Dirk Serries

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 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

Hello, Dirk! Are you in Belgium at the moment? How's the winter in there?

Yes, I'm currently in Belgium.  The winter is a bit up and down over here, now it's back minus zero + snow… but overall not too bad.

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How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't listened to it until now?

That's always quite difficult, I feel, since music is so subjective to everyone's ears and mind.  But I think it's fair to describe my music as being extremely minimal, heavily atmospheric with touches of shoegaze and post-rock.  But I wouldn't call my music drone, don't really like that category as it degenerates the minimal repetitive and non-rhythmical genre to such a meaningless definition.

Your next album, "Microphonics xxi-xxv", is to be released in mid-March. Please, give us some insights about it. 

This is only the 2nd album under my own birth name but one that has been a serious ordeal.  After completing my alter-ego's vidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning and being active in the experimental music genre for more than 25 years, I truly wanted to achieve a music style for myself that organically combined all my experiences, the color of sound from all previous projects and my ongoing fascination for minimalism.  Secondly releasing music under your own personal name makes you more fragile, exposes yourself more personally than under any kind of alter-ego or pseudonym.  So the pressure of completing this 2nd album as a sort of doorway to another level in my ongoing progression as a musician was huge and heavy.  The album took me five years to complete, not to score the music musically so to speak but more in terms of which direction to take.  The first microphonics album, released in 2008, was very minimal, ambient-like and harmonic.  This second one is a combination of the melancholy of vidnaObmana, the dynamics of Fear Falls Burning and the minimalism of the first microphonics album.  But the intensity of the numerous try-outs in the studio, the frustration that came along with it and the doubts in my mind eventually pushed myself to step up the ladder and create a fusion of styles for myself to build upon for the next couple of years.  

The "Microphonic xxi-xxxv" album bares the subtitle "mounting among the waves, there's a light in vein. the burden of hope across thousands of rivers". You mentioned in an older interview that you see music like water. I found this analogy very thought-provoking, because water is one of the four elements. Can you go more in depth on the meaning of the album's title and the relationship between music and water, do you see music as a primordial element who connects us?

Nice comparison as I never saw this connection before.  Reading back the subtitle, I guess it's fair to say that water indeed remains significant in my music J

In my period as vidnaObmana I was seriously drawn by the four elements in nature.  vidnaobmana was all about the expansive character in music, the desolate vast landscapes, the influence of nature on us humans and the ritualistic quality of how nature evolve, expands and mutates.

Water was one of the most inspiring sounds to use in my vidnaObmana music and playing with its character learned me also a great deal about its structure.  How it moves, flows, returns and fades out, quite reminiscent to how I work with sound and created my music.

I guess it somehow remained in my sub consciousness over the years as a sort of conductor and metronome.  And while I hardly realized the interrelationship with the subtitle of my music, I guess my music continued to move and breathe as water flows in tides.

The album will come be accompanied by a photography book, "Cities in Grey". How does this book, and visual arts in general help the listener to go into the universe your music creates?

Since day one I felt that photography was the perfect companion in order to describe my music where words fail.  And this never changed.

It's over the years though, along with my music, the photography also became more mature, subtle and vital to the music.  In contrast to the music of vidnaObmana where inspiration was drawn from nature and its expansive character, my music under my own name became more minitiature and urban.  Therefor the style of photography also needed to change.

I was lucky that at the exact moment in time my wife Martina Verhoeven, who does most of the photography, started to work on a collection of city photography.  And from the first photo she took I knew this was the perfect companion.  Without the grandeur of nature, the photography in its perfect black and white remains desolate on a smaller scale.   Hopefully it's urban, somehow anonymous and slightly darker character defines exactly what the music is about.

Soon you will begin touring with Mono in Europe again. How did you end up going on tour with them, are you excited about this? 

It was thanks to Joris of Conspiracy Records who brought us together in 2011.  Joris knew exactly that Mono and I would be a perfect combination due to our mutual approach to life and how we dedicate ourselves to our art and music.  In 2011 Mono and I toured together for the first time throughout Europe and it was truly a mesmerizing and magical experience.   
Not only musically is my music the perfect warm-up for theirs but spiritually, emotionally and just practically we are very complimentary. 

It just works and therefor Mono asked me back for touring with them in 2012 and 2013.

You ve played also with them a few weeks ago in a tour. What funny memories you had?

Again, it was just perfect.  You see we're no party-animals as we just love to be around in the best company.  Relaxed, with warmth and in the right spirit of things and this is what Mono and I share.  On top of that we have the greatest appreciation for each other's music making such a tour a joyful, inspiring and warm experience. 

You'll be in Romania on February 10th, together with Mono. How will your show be? Do you have any expectations from the audience?

I'm definitely excited.  The 4 shows with MONO in 2012 were the first ones where I performed the new music live and overall it went smooth and even beyond my expectations.  It was always a bit of a challenge to hear, see and experience how the new music will survive the live setting but I'm quite pleased so definitely looking forward to unleash the new music live again… While the new music is definitely dynamic in its frequencies and volume, the music remains minimal and introspective. I know my music is not easy to digest in a live setting but I wish and hope the audience or at least some of them will follow me into this journey. 

Have you been here before? Anything you know about Romania or is there anything you'd like to know?

To my shame, I've to admit I never been to Romania but I know a bit about its history and culture.  Unfortunately we'll not be in the country for long, it's a tour so it's a ritual of driving from one venue to another.  Nevertheless I do look forward !

How about long-future plans? Will the listeners get another chance to see you performing this year?

Apart from this 16-day tour with MONO, I'm definitely planning to promote my new album live throughout 2013 and 2014.  After the MONO tour I'll do an official release show in March and I'll be playing the World Minimal Music festival along with Kronos Quartet and the legendary Roadburn festival, both in The Netherlands.  Other shows in France, Poland and Germany are currently being negotiated.

What about your other musical projects? Are still in contact with Sam Rosenthal? I know you have more than 100 releases, am I right?

I've to admit I've a rather large backcatalogJ especially between 1984 and 2004 as vidnaObmana I've been quite productive and on a rollercoaster ride in terms of releasing tapes, vinyls and cds. 
The nineties were the golden years where the demand for vidnaObmana and ambient music in general was huge and in this context the collaboration with Projekt has been a constant factor.  Yes, I'm still in close contact with Sam Rosenthal and Sam remains the main custodian for vidnaObmana and its expansive backcatalog and archive.  He just a great and pleasant guy to work with.  My solo work is currently the main focus for the upcoming years but I love collaborations so there're a couple of one-off projects in the pipeline… But for now it's microphonics.