing of my worldview. I increased the circles of my interests; I started to change the songs’ subjects and musical priorities.

So, our transition to the dark folk did not happen like in other bands, where the performer chooses a style that is close to his soul. We have come to this in a natural way, the way of progress and creative development. The changing of musical style didn’t impact the band’s success in a negative or positive way. I felt like I started all over again, but I just had some experience. I like the Norway band Ulver who started as black metal band and then did some experiments and became ambient and eclectic.

In fact, the cd’s I hear from Sistema Bezopasnosti are all very different. It’s amazing how many different things you make. What moves you towards making such varied things?

I am moved firstly by the wish of telling this world a lot of things, by my creative passion, my searching for meaning… It’s a kind of wish to resist the injustice of the material world. As I sing in one of my songs from the album “Martian Dust” “I want to win very much, but if I have to lose, I want to do it worthily”.

To use Hinduism’s terminology, I am moved by “raga” and “dvesha”. In other words – love for the things which I want close to me (raga), and hatred for the things that my soul can’t accept (dvesha); two eternal determining bases that are expressed in the philosophical law of unity and struggle of opposites.

I am impressed by a manifold of creative thoughts, magic and art celebrating the spirit’s victory, which were made by interesting talented and brave people – people-creators, demiurges, romantics and heroes who continue to fight, despite everything. Other loners as me also impress me. They are unnoticeable but always believe in what they do and in its rightness.

The latest cd ‘Antidote’ contains covers from different artists. We’re acquainted to neofolk bands as Current 93, Death In June and Sol Invictus, but the Russian bands on the record are unknown here. They seem to be mainly Siberian bands. You were part of the Siberian scene and had good relations with several of the bands. Can you tell us more about this?

Yes, we were the part of Siberian underground stage. In the 90s, Sistema bezopasnosti entered the so-called Moscow rock laboratory, but that was mostly formal. Despite the fact that we are far removed from Siberian punk at this moment, it cannot be denied that it had a big impact on us, just as we brought a lot of new things to the Siberian punk scene. This is why I respect most of the old Siberian bands. Additionally – maybe someone won’t agree with me – I think that the best Russian rock bands were from Siberia.

The album ‘Antidote’ is the tribute to the talent of the authors of the songs and in memory of those who have already left us. Some of them are well known in Russia, and some of them stay unrecognized. I tried to represent my vision of other people’s tracks, at the same time singing them like if I wrote them myself. The Russian authors, whose songs I performed, are people whom I knew. We performed on the same stages, or met along the way. As for the foreign authors, I chose mostly performers I feel close to, who I collaborated with.

I wanted to show a kind of symbolic connection, to represent the analogy between the different musical traditions. I wanted to demonstrate the fact that creative ways can be different, but the meanings and goals can be common. As someone wrote in comment: ‘For me these songs became an antidote and healing from the abominations of life. They set the bar for creative exorbitant heights, and most importantly, they left a brightest and an indelible mark on my life.’

Some of these bands - and especially Instruktsiya po vyzhivaniyu (Instructions on Survival), who you have worked with intensively - have been accused of anti-semitism. Instruktsiya po vyzhivaniyu wrote an infamous song titled ‘Kill a Kike’ or ‘Kill a Jew’. Were these charges justified, was it provocation, or misunderstanding?

I am not the author of the song that you talk about, so I can’t give you an objective answer. It was written a long time ago, in the 80s, and I think most of the people got it wrong. I think it wasn’t a call or a signal to act, but it just stated some phenomenon of that moment and it talked about a strong problem in our society. This song is the link to the track ‘Kill the Poor’ of the band Dead Kennedys, which we drew a parallel with. 

VlaD, you also teach philosophy at the State University of Tyumen. How does that influence your work with Sistema Bezopasnosti?

My base activity is creativity, but science is closely connected with it. Indeed I teach in the University and taught in the Institute of Culture. Thanks to science, I managed to get a lot of knowledge, to systematize it, to raise my erudition. It helped me a lot in my creativity. It learned me to work conceptually, holistically and with a specific methodology.

My second education of culturologist helped me become a specialist in the sphere of culture and postmodernism, and the presentation of my research work “Rock Culture as a modern embodiment of heroes’ traditions” gave me the chance to get a philosophical base of this knowledge. By the way, in this work I consider problems of postmodernism and traditions, and the main chapter deals with dark folk. So, incompatible things unite inside of me – scientific academic knowledge and esoteric knowledge. Although I have mostly mystical-mythological worldview, I manage to evaluate critically and look at a lot of things objectively thanks to science.

You criticize the loss of idealism and spirituality in modern society. Can you tell us more about your analysis?

These themes did not appear in my songs immediately and certainly not by chance.  Forming such a worldview happened gradually. It started on the level of general feelings and empirical observations. Later, when science taught me how to analyze, I have read works by Lyotard, Toynbee, Marcuse, Heidegger, Sprengler, Fukuyama and others. I compared, drew parallels, noted general laws. So, individual elements began to take shape in a certain system of views. Discussions about the degradation of modern civilization and the loss of spiritual ideals in society were underway for a long time, and not just in scientific circles. It’s not local; it’s a widespread tendency. And this is a most important question that I see. What we can do with it? How we can correct it? Is spiritual progress of humanity possible?

Your plea for ‘dreams, traditions, love and art’ can be seen as appeal for more eschatology. Isn’t it also important to face the real world with all its problems?

Is it possible to look at this world this way? Well, that’s the way I’m looking at it! Traditions, love, art, brotherhood and friendship are Eternal values, and dreams about them are so natural… In our pre-sacral epoch this theme is more actual as ever. Appeals to them are more then a call. It’s an alternative. It’s the base. It’s one of the variants, the possibilities of choice in what’s correct and what’s easier. Maybe it’s the way to the next development of a modern person. I think these values don’t lead to destruction, but to creation. In all times, appealing to eternal values had a positive result and helped in periods of trouble. Of course it’s an idealistic approach and I always have to resist the materialistic world. But I also know that I am not alone on this way.

Your music is full of esoteric references: to the occult theories of Aleister Crowley, the Jewish kabala or the northern mythology of the Ragnarok. Why do you choose to sing about these? Can you draw a red line between all these different subjects or currents?

My songs are full of esoteric links, to literature and other things, first of all because I am interested in esotericism. It reflects my worldview. Its language is close to me. As I said before, I have a mystic mentality. Esotericism made me stronger and gave me a rich soil for my creativity; it’s an inexhaustible topic. If I agree or disagree with something, I have to learn more about it. There are some common things and also differences between different kinds of esotericism. To mix them all would be top of un-education.

For me, it’s the force of opposition against the aggression and the material world. In other words it is a way to resist its negative manifestations; the method to preserve the independence and the relationship with the primordial tradition in culture.
Once, this esoteric hobby helped me get out of a creative crisis. Sistema Bezopasnosti is freedom-loving art, it is music of rebellion, rebellion against injustice, tyranny, against alien values, against all enslaving systems imposed on the people. Therefore, I accept only one system - security against aggression and the limitations of the material world.

But gradually the rebellion began to bring me to a standstill. I was in despair. I realized that I couldn’t change the world in this way. Confronting it alone was almost impossible. One day, my strength wouldn’t be enough if I would continue to do so in a straightforward manner. As Joe Strummer, the leader of the group The Clash, said: ‘I once thought that music can change the world, now I understand that this is not so, but I still continue to do it.’

Something like that happened to me. I discovered the esoteric. I thought that I needed to change my strategy and correct the topics and focus of my art, to make it safer for myself but also more effective. The same rebellion remained, but instead of struggling head-on with the negative manifestations of the world, I am now consciously striking them, ignoring the alien system de-sacral values that prevailed at the time in the real world. Therefore, I choose the position of the trickster, trying to ignore all that is foreign to me, or sneer at it, playing by the rules of translating everything in the language of symbols, signs, hints of ‘sleeping’ meanings and allegories.

In other words, I try to play it safe, describing their space, which is a place of power, shrouded in gloom gothic, ark romance, and full of energy. I feel like a part of this force, of this space I own where I have friends and allies. Through self-awareness on the subtle plans, one becomes aware of his role, his purpose and his way in the real world. So I'm becoming more like a kind of bodhisattva.

The tomb of the philosopher and poet Skovoroda carries the words: ‘The world tried to catch me, but never managed to.’ I hope that won’t happen to me either. Once I was singing about things that bothered me; things I didn’t like. Now, on the contrary, I am singing of what I like, what I believe in, the things that help me to live, to fight, to develop, to move forward. I'm glad that it is in tune and close to other people too.

What is the status of religion in Russia today? I have the feeling that it is hard to criticize orthodox religion nowadays, and especially to strive for LGBT rights. This is surprising for a country that has known 70 years of communist rule, in which religion was sidetracked.

I think people in other countries have a wrong image about Russia. It’s far from reality and not always objective. Most of all it’s a stereotype. I can understand it, because everything that is unusual can cause alertness and hostility. But you need to understand that Russia is a huge country with a rich history and an individual national culture. As any great country Russia’s way wasn’t so unequivocal and smooth. Big milestones have always required great effort and even sacrifice.

70 years of communism were an exceptional period in the global scale, a huge experiment. During this time, many tragic things happened, but there was also a lot of good. At that moment the role of religion was nihil. Now this situation changed a lot. The status of religion is very strong, its role became active and notable, but now we have other problems. Relations and differences of people on religious grounds strained, and sometimes have become aggressive, especially with organizations representing orthodox Christianity and Islam. There were different precedents and provocations: prohibitions of alternative concerts, pogroms on exhibitions of avant-garde artists and others. It is certainly an alarming progress in a part of society.

Many musicians in Russia seem to be attracted by ideological movements as
the national-bolsheviks or the euraziatic movement. What are your thoughts about that?

Maybe it’s because a lot of creative people are appealed by broad gestures, like patriotism and other emotional outbursts. I can say that Sistema bezopasnosti always was and remains out of politics and never took parts in any political action. We never were members of any political party. Some political organizations have tried to put us on their side, but we always said that we’re not like that. We even did some concert programs with the name ‘Against all’ and ‘Forours’, which demonstrated our unpolitical position.

I think that musicians always have a big impact on people. They listen to them; trust their creativity… A musician is like a tribune, and everything that musician says can be understood in different ways. So the author needs to be impartial in a lot of questions. Actually I think that politics is a dirty thing. It’s not my world, so I do not have any business with it.

On ‘The Magical Lamp Of Osama Bin Laden’ (2004) and ‘Nina, Wendy, Ann…’ (2005), you respectively sung about the east and the west, meanwhile claiming that both belong together. We are now witnessing new tensions between the west and Russia, fuelled by leaders on both sides. It sometimes feels as if a new cold war broke out. What are your opinions on these tensions?

This question is very actual. Yes, we have such problem. Relationship between Russia and the West became much colder and it’s not good. We live in the so-called epoch of postmodernism, which is defined by deconstruction, division, fragmentation, lack of integrity and common structures. We can see how countries and unities are destroyed. People become more aggressive, they are enemies, they live in huge and small megacities.

We can notice it even in art. When rock music was dominant – it was united. It was impossible to play it all alone. It could only be played in a band. So we had a rock bands. Dark folk is music for single individuals. I also had a band before, now I do everything by myself, alone. Of course I have experience; technical progress increased our chances and potential. But it can’t solve the problem of loneliness on a local and a large scale. So I think that musicians, poets and other artists have a great opportunity to show through their creativity that art hasn’t national or linguistic limits.

Thanks to creative people, we can find understanding. Folk national base of cultures is not a base for division, but to find something in common, to have a dialog. These are important things in my publications and in my research. We all are in the same boat, and it’s important where we sail. Problems of one can touch problems of others. And even the fact that I am far from you now, but I give an interview for your magazine says that my supporters can find each other and have something to discuss. So thank you for the chance to tell you my point in important questions. I wish everyone the best of luck and a success on the way of transcendent experience!

Interview: Xavier Kruth 

dinsdag 20 december 2016

Blackhouse: 31 years of Blackhouse: 'Blackhouse is not just the antithesis of whitehouse... It's the antithesis of THE White House!

I am not very interested in junk like Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV. Neubauten was good from 1981-1985, but.... And NIN? Give me a break. I'm just not into it. After 31 years of existence Blackhouse did its first ever live performance at the renowned Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany. This live concert was recently released on CD, so reasons enough to have a chat with head and voice Brain Ladd.

On the recently released album Live In Leipzig, which celebrates 31 years of Blackhouse, you say: Blackhouse is half my life. Do you see Blackhouse as your personal child, and in that case how do you feel as parent of what has become of your child, looking back over those years?

Certainly! Blackhouse is my Child. Even more so than a real child, because a real child has 2 parents. Blackhouse has only one, me! How do I feel? Proud, Embarrassed, Ashamed, Confident. Proud of all my albums and my mark on music/noisic. Embarrassed at all the trivial tripe that I've endured, entertained and proclaimed. Ashamed of my childish, arrogant attitude. Confident, because even though I have many faults, somehow I manage to keep going... Fulfilling my goals and destiny. There's no stopping me.
Blackhouse is indeed my Child... and when you look at everything involved... that is quite obvious and apparent. I take full credit. And full blame!

The show at WGT (Wave Gothik Treffen) last year was the first time Blackhouse went live, right? How come you haven’t performed in the past? I can imagine that a lot of people were begging to see a pioneering band like Blackhouse live!?

Yes! The concert at the Wave Gotik Treffen Festival was my first official Blackhouse gig. Why? Simply put, I never even CARED to play a live gig. I had so many albums... LPs and CDs. So many albums.... yet I never EVER played live. So.... why should I?

1. The albums kept coming. There was no "need" to play live.

2. I am Blackhouse. I will do what I want.
3. Denying the LIVE gig only fortified my stance about #1 and #2.

Sure, many many people (concerts and festivals & etc) asked me to play. For sure. I've been around for many many years... decades. People ALWAYS asked me to play! But... WHY? Why would I want to even consider it? The Wave Gotik Treffen asked me to play. Year after year. I always denied. The question was WHY? I outlined my fears... my requests... my demands... And at every step of the ladder, WGT came through. They answered me. They reassured me. They calmed me... They are the best. No doubt. THE... BEST. How could I possibly say NO to such warmth? I accepted, the rest is History!

Live In Leipzig focuses on the early Blackhouse years, the fans see the first albums as the best material you did with Blackhouse. Do you share that idea, or was it to satisfy the loyal fans to mainly use songs from these records?

First, I have an obligation. That obligation is doing the BEST I can possibly do when someone supports my Art. It's no secret that the first few albums by Blackhouse are favorites. Come on. And so I know, that the songs from those classic LPs and CDs are.... well... "worshipped" by Blackhouse fans the world over. Those classic songs are known & respected and adored by BH fans. How could I NOT play them live at my first gig??? Come on! And after 31 years on NOT playing a single live gig? I knew the burden was on me to deliver a Blackhouse concert that would be respected & loved. Remembered. I think I did that. I know I did it.

Second: "the best material you did with Blackhouse"??? Man, I just re-listened to Shades Of Black (1995)... an album I used to despise listening to. IT SOUNDS SO GREAT! It's a great album! And believe me, I am VERY VERY picky about my albums. So, I'm not sure what is "best", because when we examine that, the microscope we use is tainted with the bias of the times. Frankly, I look back at the last 32+ years, and I am confused about it all.... And I'm the guy who made it. The ART is creating me. I'm not creating the Art. I'm just a vessel. A loudspeaker.
What’s the relationship between Blackhouse and Whitehouse? I was told Blackhouse was a positive response (by bringing the word of God) to the negative messages of death, hate and brutality that Whitehouse brings. Although there are also some musical similarities...

Of course, I was a big fan of Whitehouse. BUT.... I just didn't like the content of the lyrics. So I created the antithesis of Whitehouse : Blackhouse. In the original years, I sent a copy of the Blackhouse material to William Bennett of Whitehouse. He liked it, and said so. So I forged on... I paved my path as I laid it. I took every opportunity offered to me. Sure, I made some mistakes... because I am a human. I am not perfect. I'm not a robot. Nor a God. I'm just a guy... I do what I want. Even when it turns out to be a mistake. The rest is history.

Are there other plans to play live and was the concert in Leipzig the beginning, or was it just a one-off?

As it stands now.... It absolutely makes NO difference if I play live again or not. I've been offered other gigs... and frankly, they just don't measure up. I'm not interested in stepping DOWN. WGT is a HUGE festival... a HUGE opportunity. I'm very blessed to have worked with them. They say they want me back... I believe them. If WGT festivals are the only festivals or gigs I play, that is fine. I'm not looking for lesser gigs, charity or hand-outs. WGT is EXACTLY what i was looking for in regards to an actual live gig. I'm so blessed that it became a reality. VERY blessed. To sum it up: I really don't care or even NEED to play another live gig. EVER. But if I did, I would play WGT. They know what they are doing, and they treated me with respect. That's what I care about.

Blackhouse released the album Ignite Blackhouse Youth, on which the collaboration with legendary rapper Craig G immediately catches the eye. How did that collaboration come about?

Besides making excellent concerts in Leipzig, I also make new musical albums. Ignite Blackhouse Youth is one of those albums. I write songs.... many many songs.... I have ALBUMS of material.... not yet released. Because I am creating musical ideas every day. I can't help it. It's a sickness. I'm infected. So I make these albums and I pitch them to labels I know. Ignite Blackhouse Youth is one of those albums. There are 3 songs on IGNITE that have Craig G on them. Why? Because I love OLD SCHOOL classic rap & hip-hop, and CRAIG G is an old school hero to me. I heard him on MTV raps... on TV... with Marley Marl's The Symphony.... I mean... we're talking 1988 or so... when MTV was actually Music TV. So I heard Craig G and I loved what he was doing in the field of RAP. I enjoyed his solo albums. It pleased me. And when I was on MySpace, I saw him on there and contacted him. I requested that he rap on some of my beats. What a request!!! Well.... guess what... he did. The rest is history.

Rap is not the music people would expect Blackhouse to mix in its sound, do you have a special bond with that kind of music, and are there other surprising styles you really like, or you would love to use in Blackhouse’s music? 

I enjoy many styles of music. MOST. I'm not too fond of "folk" music or "contemporary country". Come to think of it, I'm not too fond of contemporary ANYTHING. I just don't enjoy modern music. The production stinks... the sounds stink... I'm not a fan of the lyrics. Sorry. I guess I'm just an old geezer. AS IF. On the other hand.... I am a fan of many many musicians... Pop and Poop. I like it all. As long as IT is good. 

In regards to RAP, I must say that I find it exciting. At least the original (old school) rap. I WISH, WISH, WISH that I could credit Kraftwerk for delivering electronic beats to the masses. I'm a huge fan of Kraftwerk. For sure. But when I walked into the video store (1984), and this stupid young punk was listening to some intense beatbox action... ??? I asked him what it was. 2 Live Crew. And I'm no fan of 2 Live Crew.... but... really? It sounded awesome! It was RAP and HIP-HOP that delivered electronic rhythms and drum boxes to the masses. I'm eternally grateful. Thank you, Hip-Hop! Love - BL

Do you follow the current noise and industrial scene? We can say that Blackhouse is a pioneering band in the genre, are there some acts you really like, or is that not the music you listen to yourself?

I am not very interested in junk like Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV. Neubauten was good from 1981-1985, but.... And NIN? Give me a break. I'm just not into it. I like the old school stuff..... give me the Asmus Tietchens, the Leichenschrei, the Minimal Man. That's where my heart is. I hear music nowadays... and I am dismayed. I don't like the production... the mix.... the sounds.... It just doesn't speak my language. I prefer warm bass tones... dynamics.... I just don't hear that when I listen to modern music. Perhaps it's the auto-mastering tools. I'm just looking for something with more... Depth.

Bringing the word of God, combined with heavy electronics is an unique way to work. Can you tell us why you are so devoted to God? I’m an atheist myself, and I never felt the urge to read the bible while listening to Blackhouse, but it seems interesting to me to hear you talk about it.

Rebel Yell! You... and I.... "our" generation(s)... we've been taught that "Jesus ain't cool" or "Jesus is square". Frankly... the way I think about it: Jesus is the rebel yell. Jesus = the Johnny Rotten. It's far too easy to embrace a life of sin and lies and lust. Jesus is the alternative to that OBVIOUS lifestyle. Make no mistake: As a human male, I have been exposed to... a lot. Believe me. But what I have found is... that... it's easy to succumb to the pleasures and the sins and the slippery sloppy slope. Why knot? It feels good, right? But it's empty, meaningless, stupid and Easy. Try standing up against it. It's worth it.

In a world that is dominated by terrorists who abuse their religion to justify their attacks, what do you have to say as a religious person about this?

Come on! Terrorists have nothing to do with my vision. I'm not interested to FORCE people to believe what I say... I am fully confident that I can convince people what is RIGHT by using my words and my logic, my beliefs and my example. Remember: God doesn't FORCE people to believe His doctrine... He allows freedom of choice. We all choose Our Path. It's total FREEDOM! Thank God.

As an American, what’s your opinion about the coming elections? Benny told me you are really into Donald Trump, a very controversial person who doesn’t get a lot of respect here in Europe. Why does he get your vote, and how do you see America’s future, and the rest of the world?

Trump? Schlump. The only thing interesting to me about Trump, is that he is indeed the Johnny Rotten of the elections. He's NOT a career politician! I have not been paying his salary my entire life! Thank God. He's the antithesis of Hillary Clinton or Bush or Obama! He's a free man. He doesn't need or accept bribes from lobbyists. WE constantly hear that the President is just a puppet for the corporations that $upport him. Trump is clean. He owes nobody. It's exciting!

I sincerely hope he ruins it for Madonna and Bruce Springsteen. (ie: Hillary & the Bush family & all the damn 0bamas!!!) They deserve the shame. Why? Take a look. What have they brought us, except shame & malcontent??? Nichts!

In the beginning Blackhouse was presented as a duo Ivo Cutler & Sterling Cross, which are both you. Why did you choose to perform under these two alter egos. And why two instead of one?

I decided to create a story for Blackhouse, so I created some characters and created their background. Is it really any more "fake" than Genesis P. Orridge & the Temple of Psychic Youth? Come on!

When I created Blackhouse, I decided upon a firm upbringing. I created the names, the hometown, the reactions. EVERYTHING. Why? Why KNOT? Politicians create fakery everywhere they tread... and people VOTE for that fakery. That fakery RULES people... That fakery demands payment in taxes. If you dishonor that fakery, you go to jail. Blackhouse is nothing like that. Blackhouse just IS. It's ART. That's all. ART. That's what I do. I don't charge you taxes. I don't collect welfare (like politicians do!). I'm just not interested in that. I'm actually against it.

Do you still feel the urge to bring the gospel these days? On Ignite Blackhouse Youth it’s not as distinctly present as on the first albums, or am I wrong?

Well, you know I undulate between albums that are more preachy, to albums that are more hopeful, to albums that are more cold & machinic, to albums that are more about me... and how I am feeling. Ignite Blackhouse Youth is all that & more. My main thrust for IGNITE BLACKHOUSE YOUTH : The title says a lot. People are far too apathetic when it comes to politics. Why politics? Because politics rule our lives. Politics control us. We are all slaves to whatever politicians do. It's also mass media. Mass media controls us... controls the way we "think". It's all designed to brainwash us, and make us obey the... (you guessed it) POLITICIANS. Brainwashing. It comes in all shades and facets. Whether it's the War On Terror© Or the War On Drugs©, ya got Politics there... and the media.... Brainwashing...

I'm not having it : I want the YOUTH to recognize it. To be offended that politicians and mass-media that thinks they are so stupid. And it's not just the YOUTH. I want to ignite the fuse under all people. Come on: the stuff they are teaching & preaching is garbage! I want people to rise up in opposition! I want to light that fuse! Whether it's Global Warming (which I call GULLIBLE WARMING) or the "refugee crisis" (which I call... INSANE & DISCONNECTED) or geo-engineering (Chemtrails) or television, Hollywood, hit record labels or 911.... I know they are lying to us. Many other people realize this, too. It's time for us to stand up & question the rhetoric. That's my message with I.B.Y.Blackhouse is not just the antithesis of whitehouse... It's the antithesis of THE whitehouse. I don't care if it's Bush or 0bama or Clinton... I know I am against it!!!!!!!!!
Trump? eh..... I'm not so sure he is Evil. We'll have to watch - eh?

How does it really feel to operate as a christian soul in this genre, dominated by heretics?

BL: Lonely. But that's just because there are SO MANY people out there who feel the way I do... But they are AFRAID to state so. SO afraid they will be judged as "uncool" or "racist" or unhinged. But really. Is it unhinged to NOT believe what the lunatics say??? On the Contrary,......

zaterdag 22 oktober 2016

Breaking Barriers: 40 years of punk. People who do not want to take a sincere position, should not think they have anything to do with punk.

How time flies. Punk is already 40 years old. But rest assured, a midlife crisis is still not in the making. According to an expert on the matter, punk will become at least 4000 years old. So it will be a celebration, and our expert - none other than Malcolm Nix, best known as DJ, concert organizer and opinion maker - will make it a nice three-day festival under the name ‘Breaking Barriers’.

Breaking Barriers will celebrate the 40th anniversary punk. 1976 is obviously the explosion of punk in England, but a lot happened before that, such as the CBGB scene in New York with the Ramones, Television and Patti Smith. Why did you choose 1976 as the birth of the movement?

 One could say that punk can be seen as yet another event in a continuum of cultural resistance of which we find traces in the folk music of all past and living cultures, but that way of course there is no starting point that can be remembered. In itself, that would be okay, but people often tend to catalogue what they perceive in their environment. That is also the reason why there are so many genres and subgenres. Everyone catalogues everything because the amount of information is too chaotic for our limited brain. We cannot deny the reality. At one point in time, a consensus emerged to call a certain movement punk, and so this starting point arose.

We can discuss this for a long time, but we need to take a decision in the end. In 1977, all the pioneering bands were busy for a while, while in 1975 they were so isolated that there was no scene yet. So it has become in 1976. Culture is not determined by the artists, but by the public. The artists are simply the intermediary between artistic content and the people who want to be presented with this content. In 1976, there were enough of those people to be able to speak of a movement.

You choose for a very British interpretation of punk, right?

No I don’t. I just need to take into account the affordability of the bands, and then it automatically results with in bands and British bands. American bands, for instance, are far too expensive, even for a hall as Het Depot. Of course there are very cheap bands in many other European countries, but they are usually so obscure that no one will come to watch them, what indirectly explains their low price.

With The Damned, The Mob, The Ruts -actually successor Ruts DC-, and The Membranes, you were able to book a few of the bands from the first punk wave. Is the event meant to celebrate the bands from the early beginnings?

I tried to find a balance between all kinds of tendencies. The Damned was an obvious headliner. It is a very famous band that has never played in Leuven yet. Ruts DC represent the link between old punk and reggae, which in later generations has been replaced by the link between punk and ska. The Mob represents the integrity of the overall DIY approach. They even refused to send a band photo on the website, as they see it as star worship. The Membranes began in 1977, but achieved success only years later. They do no longer sound as in their early days. In other words, it's not about the age of the bands. It should just be musically varied and fascinating.

At the same time, I must admit that there are few recent bands on the bill. This is partly due to lack of time, because it seemed meaningless to cram even more bands on the bill. Unfortunately, little genuine instant classics were released in terms of punk recent years. I would really like to have a lot of new bands, possibly with one or two old heroes, but we repeatedly realised at Het Depot that you can not attract a lot of people do with only the promise that the music will be good. Many people are unwilling to go to a band that they do not know yet.

In the past, young alternative bands got many opportunities to build an audience in youth clubs and the likes, but that’s not easy anymore with all the norms and rules of today. Het Depot can play a role in this, but in fact there should be a small room in each municipality where music-conscious residents gather two or three times a month to watch bands that they do not know. Most people are too focussed on fixed values. It will unfortunately take more than a little festival in order to change that.

Discharge headlines the second day. They represent the second wave of punk and were at the roots of crust and grindcore in the early 80s. Aren’t they an outsider on the bill?

 Discharge actually exists since 1977. They are also part of that first generation, although they chose for a radically different sound later on. I do not see them as outsiders, but as a logical consequence of the evolution that had already been initiated and from which they took the logical next step.

Our dear Belgium is represented well with Funeral Dress, Belgian Asociality and Zyklome A. Furthermore, Kloot per W and Elvis Peeters will do spoken words performances. Is this how you ‘support your local scene’?

Since most of those people live in Antwerp, I'm not sure if this is still really the ‘local scene’. But they are more than welcome, of course. It would be rather silly to organize such a festival and not try to get some of the best native representatives on stage.

We do try to support the real local scene, as will become clear in your next question...

There are a remarkable number of additional activities for the festival: free performances by TV Smith - ex-The Adverts! - And Ulrike's Dream, as well as Bunkerleute goth party and a ska party on the day before the festival, and there is even a punk record fair on 11 November. It seems as if all of Leuven has to turn punk for three days…

This is exactly the way we try to support the ‘local scene’. We cannot possibly give everyone a place on our own stage, but we can work together with others. The local scene should never be dependent on one single place. That has happened in many places and the disappearance of that single place immediately led to the collapse of the scene itself.

In my view, this is a festival for Leuven and anyone who wants to can join the parties. In this way, we create a lot more atmosphere for everyone. There are of course major festivals with six or more stages, but this is much looser. You can grab something for free or linger at a specific spot. By doing these activities a day earlier, no one has to miss anything. The bands in the Rockcafé, for example, begin only when TV Smith stops at cafe Libertad. I prefer to do it this way instead of a big festival with several stages where people are forced to choose between various venues where all the bands play simultaneously.

I can only hope that the public appreciates it too, and will not only come to Leuven for those few big names playing in our main hall. In my eyes, the additional activities are just as much part of the whole.

Punk is often narrowed to fast songs of three chords, but this festival offers a lot of variety. We will hear both hardcore and oi, and even dub, reggae and lectures. Are you happy with the balance that you have achieved?

It can always be better, right? But I am terribly happy. This is a dream bill, full of talent and charisma. We have no less than three bands that have never really been on a Belgian stage and we have a band that wants to give us their first show in 31 years.

I would have liked to add a few bands that further push the limits of punk, but it must remain practicable. This is already hard for all the volunteers who ultimately form the backbone of our organization. At some point, one has to draw a line and say that the program is good enough.

You also choose several very committed bands. Are punk and politics inseparable?

No, it's different. Everything is political. Every human interaction is a political act. People who think that a political position should be an opinion about government policy or so, are mistaken. Even the choice of a particular brand of bottled water is a political decision. In my eyes, punk is pre-eminently a critical movement, which automatically leads to political positions. I can formulate it differently. People who do not want to take a sincere position, should not think they have anything to do with punk. Blink-182 is not on the bill.

Punk in our region seems to attract an older audience, mainly. In countries such as Indonesia, Burma, Japan and even China, however, we can see strong and vibrant punk movements with young people fully opting for the punk lifestyle. What do you think about this?

I'm jealous. I can only hope that we can experience this here again too. Well, young people over there can have a hard time being a punk, especially in Indonesia. That is obviously something I would not want to see here. When I look at those who are against punk over there, I can only say that they are bringing things about. Sometimes you must dare to be proud of the enemies that you have created. They are the sign that you are bringing things about.

Finally, why do you conclude that punk will live for year 4000?

It's just an estimate. I can be wrong by twenty to thirty years. I can see no reason why punk would disappear. Every year, millions of people flock to Athens to visit the millennia-old monuments on the Acropolis. Is the first album by The Ruts not an highlight in the history of mankind? I almost wrote ‘the history of human civilization’, but this must still begin, unfortunately. In any case, Punk is a firm first step in that direction.

Pictures: Luc Luyten

Breaking Barriers: website / facebook