Heathen Harvest: What originally motivated you to express yourself through music?
Demian: I believe that in this life people have fewer occasions in which they can choose than they think. The tragedies and tranquilities in life have more to do with spiritual inheritance than to anything else, in fact, they are pre-written. Therefore, I, with my don for expressing myself through music and my introvert character didn’t have much option. I express myself in songs; my utopia is in my work. If I look at this chaotic world one day and find sense in it I will stop. “O Paradis” will die and I will live more peacefully.
HH: Do you participate in other forms of artistic expression?
DE: As I’ve said, at the moment I’m only interested in expressing myself musically and naturally in the words of my songs. Wherever I have tried to write anything outside this context I have failed. Writing songs has little to do with the rhythm of a poem, writing a novel or even answering these questions. We should all keep to our field, I don’t believe in the Renaissance Artist. Digging more wholes doesn’t mean finding more water.
HH: When you were growing up did your family and community encourage art and musical creativity?
DE: - My family is by nature romantic. For this and other reasons they have always supported me in my wild attempts to make a new world and have even financed the odd album. In fact all the design work in “O Paradis” is thanks to my father. I explain my music and between us we find the images. I have to admit that the only real fans of “O Paradis” in Spain are my friends.
HH: What kind of musical training did you have before beginning O Paradis?
DE: In fact I’ve played in a lot of bands as a learning process. Bands that had nothing to do with the area of music I was interested in. This familiarized me with the machinery, stages, egos, etc, and made me some money, of course! The only band I’m proud I played in was “Fang”, a very good Catalan pop band. Now, I’m dedicated to “O Paradis”. After 12 years playing the bass in other projects it’s great to be able to put all my energy into it.
HH: Had you participated in other bands previous to O Paradis?
DE: Leaving outside my musical past, the last few years I’ve worked with the bands I was interested in the past. Projects like “Allerseelen” or “Novy Svet” have meant a lot to me although now I need to separate myself and record in total liberty. Collaborating with such creative people is exciting and gives you the chance to grow artistically but you shouldn’t let it limit you with the influence of other people’s visions. Luckily I still feel like a kid on a strange planet and that’s what gives me the spark to light my artistic fire.
HH: When you first conceived of O Paradis what did you hope to achieve with the project?
DE: With “O Paradis” I wanted to create something I would like to find in the shops. An album that makes you tremble when you buy it although you still haven’t heard it. Something of absolute complicity with the artist. I’m somewhere between mediocrity and inspiration at the moment. A lot of people, although they wouldn’t deny it, only want a lot of sex and free beer; others boost their ego imagining they’re “understood”. I’m just looking for peace. The times of creating sects, of being bad, of surprising with facile images, of destroying mindlessly are over. Destruction is only shuffling the cards again, it’s no way to create. This might sound fanatical but all I want is for God to speak through my songs.
HH: Can you discuss the origin of the bands name and what personal significance it has for you?
DE: There’s no personal significance. I saw it on the EP of “Death in June” with David Tibet singing and I liked the way the lines of the letters formed such a banal word although of course the words of Tibet are excellent. I’ve always thought that “O Paradis” would be a good name for a brothel. With tattoos it’s the same, it doesn’t matter what they mean, and only the visual effect they have on the skin.
HH: The music of O Paradis began as folk oriented ballads. What drew you towards acoustic folk music?
DE: I think the style of “O Paradis” is simple “honest pop”. That’s my label. Giving names to styles kills artistic liberty. We can give names to fashions but not styles because we run the risk that lots of bands will appear doing the same thing. If everyone was honest we would always have new things as everyone is unique. I don’t agree that everything has been invented. The world changes and so do we.
HH: Did you intend that your earlier albums would fall into the European neofolk category?
DE: What I would really like to do is share my emotions. In the past I was like a sixteen-year-old idolizing the trends that there appeared to be behind artistic movements, when in fact the relationships that join reality our essence is yet to be discovered and while we are searching, some of us record songs and others are nothing more than butchers.
HH: Are you comfortable with your music being labeled as postindustrial or neofolk?
DE: Some of the bands who record with “Punch Records” are bonded by friendship and some people say that our music is “post-industrial”. If the name makes us sell more records I won’t complain. Sad but true, it’s the money that helps us produce more work and for the moment I’m happy when I see a new work of “O Paradis” in official form.
HH: How and when did you personally become introduced to the neofolk and postindustrial music genres?
DE: In the halcyon days of “World Serpent Distribution” I got interested in what they called “Dark-Folk”. They appeared to me to be bands full of mystery which had a lot to offer. Bands full of contradictions like life itself. Artists like John Balance didn’t just go in one direction; they illuminated you with beauty which was accentuated next to the scatological trend. People like Douglas P. showed elegance and nostalgia for the honour of man confused us with his imaginary Nazi. Others, like David Tibet were half way between being a child, a hooligan and a mystic. All that was fun, marvelous and new. Now it’s different, in each case for different reasons. Luckily there are now projects which fill the void. However, the contradiction, the uncertainly, the mystery, the suffering, the excess, the madness, etc. are good allies in a great work. Talking of “Current 93”, I saw a concert recently, and David Michael Tibet is in top form, as magic as the first day.
HH: Where there specific bands that helped to inspire the sound or formation of O Paradis?
DE: I have liked Punk, Glam Rock, industrial music, gothic, why not? Even if they get bad press now. Experimental, Rock and Roll, Psychedelic, techno pop and so on, many of which were created by great bands and which later bored us because some bands were repetitive and others just imitated the first.
HH: The music of O Paradis has a very strong Spanish or Mediterranean musical identity. Was it your intention to create music inspired by your native culture or was this influence consequential?
DE: I can’t say that when I start a record I don’t have some idea of how it will sound, you’re always motivated by something, but when I get down to it I lose control and it’s the album that decides how it should sound. Although I’ve never aimed to sound Mediterranean, I suppose this feeling comes spontaneously into my music.
HH: The music of O Paradis has progressed from predominately neofolk ballads into more experimental musical terrain. What has inspired you to open the music of O Paradis to more experimentation?
DE: “La Boca del Infierno” is less pop, it’s true, but this is merely circumstantial, not a change in direction for the band.
HH: On early O Paradis albums you appear to be the sole member of the band. How did you come to decide to keep these early recording restricted to a one man project?
DE: I don’t believe in a shared vision of the world nor that the collective can understand the world from the same angle. For this reason I don’t believe that the same good story can be told from various egos, nor do I believe in sects. Everything starts and ends in each self and if we learn and mature it’s through sharing and interchanging with others, but never thinking exactly the same. Fort the feeling in “O Paradis” loneliness and working at night are important.
HH: Do you feel as if it is important for O Paradis to remain restricted as far as additional band members are concerned?
DE: Everyone who has been on stage with me or who has recorded with me are musically and artistically talented friends. They came and go. At the moment I share my concerts with Raul, a friend with whom we create a special atmosphere.
HH: On more recent recoding you have worked closely with Jeurgen Weber of Novy Svet. Can you discuss how you and Jeurgen were introduced and how you came about working together musically?
DE: When I heard “Novy Svet” for the first time, it was a blast; I immediately fell in love with the music. Later they listened to my work and we decided to make an album together. Everything was very natural. I never thought we would record so many songs together, firstly at a distance and later in the same room.
HH: Novy Svet is known for its musical experimentalism. Do you feel as if Jeurgen Weber has influenced the experimentalism found in recent recording by O Paradis?
DE: Naturally, Jürgen, has influenced me a lot. At first he filled me with energy and self-confidence, but as I’ve said, his influence at the moment is not good for conserving the spirit that I like to find in my records. Everyone around you, musicians or not, end up influencing you and appearing in your work because they are people you have chosen to accompany you on the way, sometimes for good and sometimes not.
HH: O Paradis and Novy Svet currently have two collaborative albums released together. Can you discuss how you and Jeurgen work together to compose songs and how the recording process is conducted when you work collaboratively on releases such as “Destello de Estrellas en la Frente” and “Entre Siempre y Jamas Suben las Mareas Duermen las Ciudades”?
DE: At the beginning we recorded apart, through the past and without meeting face to face. It was very exciting and I waited impatiently for their CD-R’s with new material or songs of mine with a special touch. Later we met, we explained marvelous things and we told them in songs. I like to think that nobody can mar those wonderful days, not even ourselves.
HH: Is the compositional and recording process similar or different when Jeurgen participates on an O Paradis release?
DE: No, not really. Aside from the few occasions when we recorded together the majority of the songs were recorded separately and at our own rhythm. It was later that the results were shared and we decided which songs, which we had been passing and transforming between us, into a hybrid, we would use.
HH: Have you participated on any Novy Svet albums or do you have plans to participate on a Novy Svet album?
DE: I’ve added some sounds to the work of “Novy Svet” but nothing really significant that changes their work. I think it was more important to share the party than collaborate in their work than being invited to join their work, their world which should be respected and you will never completely understand.
HH: The latest O Paradis album titled “La Boca Del Infierno” has been described as the most challenging album to date by O Paradis. Do you feel as if the personal feelings and emotions you were attempting to convey required music that might challenge some listeners?
DE: It’s true that it’s important not to leave the public indifferent which is why so much work is arrogant and aggressive. Personally I’ve always preferred to let people be attracted on their own rather than try to draw them with special effects and aggression. That they approach timidly and start entering your world is important for an honest result. For example, a vulnerable solo voice in a concert attracts my attention a lot more than an hour of loud noise which frankly bores me. The minimal expression in art is fundamental. If you can say what you want in less words and your music works with less noise, all the better, I’ve never to scandalize with my music or with my record covers or lyrics, I’m only looking for emotion. I like the cover of “La Boca del Infierno” because of its lack of sexuality even though it shows a vagina.
HH: Can you explain the title of “La Boca Del Infierno” and what it means to you?
DE: “In the beginning there was the word” that’s how the Bible starts, what a wise way to start a story. The action or movement generates the idea that we are millions of solitary creatures suffering in the world because without the “word” the cosmos sleeps, as one, a big compact feminine ball waiting to be fertilized by the movement which separates the stars and planets in infinity. This is not easy to understand but if we analyze our existence we observe that when we cross the infernal gates of women’s’ sex we automatically fall into a world of lies, emotions, millions of egos struggling to understand. It’s not that believing in the world is hell in the Christian sense but the vision of our society in a capitalist world is the furthest from God I can imagine although paradoxically all this diversity is the same indivisible infinity, like a sea that we perceive rough but that is in fact calm, so calm that we can reflect our authentic “I” in its waters. I have to admit that this cover also reflects a misogynous sentiment due to a bad experience. In the end it’s hard to separate our ideas from our experience.
HH: The cover of “La Boca Del Infierno” features a very explicit photograph of a shaven vagina. What is the personal statement behind this photograph?
DE: The vagina drops us on the cold floor of desperation when we are born, which we do crying, leaving behind our ancestor to live and try to understand. I liked the idea of putting the vagina so close that it wasn’t a sexual element, more an impression of a mouth or a door. I also think that the form of the vagina is very complex and difficult to understand its shape, in the same way as it’s hard for man to understand woman. Nonetheless this understanding of woman and the world, this mystery, pushes us to want to know more, to find out what’s behind it. It offers us brutal and subtle pleasures at the same time. Definitively it repels and attracts us at the same time.
HH: The inside of the album features a nude self portrait of you. Can you explain the concept behind featuring a photograph of yourself nude?
DE: There are also two reasons for this. Before I brought out the record many women including my mother, were uncomfortable with the photo of the vagina, although anonymous, so I decided to strip the author of the idea and leave myself vulnerable to criticism too. On the other hand people think that the most naked you can be is without clothes, but I feel more naked expressing my ideas so there is little of me in the photo, just a physical form which continues to hide its nakedness. Nakedness does not end the mystery. Sexuality like spirituality stimulates from other sides as well. This seems evident but believe me, not for everyone.
HH: How do these photographs correspond?
DE: Well, apart from the significance I have explained these photos obey a criterion of design about which I know nothing. I put forward the ideas but I don’t do the work. I hope that the record covers, like what’s inside appear elegant, sober and don’t leave people indifferent.
HH: To the uninformed viewer it appears as if you are communicating a sense of vulnerability through featuring such a personal photograph of yourself. Is this assumption correct? If it is can you please elaborate?
DE: As I said, the vulnerability is somewhere else. Of course appearing naked shows something vulnerable in a clothed society but I feel vulnerable when I show my feelings and when I put a voice to my ideas and they don’t sound as good as they did in my head, ha, ha.
HH: Did you find it personally challenging to expose yourself for the photograph and share this portrait with the world?
DE: Sharing this image doesn’t mean anything more than what people want it to mean. I don’t think my feelings and motives are so far from what the people think. People are really much more intelligent than we give them credit. They often think they don’t express themselves well, I include myself in this, but what they understand inside is much closer to the truth. It’s always the public who decide what music is good and which band is boring or what doesn’t work and frankly I think they have good criteria.
HH: Was the cover and layout influenced at all by the classic nude album cover of “Two Virgins” produced by Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1968?
DE: Now that you mention it, maybe unconsciously, yes. I remember this photo as a child. I don’t like John Lennon but I do like Yoko.
HH: You have recently been releasing O Paradis and Novy Svet and O Paradis albums through Punch Records of Italy. Can you discuss what drew you to work with Punch Records and share how working with Punch Records has gone thus far?
DE: I met Tairy from “Punch Records” in Tokyo, I was playing bass with “Novy Svet” and he was there to give a concert with his band “AIT!”. We talked for a week and become good friends and we love each other’s music. There’s no better reason for being with a record label.
HH: Are there any common themes or threads that run through the music of O Paradis that you can discuss?
DE: It’s true that we’ve got a lot in common but when you think about it there aren’t many themes in live, there’s love, death, pleasure, suffering, temptation, divinity and not much else. What’s really interesting is the vision the people have of these things, the capacity for two people to think alike, that’s probably what makes friendship. We don’t like to feel alone and it’s always good to find someone who speaks your language although not in the same tongue. Anyway, Tairy is a great artist and a fantastic person.
HH: How is the music of O Paradis influenced by events and experiences in your personal life and how much of the music of O Paradis is conceptual?
DE: Each album corresponds to a period in my life, anxieties I have at that moment. This also affects the collaborators; musically you always surround yourself by those who share your life at the time. It’s also true that every album reflects a concept. For example, the album “Serpiente de luna, Serpiente de sol” talks about two confronting snakes within and outside each of us and the energy produced by this battle that can be used to advance or acquire wisdom or to stay still and be destroyed by it. I believe there is a theme behind every theme and this concept has to do with opposites, hot and cold, love and hate etc. forming part of the same line on which we move up and down, they are different perceptions of the same thing. It’s probably in the centre, if there is one, where our thoughts can rest. It’s no secret that someone with accentuated sensitivity for suffering also has the sensitivity for pleasure in the same proportion. This is why the oriental religions practice detachment. What we own enslaves us but our sentiments do too although these drive us toward deception and finally to look for “something else”.
HH: Is there a spiritual dimension of O Paradis? Is the music of O Paradis ever inspired or influenced by your personal spirituality or beliefs?
DE: I really like mixing spirituality with everything else. For example, sex is very important in “O Paradis” but it’s an infantile, magic view of sex because in infancy sex is more mysterious than in adulthood. Magic thoughts are manifested in children, in dreams and in the mentally challenged because these three states of perception are free of the walls exist in conventional life. The same force that attracts or repels a man and a woman, two men or two women makes the planets behave in the same way. I believe that art is always spiritual, all searches are.
HH: Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?
DE: I’m a profoundly religious person but if I could I’d destroy all the religions. As I said before anything that is capable of the best is also capable of the worst. The concept of “Christ” in hands of the Vatican is the same as a child of three in the hands of a group of pedophiles.
HH: Have you ever experimented with psychedelic drugs and if so have these experiences had a direct influence on the music of O Paradis?
DE: I believe that any alteration of perception is interesting to break the limited vision we have of the world. I would like to fall into the hands of “Don Juan de Castaneda” and that he freed me of my ties, ha ha. I have never used hallucinogens because I have never found a context in which I would be comfortable losing control. Around me drugs only serve to heighten Friday and Saturday nights. I’m not interested, at the moment, in using them. My mind is also too susceptible to unreality.
HH: How has the music of O Paradis been embraced in your local community?
DE: . “O Paradis” is completely unknown in Spain, but it’s different in the rest of Europe. It’s curious that, without understanding the lyrics, people understand the intention of the songs. Not long ago we did a concert in Lithuania and the public responded really well. Some people, without knowing Spanish, sang the songs, the same as I have always done in English, ha ha.
HH: Does O Paradis ever play live and if so how does the music translate on stage?
DE: The concerts we have done outside Spain have been a great success. We don’t have a preconceived idea of the show; we simply improvise with what we have. The truth is that we create an atmosphere where the audience feel comfortable and join in. I don’t like dressing up or too many theatricals on the stage because that distances you from the public. My idea of the perfect concert is creating complete affinity with the people. Others prefer the obsolete concept of frightening or looking like “Rock Stars.”
HH: Can you share what the future holds for O Paradis?
DE: The only thing we have prepared is the music. At the moment we are two on stage, the keyboards and me. We come on, gage the atmosphere and start. It’s great because we never know what we are going to do. Before starting, Raul and I look each other in the eye and I say, “whatever… no limitations.” One of these days we’ll make fools of ourselves but we’ve been playing with other bands for so long that we can relax and accompany the songs with our own particular rituals.
HH: Is there anything you would like to share in parting?
DE: Only to tell people that they are not alone. That everything they live and think is registered in their eyes. If they think they are the only ones suffering and they are affected by their experiences they should know that one day someone will come along who can read their eyes.