Tzii Itw by TraXteR on Heathen Harvest

Sunday, November 01 2009 @ 02:00 AM PST
Contributed by: TraXteR

Tzii Interview

Heathen Harvest: Among all your projects, your V-Atak audio/visual label seems to be one of your top priorities. Tell us more about the label.

Tzii: First of all, you’re right, V-Atak is my top priority for the good reason that it’s my chance to join images and sounds, which for me is very important as I’m also a film maker, not only a musician. Concerning the label, that was first set up to release our own material, such as Meat and UFO Pulsations. Now it has been opened to other artists, but everything comes naturally through friendship and meetings during events. We personally know all the people who have been released by us so far.
HH: What would you consider to be the most original project, performance or release V-Atak has put out?

TZ: Of course I like them all!! But concerning live performances I would say CINEMASSAKER. Of course, the « live movie remix » thing has already been done in the past, but when I see some projects like this playing live, it’s usually about one or two guys with laptops, playing very prepared things with no real live interaction, what we could call a « playing act ». As the opposite, Cinemassaker is about total live improvisation with alternating members, the core consisting of RKO, Ripit, Cybunk and myself is permanent. We’ve already been 8 persons on stage for this project! I have rarely (well, never in fact) seen this in multimedia festivals or affiliated events. And also it’s the only project in V-Atak that takes so many members in the crew, it federates us.
HH: Can you pick something out of your V-Atak work that you are most proud of?

TZ: It will seems like some auto-congratulation but it’s obviously the Tzii CD+DVD « Rotten Friendship ». This release represents two years of work and we are pretty proud of the final result!
HH: What sets V-Atak apart from other underground labels is not only that you can provide things such as installations and VJing services, but that you actually help produce video works for artists and bands. How much input do clients usually let you have with respect to their projects?

TZ: As I was explaining before, everything is done naturally through human feeling, and the people who ask us for some video work know our work before asking for it, so they fully trust us. Sometimes it depends; some like Mourmansk 150 already had some ideas that they recommend (without imposing it), others want us to be completely free in creation. If we do a video for someone it’s always because the project’s universal interest, or it inspires us, so there’s no problem of limitations in the creative process.
HH: How often do your visual label activities really feel like collaborations?

TZ: All the time! Everything is done with partners in art so everything is collaboration, networking…etc.
HH: Is there anyone out there that you would like to produce for/work with just for fun, perhaps someone you admire?

TZ: Peter Christopherson!!!!
HH: Next in line to V-Atak looks to be the Solar Skeletons, and it looks like a hell of a lot of fun too. It seems so crazy that one single project can produce Drone, Psychedelic Rock, Blues, Black Metal, dark Techno, Reggae and various other styles of heavy electronic music. Dressed up like sexy Industrial cowboys, I might point out… Have you ever received any opposition from « industrial purists » to your mass-creativity?

TZ: Ok, first we have to define what we are talking about with the term « Industrial ». For me industrial music is Industrial Records in the late 70′s. So of course Throbbing Gristle, but also SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, Monte Cazazza, Z’EV and so on. All these projects are very different in their styles, but there is something that joins them: a common approach to the concept instead of the music!! This is a way of thinking and a way to build a musical universe and performances, not a precise form! « Nothing is real, all is allowed », so my point of view is that the word « purist » can’t fit with « Industrial ». That’s all! Industrial is freedom of creation, and with Solar Skeletons I feel a lot more close to Psychic TV or Laibach. These bands are good examples of the importance of the CONCEPT and also of breaking down doors and mentalities.
HH: Has any closed-minded individual ever told you to make up your mind and stick to one style?

TZ: Yes of course but we absolutely don’t care about them!
HH: What have been your main influences for your Solar Skeletons work? It’s a pretty eclectic project.

TZ: We have different backgrounds which have led us to basically the same thing. My partner, known solo under the name Ripit, first played in the mid 90′s in a Black Metal band when at the same period I was dancing in free Techno parties, trying to spin Noisebreak vinyl at the same parties as fast as I could before they kicked me off of the turntables, the crowd yelling for hard Techno! We finally met in the Parisian DIY Noise scene in the beginning of the 2000′s, a good compromise. For now, I could say we listen to a lot of different things, from Black Metal to Country, from Power Electronics to Acid House, from obscure Ritual Industrial to Harsh Noise…etc. In fact, it’s kind of useless to talk about precise influences because as I was saying, the most important thing is the CONCEPT and the METHOD, but I could say that Leonard Cohen playing with Burzum with Peter Christopherson on electronics (and sometimes a contribution by Whitehouse) would be something that could resemble Solar Skeletons musically.
HH: The first time I listened to the Skeletons it reminded me of Queens Of The Stone Age. I thought that it sounded like a more diverse, more demented version of them, fronted by Til of Rammstein. I can’t get over how playful the whole thing is… Does this project help even out your dark side, like a counter-energy to Tzii?

TZ: Yes in a way. I do some things in Solar Skeletons that I don’t do with Tzii, mostly because of the contributions of my colleague. But it’s not really a counter-energy, it’s more a complementarity, and what I do in Solar Skeletons feeds what I do in Tzii so… « playful » is a good term, it feels like it’s « a totally unlimited playground ».
HH: Does working on Solar Skeletons material help you out through hard emotional times?

TZ: Everything that I do helps me, and if I wouldn’t be able to realize my projects and what I have in my head and my guts, I think I would lose my mind. All this is very serious to me, it’s not just « for fun » like it is for a lot of wankers hanging around in the alternative scene.
HH: What direction do you see Solar Skeletons heading toward next?

TZ: Hard to say, it’s a permanent work in progress… The next idea to concertize is some Neo-Cabaret crooner songs, including a Lee Hazlewood cover.  Our next LP is recorded/mixed/mastered and is made up of four long tracks of Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Black Metals and Drone, a lot less minimal than the previous one, with more instruments, live drums, etc, to be released on a 2xLP during winter 2009, we hope. Beside that, there are some other recordings to be released and at the moment I’m writing this, and at the moment that it will be published I’m sure there will be some other stuff, different of what I’m describing here…
HH: What inspired you to create your « Individualism » EP?

TZ: A lot of people just say they are your friend because they met you once or twice, but no, WE ARE NOT FRIENDS, we just know each other. That is very different! Friends are one, two or maybe three persons. And there are so many people also playing fake friendships, only for their own personal interest. Finally they don’t fucking care about what will happen to you if they get to have what they want, and as soon as they have it, you won’t exist to them anymore. These people are weak because they’re not autonomous, they count on other persons to get things which will help them, they don’t build anything with their own hands. And those who don’t succeed pass their time complaining about themselves, crying about their failure. This is not my way of thinking. If you want to make your point, you have to be autonomous! This is the only way to achieve what you have in mind. I began my label because I sent my first tracks to other labels, but they didn’t want them, so I just decided to do it myself, it’s as simple as that! So I began the label to release my music, and then I released my friends’ material…etc. If you want to stay safe, and most of all, endure, you have to count on your own forces!!! DO IT YOURSELF!!! Don’t be assisted. This is the main aspect of individualism to me… One other aspect is the fact that individualism is the moral stance that helps exercise one’s goals and desires, while opposing most external interference upon one’s choices, whether by society, or any other group or institution, religion or whatsoever… I like that.
HH: Were you approached by Silken Tofu for that release or was it the other way around?

TZ: I approached Silken Tofu. I was promoting an Industrial event in Brussels with many bands, and Wim from Silken Tofu was promoting one also in Antwerpen. I wanted to meet him to ask him to promote my event during his event. I already knew about his label when Griefer crashed at my place during their tour and gave us a cd they released on it. I instantly saw that it was the perfect label for my work, so I brought the « Individualism » demo to Wim when we met. And it has been released…
HH: When I saw all the old-skool equipment you have at your home studio Vautour I began to salivate: you have an old Juno synth, a much coveted Korg MS-20, a nice little assortment of drum machines and sequencers, and even a mic from the fifties… You’re really hard for hardcore analog, aren’t you?! What is your favorite piece of equipment to use and why?

TZ: I am deeply attached to analog equipment and to the sound of it! I’ve always worked like that, I began to work with a computer some years after having begun my solo project, and when I started using it that was mostly to do only editing of live takes. Now I sometimes compose with it too, but all my sound sources are analog, with no midi, just recording direct sound from the jack! I began as a purely acoustic musician (drums, piano and trumpet) in my early teenage years, so I need to feel the instrument on my fingers, not just a mouse to click… My favorite instrument is definitely the KORG MS-20!! Why? Just because I have had it for more than ten years and I’m still discovering it!!! This is an incredible synthesizer with many different uses and experimental possibilities. And the sound is so beautiful to my ears and powerful to my stomach that I’m totally in love with it. There are very few tracks I’ve done where there is no MS-20 somewhere.
HH: I find it amazing that your dedication has taken you all over the world. And your travels haven’t even been restricted to performing alone, you’ve actually been to places like Japan, Canada, the US, and a decent part of Europe to collaborate. How have all your trips influenced you personally?

TZ: I’ve been traveling almost perpetually since I was born, so for me it’s very natural. I travel as if I was shopping. It has influenced me of course, but as much as anybody is influenced by their life. It has always been part of my personal way of functioning, so I’m not able to say which specific part of me has been built by this.
HH: Has so much flying around the globe ever changed your perspective about humanity at any time?

TZ: When you travel, and especially when you go into very different cultures (not only staying in the Occident), you of course have more « material » to compare, more elements to build your own point of view about humanity. Especially that reality is usually very different that fantasy. I have heard a lot of people fantasizing about India, Africa, etc, but I think they really don’t imagine how it truly is. They couldn’t stand it. So yes, seeing different cultures on most of the continents built my perception of humanity, but it hasn’t changed it because as I had mentioned, I have always lived this way. But of course, I’m constantly expanding my own mind and ideas about people, trying to perceive the fundamental characteristics of this so-called humanity.
HH: The thing I admire most about you is that despite all the work you have done, all the things you have accomplished, all the touring, collaborations, etc. you have no signs of being a burnout. Your ego is well-placed, your outlook is so positive, and you are an extremely friendly and well-rounded person. Why do you think it is that so many people can have such conceited and miserable attitudes having done far less than you have? I think this can be attributed to the fact that they limit themselves to one style or genre, would you agree?

TZ: I have it inside me, so I do what I do with my soul and guts. It’s important to me and serious. It’s not a hobby, simple as that. That’s why I don’t like followers and suckers, people who don’t have anything to really express and are in it just to « be in » or to « be cool ». There are a lot of people like that, they just follow, but in the end, they’re not really into it deep inside themselves. That’s why when I meet people who want to do projects but don’t really involve themselves in it I just don’t wait for them if they’re not really there. I’m not here to waste my time!!!!! That might have been slightly off topic, but I mean that if you really feel what you do, you don’t have to be conceited because you have nothing to prove!!! So if after all that you’re still have a conceited and miserable attitude, it’s then just a matter of natural state of mind or of inflated ego. Of course I deal with my ego, but every artist does. But please don’t think I’m a hater, I love people, but some are very irritating… You’re also right about the limitations of one genre. I haven’t thought about that before, but musicians who follow just one style can’t last because it turns into a vicious cycle. Eventually one day they can’t go further because they’ve done everything in that style and they’re stuck. Also, there are the ones who follow fashion: « I will make Breakcore because in 2001 Breakcore is cool », but how many of them are still here now that classic Breakcore is dying? Look at artists like Genesis P-Orridge who reinvent themselves constantly, putting themselves in artistic danger all the time… He’s still here almost 40 years after his beginning with Coum Transmission.
HH: It has been over a decade of work for you… Can we expect ten more?

TZ: Of course!! I don’t have any reasons to stop, in whatever form it takes, I will always express myself with different mediums, so if I live more than ten years, there will be even more than that!