Chain D.L.K.: I just recently saw your amazing performance at TownHall in New York City, during the “A Night in Slovenia” eventorganized by National Geographic. How do you feel about playing in acontext that celebrates the very country that once banned youractivities and even the use of your name? And how do you feel aboutall this happening in a country that in 1987 did not even grant youpermission to enter?
Laibach: We feel fine. We don’t practice hard feelings towards ourinterrogators, prohibitors and others alike. We were kindly invited todo this NY show and we usually accept such invitations. Beside weenjoy appearing within the contexts where by definition we don’tbelong.
Chain D.L.K.: In 1997 you played in Belgrade in front of presidentsand diplomats, so I know that you have previously experienced playingfor an audience that most likely doesn’t understand your message andprobably doesn’t appreciate your music. How was it this time around inNY? The percentage of the crowd who were Laibach fans were clearlyoutnumbered by elderly Bourgeoisie upper-class individuals…
Laibach: We see no point in convincing the convinced; most boring among allare metal concerts for ªmetal´ audience, gothic concerts for ªgothic´audience, industrial and techno shows for ªindustrial´ and ªtechno´crowd. We prefer much more to appear in front of the audience whowould normally avoid going to our shows. The concert in 1997 wasactually in Ljubljana, it was the opening show of the European monthof culture, where Laibach appeared together with SlovenianPhilharmonic orchestra – playing early industrial Laibach music topresidents, prime ministers, mayors, bishops, foreign ambassadors,diplomats and their wives, etc, etc. Many left or even escaped duringthe show but generally it was a great experience for all of us,especially for the auditorium.
Chain D.L.K.: The piano & vocals contribution of the singer whointroduced your concert was a beautiful touch to a short but excitingand foreseeably majestic show. Can you tell us more about the singerand his collaboration with Laibach?
Laibach: Boris Benko, together with his colleague Primoz Hladnik (piano), isa member of electro-acoustic duo Silence (from Ljubljana) who workedwith us on the album VOLK. They are also appearing on some of ourselected shows but not on all due to their own activities andengagements in other projects.
Chain D.L.K.: How many of the band’s members were original members?
Laibach: Laibach does not believe in originality therefore a ‘copy’ isirrelevant issue for us as well.From this point of view we are all ªoriginal copies´. A Laibach memberis everybody who can identify with Laibach, no matter original orcopy. In other words Laibach is everybody who is Laibach.
Chain D.L.K.: What are your feelings about the United States asEuropeans, individuals and NSK nationals?
Laibach: We don’t consider ourselves individuals and Europeans we are asmuch as we are Americans. NSK is a transnational state and is abovesuch limited definitions and socio-political organisms as UnitedStates or United Europe are. As Laibach and NSK citizens we don’t likeUS very much but that does not prevent us to feel pity and mercy fortheir inhabitants.
Chain D.L.K.: So how do you feel about being “shepherds disguised aswolves” in a country of sheep like the USA?
Laibach: We feel like very much at home.
Chain D.L.K.: I am not going to bore you with pointless questions thatI am sure have been your worst nightmare during every interview, but Iwould like to know what your thoughts are on today’s militarism. It isobvious where you stand, but if you don’t mind delving into that, I aminterested in hearing your opinion considering that you have a greatalbums called “NATO” or “WAT” that touch on the subject…
Laibach: Nothing can justify the horrors of war – except peace. There is nopeace without war as there is no anti-militarist movement withoutmilitarism. Of course war & militarism is still only capitalism withgloves off nevertheless how innocent it is trying to show itself.Destroy capitalism and there is a big chance to win peace forever.
Chain D.L.K.: What about religion? A lot of your fans would argue thatreligion is (one of) the root of all evil, but I recall that therepresentative for the philosophical branch of NSK, Peter Mlakar, saidthat “God will stand on your side” during one of his speeches. What isyour position about the existence of god and the existence, use andabuse of religion?
Laibach: We believe in God, but unlike the Americans we don’t trust him.We all know that Nietzsche was trying to kill God but in return Godkilled Nietzsche.God is God, there is no doubt about it. But God is not religioushimself – why should we be? Religion is greatly comparable to achildhood neurosis. Abusing religion for practical or spiritualpurposes is therefore equal to pedophilia.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the activities of NSK today? Have any newterritories been added to the Neue Slovenische Kunst state?
Laibach: NSK is a state in time and it possesses no physical territory. Itis a universal state, a cosmic state. Everyone can become an NSKcitizen. The state has no formal “government” and no central”committee” – only citizens, bureaucrats and executioners. The lasttwo are dealing with technical issues – keeping the Utopia real. NSKcitizens are nowadays mysteriously multiplying and NSK “embassies” aregrowing all over the world, without any real master plan behind. Weourselves are citizens of the NSK state, no different from all others,who can identify with the NSK state codex. We don’t have or want tohave any control over it. The NSK state therefore quietly existseverywhere, as a kind of parasite, and it is slowly spreading itshealing virus to its victims in all four corners of the world. Todaythe state already has more citizens than Vatican, so it might alsohave more sheep than the Pope does. They might not necessarily beaware of it yet but sooner or later they will all belong to our flock.NSK state was born in 1992 out of Neue Slowenische Kunst -retroavantguardistic movement, which again has been created out ofLaibach Kunst in 1984. Neue Slowenische Kunst has ceased to exist withthe establishment of the NSK state and is today no more active assuch. Diverse groups (Laibach, Irwin, Scipion sisters, NewCollectivism, etc.) who originally formed Neue Slowensiche Kunst arestill active but are not connected interactively.
Chain D.L.K.: Is it still possible to apply for citizenship andreceive a passport?
Laibach: Of course. Everybody is warmly welcomed. We say no to no.
Chain D.L.K.: The 1995 movie “Laibach (A Film from Slovenia)” callsyour Beatles and Rolling Stones cover version “appropriations”, butyou have said in other occasions that you don’t believe inoriginality, and therefore stealing. How do you see yourinterpretations of other rock groups’ songs?
Laibach: ªAppropriation´ could also be the appropriate definition. We haveappropriated these songs for our interpretations.
Chain D.L.K.: Did any of the bands you covered (Opus, Queens, Europe,Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd) ever make any legal trouble? Also, didany of the bands that you covered ever commented back about theirversions? Did any of them liked or disliked your version of theirsong?
Laibach: Legal trouble no, except DAF who did not want to give us permissionto use part of their lyrics for Tanz mit Laibach song – which wastheir legal right. So we’ve appropriated them. Otherwise we’ve heardof diverse reactions of the groups you are mentioning; Austrian groupOpus once started their show on Austrian TV ªdressed´ as Laibach andthey performed part of their Life is Live song in a ªlaibachian´style. Europe visited our show in Stockholm, we were informed thatPaul McCartney was playing our Let it Be album as introduction musicto some of his shows, Jagger was apparently amused by our manySympathy for the Devil versions, Pink Floyd didn’t say nothing andQueen disintegrated when they’ve heard Geburt Einer Nation (OneVision).
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us more about your download-only May 052008 new album release “Laibachkunstderfuge”? Will the CD version onDallas records be distributed worldwide?
Laibach: LAIBACHKUNSTDERFUGE is our interpretation of Johann SebastianBach’s work The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge). The majority of thematerial has been created already in 2006 and premierly performed thesame year on June the 1st at Bachfest in Leipzig. Bach himself livedand worked in Leipzig from 1723 till the end of his life in 1750. Inthis period he also wrote the Art of Fugue, one of his most mysteriousand baffling works. The Art of Fugue is a collection of fugues andcanons that display the full gamut of fugal transformationaltechniques, such as augmentation and diminution. The theory that thework was intended as an intellectual exercise rather than forperformance is borne out by the fact that no instruments are specifiedin the score. But although the Art of Fugue (the title was not Bach’sown) reveals Bach in his most academic and puzzle-solving guise, it isno mere pedantry and there is much here of great energy andinspiration. Since Bach did not specify any instrumentation, the bigquestion is: what instrument or instruments should the Art of Fugue beplayed on? There are many keyboard recordings, but versions areavailable for everything from saxophone quartet to orchestra. Sincethe work is very much based on mathematic algorithms, we decided touse computer and computer program as the key ªinstrument´, providing avery special electronic interpretation and showing that J.S. Bach withhis work could as well be understood as the pioneer of electronic,techno, computer music. LAIBACHKUNSTDERFUGE is available as digitaldownload at MUTE (EMI), and as a CD record, released by DallasRecords. Record will be distributed worldwide and it will also beobtainable through Laibach WTC online shop from September on.
Chain D.L.K.: Is the fact that it is download-only an embracing ofwhere today’s music industry is or was it just a logistic decision?
Laibach: LAIBACHKUNSTDERFUGE is not a major Laibach project, so Mutedecided to release it only digitally and let us to release it onphysical CD elsewhere, which was fine by us.
Chain D.L.K.: What can you tell us about the “Volk Dead In Trbovlje”DVD that came out June 16th?
Laibach: It is a video recording of a VOLK show in our home town Trbovlje,Slovenia, in ‘Delavski dom’ hall (Worker’s home) where we normallyrehears and premierly present some of our new projects and concertprograms. Plus there are videos and screen projections related to Volkalbum as well as a short documentary from the EU tour.
Chain D.L.K.: You will be on tour again soon, in support of your newreleases and I am excited to see a full Laibach show this time. Willyou be adding any more dates besides the confirmed Seattle, Portland,San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tijuana and New York?
Laibach: We would love to, but the more dates we do, more costs we have andbigger is our loss. After all we cannot afford to get out of thecultural exchange – what such tour usually is – as total losers.
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[interviewed by Marc Urselli] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]