Chain D.L.K.: For those new to the group, tell us about your music and mission musically.
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: My mission musically is mainly to express myself. Unfortunately not everything I need to express is happy and nice, and in fact the darker aspects of my outlook and psyche are the ones that push forth expression. The other reason that I make music is because it’s fun. It’s like any art form in that you work with a variety of methods and materials to create a thing that wasn’t there before. It’s challenging and very satisfying when the result represents the feelings you put into it, and when the listener (or viewer or reader, etc) appreciates the details and the mood conveyed.
Lars: Well…I basically feel the same way about it as Leif.
Chain D.L.K.: What does the name Oneiroid Psychosis mean and how did it come about?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: I have always enjoyed psychologically disturbing music and I wanted to create that type myself. The band name “psychosis” came to mind. But we kept hearing about other bands with that name. So I wanted something that was a bit more specific to our style. Looking through my medical dictionary I found “Oneiroid Psychosis”. Which means “an acute dream like confused state”.
Chain D.L.K.: I understand you come from Wisconsin, which has the highest amount of serial killers in the country, and is home to Dahmer, Ed Gein, and Carla Fay Tucker. Does this play any part in the music?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I remember as a little boy learning who Ed Gein was. It seems everybody in Wisconsin knows about him from when they’re kindergarteners. I remember being driven to college in Stevens Point by my dad. We drove through Plainfield to look at the graveyard where he dug people up and the hardware store where he shot his last victim. A pleasant father and son outing! If such things have an effect on the music, they are subconscious. I think there are plenty of horrible things going on in America, and all over the world, but somehow Wisconsin gets the occasional famous wacko.
Chain D.L.K.: What, in your mind, is in the state’s, as well as nearby Waukegan, Illinois’, atmosphere to drive people to become serial killers?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I think people in rural Wisconsin live very sheltered lives, and perhaps don’t learn how to properly interact with the world at large. But again, that could be true anywhere. Ed Gein had a childhood memory of a forbidden shed where his parents would go. He peeked through a crack one day and saw his mother string up a pig upside down and slaughter it. She caught him peeking, and gave him a whipping. I can see how weird stuff like this could make a young child become a little twisted. Madison is a very modern and liberal city and is as pleasant and friendly as anywhere else in America, but only a few miles away are people who live very differently.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did the title of the opening track “Killed Today A Young Girl, It Was Fine and Hot” come from?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: Both titles “Dreams” and “Killed” came from quotes out of the book Psychopathia Sexualis. They don’t have any real significance to OP except to invoke a mood. They both leave you full of questions and hopefully feeling a bit disturbed. This changes the way you interpret and listen to the music. And that, to me, is what it’s all about: losing yourself in mood, imagination and sound.
Chain D.L.K.: I received a sampler copy of the CD, but I read where in the actual CD there is a picture of a girl being dissected. Why this for a choice of artwork? Is it more a fascination towards surgery or more to fit into the atmosphere of the CD?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: It’s really both. Surgery is so completely brutal. We have created instruments that are so unlike the human body and we use them to interact with the body. To tear apart, cut, sew and bolt parts of the body together. As brutal as it is, it is meant to heal and make things work again. There is a contradiction with it. If you’ve ever had the pleasure to see and hold these surgical instruments, it can bring on a certain discomfort. So this goes back to the title concept of creating a mood that can affect the way you listen and interpret the music.
Leif: While we always give Paul the final say as to what the artwork will be, I can say that a persistent sort of puzzle for me is the question as to what exactly a human being is. I mean we can pick apart the human body bit by bit, and that may tell us how our spleen works, but it tells us very little really about who we are. What is the mind, or experience, or emotion? How do you pick a human being apart to find the true nature of those things?
Chain D.L.K.: Do you ever get the urge to just wail out and go dance to the music or does the restraint come very easily to you?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: That’s more Signal 12’s domain.
Lars: The gear we have lends itself to techno very well. So it’s pretty easy to want to write that style. So if we are coming up with new songs and it tends to become more dance, we usually make it into a Signal 12 song.
Chain D.L.K.: Does the fact of living in a very secluded place attribute to the cold atmosphere as opposed to if you lived in a large city where clubs and such are?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I very much prefer to be secluded and would be even more so if we could afford a house further out in the country. With each passing year I dislike the city more and more. There are too many people there. I can’t find peace where there is an abundance of people. Clubs get too smoky and pretentious for me. I would rather surround myself with a select few friends, or be alone. So I guess I think the music would get even more cold and unsettling if I were living in an uncomfortable environment.
Lars: I think if we spent more time in clubs and such we could easily get caught up in what other people and bands were doing and may get distracted from our own direction. Living away from the city helps to keep me focused.
Chain D.L.K.: Who does the female vocals on “Disturbance”?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: Cat Hall.
Chain D.L.K.: A lot of the lyrics seem to be very moribund to put it lightly. Does this come from fascination or from just pure emotion put to metaphor?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: A bit of both. I think a common theme in our music and Paul’s art is the mixture and confusion of psychological states and physical states. A person’s physical appearance and environment is often a representation of where they are psychologically, and a person’s psyche is generated in response to the physical world. They seem to blend into a single experience. Depression is like death for the spirit. It’s worse than annihilation.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about how the album was conceived and put together as far as ideas.
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: The song “Winter Day” sparked the entire album. We were playing the PlayStation game “Nightmare Creatures” and got inspired by the atmosphere and mood. In the opening level there is a sign on one of the buildings that says winter day. This album was a turning point for me. I have learned so much over the years and gained more confidence in our abilities. So I knew with this album and the following albums that I wanted no outside influence. This idea inspired me a great deal and I wanted to pay close attention to detail. Especially since I knew we would have the time to do so. I think that is why it sounds so different from the others.
Leif: We normally have more music sequences stored on our computer than can feasibly fit on a CD. So we find a sketch of a song, which inspires us, or we come up with something new and just keep working on it until it’s done. Then we do the same with another song. After several are done we start to think about how they will work together, and what styles or moods might round out the album. We’ve never made a concept album, but people make that assumption about most of our releases. We’ve talked about the idea though.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you shocked by the reaction that many people attribute to the group’s music, or did you expect it would happen?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: Ultimately we always create our music for ourselves, and we try not to expect any particular reaction from listeners. It’s difficult and exhausting for an artist to try and stay on top of things. If you change too much the fans resent you, if you keep doing the same thing the fans get tired of you. As an artist and musician I can only do what I do, and hope that it will resonate with people.
Chain D.L.K.: How did you transcend from the early rock-influenced days of your musical beginning to the electronics of today?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: I have never had a strong desire to write rock or metal music. Leif and I learned to play guitar first because it was the first instrument available to us. When different instruments became available I wanted to compose songs. I became very driven by composing rather than just learning and playing one instrument. Slower dark music just seemed to come naturally for me and electronic instruments give you a much broader range to work with. It all just fell into place. However, the drum programming on “Dreams” was heavily influenced by my interest in 70’s rock. I was listening to a lot of old Aerosmith and Judas Priest when we were writing Dreams and I wanted to get away from the electronic drum sound for that album.
Leif: As a kid in the 70s I always loved science fiction and futuristic adventures. My older brothers were playing guitar in the hard rock and metal style, and naturally that was what I wanted to do too. So as a teen in the 80s I got my own guitar and practiced a lot – not just at learning other bands’ riffs, but learning to write songs and make melodies work together. In the 80s there seemed to be a sort of revolution in the way music was made, with the affordability of 4-track tape recorders, drum machines, synths and samplers. When I started hearing music with a more electronic sound I fell in love with it and wanted to incorporate those sounds into what I was doing, because it brought to mind the sci-fi that I still get into. Then in college I was introduced to the music of Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, The Residents and all kinds of crazy stuff, and the world forever changed.
Chain D.L.K.: Do any of your old projects like Ground Zero still exist? Are there any plans to reopen the bands someday?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: We’ve talked about re-doing some of the Ground Zero songs as Signal 12, but there are no plans to bring the project back. Our brother Shawn was an important part of that, and he’s not prepared to get into a band right now, and it wouldn’t be right without him.
Chain D.L.K.: What are some of your other bands, Ascent, NoOne, in comparison to Oneiroid Psychosis?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I really enjoyed putting together the NoOne project. We had minimal equipment at the time, but a lot of freedom to experiment. I have many ideas for more material and I do intend to record and release another CD at some point. It would be great to re-release the first CD too, because people still ask us where they might find it.
Lars: Ascent is very emotional. It’s the type of music that can be interpreted as extremely joyful or sad. Music is strange that way. Depending on our mood or our thoughts, it can bring pain or pleasure. Ascent is very much that way. It really draws you in.
Chain D.L.K.: What is an Oneiroid live show like, for those who are curious and need persuasion to come see the show?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: Lars and I have always wanted to do shows with larger and more elaborate props and sets, but haven’t had the time to put it all together. We try to throw new songs into the sets, or different versions of old songs. One of our favorite aspects of live shows is just meeting with people who are into the music and talking.
Lars: Soon we will be working with a good friend of ours in AZ. She will be setting up a show for us in a theater with some wonderful backdrops and atmosphere. I am really looking forward to that. I think an OP show should be experienced sitting down in a theater and not in a club.
Chain D.L.K.: Why the fascination with death and surgery?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: It’s like what I explained before with surgery. There is a contradiction with it that is very interesting. I also think that it’s pretty natural to have a fascination with death. It is so unknown to us and is our final state of being. It’s the only thing that is guaranteed to us. And it’s natural for us to want answers to the unexplainable. That’s why we all have so many beliefs on the subject.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you ever see Oneiroid catching on in the clubs or more on the goth scene than it already is?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I feel very skeptical about that. I see scenes as being very fickle. It’s like fashion, with trends changing rapidly for no particular reason, often in questionable directions. Of course there are goth classics and industrial classics and so on, but things go in phases and I must admit I haven’t been keeping up with what’s going on in the scenes. If anything I’d speculate that we’d catch on more with the dark metal fans at this point.
Lars: Yes. It seems to me that metal is making some changes and is maturing on many levels broadening its range and fan base. Bands like Opeth prove that with every release. So I think with a more rock percussion sound rather than an electronic percussive sound, we wouldn’t have much to play in clubs and may appeal more with dark metal fans. But in reality… I have no idea.
Chain D.L.K.: What do you make of the darker bands all going more towards a dance mode? Does this hurt it or add to it?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I think dark dance music can work, because frustrated energy often needs physical expression, and dancing is better than beating somebody up. To get really dark though, you need to slow things down and get subtler, and get into people’s heads rather than their bodies.
Lars: Dance music can be very sexual and sexuality in music can be very powerful. It is easy to turn that mood dark or turn it into something goofy. Unfortunately I think most dance music is more of the latter. I would like to experiment with the darker dance music a little more.
Chain D.L.K.: I understand you and Shikhee of Android Lust (my first interview! Such an amazingly kind person) are close friends. Could we ever see a collaboration with her? Hmmmm, Oneiroid Lust has a ring to it wouldn’t you say? : P
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: It is possible and we have talked about it. But it is so difficult because of time and distance. I am sure her vocals will show up on a future OP track or two.
Leif: I’ve talked a couple times with Chris from I, Parasite (who tours with Shikhee as a member of Android Lust) about collaborating on a really heavy and noisy beat-driven thing, but as yet nothing has been produced.
Chain D.L.K.: Is the band’s use of low-fi electronic pitches and sounds more to enhance the creeping mood of the music or is it from other reasons?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: We really just listen for sounds or instruments that “sound” right. We scroll through dozens of synth patches while the sequence plays a measure or two in a loop, and we’ll pick the closest one and modify it into what we want.
Lars: Sometimes a sound can trigger an entire song. The sound itself can create the mood of the song and lead it into it’s own direction.
Chain D.L.K.: What would be your favorite Oneiroid track and/or album to date?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: For me it would probably be “Disturbance” from Dreams. I like that one because it has so many elements in it that I have always wanted to do. The layered vocals, symphonic instruments mixed with synths and the trippy hypnotic climax. I am very happy with how Dreams turned out over all.
Leif: I’m most happy in general with Dreams, the latest release. We got into some noisier stuff on Fantasies About Illness, which I really enjoy doing, and I hope to wander in that direction again. A favorite song of mine would be Apostasy, particularly Chris Peterson’s remix of it. I really like what he did with the rhythm, and the lyrics summarized my beliefs at the time.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice in the list of bands you listen to there is a lot of IDM. Is this something that may mix into your music someday? Mixing your current style with an Autechre style would be very unique to see to say the least!
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I haven’t updated my side of that list for quite awhile, and lately I’ve been very into drum-n-bass like Squarepusher and We. I don’t really know how we’d pull off a mix of IDM and OP. But we never know what the next album will sound like until we start creating it.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you ever do a soundtrack for a movie or a videogame like a new Castlevania game?
Oneiroid Psychosis: Leif: I’ve loved Castlevania since the first game came out on the 8-bit Nintendo. Ever since then I’ve wanted to do a videogame soundtrack, but it’s a really tough industry to break into. Game makers already have their sound guys and musicians, and it’s complicated to bring another party into it, as far as permissions and copyrights etc. We did however get a Signal 12 track on an Electronic Arts game called Road Rash: Jailbreak.
Lars: I would love to do a sound track for a movie or a good video game. I wouldn’t want to do it for a living though. That could get difficult due to the demands on you. But now and again would be great.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you have any questions for me? I think I’ve given you enough questions. Now you can hit me with one! : P
Oneiroid Psychosis: Lars: What is the main element in music that really draws you in? Is it harmony, melody, rhythm, lyrics or a combination of those?
Chain D.L.K.: Hmmmmmmm, I try to listen to it as one whole package. Lyrics to me can captivate me where the music fails at times, such as latter Leonard Cohen. But overall I try to listen to a combination of all of those, looking at each part piece by piece, since they all fail without one another.
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]