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Shiv-r: I have always wanted to own a country

Yet another interview done for the Negatief magazine (www.negatief.de). The german version was shortened slightly, some questions and answers can only be found in the magazine, issue #31 aus title story. The english original interview is completely presented here on Nightshade. To choose language, just click on the small national flags on the left.
Shiv-r is an interesting international industrial project consisting of Lee Bulig and Pete Crane... Two completely different characters, difficult to describe. Just read this really informative interview and have a look at www.shiv-r.com... You´ll understand what i mean. ;)

Otti:
Hey Pete, hey Lee, thanks for taking your time to answer this interview. One year has passed, since we last talked about your music and your project. Since then your album and a limited EP called Incision were released. What else did you experience in the meantime?

Pete:
This has been a year of hard work! Our first album was picked up by well-known labels Infacted, Metropolis and Deathwatch Asia but we had no pre-existing name as Shiv-r before this, so we had to work incredibly hard to establish ourselves. It's funny, we signed to our dream-labels, but we worked as if we weren't signed at all in order to try and "prove our worth", instead of resting satisfied. So we did no less than 16 remixes, some small tours, made filmclips, a new EP and most importantly concentrated hard on a follow-up full-length album which we're almost finished making. So we've been incredibly busy on all of these things, and there is no sign of rest in sight until we finish our next album.

Otti:
Which changes did you have in your working style when creating the EP?

Pete:
With the EP, every song was an experiment. Incision came from a groove I heard in my head, Zeitgeist was a collaboration with Preemptive Strike 0.1 and Dead Eyes came from a live jam in the studio with hardware. We really didn't take the time to change our workflow from our first album, we just kept writing constantly. It's like being a shark - if you stop moving forward, you die.

Lee:
The EP happened so quickly, we really didn’t have time to think about it. In one way, that’s a good thing. I think when an artist spends too much time thinking, they start writing horrible art-music shit. In that way, it is good to keep on a strict schedule. On the other hand, we were writing music so quickly at that time, I think we fell into a formula, which isn’t good. Writing music in two separate studios five thousand kilometers apart has its technical limitations, which also contributes to falling into a formula. It was for that reason that we stopped taking remix requests around the time we were doing the EP. We have since deliberately tried mixing around the way we work together for the upcoming second album. I think the result will be a much more varied and interesting collection of tracks than anything we have released before.

Otti:
On that EP you have some remixes of the title song and one of Open My Vein coming from your debut album. Which is your favorite? And how did you select the guys who got the permission to deal with you tracks?

Pete:
The remixes were hooked up by the labels, so we didn’t really have too much to do with that. The 2 remixes by other artists, namely Be My Enemy and Detroit Diesel are awesome, and the other 2 remixes Lee and I did ourselves. But the track Zeitgeist is a bit more special and was a collaboration with Preemptive Strike 0.1, which resulted from meeting the band online after we became label-mates on Infacted Recordings and deciding to work together for a song. I wrote the lyrics for Zeitgeist as kind of a cyberpunk take on Public Enemy's Shut 'em Down, in that the balance of power held by a handful of corporations is out of hand, and it is important to respect those who challenge the system.

Otti:
Last time we "talked" we hadn´t much space to talk about the album Hold My Hand as well, so let´s have another look on it. A year after the release, how were the reactions by audience, press and strangers?

Pete:
Well the press gave us some really nice reviews. And I still get a lot of comments from strangers who love the album. The most amazing response was from someone who said that they had a supernatural experience with our album while they were on drugs, and it felt like we were coming out of the speakers and speaking directly to them, and now our album is more connected to their soul than even Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. When I was a teenager I actually had a similar experience with Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar and that album is now a part of who I am forever. One of my biggest goals in music was to make people feel like that album made me feel, so to have achieved that effect on someone else with our own music is amazing. 

Lee:
We seem to have polarized the scene. Some people have called us one of the most innovative acts around. Others have called us yet another clone band. I think it is all a matter of perspective. If you listen to a lot of electronic music, I think most would say we have a distinctive sound. Whether that sound is good or bad is up to personal taste.
There are a lot of different influences that go in to Shiv-r. Both Pete and I have different tastes in music, and that brings different elements into the mix. I think the oddest criticism I have heard from the album was a review that said our music was like dark psy-trance crammed into a 4:30min package. I remember thinking, isn’t that a good thing?? I love dark-psy, but I also like songs with a verse and chorus, so why not combine them in some way? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but anyone who spits on us for doing things different from the usual can really get fucked. If there could be one criticism of the scene in general is that it has become stale and repetitive. Successful or not, at least we are trying to do something different.

Otti:
Most of the lyrics on the album tell about violance, blood and pain. What is your main intention behind dealing with topics that might provoke or harm people with softer minds?

Pete:
The most effective art is scary when you first see it. If we can make some people unnerved and afraid but simultaneously attracted then our message will stick with them. Most importantly we want people to feel something from our music. Every day we are confronted with crowds of people with dead eyes. I have seen some friends slowly lose the spark in themselves because of an apathetic world beating them down and I am fighting tooth and nail against that. I'll admit, most of the people who will hear our music will be already desensitized to dark music, but we hope to reach more people and wake them up to a world beyond the one they are presented with by the mainstream media.

Lee:
It is really about desensitization. Both Pete and I have been working with this kind of material for so long I don’t think it has occurred to either of us that we might be doing anything especially provocative. It wasn’t until some people objected to the music video for The End that either of us thought about it. The people who had a problem with the video were talking about it promoting misogyny or depicting rape. We might have lost a few listeners from that video, but if those listeners are so closed minded and hypersensitive, I think they are listeners we can happily live without. The best attitude we can take with us into the future is to both not worry about offending people with soft minds, but also not trying too hard to offend people, which other acts are certainly guilty of. We will just go with whatever aesthetics we find pleasing, and people can have their own opinions about it.

Otti:
On the other hand you seem to deal with problems of society and mankind, metaphoric as well as obviously direct. Do you have any core mission you are following?

Pete:
I never wanted to deal with political or sociological issues in my lyrics, but the more I move forward I find it very difficult not to. My main mission is to wake people up to the fact that we are all born equal and must never be slaves. We all erect glass ceilings for ourselves whether we realise it or not and we blame our circumstances for our shortcomings. Sure I critisise the obvious targets like religion and apathy, but I also critisise music and art itself, which is the most nihilistic thing I can do because I live for music. I believe everybody has a hole in themselves that they fill with something; some people fill it with god, others money, some fill it by collecting used women's underwear; I fill it with making music. But my making music is no more legitimate a justification for my life than those who fill their hole with religion. In the end it's all shit; god, art, music, to get us through our lives and keep us productive at the box factory during the week. Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" is with us today and we all have our own forms of Soma to escape. We can only hope to feel alive and not let the ugly world beat us into playing dead.  

Otti:
With a year passed by since the release of Hold My Hand, you sure have a new view on the album. Are you still satisfied with that product?

Pete:
I don't think I was ever satisfied with Hold My Hand per se, or anything I've ever done for that matter. I'm far too driven to become satisfied. It feels like constantly breaking down barriers and learning to communicate my music better. It's like when you listen to a musician like Jimi Hendrix - there is absolutely nothing blocking the flow from his soul to his fingers, he can simply express himself fluently with his guitar. Music is all about communication, and you just get better at breaking down the walls between what you want to say and what you have the technical ability to say. Religious folk seek enlightenment and a direct connection with god, but musicians just seek unhindered expression through their art.

Lee:
I’m not sure. Anyone who listens to their own music in their spare time is a little weird. It is like looking at photos of yourself and masturbating. I don’t think I have listened to the album since we did the last check before sending it to Infacted. Seriously, I think if I listened to it now, I would either be embarrassed about the quality of what we had produced back then, or paranoid that our next album isn’t as good as our first album, depending on my mood, but both negative reactions. Certainly, I’m trying not to use our older material as a reference for our new material. The most important thing is that our second album shows real progression and development from our first album, otherwise there would be no reason to release another.

Otti:
You also have released at least one video, a hot film to the song The End with a dark bdsm story. Whose idea was that? And what can you tell us about the developing progress of that clip?

Pete:
The driving force behind that filmclip was the producer "Hbom Productions" who is a friend of ours. At the time he lived in a warehouse which was also a fetish dungeon where there were big "play parties", and we thought it would be a cool idea to shoot a clip there. The fetish scene is fascinating because it's a world that exists within the mainstream world, for example the Hellfire club of 18th century high society. It's similar to the way we turn Shiv-r into its own entity with its own symbolism, such as the blood-soaked orchid and knife, to exist as a hidden world.  The filmclip for The End shows the story of someone who discovers and enters "our world" and a transformation takes place. 

Otti:
The EP contains a director´s cut of that video, sadly I only have seen the youtube version yet. What is the difference between the two?

Pete:
The main difference is that the youtube version was edited by the producer, who made it more like a movie, i.e. longer shots, holding scenes for a few seconds more, etc. The Director's Cut was edited by the director and is edited with much quicker cuts, "MTV-style", and focusses on the performance more than the storyline. The Director's Cut is also a bit higher quality, because the filmclip was shot in RED format, which the producer's computer couldn't handle so it had to be converted into a lesser format for editing. The Director's Cut uses the raw RED format footage uncompromised so it looks a bit slicker, but the youtube version is more "theatrical". 

Otti:
Pete, you´re wearing a really fascinating costume in that video. Who was the creator of that? And is this the style you also show on concerts?

Pete:
My wife Wendy is largely responsible for our visual creative direction. She’s really amazing for coming up with visual concepts that push boundaries, taking inspiration from the likes of Alexander McQueen and more abstract sources such as architecture and philosophy. She sketched the outfit I wore in the filmclip and we took it to a designer named Pheonuh Callan to be made. I certainly have worn that same outfit at live shows, but future shows will see different outfits inspired by the new album. Our designs usually come from creating mood-boards from the alternative couture world. From this basis we've also worked with amazing designers such as Mother of London and Gallery Serpentine that will be revealed in photos and a new filmclip to be released this year. 

Otti:
Hopefully you haven´t been lazy and done more than drugs and girls, so you have new material upcoming. What new release(s) can we expect in the next time from Shiv-r?

Pete Crane:
We will probably be finished making our 2nd full-length album by the time this magazine goes to print, but right now we are stuck in the Kafkaesque world of production and mixing. We're doing a European tour starting late July 2011, so our next album must be out before this time.

Lee:
Unfortunately, between working on the 2nd album and the day job there has been not enough room for pussy or narcotics. Both of us have been living like monks this past year. But, believe me, once that album is finished, we will be sinning so hard Satan will resign in shame and give us his job.

Otti:
Lee, are you still living in Bangkok? And what can you tell us about the subculture down there, is there any kind of gothic or industrial scene in south east asia you can tell about?

Lee:
I’m still in Bangkok. There is a scene in South East Asia, but not so much in Bangkok. There are some goth- industrial clubs in Bangkok, though I have never actually been to them, seeing as there is about ten minutes a day free between work and music. Singapore and the Philippines seem to be the areas with most activity in south east asia for clubs, from what I have seen in local press. There is really quite a lot going on in asia, with new industrial acts coming out of places like China and Taiwan as well, but I’m not sure how far those acts have made it into the European radar.
On a more personal side, I just don’t fit into the scene that well. I have a corporate style suit-and-tie job and spend any spare time I have drinking beer, abusing pharmaceuticals, chasing whores, treating women like objects and eating the flesh of animals. I daresay most industrial or Shiv-r fans would be disappointed if they met me. I might look like you would expect, but my lifestyle is the antithesis of what your stereotypical artist in this scene should be. I know most people would disapprove of my corporate- prostitute-loving lifestyle, but really, I would prefer it if I were only judged just by the music I write. Half the reason I left the western world was to get away from the scene. Feel free to bitch about my immoral ways on your blog.

Otti:
I sadly didn´t find much about your live activities. You sure had gigs the last year, did you? What were the most impressing experiences you had on stage so far?

Pete:
We have had quite a few live experiences over the last year, playing with bands like Combichrist, Grendel, Nachtmahr, God Module, Genitorturers and others, and later this year we will play some European festivals including Infest UK. Just as with the rest of life, it's so easy to become jaded about gigs and feel unenthused. So the most amazing experiences are when the audience has shown real energy, which I feed from and it then becomes a feedback loop of energy. You only feel it for a moment but it feels like something greater than the sum of its parts, like you're feeling really alive, which is an incredibly addictive thing. I just wish every gig could deliver that feeling, but that is the dragon I am chasing. 

Otti:
Working on music is something that needs lots of time, but you sure have other interests and jobs. What are you both doing while not working on stuff that has to do with Shiv-r?

Pete:
I have a dayjob but not exactly a "career" apart from music. My dayjob makes me feel like an alien in a sea of suited, reptilian drones. But the more mundane our surroundings the more we must create; and the more oppressive, the more we must challenge. So that is my life; the mundane elements counter-fueling the active creation. So having a dayjob isn't so bad; even T.S. Eliot worked for Lloyds Bank which gave him the creative freedom to work on his poetry.

Lee:
I work in management. I am evil. I sit in my big comfortable chair in my big comfortable office listening to music on my big comfortable sound system and browsing the net for synth-porn. My only job is to think of ways to make my employees work harder and longer for less money. I make them sit on broken chairs in a cramped shared office, block their favourite websites and strictly forbid the listening of music. Because, you must understand. I am pure evil. You might have a mohawk and big leather boots and tell people you are evil, but you are only amateur at evil. It is only when you learn to truly abuse your fellow human beings that you can call yourself professional evil. Writing harsh industrial music is probably the least evil thing I do.

Otti:
Finally imagine I would be a good fairy that would fulfil you three wishes. What would you ask me for?

Pete:
I'm very careful about what I wish for because I believe it will come true. I used to wish to be on a label like Infacted and play at European festivals and it happened. So, with all due respect Herr Fairy, I don't need your help making my wishes come true.

Lee:
1) a reduction in greenhouse emissions, 2) a declaration of world peace, 3) more people realising when I am being sarcastic... so for a serious answer 1) a big old vintage Cadillac that uses horrible amounts of leaded petrol, 2) my own personal of army of AK-47 toting child-soldiers, 3) something mundane I guess, like a small country on the west coast of Africa. I have always wanted to own a country. I don’t think that is asking for too much.

www.shiv-r.com
www.myspace.com/shiverindustrial

Art des Interviews: Email
12.07.2011 by Otti

Blättern: Vorheriger Artikel | Nächster Artikel

Weitere Beiträge zu Shiv-r:

03.12.2010Various Artists: Advanced Electronics Vol. 8(Rezension: Musik)
13.07.2011Various Artists: XtraX Clubtrax Vol. 3(Rezension: Musik)

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