Raison d'Etre

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

This is another interview for which I decided not to be the only one who asks questions. Thus I asked my friend, Lus/TRONUL ASCUNS/WIDE OPEN WINGS to help me in this discussion as he is a real supporter of Peter's music. Before getting to the very discussion we desired to bring for you, let's see who Peter Andersson is: born on 20 th of March 1973, in Boxholm, he followed flute lessons since the age of 7 and after four years he began studying acoustic guitar; in 1995 he started to play electric bass guitar in a Rock band. Since not that much of what he studied so far actually meant a thing, he gave up all in the favor of synth. He founded his most important band in 1991 and, thanks to collaboration with Roger Karmanik (who had just moved in Mjolby), he actually became one of the fundamental pillars for Dark Ambient Industrial scene. He lives now in Norrkoping ; he is a student in the fourth year and the rest will be revealed in the following...

RAISON D'ETRE, Stratvm Terror, Necrophorus, Atomine Elektrine, Panzar, Bocksholm, Svasti-ayanam, Cataclyst, Grismannen are the musical projects of the one who for more than 10 years stood for the vertebral colon in Industrial-Ambient music and moreover a synonym for the Swedish label, Cold Meat Industry, under which the most representative creations in this field were/are released. The reason we came to this point is the latest achievement in RAISON D'ETRE discography, "Requiem for Abandoned Souls", besides some new releases with other projects namely: Atomine Elektrine - "Binomial Fusion", Grismannen - "Absolute Bajs", Cataclyst - "Monuments of a Rubicund Age". For those who are not familiar either with this dimension or with the character, I must say that in 1992 a promotional tape RASON D'ETRE was released and by that time it really made a huge difference thanks to its originality and to a very innovative sound, very particular and unusual from what Industrial music offered until then.
Starting with that material, Peter's music evolved tremendously with each one he released and actually reached the status of a style "in self".

   Peter, inside the universe of your musical creation you've always been solitary (except the cases of Bocksholm , Stratvm Terror and Cataclyst ). Tell me, do you think that throughout the music conceived and elaborated by one man and only one could express his feelings at maximum intensity and in a unique manner? Then, tell me, do you think that when two or more artists meet, the result might become nothing more than a mixture of expressions and emotions since the members might get to a point where to influence and complete each other?

   "Collaborations can result in a unique mixture, if the involved people are not too similar in mind, then nothing happens. When certain different ideas meet they may turn out to be very fruitful. But it makes a great demand upon the people involved, to be concentrated and find the characteristics of both their friends and themselves. Making music alone is not necessarily easier but you can put all your energy on yourself, and that gives a greater headroom of freedom."

   The first and most powerful feeling a listener of RAISON D'ETRE music gets... is the one of isolation; like an urge to run from crowd and lose oneself into solitude as if it was an escape. And I must say it is not regular solitude, but a sad cold and heartsick mood. Would I be wrong if placing such out of any temporal marks? And, as if it wasn't painful enough, we couldn't speak about loneliness alone but of its contemplation as well. In other words, tell me, could one assume that RAISON D'ETRE is kind of negation of what group music is supposed to be reaching actually the purpose of exploring the feeling of introversion?

   "I don't believe in a group constellation if not the people included are based in a similar, high level of mutual understanding. Music is about expression, it derives from the inside of the body and transforms to the outside, and it's quite easy that 5 people make a mess of their music. Being alone, you don't need to compromise with other minds, you only need to compromise with the possibilities of making sounds and structures, and for example when it comes to technical limitations of the instruments or lack of personal skills. Groups have to fight against that sort of limitations too. I may sometimes want to run from the crowd, into isolation, but sometimes I want the other way around, from isolation to crowd. Doing live performances is a good example of that, I don't hide at such places rather I keep great company with the crowd. Live performances are different from composing music. For me, the creation-process needs an introspective level and a big deal of concentration in order to be fulfilled."

   'In Sadness, Silence and Solitude' CD 1997 was the first material that really stroke us all, while "In Absence of Light" will always be the best track in Industrial-Ambient field. Do you think one would need a special different perception in order to reach and understand the extreme moods you expressed within your music? Let's be honest, it is about very few who get to listen to and appreciate your music!

   "Listeners can only be in their own position, and they will only understand the music from their subjective point of view. Understanding is something personal, nothing can be right or wrong, and it's just a personal experience. Even I don't fully understand my music, but maybe I will someday."

   Although your music is, by itself, an approach of isolation, it still is commercialized and promoted. Does it mean that for you it might have as well a value of communication channel or something like this? What is it exactly that you want to put on the air/convey throughout your music to the listener?

   "In general I have nothing to transmit; I do music only for myself, as a kind of therapeutic tool adapted for me. If someone wants to release and distribute my music it is fine and I am happy when people all over the world get in touch with me and say that my music is fantastic. If people search for messages or similar in my music they will find it but it is not because I put anything there for them. Listeners find the messages that suit them best."

   The next step and one of the most important ones for RAISON D'ETRE is placed in 2000 with "The Empty Hollow Unfolds". Focused on extreme musical events and not precisely on the melodic lines, the material actually puts on run the regular listener of melodic and harmonious Ambient. "The Wasteland" is the track that in point of fact dethrones any other symphony of melancholia, lack of hope or light. It is a masterpiece of sampling and I would like for us to stop here for some questions referring to this concept. First of all, where and how did you record the samples featured on this track? In an interview you said you personally managed the recording of all samples you use in sampling...this is interesting, tell me more, please!

   "That's true in a certain degree, not all sounds are sampled as some are based on additive synthesis methods. I spend a big time on finding nice outdoors-environmental sounds or sources that may produce interesting sounds if doing the right thing with it. For 'Wasteland' I used a big bowed metal plate, recorded in my cellar, to make all the rusty metallic sounds. A helicopter sound to make the rumbling base sound and the female choirs are from additive synthesis, while the male choirs are real samples, but they are taken from a choir CD. I then I don't remember exactly how I got the other sounds. Sounds like bells, chimes, metal plates, and some more noisy sounds are mostly recorded in my studio or in my cellar, then processed in the computer and used in a sampler unit."

   What can you tell me about the music made up exclusively by sampling, synthesizer and computer, where do you place it? Some of those who use (more or less) traditional/regular instruments don't even want to hear of sampling. Moreover, they consider such music (if agreed on this term!) as distorted and immature if not interpreted by classical instruments. After all, isn't the sampler an instrument as any other one?

   "Everything can be turned to an instrument, and personally I don't care about if it's a traditional or new technological instrument or whatever you name. I use the instruments I think can do well for me and the music in the composing process."

   Do you agree that modern instruments/tools can edit, execute and preserve atmospheres otherwise inaccessible by classical methods? In fact, aren't the mood and spiritual state all that matters?

   "Yes I agree. Modern instruments may be able to create new kind of moods, but classical instruments too are able to do that, if used in an appropriate and innovative way."

   I've noticed that most of the titles encompass a certain terminology, especially for the first albums. Can you explain why and where from do they come? Which is the dimension that inspires you to come out with such titles?

   "For that album, I don't remember exactly where the titles come from, but I try to carefully name the compositions with the certain mood they create, which of course is a subjective experience."

   In lack of lyrics, RAISON D'ETRE titles are carefully chosen in order to describe as accurate as possible the atmosphere of each track. I assume it is a kind of introduction into the landscape of vast and emptiness where the sole company is the "wind of solitude". Don't you think that abundance of symphonic keyboards would suggest even better such feeling or scenery? Why are that incredibly discreet the symphonic pads? Is it because of a need to create an original sound?

   "It's all a matter of taste."

   The most appropriate or similar sound to the one of RAISON D'ETRE is what NECROPHORUS performs. Tell me why didn't you enclose the NECROPHORUS tracks in RAISON D'ETRE discography as well? Tell me, which is, after all, the difference between them?

   "I see a lot of differences between R aison D'être and Necrophorus . Maybe some of the tracks from Necrophorus could have been suited for Raison D'être , but they are extremely few. The subjects and themes of Necrophorus are very different, also the mood and the instrumentation. In General, Necrophorus is much softer and synthetic than Raison D'être ."

   Yet, I must confess, the greatest material coming from the other adjacent musical projects is no other but "Archimetrical Universe" CD 1999- ATOMINE ELEKTRINE. This album brings on, under a different shape, a certain mood of contemplating true dimensions of the ego. The listener becomes an atom amongst/within the cold dark universe, feeling himself so insignificant and forgotten while both dimensions, the outside universe and the inside realm, actually reflect one in each other. I think it is indeed a masterpiece of the sampling. How could it be explained the predilection for the electronic music of '70's? Have you listened to such music in the past? Do you listen to such nowadays?

   "I was grown up with the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and similar cosmic music. I still enjoy listening to the music, but only their material of the 70's. So, it's kind of natural to make Electronic music inspired by these groups."

   What can you tell us about the other projects of yours? Which is the one you are most satisfied and excited about? Which is the one to define you better (excepting RAISON D'ETRE, of course!) or we could talk about a split personality of an intricate character? Isn't there even one part of your personality to be expressed throughout something joyful, serene or pleasant? Stratvm Terror is extremely violent, for example. Did you really need to discharge such emotions?

   "The human mind is very complex, and there are a lot of different characters of the personality, I don't favor any of them and I do like all my existing projects the same amount. But raison d'être is the mother somehow."

   Offer me more details about the new albums of Panzar and Bocksholm , about the collaboration with Lina Baby Doll ( Deutsch Nepal )...

   "The Panzar album, 'Human Degeneration', was released by Russian label Ewers Tonkunst. Panzar is an industrial-noise project of mine, which is somewhat similar to early Brighter Death Now , but with a more modern sound. The album has quite low churning Death Industrial sounds with sick topics and lots of speech samples. The Bocksholm CD 'The Sound of White Cloggs', released my Nato label in US, contains a recording of a live-performance from New York 2002. Lina and I were very drunk on that performance but we managed to do the show without any major mistakes, so this sounds really good for being live (However, we definitely don't remember the last minutes of the show.)"

   What about the new Atomine Elektrine, Cataclyst and Grismannen albums?

   "Pretty soon there will be a re-release of the Atomine Elektrine album 'Elemental Severance' and the CD-R 'Atom Xtension'. These will be released as a double CD package titled 'Binomial Fusion' on the Brazilian label Essence Music, and will also include some previously unreleased material. A re-issue of the Cataclyst album 'Monuments for a Rubicund Age' is planned on CD for Russian Tantric Harmonies. It will differ a little from the CD-R edition: re-mastered with one re-mixed extra track, and then one track that is slightly shortened. Another Russian label, ZHELEZOBETON, will be releasing Grismannen 'Absolute Bajs' double CD-R, which is some kind of complete Grismannen and includes all tracks made during a ten year period."

   Your various projects' materials are released in few copies, an aspect I won't comment, but if you feel like, please do! Yet, my questions is: what is your opinion/position next to all those sharing software via internet thanks to which many people get (actually share!) mp3 without borders? I might be wrong, but you see, sometimes this is the only way one could reach out an album or another and for such there are many explanations and justifications.

   "Mostly, I don't decide how many copies that will be printed, it's to a great extent up to the label to choose the size of the issue. I know there are a lot of people sharing audio files and I think it's a good way to distribute to people would otherwise never have a chance to discover the artists. As the situation is right now, most of the people who like and care about the artist and the label do buy the real CD as well, if they are able to find it. But that might change in the future. People who download audio files and like the music very much but don't buy the CD just because they don't want to spend the money... well, those people suck a lot."

   Yantra Atmospheres is your own label. Is there any connection to Tantric Harmonies?

   "No, there is no such connection from my side at least. I started Yantra Atmospheres in 1996, but I don't know when Tantric started, or if it is inspired by the name of my label."

   I have plenty reasons to ask if there is a correlation between you, yoga and your label name? The inner nature of your music is obviously one of meditation.

   "Yes, that may be the reason. I don't practice yoga myself, not in the real way at least, but I am kind of interested in meditation/contemplation/introspection."

   What about religion? Sometimes I wonder why obsessively using bells-sounds and religious choirs? What could be the relation between your music and religion/faith? Are we alone in the absence of divinity? Or is it that we are alone by nature, no matter what!?

   "I am not religious, but I like the themes of myths and legends told by the religions or connected to it by some way. I am quite thrilled of thinking about the Holy Grail, the Armageddon, or Nirvana. I think that's why I use a few religious elements in my music."

   Tell me, what other artists who released at COLD MEAT INDUSTRY actually impressed you? Whom do you know better and what do you think of their materials (the one you like or appreciate, of course!)? Generally speaking, what is the atmosphere there, at CMI?

   "I think it's a wonderful atmosphere at Cold Meat, almost everybody knows everyone else and we have a great time with each other when we meet (mostly at live performances or birthdays). I am impressed by many artists of CMI, not only for the music but also for their personality. Those (currently on the label) I know best is BDN, Deutsch Nepal , Desiderii Marginis , Irm/Skin Area and Institut , and I love their work too. I also am impressed by In Slaughter Natives and Ordo R Equlibrio . Almost all artists on the label are interesting people and many of them do great music."

   Do you think your music has to get built on a certain backbone-concept or a mood...a state of spirit is just enough? Do we need to build a parallel universe or is it music just sufficient and beautiful just like that?

   "I think a sort of backbone-concept is created by automatism from the music, subjectively built in a subconscious way in the first place by the creator, and then listeners may build their own versions out of that. Music is powerful enough to create a universe on its own, and because the music is beautiful."

   Is there a strictly positive feeling that might be transmitted by RAISON D'ETRE? Which would be that? Hope? Or is RAISON D'ETRE after all an expression of negative energies?

   "For me, raison d'être express positive energies, at least I become stronger after doing and listening to the music. I am not sure yet what my music transmits could be nothing at all or a lot of different things at the same time. Listeners may have their own feeling of what it transmits, but I must have a deeper understanding of my self (old and wise), before I want to answer the question. I can think about lot of feelings that are transmitted but I am not sure if it's correct, I may never know."

   I've noticed that the whole dimension created by your music appertain to "The Self" not taking over any of the classical and so much wasted themes of ambient music belonging to a various range: medieval, demonic, epic or romantic nature. Have you received any proposal from other musicians for projects of different musical styles? I sometimes think about how it would be like if you and Peter from Arcana ever decided for collaboration... It would be at least intriguing... Haven't you ever thought about stepping out the Industrial sphere, at least for a try?

   "A few times some people have asked for collaboration, but I don't remember what kind of project it was about. I only know that I didn't want to do it by some reason, probably lack of time or else I was uninterested in it. I have had many ideas of projects, not only industrial ones. I think I already have some projects that can't be called industrial: Atomine Elektrine and Necrophorus . But, once I thought about doing more in the vein of experimental club techno music or a guitar-based project like Slowdive , but it hasn't happened yet."

   Are there any chances to see/hear you live in Romania? How looks Raison live? Tell me something about your concerts in England, Sweden...

   "If someone wants to organize a performance in Romania I may consider going there, but I haven't heard from any organizer. I am quite unsure how many persons are in Romania who might be listening to this kind of music. Raison d'être looks nothing special live, I play with some equipment and show a background video, that's all. Doing concerts in England is quite different from the rest of Europe, the audience is standing not in the front, by the scene but in the other end of the room, it's very strange. Raison d'être is not made for live performances, but it can be adapted with the right tools that can create the right atmosphere. But then I have to perform in a catacomb or in a ruin somewhere in a desolated landscape, in low light or darkness, with a very loud sound. This will probably not happen, but it's a wish."

   You live in a Nordic country with specific both weather and mentality. Tell me have such factors influenced your music in a way or another?

   "I don't know, but people do speak about the music of the cold north. I don't think it has that much to do with the weather as it might have with a specific culture or mentality. Well, if it were as warm as in a desert all year, then perhaps I would not do this kind of music, no one knows. Culture and mentality do influence the music, as everything can be included in these conceptions. I can't tell why the north region should be special or good for raison d'être compared to other regions, like central Europe or Britain."

   Before discussing about the impressions your last CD left, could you tell me who is/are the philosopher(s) that marked your existence throughout theories or other writings? Share with me if there is a special certain event or phenomenon that impressed you much during this life (so far!).

   "There are a lot of people who say clever things, not only people known as philosophers. But some of the people, who have impressed me by any reason, are C.G. Jung, Nietzsche, Sartre, Hegel and Wittgenstein, but also some oriental thinkers like Chuang-tse and Lao-tse. I can't think of any special event right now, but they exist for sure."

   ' In abandoned places'... this is a perfect title for the beginning of the last RAISON D'ETRE album! Some random bells ringing in abandoned places (abandoned by hope? Light?) ...these must be the gates opening the alienated universe! But, Peter, why such a feeling of abandon(ed)? I lived with the impression that the souls inside your music have chosen the solitude path...what happened though?

   "Well, maybe the souls have chosen the solitude path because they have once been abandoned. But actually, the abandoned souls or places don't refer to the same matter as the souls of the solitude path. While a soul of a solitude path is about searching, the abandoned soul is about dying. It's a different story."

   Requiem is music for the end! Tell me, is this concept connected to RAISON D'ETRE discography...perhaps this to be the last album? What event did determine you to lay your thoughts over this topic/word/atmosphere in order to define your last material? The music is that strongly suggestive that I have no other choice but to think that real facts...or devastating realities that occurred in your life led you to such tonalities. Do you think you could enter such realms to share with me?

   "When it comes to discography and last album, no, this is not the end; think of it as cycles or phases instead. It is difficult to make any validation regarding certain specific matters in the connection of the music and me as a person. It definitely does exist, but it's not possible to point out the exact reason. The only devastating thing that happened, that has to do with the end or death, was that my dog died two-three year ago. On the other hand, I have already had my mourning period for that. The raison d'être track on the 'Perception Multiplied...' compilation is dedicated to the dog."

   We talk again about 100% sampling and this time with much more skillfulness, creativity and originality. It could be said that classical instruments are no longer of any use for you. Tell me, are the choirs filtered on this CD real indeed? Where from does it come that feeling of being inseparable the choirs and the bells? Wouldn't you like to try something new? On a general ground, I believe this CD follows the line of the previous one. One could say it is the climax of your opus so far. What do you think? Where do you place it?

   "The choirs are acoustic and real from start, they have no synthetic source, but they are heavily processed in a digital environment in order to suit my need. I always try to make something new for each album, and I think I have done something new for every album; everything can't possibly be entirely new, but big parts of it. The new album follows the line of all my work with raison d'être and every new album is some sort of climax, pushing the limits further away. That doesn't mean that the previous albums are not as good as the new one, they are just products of their time, and they were climaxes for their time."

   Again your last track is very long. Why? It's a ritual, maybe? Moreover, you used on this track cymbal and trombone. Who is Martin Bladh?

   "The track is quite long; it takes some time to build up the special mood. Bowed cymbal and trombone is used in this track, Martin Bladh, known from the Cold Meat projects Irm and Skin Area plays them. However those sounds were then heavily processed in a computer, and I only used his mouth and hand for convenience because I had to take care of the recording equipment."

   Don't you think that the best review for this material would be a simple impulse for audition? Do you think that promoting it and commercializing it would lead this material to the hands and hearts of those who deserve it? How serious should we take the music of "Requiem for Abandoned Souls"? Is it an album for collection, a proof of maturity or much more... like an intimate ultimate experience?

   "There is no best review for the album. There are just plenty of different reviews. I believe many different reviews means great variety, and that is much better than aiming for one single best review, none such thing exists. Reviews are only subjective opinions, nothing else. Like any other album 'Requiem for Abandoned Souls' should only be seen as music. Such things as maturity or ultimate experience are only subjective thoughts. I can't claim I am doing the ultimate experience for everyone. For me it's a serious album, but I can only speak for myself. I think it's wrong to talk about the music as something that should only be enjoyed for those who deserves it. Anyone deserves it as much as everyone else does."

   What can you tell me about the next RAISON D'ETRE material? You surely must have some ideas... somewhere in your realm of solitude and you surely must know if this very material "pleased" you or not. I only say that because I know that usually the next material encloses ideas and feelings not expressed on the previous one or emotions that failed to complete your soul and your exigent requirements...

   "It's too early to talk anything about the next album yet, but I do have some thoughts. I have thoughts all the time but that doesn't mean it will evolve into a working concept. Every album is the end of that chapter; I have completely emptied myself during the composition process. I don't try to remake it, or do it better on the next album. For me, the next album is always something different. I don't say that every album is perfect when it's finished, but I am satisfied when it is, that's enough, else I would never be able to complete an album."

   Who is Peter Andersson in the real life: job, family, hobbies, musical tastes, books...

   "Real life, I think Raison D'être is very much real life too. I don't have a job or a family; I study at the University, a course called Culture, Society and Media Production. I have a lot of other interests except for music. I like art, watching movies, drinking alcohol and go to a party. Filmmakers I like: David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovskij, Werner Herzog, Darren Aronofsky, Carl Johan de Geer & Hakan Alexandersson, Peter Greenaway, Roman Polanski, Harmonie Korine, Pasolini, Gaspar Noe etc... When it comes to music I most like: TG, SPK, Lustmord, Organum, Coil, Ora, Werkbund, Tomas Koner, Voice of Eye, Sleep Chamber, Troum, Maeror Tri, Robert Rich, Nocturnal Emissions, Non, Brian Eno, Stina Nordenstam, Slowdive, Cranes, Colder, etc... Art: Bosch, Rembrandt, Friedrich, Turner, Tatlin, Dali, Magritte, Bacon, Rotko, and David Lynch etc...Books: well, not much time left over for reading more than my university literature, but such topics as abnormal sex, gay, pain are always amusing."

   You have a very discrete and elegant site... It's useful for you? For the fans is a real enchanting...

   "The site is for promotion and for my fans, so I hope they like it a lot. I like discrete designs; else it would just be a mess for the viewer. Some people are ordering records from the site as well, so I guess it's useful for me in an economical point of view too."

   Here we are at the end and here I come with a last idea, perhaps a little bit weird. Tell me, how would you feel if no one would (ever) listen to your music? If you would find yourself abandoned by all who should or deserved to understand you? How important is the transcendence of your emotions and thought from inside to outside?

   "Actually, I would still do music even if no one had heard my music at all. I still do music for my own joy, just as I did for about 15 years ago, when I started to compose music on my own. If all my fans stopped listening to my music today, well, yes I would feel abandoned, but I would still do music, it's a part of my life. The transcendence of my emotions and thoughts is very important, that's what the creative process is all about, to format and shape the inside to the outside, to express the ideas and thoughts. That's the world of the artist."

And the last words of Peter were: "I think this is, both in extent and in time consuming, the biggest interview I ever done."

Thank you Peter and good luck!

December 2003.