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KOH - interview (2008)
2008-06-20 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz | e-mail interview
NINa: You mentioned many influences on your Myspace profile such as Tool, NIN, King Crimson, Aphex Twin etc. What does the 'influence' mean to you? Is it about using the same software for music making, the same samples used, the same issues touched in the lyrics?

dr. Koh: To start of, it’s basically the way a certain musical idea is formed into a song, a way of building and arranging music in the process of writing which these bands we’ve put as our influences have mastered and therefore inspired us and our own work. Cuz you can have the same few basic notes arranged by Kyuss, The Prodigy and RATM, and it’s gonna sound completely different in the end. This brings us to another important meaning of “influence”, which is the music’s atmosphere. This is something you also pick up from others, it’s about how to get a certain sound to cause a certain emotional effect in the listener. You’re learning a whole lot just by listening to other people’s music and experiencing the way it changes your own mental state, and soon you start thinking: “I want to cause this effect in others as well”. So it comes down to learning from others how and with which tools to cause a certain emotional effect in the audience.

NINa: What does the 'industrial' scene look like in Croatia? Is it more electronic or more guitar driven?

dr. Koh: I’m not sure there is an industrial scene in Croatia. A few bands do use elements of electronic/industrial music in their arrangements, but it’s not really industrial music, and if it is, it’s a mainly guitar driven. A few bands have only begun to experiment with this, like ourselves. But this will obviously change in near future.

NINa: Is an access to this kind of music easy in Croatia? Do you have any public or private radio station for alternative or industrial music or do people learn about new bands over the Internet mostly?

dr. Koh: There are a few radio stations here where you can hear this type of music, but it’s still mostly spread by word of mouth. And when you have the basic information, then the easiest way to find what you’re looking for is obviously the internet. And most of the time you’ll find a lot more then you we’re looking for. But what we try to do is listen to a lot of different bands and artists out there, most of those having little to do with the industrial scene, but I think it would be somewhat limiting to just go over and over all the Ministry albums each day, you’d end up being just another Ministry fan and basically just a consumer. Cuz when you put on a Trilok Gurtu record, or a Bjork record, and it has nothing to do with industrial or even rock music, it ends up moving you away from typical schemes, giving you a wider perspective on what it is that you do and sometimes even changing the way you play or write future music. So it’s good to keep an open mind.

NINa: The new EP has been released this year. Will it be followed by a full album sometime soon?

dr. Koh: We have plans to release a full album yes, currently we’re writing new material and I know this sounds as lame and cheesy as possible, and it’s been said by every known band out there, but we do think it will be something quite different from what we’ve done on this EP. A sort of a logical evolution of the whole sound. Not to mention the fact that we have a new man behind the mic.

NINa: What are your VJ footages about?

dr. Koh: The visual is sort of an extension of the music. In many ways connected with the whole story of the song and the EP, but also an attempt to go further then the basic music and story behind it. It can be seen as a story for it self, open to numerous interpretations. Again, that is the whole point of it, as I’ve said earlier, causing an effect in the audience. It does take more effort and time to put it all in place, but in the end, when you get a positive feedback from the people who’ve been to the show and they start describing how they interpreted what they saw, then it’s all well worth it. Cuz when you go see Laibach or Tool, it’s like taking the perfect consciousness altering, yet completely legal drug. And that’s exactly what it’s about; in no way should you go back home after the show feeling exactly the same as before you came.
From the day one, I couldn’t imagine Koh without a visual background to the music, I think we have more to say then just the notes and the lyrics, and since there’s not much head-banging to this type of music, I guess we we’re kinda obliged to compensate for this terrible injustice. Either that, or we start playing death metal. We chose the VJ [laughs].

NINa: You have a new vocalist Karlo. Is he an improvement for the band?

dr. Koh: He certainly is. He's not only a lot easier to work with, but he’s also brought to the sound of Koh a very different and unique atmosphere. He’s got that angry I’ve-smoked-two-packs-and-gobbled-half-a-bottle-of-whiskey-down-my-throat kind of sound to his voice, which helps us to get even closer to where we want to go musically in the future. We can’t wait to go into studio (hopefully next year) with him. It’s gonna be very exciting to lay down the new tracks along with his vocals. And he’s an amazing guy, the perfect blend between the charisma and an open mind, not the classic ego-driven vocalist that’s hard to get along with. He’s also very young and flexible, which is certainly an advantage for him and for us as a group. We thank Krishna for finding him. Hare rama, hare hare! [laughs]

NINa: You play shows mostly around Croatia. Don't you want to hit the rest of the world with your music played live?

dr. Koh: This is, unfortunately, a lot easier said then done. But no doubt about it, Koh has never been a band focused on the local music market here, and this is most obvious in the choice of English lyrics, and we do get a lot of criticism here for making such a choice. But we never had doubts about this. Till now, we’ve talked to a few people from Germany, Austria, Italy etc., and hopefully we’ll be able to work something out soon, but it’s not easy. Cuz if you’re coming from here and you want to play in, for instance, Birmingham, you have to be ten times better and ten times more original then any band coming from Birmingham which plays a similar musical style, for people in the booking business to even consider arranging you a gig or a tour. Not to mention a decent record deal. But we just got started really, the first (self-released) EP is out and it’s a chance for people to get a first impression, a small glimpse of what we’re about, and local gigs and festivals are a good “training camp”, so to say, for any musician here with wider aspirations. I read an interview with a German band called Samavayo not long ago, in which they said their main goal was to constantly expand their expectations; I think that sums it up just perfectly, as far as what our own future plans would be.

NINa: What do you remember from the war in Croatia between 1991-95?

dr. Koh: The smell of the basement (shelter), it still haunts me when I go down there, not necessarily in a completely negative way, but it is quite emotional. Then there was the constant anticipation of when will the siren go off again. And of course, the never-ending war propaganda on the TV. Tanks, politicians and shitty patriotic songs. Most of us were too young back then to comprehend the seriousness of the situation we were in, but there was that look in your parent’s eyes when the siren went off that told you a lot more then the TV or the teacher at school. I also remember a certain adrenaline rush every time the situation got dangerous, kid's like adrenaline, so sometimes it even felt kinda pleasant to be experiencing this. Later, as the years unfolded, you started to see the ugliness of it all, once the post-war depression set in, and this time we were too old not to realize the shit we’re in.

NINa: The newest EP artwork was designed by Aleksandar Zivanov. I checked out his portfolio and looks he's really good. How did you find him?

dr. Koh: Alex is just an amazing artist and a person, he actually came to us first, giving us an offer to work with him, and it’s been so rewarding. He actually inspired a lot of ideas, not just the artwork itself which he created, but also a wider screenplay, if you like, of what this EP is about. And this is because he’s not just a guy with a talent for the visual, he goes amazingly deep in the creation of his ideas as well as their expression, giving it all a meaningful philosophical/emotional background. We could easily say that he’s the sixth member in this whole project. And how did we thank him? By tormenting him with numerous phone calls and hundreds of “you might even try to…”. I’m surprised he’s still around [laughs]. Once again, hare hare!

NINa: Do you give any direction to the artist to design your artwork or just let him sink into his imagination?

dr. Koh: We thought it would be a good way to escape our own perspective, cuz after months of writing and recording you somehow end up getting sick of your own ideas, you can predict what you’re gonna come up with, in a way, and you can start to go around in circles, repeating the same patterns and so on… And Aleksandar wanted to give his own view of our music, for which he had as much appreciation as we did for his art. We did guide him through, since we had a pretty good idea of the atmosphere this artwork should induce, but we gladly gave him the freedom to express his own visual interpretation of the sounds he was initially drawn to. And I think we’ve accomplished what we were set to, people have recognized his work and we’ve received a lot of amazing feedback on the design. And you don’t have to be an art critic or a stuck up museum director to know what captures your imagination.

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