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Monolake on how we cope with death: mythologies, rituals, drugs and Ghosts

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  • published
    17 Feb 2012
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    Robert Henke
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Ghosts comes across as a very private, isolationist work. Did you seek any guidance or input from friends or collaborators during the process of making it?

“Not at the beginning. When I make music, I become very shy and insecure about my work. Only when I feel that I already have a bunch of interesting and more or less finished tracks ready, I do start playing them to friends and collect reactions. I’m blessed with people around me whose artistic judgement I can trust a lot. This is sometimes hard, like when a piece of music I’m working on is verbally thrown in the deepest corner of my trash bin.

“The biggest issue with creating music completely as a one man show is that after listening to one’s own material again and again, one lacks the necessary distance in order to be able to make the right decisions. For me this is the main reason why I take so long to really finish something. I need to artificially create a distance by forcing myself not to listen to my music for a while and then later revisiting it with a more outside perspective. Every single person who did listen to the album whilst it was in the making is credited on my website. They are all important contributors.”

“Real life is horrible enough.”

Fear is a survival mechanism: when we’re afraid, we’re at our most physiologically alert, most aware of our surroundings, most sensitive to stimuli. Is “fear” something you’re interested in exploring as an artist?

“As an artist I’m not keen on inflicting those feelings, real life is horrible enough – just read the news. However, the text I wrote for Ghosts is also about fear. The protagonist and obviously a few other people are starting to feel afraid, because things are going on which they can’t explain. And since they’re all very smart people, they even consider that all the contradictory things they’re experiencing might only be happening in their brains. Which is, in a different way, equally scary. The music on the album is in parts the soundtrack to this, and the concert version even more so, since I’ll be pushing things a bit further there, emotionally.”

Where do you think the dark energy at the heart of Ghosts came from? Is it equally likely that you might have made a “light” work? Or is it fair to say that you’re naturally attracted to the gloomier side of things?

“I’m certainly attracted to a darkness. The beauty of light has so much more meaning in a darker surrounding. To me, the darkness is a promise; my concept of darkness is more on the positive, magic side of things. Also, not all spirits on the Ghosts album are mean. Take a track like ‘Toku’: the creatures present there have their own life, but they do no harm. They’re translucent, floating around us, maybe not even noticing that they’re being observed. We do not exist. I think I’m a very positive person. This makes it quite a joy to write dark stories. If I was a mass murderer I would write about flowers in bright sunlight and produce muzak for supermarkets.”

“If I was a mass murderer I would write about flowers in bright sunlight and produce muzak for supermarkets.”

Tell me more about your ambitions for the Ghosts In Surround tour.

“A highly important quality of sound and music is that it can create total immersion. One can get completely lost in music in a very positive way, and to me, concerts play an important role here. Unlike when people listen to a CD at home, during a concert I have the power to totally transform a space by my music and I can provide the audience with an experience that is special and unique. Ideally it sounds as massive as possible: cinematic, overwhelming and full of detail at the same time. I personally enjoy music that makes me want to listen deeper and deeper, music where I constantly discover new textures, shapes and shades. A lot of club music lacks this quality, is too reduced to a formula, does not surprise me and I find this sad, because a clubnight could be such a rich sensual experience. I try to provide this.”

What can we expect from Tarik Barri’s visual accompaniment to the music?

“Darkness, brightness, shadows, objects and spaces. He will be creating his very own abstract visual world, but there are connections to the music; technically some things are synced, specific audio events triggering visual objects, but the more interesting interaction between the auditive side  and the visual side is of course more emotional – structures and moods that emerge sonically might have counterparts in the visual side, or vice versa. Both the visuals and the music are abstract and open enough to allow the audience to let go and come up with their own images. If the audience at some point completely forgets about Tarik and me and just enjoys an audiovisual experience, then we’ll have succeeded in what we hoped to achieve.”


Tim Purdom


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