Interview with PerKelt part. 2

perklet 3Carmilla: And question to you, Will. I know that you build your own instruments. Can you tell a little bit more about this?
Will: I do like to build instruments! I have to say, it took me a long time to figure out how to merge all my lines of vocation into one streamlined flow of ideas, and turn that flow into something that can be used productively in a live music context, but PerKelt has finally afforded me with this opportunity! My background is in acoustics, and specifically musical instrument construction that started with earning my degree in Physics when I went to university the first time. Later I spoke with composer/performer Anthony Braxton and Psychick TV founder Genesis P-Orridge and they both encouraged me to embrace ethnomusicology studies, saying that it was the way forward to exploring new sounds and musical styles. Since they told me this independently, but within a few months of each other doing so, I took it to heart and began to work on the first of many Ethnomusicology degrees, each of which focused on musical instrument construction and how that construction was intertwined with the culture, history, and society in which the instrument was played. One product of the studies I conducted during my undergraduate degree, my postbac, Master’s, and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology and afterwards as an independent scholar all included building instruments. I was already obsessed with creating sound with whatever things on which I could get my hands, but these research projects helped me fine tune my direction in instrument construction and also generated a number of instruments on which I can perform with PerKelt.
Furthermore, the focus of almost all my research projects included looking at the roles played by musical instruments within constructing and upholding Pagan belief systems and concepts of the supernatural, and this also feeds into my percussion building, performance, and playing in PerKelt. Even the instruments I did not make myself are drums that I studied in part during my work in academic settings, and now I am able to put my years of schooling to use and hopefully inject loads of interesting and exicitng sounds into the works of PerKelt. 

With the band, I play mostly instruments I built, a few of them are fairly unique and have timbres that integrate well with PerKelt’s aesthetics and balance the percussive sounds and patterns of David’s. I feel that by using these one-off instruments, the evocations I mention above of bringing forth notions of fantastcal landscapes and otherworldy narratives and beings is possible, by introducing sounds that are at once familiar, yet unknown, a la Lovecraftian sensibilities. At the moment, I’m using a shaman drum build in a modern Tlingit native style made with cedar wood and moose hide, two Iranian style frame drums – one with cherry wood and goat skin and one with mahogany and calf skin, along with my Eygptian tablah and Irish bodhran. I have many more, too, and I’m looking to incoporate my tonbak made of German black oak and horse skin, and my special, made-for-PerKelt cross between an Irish bodhran and a Czech vozembouch, that we lovingly call Bogsy, the vozembodhran (named after Chernabog, the God of Darkness (in English)).

C: Stepan, you has won loads of guitar competitions. What is your greatest victory?
Stepan: Not really loads, it was one national competition for solo classical guitarists – students of music schools in the Czech Republic; then the Guitarreando with a guitar quartet and one competition with the Bohemian Guitar Orchestra, if I recall it well. But I think my greatest victory was definitely The Best Live Act competition of the Exposure Music Awards with PerKelt in London. Loads of excellent rock bands from the whole of UK were beaten live by a local girl with recorders, chap with acoustic guitar, and a weird guy playing his self-built instruments… that story can’t get old 🙂

C: And more intimately. 😉 What are your hobbies (besides music)? What is your work?
David: At the moment I don’t have much time for hobbies as I’m studying music college at BIMM London. I normally enjoy cycling, sailing and skiing. I used to work as a mixologist in a cocktail bar. Since I joined PerKelt I have decided to fully dedicate my time to music.
S: Poetry, reading, ecstatic dancing, meditations, wiccan rituals, tree-climbing, being told off the Sainsbury’s because of my bare feet… Whatever looks like fun 🙂 And PerKelt is my full-time job. I can’t do anything else. It’s either this or death…
Paja: The work is practicing, composing and arranging for PerKelt. If I find some spare time I paint.
W: Comic books; kung fu and samurai movies; Borderlands, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout on the Xbox from time to time; battling my dog for the tennis ball that is obviously mine and not his, yet he insists on running around with it in his mouth; having a Ghost Adventures marathon viewing with the director of Dread Falls Theatre; writing academic papers on musical instruments (oh wait, that’s getting back to music and PerKelt…), and… uhm… Nope. It’s all music and work for the most. Did I mention I like to read Lovecraftian literature? 😉

perkelt cfbC: What kind of people you like? Do you have any bad experiences in music cooperation with others?
D: It’s quite difficult to answer that question, but what I can say there are not a specific kind of people that I don’t like, except for arrogants who I really have difficulties getting along with. Fortunately, on the cretative process of music I have always encountered amazing people. But while performing gigs on ocassions you find people that do not offer the respect that they should to the musicians and that really plays on me.
S: Great question! On a random encounter, I like just about everyone. But my closest friends are without exception inspiring people, open-minded, with a good heart, free of social conventions, and incredibly funny. Of course, after some previous accidents, we are very careful whom to cooperate with, as PerKelt spend so much time together and the band is so precious to us. It’s easy to respect Will’s countless weirdnesses and work around his hatred towards tambourines, but it would be impossible to work with someone who thinks that the Lord of the Rings sucks or who doesn’t own a black shirt…
P: No comment 🙂
W: Goths. I mostly like Goth folks. I have a lot of time for them as they often understand the sensibilities that drive me and my work. I like people who work hard and get things done. Productivity in others inspires me and gets me off the couch. Noisemakers and instrument builders always have things to empart that fuels my work and daily happiness. As far as bad experiences with other music business folks, luckily there is not much. Of course there is always going to be some, but luckily most folks are either helpful or neutral, and it’s those helpful people who really make things fabulous and propel you through the mountain of labour that is being a professional musician. Forget the bad experiences; they all get swept away in the end – it is the good ones that make a difference and push you forward and assist you in being the best you can be, and that is what counts. (Countless Weirdnesses! Nice one! 🙂 Luckily, that includes lots of black shirts and I quite enjoyed the Silmirallion, so I’m safe…)

C: If you could replace the soundtrack to any movie with your music, which one would it be and why?
P: The birthday party of Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings!!!
D: I would choose Lord of the Ring the fellowship and replace Bilbo’s birthday song by “To the Henge” from the new album “Dancer in the wind”
S: For me, none. Writing soundtracks is a completely different thing to writing a set of songs that keep the audience (and ourselves) excited while they’re watching 4 people sitting on stage for 2 hours. I like to draw attention to the music way too much, rather than to make it a background layer for something else. We’re planning on trying something like this for fun later, anyway, but it’s really going to be a very different discipline and for me, personally, hard to call it PerKelt anymore…
W: I am not certain that movie has been made yet… This is a very difficult question, not because I cannot think of any films that could include a PerKelt song, but rather I believe the film that would be most suited for a PerKelt is still lurking in a director’s mind out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered… If a film of The Northern Nightmare, Dark Horse’s comic of the pre-prequel Viking story based on The Thing from Another World (aka Who Goes There?), that would be the film I would think would be perfect for PerKelt’s music. Medieval/Pagan Lovecraftian goodness!

C: Your favorite movie, author, book, game, artist, album, alcohol, food?
S: “Inglorious Bastards” on the top with “Modigliani”,
“The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”,
Kingdom Death: Monster (a board game),
Quentin Tarantino,
Omnia: “Live on Earth”,
mead, salmon

P: “Modigliani” and “Lord of the Rings”,
“Game of Thrones”,
Fury of Dracula (a board game),
Loreena McKennit,
“Visit” (Loreena McKennit),
red wine, margharita with lots of basil

D: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”,
Paulo Coelho,
“DMT: The spirit molecule”,
Diablo II,
Salvador Dali,
“Wintermadness” from Wintersun \m/,
Rum (diplomatico reserva) and Mead, Mont D’or which is a French specality (baked cheese) with potatoes

W: Wow. Lots of questions and lots of answers!
Favourite movie? I cannot pick just one, so I will list a loose top ten or so that in no particular order might include: “Donnie Darko” (the extended director’s cut), “Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla”, “The Mole People”, “The Crow”, “Blade”, “The Battle Wizard”, “Super Inframan”, “Tod Browning’s Freaks”, “Five Deadly Venoms”, “The Devil Rides Out”, “Phantasm” (SUCH a great concept!), “Space is the Place”, and hats off to all the Riddick movies, “The Maze” (1953), and all the films of El Santo, el Enmascarada de Plata. (Please note that a film of “At the Mountains of Madness” has not been made yet…)
Favourite author: I may not have mentioned him yet, but H. P. Lovecraft is easily my all-time favourite author. Hands down. Or is that tentacles?
Favourite book: That would be even harder than picking a film, but in the top list may be things like: “The Wasp Factory” (Banks), “The Hive” (Curran), “Doorways in the Sand” (Zelazny), “Jewel of the Seven Stars and Lair of the White Worm” (Stoker), “The Book of IOD” (Kuttner), “Mysteries of the Worm” (Bloch), “Inhabitants of the Lake” (R. Campbell), “Who Goes There?” (J.W. Campbell), and any and all works by Lovecraft, in particular “At the Mountains of Madness”, “Dreamquest of the Unknown Kadath”, and “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. (Ethnomusicology texts are excluded from this list because there’s just too many to name.) Favourite game: Well, again, that is a trick question (I cannot imagine the difficulty Paja and Stepan will have with this one!), but I will say for Xbox: so far Borderlands, Elder Scrolls (any of them), or Fallout 3 or New Vegas with a hats off to Mass Effect, Dead Space, and Dark Corners of the Earth. For board games: Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, and Mansions of Madness (of course), and yeah, Fury of Dracula is pretty damn good. RPGs: Call of Cthulhu, Beyond the Supernatural, and Boot Hill Advanced (with the dinosaurs, robots, aliens, totem spirits, and ghosts).perkelt fznoiFavourite artist: Again, a tough one, but let me put Hyman Bloom (his charcoals of fish skeletons and swarms of bats, in particular), Bosch and Bruegel and other fabulous depictions of demons and Hell, surrealist supernatural based art from the 1960s and 70s that drew from Futurist trends, Medieval occult woodcuts, Tibetan Bonpa mythology Tangka paintings, and Victorian Christmas card art from Britain and Central Europe (that featured lots of dead or strange creatures and had very little to do with Christmas and more to do with Krampus).
Favourite album: This is not possible. “Maybe Wrong” by NoMeansNo or “HorseRotorvator” by Coil? The first Ghost Trance releases by Anthony Braxton are amazing, and the latest Maximum the Hormone is also one to check out. Others of note would include the first “Naked City” release, “Erebos by Hate”, any early Bauhaus release, most of the Cocteau Twins catalogue, and I’ve been listening to Squatweiler’s New Mother Stamper, Celtachor, Woodscream, Sowulo, Carach Angren, Faun, Daemonia Nymphe, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed a lot lately.
Favourite alcohol: I basically do not drink alcohol, but if I have to choose something, Fruili (strawberry beer from Belgium), or Guinness and Black (or even better Beamish and Black), are about all I ever drink, which is an exceedingly rare occasion. Builder’s Tea is more my poison of choice (English black tea with milk).
Favourite food: White pizza. There are other things, like a veggie samosa with an Irn Bru or Mountain Dew Game Fuel, that are tremendously high on the list and always hits the spot, but I would have to put white pizza on top of the list. Sadly, it is almost impossible to find in the UK. Green pizza would come in second (pesto based pizza with courgette, green peppers, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and pistachio nuts).

Photos by Haydn Davis Photography

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