This is a question about that wave of late 70’s and 80’s – you, Mr. Wakeford, Mr. Rice, Mr. Tibet among the many others – what do you think, why there was such an explosion of talented musicians who were oriented to a not so well-known sides of art and culture? How do you see that époque now?
It’s an interesting question and something I, too, have thought about. The closest to any explanation I’ve come to is Time itself. If you view the people who were instrumental in starting the Punk, Post Industrial, Neo Folk movements etc we were all born between about 1955 – 1960. The same can be said about those who were very influential in the 1960s. They all seem to be born between 1940 – 1945.
Do you see some events in your childhood that formed you as an artist?
There’s nothing in particular that stands out except for the fact that being born when I was in 1956 I grew up in an ever changing England throughout the 1960s and 1970s. That constant cultural and social flux would have had some overall influence. But, then everything does – on everyone, not only artists.
Do you consider yourself as a misanthropic person as a lot of people think that you are? I don’t want to offend you, but why don’t you choose a telephone interview? You’ve experienced some bad stories with journalists or it just much easy for you to do an interview via e-mail? And one more on that topic – tell us about usage of themes of death, violence and warship in your songs, where did it come from and how it’s been changing through years?
I think I’m more suspicious than misanthropic, although I know Misanthropy is Lesson 1. Realistically, interviews of any sort are very time consuming so I may as well devote that time to a better, well thought out interview than telephone ones can be. Besides, my spoken voice on the radio sounds like a parrot being strangled. What interests me is bound to be realized through my work with Death In June so you can say that Love, the Magick of Life, Disillusion and Inspiration all permeate DIJ’s work not simply those themes you choose. But, naturally, people hear what they want to hear.
Tell us about your collaboration with Miro Snejdr – how it happened? Do you plan to continue making something together? How music on a “Peaceful Snow/Lounge Corps” was composed – what was the main difference between it and previous albums? Did you part forever with more harsh and experimental sound of DI6? What do you think about in a Peaceful Snow – is it a new chapter in a history of Death in June or it continues some of your lines?
To keep a long story short I was introduced to Miro via DIJ fans on the internet after I’d been shown some of his videos on YouTube where he did piano instrumental versions of some songs from my 2008 album ‘The Rule Of Thirds’. I really liked these and asked him if he could do an entire album of piano instrumentals of his favourite Death In June songs. This he did and this became ‘Lounge Corps’. However, it was whilst I was listening to mixes of these in late 2009 pondering the destruction that had recently occurred on my home property in Australia due to late Winter storms that the idea of a brand new Death In June album declared itself to me. After writing several new demo songs on the guitar I decided I didn’t want to do another DIJ album with guitar. I couldn’t hear myself doing that again. I really wanted to personally retreat musically from the recording so I asked Miro if he could do piano versions of these songs. This he did and I then re-recorded my vocals over the top of these. At the end of the day I really liked what we did together via the post and computer so I decided to combine these new ‘Peaceful Snow’ tracks with the ‘Lounge Corps’ tracks and put it out as a double album on CD. It was a unique, satisfying and slightly unsettlingly vicarious experience. To keep that feeling I probably won’t repeat it so ‘Peaceful Snow’ retains its special place in the canon of DIJ work. On the separate question of whether or not I’ve forsaken any experimental sounds for Death In June remains to be seen. Certainly I haven’t really done anything like that since the second half of ‘All Pigs Must Die’ 10 years ago in 2001.
Now it’s 30 years anniversary of DI6 – have you ever thought about quitting music during that time? What would you do if it happened?
Pointless conjecture and negative and destructive thoughts like that rarely stay in my mind. Why should they? Even from the very early days I knew Death In June was special and that the struggle was worth it. And there were some very bleak years. But, Death In June has been my personal success story.
Can you tell a story of your work with World Serpent? Do you think this is they, who popularized whole dark- neofolk scene and on the other side, that it became so tremendous now, when there are such amount of dull epigones?
It’s ridiculous to think that a manufacturing and distribution company – basically the box packers - was the reason for the phenomenon of a new musical movement. It was the main groups themselves who already had a reputation, mainly built at Rough Trade Distribution in the 1980s, that did that. The people at wsd, which I helped form and name in 1991, already worked for another company that could see how many thousands of CDs and LPs Death In June and others were quietly selling. The great thought they had was to offer the 4 main groups, who all knew each other and worked with each other, a direct distribution deal with a brand new company that put us all under the same roof, so to speak, without other distribution distractions like The Smiths etc. Besides, things were looking bleak at Rough Trade and by 1990 none of us felt very comfortable or optimistic there. We knew there were financial problems, a bad atmosphere not good for the workers there and we all wanted to get out. The formation of wsd came at the right time for us as we were about to write some of our most memorable recordings which obviously went onto become extremely influential. The first years were very good ones there where everyone pulled together workers and artists alike but by about 1997 - 1998 things began to sour and the rest is history. Money, egos and some bad magick and people got in the way. It was destined to fall apart.
What did you mean by “murder made history” line on a last album? How do you compose lyrics to your songs? Do they always have some sacramental sense or sometimes you just rely on beauty of how it sounds?
I write lyrics in all kinds of ways and situations. There is no standard way. I think that phrase came into my mind when I was looking at a TV documentary a couple of years ago about terrorism World-wide since 9/11. In places like Moscow, London, Madrid, New York, Washington, Bali, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India etc and so on literally hundreds of thousands of people have died through terrorist attacks – mainly Islamic inspired ones. It was shocking to hear such high figures. We don’t even get to hear about all the attacks. There is truly a war being conducted throughout the World but it hasn’t been officially declared. And in that war “Murder made History, Murder made Merry”. Do you ever see an unhappy Islamic terrorist?
What is that thing about that some clothes with DI6 logo are selling by uberhipster store Мишка (Mishka) in NYC? What’s the sense in that collaboration?
Mishka had unofficially been using the Whiphand DIJ logo for some years on their clothes but I’d done nothing about it as I thought it was some sort of homage and helped with publicity. However, last year they actually contacted me and said they were big fans of Death In June and would like to do an official line, or ‘capsule’, of clothing for Autumn release this year (2011). As it coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the foundation of Death In June I thought this would make for a different and interesting addition to celebrations. I didn’t give any thought about whatever reputation they might have had as I’ve been aware for years that there are real fans of Death In June working in big fashion houses around the World. I’m often being told that songs by Death In June are played on the international fashion catwalks of the World! I think that’s excellent. Really it’s an extension of when Enrico Chiarparin who worked for Donna Karan and Prada designed picture discs for DIJ in the 1990s. If GUM (large Moscow department store) had approached me and gave me total control over what was manufactured I’d have done a collection for them, too!
Are there any projects that you want to realize if you have an opportunity in future?
There is one main project that is taking years to complete called ‘Gathered, Cracked And Saved’ which is a video collection of many DIJ songs. I was hoping that this would have been issued this year but there’s still too much work to do. I trust it will see the light of day next year. There are a few other collectable ‘boutique’ vinyl releases being worked on that I hope will also come out to help mark the 30th Anniversary of Death In June later this year.
What are your views on riots in London? How do you see what’s happening in England nowadays, was it programmed somehow by politics of the past or it’s just a sequence of modern mistakes that leads a country to that condition? Why did you choose a life in Australia? What do you think about the future of Europe?
For years the social problems in the UK have only gone from bad to worse. There is a nasty, vicious, almost feral undercurrent of the population that has grown in size and this was their first national flexing of muscle. It’s got nothing to do with politics. Over 80% of the thousands of people arrested during and since the riots already have criminal records and are known to the police. The UK is a disappointment. Thankfully Destiny and Love brought me to Australia. As regards Europe’s future? I think it will sadly experience a lot of unpleasant turmoil.
What work of Death In June you consider most significant and why?
I consider all the work significant and all for different reasons. In 30 years there have been 13 individual albums and several compilations and remix albums and all have proudly served, inspired and provided.
What has remained in your memory from your previous visit to Moscow 9 years ago?
Loads of fans asking me to autograph their old communist identity papers, far too many Death In June bootlegs on the Russian Ars Nova label and walking across Red Square in the snow in -37 degrees temperature. It’s the coldest I’ve ever been and a brilliant and beautiful experience.