Iron Fist Of The Sun interview 2010.
Special Interests #3
By: Mikko Aspa
Iron Fist Of The Sun refers to more to local pagan heritage. You think such name alone, with combination on industrial genre, would create impression of “another fascist band”, and do you mind such impression?
-I get asked this a lot, looking the way I do and producing power electronics music! My political views are extremely right winged. but I have respect for many other cultures and races but just not at the cost of my own land. My views on my homeland and race pertain to a “pro heritage” stance, obviously this bleeds into my work from time to time, However. Ifots is not a political project per se, weather I mind the impression the name conjures? No, not in the slightest! Like many PE projects our music is for a global select few, most cattle wouldn’t even know of my existence, their opinions do not concern me.
Band remains quite obscure in the underground. Handful of the CDR’s exists from the past, but seems like they were hardly distributed? One would assume Cold Spring full length was the first release really find some listeners worldwide? Was this intentional approach of project to not flood the world with tons of releases?
-For many the entry point of my music will begin at the Cold Spring album, however in the past I have recorded two cdr’s for Deadwood a tape’s for Stragem and also Unrest productions. I have two ifots albums awaiting release I just haven’t approached any labels yet. I’m not the greatest fan of noise artists realising a cdr a week, the whole wolf eyes ethos of recording and releasing everything doesn’t work for me. When I am putting together a project, it must have a will and purpose of its own like The power of September/ Moseley Maggots/ Behavioual Decline/ Blush. All these releases have a theme and concept; I work very hard to keep true to that nature. I like to sit on material for some time then re assess the recording, some works mature into fine wine and some curdle like sour milk!
Sound of IFOTS is quite unique in the scene of today. One could say that instead of rawness and saturated blown up brutality, it approaches the sound with relatively clean and sharp productions, where more often are hints towards some sort of minimal electronic music or perhaps electro-acoustic, instead of full on noise. What inspired for you for such a unique approach to PE if you consider IFOTS as such?
-I’m Power electronics! with emphasis on “electronics” not a noise act with vocals. I seem to be able to convey more emotion with less sound. Sometimes the recordings can be extremely complex and difficult to listen to without the standard “brutal” distortion pedal route .I love the classical and modern electro-acoustic music styles and have many friends involved in the academic field of sound. But I assure you I am very proud to be classed as PE.
When I listen to sounds I try to imagine what temperature the sound will have. I like very cold and clean sounds, pure electronic and vocal synthesis. Yes I am somewhat of an outsider in a scene comprising of outsiders! Many will fine my style too unusual to be even considered PE! I think the power electronics scene had never really accepted change very well, and has always shunned those who wished to experiment with different techniques and step outside the standard PE blueprint. Power electronics can and is evolving.
How do you see development of sound, comparing early releases and the most recent ones? Where do you see the project goin g? Will you keep utilizing the same gear?
-I use the same recording ritual that I have been using since I was a kid, fundamentally its signal routing. I keep processing a sound source until its polluted and disguised enough from its original form then work with the new signal. For example the loop uses in SMILE/ LIKE/SWORD is generated from this procedure. I have been using the same machines for 20 years now and constantly discovering new ways to corrupt old sounds, I think I will always utilize this technique . My studio set up is 100% analogue, I only capture and edit digitally I can see myself exploring and combining more digital synthesis as well as my old recording techniques in the coming releases!
You feel connected to current UK or Worldwide scene? What are the interesting things in experimental sound what grabs your attention at the moment?
-Basically were talking about a tiny micro scene in the uk, I’m sure we could all sit around one table if we all got together! If you take the Con-Dom/sickness/slogun gig, last year in Birmingham as an example… Imagine if Muslims blew that pub up the same night and killed everyone in the building most of the U.K’s act’s and 90% of the pe fan base would have been destroyed in one hit! Let alone a large chunk of the European/US scene!
There are a few like minded acts and personal friends who I care about and think important to music in general but I don’t class myself in a scene. Sure we rub shoulders from time to time, but by proxy if you are involved in PE it usually means you are a bit of a loner content to operate alone and happy travel alone from gig to gig. In terms of acts I admire on the scene lately, I think the last few Bretheren releases are fucking superb! He just seems to be getting better and better, and his sound is deeper less harsh but yet more intense! Also I also enjoy al lot of BM and new extreme computer music ( lee Gambel/ Hecker/Pita) and im also obsessed with horror soundtracks particularly British 70’s horror!
I have seen IFOTS perform live couple of times. Sound was about recreating the actual songs on stage instead of improvisation. Large and heavy gear was used to achieve similar results as in studio. How do you see improvisation vs. playing songs accurately? Do you create completely new things on stage without much of plans made beforehand?
-I don’t improvise live that much and doing so with the level of sonic results that I can get happy with requires me to perform with a massive amount of my studio equipment. That in itself can be quite problematic. The shows I did with Zoviet France and Ze’v were all improvised based performances, basically more electro-acoustic and pure dark electronics rather than PE. I really enjoyed those gigs and would love to do more improv sets. But the logistics of the shows can have a affect on what set I can do. Like any artist reading this may understand travelling with two/ three flight cases can be a fucking nightmare. The last few gigs I performed at were certainly a pivotal point in re assessing this. Trains, taxis, busses with all my kit, then to play to an empty room, then travel back all at my own expense made me take stock of how I can perform to a high standard without any compromise in the audio , with but with the most minimal of equipment.
I always favour my 16 channel mixer because I like to multi-patch effected signals out, but last gig I did I tried out a smaller mixer and a different setup. Because structure features heavily in my work, with loop based sub rhythms and an almost “chorus, verse, chorus” .element. This means an accurate rendition is fairly easy to duplicate live. some parts of my sets are painfully quiet, that can be a daunting experience. Being opened up wide in silence in front of a crowd! I don’t have a “shield of Noise” to protect and shelter me like many solo PE acts use.
Before I had seen you band to perform, due my many visits in UK, I could remember you as frequent visitor of live shows of other project. What are your impressions about “live shows” and their role in experiencing music or communication?
-Your always guaranteed your going to always see the same faces at gigs, Stevie Underwood & Co, Martin shift, Luke Younger and Battle Snake Bill etc. Its just part of the deal, this is what we have to do. Always you will find somebody there selling their new stock. Alas I can’t travel as much as would like due to work commitments. I look at it as a weekend brake. I book a room go to the gig, record shop visit places I want! The invisibility a different city can offer the visitor can be very refreshing.
Cold Spring description links IFOTS with black metal/black noise ideology. How do you see this connection? How would it differ from.. lets say merely referred to industrial music / “noise” where many of similar ideas were present before metal scene?
-I think there is a higher code that exists in elements of black metal, that you don’t find so much in PE. Most ( and I’m generalising for the sake of debate!) industrial music deals with base appetites, sexual obsessions, violence, power, discus and hatred. I have tried to elevate my subject matter towards other topics that rarely feature in Power Electronics. Truth, honour, loyalty fused together with my somewhat negative and skewed perspective on the engineering of how we form relationships with each other.
There seems a real inexplicable connection between black metal and Power electronics. I think our scenes mirror one another in what you yourself have coined “underground ethics” Some of my newer work certainly echoes a BM direction, again its back to temperature again Ice cold! But, the black metal tag came from a variety of different sources, but fundamentally I think it is due to the subject matter.
Lyrics of the songs are not printed in covers. Again back to promotional speech of the label, where is referred drug abuse, codes of behaviour observed by a misanthropic mind. Do you see IFOTS as good tool of communication or propaganda, or merely personal project? To be person who can’t feel connection to society or surroundings, it often can be linked to life experiences. Do you see some specific moment or “era” what was the cornerstone what led you into this direction? The more recent, or more so the childhood/teenage years?
-It’s a personal project; my soul is stripped bare on my recordings. The topics I have chosen to explore are all generated thru personal experiences, and by doing so I think a different power is generated from the recording as opposed to merely a narrative dark story teller. I do not wish to re-print the lyrics for public dissection. I offer no propaganda, or greater message or artistic insight. I only say it how I have lived. Many of the tracks deal with a lack of strength, targeted at others and at myself. People with half a brain will connect the dots and piece together what’s going on.
Personally I have been through quite a lot of nasty shit over the last five years and there were points when everything became too much. I don’t want to die. I know that now, but if you asked me that question a year ago my answer would have been very different. I can’t talk too much about this topic I don’t want to come across as a fucking dickhead idiot, but its something I’m still going through but my life is far better now.
I have been making noise since I way 16 and industrial music has been fundamental to my existence, I have been in many guises and outfits in the past but ifots was born on one particular night!
First movement of Shallow Man… again, I have no clear knowledge of what song deals with, but this awakes question of your view of world. If the observation is done for sake of.. lets say “seer of decay”, who isn’t really in quest for improving the world itself, but dwell in misery. To feed the negative and see the world burn. While in other hand, the witnessing the corruption of modern world may also results opposition and aim for something better instead of cultivating the decay. Shallow man, obviously, wouldn’t probably care neither one and see no purpose in anything. I’m curious about the subject matter of song. Movement, as movement created by shallow men? As awakening for the shallow man, who may have potential for more? And awakening or movement of what direction?
-Shallow man is about me. I am a Shallow man. Not so much now but there was a point I never thought I would recover. I was drowning in my own shallowness.” Hollow, empty and dead inside.” This brings us back to your previous question about my connection with my surroundings, It’s anon going theme a constant thred that will always figure in my work. I love to Bask and revel in my own shallowness from time to time. I have periods where I can’t even face travelling to my lock up and producing music, the whole creative process is repellent to me. Then there are times when I’m incredibly driven and prolific, but I have to drag myself away from my own shallowness. Away from the drug lifestyle and do something worthwhile that’s purley for me. That’s what ifots is, worthwhile, maybe not for everyone for me and a few who get it.
The term movement as you have cleverly noticed is a movement for shallow men and also a movement in the classical music structure. Go into any popular bar in any major city on a Friday/ Saturday night you will see a herd full off shallow men. Not necessarily bad men, some good men, hard working men just shallow, doing what they do best…..nothing!
We face constant contradictions as PE artists, because we explore negative and challenging subjects that may push some pacific cerebral button in our brain and yet most parts of our life we have to deal with the normality and hum drum of life.
What is your process of creation? Starting from music or non-musical substance? How you plan a “release”? Like.. compilation of songs that were finished, or larger picture of album in mind? How quick is the process, is it easy to decide when song or album is ready?
-I always carry a pad I write any ideas down, phrases, sentences, memories etc. I work very quick in the studio while recording then edit and mix very slowly! Concepts arise mainly months before any recording takes place, almost like a splinter under my skin, once I get that feeling the album starts writing itself.
The Cold spring album took nearly two years to see the light of day, mainly due to differences over length. I recorded over five drafts of the album, due to the extremely negative period of time when I did those recordings I still find it a difficult listen, even now.
In some interview you had mentioned that Power Electronics is too cliché oriented scene with all the rape and violence, and you also mentioned as reference to your gear that it’s been used by electro-acoustic artists. Do you find the blend of electro-acoustics/musique concrete/field recordings etc to “traditional” PE more fruitful than, lets say combination with harsh noise? What are the names and their methods, ideas and approaches you find something what could be useful for the noise-heads to investigate for perhaps good inspiration for alternative approach?
-Don’t get me wrong I love noise! And I like creating harsh noise it just in not the direction I want ifots to take. I have other projects that I will utilises more brutal and caustic elements I just want to keep ifots sun pure. As regarding bringing in more academic elements into the recordings, I can see this only as a good thing. There is a massive overlap between the “indusrial” world and the “academic experimental”. A good example of this would be The Hafler trio or Kevin Tomkins solo works.
A good friend (who is a Dr of Electro acoustics) once joked that the only difference between what I do with sound and what she dose is that she knows how get there quicker and can explain the results as opposed to myself, fumbling in the dark and then stumbling on something interesting!
Some recording I can recommend for anyone looking for something along the line I have just mentioned:
David kristian /room tone cdHecker/ Pandamonium 9 playlist 12”
Kevin Tomkins/ square pegs for round holes 2x cdr
Russell Hasswell Wild Tracks cd
Artwork has been quite minimal. What stimulates you visually? Do you follow visual arts of some type?
-My farther is a graphic artist; my grandfather was an artist like his farther. I have grown up playing as a child in my father’s studio. I am not a visual artist but I am quite clear on the look I want for releases. As regarding the “Behavioural Decline” album, myself and cold spring were at loggerheads with my original artwork requests. In the end I pulled the idea and went for a purely non art graphic image.
Do you have some goals for projects to achieve or do?
-More live actions and overseas! Also finishing off and finding homes for both the new ifots album for my pure electronic ifots album . Basically keep true to myself and my code.