DH: Tell us something about your artistical development. How long does Dark Territory exist and when and how did you meet?
Jamez: Iíve been a house/techno producer for over ten years. I still do techno music, but at some point I wanted to try something new and in the late nineties is started looking for a vocalist. When my wife played me a tape from her good friend Jon, I knew my search had ended. Jon and I met for a studio session and we hit it off right away. With ďLemonsoulĒ we could express our interest in house, pop, dance and electronic music. The interest in the darker side of music had always been there, but really took form when we were asked to remix "Transmission" from the Australian EBM band ďAngelTheoryĒ in 2003. We really enjoyed doing this remix, so we decided to put more time and energy in producing darker tracks. Since the result was so different from all the other work we've done before, we decided to classify these tracks under a separate project : "Dark Territory".
DH: Your music is very quiet and thoughtful. Which roots in a musical sense do you have? If you have to choose: Are you an ambient or an ethno band?
Jon: I grew up listening to artists like Siouxsie & the Banshees, Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Front Line Assembly , David Sylvian and many more. I have always been interested in bands and musicians in the alternative scene, that don't stick to a one-trick thing but are willing to try out and combine various genres and styles of music. Nowadays I still enjoy the work of these artists, but I am also fond of the work of BjŲrk, Qntal, Conjure One, VNV Nation, Moloko and classical/orchestral composers like Hans Zimmer, Michael Nyman, Arvo Pšrt. And actually, I don't want to choose between ambient or ethno, for I don't want to be restricted to one genre either.
Jamez: My roots lie in punk, reggae, hiphop, elektro, house and alternative music. With alternative music I can name a lot of bands that influenced me or have some kind of a special meaning to me. Bands like the Stone Roses, The Fall, The Wedding Present, Ride, Slowdive, Blur, the Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, The Ramones, Joy Division, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and I could go on and on. My introduction to the EBM Gothic scene came a lot later. I already listened to KMFDM, Front 242, Consolidated and other bands like that, but I really got interested, when I heard the beautiful voice of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance. I was hooked straight away. If I had to choose between ambient or ethno, Iíd pick ambient, because I have a bigger history with this type of music then ethno. I was an ambient DJ for a couple of years and I also have an ambient project called PSI. With PSI I already finished two albums, but Itís hard to find a label for it.
DH: On your new album "Libera Me" are again a lot of good new songs. Where do you get the ideas for the melodies? Is this something that comes deep from your mind?
Jon: Many of the vocal melodies on the album come from improvisations and are therefore spontaneous. For instance, the vocal in "Ankesuei" was done in one improvised take, and later put to music. In "Kalandare" I started improvising over a bourdon tone and the melody just formed itself. It almost felt like being connected to a higher spirit.. Jamez: We make music, based on what we feel at that moment. We have tried to make music, starting off with a preset plan, but we failed every time. Melodies come with trying new things, using it, then throwing it away and try again, until you have the melody that suits with what you want, so that the song gets itís form. Using electronic sometimes makes searching for melodies a lot easier, but at the same time itís also a lot more difficult. When you have four people on violin and cello, you have four people thinking about the right melody. With a computer you donít have this luxury, but it will not argue with you if you want to change a note.
DH: "Libera Me" has a very dark and melancholic atmosphere. In which circumstances did you record the album? Are there any experiences that influenced you when recording the album?
Jamez: For me it was not a deliberate choice to make the sound so melancholic. However, if you listen to my techno releases, youíll also find a melancholic sphere. I guess itís just in me to make this kind of music. Iím actually a cheerful guy, who likes to laugh and make fun of everything. Maybe thatís why my music is just the opposite. You need some kind of balance to make it all work.
Jon: Except for the choir-parts in "Creator 2", that were recorded in my livingroom with the help of four singers, the entire album is recorded in Jamez' Studio in the last three years. And you might not belief it when you listen to the album, but Jamez and I do have a lot of laughs in the studio. Some experiments we did are even hilarious. I hope they never make it into the world ?
DH: I like very much the song "Deliver Me" from your album. What is the song about?
Jon: The lyrics of "Deliver Me" are in Latin and are part of the Catholic Requiem Mass. It is a prayer for mercy at the Last Day, the apocalypse, when God decides if you go to heaven or hell. It is not that I am a very religious person, but I am interested in spiritual and religious topics like heaven and hell and the afterlife. Since the text of the requiem is very dramatic, I wanted to use it in a dark electronic song.
Jamez: Seen as Jon is the songwriter and the vocalist, most of the meaning of songs come from his mind. I more concentrate on the musical sounds and what I want to give to the listeners. When we make music, we usually start of with a rough idea and Jon takes over, trying out melodies and writing the lyrics. With this particular track, I took the original song, listened to it a couple of times and decided to make a remix. This remix is now on the album. The earlier 'Morte Aeterna'-version is still kept for compilations or a future single.
DH: About what topics are your songs in general? Are your songs a reflection of the society in which you are living?
Jon: Some songs, like "Ptolomea", have a specific thought behind it. Others songs, like "Tora Firome" and "Trista Me" are based on a musical idea. But there is no general theme to the album and most of the lyrics are improvised vocalizations that came from the heart. For instance in 'Kalandare', 'Ankesuei' and 'Vrijdag' the vocals are 'wordless' and used as an instrument. For me sometimes an idea or feeling is better transferred through melody and vocalization than actual lyrics. A melody can flow freely when it is liberated from pre-written words. When I do want to give the song a specific meaning, I use actual words, like in Deliver Me, Ptolomea and Creator. But I need the rhythm and sound of the words to fit within the musical texture.
DH: Sometimes your music sounds me like music from another world or time. Do you think that life in another world or time would be better? Or is this just a play with the imagination of the listener?
Jon: I don't necessarely think another place or time would be better or make me happier than I am already. As long as you keep an open mind, when you are surrounded by the people you love and you treasure the things you have, there is no better place. Hopefully with our music we can enrich the lifes of other people as well.
Jamez: My plan has always been to try to give the listener something else. With my techno music I also wanted to reach the boundaries and go beyond, trying and searching new things. Music for me can be a way to escape the daily routine and dream away to different places, either good or bad. It can also just mean, doing my work as a music producer. With my dreams, I usually produce better songs and with Dark Territory I can luckily dream away.
DH: All your songs are very quiet and have a dark atmosphere. How important is it for you that a song can be played in a club?
Jon: "Libera Me" is not meant for the clubs. It's an album that is best enjoyed at home. Nevertheless I would love to do an EP or single that is more club-oriented, with remixes etc., for you can reach a complete different audience with that. We already have some great remixes of "Creator I" and "DarkFlower" up our sleeves, both screaming for glow sticks and club exposure. So please all send an email to Dark Wings that they should release them !!!
Jamez: Well, with my background as a techno producer and a club DJ, itís very important for me, that my music is played in the clubs. Itís the ultimate rush to see hundreds or thousands of people go mad on your music. In my career as a DJ I had the opportunity to play for ten thousand people and when I played one of my own tracks and saw all those people go mad and sing along It was beautiful. Thereís no drug that can compensate that feeling. With Dark Territory weíre taking a chance, because the music is less accessible for the clubs.
DH: Which further plans do you have with Dark Territory in the near future? Will there be a European tour. Do you visit Germany, soon?
Jamez: Weíre currently working on a live set and hope to do some shows after this summer. Due to our work for the album and all of our side projects, we haven't been able to focus on a tour yet, but any promoters who are reading this can drop us a line.
DH: Thank you very much for answering our questions. We wish you all the best. Your last words please:
Next to our live set, we also started working on our next album. If you want to keep informed with all the developments or if you want to know more about Dark Territory, please visit our website: www.darkterritory.nl
Interview: Andreas Ohle