Heathen Harvest: Hi, Richard! How are you?
Richard Lederer: I am fine, just came back from the studio and decided to immediately answer your questions. ;-)
HH: Ice Ages third brand new album, Buried Silence is going to be issued on the 30rd June after eight years of silence. Why such a long time between This Killing Emptiness and Buried Silence ?
RL: The main problem was the work on the last "Die Verbannten Kinder Evas" CD. I got first problems with the Tania (the singer on the last album) cause of lots of psycholgocial problems and later with Sinem who also was mentally totally unable to complete the recording. So, month by month the recording got delayed so that after 3 years (hard to imagine that I was so patient) I gave up waiting and worked for Summoning till I found the final singer, Christina, who completed the album in only a few days. In addition, I also started to learn programming (what is not my job) and also had some private problems.
HH: I guess issuing an album after such an absence might be really exciting and at the same time anguishing. I mean: how listeners will welcome this album? What are your expectations regarding Buried Silence ?
RL: I am always surprised about the different reactions the songs of a new album create. Sometimes a songs I am total sure will be the mega hit song for most people turns out to be unimportant to most, and suddenly a song I never really thought about causes much attention. I also realize very diverse reactions on the all-over mood of the song. For some its nice and catchy, others consider it as monotonious and boring, others need much time to get into it. So, I stopped thinking about that meanwhile.
HH: Was it important for you to go on with this project? Why? You"ve already Summoning and Die Verbannten Kinder Evas: is Ice Ages necessary to your composer"s life as the third part of a trilogy?
RL: Ice Ages is a necessary part of my creativity like the others. It"s the only project where I have total freedom concerning sound. The other projects are connected too much with orchestra sounds which can not be varied too much, while with Ice ages I start with a sound that can turn out to be something total different at the end and not be connected to sound people are used to. Ice Ages is also the kind of music which is the most close to the music I listen to; I generally prefer to listen to harsh, but yet melodic music such as Acylum or Rosewater, but I realised that in the last years there is not much in that direction existing. On one side, there is just total unmelodic, in most cases even not rhythmic industrial / power noise stuff. On the other side, there is just total commercial clean polished techno EBM music which misses any kind of darkness or harshness. Therefore, I think that Ice Ages is more necessary than ever before to fill that hole which only a few bands fill right now.
HH: Apart from Ice Ages, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and Summoning, you"ve been also involved in other projects: Grabesmond, Pazuzu, Sanguis Et Cinis, WeltenBrand, Whispers In The Shadow. How do you look back at "em? Would you like to take part again / reawake some of these projects?
RL: Well, we just did a single song for Grabesmond many many years ago and since that time we are always called members of Grabesmond; I rather smile about that. But, that band that does not really cause a smile on my face is "Sanguis Et Cinis", I rather get red that I ever was so sutpid in participating in that band, and I always hope that people might forget about that connection, but thanks to people like you there is no chance that this humiliating fact will ever be forgotten. ;-) I also got some problems with Weltenbrand when its label got bankrupt and am not in contact with them anymore.
But I have still a good relation to the band "Whispers in the Shadow", its even planned that I play some arabic drums for 1 or two songs for their forthcoming album.
HH: You"ve issued Ice Ages" two first albums on M.O.S. Records and Draenor Productions, both rather small underground labels. On the contrary, Buried Silence will be released under the huge metal label Napalm Records. Why this choice? Will you do so again in the future?
RL: No your are wrong. Draenor Productions is just a sub label of napalm records and actually the same;-)So, I just continue to work with Napalm Records. Well, as always I am not totally sure if its a good or bad decision to be published on a metal label as a pure electronic project. On one hand, I know that lots of metal fans have not the slightest idea about that kind of music and consider anything without doublebass and breaks all the time as total boring and monotonous while they dont even notice the huge muly layered structures. On the other hand, I also think that the current electro labels with all those mainstream techno beats might also not get the right audience for my music.
I noticed that a lot of metal fans are astonishingly opened to anything that"s dark, so meanwhile I think that Naplam Records is a good choice, but we will see.
HH: I know you planned to play live with Ice Ages in Romania. Why this decision while you don"t seem to be fond of live performance? Could we have the chance to see other live performance in various countries?
RL: I am always a bit nervous when I even think about performing live on stage and rather do it because people ask me to do it than cause I ask them to let me play. Each time I make music I am in a small black room and just imagine emptiness and darkness. Suddenly standing in front of an audience as a normal human being is a bit weird for me, but I know from the past that I am happy about it after the concert is over and I think its a good psychological training to confront that nervousness.
This time I feel less uncomfortable than ever before because for the first time I will deal with self-created video projections which will be total ly synchronized with the music and create a real dark psychedelic mood on the stage. I went into the cellar and also in a futuristic subway station and other dark places, made 1-2 second video loops and combined them for the forthcomming live show.
HH: I know you made a remix for Acylum track called Alone . Do you plan other collaborations, remixes or else with other projects?
RL: This was not my idea. I was never into any electronic scene, I just listened to some older EBM bands in the past but did not even know many people liking or even making that kind of music. So, the idea of remixing any songs was total not existing for me. To my great positive surprise, I
once got an email from Pedro of Aclyum asking me to make a remix of his song. The surpise was positive because Acylum belongs to the very few bands of today that I can fully accept cause of the combination of heavy harshness, good rhythms and tunes. So, it was clear that I was going to make that remix and finally I thought I could add an own style to that that original songs and understand the idea of remixes much more than ever before.
HH: I dare asking you how are going your other projects, knowing that you almost never stop creating. Is the idea of a mini-CD for Summoning still relevant? What about Die Verbannten Kinder Evas? Other projects?
RL: I thought about a mini-CD when I was total into Summoning and could not imagine to work on other projects, but meanwhile cause of the preparation for the live concert I got back to the Ice Ages mood again and already created new songs, so the idea of a Summoning MCD is for now not topical. This might change in a while, who knows. Right now I am also not in the mood for DVKE, I am still to excited about Ice Ages, but anyway it makes no sense to plan things, they shall come as they come.
Part II; Regarding Ice Ages:
HH: Which are your musical influences regarding Ice Ages?
RL: I dont think that I ever have direct influences. I mean I never think about a specific band when I start a song. But, I think that influences always exist, they just dont have to be obvious or direct.
So, I can just say that the reason why I ever started to make dark electronic songs was surely Leatherstrip. When I first heard the song "Mohawk" or "Zyklon-B" from that band, about 14 years ago, a new word was born for me. As I grew up in the metal scene, I thought that only with heavy guitars you can create dark moods. But, due to Leatherstrip, I started to get a total different understanding of the word dark . Those quite slow electronic songs with a distorted voice done by just one person really opened my eyes and I understood that making music alone just with a synthetizer is the best way for me. I was never that rehearsal guy and rather got bored by reheasals while I considered the act of composing as the main thing and not the monotonous rehearsals all the time.
HH: Why this decision of a slow tempo? Just to oppose the trend and take an original niche inside the electroindus/gothic scene? Or is it a way to challenge the difficulty to create a powerful music without speed? A matter of taste?
RL: I never was so much a fan of total speed. Speed is something for super agressive music maybe, but not so much for more depressive moods. I know for most people speed is the epitom of power, but when I think about speed I"d rather think about a fast airplane or motorcycle, while a huge tank or a mighty ship is definitley slower, but also definitely more powerful for me. Slowness is more connected to heavyness and suits better my taste. I think that also super fast beats are less appropriate for more multilayered rhythms. The slower a beat, the more gaps exist which can be filled with some real additional ideas instead of just some meaningless frills.
And maybe the slow rhythms are a kind of resistance to the boring techno EBM trend of the last years, but if it is, its just a subconcious resistance, because i prefer to do the music I feel inside me, and not to make music as a social statement or reaction on common taste. Doing music totally contrary to the masses is for me not much different than doing music just to please the masses: in both cases you are reacting to the masses and, therefore, are in a way dependent to their taste.
HH: You also tend to challenge the usual boundaries of musical genres. Ice Ages is an hybrid of darkwave, EBM, electro indus, maybe with some 80ies synthpop aspects, and now with clearer rhythmic noise elements. Isn"t it difficult to merge all these facets in a coherent ensemble?
RL: I don"t see the music so much as a kind of crossover or something like that. Actually, the idea of mixing styles is a bit boring and already white old-fashioned to me meanwhile. I think that the elements I use are not so much in contradiction as many people might see it. If you listen to the mentioned songs of Leatherstrip you also see some of those elements inside it. They have in common that they are dark and were born around the 80ies.
It"s less a mixing of styles, it"s more a mixing of musical elements independant from styles. I just like harsh drum sounds, non straight rythms, melancholic tunes, harmonies very much and like to work with the synthetizer. I dont know how to achieve that in one song by following the rules of only one musical style you mentioned. I cannot make pure power noise music with melancholic synth layers. I also cannot make a synth pop song with super harsh beats. So, I do my best to integrate all my musical preferences in Ice Ages, without actually copying ideas from other music styles.
HH: We know that Summoning, for instance, has strong influences from fantasy litterature (Tolkien"s Lord of the Ring, among others). What about Ice Ages? Are there influences regarding the concept of your albums? And what about the cover of the album: where does it come from?
RL: Ice Ages is totally music oriented. I don"t care about a concept and I also don"t want to tell stories with Ice Ages. The purpose of the lyrics is to increase the dark mood of the songs, but not to give the album a concept.
And the same goes for the cover. It isn"t not mentioned to show anything that people can recognize and explain with a few words. Its just something that should go well with the mood of the songs. I realised meanwhile that seeing it from a marketing view many people consider it as a pure disaster, as you cannot see anything that people can recognize, but I always knew that I am lacking any marketing abilities and also don"t think that people listening to Ice Ages are the people who get fooled by marketing strategies. ;-)
HH: About the lyrics, you"ve always asked the service of a mysterious friends of yours, Grom. Could you tell us why and maybe reveal a bit who"s hiding between this character?
RL: I simply don"t consider myself as a poet and writing lyrics does not bring me any pleasure. I can use words only to transport concrete messages, but not to create moods. So, I think its a better decision to ask people who are really good in that to write them for me.
I got to know Grom because he was involved in the first Russian Summoning page and made an interview with me many years ago. Meanwhile, he was 3 times in Vienna visiting me and due to the same passion for dark moods I think his lyrical abilities suit very well my music.
HH: Do you let him writing what he wants, or do you rather explain him what kind of lyrics you"d like?
RL: Well, I just say it shall be dark and not connected to reality. That"s all. And sometimes, I complain if the rhythms do not suit to the rhythms of the song, but apart from that he can write whatever he wants.
HH: The music seems to be really matching the lyrics, as well as the way you phrase "em. How do you achieve in this? Do you compose music before or after the lyrics?
RL: In the past I made the complete songs with the finished vocal lines and then asked Grom for some lyrics which he wrote independantly from the music. Then, I adapted the syllables of that song by repeating some of them or dropping some words, so that they match to the music. This time I wanted to do it more professionally and sent him some finished tracks with my vocals sung in some senseless bla bla words, so that he"d know which rhythms I"d need. I think that was a good decision as now the words suit better than ever before the music.
HH: More precisely about Buried Silence , your music has evolved but without denying its identity. The slow tempo is your trademark. But, it seems you"ve change some elements. For instance, the beats are heavier, more distorted, as well as the synths, metallic noises are ever-present and there seems to be a provocative but discreete variations of the pitch of notes, that breaks A440 Hertz convention...Can you tell us a bit more about these changes and their reasons?
RL: The main important thing is that I started working with synth softwares such as "Reaktor 5". This enables me so much more musical flexibility that i can start creating sounds in a total different way. I even couldvirtually construct my own synth with that software that enabled me to do 95% of all drum and melodies, sounds with it. I am no longer dependent on finished sounds delivered with a hardware synth. I can create them all totally on my own. The other thing is that I started to be more expert knowledge in mixing. I started analyzing frequencies more then ever before. I realised that bass is not just bass but that there is a huge difference between a bass around 60-80 Hertz or a bass around 200 Hertz. With that knowledge, I could work on the bass section much more carefully as ever before and also use the complete frequency spectrum for the songs, creating much more balance than ever before.
HH: Technically, I know you don"t use samples but only compose on computer programs, creating fully artifical sounds. You also use a method called FM ring modulation . Simply and briefly, what is it? Why this choice? What does it bring to composing and music?
RL: The problem about samples is that they can not be so much manipulated than pure mathematical waves. This time I intentionally tried not working with samples but forcing myself to create as many different sounds just with simple mathematical waves such as sine or sawtooth waves. It"s really hard to explain FM Ring if you are not in front of a synth. It"s a technique that was already invented in the 70-80ies and means that you can create total different sound just with two waves while one is the carrier wave the other the modulating wave. Often you can turn a clean polished atmospheric sound layer in a total power noise sound just with a single move of a modulation fader etc. I think it would go to far to get deeper into that technology as the people who already worked with it not will get any knew knowledge while the people never worked with it
will just get bored. ;-)
Part III; Personal Matters:
HH: Our post-modern times are rather paradoxical. While some are longing for traditional premodern times, in order to erase the negative sides of modernity, some others are alienating in a festive techno-consumerist global village. We may see this paradox is exemplified (at least aesthetically) within the post-modern post-industrial musical genres: neofolk and electro industrial. (Of course, reality is not as caricatural, but a way more complex.) Taking all your 3 musical projects, we note you play a music that sounds rather futuristic (Ice Ages) or at least modern (DVKE, Summoning), using latest technologies (FM ring modulation), or at least electric instruments. At the same time, these projects are all but devoid of a (neo-)romantic melancholy and of traditional music influences and instruments (ex. Turkish military music and darbuka; medieval music etc.). How do you situate your music in this context? On a more philosophical level, what do you praise: future, past or a third way? Modernity, tradition or a third way? Any other thoughts?
RL Well, sure I have some historic feelings in my music, but they are all generated with modern instruments like keyboards. The keyboard was never a compromise, it was always the main instrument for me. So, you can see even the historic oriented songs more as a modern view on older times, not as kind of music trying to copy old classical music. I think it makes no sense to copy old times, i live today and therefore i am a product of these days no matter if i accept everything of today or not. People of the past did not copy anything old when they made their music, they did music of today, so copying old times whould mean to do something tolly different then they did. I really like to be up to date with modern technology and to understand it as much as possible in order to achieve the best results. Technology and art should never be in contradiction. Both influence the way of thinking and therefore influence each other. The disscovering of the perspective for example changed art totally in the renaissance times, so it would be a mistake to ignore modern sythesiser technology. Classical music already reached its end when it turned to compley dissharmonic music of the late 20 centuries so there is no way to make music in that way whithout seeing the logic end all the times. Only if you try different approaches you can walk a path where its end is not determinated.
My passion for oriental percussion (specially darbuka) is defenityl in contradiction to my words before, but i see it as a kind of ballance that necessary to my modern aproaches. Using the most modern technology for makikng music and also playing a drum that was invented 4000 years ago is really a huge contrast but brings me also back to the ground and connected me to handplayed sounds again.
Anyway what you call paradox is not really paradox. Dealing with the past and dealing with the future have one thing in common. They both dont deal with reality and therefore leave much space for your fantasy. The farer away a world is from present times the more you can put you desired and fantasies into the that time, and use it for your desires or your fears. Dealing with historic and future moods simply are a way to escape from reality, nothing more.
HH: A typical question: what do you think of the actual post-industrial and gothic scenes, especially regarding EBM / electroindus ones? Too many clones? Is it getting commercial? Good quality or not? Are you listening to many bands?
RL: As i already mentioned, I am quite disappointed about what is called EBM today. For all people who are old enough to remember what music was played in MTV 10 years ago, its obvious that modern "EBM" totally sounds like that. The fact that they often use super distorted vocals does not change much for my taste. On the contrary, the cleaner the music is the more disturbing I consider the harsh vocal sound. This MTV dancefloor appeared about 9 years in that scene, I wonder how long it can continue until people really get bored about that. I think that underground music should never follow the mainstream. It should go its own way.
HH: What are you doing currently? Busy with your other projects or with anything else?
RL: Well, right now I am preparing for the live concert and still working on the live projections. Today I mixed the new Ice Ages song and also practiced the darbuka rhythms for Whispers in the Shadow.
HH: If you"ve any other message to transmit, you"ve space to tell it.
RL: I think nothing is left to say. I am a lousy last words person anyway so I just say thanks for the interview. ;-)