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Samael

Ik zal je eens een geheim vertellen, op voorwaarde dat je het aan niemand vertelt. Niet doorvertellen aan mijn hoofdredacteur, maar zeker ook niet aan één van de bandleden van Samael. Ik ben eigenlijk de laatste die Samael zou moeten interviewen. Ik vind heel wat muziek vrij goed, maar Samael ben ik echt helemaal weg van. Om de beste antwoorden te krijgen, moet je namelijk kritische vragen stellen. Maar ik heb bijna geen kritiek op Samael. En toch is het weer een bijzonder interview geworden, met de frontman van Samael, Vorph. Let bijvoorbeeld eens op wat hij over zijn naam te zeggen heeft, maar zeker ook hoe hij mijn vraag over groupies ontwijkt, op zo'n manier dat als je er het jouwe van wil denken, die ruimte open gelaten wordt, maar ook op een manier dat hij niet onsympathiek wordt. De band is geniaal en heeft wederom een fantastisch album uit, met de naam 'Lux Mundi', dus ik had weer een mooie aanleiding Vorph te spreken.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder industrial / ebm

Congratulations on 'Lux Mundi', again you managed to make an album that is full of surprises, yet which is still unmistakably a Samael album. Did you set out to give it a certain touch, or did you just write music that came out naturally?
With this new album, our idea wasn't to follow any things we might have done in the past. We wanted to start afresh and approached it as it would be our first album. We thought, if we would have the chance to start again today knowing what we know now, what would we do? 'Lux Mundi' is pretty much the answer to that question.

What have been the first comments so far?
People will always try to compare it to something else, some think it is a mix of 'Solar Soul' and 'Above', some say it is the following of 'Passage', but everyone seem to agree this is S A M A E L at its best, and that's all that matter to us.

Do you still read comments (good or bad) and do they have an effect on you?
If I come across a review about something we've done (albums, shows…) I usually read it or at least check it through. Critics never really influence us, but it's always nice to have some kind of feedback about our work.

Can you imagine that some people might feel they have to rediscover your music again?
That can always happen, we've been lucky to have a strong fan base that supported us through the years, of course some of them came and went, but on the long run they've been pretty faithful and dedicated to us

You recently did a headlining tour through Russia, which I can imagine would be very exciting, even for a band that runs as long as you do. What was that like?
Since 'Reign Of Light' we played Russia for every album and even though the tour was short, we succeed in playing St. Petersburg for the first time, which was a special event in its own right. We've played Moscow for the first time in 1991 and since then Russia had always been a very welcoming place for S A M A E L.

There is a lot of prejudice going around about Russia, and how someone who has power is someone that you can never disagree with. This would be just about the opposite as your lyrics tell one to act, but we'll come to that later. Did you notice anything on the point of that hierarchy over there?
We're aware of the political situation over there, but that's not a subject that came across while we were discussing with the Russians we met. The bond that links us together is the music and that's the reason why people came to see us. At least for the time of the concert everyone seemed to be in a different world, to make people's attention shift towards something else than everyday life is one of the important things about our music.

Between 'Above' and 'Lux Mundi' you celebrated your twentieth anniversary as a band. Didn't you find the time was right then to release a retrospective of some kind, apart from the vinyl version of you early demo 'Medieval Prophecy'?
We're living in the present and we're not too inclined to look back. The 'Medieval Prophecy' release on CD was due to the fact that numerous bootleg versions where available with very low sound quality – not that the original was sounding good, but it was even worse than that – so we decide to re-master it and make it available as a limited edition. Also our previous record company (Century Media, R. – LoM) releases a CD box set called 'A Decade In Hell' that includes every recording we did for them. But none of those were done in the idea to celebrate a band anniversary.

And since we're speaking of anniversaries, it must be around this year you reach the magical age of forty (congratulations on that too). You started the band when you were only eighteen. Looking back, are there any things you would have done any different, with the knowledge you have now?
Everything we're doing today, is what we would have done yet if we would have the experience we have now. I don't think we've done mistakes 'cause we've always tried to do things as good as we could and this is still our motivation today.

I understand this is a terrible question for a musician that thrives on his artistic integrity, but I'm going to ask it anyway: do you feel you left a lot of changes to have gained (a lot) more money?
We've always tried everything we wanted, at the moment we don't feel the need to experiment, our goal is to do the best album possible and to have songs we'll enjoy playing live. To restrain oneself in order to achieve commercial success is as wrong as experimenting to get artistic recognition 'cause you might get neither and lose your soul in the process.

About two years ago, the Estonian band Horricane did a cover version of your smashing classic song 'Rain'. Did you ever hear that version and did you like the fact that someone uses a song of yours?
It's very flattering that somebody takes the pain to cover one of our songs, I haven't heard the one you mention but I've heard a few version of 'Baphomet's Throne' and I like it when the bands are doing it in their own way.

That's the song most people got to know you with, great song too. When they did that cover, they also revealed the true names behind you aliases. Well, to me at least, and take it from me I already did more efforts to find that out. What do you think of that?
Everybody close to me call me Vorph. And that's the way I introduce myself, so I pretty much identify with that name.

Do you and your brother call eachother “Vorph” and “Xy” actually?
Yes, and that's probably one of the reasons nobody cares about our former names anymore.

I will not print tem, then. Something that is totally really unimportant, yet does gets noticed by everyone I speak about you is that you can grow really fast, in terms of muscular mass. What kind of fitness program do you follow and are you in your fit period now?
Sure I exercise a little bit but that's paramount before a tour, I don't want to struggle through our set and our performance is very demanding. Besides that, I'm vegetarian and I don't eat junk food, but I don't have any special fitness program.

band image


You're a good advertisement then. I never truly noticed any of that back in your lyrics, did I miss it?
I'm not trying to advertise anything here and I never thought my personal “hygiène de vie” would make an interesting topic for a song. Up to this point, we haven't publically taken any activist stand and we like to keep it that way.

Ok, back to the album again. It is quite clear that 'Above' gave a little push to the shape of this album. But one thing that has caught my attention is your vocals. They are bolder then they have ever been before. Are you trying on new things, or is that just evolution?
I made it more simple on the new album, my vocal lines are pretty straight forward. I didn't do much harmonies like it was the case on 'Reign Of Light' or 'Solar Soul' and the experience of 'Above' certainly helped things going toward that direction.

Am I right in saying that the general theme of the album is the inner force, the inner light, that you are trying to protect from those who want to plant in their ridiculous (white or black) religious thoughts?
Inner light is definitely the central point of 'Lux Mundi' and the idea behind the album title. It is also the main topic of songs as 'Soul Invictus', 'Let My People Be!' or 'Luxferre'.

So I've noticed, the lyrics are very strong (again). On the song 'In The Deep' you sort of get into the true meaning of the name Samaël. Did you feel know was the time to do that?
It came naturally this way. Once I got the title I knew the lyrics would be introspective, but instead of digging only inside myself. I've tried to go to the bottom of the entity we form as a band.

Yes, you are indeed known and appreciated a lot for the personal touch you gave to the lyrics. This time it seems to be more driven out of anger, while at the same time you take more distance of the topics. You don't sing them from out of your own perspective a lot. Is that purposely?
I often have the feeling that no matter what we're talking about, we're always talking about ourselves. I can get things from myself that would eventually be applied to the world, or like I did with certain songs, take examples from the world that would apply to myself, it really goes both ways but I don't particularly choose one over the other, it just comes that way.

Great! Another thing, we talked about last time how you usually add some sexual connotation to one or two songs. Apart from 'Pagan Trance' I couldn't find anything referring to that this time. Did it seem insignificant?
For me sensuality and spirituality are not opposed and in 'Pagan Trance' they're one and the same thing. I don't decide before an album is finished what will be the topics I'll tackle, the music will usually be my guide line.

Again a terrible question, I permit you to skip it if you don't feel like answering it, but your fans hope you do want to: is Samael a band that draws a lot of fans with naughty intentions? Or maybe even fans after a genuine relationship. If so, is there any adventure you would like to share?
I don't know what's on the mind of the people we meet while we're on tour, but they've always been nice to us…

Apart from that, what's another wild story you gained from twenty years of touring?
We don't have the typical Rock 'n' Roll approach of life that so many bands have, for me what matters when on tour is the shows we played and I want to make the best out of every single one of them. We did some crazy partying on days off, but usually you're never so sure of what then really happened.

How does the artwork relate to your lyrical content?
It's a black on black cover and you'll only see the artwork if there's enough light and that's the link to 'Lux Mundi' which mean “Light of the World” in English.

What is the most important thing your fans, or potentially new fans should know about you at this point of the band?
They don't need to know anything in particular, if they're fans they love and understand our music, that's probably the most important thing to know about us.

I see I am taking way too much of your time already. I am deeply sorry but I'm big enough of a fan to keep on asking until we filled a book. So, take that as a compliment. I wish you all the best you're your killer new album. It was an honor and a pleasure to nag you again. Therefore I favor you the honor of closing the interview down.
I glad you like the album, I hope other people will share your opinion about it. The music we do is meant to satisfy ourselves in the first place but when other people connect to our songs this is the best reward we could get. We'll tour Europe in September… until then take care and see you on the road!

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