Gavynn Synn: So….. from the angst-fueled and turbulent 1980’s to present, that’s a monumental career life-span, by anyone’s standards, and still no end in sight, by the looks of things!.... Between the V.O.D. and not to forget K.O.B.U.S. days and here, how would you say things have shaped you as an artist/producer and even as a person?
Paul Blom: I've always taken an independent standpoint, doing what I feel is "the right thing” as it were, and a s far as possible not allowing outside influence to push me in any particular direction.
Sure, a wide range of music (and movies) had an influence, but on the backburner as opposed to try and replicate something I like – if that were the case it would be beyond eclectic to the point of schizophrenia as my taste is extremely wide, from Classical music to Grindcore! I always try hard not to go the redundant route of merely replicating what I like in other music.
It’s crazy to believe that VOICE OF DESTRUCTION started at the height of Apartheid under P.W. Botha in the mid-‘80s! V.O.D was still very much a Punk / Hardcore / Crossover band when I joined in the late-'80s and I loved the energy of it, bringing my particular style to it and helping in shaping its final metamorphosis into Metal.
Like everything, experience is the best way to hone your craft, and with countless shows in S.A. and across Europe, in all the projects I’ve been involved with (Moral Decay, the Cape Town Metalmorphosis, Voice Of Destruction, F8, Terminatryx, Makabra Ensemble), many studio sessions, writing your own stuff or with others, rehearsal room bickering, girlfriend joys and sorrows, good and bad record company experiences, the physical schlep of traveling and loading / unloading equipment, laborious sound checks - these all add to the whole. And of course in between there’s a whole lot of fun, enlightening experiences and a general feeling of doing what’s in your heart, not what the radio or saturated prescribed media requires.
With the inception of my F8 project around 1997, this was the first time I tackled songs and music entirely on my own outside of a band structure – it was very liberating and forced me to take on other instruments, as well as production.
Gavynn Synn: Horrorfest!...... for those not familiar, would you give us some insight into the inspiration behind this, and what somebody might expect from one of these events…
Paul Blom: Well, in 2004 my partner Sonja and I made a dark experimental short film entitled “imPERFECTION". (We’re working towards making a feature film, but that’s a whole other story). Being fans of Horror, Sci-Fi, and all forms of dark and extreme movies, we always wondered why the rest of the world has Horror events, while South Africa lags behind (as in so many areas). On completing “imPERFECTION", it became even more blatantly clear when there was no event or venue in S.A. to screen our movie...
So, we took it upon ourselves to create the South African HORRORFEST Film Festival in 2005, both as a platform for our short (and future work), and the productions of other local and international movie-makers - but it was also created to satisfy our personal need for an off-centre, entertaining event like this, and give the neglected Alternative community something cool to look forward to over Halloween season. This year is our 6th HORRORFEST and will run at The Labia Theatre (Orange Street, Cape Town) from 28 October – 5 November 2010.
We also expanded our literary section and may incorporate a dark art & photography exhibition.
The official HorrorFest after party will be at the LOVECATS event, an animal welfare live concert featuring TERMINATRYX, COLD HAND CHEMISTRY, and WITNESS TO WOLVES on Friday 5 November from 9pm at Mercury Live (De Villiers Rd., Zonnebloem, Cape Town, ZA).
Each year we get a load of very cool indie feature films and shorts from all over the planet. We also select classics and fan favourites, brand new releases, and each year with the TERMINATRYX-driven MAKABRA ENSEMBLE we create a new, original soundtrack for a classic silent horror movie and perform it live to the screen. We’ve done The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Häxan, Maciste In Hell, and of course Nosferatu (available on DVD with its new soundtrack, plus “imPERFECTION", music videos and loads of extra stuff). Accompanying Sonja and myself in The Makabra Ensemble are Sean Ou Tim and Simon Ratcliffe (from Lark), and violin maestro Matthijs Van Dijk – each of us tackling a wide range of instruments to create a moody, powerful and engaging audio accompaniment to the great on-screen visuals. There’s drums, percussion, electric guitar, bass, voice, programming, keyboards, variety of wind instruments, theremin, violin and more. We often incorporate other guest musicians as well.
We also performed Nosferatu at the 2009 Oppi Koppi, and did Maciste In Hell at this year’s event (2010), adding a very unique flavour to this enormous festival. The movie for the 6th HORRORFEST (Halloween 2010) will be selected soon (more info at www.TERMINATRYX.com/makabra )
We plan on releasing all of these legendary movies with its cool new soundtracks on DVD.
Gavynn Synn: Terminatryx / HorrorFest / X Fest / Celludroid / Makabra Ensemble / Flamedrop / F8…… BREATHE MUCH????.... How do you manage to maintain a balance and keep up levels of creativity with such a diverse and demanding schedule?
Paul Blom: Yeah, it’s quite a pile isn’t it?! These ventures have very much become a part of Sonja and I. It is a compulsion to promote off-centre music, movies and events, and to a great extent drives me. Between Sonja and I we have to express ourselves with these endeavours, not only to maintain our own sanity and satisfy our alternative creative outlet on our own terms, but to stick to our guns and also offer something to the neglected S.A. Alternatives, as mentioned before. We are simply not interested in writing or performing cheap dance tracks or repetitive love songs, make mediocre, boring, bad comedies, or setting up events that are sure to make a fortune, but without any soul or real passion from our side.
While it is sometimes a harrowing task juggling these often-thankless projects, we can’t imagine our lives without them.
With Flamedrop.com I amalgamate all of my entertainment writing and reviews (which I started doing in 1997 after V.O.D’s stint in Europe), and includes movies, music, gaming etc. – but is not strictly alternative in nature (while the off-centre stuff definitely gets included for a good balance). With the creation of the HorrorFest this also led to us setting up the Shadow Realm, inc. horror portal. And besides the Celludroid Sci-Fi / Anime / Fantasy Film Festival, X Fest Extreme Film Festival, Sound On Screen Music Film Festival and Daring Doccies Documentary Film Festival, our Cinemaniacs chapter promotes all of these but also facilitates isolated cinematic events, like being the selected S.A. screening point for releases like Slipknot’s “Voliminal”- and Serj Tankian’s “Elect The Dead Symphony” DVDs, as well as the Zeitgeist documentaries, Earthlings etc.
When it comes to setting up a film festival, many people think it’s a case of picking some movies from the video store and screening them – hardly – you need to track down the relevant rights holders around the world to get screening permission for the movies you’d like to include in the line-up, and negotiate with them as the fees they want are usually in Dollars, Euros or Pounds, and translated to Rands at our niche events it needs to be viable on our side and not end up running a loss.
Gavynn Synn: You are also into producing your own films albeit short films such as “imPERFECTION” starring Sonja? Any feature length films on the horizons?
Paul Blom: Indeed. We’ve recently been working on an idea with some co-production friends like Clinton Smith from Cosmesis, an amazing make-up FX artist friend of ours. We are all on the same page that we want to create a unique indie SA feature film with international possibilities, again, on our own terms, undiluted by the prescripts of a government backed funding system – thus, we have to think economically in bringing this movie to fruition. It is going to cost a pretty penny, but we have accumulated a crew of very willing, able and talented collaborators who are keen to make it happen. We cannot divulge any narrative or story elements as yet, for obvious reasons of keeping it fresh or avoid it being pillaged by others. Updates will appear at our various on-line channels.
We recently expanded the HorrorFest promo clip Flamedrop produced in 2009 with Cosmesis and Magic Hour Productions, which will have a 3-way function of a Terminatryx music video (“Virus”), a short film (“Marked”), and the new HorrorFest promo clip.
Here’s the 2009 promo clip: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFh62j-3IpI
And a teaser of the forthcoming expanded incarnations: www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2pVRqC5Has
The Terminatryx "Virus" music video:
Gavynn Synn: The Terminatryx project…… In view of the South African market, you guys were treading almost virgin-soil in respect to there not really being much of a standing artistry within the genre sporting a lady front-person. Any initial apprehension regarding audience reception????
Paul Blom: As with most things we do, we like taking on something different - it was something we simply had to tackle, whether the public, underground, mainstream or a foreign ear embraced it or not. As with all art, it starts with the need of its creators to do so, regardless of its public acceptance. By no means do we want to alienate listeners, we merely want people to like it because they do, and not alter it to find a bigger audience. We definitely knew going in to it that unless it’s a commercially viable project like Norah Jones or Evanescence, that we needn’t stress about finding an audience, as with something a little off centre, it is more often a case of the audience finding you. Our music is not exactly radio friendly in the sense that it has more thought-provoking lyrics, a more abrasive Industrial and Metal slanted sound, and doesn’t exactly fall in with prescribed broadcast running time and predictable structure for your general listener’s attention span and ad break feasibility…
So, we do this both to fulfill ourselves and those who sync into our Alternative mindsets – people who can think and choose for themselves and not feel shackled by what others may think about their worldview, likes and dislikes. We have no interest in scamming people to like what we create, they must gravitate towards it naturally, not because someone told them it is cool to do so.
Since we started around 2002, more bands in our vein have risen (and often faded), but Terminatryx is still very much a lone figure in its sound, approach and general overall aura.
After so many years of doing things that are non-commercial, we have no illusions of super-stardom and millions in the bank – there’s more to life than that.
Gavynn Synn: Taking into consideration your multi-faceted approach toward a rather broad range of separate genre sub-types within your work, and the amount of heavy-weights you’ve worked with in the past (VNV Nation, Diary of Dreams…. Etc), can we expect any upcoming surprises?
Paul Blom: Our sound is certainly an amalgamation of audio elements that appeal to us and trigger moods or emotions within us – and can be anything from Metal, Industrial, Gothic, Punk, Hardcore or whatever. We’ll be getting onto some new songs soon, and who knows what shape they’ll take – it will certainly contain our essence, but if we want to experiment, we certainly will… But first we need to put the finishing touches on our remix album. We’ve had our entire record remixed by an incredible range of people, from internationals like Martin Degville & Sigue Sigue Sputnik (UK), Sheep On Drugs (UK), and Industriezone (Austria), to locals from Battery 9, NuL, Mr Sakitumi and iRONic, to Axxon, Jekyll & Hyde, Francois (from V.O.D, K.O.B.U.S., Die Kruis), and Theo (Springbok Nude Girls, K.O.B.U.S.). It’s sounding incredible and adds a whole new spin on our music, which we love.
There’s also a cover version of a classic ‘80s song in the pipeline. Next on the cards for us will be the HORRORFEST over Halloween, and the next live movie soundtrack as THE MAKABRA ENSEMBLE.
Gavynn Synn: Your travels abroad for music Festivals and so forth - have those encounters changed your perspectives? Or if at all, where all have you played?
Paul Blom: TERMINATRYX played everywhere in S.A. from Cape Town to Limpopo, in venues like Mercury, ROAR, Zeplins, Back 2 Basix, Hidden Cellar, Eye Of Horus, and Phoenix Lounge, to festivals like Ramfest, Goth Industrial Gathering, Metal 4 Africa, and Oppi Koppi. Our only foreign festival was at Popkomm in Berlin.
With V.O.D however we both recorded in Europe and did a full tour, taking us from the UK, France and the Netherlands, to Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia etc. Whenever you go abroad it is an amazing experience, and it definitely broadens your horizons, but it also makes you realize what hard work it is to break new territory and just how many bands are out there trying to make a mark.
Gavynn Synn: As a phenomenal artist who has worked on the KOPSKOOT! album and done remixes can you maybe elaborate some of that intensity for us and the artists involved?
Paul Blom: I’ve been wanting to put together a heavy collection of Afrikaans music for quite some time. Again, no-one ever bothered so it was left to us to break new ground again. Having been around for a while, it was not very difficult reaching the people I had in mind for the compilation. I am personally involved with some of the bands, from Voice Of Destruction and Terminatryx of course, to my F8 solo project and K.O.B.U.S. (up until 2008). I wanted to get a nice diverse batch of music with Afrikaans lyrics onto one album, from Metal and Grindcore to Industrial and electronic intensity. I loved Groinchurn, and the closest I could get to that was via the long defunct band’s bassist Christo, and his ass-kicking project Insek. Andre Van Der Walt was suggested to me via a Facebook friend, and adds a very cool electronic-hardcore edge to the compilation, while Cape Town Metal stalwarts Mind Assault also contributed one of their Afrikaans numbers (their guitarist Patrick also plays for Terminatryx). Battery 9 could not be omitted, while Somerfaan did an exclusive remix for us. This collection also features the first ever Helsinki recording. Some of the foreign additions come from Conquest For Death (USA / Japan) who actually re-recorded a song especially for us with Afrikaans lyrics! They don’t understand a word but threw themselves into it, singing the phonetically translated words. When touring Europe with V.O.D we played with Belgian band Ancient Rites – I contacted them to see if they have a Flemish song (which is very close to Afrikaans, like Dutch) – the vocalist suggested a track by another project of his, Lion’s Pride – the lyrics consists mainly of the Belgian national anthem’s words. There is Van Coke Kartel for an Alternative Rock injection, and Nul with their Aggro-Tech / Industrial stylings.
We didn’t bother to go to any other record company except Rui DeSouza from ENT Entertainment who did our Terminatryx album, our Terminatryx / Nosferatu DVD, the V.O.D Bloedrivier re-release & V.O.D Archives DVD. To illustrate the Alternative battle, a big distribution chain declined taking Kopskoot! for their locations due to the song title of Insek’s track “Satan Is Liefde”– naturally they didn’t bother to listen to the song and grasp its true essence, merely skimming the surface and making assumptions accordingly. The indie route is the only way you can be sure contamination is kept to a minimum. ENT does not dictate in any way, leaving us in control of the music, visuals, cover design etc.
All projects I’m involved in can be ordered from anywhere on earth at: www.OneWorld.co.za
Gavynn Synn: So, Sigue Sigue Sputnik? Remixed a song of yours? Your feelings?
Paul Blom: We were so impressed! It sounds excellent. We got to know Martin and his partner Johann very well while they were in S.A. (performing with them at the Cape Town Sputnik show). They were very keen to tackle a song for our remix album. We love all of the remixes, but this one makes Sonja particularly proud, since she was a big Sputnik fan in the ‘80s, and to have Degville remix one of our songs was just surreal.
The other killer remixes are mentioned above, but we are still awaiting word from a prominent Alternative South African currently in the USA whether they’ll take on a track, as well as a group in Greece called The Modern-e-Quartet.
Gavynn Synn: So, man of multi-faceted talents what more can we expect?
Paul Blom: We’re working on distributing some of the movies screened at our various film festivals on DVD in South Africa;
The feature film and the Terminatryx remix album of course (and the next album probably late-2012 / early 2013);
A Kopskoot! DVD and 2nd CD chapter;
More music videos;
There’s a V.O.D documentary movie we need to get started on;
We’re finishing off an integrated project consisting of a new Terminatryx music video for “Virus”, our HorrorFest promo clip, and our short film “Marked” – I’ve been a digital video editor since the mid-‘90s, and may be tackling the edit myself;
Sonja was recently the cover feature in the August 2010 VIXXEN Magazine (which broke all previous viewing records) www.vixxen.co.za/?page_id=161 – this was their record breaking issue.
Sonja and I will feature on the October cover of Your LMG Magazine, Cape Town’s premium live music magazine – it will feature the HorrorFest and I’ll be writing a piece on Cape Town (and SA) Metal.
There is another prospective on-line magazine cover features coming up.
For all of these photo shoots we work with our favourite photographer Dr-Benway, and for the LMG shoot incorporated Cape Town-based alternative clothing designers Wolf, the SA distributors of New Rock boots and Paul Bothner Music. For a band like Terminatryx it is no easy task getting sponsors, so it is great when guys like these get on board. But alternative companies like WildFire Tattoos & Body Piercing Clinics have been with us from the early days.
Then there is the next Makabra Ensemble live movie soundtrack for Halloween at the HORRORFEST (the classic silent flick to be selected soon).
Sonja and I recently bought a new place, so there there are finishing touches to be done, which doesn’t involve movies, music or events (!).
Gavynn Synn: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us at UNDERGROUND PRESS
Paul Blom: Thank YOU !