Lustmord: Metavoid Interview

lustmord.jpg (9k) Apparently most everyone but the man himself hears the sounds of Lustmord as dark atmospheres of impending gloom. Whatever you discover in the sonic twilight of Heresy, Stalker, The Monstrous Soul or, now, Metavoid, Brian Williams will be happy if his soundscapes simply draw you in; they don't necessarily have to suck out your living essence...
AmbiEntrance: Where does all the "darkness" of Lustmord come from? Do you consider yourself a tortured soul, or does it just sound that way in your music?

Brian: I personally don't think of the music as being particularly dark, though many seem to disagree as I often have to answer that question. I try and make the Lustmord sound have a real mass and a tangible presence, which some choose to interpret as dark. It's an interesting distinction. Although there are dark elements interwoven within the whole, it's only one of many textures.

People referring to it as dark as such doesn't bother me, but finding myself being pigeonholed as "dark ambient" is a real bore, as I hate pigeonholes of any description. If indeed here be darkness, I can only assume that you're looking deep into my soul (insert appropriately demonic laugh here), assuming that I have one...

I'm known amongst my friends for my humor and wit, so people who only know me through my music are often caught of guard when they meet me, as they seem to expect me to be suitably dark and brooding, when I'm actually quite mischievous and fun (although of course, terribly deep and meaningful)

AmbiEntrance: Have you come to think of California as your home? How does all the sun, etc. affect your inner level of "darkness"?

Brian: California is very much my home, and has been for the last eight yeas. It doesn't matter where I am, the inner me stays the same, home is wherever I happen to be living with Tracey, my companion of the last eighteen years. And as for the sun, well, after growing up in the UK, the sun and 100 degree plus temperatures are a good thing. I don't buy into the idea that one's physical surroundings directly effects one's creative output, as for me , it's all internal.

AmbiEntrance: You do know the photo you've sent is only going to add to that whole "dark" image, right!?

Brian: Well, sometimes it's fun to play with it, and I make no apologies for that.

AmbiEntrance: There's more of a "sci-fi" vibe throughout Metavoid, how would you explain this evolution?

Brian: That's your interpretation, not mine, so I don't have an explanation.

AmbiEntrance: I'm just saying it sounds more like deep space than a deep dungeon; where were you heading with Metavoid would you say?

Brian: As always, it's an attempt to create a sound that quite literally envelops the listener physically, that take him or her to a place that only exists within the sound. In the past you seem to have thought of that place as deep dungeons and now as deep space, either of which works for me. What is important is that that place exists for you.

With Metavoid, I wanted to move forward with the Lustmord sound, rather than recreating past works such as Heresy or Black Stars, I wanted to create a sound that was new, but which was also unmistakably Lustmord. It's for others to decide if I failed or succeeded.

AmbiEntrance: We all know that Heresy, etc. contained atmospheres recorded in caves, crypts, etc... Any interesting "behind the scenes" info you can share about Metavoid?

Brian: While there are some interesting ideas and techniques in there,and as always with my work is full of sounds sourced and generated for their particular conceptual meaning, I find it much more interesting not to divulge all of the secrets these days. Not that I'm trying to hide any tools and techniques (on the contrary, I'm happy to talk about them) but rather that I like the listener to find their own personal meaning give a few subtle (and not so subtle) clues here and there, and the rest is up to you.

AmbiEntrance: How did you get hooked up with Czech label Nextera?

Brian: Nextera rereleased Clock DVA's Buried Dreams album, and the DVA members are really good friends of mine, so Nextera visited us a couple of years back when they visited Los Angeles and we kept in touch. I was just finishing Metavoid, with only a few days of work left, and hadn't approached any labels about it, when I received a email from them saying that they'd like to release something of mine and would I have anything available. I thought it would be interesting to have an album released through different channels, Eastern Europe in particular, as it offered a chance to try a different distribution approach, and Nextera are very enthusiastic, so put them together, and here we are.

AmbiEntrance: Metavoid was a long time coming... why a such a lengthy span between releases?

Brian: Simple enough. While there haven't been many Lustmord releases between that and The Place Where The Black Stars Hang, I have been very active in music and sound design, but just not for Lustmord. During that time I worked on something like 30-40 movies, a TV show, a video game, did some remixes, and worked on developing the Lustmord sound. All these things took time and all put together make a sizable body of work, much more than a few albums. What all this did do of course, is distract me from working on Lustmord, but that was ok, as at least I was working and indulging myself in sound.

Also, during this period, when I was inspired to work on Lustmord, I simply didn't have the time due to these other commitments, and when I did have the time, I was burned out working on sounds for movies months on end and the last thing I wanted to do was work on more, so I'd concentrate on all those other important little things like catching up with real life and spending time with friends.

Since Lustmord has never been an attempt to do something commercial or even particularly approachable to others, I've been quite happy to indulge myself and do what I want with it and when I want to, without the usual pressure of making music for commercial reasons, which means I work on albums as and when I feel I have something to say.

AmbiEntrance: What films have you worked on lately? What films would you have *liked* to worked on, or done something different with?

Brian: I haven't worked on many films during the last eighteen months or so, but I did recently do some sound design for an upcoming Fox war movie which might end up being interesting. But then, we are talking Hollywood, so don't hold your breath.

Last year I spent some time composing music for a TV series by the Blair Witch producers, but it was canceled without even being shown, such is the crazy and very expensive world of American TV.

As for films I would have liked to have worked on, it's difficult to say, as there haven't really been many interesting ones during the last few years. The Fight Club I really liked, and it would have been fun to contribute my patented sounds to a few of the scenes, but other than that some Japanese animation, but not much else.

AmbiEntrance: What do you mean when you say "patented"... really patented?

Brian: No, just a figure of speech, I doubt that's it's possible to patent a sound even if you wanted to. With film and TV projects, they usually ask me when they need something specific that it seems only I can provide. I'm the person they call when they want some really weird shit. Hell, I can do that.

AmbiEntrance: Can you give us an example of a favorite filmsound you've created (perhaps something particularly tricky or an ingenious problem-solver?)?

Brian: Can't think of anything off hand, it is what it is, I don't think any of it is particularly outstanding , although there is some good work in The Crow and Strange Days, but it's supposed to be part of the whole, so if done well, you shouldn't really notice it as such, but as part of the overall effect that the movie may have on you.

AmbiEntrance: While we're talking movies, what upcoming films are you looking forward to seeing?

Brian: There are a few, but not many. Apocalypse Now Redux, Avalon (live action picture from Ghost In The Shell director Mamoru Oshi - I'm a fan of his), the upcoming Pixar titles Monsters Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2002), David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (though I hear bad things about it unfortunately).

I'm looking forward to seeing what David Fincher is doing with The Panic Room and will do with Rendezvous With Rama, and also what Anthony and Joe Russo are doing with Welcome to Collinwood, a script I read over a year ago.

AmbiEntrance: In your film/TV work, do you ever get to brush elbows with "star" types? Do you care one way or another?

Brian: From time to time I come across people that you might classify as "stars", but I prefer to think of them as people and judge them by their actions rather than their celebrity. I don't care if you're the doorman or the head of the corporation, I treat you the same, which is as an equal.

AmbiEntrance: How much "backlash" do you get about the Lustmord name (I always thought it meant something like "death wish" but understand it's closer to "sex death"...) and album titles like "Heresey"?

Brian: Not any on the album titles that I'm aware of, and I can't see why I would. Someone will ask about the name from time to time, but it's nothing I feel the need to defend.

AmbiEntrance: Tell us about the life-and-death cycle of Side Effects.

Brian: I took over the label in 1985, and slowly but surely built up a decent catalog. In the late eighties the label was hit severally when Rough Trade (the original UK version) went into receivership and a considerable amount of money from SPK and Laibach sales was lost as a result. In the early 90's it was distributed by World Serpent, and when I moved to the US in 1993, by Soleilmoon.

It was a lot of fun and I'm proud of the catalog. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, mainly to do with changing distribution channels (fewer independents, more control by majors etc.), more releases to compete with for store shelf space and radio play, and the very real effects of things like Napster, sales in the nineties were nowhere near as much as they used to be, and it was very obvious that my choice of releases was counter to what the music buying public seemed to want. It became a lot of work (and another distraction from Lustmord) for so little return, and quite simply stopped being fun. And so, in 1998 I simply gave up, and folded the label.

AmbiEntrance: Why do you think Stalker has withstood the test of time?

Brian: It's one of the few albums that I've worked on that I still liked after finishing it (not that I'd actually listen to it, you're usually tired of it by that stage), it is remarkably effective, and I suppose that's because we had a very good idea of what we wanted to achieve before starting on it.

AmbiEntrance: Obviously you and Robert Rich worked well together, and Steve Roach and Paul Haslinger both contributed to Metavoid... Any more collaborations (with anyone?) in the works?

Brian: I'd like to, as it's usually rewarding to bounce ideas backwards and forwards with others, and it's something that I particularly enjoy. At the moment the only collaborative plan is to work on some material with Ryan Moore of Twilight Circus. I have talked with others about collaborating, but nothing definite, and I'm always open to offers.

AmbiEntrance: What can you tell us about the upcoming Zoetrope soundtrack?

Brian: The soundtrack as is was finished about a year ago, and the movie (the final version being cut to 20 minutes in length) has been shown to a select audience here and there. I'm currently working on an expanded and revised version for an album release. It's different to Metavoid, and is closer to the material on Purifying Fire, and very dense. The album version, which should be about 45 minutes or so, is half done.

AmbiEntrance: What's Arecibo? What will the next album be like?

Brian: Arecibo is a side project of sorts, where I indulge myself in music that doesn't fit into the Lustmord concept. I'm half way through the second Arecibo album, which has much more of a dub influence than other things I've done (other than remixes) but it keeps being put aside while I work on other things.

Interestingly, a few days ago, one of my 9 Gigabyte drives had a catastrophic failure and it looks like I might have lost a few months of Arecibo work as well as a big chunk of the Zoetrope album, so more delays.

AmbiEntrance: Besides the Zoetrope and Arecibo projects, do you have any distinct recording plans for the future?

Brian: I plan a long-delayed very minimal Lustmord ambient album to be called "Dark Matter", which will only utilize recordings of deep space and interstellar activity that I've collected over the years. The title refers to the so-called missing mass of the universe, but I do expect it to please those who like their ambiance dark.

I have the follow up to Metavoid sketched out in rough form, but it'll probably be a year or so before I work on it in earnest, as I want to try and get other ideas out of the way first.

There's also the possibility of working on the music for a couple of video games, which if they happen, will be quite interesting.

AmbiEntrance: Thanks for your input Brian, anything you'd like to add while you've got the mike?

Brian: Only that people shouldn't mistake the difference between the film work and my own work. The former is a means to an end, and like many musicians I need a day job to survive, and that's all it is.

This interview posted July 31, 2001 | Interview Index

AmbiEntrance © 2001-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).