Robert is a musician and a label owner I met through promoting my own band, and we starting talking about various things, life in general, and found we have much in common. Having done a lot of work in the Metal underground releasing many quality records, and playing in a few interesting bands himself, I wanted to chat with him a bit more.
Hello Robert, how has the autumn started for you in Germany? Keeping busy with your studies, label and bands I’m sure?
Hi Antti, autumn is nice so far, I love this season very much! Especially the foggy and rainy days. Aye being busy as always, making decisions and so on. But life is good.
Your label has released a lot of quality albums in a few years, and you also have a side label specialising in more Doomier stuff. Is this really as time-consuming as one might imagine? Do you ever regret taking too much projects into your hands, or do you deal with releases one at a time?
Yes label work is demanding very much time, at least if you want to do it right and professionally. Already the promotion is an intensive job as you nowadays must be all the time available, online and active at social media platforms. Luckily the behind the scene stuff is now already operating well and effective, so it is not stressful at least. Sometimes I wonder if I got too much, but then also many projects or bands just stop to work and everything works out anyway. But at the moment I am not really signing any new bands at all, especially not black metal, as I got enough for now in this genre. And basically I set dates when a band is ready with the material, so its releasing piece by piece with 2 release max per date.
Your releases always have a very classy, atmospheric and professional visual side. How important do you see the visual aesthetics of a band in comparison with the music itself? Does all the visual planning come easily out of you or do you spend a lot of time with it?
Well it goes mostly easily from hand as the bands deliver always great visual art too, so putting everything together is not hard at all. The artwork is as essential as the music itself. Music and artwork are one at the end and must merge and catch the attention of the customers of course. Especially nowadays with those masses of bands and labels.
As physical records don’t sell much these days, I imagine you focus more on quality than quantity when deciding about pressings etc. How important do you see digital sharing and perhaps even exclusively digital releases compared to physical releases?
I like CDs and always will and NP/RWE will always be a CD Label, for me CD is what for many is Vinyl nowadays. Digital sharing is very important though. Today the customers want to know what they buy. I think very less do blind shopping these days just because of a great cover or something. And for us labels it is a very cheap and easy way to earn money. I can not understand the whining of many labels. The market is changing aye, but you got nearly zero costs with digital stuff, no shipping and so on. And yet people will also buy physical stuff in the future. At the moment digital is new and exciting, but it can not replace a solid physical product, which you can touch and where you can browse through the booklet or simply watch the cover art while listening. And the people will recognise that. It is the same with books. First they feared people would switch to e-books, now the book market is again growing. Because it is not the same and you can not fill shelfs with e-books or digital releases. To sum it up, for me digital releases are a nice addition and they are practical for compilations and stuff but it is not replacing the CD in any way.
Your own band Lebensnacht has a very primitive yet beautiful nineties Black Metal style approach to melancholic visions of life, death and nature. I’m guessing it’s not hard for you to find inspiration for your art in you surroundings? Do you see yourself as a melancholic and perhaps even pessimistic person, or is this style of music a way of releasing negative energies from your consciousness?
An interesting question! I am melancholic indeed. For me melancholy is one of the purest and greatest emotions a human can have, it is so deep and somehow rooted, you as a Finn probably know what I mean. Inspiration is easy to find indeed, also the negative ones of course, but I am a realist rather than pessimist and normally a happy person. I say, everything has two sides and so also good ones. You can take from every shit thing also a good one, especially if you think in bigger terms than just the here and now. Related to that: Where is light is also darkness. The dark things in our universe always attracted me as we live in the light and tend to shut down the darkness and bad feelings. But I think they are as important as the nice things. One needs the other and you can just fully enjoy and understand life if you face all of them.
You’ve done this project for a few years now, and new album is coming out soon. Is this project something you devote a lot of time to, compared to other activities in your life?
Well, it is a big part and it is my musical baby, but I am a very balanced person and I try to balance also my hobbies and general activities, of which I got much, because too much is never good in anything.
Lebensnacht features titles in Finnish, as you share your life with a Finnish girl. How do the Finnish and German personalities meet? Do you share your individual art together in the form of mutual projects?
My lady is more the Death Metal, melodic Metal type (no surprise) but she also likes Black Metal, but not so much the Lebensnacht style unfortunately. But I am planning to “use” her as a guest singer on a future release with Finnish lyrics of course. I also learn Finnish now, so maybe in 5 years I can actually write Finnish lyrics myself.
You also play in the band Sado Sathanas, which has a more Satanic and Occult approach to Black Metal. How do you see these bands compared to each other? How has the response been so far regarding the new material?
They are both atmospheric black metal bands with an old school touch, but from the lyrical concept Lebensnacht deals with Nature mostly and Sado Sathanas with Occult and mystic things. I think they are bot unique in their own way. Sado Sathanas is more complex though. The response is very positive so far, also at the live gigs. I think we are able to deliver the music from the album one to one to the stage and the people like the mix between modern atmospheric and old school Black Metal.
You’ve also played live with a few bands. Do you enjoy the live performances, or playing at a rehearsal place, or do you prefer working on you own?
Actually Sado Sathanas is my first live band. I come from the village where I was the only metal guy and in my school we were like 3. So making a band was not really possible as we also had different tastes. I like both, solo project and the band experience, especially if you have great guys around you like at Sado Sathanas and playing live is really fun once you get used to be stared by people. It has its very own magic.
Germany as a country has a lot of people and bands. Are there clearly certain perhaps geographically or ideologically formed scenes in Germany, whom pretty much stick to themselves, or is the spirit of underground Metal strong and soldiery there?
Hard to say for whole Germany from my side. I just know the local “scene” which is not very strong and more parted geographically than “ideologically”. You do have some areas where there is more Black Metal and then others with more Death Metal but at the end it is mixed and kind of open. We have quite much festivals in our county Saxony with mixed genres and with the clubs it is the same. But at the end I am not really a member of any scene or group here. At the end I have more global connections than local because of the label.
Are you into other styles of music besides Metal? Were you always an metal kid, since a child, or did this come about later in your teens?
Nope, I am or better was a classical Metal teen. Started with Linkin Park when I was 15. Before I listened to everything coming in the radio, also Techno and stuff. But I still listen to other music like Classic, Rock, Medieval music and Folk, also all this cool psychedelic stuff like Chelsea Wolf or Darkher is something I like. Tenhi is one of the best bands I know. When it is dark, melancholic and deep it is something for me.
What can you tell me about your views on spirituality and these typical themes in Black Metal such as Satanism and Occultism? Do they serve you only as philosophical metaphors, or is there something deeper there for you in you personal daily life?
Pretty much the first when it comes to Occultism and Satanism. In fact, I am not a big fan of super true Satanism. Actually I do not like extreme things in any way. I find those “true” satanists as ridiculous as Islamists for example, or Nazis. But I love occult stuff as mentioned above, it is also part of this universe. But really deep spirituality I feel when I am alone in the nature, that is why I love Finland for example so much. There I feel free and being really a part of something big and amazing. Hard to describe but my soul connects with everything around me then. A great and intensive feeling. And I do not feel like this in cities or in urban areas at all.
Thanks for this interview my friend! What are your future plans?
I really thank you buddy. Excellent questions you asked! Well, making a fourth Lebensnacht -album, a third Sado Sathanas -album, and grow with the label and continue my way of balance and real life.
All the best for your zine!