Exclusive interview for Russian Gothic Page and RockCity Magazine (by Stanislav Ivanoff).
Clan of Xymox is one of the most respectable and vet gothic bands. Started in 1984, Ronny Moorings and company released a tremendous amount of albums, worked with such labels as 4AD and PolyGram, and constantly experimented with their music, exploring many different styles: from gothic rock to electro-pop. Released last year their latest album 'Creatures' inaugurated the final return to the band's origins - classic gothic rock of 80's. I talked about this and many other topics in my interview with the permanent leader of the band - Ronny Moorings.
To begin with a brief history of the band. Clan of Xymox was founded in 1984 in Amsterdam by Ronny Moorings. 1985 saw the release of the band's self-titled debut album, which was out by the leading English independent label 4AD. Two years after the second full-length album 'Medusa' was released while aided by the impressive 12" single 'A Million Things' the band really started to create a buzz. In October 1988 the band parted with 4AD, shortened its name to Xymox and signed to Wing, a left of center subsidiary of media monolith PolyGram. Under the wing of PolyGram Xymox released two albums 'Twist of Shadows' (1989) and 'Phoenix' (1991), and also three 12" singles: 'Obsession', 'Imagination' and 'Blind Hearts'. The band embarked on sellout tours around the world and featured in college, alternative and mainstream Billboard charts. 'Metamorphosis' (1992) and 'Headclouds' (1993) were released on Zok Records, an independent label, solely working for the band. Xymox was never afraid of changes, so these albums presented a whole range of styles and influences, leading on Xymox into the dance era of 90's. In 1994 Xymox released their first (1984, 500 copies) limited available album 'Subsequent Pleasures' on Double Dutch Records and Zok Records released a remix album, which contains only radio edits of the albums 'Metamorphosis' and 'Headclouds'. In 1997 Ronny Moorings ended the Xymox era, reformed Clan of Xymox and the band signed to USA and German based independent label TESS Records on which the historical album 'Hidden Faces' was released. Produced by Dave M. Allen (Sisters of Mercy, The Cure) and John A. Rivers (Dead Can Dance, Love and Rockets), it signalized the revival of Clan of Xymox and turned the band to its own history on another qualitatively new level. Two singles 'Out of the Rain' and 'This World' followed 'Hidden Faces' while in April 1999 Clan of Xymox released brand new album 'Creatures', which immediately ranked the first positions in independent music charts all over the world.
- So, last year you celebrated your 15th anniversary. This is quite a serious date in the creative activity of every band. Looking back, what can you say about all these years?
"I can say that I am very glad I had the opportunity to release all the music I have written. I can tell that I feel that I know what I want now, which has not always been the case. In a way I feel I just started with the band, I know that might sound strange to you but I really feel like this. Maybe it is because I restarted Clan of Xymox two years ago and knowing what I wanted with my music whilst in the Xymox period I wasn't always that sure about the musical directions I was taking. Although I always followed my mood and what you have on record, that is me, nearly like an audio photoalbum. Whilst writing music I always followed my emotions and never cared about its impact later on. With writing new material I am always looking out for new sounds, which will trigger my imagination in the right direction. The combination of synth sounds, guitars, noises and everything suitable makes it for me interesting to write new songs. I just like songs with that dark mood, for me, tracks have to have atmosphere, a good tune, tension, emotion and matching lyrics. The main thing in music is that artist always tries to find other ways to approach things. The development of all sorts of technological instruments or the use of forgotten instruments is a big help in that. It gives you greater freedom to express your inner world without being too dependent of other people to interpret your ideas. I certainly will continue to explore all musical options!"
- In the year of your 15th anniversary the new album 'Creatures' was out as well. I guess it also has some special meaning for you. Following 'Hidden Faces' tradition, it returns us back to your origins. It brilliantly blends old goth-rock base with the new sounding and the result is perfect indeed. Please, describe this album. Tell us how it was designed and created?
"It is the darkest album to date Clan of Xymox ever made. This is an album you can't judge by hearing it a few times, you have to listen to it quite a few times to fully grasp what is happening and than you will hear the vast amount of layers of keyboards working together with the guitars. The writing process is never a conscious matter for me, I know I store up a lot of feelings and emotions which I have to write about sooner or later so each album is a reflection of a certain period for me. I guess with 'Creatures' that was the mood I was in and I was/am very pessimistic about people in general. 'Hidden Faces' was written over a period of three years with ample material to choose from. I wrote in more different styles and even wrote enough material for an instrumental album. I simply chose the tracks which I liked the best and would highlight different aspects of Clan of Xymox, dark wave, industrial, ambient instrumental pieces and gothic rock songs. It feels more like a compilation of tracks. After recording of 'Hidden Faces' a different period for me set in, we started playing live a lot and I got more and more aware in which direction I wanted to go and felt most comfortable with. 'Creatures' is written in between one and a half year of touring and the writing process is different than the others as each time something occurred or caught my attention, I translated this almost directly into music, that's why it sounds like the most homogenous album recorded by Clan of Xymox ever and as far as I can see also the darkest one (and best if you ask my opinion) to date. You can simply say this was my reflection and inner mood after the release of 'Hidden Faces'. From on writing the first track I already knew and felt the direction of 'Creatures', the running order on 'Creatures' is nearly a chronological running order of the way the music was written and all tracks I wrote are used for this album. (I still have tracks left of the 'Hidden Faces' period but to me they felt not suitable to add to the 'Creatures' album.) As you know Clan of Xymox always delivered an album with a hybrid combination between keyboards and guitars, only the overall atmosphere this time is much darker than the previous releases. As far as I can see this is the line I will follow for the future as I feel this suits me the best and feel the most comfortable with; the dark side of Clan of Xymox!"
- Who are Clan of Xymox at the moment? What can you say about the present line-up? Are you pleased with your work together?
"The present live Clan of Xymox line up is Mojca (bass), Rui Ramos (drums) Nina Simic (keyboards) and myself. We have been touring two years non stop throughout the world. It is not something to take lightly as it takes a lot from people, but the most important factor is that we get along pretty well so we can cope with a lot of things. I think it shows the best that we still go to a bar after a lenghty tour where you face eachother 24 hours a day."
- Did the rest of the band take part in the creation of 'Creatures'?
"No, not quite, I write the music and words at home and later record and perform the music in the studio. During the writing process I will show songs to Mojca and ask her opinion and I think she is always right with her comments and criticism in the early stages of the writing process. Of course I never agree at first but have always to admit in retrospect she was right. So basically I rely a lot on Mojca and if she likes what I wrote than it passes the test for me to record it later for a record. Even from the beginning of Clan of Xymox in 1984 I always wrote music and words on my own so I never seen the reason to change my habit. I just feel more comfortable writing on my own without having to explain myself or what I want to anyone else. Sometimes I get inspired though, like with "Jasmine and Rose", for example Rui played a certain rhythm, Mojca played the bass and I played the guitar, that was a sort of "jamming session" that inspired me to go to my workroom later to work out the idea further, so indirect there is always an input or even certain situations I experience in or with the band during touring that might inspire my lyrics etc."
- You toured much supporting your new album, right? You had huge U.S. tour and other performances. How were they? What can you say about fan's reaction on your album?
"So far we had the most amazing positive reactions we ever received on the release of a new album from all over the world. Indeed the US tour was a big tour where we traveled the entire States and also went to Canada. Our highlight was definite the Halloween night in Denver as this a special event in the States, everyone gets dressed up in the most Gothic or simply looking scary way, of course the venue was sold out and the crowd was amazing, they couldn't get enough. Luckily after the show we had some time to hang out in a local Denver where the Halloween party continued. I can tell you that we really enjoyed the tour and of course it was not our first tour in the States. We build up during the years a loyal following and of course we always get discovered by new people who became at a legal age to go to a concert. We have a pretty diverse crowd though, it is not only the Gothic scene but also a lot of "normal" dressed people of all walks of life."
- I believe that Clan of Xymox won't stop and look forward into the future. What are your further plans?
"Making more music I hope!"
(c) 1999 Russian Gothic Project
Design by Chthon (c) 1999