Interview in Audiodrome

by Fabrizio Garau, December 2008

Why did you choose “Phragments” as your moniker?

I have chosen my name shortly after I have finished the first Phragments track “We failed the new world”. I was thinking about a good name – and since I knew back then already that I was going to put a lot of energy and effort into my musical project, it had to be something, which was close to me as well as something, which would characterize the music. So I came up with the word “fragments”, but instantly, it felt right to change the “f” to a “ph”, which gives the name a unique character.

Phragments is you and Sonic(k). Sonic(k) creates the visuals for your music. What can you tell us about these visuals? Do you consider your images as important as your sounds?

Yes, Sonic(k) is actually Sona Luther, the love of my life and my life-partner. She is a social anthropologist and works with visuals, both professionally and as a hobby. As I have always thought that good music needs good visuals, we have decided to try it out and it worked! I use her visuals when playing live – it’s a very important and integral part of Phragments. There’s also a bonus video track on my debut album ‘Homo Homini Lvpvs’, but since that time, her videos have moved to a different level and direction. So, to answer your question – yes, I consider the visuals to be totally important for Phragments.

Talking about images and your album Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood: there’s a strange character with angel wings in the artwork. What does it symbolize?

For some reason I have a deep affection for the image of a crooked, fallen angel, an accuser and possibly a punisher. This has already started on the cover of my previous album ‘The Burning World’, when the artist Peter Skala created a new logo of Phragments. With the brand new album, I have decided to use the motif again, and the result is the artwork created by my friend and an amazing artist Nenad Brankovic []. I’m so happy that he succeeded to make a cover, which fits perfectly to the music. The angelic figure on the cover is standing on a pedestal in a very cold and desperate surrounding, looking towards the horizon of light in a dark sky… you figure out the meaning for yourself. I like to leave some meanings within my music open.

Being on Malignant Records is a great achievement for an industrial project. Some labels are considered by fans as a "Seal of Quality" and Malignant is one of them. How did you get in touch with Jason?

Yes, I totally agree. Malignant Records is a cult label for me, I have admired it since 1998. I’m proud to have my album released on Malignant and I hope for a future collaboration too. Jason and I started first communicating when we were trading our releases – I have a small label called Construct.Destroy.Collective where I have released mainly artists from Slovakia – I released the first Phragments album there as well. About a year ago, I was starting to think about where I should release my next album – and since Jason was fond of my older stuff, I have decided to try and talk to him about it. Luckily, he also thought this was a good idea! I also think that Jason really likes the album, so our collaboration is the best thing for both sides.

I liked immediately Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood. Since I’m a fan of The Protagonist, Sephiroth and In Slaughter Natives, it has been simple for me to appreciate it. Do you know these projects? Do you perceive something in common between Phragments and them? Why?

I’m glad that you liked the new album from the beginning. Yes, I really like all of the three projects that you have mentioned – I’m a fan of Cold Meat Industry. It’s a great label and I am absolutely sure that their releases have had an influence on Phragments. The main thing that I perceive as common with the projects you have mentioned is the atmosphere. A dark, menacing, cold feeling, which emerges and slowly consumes everything around. There’s also something metaphysical, almost “sacral” in the atmosphere, and of course there is the orchestral bombast. The new album of Phragments is less explicitly bombastic than the previous one, but implicitly it’s heavier and more orchestral in a way. In general, I don’t have a problem admitting that I am influenced by certain other projects. I think it’s a completely natural thing. But I have always tried to make Phragments special, distinctive from other projects. I hope that I have succeeded.

Do you have a classical formation? Do you have “orchestral libraries” in your laptop/synths or do you sample classical instruments when you need a particular sound or do you “plunder” your classical collection?

Well, I have been studying violin for six years when I was a child – I sort of hated it then, but today I have no doubts that it has formed my musical tastes. Six months ago, I have bought an electric violin and I have returned to the instrument – I even play it in the last song on ‘Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood’. I rarely use orchestral libraries, although it’s a great thing that nowadays the sounds are so realistic, not so cheesy as ten years ago. Basically, when I decide to use orchestral samples, I usually use only some real sounds of orchestral instruments that I have recorded and then I change them, twist them and cut them. On the new album though, besides the live violin there’s also a live cello, courtesy of Brona Schraggeova – I see this as a really important addition to the overall sound. In the future, I would love to use more live instruments, mainly cello and violin…

Many gothic projects use orchestral sampling, but there is also people like Murcof, Stars Of The Lid or some Hollywood composers… and we should not forget lots of metal bands… Do you find inspiration outside the boundaries of the industrial scene?

Yes, absolutely! Musically, I am a very open person. In my teen-age years (the 90s), I was listening mainly to doom metal and black metal, but I have also always loved gothic rock. Sometimes I listen to classical and contemporary classical music, mainly artists like Part, Shostakovich, Gorecki. Actually, the basic rule for me to like music is usually some sort of a dark atmosphere. So I don’t mind listening to Arcana in the morning, Behemoth in the afternoon, Sisters of Mercy in the evening and Evoken at night! Of course there is lots of non-musical inspiration – literature, fine arts, and last but not least psychology, since I have a master’s degree in psychology and I currently teach a course entitled ‘Psychology of music’ at the University of art in Bratislava.

Somehow the industrial/noise scene is infested with that boring war/nazi/30s-atmosphere which, to be honest, I'm quite fed up with. I think that old school industrial used totalitarian imagery in order to be anti-totalitarian. So, it has been a pleasant surprise to read that your album is “dedicated to all victims of genocide through the history of mankind”. I would like to know your opinion about this topic.

Yes, I completely agree with you! Industrial music was since its beginnings opposed to totalitarian ideologies. It has always functioned as a sort of warning against how evil the human society can be. And that has changed during the last years – as it was in black metal ten years ago – suddenly all these nazi bands starting to pop up, shamelessly propagating nazism either in their lyrics or image. And although black metal is a very extreme and hateful musical genre, it’s not meant to be nazi or fascist! There is a huge difference between disliking someone’s religion or ideology and disliking someone’s race! And also – you have the right to disagree, even dislike, but you cannot kill the people, that’s totally ridiculous. This also counts for the fascist/nazi tendencies in industrial in the last years. I am very disappointed with a lot of “martial” fans, who don’t realize they would be among first ones to be killed by a totalitarian regime. In their conservative imperative, these ideologies love the “common” people, the ones who don’t speak up – and condemn any other forms of thought. You know, I like to play with meanings within my project and keep some things unclear – but I could never have an unclear stance to totalitarian ideologies! I think bands should take a clear stance towards that. I also don’t like the widespread and fashionable status of conspiracy theories in the industrial genre. If you whine about being controlled by someone else all the time, then you are a weak and alibistic person. Wake up people and do something with yourselves!

‘Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood’ is a tribute to all victims of genocide and it’s a stance against the totalitarian ideologies, which have caused it.

You use often the image of the wolf (homo homini lupus) and this time you dedicate a track to Cain. Does this correspond to your everyday vision of humanity or is Phragments a vehicle to exorcise your moments of pessimism?

I have used the concept of the wolf for the variety of connotations that a wolf has in our world. The wolf is seen as something dangerous, scary, a hunter. I believe there is a wolf aspect in every human being, waiting to be awakened. My everyday view of the world is not as pessimistic as it is through the eyes of Phragments. I believe it is very important to live a good life, a life of confidence and personal freedom. One of the most important ideas is the one of responsibility. People have to be responsible for their ideas and consequently their acts. This is something that cannot be achieved from one day to another – it requires a constant evolving of your self, learning and discovering new things in life. So the answer to your question is no. I am not a pessimist, I try to keep a realistic view of the world and my music is the space where I channel the difficult (but not necessarily only negative) emotions.

You have a label: Construct.Destroy.Collective. Does a little scene exist in Slovakia? Do you have chances to play live?

Indeed. We have been very lucky in the last two years. A couple of industrial / dark ambient projects were born – such as Korinth and Metrom for example. Korinth is a one-man project, focused on philosophy, theology and Nietzsche, to make it short. It’s beautiful dark ambient with classical influences. Metrom is the youngest project, which has evolved approximately a year ago in Bratislava. They are good friends of mine and they create absolutely stunning music, on the border of martial/neoclassical and very dark ambient. You have to hear it yourself to get a better idea. And of course I cannot forget the role of Martin from Apocalypse entertainment – he is an organizer who has focused mainly on metal events in the past, but he has a passion for “our” scene as well, so he has started to organize this festival in Bratislava called World:Ending:Machinery. People came to the first edition, most of them were quite thrilled and it was a very nice evening. So I think in the next year we will do some more events and attract more fans from our home country.

The last words are for you and for your future projects…

First of all I would like to thank you for the interview and the good questions. And second of all, I hope that my new album ‘Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood’ will attract new listeners and I hope that people will enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers!