To anyone familiar with the Neofolk, Dark Ambient or Martial Industrial genres, the work of Albin Julius needs no introductions. Having released many highly influential and even pioneering albums with his projects The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud and Der Blutharsch, Albin has always been an artist full of controversy. Having (most likely) surprised many by steering his music towards more traditional Psychedelic realms a few years ago, this immensely talented man is full of interesting ideas. I’m am more than happy to have a chat with him.
Greetings Albin! How has this year of 2015 begun for you?
Phantastic! We for the first time ever spent New Year evening in the studio recording. Was amazing and gave us a good groove. I then already felt that 2015 will become a great year – much better than the last years – which all have been great as well. This year will be terribly busy, which is very good, as I need to be busy to feel alive. After a nice holiday in Laos and Cambodia with loads of new inspiration and recharging the batteries now I am working on various projects at the same time. The new Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand album named “Joyride“ is now recorded and I will start mixing it next week, besides I work on a very limited handmade 10inch but also on 2 collaboration albums, one with White Hills and one with Urfaust and 2 Jastreb albums. Life is Good!
I imagine you to be a passionate traveler. Where have you been traveling last, and did that change you in any way? There are always something new to discover even to the most experienced adventurer on this globe?
Yes. I consider traveling as a very important part of my life. Fortunately my wife Marthynna loves to travel a lot as well and we mostly manage to do at least 3 trips a year. In winter we have for the last 3 years went to Asia – this year Laos and Cambodia which was amazing. In summer we have been in east Poland which was great as well, visiting all the Templar castles and some nice lakes. This year we have planned to fly to Dublin for a few days to visit friends in May, in summer we want to travel south Poland and visit some weird places of interest there, in autumn Venice for our 5th wedding day – yes – we go romantic and in November our annual visit to Wroclaw for Wroclaw Industrial Festival. So, some plans for this year as well, and already thinking about where to fly next Jan/Feb. Let’s see… Traveling is very important to open your eyes towards other cultures and also for inspiration. Well, at least for me.
One of your first musical projects was the magnificent The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, which you started in Austria in the early nineties. What can you tell me about the ideas behind forming this project, or the musical atmospheres surrounding Austria during those times? Do you still get a lot of question about the band, or requests to publish material etc.?
We had serious talks about rereleasing the whole material again, but this due to various reasons didn’t work out, and for me it’s OK. It’s somehow sad as loads of people seem to crave for it, but well. For me it’s the past and it remains the past. I do not really think about it nor do I listen to the music. I anyway never listen to my own music. Listening to own music is like swallowing your own sperm. And also, after having finished an album which means having listened to every song at least 500 times I can`t simply hear it anymore.
At the times we started TMLHBAC I was studying arts and politics and was very much interested in medieval times, so it was only logic to have recorded the kind of music we recorded. In Austria at that time there was no real scene – only very few good concerts and no other bands except maybe Allerseelen which then had already released some great stuff. But we had no contact then and were more or less isolated, which then seemed a bonus somehow and did allow us to do what we want without any restrictions. It was a good time then and very exciting, I mean recording, mixing and releasing your own music is always good, but the first album is the most exciting. And we did all ourselves.
After the Medieval audial aesthetics of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, you took some of the more martial aspects of the music and formed Der Blutharsch. If Martial Industrial was (according to many I’m sure) perhaps started back in the day by Laibach, you certainly were one of the first to popularize this kind of music, as many artists followed you on this similar path (with many of them copying you ruthlessly). What can you tell me about the first years of Der Blutharsch in these times of Martial Industrial uprising?
I, when starting Der Blutharsch was also studying politics and was quit interested in Europe’s newer history, and at the time it just seamed a good concept. Mostly it was about provocation and it worked well. Also I have to say at the times I started Der Blutharsch it was really different. There were a lot of weird and interesting people in this scene – if you consider all the good bands on World Serpent Distribution. I got to know many funny and damn interesting people and it was really a weird and crazy time. I think I could write a book. Later it turned more into boring and more and more of the crazy people dissapeared and new boring and untalented bands showed up. Also I got really bored about provocation – I mean.. It was about music and I think it simply was time to move on and discover new territories. And I have to say.. It was for a better!
During your years with the more militaristic version of Der Blutharsch, you collaborated and toured with many respectable artists from for example the Neofolk or Noise/Industrial -scenes, with people like Douglas Pearce and Boyd Rice. Considering the nature of these personas, you must have had a hell of a time?
Oh yes.. It was crazy then. We had a lot of fun and a weird time. But same… You move on and for me it was time to go.
The latest incarnation of Der Blutharsch is very Psychedelic Rock -oriented. Pictures of mushrooms and such have been present in for example pictures related to Der Blutharsch in the past, so I guess it’s safe to assume you have experience with psychedelics and the states of mind they produce? Would you say a certain mindset present in the Psychedelic-scene is closer to what you do today, more than for example the atmospheres surrounding the Neofolk-scene, or is there any need to make a distinction?
Well… Hard to say as I ever really analyse what I do. I do music for myself, I have to do music. I start to feel really bad if I didn`t go to the studio after a few days. For me it’s passion and I just have to work on music. But somehow I think even the old Der Blutharsch were somehow psychedelic, but not that much than these days. Of course.. If you experience some “opening up“ of your mind you see things different. Meanwhile loads of things which seemed important for me 15 years ago are not important at all. For me music is just a way to have good times with good people… More or less.
As your music today is called (among other terms) “Neu Kraut Music”, you can probably see yourselves as a continuation of the wonderful Krautrock tradition? What are the most important aspects of this culture in your opinion, compared to the other Psychedelic scenes of those times?
I think and always was thinking that the most important thing for doing music is to stay open and curious. I never gave myself any restrictions towards what I am doing, and somehow this worked out well. It was always a good ride. Also I am very open towards music.. For me there’s only bad music and good music, and I decide for myself what is good and what is bad. And I think what really was the main target of Kraut Music back then was to not follow any restrictions or rules. This is what I think is still important. And these days it is REALLY important for me to find other bands who give a shit about all and do their own unique work. I have to say that i.e. Pharao Overlord is one of the bands I discovered via Niko a few years ago and which REALLY impressed me a lot and still does – and as long as I am able to discover new bands which impress me… Life is good as well. There is loads of good concerts going on in Vienna… And this makes it a good place for me!
Your 2013 full-length was titled “Cosmic Trigger”, a title used also by the late great Robert Anton Wilson, featuring what appear to be wooden penises on the cover. What does this title and cover-picture represent to you? What can you tell me about the themes of your latest full-length “Today I Want To Catch Clouds”?
As I said. I do not analyze my music and honestly I do not really think a lot about it. For me creating music is a process. It’s like a journey. When you start you never know where you will end and if you finish I find myself really surprised where it did lead me to. For me the process of creating music is more important than the result – somehow. So… I have no clue what else Cosmic Trigger represents to me than a good time I had. I remember when I heard about this penis shrine in Bangkok and went there to take the cover picture… This is more important to me. Good memories about good times. “Today I Want To Catch Clouds” is not a real album, it’s a collection of songs we recorded or remixed for or with other bands and it was a good thing to have all of them together on one album. But the songs date over 5 years.
What’s the story behind your latest release “Sous l’Arbre De Science”, and does the name Josef Dvorak mentioned as one of the artists of this release have something to do with the movement of Viennese Actionism?
Yes. Josef Dvorak is a satanist expert, philosopher and psychoanalyst and one of the founding members of Wiener Aktionismus. I got to know him via a friend and he did 2 vocal tracks on an album for us. Then we thought we should do a proper release with him and so we did. I talked about this idea to another friend – Didi – the singer of well known Austrian band Fuckhead and he liked the idea so we joined forces. Josef is a very funny guy and I really am very thankful that I could work with him. Also I have to say – Jörg B is a great fan of him and his books influenced him a lot when he was a teenager – so I think for him it was even more exciting. And thats also nice for me…
Your releases have usually been printed in various versions and many different sizes of pressings. Do you see this kind of “collector”-mentality essential to releasing music in concrete formats these days? Does music even sell these days in the way it supports the people involved? Can you personally live on music?
I think not about music as a business. I am privileged that I can survive with what I am doing and more that I can work with other people I adore, that’s the best about doing music. I never think about it commercial. I had some offers of bigger labels to sign but then I always decided to stay with Tesco, as they always supported me and they do not really care as well about my weird ideas – au contraire. If I want to release something I just release it. I am working on a limited 10inch now which will be released in a very ridiculous edition of 16 copies. All will be made by hand – so I work with friends directly.. One will do the artwork, another the print – we will do all by hand together. That’s what interests me… The process – not the result. As soon as I have an album or release out I am not interested in it anymore. But luckily also some people like what we do.. So I can not complain about sales, although really – I do not care. Also with playing shows. I prefer small intimate shows rather than big ones. Better to have 200 people who really like your music than 600 who just come to see you. Success is relative – and I think doing music since over 25 years now and still being around and having more passion for what you do than before… That’s success… At least for me.
Thank you very much for this interview! What can you tell me about the future of Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand? Does it involve a lot of playing live?
No, I am right now in the process of seriously thinking if we ever will play life again. I have many projects now and some more in my mind for 2016. And you know – Time is thee enemy!