Interview to ELEND
WHEN DID YOU HAVE FOUNDED THE BAND?
“The project was founded by composers and multi-instrumentalists Iskandar Hasnawi and myself in 1993. Our collaborators have varied over the years, but in 1997 Sébastien Roland joined us full-time as sound-engineer. Around this core trio some close collaborators gravitate, like David Kempf (violin), Esteri Rémond (soprano vocals) and Laura Angelmayer (soprano vocals & vocals effects). All other instrumentalists and vocalists are recruited depending on the needs of our albums.”
WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS RECORDING-EFFORTS?
“The first album as the public knows it was not intended for release; we didn’t even have a record label. But Holy Records visited us while we were mixing it, decided they were interested, paid us back the studio costs and released the recording soon afterwards. There was no risk involved for them; the production costs were very low, so even if the album hadn’t sold much, they wouldn’t have lost money with it. We sometimes believe it really should not have been released in this state, there are too many imperfections. But there is some kind of freshness to it, which makes it quite charming. The second one was a crazy experience; hilarious in retrospect, but actually, it was all but funny at the time. Considering the little equipment we had then, this album is an incredible achievement. We had spent all our money on this album, and had to work with people who did not really know how to make it sound right. Things got more serious when the money from Music for Nations came in. This enabled us to produce The Umbersun with the appropriate means.”
WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR FOLLOWING?
“The release of a remastered edition of The Umbersun.”
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS IN YOUR HISTORY?
“Previous to being able to end A World in Their Screams in a satisfactory way, I would say, the discovery of a small underground metal label called Holy Records. Being rescued just in time by Nathalie Barbary. Sébastien Roland’s joining the project. All our work on The Umbersun. The successive encounters with David Kempf, Laura Angelmayer, Esteri Rémond.”
COULD YOU INTRODUCE US "A WORLD IN THEIR SCREAMS"?
“The pieces of music have a much faster pace and make a greater use of dissonance. The electronic sounds are harsher, percussion and brass are often the driving force of the music. We have pushed our experiments with the human voice quite far, noticeable especially in all the female voices. We have also abandoned the type of male lead vocals that could be heard on the two previous albums and have replaced it by a heavily treated spoken voice. All of this makes this album a lot more suffocating than the previous ones.”
WHERE IS ROCK MUSIC IN YOUR SOUND?
“Everywhere, but only few people realize that.”
WHAT'S ABOUT THE PRODUCTION OF ALBUM?
“Mixing an Elend album is a very intricate and difficult procedure due to the density of the music. No one else has ever tried to combine a subtle orchestration of acoustic instruments and choirs with extreme vocal experiments and layers of noise or electronics – there are no models we could follow. We had to develop our own techniques, and that took a lot of time.”
ANY PARTICULAR CONCEPT CONCERNING THE ALBUM?
“The poem that underlies this album, just as the previous 2 albums of the Winds Cycle, could be described as the tale of an errancy in the chaotic, tragic world of Greek antiquity, thus the quotes from ancient Greek authors abound. Unlike the Officium, which depicted a world inhabited by an angry God, an incarnation of resentment, this new cycle shows a world without God (even if customary deities are present), where man is the toy of circumstantial forces beyond his understanding: time, the elements, war; a tragic world. The winds and their destructive power circumscribe this journey.”
THE MOST SALIENT ASPECTS OF YOUR NEW ALBUM?
“That I leave to the listeners.”
WHAT'S ABOUT THE FEEDBACK?
“Although the album has been well received in principle, I don’t have the feeling that the audience honestly appreciates it – but I’m not surprised. It really is a difficult, frightening album for the inexperienced listener. The situation seems quite similar to the release of The Umbersun 10 years ago, when critics were impressed, but many didn’t know what to make of it. Today, it is praised as a revolutionary, visionary work, and everybody is desperate to find a copy.”
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SOUND?
“There is no other purpose than producing the albums we would like to hear ourselves.”
“No. The only live performance we gave (1995) was with a reduced instrumentation: 3 vocalists, 4 instrumentalists, and most of the music in playback. But this can never do justice to the music of Elend on any of our albums. What is needed for an adequate rendering is a complete orchestra, but not a standard classical one – our music goes far beyond because of the whole electronic dimension that can hardly be achieved in a simultaneous performance. On our albums, a great amount of work has to be done in post-production. To reproduce all of that in a coherent live synthesis, we would require 1) a concert hall with excellent acoustics, one that is specialized in concerts of contemporary classical music, equipped with all the necessary devices for irradiating the place with sound in all the various forms it can take (such halls exist, but not everybody has the chance to perform there); 2) at least 100 classical musicians (the greater the number, the more density in the music, but also the less precision – this is a problem we don’t have in the studio) and an outstanding conductor; 3) a great amount of technical equipment (computers, synthesizers, samplers, speakers, amplifiers) and technicians to operate those machines; 4) a couple of weeks of rehearsing with everybody involved. Try to figure out the budget.”
YOUR LIFE'S PHILOSOPHY?
“If you are going to try, go all the way.”
THE FUTURE OF THE BAND?
“We don’t know.”
ANY LAST REMARKS?
“Thank you for your entertaining questions.”