Quite possibly the absolute best new artist this year, and in quite some time for that matter. One of the few bands ever that draws an atmosphere that one can simply not ignore when listening to their music, made with thick orchestrated ambient backdrops,slow electro-pop patterns, and very charismatic and deep vocals provided by Ricardo (who the interview is with). It’s so many things put into one perfect creation, and it is my honor to bring their sound and vision to you (particurally in America, who have yet to hear their dynamic sound yet!). This is where the real art in music is at, and I very very highly recommend their newest CD “Anti-Hero”. Enjoy!
Chain D.L.K.: Congratulation on a truly magnificent CD, it has been in my CD player for three consecutive days now! How are you today and how are things over in Germany?
Final Selection: Thank you very much – It’s always nice to hear that someone likes your work. We are fine so far: the work on our E. P. “Heading For Graceland”, which will be released this fall, has come to an end, and now we are looking forward to playing a few live gigs.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us how you met, what convinced you two to work together, and a bit about yourselves.
Final Selection: Final Selection has been around since 1993. Back then, we started with nothing – and it took us time to develop ourselves step by step. In fact, it all started in a local club we both used to go to. One day, we got to know each other, talking about our favorite topic: music. We both had a similar musical tastes, and at some point we wanted more than just to consume music. So it all came together coincidentally: first song fragments, first concerts, until now, it has been a constant development. Concerning ourselves, there really isn’t a lot stuff interesting enough we could talk about in an interview.
Chain D.L.K.: The artwork is one of the main things that first caught me about this CD. What are some of the sources and inspiration for the artwork (by the way, the color scheme fits the mood of the CD quite well)?
Final Selection: I’ll simply give that question to Michael, the creator of our artwork.Michael: Thanks for the compliment! I take it as a good sign that you consider the color scheme to go with the mood of the music. The first inspiration came from the songs, of course. I’ve got the impression that the songs possess a certain depth, and that they also immediately generate images during the process of listening. I think that’s the strength of Final Selection, and therefore I tried to make the musical feeling visible in the artwork. Generally, my work is inspired by different kinds of music (bands like Delerium, Massive Attack, Fields of the Nephilim, etc), and in case your question also aims at artists who have influenced me, yes, a certain affinity for Dave McKean (the artist who did the cover art for Front Line Assembly, the Sandman Comics, etc) cannot be denied.
Chain D.L.K.: Did the tracks inspire the artwork or did the artwork inspire the songs?
Final Selection: Michael: The songs were definitely there first, and therefore the artwork is completely based on the music. However, I’m in the position of knowing the band for quite some time now, and I’ve also seen a great deal of their development. That’s why I knew from the start that the band needed an autonomous image graphically and not that steel/cogwheel/neon-vision outfit which has become sort of typical for Electro-Bands.
Chain D.L.K.: What differences are there between the first CD “The Immortal Gift” and “AntiHero”?
Final Selection: Basically, the difference is that “AntiHero” is our first official release. Immortal Gift was sort of a forerunner for our current sound, many of the elements and structures you hear on “AntiHero” are derived from the experimental period which “Immortal Gift” was produced in.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice there are many layers and new sounds each time one listens to the new CD. Did you put together all the sounds at once or was it a process of layering them one on top of each other?
Final Selection: We were trying to give “AntiHero” a sort of agelessness and complexity that makes it worth listening to more than just a few times. When we were revising the songs, this aspect was our motto, and in the process we also altered or added a few sounds.
Chain D.L.K.: If asked to describe the general mood when playing and composing the songs for “AntiHero” (or any Final Selection song for that matter), what would you say that mood is?
Final Selection: We would like to entertain and stimulate imagination, and we would also like to capture our listeners in that imaginary place for a few minutes. Through the way we work most of our songs have that certain “Final Selection Atmosphere”, a warm and longing sound best described as “melancholy”.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice on the song “Absent Minded” there is a very thick, almost aquatic sound playing in the chorus line. Is that the sound of a whale singing/speaking or anything of that nature?
Final Selection: No. That’s a sound of a very analog nature I programmed on a Waldorf Microwave synthesizer.
Chain D.L.K.: When composing the lyrics, what has inspired you? Is there any particular process you go through in writing them, or combination of styles?
Final Selection: Well, first there is real (or sometimes surreal) life itself, but also literature; for example, I confess, I’m a Stephen King fan. When it comes to movies, we get inspired by films with a certain threatening mood as in SEVEN or TV-shows as MILLENNIUM.
Chain D.L.K.: The song titles are rather simple, almost poppy, then come the complex and dream-like lyrics. Was that contradiction intentional?
Final Selection: Well, that happened accidentally. When we were producing AntiHero, short and simple song titles just seemed practical and appropriate. It’s still possible that we will start experimenting with more complex titles in the future.
Chain D.L.K.: What bands have inspired you along the way?
Final Selection: Very important sources of inspiration for us are creative people such as Vince Clarke (Erasure) and Bill Leeb (Delerium, FLA). These fascinating musicians have been influencing us with their sound for a very long time, and they still do. Then there are Haujobb, the Cure, Swans, or NIN, bands or musicians who can create a certain mood with their music, who can capture your attention to the very last note.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did the German voice samples come from and what is it saying (for those out here who don’t speak German)?
Final Selection: All samples are from dubbed German versions of American movies or TV shows. On “Your Smile” you can hear a sentence from Flatliners, “Swamp”features a quote from Spawn, and on “Dead Hero” there are samples from one episode of Millenium with Lance Henriksen. Since I don’t know the original, I can only try to translate the German text: “Your Smile”: And then I started to soar. “Swamp”: Every day, you come back a little bit more dead inside. “Dead Hero”: We see what our karma allows us to see, the beauty of the world and the horror, all illusions of our mind. Everything originates in our imagination, nothing is real.
Chain D.L.K.: Who’s face is that on the front of the CD, mixed in under the leaves?
Final Selection: Michael: Originally, the face stems from an old picture and shows a remote ancestor of a good friend. It’s funny, because a while ago this very friend owned a club in former West Germany, and it was in that club Final Selection (as a band from former East Germany) had their first gig after the Berlin Wall came down. In that way, the cover is even a sort of reminiscent of that first show.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you incorporate any of the artistic elements into the live show, like movie screens or anything like that?
Final Selection: Due to financial reasons and because of lack of time, we couldn’t realize any of these ideas yet. But we definitely plan to use parts of the artwork of the upcoming album on stage. We are also thinking about making a small film, but that’s still the very early stages of planning.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about the upcoming EP “Heading For Graceland”. I can’t help but think by the title, but does it have anything to do with Elvis (I’m going to feel dumb as hell if not haha!) and Graceland in Tennessee?
Final Selection: Yes and no. The EP (with 5 new songs and 6 remixes) is supposed to be a kind of forerunner for the upcoming full-length album, which has been designed as a concept album. It tells the story of people who are trying to escape reality in different ways. While the album will take place in this fantasy world, the EP describes the way of the protagonist into this world. He is on his way to Graceland, and by Graceland we mean literally a graceful land, the world of fantasy. Of course we realized the association of the title with Elvis, but that’s what we find especially funny: some people sort of trip over the title and start to think about it. Apparently, this works pretty well.
Chain D.L.K.: You close each live show with the song “White Star” (I haven’t heard the song, myself, yet). Why do you choose this song to close each set and what is the song like?
Final Selection: It’s a somewhat faster song that slowly intensifies to a hymnal composition. “White Star” has already seen a few winters, but a revised version of the song will be on the new EP as well?
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any plans to get a label (versus the lone distribution) for the American audience, such as Metropolis or COP International?
Final Selection: Final Selection CDs are already distributed in the US with the help of Metropolis and A Different Drum and can be ordered just like any other record on the market.
Chain D.L.K.: Why the two versions of “AntiHero” and what are some of the differences, in both music and art, between the two?
Final Selection: The first version of AntiHero was marketed on our own and is a demo. It contains the material of that time and was used to present Final Selection to a number of record labels. The arrangement of the songs and the artwork was a bit simpler these days. Nonetheless, this album is something very special for us. We received many positive reactions, and in the end it also lead to the contract with Black Flames Records. The second version (the official release) contains completely revised versions of the songs and two bonus tracks that were not on the demo.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us what a Final Selection live show is like and what is in store for those who come to see you play live.
Final Selection: As we said, we plan to improve the visual aspects of our live shows in a way that the visual effects can support our performance, which is especially important since on stage we are the classical electronic duo. But at the moment we have to be happy with what little possibilities we have as newcomers. Musically, we of course play the material of “AntiHero” and a few songs of the upcoming album and the “Heading For Graceland” EP.
Chain D.L.K.: How did the tour with Girls Under Glass and Fair Sex?
Final Selection: Sadly, this was just one single concert. Girls under Glass and The Fair Sex are the musical heroes of my youth in some way, and therefore it was especially exciting to team up with them. Axel Ermes of Girls under Glass had listened our demo and was enthusiastic about it. So I guess the idea to invite us to that festival came from him. It really was a very nice evening.
Chain D.L.K.: Any side projects planned for now or in the future?
Final Selection: At the moment, we are busy with Final Selection and didn’t have time for such projects yet. But it’s always possible.
Chain D.L.K.: For atmospherics, is there any particular type of keyboard or equipment you’d recommend?
Final Selection: I like to work with the Kurzweil K2000 to generate warm and atmospheric sounds. This machine is very open to different forms of synthetic sounds, and it also allows good analog emulations. Besides that, we used a Waldorf Microwave, a Roland JX3P, a Dynacord ADD1, and a Vermona DRM1 MK2 on “AntiHero”.A Waldorf Micro and a Vermona MARS have completed our equipment in the meantime.
Chain D.L.K.: Was there any kind of treatment used in the studio on the vocals or is that all natural?
Final Selection: Aside from the vocoder parts, everything is purely natural. We only experimented on “Static City” a little bit with a frequency shifter to support the atmosphere of the song.
Chain D.L.K.: The vocals are pretty toned and very well versed. Any kind of background you have in singing, such as choir or opera?
Final Selection: Thanks for the compliment, but I don’t have any voice training. I’m thinking about training my voice a bit and taking some lessons. I think there should still be some potential.
Chain D.L.K.: Any kind of vocals exercises you do before going into the studio or singing live?
Final Selection: Prior to a recording session I usually sing Final Selection songs for one or two hours, so you could call that a kind of live rehearsal. Other than that, there are just a few basic rules: no heavy food before singing, no carbonated beverages and a good lung full of air.
Chain D.L.K.: OK, kind of funny but odd question here: Does the average woman in Germany look as good as Franka Potente from what you’ve seen, or how would you rate them (haha the only one I know in Germany looks like Claire Danes!)?
Final Selection: I always get different responses from my German friends on this one. Most women here definitely look better than Franka Potente. Except when they are trying to look like Franka Potente? hehe. Oh, and could you please give me the address of your German friend that looks like Claire Danes?
Chain D.L.K.: Which would you say is more important, a universe of knowledge or a sea of emotions?
Final Selection: He who possesses both shall be our king.
Chain D.L.K.: What else can we expect from this new and amazing band in the future and in the near future?
Final Selection: Well, we have already talked about our EP “Heading for Graceland” with 5 new tracks and 6 remixes that will be available this fall. In the beginning of 2004 it’s time for a new album. Most of the songs have been completed already, and the artwork is also in production. We hope to at least confirm the positive reactions we received for “AntiHero”, and of course we would like to surpass our debut album. Let’s see!
Chain D.L.K.: Anything you’d like to leave us with before we go?
Final Selection: ?
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks very much for your time, and even more so the spectacular and imaginative music! I look forward to hearing more
Final Selection: Thank you very much!
Visit Final Selection on the web at:
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]