Exclusive interview for Russian Gothic Page and RockCity Magazine (by Stanislav Ivanoff).
Last autumn the 5-year silence of German gothic band Engelsstaub was broken and "another world" revealed for us. 'Anderswelt' is the name of their new masterpiece, in which all dreams and ghostly visions of other dimensions twist within reality of our world by some magic force.
Engelsstaub was originally formed in 1992. It first happened to be a solo project of Mark Hofmann who played in Les Fleurs Du Mal and Madre Del Vizio, but then later he was joined by his sister Silke and brother in soul Janusz. The project was from the beginning under a lucky star and so it is. The limited edition 7" EP 'Unholy', released in 1992, sold out just in a couple of weeks. Then later the two albums 'Malleus Maleficarum' and 'Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter' did very well and the amazing thing is, they still do well. After that silence laid over Engelsstaub's lands for five long years. It was temporarily broken only once when 'Unholy' miniCD, containing mostly old songs' remixes was released in 1997. And so, last year Engelsstaub returned with their new full-length album. Being a long-time fan of this band, unaware of band's activity all these years I couldn't help contacting Mark and asking him about the new album and the reasons of band's long silence. No wonder, my first question was devoted to this point.
- Hello Mark! So what were the reasons of such a long silence in the creative activity of the band between the releases of 'Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter' and 'Anderswelt'?
"The last album was 'Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter' and was released in 1994. That same year we have played some gigs. A year later we've been on tour in France and Spain. The autumn of 1995 saw the release of the limited edition split-10" 'In Amoris Mortisque' (together with Ataraxia) for which we recorded 3 exclusive tracks. After that time we spent a bit too much time in our label Apollyon. In 1997 we started again working on our music. Apart from several new recordings for the one or the other compilation we released the EP 'Unholy'. Late 1997 and 1998 we started preparing the spiritual background for our latest album 'Anderswelt' and we started the recording around Xmas 1998."
- I guess some of our readers are barely acquainted with the name Engelsstaub. Could you please tell us more about the other members of the band?
"The members of Engelsstaub are myself, Mark Hofmann, my sister Silke and my/our long year friend Janusz whom we know for 13 years now. So you can see the basis for the band is a long friendship and trust in each other. I'm responsible for the music, the compositions, production, programming, the layouts and some part of the lyrics. I'm playing most of the instruments and also perform some of the vocals. Silke is now our lead singer because she has such a beautiful voice. It took me some time until I convinced her for that part... She also writes most of the lyrics and she helps me arranging her vocal tracks. Janusz plays guitar and also performs vocals. He is also the one who helps me doing the right thing at the right time during the process of composing, recording and mixing."
- Biography tells us, that Engelsstaub was formed on the ruins of your solo project Les Fleurs Du Mal. Has this band got any releases and is there any chance of its reformation? Personally, I heard only one track "The Abyss" on 'Death By Dawn Compilation 2', and I have to say that this track was just great!
"Yes, Engelsstaub was born out of the split of Les Fleurs Du Mal. Apart from the track you mentioned we released a split LP together with our former Death Rock project Madre Del Vizio. But this LP isn't available anymore. In regards to the reformation, we don't have the intention yet because Engelsstaub fills our lives totally."
- You mentioned that Marde Del Vizio was your "former project"???
"The former Death Rock formation Madre Del Vizio isn't our project anymore because we all left the band in 1997..."
- The first release of Engelsstaub, as well as the first release of Apollyon, was 7" EP 'Unholy'. In 1997 you released miniCD 'Unholy'. Was it a simple re-release or did you record absolutely new material?
"Neither way. On the 'Unholy' CD you can find the original 7" versions of "Fallen Angel" and "Skin Me Alive" in a remastered version. Then there are two re-recordings: "Lost Purity" which we did togtether with Jeff Diehm and Peter Gorritz of The Last Dance and "Ignis Fatuus Pt. 1". Finally you have two original versions which are "Per Aspera Ad Astra" and "King Of Ice"."
- Musically Engelsstaub has always been the unique mixture of acoustic neo-folk and various electronic samples. However latterly you obviously gave the preference to electronics. Did you keep this tendency on your latest album 'Anderswelt'? Please describe this album in details. How was it created? What conception does it have?
"Anderswelt - it's a world between time and space, between here and now where the invisible turns into visible, where the consciousness pours out in infinite nature, a world full of spirituality and deep emotions. A world where you find the spiritual beings of nature and of celestial bodies as well as yourself.
Sounds: Angel-like vocals, invocation of the spirits and the angels or Native American chants, the musical and lyrical variety on the CD is spread on a wide level, always with the intention to reflect the atmosphere of the Anderswelt and escorting the listener through it. The vocal intonations are provided with background of meditative, also ritual soundscapes and elements of classic music, giving rise to a new definition of world music. Apart from the vocals, the exceptional deep atmosphere is also created by such instruments like Horse Hide Drums, Buffalo Drums, Small Hand Drums and Apache Shakers, Bagpipes, French Hurdy, orchestra instruments, piano, acoustic guitar as well as modern synthetic sounds. The percussions: First, there are the Orchestra percussion like timpanis and cymbals, deep drum, tambourine. There's no special meaning linked to the use of these percussion. They are more linked to our former work as I used these sounds on the other releases as well. Especially timpanis and cymbals are pretty good to put an accent on certain points in the music. Second, there are the Native American drums like HorseHide Drums, Buffalo Drums or Apache Shakers. These are all very "spiritual" instruments because they have a special meaning for the Native Americans. Drums have the meaning of skan' - the life force that is within every living thing. Also the drum represents the heartbeat of the Earth. A drum is found at nearly very social and spiritual gathering of people, to punctuate words, thoughts and emotions. There are some more explanations but that would take too long to list them here. Let me just say that these instruments are there to communicate with the Earth and they are means of consciously tapping into our spiritual selves. Third, there are some other sacred cymbals, which were used to communicate with spiritual beings, to evoke them, or to welcome them, speaking with vibrations. Fourth, there are the percussion wrapping the music into an authentic veil, e.g. the Celtic Bodhran or the Scottish War Drums in "A Dream Within A Dream".
Production: We produced the complete CD in our studio which we have build up over the years. This gives us the most flexibilty and freedom we need to realize our ideas and to create for us the Anderswelt in the studio without any external influences than the spiritual ones.
Mood: Where's the need to explain a mood in words. A mood is something you have to feel because no word can describe exactly what's the mood about. And the mood is something very personal, it differs from person to person. If the music has the power to evoke the same mood and visions on different people, then the music frees power.
Concept + lyrics: The concept is quite simple to get: to give another point of view of our reality. A view through the eyes of the spirits to bring people back in the original cosmic background, back to a certain wisdom in the respect of life. That's what most of the lyrics tell about in the more obvious or more hidden way."
- The themes and the overall atmospheres of the albums are rather dark and mystic. Where do you draw your inspiration from? What topics affect you?
"Lyrically, 'Anderswelt' is a sum of reflection of the different literature we've read over the last two years. Musically, there is no real inspiration. Of course, soundtracks do have a special influence but the way the music is written is not linked to any inspiration. It all takes place in the head. The music was composed in totally silence and seclusion, and in general I don't listen to any kind of music when I'm composing. All we've collected for the album is real and based on literature we're grateful for having the chance to access it. In a certain way it was brought to us through dreams and through different kind of energies. Dreams are another level of reality, no fiction. All is hidden but there are a lot of truths, warnings or hints in dreams, brought to us in symbols, you just need to translate these symbols and you'll learn more about yourself your life and everything around you. In dreams you're able to enter certain and hidden levels/regions of your consciousness."
- Thanks for the interview, Mark. Please end it in the way you want.
"Thanks for the interview...and...Always be true to yourself. Believe: Matter is just another manifestation if energy. Try to see the world with other eyes, hear with other ears, and put all your senses on another level."
January 21, 2000
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