Hello Vladimir! Let's talk about your musical work and your person. Do you have a musical education?
Yes, I was trained for more than ten years as an instrumentalist, piano and organ player. However, I was not a good pupil, I was focused more on being creative with the pieces rather than following the instructions of my teachers. I soon dropped my formal lessons. So in this sense, in regards to musical theory and composition, I am predominantly an autodidact.
You are the musician behind SKROL, AGHIATRIAS, LUMINAR AX, TIRIA and VLADIMIR HIRSCH. What are the differences between these projects, are there musical parallels which exist between AGHIATRIAS and VLADIMIR HIRSCH?
The majority of the albums of Skrol and Aghiatrias were either transcriptions of my solo works or instrumental bases made especially for those projects. Given that fact, the parallels should be clearer. In all my projects I compose the music, while in Skrol and Aghiatrias, the creative and inspirational role is largely in collaboration with the other members in terms of sound sources, lyrics and production. Tom Saivon has been influential in both projects by contributing to the inspiration in sound, lyrics and direction. While, the singer Martina Sanollová in Skrol is the main cognitive sign of the band, with her passionate and ecstatic vocal expression, she extends the radius of the impact into a kind of trans-dimensional space. Particular projects have a specific direction, which is more pronounced depending on which you listen to, but all of them are based on the same broader musical concept. For example, Skrol is quite martial industrial with rock principles and a more structured song form, whereas the soundscape of Aghiatrias tends to be more abstract in its dark ambient-industrial organization.Taken together though, the unifying element in both of them is in the compositional system, which reflects my direction in contemporary classical orientation. My other side projects, like the noise-industrial branch Zygote, the dark ambient-electronic Luminar Ax or the dark-electronic Tiria, I consider more or less as occasional experiments and are mainly one album-projects.
Where does this creativity come from? Have you ever been afraid of your creatively failing?
Hardly to say, somewhere inside. It has been always some need to express things I feel, which are out of radius of another kind of description and music seemed to me not only the best way, but also closest to my nature. I must admit, I have never realized that possibility, however, of course, some "deaf“ periods are common. Now, I will be probably afraid! (smile)
Are there conceptual connections between your releases?
Yes, absolutely. With the small exception of my more playful "entertainment" albums, all my works from the end of the 80's are connected by the concept ,which I later found the name for, "integrated music.“ Briefly, it is technically based on a type of "classical" epic and an emotionally committed way of compositional structure, meaning that I compose with a clear "plot." The technical aspect: manipulation of classical instruments or non-instrumental sources of sound, represent the contemporary face of the world. This way of working serves as a transmutation of modern classical forms and ambient, industrial and noise structures into a homogenous indivisible structure. This act metaphysically represents the central idea of my conception: the collision and reconciliation of two seemingly spiritually opposite worlds inside an individual.
Are you religious? What's the idea behind works like "Graue Passion" or "Exorcism"?
Yes, I am catholic, however leaning more towards the shadow part of the theology and hardly accepted by traditional believers. Not only those two works, but also "Contemplatio per nexus,“ arises from a philosophical-theological theme, coming out of the writing "Teologia spiritualis mystica," which pertains to the process of the transformation of the human mind during mystical contemplation. Equally, "Missa Armata“ and "Invocationes,“ arose from spiritual or mystical themes with roots in catholic liturgy. "Graue Passion“ was inspired by Dostoevsky's interpretation of the Hans Holbein painting cycle of the same name, wherein there is a discussion of the basic questions and doubts of belief. The album "Exorcisms“ attempts to musically achieve a similar role to that of original prayer, whose purpose was a liberation of mind.
What do you think about your first works today? Are you satisfied with them and what can you tell us about your development between the years?
I can say that many of them have already been reworked and I still feel an itch to delve into reworking some of the others. Parts of them though are not suitable for revision, because they are outside of my matured conceptual development, either that or, not well done. A few of my early albums are adjusted and released digitally , and the others will remain in my drawer as some documentation of my development and will be for the ears of spiders only (smile).
Where does your fascination for the bombastic and classical come from and how great is the influence of other musicians and movies for your music?
Essentially, I really do not like the expression "bombastic." My aim and purpose in the music has nothing to do with the meaning of that word. I come from a classical way of compositional structure and consider it the most rich both in expression of musical thought and in its epic ability. My huge inspiration was Czech modern classical music from Leoš Janáček to Miloslav Kabeláč, but equally I was inspired by composers such as Giacinto Scelsi, Gyorgyi Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis. On the other hand, probably the most inspirational in the broader field of rock music, but also in general, was the band Swans. Above all their work with sound and rhythm go deep inside, authentically scanning existential questions and anxiety of mind. For me,they are the best band ever. In general, I admire the courage to go into unexplored inner worlds within consciousness, where I can find something unsettling or frightening inside the individual. I do not like play-acting and superficial manipulation with basic instincts, by far the most in music. Equally, I don't like the post-modern fear of revealing the true nature of the world - its distant superficial stance makes me suspicious. It is like hypocritical political correctness, applied mechanically, foolishly and myopically to our personal lives. Simply, I do not like "artism“, l´art pour l´art.
How long do you work on an album? Is it a long process or do you create this material spontaneous?
Usually, it is a long process since I start from a conceptual bedrock and it takes time to create the proper form for its expression, particularly since I am my own worse critic. Predominantly, I create some unifying idea or theme and after that, I start transforming it into music. However, a few albums are the result of spontaneous inspiration, either that or , they came from some particular idea which I later expand.
Do you have a favorite album from your works?
Yes, I do. But let's say I have some albums I consider really good. After finishing an album, I typically get away from listening to it for a very long time. I need some distance, because I realize I am too engaged and my view is usually overcritical. However, my opinion about the following albums are relatively constant though: "Symphony No.4“ ("Graue Passion“ from 2008), Underlying Scapes and the original version of "Missa Armata" from 1999, which I consider as the most important creations in my discography.
I don't think I do, or at least perhaps only in contours. There were and are several bands with their own relatively clear visions, but in the past we more likely shared some mutual empathy or strategy, rather than a musical language. In the 90's, in a way a kind of continuation, or more likely a transformation of old school industrial and the experimental scene in Czechia emerged in the broader field of industrial and avant-garde music, freely associated around the organisation called "Ars Morta Universum“, founded by my cooperators from Skrol and Aghiatrias, Tom Saivon amd Martina Sanollová. Its aim was an expansion and in a way the institutionalization and the penetration of this genre umbrella into a wider awareness as an artistic platform. Ars Morta Universum organized the annual Prague Industrial Festival, from 1995 until 2010, which saw large international participation. Unfortunately, the contemporary scene in Czechia is already fragmented too much both in genre and particular direction.
Did you ever consider composing a movie soundtrack? Would you agree if some filmmaker would make this proposal of cooperation?
Sometimes I make some movie or stage play soundtrack, but honestly, I do not like making music to some theme as "idée fixe“ too much. The theme of the film or stage play has to be distinctly interesting for me so much that I would choose it as inspiration for my music in my usual form. And first of all, I have tendencies to express the same epic or content, so I do not feel comfortable to make only some accompaniment. Additionally, I have experience that my musical accompaniments tend to bring inevitable disagreements with the creator or the director. I guess I don't do well in compromises.
If you had the chance, with which musicians would you record an album and why?
I prefer to work with somebody that can contribute to my style or that is musically on a similar wave-length. I do not believe in the cooperation between musicians with individually clear and specific unique view, it can work spontaneously, but not as a pre-developed creation.
What’s your view on the value of music today? You're a friend of the digital era, or physical material and how important is the visual design of a publication in your eyes?
The value of music has never changed, only its role in society has changed a lot, becoming predominantly consumerist in nature. There is an immense pile of musical material all around the world, broadcasting and subconsciously pressuring ears - a flood of it resulting in musical terror. Continual pressure can bring only the loss of sensitivity and deafness to the substance of music for the recipient. Some active role of the listener is supressed by that. Consequently, it is difficult to ask the listener to feel some metaphysical overlap. I started out in an experimental post-punk rock group, Der Marabu, with physical instruments. Now, since I am specific in what I want to create, it is easier to work with digital instrumentation since I work solely. The physical method of achieving the sound is not so important for me, I feel free by the digital age in this sense. Live though, I play the keyboards, albeit with samples - so not sure what that counts as! Visual design is very important to me and I insist on its close correlation with the musical content. While I often use some artwork of visual artists I really like and respect, the final design of albums is - with their permission - the result of my adjustment. In general, they are a lot of examples of "the cover sells music“. Often times I find a discorrelation between the album art and music, where you can find an arty and multipage booklet and the actual music is of very poor quality.
Do you have connections to other musicians and labels?
My main solo stuff was almost exclusively released by the Italian label Ars Benevola Mater, however now I am searching for a new publisher. Skrol has more than one label. We released albums in Germany, USA, Argentina and Portugal, all three Aghiatrias albums were released in Czechia. Of course, I have connections to some other musicians, but much less than in the past, when Skrol and Aghiatrias were more prefered by me and when we usually played together across Europe and the USA with bands that were close friends and with whom we shared mutual respect, e.g. Einleitungszeit, VO.I.D and Schloss Tegal.
Which album made the greatest impression on you recently?
Maybe I will disappoint you, but I cannot remember any recent work I would be excited from. Partly the fault is that I gave up on listening to new music and am largely sceptical. Only some pleasant discoveries of older works stand out, predominantly in the area of classical music. I have never been a keen listener of other music within the so-called "industrial / ambient" genre. I really only enjoy a few projects, such as SPK or Test Dept. These days I mainly listen to either post-punk or classical music. (smile)
What do you think about these projects- Lustmord, Rapoon, Troum?
I must admit I do not know their work enough to make a definite statement. Lustmord is the most interesting for me thanks to his work's deep submersive atmosphere.
Many thanks for this interview.
The pleasure was mine. Thanks for your questions.