Feb 112007
 
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The Swedish first-class EBM-Chaostronicer Severe Illusion made a their comeback in front of the Electro/Industrial scene with their new CD “Shortcut To Civilization”, out on the US-label DSBP (www.dsbp.cx). It seems that 2K6 was indeed a fine year for Fredrik and Ulf with the release of this full-length album, a MCD on the Swedish Plutonium Records and some special gigs. In the last two weeks of 2K6 also the long-awaited debut release of their mutual side-project Instans got released on the Hungarian label Advoxya-Records (www.advoxya-records.com). More to come in 2K7, both their update through this interview…

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Chain D.L.K.: Hello comrades, I guess for “Shortcut To Civilization” you and Anders Karlsson, who did the artwork for “Shortcut To Civilization” had to waste some free time so that you could watch too much movies like “Planet of Apes”, am I right? Tell us a bit about the monkey-soldier concept…
Severe Illusion: Fredrik): Not really. In between all the “monkey business” there is as always a lot of seriousness. We are trying to point at violence as the driving force behind human evolution, and at all the hypocrisy people use to pretend we are all so civilized.(Ulf): In a broader context we are all monkeys trained to act, think and believe in certain patterns. And I wouldn’t consider watching “The Planet of the Apes” a waste of time. Well, Tim Burtons version perhaps, but not the real movie.

Chain D.L.K.: Besides this, I think the past year 2006 was a quite good one for Severe Illusion. You could release a 5-track SiCD “Panopticon” on Plutonium, the above mentioned new full-length CD on DSBP and last but not least also the debut of your side-project Instans saw in December the light of a release. How do you see this, I guess 2K6 can hardly be topped?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): We will see about that. 2006 was a good year, yes, but we are already hard at work with a CDM called “Armed Evolution” that will be released in April. There will be a few new tracks, a new version of one old favorite and a bunch of remixes by some of our favorite artists. We hope there will be a new release from Vanvård and you can be sure we will start working on the second Instans album soon, now as we have finally got the first one released.(Ulf): One thing at least I have missed the last year is that we haven’t been able to get out and play live as much as we would have like to. Hopefully we will be able to play live more this year.

Chain D.L.K.: Some words on Instans, please and on the release of “Common Ground”. I guess a long journey full of misunderstandings after the demise of the Polish Black Flames label has finally come to a good end with your deal at Advoxya Records, right?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): Well, if it wasn’t for Black Flames being so encouraging in the first place there would have been no Instans. For some reason they spent all their money on another band that no one liked, and now they are no more. During the two years that followed, we still had the Instans web site and a Myspace site up and running. Through this we soon learned that there was a demand for the album, so when Advoxya offered a contract we were happy to sign it.

Chain D.L.K.: You made also a gig with both projects at an Advoxya festival in Hungary. Please tell us some funny stories about that trip. How hard and long is a trip to Budapest? How did you travel? And how much is your condition effected by doing a gig with both projects on one evening?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): During 2006 I have also visited Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and we played at the Chrona Rada III festival in Ukraine. So Budapest does not feel like something too far from home. It is also our third trip to Hungary, so also from that point of view it is not very exotic to us.(Ulf): Playing with two bands on the same show is far from ideal. It gets hard to focus on either of the bands performances. But it was a fun night all the same. As Fredrik mentioned, we have played in Budapest several times before and playing in Kiev in September felt far more exotic. We would love both to go back to Ukraine as well as play in Russia some day.

Chain D.L.K.: Back to “Shortcut…”: To my taste this album globally tends to leave the harsher and distorted kind to go further back to your roots and it awakes some minimal 80’s-inspired remembrances. An intentionaldevelopment for this album?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): I do not agree. My “roots” are SPK and TG, and we have never been farther from their work than we are now. I have never been a fan of 80’s pop music, not even back in the 80’s when I was young. But it is true that the sound has become somewhat more minimal at the last album. That should not suggest that Severe Illusion will stay true to that formula forever, or even at all.

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Chain D.L.K.: With the previous question in mind, why does “Panopticon” differ that much?
Severe Illusion: (Ulf): Perhaps because we made them straight after each other. The last couple of years we have recorded a Severe-album and then something else, Vanvård or Instans. We like to be able to make lots of different things and need to do that so we don’t get bored when making music. When we where starting to record “Shortcut…” right after the relatively chaotic “Panopticon” it felt natural to make a pretty soft and laid back album.

Chain D.L.K.: “Killing Useless Nations”, well, which nations are that useless that you’re gonna plan to kill them?
Severe Illusion: (Ulf): It’s not so much about killing certain nations, as it is to kill the people who lives there.(Fredrik): An example would be to bomb Iran back to stone age unless they are nice little Muslims who buy expensive technology from the EU and the US for their nuclear power, rather than developing their own and thus gaining too much political and economic independence.

Chain D.L.K.: The track “Right In Your Hostile Little Face” was already released on the Plutonium “Showcase 2” compilation. Nevertheless, it fits pretty with the float of the album. What are the reasons to re-animate “Bad People”, an appearance for a DSBP compilation in 2004?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): We included Bad People because Tommy T at DSBP had us do it. I do believe it was a good plan. “Right In Your Hostile Little Face” was intended for the album to begin with. The version on “Showcase 2” is not the same as the one on the album. I am singing backwards on the album version, and a lot of other things are different, too.

Chain D.L.K.: What else do you expect from the future, musically and for your private life? Any new releases in the works which you can already confirm here?
Severe Illusion: (Fredrik): We are more or less done with the above mentioned CDM. Only some small details needs to be fixed. And for my private life, I don’t have one.(Ulf): When we’re done with the MCD it’s probably time to start with the new Instans album and perhaps we have time to make some stuff for Vanvård. We have loads of ideas about the next Vanvård release but haven’t had time to start working on it. Privately I have just bought a small house deep in the forests and most of my time goes to worrying about it falling apart. Apart from that the day job takes most of both time and energy.

Chain D.L.K.: Your final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
Severe Illusion: (Ulf): Nothing I come to think of right now. Thanks for the interview.

Visit Severe Illusion on the web at:

www.severeillusion.com
www.dsbp.cx

[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Kevin J. Cazier]

Aug 122005
 
SevereIllusion logo

Only a very few bands in the current Electro/Industrial circuit are still producing a somehow innovative and authentic sound. The Swedish duo SEVERE ILLUSION surely can be called to this by combining extremely distorted vocals with old school-like EBM sequences and some raw and almost chaotic lo-fi noises filled in. Their exploding style has entered a lot of respect and a wide recognition in years and so now this duo got picked up by the well known US label DSBP (www.dsbp.cx) and on Celtic Circle Productions ( www.celtic-circle-productions.de) for the European market. The new CD “Accomplishments of Leopold II” is already out now (see review here) and sets a new mark in the scene. Consisting of Ulf Lundblad (Machines) and Fredrik Djurfeldt (Vocals) this Swedish duo will enter the next stage in their changing career and the richly posted reviews of “Accomplishments…”show this. A band to follow immediately – ready to take-off with this interview…

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Chain D.L.K.: Hi Fredrik and Ulf, you are meeting a strange person on the street and you get asked what kind of music you both create. So how would you introduce you, your band and your music to him?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: Depends on how strange the person really is. But I’d try something like: “We’re two swedish guys, early 30´s, that has been playing together in different projects and bands for the last five years. Musically, we’re making dance music, pretty ordinary EBM, except for the times when we get bored and do other stuff”. Most often, that other stuff is what we like best and what gets to the albums. We work best when we are utterly bored.Fredrik: If we meet a complete stranger it is not likely the stranger knows we play music. So we would probably pass unnoticed and don’t say anything to her. And if the stranger know we are playing music he probably knows already what we sound like.

Chain D.L.K.: With every official release you seem to have signed by a new label. The MCD “Discover Without Reflection” was released on Media Conspiracy, the full length “Discipline is Reward Enough” was on PAF Records, and now finally the new full length “Accomplishments of Leopold II” on DSBP/Celtic Circle Productions. When will you bring routine in this or are you both guys difficult persons so that label have problems to fulfill deals with you?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: Getting a new label is our routine. It actually isn’t so strange that it might look. Media Conspiracy is just the name we use when making our own releases, the split-LP we did together with The Pain Machinery is also released as a MedCon product. PAF released our first full length album but he ran into troubles and didn’t want to release the new album after that. And by that time we had already become friends with DSBP and CCP, so they where easy choices for us.Fredrik: Right now everything is good with the DSBP and we have no intention to start looking for a new label. To switch label means to start all over again with a lot of things and that is not a desirable situation. We always preferred desirable situations.

Chain D.L.K.: So now the question to some background informations: How was your deal with PAF Records going and what did finally happen with them?
Severe Illusion: We were the first band on his label. PAF was originally an online record shop and he released “Discipline is Reward Enough”. After that we where supposed to release an MCD called “What do you know about Islam?” and PAF also started to sign a bunch of other bands. But the release of our MCD, and the other bands albums, where more and more delayed and finally it became apparent that there wouldn’t be any releases at all. I think it had to do with money. Now it is a long time since I heard from him.

Chain D.L.K.: There were plans from you to release an EP “What Do You Known About Islam” in between on BLC Productions in co-operation with PAF Records. Why did you finally never release this EP until now? Any plans to release that stuff in the future?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: That was one of the last plans from PAF to get the MCD out. By then we had grown tired of it all and when even this cooperation seemed to go nowhere, we signed with DSBP instead. But by then the songs of the EP had started to bore us and we where almost finished with the new album, so we decided to release that instead. Right now we have no plans of releasing the “Islam…”-MCD, but we are very happy with some of those tracks and it is possible that they will be used on later releases.Fredrik: The whole concept of the MCD had to do with certain political issues that mattered a lot back in 2003, so releasing it now would not make a lot of sense. When we made the album about Leopold II of Belgium we knew that problem would not occur again. That concept was out dated since almost a hundred years.

Chain D.L.K.: Now you are finally signed to DSBP to the USA and Celtic Circle Productions to Europe. For “Accomplishments…” there will be different versions available of this release. Please explain us the differences in the track list and the artwork…
Severe Illusion: The CCP release is a DCD with two more tracks than DSBPs edition. From the beginning there where supposed to be four extra tracks on the German release, but we where so happy with the “Frank”-trilogy (three tracks named “Good Riddance Frank, You’re Dead” are meant here…) that we decided to put those tracks on the American album as well, but to do that we had to remove a long track called “Lines”.

Chain D.L.K.: There are existing also some limited vinyl releases, like a DLP from “Discipline is Reward Enough” and also a split-LP with THE PAIN MACHINERY “Fight Your Lodging Elsewhere” with several extra tracks. Please describe us your devotion to vinyl. Where do you see the advantages in comparison to a CD and do the die-hard fans get a second chance to get all that extra tracks somewhere else?
Severe Illusion: To start with the last of your questions: No. The three bonus tracks that are on the vinyl release of D.I.R.E. and the 5 songs on the split-LP will not be released elsewhere. I hate when I have something rare and then it gets released on CD so any jerk can buy it. We grow up with vinyl, and there is a certain feeling when you handle vinyl I think.

Chain D.L.K.: Some words to your composition process and your music generally: Your combination between old-school EBM structures mixed with sometimes chaotic, sometimes noisy sound experiments seems to be really singular. Please give us a look into your work. Where do all the strange sound experiments come from? Has it something to do with chance, luck or would you say that all your stuff is really thoughtful created?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: I´d say it’s 80 or 90 percent chance. Perhaps the difference between us and other bands is that we embrace the unforeseen and randomly. On one of the songs of our first album we had a synth playing random notes through-out the intro. Whenever we recorded the track we got different results, and we eventually kept the version where the drums where ok. But honestly, it isn’t all mishaps and general stupidity. We have a pretty clear idea of what we want to do, and often we make a standard EBM track and add some interest/noise/whatever to it while we’re working on the song.Fredrik: And the randomness is always kept under control. At least to a certain degree. Much of what seems like random noise to an EBM audience probably seems perfectly normal to a Power Electronics audience. Our home is in both scenes. And then again, randomness can be utilized for inspiration. It can take us off in new directions, to do things we would never have thought of with our own mortal brains. We understand and respect the benefits of modern technology and giving up some of our control to computers is a natural thing to us.

Chain D.L.K.: Especially on “Accomplishments…” I have noticed a wider dedication to more chaotic compositions, away from the more EBM-oriented last full length CD “Discipline is Reward Enough”. Is this a normal evolution for you as a band or how would you review this?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: It was a natural step for us to go more towards the chaotic. We where pretty fed up with “ordinary” EBM, and wanted to make something that was more fun to work with. But I think those days might be over for us too, the new tracks we have made are very minimal and straight.Fredrik: We are under no circumstances evolving in just one direction. It is important to us that we do not repeat what we have already done, but to try new things. Noise and disorder have always been important to us. Not just in SEVERE ILLUSION, but in our lives in general. It is likely we will use noise and distortion again.

Chain D.L.K.: I find it quite strange that a young duo from Sweden takes care about the happenings of a king from Belgium in a African colony more than hundred years ago. How did you get on this theme and why is it so important for you that you made a whole conceptual album on this?
Severe Illusion: Ulf: It’s less then hundred years ago. That what makes it so scary, and interesting. We both got very into the colonial history of Congo and we wanted to deal with it in some way. Making an album about it seemed to be the most natural thing for us. We have also made a conceptual album about birds and health care. Ok, that’s two concepts, but still. But those tracks didn’t work as Severe Illusion, so it will be released in September under the name Vanvård.Fredrik: We are not a young duo. We are both over 30 years old.

Chain D.L.K.: “Genau wie Ich” so the name of your first track with German lyrics. Why did you use this language for this track and how fits this to the overall concept of “Accomplishments…”?
Severe Illusion: The idea came up because we were to release a special German edition of the album. So it has very little to do with the over all concept really. Like so many other things we do, it happened quite spontaneously. But on the other hand, English is not a more natural language for us to use. We are from Sweden. Because Berlin was my home back in the 90’s it feels quite natural to me.

Chain D.L.K.: You go some new ways by including a female guest vocalist on your track “The King is Dead”. Please introduce Anna Singer to our readers and tell us how you get in contact with her…
Severe Illusion: Anna Singer is Ulf’s girlfriends sister. She sings and plays violin an some other instruments. She happened to be around when we needed a guest vocalist, so we asked and she said “yeah”.

Chain D.L.K.: You seem also to be very active by performing your stuff live on stage. How does a show of SEVERE ILLUSION look alike? Do you have some guest musicians on stage and how much of your stuff do you really play “live”? Any plans for a bigger tour or any future dates you can give?
Severe Illusion: My voice is for real. Ulf plays the bass and sometimes some synthesizers live. During our first shows we mixed his bass really low because it mainly served to put him on stage. Now he is allowed to play quite loud though. Most of the drums are played live by Mikael. Alex plays all kinds of weird stuff really. He has modified an old typewriter so he can play on it. He has some synths and some modified electronic toys from the 80’s. Then there is of cause a backing track as well, but it looses more and more of it’s role. Right now we are working hard on five different side projects. Three albums are expected to come out in the next few months. But when the summer is over we will probably try and get back out on the roads.

Chain D.L.K.: Like we have said before you both have also some side-projects. Please introduce them and tell us a bit about planned releases and where you see the main differences to SEVERE ILLUSION…
Severe Illusion: OK, I’ll give it a try. Next up is KNÖS. Hopefully KNÖS will release a 2CD album in August on Modul3c. KNÖS is a Dark Ambient project with some roots in Power Electronics. Then we have INSTANS (www.instans.tk, www.myspace.com/instans) where we play a more modern, or at least less old school, form of EBM. The first album is due for release in September on Black Flames (www.blackflams.prv.pl). We have a project called VANVÄRD (www.sjukdom.tk, www.deathpropaganda.com) that is not really EBM because the rhythms are 3/4 or 5/4 most of the time but the over all sound is pretty much minimalist EBM/Powernoise/whatever… You know, never ask a musician to describe his own music, it just doesn’t work. And under the name DETRITAL FRAGMENTS I have started a collaboration with YLUKO. It seems to become yet another dark EBM project and I kind of like that. And finally there is a collaboration between SEVERE ILLUSION and THE PAIN MACHINERY called EMU-BOMB (www.emu-bomb.tk) coming up where we play much faster than all our friends and with high pitched voices. Don’t laugh, EMU-BOMB is very serious business.

Chain D.L.K.: So we come to the question to your future plans for SEVERE ILLUSION… Any new releases you are already working on?
Severe Illusion: Except for the five side projects? As a matter of fact, yes. We have made about half the next album already. It will be a new concept album and it will sound very different from our previous releases. Everything else about the new album will be kept secret for the time being

Chain D.L.K.: Thank you guys, I can’t await to hear from all your upcoming plans. Good luck and the best on your further way.

Visit Severe Illusion on the web at:

www.severeillusion.com

[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]