<IN>terview with RAZED IN BLACK
July 4, 2000
You were originally known as Lost Souls, why did you decide to change it to Razed In Black?
LOST SOULS started in 1994. As RAZED IN BLACK is a solo effort in the studio and a 4 piece live, LOST SOULS was the same. We established quite a following here in the islands receiving radio play and much local support as LOST SOULS. When we signed to Cleopatra records a year later, they discovered a slew of bands with the same name. Thus RAZED IN BLACK came into existence.
Was it through any particular scene that you started to get involved in the
'dark side' of music, what kickstarted your first musical experimentations?
Back in 1992 I started a synth pop outfit called RIME! We played mostly the college circuit and alternative rock nightclubs. My current drummer, Ivan Delaforce, was actually my drummer then as well as now. The music was in the Depeche Mode - Red Flag vain, and so was the original material. As I was a fan of early industrial and metal music, I experimented with this then as well, but couldnt incorporate it in RIME since RIME was already an established synth pop group. After writing more and more in this new style, I decided to give RIME a break and start LOST SOULS. Id eventually like to unearth RIME someday. With the way the 90s synth pop scene has been moving, RIME could be a welcoming presence.
The image of Hawaii from somebody based in London is that of a sun-drenched paradise with large breasted women on roller skates, is this a true depiction or a hideous stereotype?
Well, its true. Hawaii is warm and sunny all year round. Our large breasted women are more commonly found on our beaches than on roller skates though (maybe roller skates in California). I was born and raised here, so I often overlook the beauty, but every so often I realize where I am. I guess its quite strange to find music in this genre to originate from a place like Hawaii, but people who live here are normal people too. Stereotypes are stereotypes. We go through the same life experiences as anyone else in the world does. The exposure to a variety of underground music may be a bit more of an effort to discover, but it isnt impossible. Its funny many people ask about this. I guess Id also find it strange to discover Polynesian music to originate from London, but I wouldnt judge against it.
What is the electro scene like in Hawaii, if indeed there is one?
Well, currently RAZED IN BLACK and TRANSMUTATOR are the only electronic outfits in the islands. Though SOIL & ECLIPSE and PULSE LEGION originated from Honolulu, theyve relocated. Its kinda nice being the only one right now, though it gets lonely at times. When other aggressive bands come though town (which unfortunately is a rarity these days), RIB or TRANS is always the one asked to share the stage, as weve done with FILTER, TOOL, DEATHRIDE 69, THE TORTURE KING, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT, ETC.
The club scene here in Honolulu is actually quite healthy. Courtney, Hawaiis Gothic-Industrial club king, provides us with a rivet/gloom event every week fixed in a hidden, dank warehouse. Every so often hell put on a wicked S&M event called THE DUNGEON, which also happens to be an event RIB will frequently perform at. On the average, The Dungeon brings in about 400 500 people. When RAZED IN BLACK performs at The Dungeon, the head count has gone up to 750. Promoters here will always find someway to keep the scene alive. Its fetish scene has even grabbed the attention of SKIN TWO, E! Television, and other media. After touring and discovering how well the scenes are in other cities, Im actually quite proud of Hawaiis goths and rivetheads. We need to spread this all over the world!
The recent Sacrificed album has been much applauded in electronic circles, are you pleased with the finished product and the way the promotion and sales are panning out?
Of the responses, reviews, and comments Ive received so far Im very pleased. Touring has really opened my eyes to RAZED IN BLACKs acceptance in the scene. Since our first U.S. tour with SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY, RAZED IN BLACK has never performed off the Hawaiian Islands. I honestly didnt know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with the response. Weve just finished a short tour of Japan. Once again, I was overwhelmed. Im anxious to tour Europe someday. Im aware the electro scene is the best there! definitely curious to find out how RAZED IN BLACK will be received.
You have said that Sacrificed is a very personal album, I assume this
manifested itself in an outpouring of your negative emotions at the time?
"Sacrificed" is definitely my most personal album to date. The music took much out of me emotionally. Each individual track bears some significant meaning. Those who know me personally understand it much better. Maybe thats where its intensity is derived from. Even the suture tracks, "Snooze", "guilty"... , have a much deeper meaning than assumed on the surface
"Ive Suffered Long Enough" was actually the first song written for "Sacrificed". It was written soon after an issue happened. No erased or scratched out lines, one take in the studio. Its strange when I receive supportive comments on this song from people. This track is a track I thought Id be the only one to understand. I guess it shows youre never alone.
Musically, Ive let myself go as well. Writing as TRANSMUTATOR opened my horizons to experiment with different things. Ive consumed myself in techno more than anything these days. Ive also been religious with New Wave and electro-pop. The aggression is still within me no matter what. I guess it makes for an interesting mesh. Much of it wasnt a conscious effort. If I heard it in my head or felt it in my bones, thats what was put down.
Was making the album therefore a cathartic experience?
Definitely. If it weren't for my music, I probably would've jumped a long time ago.
Is the fetish scene something you indulge in or is it purely imagery to
compliment the bands music and style?
Imagery? You havent seen my bedroom.
There are also elements of Industrial in your music and many Industrial
bands are cross-breeding their music with electro, was this always your idea to blend the two?
Sure. Im as big a fan of industrial, and its incarnations, as I am to techno, and its incarnations. Its inevitable that Id mix styles. This is what I find attractive to this musical genre. No limitations, no rules (at least in my book).
I see influences on the album ranging from NIN, FLA & Sheep On Drugs, have these all at one time or another been processed through your CD player?
Of course. Im not going to lie and say any of the new industrial bands have not influenced me in some shape or form. Everything Im exposed to, musical and non-musical, bears some kind of influence on my music. I dont think anything is wrong with that. RAZED IN BLACK music is still RAZED IN BLACK music.
You are on the Cleopatra label, are you encouraged by how they have promoted the band thus far?
Of course there are many things Id like a label to spend more efforts on in promotions, but Im quite satisfied with Cleopatra thus far. Its a great label run by a bunch of fun people! I do what I can in my capacity to increase promotional efforts, but as always its never enough. There are still many out there who dont know who RAZED IN BLACK is.
You've done an incredible amount of remixes for other bands, are there any
artists that you have been particularly proud to remix for?
I was beside myself when I received the studio tracks from BERLIN. I was such a big fan of Terri Nunn back in the day. The same goes with MISSING PERSONS. I air drummed a many a nights with Terry Bozzio! My favorite remix at the moment would have to be SOIL & ECLIPSEs "Poetry of Angels" and CHEAP TRICKs "Dream Police."
Why do you indulge in so many remixes, most artists are content to just work on their own projects with the odd diversion?
I guess Im not most artists. I enjoy doing remixes. It allows me to provide another dimension for the existing track to travel to, and allows me experiment with ideas I wouldnt normally attempt in my own music. I am, however, being overwhelmed with the amount of remix requests Im getting and have to turn down many. Im currently working on new RAZED IN BLACK material.
You have also done a fair amount of video game music, do you write
specifically for the games or do they request tracks from you ready made?
THQ requested existing RAZED IN BLACK tracks for their "VS" video game for the Playstation. Existing RAZED IN BLACK and TRANSMUTATOR music is what gamers are interested so far. Im looking forward for an opportunity to write specifically for a game.
Many people may not be familiar with your side-project Transmutator, can you tell us a bit about it and how it differs to Razed In Black?
In early 1997, Hypnotic Records requested a RAZED IN BLACK contribution for a high profile compilation - Trancespotting. After I wrote "My Wonderful Friend" for the compilation, we decided the track was too different to call it a RAZED IN BLACK track. Thus TRANSMUTATOR was born. Since then this single track received much attention. More music from TRANSMUTATOR was requested. "My Wonderful Friend" was chosen by Hollywood director, Miguel Delgado, for the production of a cyber-filled music video which aired on MTV "amp," as well as one of the tracks for CARRIE 2: THE RAGE, NBC HOMICIDE, and more. The full length TRANSMUTATOR debut, TAKEOVER, was released at the same time as its licensed label in Japan, Dolphin Entertainment. I toured the U.S. and Japan a bit as TRANSMUTATOR. Its also opened the doors for collaborations with other artists like Corey Glover (LIVING COLOR) for the DIGI WNI project in Japan. Some tracks were released on vinyl. The second full length THE COLONY OF SLUTS was recently released. Get your hands on it!
The music of TRANSMUTATOR, still retaining a dark sinister vibe, fits comfortably in the techno category. A majority of the tracks are more dirty breaks oriented with trance overtones. Vocals are minimal, but there are song formula oriented tracks as well. Ive covered Duran Durans "A View To A Kill" in a hard drum and bass style, as well as The Village Peoples "Macho Man" in a hard trance style (as a tribute to my dog, Macho). I often come across TRANSMUTATOR in industrial playlists, which is actually very comforting for me. Its nice to know it could cross over as well! The new album, THE COLONY OF SLUTS, is very erotic and intense. So far the first track, AUTO-DRIP GRIND, has been receiving much praise.
Youre obviously a band that likes to tour a lot have you ventured out of
America yet and are there any plans to play in the UK?
The only other country RAZED IN BLACK has performed in was in Japan. I would love to come to the UK and am definitely looking forward to it! Anyone reading this and interested in bringing us over, Brian Mizota at GFX Labs Bookingbrygfx@lava.net.
Who has influenced you from the very beginning, did electronic music
fascinate you as a child growing up in Hawaii?
In the early years I was consumed in early Kraftwerk, Devo, Berlin, Missing Persons, Depeche Mode, Front 242, and most of the electronic bands, as well as the metal scene. The electronic music scene wasnt too popular among my peers so I was kid who listened to the weird music. I played piano as a child and got my first keyboard as birthday gift from my parents in elementary school. Fond of the metal scene, I bought my first electric guitar in the 7th grade, picked up a 4-track cassette recorder in the 9th grade, and fiddled around with electronic music of my own since then.
I was surprised to read one of your biggest influences is Prince, because
often a persons favourite musicians would influence the music, but nothing
on 'Sacrificed' sounds remotely like Prince?
This is because Prince is my influence as an artist, not the music. Ive always admired his musicianship and his prowess in the performance of many instruments. I admire that from the beginning he has done everything from writing to engineering. I admire that hes such a large person on stage in a small framed body. Prince is definitely the Man!
Has Prince not lost it now?
What motivates you most to make music, is it money, the art or the creative
expression (or all 3)?
Money? What money? I write because it needs to escape me. I invest more funds on music than it comes in. Someone asked me, "if I won the 10 million dollar lottery, what would you do with the money?" I responded, "my music." Then someone asked, "what would you do if you went bankrupt?" The answer was the same.
What can we expect next from Razed In Black, have you contemplated a new album?
For months now Ive been jotting down ideas and writing in my journal. Ive been busy with touring, remixes, and other projects. Ive set some time aside this summer to write music for the next RAZED IN BLACK album. Lately Ive been consumed in trance and intelligent techno, so influences may creep up there (as my recent tribute contributions and remixes have shown). Ive also been up on modifying my guitar sound and tones with Mesa/Boogie, so expect to hear new hyper-sonic guitars!