Интервью «Battle Helm»
interview by/bei Roy @ Battle Helm (www.battlehelm.com)
Q: I have read various interviews with you, but for some reason all of them only deal with the music of SOPOR AETERNUS. What do you think might be the reason for this? Is it because you don't like to be questioned about your lyrics..., because people don't dare to ask..., because they don't (want to) understand them, or because they simply don't care about it at all?
A: Well, I
have to admit that I generally do not talk about my lyrics and I certain
haven't made it a habit of mine to explain them... -I do not even wish to.
However, I have experienced that those people (or beings), who are
"allowed" to understand SOPOR, will do so anyway, even without me
giving any explanations at all. Of course I am aware how very elitist this
might sound now, but on the other hand it wasn't me who came up with it,
-perhaps you could only say that I have chosen it- because this simply happens
to be the nature of things.
Q: Personally I have the impression that SOPOR AETERNUS is as much a spiritual/ philosophical project as it is a musical one.
A: Maybe because there is not dividing line, not separation between Anna-Varney and SOPOR... -as it is all one. SOPOR is what I am doing..., in fact, it is what I am. At least, I like the idea of it.
Q: The lyrics seem to be as important as the music. I suppose you take a lot of time to write them? Do you write the lyrics after the music or is it the other way around?
A: It actually works both ways. It simply depends which one of the two aspects "arrives" first. Generally speaking, it is the title of a piece that I receive first, which - after all being the name of this piece- reflects the very essence of it.
that there is a special intention working in secret behind all things as
nothing ever happens without a reason or motive. I also believe that it is so
for all lyrics and music... in a certain moment and position within the
continuum of space and time... a special melody or music is already assigned.
Q: In a very old interview in a German metalmagazine (Witchcraft) you said that people have to eventually start living. Yet your second CD is called "Todeswunsch" ("Deathwish"). Is this title then merely meant symbolically?
A: As I
said before, first of all I am writing for myself... - however, it is also most
important to understand that I am only writing about myself .... and I am doing
this exclusively! Within "my" music there is no conscious connection
or contact with the outside world, no-one else gets explicitly addressed. No
form of dialogue -or even a reaction- is expected, let alone wanted. It is far
more something like a constant refection or self-analysis.... -an inner
monologue of a (seemingly) isolated universe.
Q: The lyrics on that second CD deal with spiritual failures, recollections from your youth and (for the first time) your not knowing if you want to be male or female. Things that many people wouldn't even dare to think about, let alone writing entire songs about it.
A: Hm...., maybe. However, I just do not have the choice here. I must face these things, have to grapple with it... -at least, if truth is the (main-)criteria I have chosen for the basis of my work/life.
Q: You took the name Anna-Varney Cantodea... The first half clearly refers to your transsexual identity. The second half seems to be a female form for the Latin word for singer. Do I say anything wrong with that ?
A: No..., not really.
Q: You released a MCD with the title "Ehjeh Ascher Ehjeh". A phrase that appears in the cabbalistic view of the world and that is given to the manifested God. It literally means "I am what I am (and nothing more)". The main topic on this MCD is your transsexual identity. It seems as if you want to say that this is exactly who and what you are: of two sexes .... or between the genders.
A: Well..., maybe to a certain degree. Though it might not have been a truly conscious decision exactly. Very often it is the case that only a long time after the actual process of recording a specific song (or even an entire album) I slowly begin to understand, what exactly it was that I have been "informed" of ...., or what aspects have been expressed through it. At first sight this might appear a little strange to you now, but it is actually perfectly understandable -(yes, even quite logical)- when you keep in mind that working with SOPOR is for the most part based on intuition. Every now and then it can even happen that the process of learning, which has been initiated the very moment I started working on an album, does not come near to an end with the completing (or release) of a particular project. "Dead Lovers' Sarabande - Face Two", for example, had been recorded last year, but one "lesson" of it, symbolised by the last (instrumental) track "Daffodils" (which, for some strange reason, had been the first track of the album I received), manifested only in the March of this year.... -while the daffodils were in full bloom!!!
Q: Do you have any further interests in the Cabbala ?
A: I am not really working with the Cabbala.
Q: Regarding this doubt between wanting to be male or female, it seems that in the past you felt an enormous disgust towards your masculinity, while your recently released double-album "Dead Lovers' Sarabande" (Face One & Two) seems to convey the impression of you accepting this situation.
A: Yes, I had to walk the hard path of transsexuality, or trans-identity, in order to slowly be reconciled again with my sex.... -and my gender to a certain degree. When I banded the gender in the past, it always had a very neurotic character to it...., but when I am doing it these days I realise that it is absolutely free from fear or compulsion.
Q: The pictures in the booklet of "Dead Lovers' Sarabande - Face Two" seem to imply that you have indeed made your decision.... -that you have eventually chosen your female side.
A: No, not quite... -because, actually, it goes a lot further than this.
Q: Well, I guess, this next question concerns a point that simply everyone, who has seen the "nude" photos for "Va(r)nitas, vanitas", is absolutely curious about: have they been manipulated ...., or are your lyrics not (just) symbolically meant after all?
A: If you are referring to my vagina, this part has been manipulated in the computer. As I said, I have chosen the harder way, deciding against the operation and hormonal treatment. This decision certainly wasn't an easy thing to do, but on a spiritual level it proved absolutely necessary and of greatest importance! It is a little difficult to explain, but every other way, every other decision would have meant nothing but a dead end.
Q: Your fifth release is called "Voyager - The Jugglers Of Jusa". I have tried to figure this out, but so far without much success. Who are the Jugglers and what do they represent ?
A: That is funny, because I always thought that it is even more than obvious, what the term Jusa actually stands for. After all -if you'd only take a closer look- it is to be found on every single of SOPOR's releases. The album "Voyager - The Jugglers of Jusa" was received & recorded during the most difficult period of my transsexual search for identity, and I have to admit that -after "The inexperienced Spiral Traveller" album- I consider it the second worst of all our releases, neither fish nor fowl.... -much like myself at the time. But, after all, this is hardly a surprise when you keep in mind, that there is no separation between SOPOR and Anna-Varney...., since whatever happens to one of half of it, affects the other one as well. But to return to your question: what exactly is it, that a good juggler does, hm?! Well, he whirls "things" around in the air .... and arranges them in a different order .... without damaging any of the objects....
Q: Throughout all of your CDs there are clear references to memories from your youth. Apparently you (used to) have an imaginary friend.
Q: Also often you refer to the "lost lover". Sometimes I get the impression that this is the imaginary friend too. But on the other hand this seems unlikely, because there is more than just one reference to the fact that he really was a homosexual lover.
Q: In earlier CDs we could read a lot about the demise of this lost lover, in "Dead Lovers' Sarabande" we eventually learn about how he had died... -a most tragic story.
A: Yes, indeed.
Q: In your lyrics you sometimes seem to meet an "old man", who gives the idea of being (a symbol for) God. Is this true, or is he the imaginary friend as well ?
A: Forgive me, but I am certainly not going to decipher my symbology for you now.
Q: When you write about spiritual failures, you often use the symbolism of ancient traditions. Do you have a deeper interest in those? I am only asking, because you do more than well in describing these things in your very own terminology.
A: Well, sometimes it is simply unavoidable to use certain archetypal symbols.
Q: The uselessness of eyes is also a theme that you use quite often. I am not totally sure what you mean by this. On the one hand, eyes are useless when you are in total darkness .... and physical eyes are useless when you try and to see and understand the spiritual world. Are you referring to the fact that our third eye isn't yet opened.
A: Not explicitly, no. However, the rest of your interpretation is rather good... -thank you.
Q: Let us move to a more lighter subject: the music of SOPOR AETERNUS. I often seem to hear somewhat known melodies from traditional medieval songs. Do you like to listen to medieval music a lot?
A: Not really... -well, it depends on the mood I am in.
Q: What is the reason that several songs appear in different versions on various releases?
A: That is not hard to answer: because the inner conflict, that is either described or hidden within a particular song, has not been fully digested, or dissolved.... -it sometimes becomes necessary to work on/with it again.
Q: Some people, who like the debut-CD very much, complain that the music of the "Todeswunsch"-album appears to be too happy. What do you think about that? Personally, I severely disagree with people who say that. I guess they are missing a certain type of melodies or lyrics.
A: I honestly haven't got the slightest idea what people like or dislike about the music of SOPOR...., but I also have to admit that I never even waste a thought about all this. Though I do, of course, hope that people will like whatever I am doing.... -that is only natural for an artist. Yet, I have to agree about the apparent contradiction between the lyrics and the music of this particular album. On the one hand the album is telling about pain, depression and suicide...., but on the other hands the music, which comes along, appear to convey almost exactly the opposite.... -at least, at first sight. Again, if you think about it, it is very conclusive after all.
Q: Musically "Dead Lovers' Sarabande" is very sad again, while the lyrics seem to be more positive. Do you intentionally create this contrast between the music and the lyrics?
A: Perhaps it has been the language-barrier, the circumstance that one half of the lyrics are written in German...., because I would not really describe the lyrics as explicitly positive. On the other hand I also would not call the music sad. When it comes to SOPOR, one should never take the songs off their context, after all we are only making albums, not singles! I am placing a particular emphasis on this, because it might be true, that certain isolated tracks are very depressive...., the entire album on the other hand does never leave the listener completely devastated! That is just not in my nature...
Q: On "Dead Lovers' Sarabande - Face Two" this contrast is gone though. Not only the music is very sad on this album, but the lyrics are extremely sad too.
Q: The amount of lyrics between the two parts of "Dead Lovers' Sarabande" varies quite a bit. Sometimes I think that you are moving towards pure instrumental/classical music.
A: Yes, sometimes I hope that too.
Q: The image that you created seems to have been carefully built up from the very beginning. Is this true? Or did it merely grow like this naturally?
A: Because this is a natural development, I never had to come up with a specific image... -that is what"s so beautiful about it.
Q: Do you think your music is so popular despite of this image, or because of it?
A: I haven't got the slightest idea... -but, I guess, both of it is true.
Q: Which each new CD the pictures contained in the booklets became less and less extreme -(less grime, less piercings)- ,whereas some images of "Dead Lovers' Sarabande - Face Two" strongly remind of the early days of SOPOR AETERNUS. Do the pictures come with the lyrics maybe?
A: Of course there is a relation between the lyrics and the pictures, after all they represent the same .... "subject" ...., just on different levels of conversion.
Q: As briefly mentioned, the music of SOPOR AETERNUS went from a rough Batcave sound to medieval music .... and now it is almost classical chamber-music. Is this perhaps a direction you wish to continue?
A: Well, basically yes. But, I am afraid, when it comes to SOPOR, these things cannot be planned, really. They just appear or happen the way they .... hm .... have to.
Q: According to rumours you also have another project, called WHITE ONYX ELEPHANTS. Is this correct? Do you have plans with this one ....,or are there any other projects you are currently working on (musical or otherwise) ?
A: Oh, the WHITE ONYX ELEPHANTS are fine... -they're just sleeping right now. But I have to disappoint you about my plans..., as I am certainly not going to reveal them.
Q: Well, I guess thirty questions is enough for one interview, isn't it? However, is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?A: Maybe this: Try to be true. Because with each lie, you murder some part of the world..., as you murder some part of yourself.