D-SIDE Mag interview

With Razed In Black

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1/ This new album has been composed in Florida, California and Hawaii, where you live right? Tell us more about how it was done and when...

Yes, I was born and razed in Hawaii, but I traveled much during the duration of the writing of

"Damaged." When all was complete, I realized how much time and distance was spent and thought I’d acknowledge the journey in the credits of the album. What’s ironic is that much of the reason for the travel was to physically place myself in different surroundings in hopes to escape the emotional roller-coaster that dominated my song writing; and what I was left to discover was that those emotions are so burned inside, no amount of distance could weaken the intensity.

2/We realize now that "Oh my Goth" was musically a transition between your former "power-metal-industrial" and a new mixture between metal-industrial and typical electro-dance sounds appearing clearly on "Damaged". These electro-dance parts in some songs are cool but surprising from you, giving your project you a kind of happier image...

2 Bis/ Happier electro sounds doesn't mean happier mood in you lyrics...tell us more about them and who you write for, sometimes.

I surround myself with and am open to all kinds of music. There’s always something to be appreciated in different styles (even if it’s a genre you wouldn’t normally peruse through in a record store). I think it’s important for an artist to continually develop their skills and evolve in some manner to the next level of their personal ladder. I definitely feel a lengthy climb ahead of me, but I’m satisfied to say I’m up a rung from my last release.

The vibe of the music is definitely "brighter" as compared to my previous work, but happy is definitely not the general vibe of the record. I always find myself writing a majority of songs based on a particular experience in my life and the feelings that graduate as time goes by. People who know me personally know exactly where it comes from. I’ve actually met people who’ve pinpointed it from digging into my lyrics. It’s really not that difficult to find, I guess: from SACRIFICED — "Caught", "I’ve Suffered Long Enough", "Never Meant", … even the ‘sutures’ have a deeper meaning. DAMAGED — "Share This Poison", "There Goes My Head", "Am I 2 Blame?" … The weirdest thing about this whole thing is that I never realized ‘theme’ it until someone pointed it out to me. I usually write lyrics when my emotions are at it’s fullest intensity. Music has always been a sort of therapy for me. Well, after all the music for the new album was written, my closest friend (after listening to the record) asked me if I meant to write a sequel to SACRIFICED. It was only then that I even realized that, and that there was even a connection — thus the title of the record was born, DAMAGED.

3/ You are close to the electro-dark scene who often does remixes for you, or even collaborate to album tracks, do you feel like belonging to a big family, Razed In Black gathering talented people to have fun or something like that?

Much of Hawaiian culture is to value friends and family. I guess that part of me has extended through RAZED IN BLACK (another thing I just realized now that you’ve pointed it out). My live drummer, Ivan Delaforce, who takes time off from performing with STOMP (I’m proud of him for that) to perform with RAZED IN BLACK, is from Hawaii as well. We actually went to highschool and the University together. Other members of the live outfit are from Hawaii or have some kind of connection to the islands. I’ve met SOIL & ECLIPSE when they lived in Honolulu (they make an appearance on the record). I’ve known Athan of SPAHN RANCH since I signed with Cleopatra Records years ago. I knew HARUHIKO ASH from my first trips to Japan and have remained friends since then. Though we’ve actually never met in person, Reza (INERTIA) and I have been doing projects together for quite some time. I don’t have too many people in my life, but I treasure those I feel a mutual bond with.

All of the guest spots on DAMAGED were done via Internet (I think the first attempt of its kind). We were never in the studio together for the recordings. I would have had to add Tokyo, New York, and more to list otherwise. I wanted to give some of the songs a different flavor, and even if their contribution is a small one, it a huge increase in taste for me.

4/ You usually released EPs with remixes between the albums albums but "damaged" already includes a kind of "Bonus CD" like that, why not releasing it apart from the album?

I spent a lot of time and emotion in this record and wanted to offer a bigger album to those who dig Razed In Black and those interested in discovering. I did everything from songwriting, recording, mixing, mastering. I designed the artwork and digipak layout as well. Photography was done with the help from a special girl to take the nude shots. The second disc contains 2 videos of past live Razed In Black live shows, playable on your computer. I’ve put together the second video from live footage shot from people we’ve met on tour in different U.S. cities. So many of them were nice enough to send us copies of the shows. It was quite a task to sift through so many tapes, but it turned out pretty cool! Raw! The first video (live in Hollywood) was produced by ex-Christian Death/Mephisto Walz member — fellow Cleopatra labelmate. I’ve received so much mail and kind compliments since the first Razed In Black album. I wanted this album to have extra treats.

5/ For european people it sounds always very exotic and paradoxal to see an act so deeply attached to the dark scene coming from Hawaii, the cliché here is of course beaches, sun and surfers...is there a small scene where you live or do you feel like an alien there?

I get this a lot actually. There’s really quite a scene in Honolulu, small but strong. LA’s popular THE DUNGEON was sprung from The Dungeon in Hawaii. The Hawaii scene is definitely a different vibe. They’re the warmest and friendliest ‘Goths’ you’ll ever meet, and within an hour in the club the white makeup washes away from the sweat to reveal the beach tans. On occasion you’ll see someone with an umbrella and pineapple in their blood red Merlot, or a ‘rivethead’ with a flower lei around his neck probably celebrating a return to the islands. The common bond is the same though, even with you guys out there in France … the music.

Touring and travelling opened my eyes to the scene and it’s culture. I was surprised how strongly music can bring like people together. I know it does that, but experiencing it from clear across the Pacific Ocean, then clear across North America is quite a phenomenon.

6/ You are famous in the US, but it seems like Europe is still to be conquered for Razed in Black? Have you already played on this side of the ocean and will you come soon?

I don’t know about ‘famous,’ I’m still working my way through, but thank you. Europe is definitely an passionate endeavor of mine. Much of the mail I receive are from there, and I know the electronic music scene is huge! Initially we had planned to release a European version of DAMAGED with Cryonica Records in the UK, but reasons beyond my control prevented that from happening. Cleopatra Records and I are actually seeking out a European licensing label we can call another home. Either way, I’d like to get the live outfit out there. I’m still working on the connections to do so. Crossing fingers.

7/ In Europe and and the US too, there's a huge come-back of the new wave/eighties sounds, with the electroclash movement of course. As you did a cool cover of an old New Order song, I thought you were also a fan of that period & could have been tempted by this trend in the electronic sounds chosen for your music no?

A 3-CD set called THIS IS ELECTROCLASH was recently released at which I did the non-stop mix for. For this compilation I’ve done the mix under the moniker, Dj skOOby, other than Dj R<I>B, whom I normally go as when I spin. The Electroclash scene is quite intriguing. The old skool vibe sparks a memory my mind for sure. After doing non-stop mixes for THIS IS NEOGOTH and other compilations, I was actually pretty excited to mix this one.

As far as the 80’s electronic tendencies, I’ve always been an avid fan of New Order, Depeche Mode, Camouflage, and bands of the like. It’s inevitable that influences from that era will show itself in my music. My roots are pretty diverse I guess. In my younger days I was a long-haired kid who practiced metal guitar solos on top of Kraftwerk or Missing Persons, and attempted Slayer licks on my Dx-7. The door opened when I started to feel emotion from music, without lyrics — thus my passion was born.

8/ A cool message from Hawaii to your French fans?

Aloha! A Hui Hou.