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Predella Avant Interview; Ashes to Blind out the Past
Saturday, January 01 2005 @ 02:37 PM PST
Contributed by: Malahki Thorn

Heathen Harvest: Can you explain what the name of the band “Predella Avant” means in English and why it was chosen for the name of the band?

Predella Avant:  Predella Avant literally means: Predella - The step, or raised secondary part of an altar, Avant - The front of an army. The reason for choosing this name was that it reflects both the ritualistic and martial elements of P.A.'s music and sets a very mysterious and abstract stage to work on.

HH: What inspired you to begin Predella Avant? What did you original create the band to communicate? 

PA:  What I wanted to do was create a music project that would be abstract and stimulate the listener's imagination. The elements in Predella Avant are quite eclectic, so the influences are to be found within quite a broad spectrum. This also counts for the composition, as I have a basic idea of what I want to create before starting yet other influences quickly seep in and create some very positive and surprising results.

What was your original vision of Predella Avant? How has that vision transformed?

PA:  My original intention was to start P.A. as a project simply to experiment with and please anyone who could appreciate it. In the meantime this has gotten out of hand and the albums are receiving high acclaim from all sides, plus sales are going very well. Not that I'd complain about this, of course. As for the musical transformation: When I started out making music for P.A. it was very linear and evolving in structure, while the songs are gradually developing a more traditional song-like structure these days. Also, they are becoming more detailed and delicate yet still containing the necessary bombast.

HH: Do any of the band members have musical training or experience previous to working with Predella Avant?

PA:  Three live-members of P.A. are also active in another Dutch martial/ritual band called Volksweerbaarheid (recently signed to HauRuck) and I am also active with other (published) musical projects.

HH: How did the band feel particualry inspired or drawn to the post-industrial music scene?

PA:  I had been listening to related genres for quite a while prior to working on P.A. and it's hard to describe what exactly attracts me to it. That would be like giving a reason for liking a particular taste or smell. I could give you some deeper meaning or philosophy, but it would still end up with the simple fact of personal taste.

HH: Did you originally envision that the band would be promoted within the post-industrial music arena and market?

PA:  Yes, that was pretty obvious from the start. But that it would also become promoted and acclaimed outside the post-industrial circle came as a pleasant surprise. I do take a lot of influences from outside this genre, so it's pleasing to hear that those at the origin can appreciate it so well too.

HH: Are there other bands within the post-industrial music scene that have had a direct impact on the formation or sound of Predella Avant?

PA:  Absolutely. To name a few: Autopsia, Schloss Tegal, NON/Boyd Rice, Throbbing Gristle, MLHBAC, Bloodbox/Yen Pox, Turbund Sturmwerk and some Cold Meat Industry acts etc.

HH: Are their artists or writers that have directly inspired or influenced Predella Avant?

PA:  Again, to name a few: Don McCullin, Adrian Mitchell, David Lynch, Aleister Crowley, Ingmar Bergman, Albert Speer, Nicolas Roeg, Carl Jung, Francis Bacon, Max Berg, etc.

HH: Predella Avant has had a total of five album releases if you count your original demo. Three of these releases have been made commercially available and two were self released. Can you please discuss the bands evolution from Demo to your last singing with Ars Musica Diffundére a sub label of Black Rain Records from Germany ?

PA:  As I stated before, I started out with Predella as a means to experiment with ambiguous soundscapes and persistent/disciplined orchestration. Knowing that the owner of Black Rain has a keen ear for such music but without any further intentions, I let him hear some of my work while visiting and he basically turned to me and said "So, when would you like this released?". A couple of months later the first, self titled, album was released and the ball starting rolling from there onwards. Now with the second official album, "Carbon Figures" released the interest in P.A. has become very big.

Can you explain some of the difficulties and pitfalls you have experienced in your career?

PA:  One of the most difficult issues I've come across is the danger of repetition: To try producing new material which is recognizable yet doesn't become an imitation of the previous work. Also the tendency to be too innovative can be hazardous to the creative process. But luckily times come when the music just flows out and develops into a desirable result.

HH: What has kept Predella Avant alive and producing?

PA:  Passion.

HH: Your music became widely recognized after the widely available commercial release of your self titled album. Was it your intention for this album to reach a wider pan European and global audience?

PA:  Absolutely. There is the pleasure to be had in producing music, but the appreciation of others (or sometimes even the opposite) is much greater.

HH: Can you discuss what the inspiration for the artwork on the Self Titled CD packaging was?

PA:  The image on the cover depicts a relatively dramatic moment in time, reflecting the nature of P.A.'s music. It was decided it fitted the feel of the album very well, but left it open enough to not influence the listener too much.

HH: Do your albums have specific themes? If so could you please discuss the specific inspiration and theme of each of your releases?

PA:  No, I wouldn't say that my albums have a specific theme. The concept remains to stimulate the listener's imagination and let it run wild. Everyone perceives a piece of music differently and have their own images in mind to match. This is something I feel is very important to P.A.'s music.

HH: The last Predella Avant release from Ars Musica Diffundére was titled “Carbon Figures.” The CD packaging contains images taken from archeological discoveries of preserved bodies from the deadly volcanic explosion in Pompeii . Is this historical event the theme for the music of the album as well?

PA:  It was coincidental: After the album was finished it had a very dark, claustrophobic, and desperate feel to it and the first thing that crossed my mind were the people of Pompeii . For this reason I decided to do the packaging in this line, to fit the title 'Carbon Figures'.

HH: The first widely available release by Predella Avant was your Self Titled album. “Carbon Figures” which followed this release demonstrated a clear evolution in the bands compositional skills and musical skills. How do you see the band as having evolved between these two recordings?

PA:  The actual composition process is more intricate and the whole use of samples and synthesis more complex. Also, the nature of debut was more triumphant while 'Carbon Figures' contains more downtrodden and apocalyptic atmospheres.

HH: Do you see it as a necessity that Predella Avant creates an emotionally engaging listening experience?

PA:  Absolutely. This is fairly much essential for Predella Avant and music in general, to function. Music without emotion just isn't intriguing, whatever the projected emotion may be.

HH: The music on both the self titled album and Carbon Figures invokes feelings of strife, oppression, and resistance. Is any of the music of Predella Avant influenced or inspired by historical events?

PA:  Not by a specific historical event, but influenced none the less. The world's history is rich with suitable influences.

HH: Is the music inspired or reflective of the bands political opinions or views on world affairs?

PA:  I prefer not to use P.A. to convey any political opinions. I have my right to vote in the elections for that.

HH: Does the music of Predella Avant contain a spiritual or sacred influence that you are able to discuss or identify?

PA:  Spiritual in the sense of it being a projection of my emotions and mind. Maybe it contains some small esoteric influences, but nothing really related to any established religions/faiths.

HH: Does the music contain a personal narrative for the band?

PA:  Each composition does reflect a moment in time, but not an actual narrative that can be understood immediately. It must remain open for interpretation and the imagination of the listener.

HH: Do you see the music of Predella Avant as being specifically Eurocentric?

PA:  Although most of my influences come from the western world / Europa, I wouldn't call it Eurocentric. It's not really a concern of mine where the influence comes from, as long as it appeals and fits in with what I'm doing.

HH: How much of Predella Avant's music is created with samples and electronic devices and how much of the music is recorded from acoustic instruments?

PA:  On the last two releases I have made use of samples and synthesis, so it depends on how you would define 'acoustic instruments'. During live performances we do make use of additional real instrumentation, such as percussion, and plan to do so on the next releases. This definitely enriches the music in a way that just cannot be achieved with electronics.

HH: Can you discuss how a typical Predella Avant song is composed or created? What is the creative process like and who is involved?

PA:  That varies tremendously. It could be something I've read, my emotional state at that specific time or that it's evolved out of an experimentation. Quite hard to lay a finger on the exact origin of the influences. As it goes for the instrumentation, they are often sounds I hear around me that strike me as having musical potential (such as scraping of steel, someone shouting or even subtle natural sounds). Often I try to find the origin of these sounds and sample them. Also when listening to music I often will find something within a fraction of second of the track that can be turned into a (continuous) instrument, a piece of percussion or subtle background sound. The possibilities become endless.

HH: How has the music of Predella Avant been received in the bands homeland of Holland?

PA:  Very well. Every show we've done here up till now has received a large and enthusiastic crowd, plus the feedback we've received has been very positive.

HH: Has the band found support and enthusiasm for their music in Europe and beyond?

PA:  Absolutely. I have received positive feedback and reviews from all over, plus various offers from labels world wide.

HH: Many bands that create music that is perceived to be “martial” or “militant” in tone often come under extreme pressure from critics and censors on the extreme political left. Has Predella Avant experienced any political resistance to your music?

PA:  Not at all.

HH: On Carbon figures the ninth song contains a sole voice announcing times in a timeline that encompasses the course of a day. Sampled into the music are the sounds of people experiencing a cataclysmic event. Is this song directly related to the attacks against the USA on 9/11? If the song does relate to the 9/11 attacks what are your own personal feelings concerning this attack and what inspired you to address the attack through music?

PA:  What inspired me to create this track is that I see 9/11 as a self created fate for the US and the other sovereign nations. By spreading the word of (American) neo-conservatism, milking a large part of the world economically and basically lacking to have any sense of respect for the rest of the world, these governments have been breeding their own worst enemy. 9/11 was the spark that ignited the fuel. What I must state clearly is that I do not approve of the actual action, but do have understanding for the situation and have little or no sympathy for the governments that have brought this reign of terror upon themselves and all of us. What is even more sickening is that we are being edged further and further on by the same powers that be into an illusion bringing fear, hate, and destruction.

HH: Can you choose some songs by Predella Avant and explain some of the lyrics or samples and what the meaning of the song is?

PA:  I could do so, but would prefer the listener to decide for themselves.

HH: Predella Avant seem vary focused on each release being packaged and presented artistically. How involved is the band in the CD artwork and packaging?

PA:  All the designing (and artwork) is done by myself. I do feel very strongly about every release being at least close to perfect and this is also a reason for not releasing 25 releases in a year. Better to concentrate on releases 1 quality album every one or two years, instead of spreading it out over many mediocre releases within that period.

HH: How important do you see the artwork being in communicating the bands vision?

PA:  The artwork & design is the first thing people see, so it has to catch the eye and tell a bit about the contents of the album. So I see it as being a vital element in that way.

Has Predella Avant played live? If so how does your music translate in a live concert?

PA:  Yes, we have done a number of live performances up to now and all of them have gone very well. On stage we make use of additional percussion, vocals, sampling, and instrumentation. These things definitely add to the whole experience, both musically and visually.

HH: Are their any artists in the pos industrial music scene that Predella Avant would consider or desire working with?

PA:  There are many artists that I would like to work together with, but I will contact them directly when the suitable time arrives. First I would like to live up to their current level and then see what comes next."

HH: Has the band begun recording new material since “Carbon Figures”? Have any plans been set into motion for any future recording?

PA:  At the moment I am working on new material, planned for release on Neuropa records in the near future. But nothing concrete can be said about that just yet. Apart from that there will be some live recordings released some time next year, recorded in Leiden/NL. These are very good recordings, so I am keen on these seeing the light of day."

HH: Is there any thing you would like to share with Heathen Harvest readers in parting?

PA:  Thanks for taking some time off to write this interview and hope it was enlightening for you. Ciao


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