This week I'm sharing an interview translation with you - this week the long-standing site gothic.hu did an interview with me. My questioning partner was DJ Gelka, someone in the Hungarian scene a lot of us can be thankful to for keeping the very true Goth spirit alive - and he also let me post this translation to my blog in English. Enjoy!
GOTHIC.HU: The musical subcultural environment that I moved and move in, primarily connect you to LD50 (to non-Hungarian readers: this was an alternative community site, pre-Facebook times, 2001-2012, organizing a lot of parties and gigs as well). That is of the past now. What happened with you since then, any personal milestones to point out?DAMAGE: I stayed on the music/technology axis, I’m just trying to ride it from a different angle :) I had run-ins with music startups (conclusion: even the best ideas can be ravaged by fundamental human errors; most startups sink; the idea of “let’s rush everything and bring out the minimal viable product” makes me sick), news portals (I love thinking back on the years spent at HVG Online) and lots of ephemeral projects and ideas but if I had to pinpoint milestones, that would surely be the music project. And Damage Report, which was a 400+ frustration rush about why technology is good and people being really bad at managing technology and each other. Although I had a publisher, in 99% it was me and friends and acquaintances who helped with promotion. The prologue was like a freight train, noisy and loud - there was a lot of lecturing and teaching and article writing to set up the book itself, but the epilogue of it is just scattered fireflies - some people clearly did not get it, some had problems with density or the style itself, the company responsible for online support got bankrupt and pulled off the servers so abruptly I did not even had time to get a final screenshot…so there was a good mixture of good and bad throughout. After the book got published, I said I didn’t want to write at all for a time - strangely enough, words seemed to elude me. Music came back to me a bit later after that. As for LD50: I would still consider it a good idea to have a big community forum (only I would run this differently now) - but now it is in little inclusions that the underground survives in the community space dominated by Facebook - and it does have its own perks and pros.
GOTHIC.HU: Listening to your live gigs and the EP Hi Rez Lo Life, it’s hard to mistake the taste of the turn-of-the-century electroindustrial: I feel rust in my mouth and it punches through chromed steel rods through my chest. The music itself sounds modern, but it does have the authority of the eighties’ ancestry. Did you consciously avoid aggrotech and more “modern” subgenres? What are your reference points?DAMAGE: Haha, really thanks for mentioning the rust and the steel rods :) The first EBM stuff I ever heard was Front By Front by Front 242, this defined my musical taste at least as much as Mentallo & The Fixer’s Revelations 23 or FLA’s Caustic Grip and Tactical Neural Implant later on. These are my reference points and the EBM/electroindustrial things of the late 80s and early 90s, especially the releases from the label Zoth Ommog - if not in band name, surely in sound. Aggrotech and all those bangers don’t really move anything me, maybe the coffees I just had. If I want to make music to match a vibrant, tense, ravaged future that I either read about in Neuromancer or see in the news or around me in 2019, that is not an explicit and intense thing, it is more like Clock DVA and Haujobb and Headscan. If you check out Surveillance by Tankt, there has never ever been a better soundtrack to 2018. We’ll yet to see what matches 2019 the best..
GOTHIC.HU: Your latest EP has four tracks and this counts as another shorter release of yours since 2016. If I was looking for differences, I would say it is angrier than last year’s Stray Signal, the distortion feels more raw. The mixing is different as well, as last year’s release was managed by Martin Bowes’ studio and now the new release was handled by Krisztián Árvai (was it the change of studios or did you yourself push it that way?)DAMAGE: Both but I think the major decision was when I heard Black Nail Cabaret play live at Dürer Kert and considering how bad electronic things can often sound there, their stuff just sounded so sharp and brilliant that I said “okay I need their help, I hear such nuances and sharpnesses in the sound that I have really been missing from my music”. As for anger and all the raw stuff, yeah you have a point there - although I am not very aware of what I wanted to make with songs, a lot of people often expect me being a lot more conscious about song titles and lyrics and producer work - I’m not. As for the shorter releases: I wanted to release a few of those so that the Planetdamage project should have some sort of a scene cred, now the next release is surely an album… to be released when it’s done.
GOTHIC.HU: We could see Planetdamage play live at Kék Yuk and the Fekete Zaj fest - these are the inner circles of the local subcultures. What breakthrough points do you have locally and outside the country borders?DAMAGE: I see more openers and breakthrough points abroad than here, but I’m afraid we’re talking about quite a closed group of people regardless of location - I don’t think the percentages or ratios of our subcultures (to the whole populace) in different countries would differ significantly (well, definitely not within Europe at least) - yeah, there might be a bit more people who read Sandman and watch Tim Burton, sure, but there is still not many media outlets to get info from. Unfortunately. Breakthrough points - yeah, you can bombard club owners and promoters with press releases, try to get on compilations or to labels, collab with others, write music for games, movies, books, Kickstarter projects, product trailers, ads, etc. I like to look at things ever since the web appeared from a perspective that we’re not living in Hungary, we’re living on Planet Earth - so it’s easier to feel that you have more opportunities.
GOTHIC.HU: You’ve seen a few generations come and go within the local subcultures. How do you see all that and what is the reason (I’ve asked this once in a previous live report) behind you becoming an active musician only recently? Planetdamage might have had a lot more pleasant era to behold previously…DAMAGE: Sure, I mean, PD could have been a lot stronger around 2005 but at that time I was pretty busy running LD50 and the parties around the site. I wouldn’t have had neither the time, nor the capacity to make music - and I think I needed those long years of listening to more music, meddling with music software and writing that book for everything to settle in my head - and the result of that is the thing that you can all hear now on Bandcamp. Back in the MySpace era feedback was a lot louder and more intense, but I don’t look back at that thinking “oh how great it would have been if”, not for a second. I live in the now so I gotta deal with the present, I simply can’t change the past, nobody can. And as for this project, this is surely something I can learn a lot from, so as for will it go on - yes it will.
This week my buddy DJ Liquid whom we have a long history with from our days at the Hungarian alternative community site LD50 made a short interview with me for his Facebook page while he was doing his Planetdamage Week - thank you for making that happen! Part of that week's content was a brief interview he did in Hungarian that he let me post to my blog in English. Enjoy!
(As for the image - that is Esteee (another amazing DJ from the LD50 crew), Liquid and me, from right to left, back in 2016.)
1. Where does the name Planetdamage come from?Aaah man, that will sound so bad. For a while now everybody knows me as Damage, so when I had to pick a name for my new blog in 2007, I picked the name Planetdamage (which is inspired by the gamer network that was active a few years before that, I was following up on PlanetUnreal for a long time and it seemed like a good idea to pick planet as a protocol and not https). And then the time came when I thought I would start doing music again and I had to think through what name is useful in terms of SEO: a new one or the Planetdamage handle I use everywhere in social media. Obvious answer. And no, my project is NOT eco-industrial.
2. Which was the very first track you did and when was that exactly?The very very first was in high school (and this probably was gabber which sounded like that Sunday 5am when you wake up realizing your neighbour has a hard time assembling the full wall bookshelf), the very first Planetdamage track, though, was Glitch Baby Go and I remember I wrote that after a 17-year hiatus, four years ago. This sounds like that time when the Japanese bot next door has a hard time assembling the full wall human.
3. Which bands do inspire you?A lot of the reactions I get from people is “oooh that is a lot of Front Line Assembly in there” and yeah, there is some truth there but I think during the years Mentallo & The Fixer and Haujobb has gotten way more under my skin. I do get inspired from a lot of places, those long-winding ambients are really huge points of inspiration (Pete Namlook and Future Sound of London have been favourites FOREVER) and I am really thankful to oldschool psytrance. As for new bands, I do love spinning Chrome Corpse and Nevada Hardware.
4. You had a few gigs now, which one is the most memorable?Well, I did not have that many :) I could highlight each of them for something but I would probably pick the latest gig at the Fekete Zaj summer festival - it was probably the most memorable because a lot of variables just acted in such a lucky combination, the place, the organizing, the staff, the sound, the audience, each and every factor was great, so thanks to Zero and the staff and everybody who was there!
5. Could you talk a bit about how your recent EP “Hi Rez Lo Life” was born? When did you start working on it?I checked out the timestamps for you to be sure - TAZ had a saved version in January 2018, so this time last year the EP was already under way :) Hi Rez Lo Life as a pun has been bouncing around in my head for a time and sometimes I do store ideas like that, saying well, there’s a good song title here, this would sort of need a track around it. (Okay, Cyberpunk 2077 might have inspired the title.) As for the message in the background, I sort of covered that in the booklet - I am disgusted by what I read in the news, I haven’t ever seen such an illogical behaviour from so many people. I do have a looming feeling, though, that even before my time things weren’t better, only I wasn’t around to see it or I wasn’t interested in global politics or practical psychology. (I’m still not interested in politics, though.)
As for the genre and the sound, there’s obviously a shift which has a lot to do with Krisztián Árvai, it is a really interesting experience to ease the creator control and let others work on making your songs tougher and stronger. All the tracks have gotten a lot more kickass and we do make funny remarks on how GOOD they sound on everything from very cheap earplugs to very high end sound gear and the car tests and the city tests and everything.
The artwork, the video and the design was all handled by Richard Besenczi - I first worked with him on the Vex video and it went so well that now he basically is responsible for all the visuals of this release and seeing all those glitches and the DIY LED-glasses really warms my heart.
6. What plans do you have for this year?I do have a few things in the pipeline, but my main priority is the debut album I will be working on - there are places and atmospheres I want to visit in sound, very different to the ones where you wake up to the sound of Japanese robot next door still not really getting there.
With the release date of my new EP Hi Rez Lo Life, I am glad to share not only the music video below but also some behind-the-scenes shots that we did with director/video artist/photographer/coffee god Richard Besenczi (who was also working on my previous MV Vex).
As for all the messages, thoughts and directives behind the EP, here's something from the CD inlay to sum it up.
“Humanity's greatest potential is a greasy burp of couch crisps and a complaint against bad CGI when an actual extraterrestrial invasion goes live on social media. From Trump through Brexit to the Anti-Encryption Bill, we have a long list of indiscernible proofs that unity has never been our race's biggest forte, definitely not in the globalized post-internet era. The loss of both narrative and context with the added lack of interest and the ability to foresee conclusions is our primal setup for this MMORPG we play on a daily basis. This is what HI REZ LO LIFE is about, both a reminder and a warning.”
Just a week before the new music video for my recently released track HI REZ LO LIFE starts wreaking havoc on the inter, come take a look at the bunch of photos I found on my phone about the VEX video shooting day!
Both my new video for HI REZ LO LIFE and this one for VEX was recorded, edited and forged together by Richard Besenczi - I could totally recommend him saying if you want to work with a joyfully weird and professional video talent, go hit him up but I'll say this: I've never met a man who can drink as much coffee as him. And this is a compliment. A big one.