- Magnes (Pawel Gzyl, Poland) 2008
- Black (Domink Tischleder, Germany), 2003
- Anxious (Krzyzstof Azarewicz, Poland), 2002
- Actions (David Cotner, USA), 2000
COTTON FEROX INTERVIEW – PAWEL GZYL, MAGNES, POLAND 2008
– Carl, do you remember your the first visit in Cracow in 1991, when you presented occult movies during short festival organized by magazine “BRULION”?
Carl: Yes. I had a wonderful time there. I really like Crakow. It’s a lovely place. I did a lecture and showed some films to a very interested and attentive crowd. Beautiful people. I have great memories from that trip.
– I suppose that you are still interested in occult. What is so fascinating for you in it? What is the main goal of using magical teachings/tactics in music/art?
Carl: I guess one never really loses interests. But to a certain degree they take on new forms. The core of my interest has always been the expression of filtered impressions. That’s one definition of art for me. Is it possible to change things? I think so. But my main vehicle this past decade hasn’t been “occultism” per se, but rather art. Art contains all of life whereas occultism is a literally quite esoteric sphere. That’s the nature of it. I don’t really want to keep anything in my life hidden. On the contrary, I want to make my art completely available and visible to the entire world. The main goal? To accomplish and change. To reach inside and drag out, whether it hurts or not. To give content some form, to set the spirits of life free.
– You cooperate with Genesis P-Orridge. What is your opinion about this artist? What do you think about his present ideas? Any new plans for cooperation?
Carl: I think Genesis is one of the most important artists alive today. He gives content form and sets the spirits of life free, as I mentioned earlier. We have worked on some musical projects together, both with White Stains and Cotton Ferox, and we hope to do more. We are currently working on a book of interviews, ranging from 1986 and onwards. It will be quite a unique book, given that long time-span.
– You were a member of infamous Temple Ov Psychick Youth. That organization was accused about being a dangerous sect. What is your opinion?
Carl: I guess it all depends on who you ask. I had a great time networking with super-interesting people. A great and open-minded environment in which to develop. Keep in mind that this was before the Internet. But we kept information of all sorts flowing and created some magical art that still resonates today.
– Why did you decide to finish an activity of your previous group – White Stains?
Carl: Every entity or organism has its given time, its life-span. White Stains vibrated and resonated between 1987 and 1994. I can only answer for myself, but I felt that I had given what I could within that specific entity. I took some years off from music, then recorded some solo projects, and eventually drifted into Thomas Tibert again in 2000. We didn’t even have to say anything. It was simply time to make some music again. And so the Cotton Ferox-story began.
– Is Cotton Ferox a project for new times – more club/dance than experimental oriented?
Carl: This varies a lot. One could say that some of the music that’s been released has been more structured or accessible for a wider audience, but that’s not a goal per se for us. We still produce some very weird and cutting edge tracks too. I would be very bored if we did only one thing, one kind of music. I think that’s the reason why we are now focusing on the live experience more than just recording a new album. We work equally much with photography, videos and poetry, all under Cotton Ferox multi-coloured umbrella. For me it’s a paradise, as I work with writing and photography and videos outside of Cotton Ferox too.
– Cotton Ferox`s music is combined with techno, ambient and dub elements. What have in common all these genres? Are these kinds of electronic music a re-incarnations of spirit of psychodelia from 60s and industrial from 80s?
Carl: To generalize a bit: If the 60’s were all light and the industrial 80’s all darkness, then it’s just logical (at least from a dialectical perspective) that we’re in the colourful phase today. We do have ideas and ideals and we try to filter these through our art. In that principal sense, there’s a strong bond with both 60’s hippies and 80’s existentialists. I think re-incarnation is a pretty correct term for it. Yes, we are a re-incarnation of a certain spirit that is more than entertainment yet less than pure philosophy. I think our next album will be called “Mushroom Cloud Rainbow”. That sort of sums it up – the ambivalence of meaning that still has the power to touch people emotionally because of the evocative potential. We can have a fantastic time and a great life and at the same time inspire people. That really is the blessing of being an artist.
– Do you try to transmit your occultural ideas through club music?
Carl: I’m not certain exactly what you mean by club music. But yes, we try to transmit our view of life, our expressions of our filtered impressions. That is the heavy burden of the artist. It mustn’t necessarily be heavy in the expression though. We have a quite stimulating, open-minded and inviting show. It can be just that. Or it can be an inspiration for people during that hour or even beyond that.
– Do you think that club crowd recognize your neo-paganic message during parties? Are club goers interested in it?
Carl: In our case, I think it will be hard to miss. Some will probably think that it’s a psychedelic overload of impressions, but we just follow our intuition and try out new things as we go along. We do what we do because we have to and we share it with the world. People don’t really have to recognize anything. I think the best is if they’re pleasantly surprised or, even better, inspired.
– What can we expect from Cotton Ferox visit in Cracow?
Carl: Stimulating photo-and video-projections, great music for body as well as mind, some poetry and two struggling artists trying not to be boring middle-aged old men. Two Swedish battle tanks filled with love!
COTTON FEROX INTERVIEW – DOMINIK TISCHLEDER, BLACK, GERMANY 2003
– What are some of your earliest memories and how do you think they are relevant to a person that are you today?
CA: There’s always been music and art in my family, so I think that has contributed greatly. Although I can’t remember the actual moment, Ornette Coleman came by my parents’ place with a cradle when I was just born. My father ran a jazz club in Stockholm in the 60’s, ”The Golden Circle”, so, whether I understood it then or not, I hung out very early on with very weird musicians and artists. I realise now that that’s probably had an impact on some crucial level.
– I think your music (in this case no matter if it is with WHITE STAINS, TAN TRICK or COTTON FEROX) creates often a very sensual, erotic atmosphere, is this a sort of atmosphere you try in some ways to create? I also think of your publishing nostalgic swedish erotica pornos, why and how you became interested in such forms of erotica or sleaze (anything special about swedish erotica)?
CA: I’ve been very interested in sleaze for a long time, but I think it’s fading. The texts on the tracks ”Red Light Glow” and ”Deep in the night” on the album are about my own relationship to things I’ve been fascinated by: striptease, prostitution, pornography, etc, a world of its own with its own rules and moral codes. If others can perceive a sensual and erotic streak in the music, I think that’s great. When we toured Germany in 1993 with White Stains, women actually came up to us and said exactly that: that the music was sexy. It was a big but nice surprise for us. But when it comes to actively striving for a union between eroticism and art, photography has been my main medium.
– What can you say about the lyrics of COTTON FEROX first time hurts (general concept?, is ”Modern World” inspired by Evola, who wrote the very poetically german lyrics to ”Volatile Eternity”…)?
CA: We tried to be open-minded and didn’t really conceptualise at all. Michael Gira was also invited, but he was too busy this time around. So he’ll probably be on the next album. I think we’ll continue to work with interesting people, musically or intellectually and that’s something that will colour the albums as entities. ”Modern World” is definitely inspired by Evola’s ”Revolt against the modern world”. That book and his ”Men among the ruins” are like medicine to me. I do get affected by contemporary culture and it’s not healthy. As for ”Volatile Eternity”, it was written by the German poet Albrecht Haushofer. He was the son of Karl Haushofer, the third Reich’s geopolitical theorist. I find it a very moving poem – a political and very personal reflection at the same time.
– M. MOYNIHAN and GENESIS P´ORRIDGE need no further introduction, but please inform our readers about KRISTER LINDER (the wonderful voice on ”Phantasmoplasm”). Did these tree artists just follow your ideas on the record or did they contribute to the music or lyrics?
CA: Krister is a very fine singer indeed and has been around for some time in Sweden. He started out as a regular popstar, but drifted more and more into stranger music: experimental drum’n’bass and ambient stuff. He’s produced some really brilliant other-worldly music, but it’s his voice that’s truly magnificent. It was an honour to work with him again. He mixed my solo album (Oiling Noregs vs Deform Project’s ”Outside the Centre of Myself”) in 1999 and really added a lot of atmosphere to that record. Michael Moynihan recorded his own translation of an old Ernst Jünger text. He really got me into Jünger some years ago, something I’m very greatful for. The Genesis piece was recorded with Gen in Stockholm earlier this year, when we recorded the second Cotton Ferox album. It’s all with Gen and it’s a delightful journey into sounds and insights. It will be released in the autumn of 2002.
– How would you describe COTTON FEROX to someone who hasn´t heard i yet?
CA: Well, one of our ideas behind the project is that it’s supposed to be contradictive to a great extent. I don’t think we’d fuck up something great just to mix in contradictive elements for the sake of it, but so far I think we’ve succeeded in creating a strange mix of many things. There are elements of ambient, dub, regular song structures and many weird soundscapes. Thomas Tibert is a genius, that’s all I can say! Plus all the vocal bits on top. I hope it creates an active interest in the listener. We want the actual listening to be an emotionally and intellectually active process. Sometimes it’s definitely not easy listening, but we hope it’s worth the effort.
– Would you like to start a concert tour with COTTON FEROX, perhaps with a special performance?
CA: We’re planning for concerts and possibly tours too. It’s our hope that all the gigs will be special performances. I don’t think two gigs will ever be the same. So far, we’ve worked together with Swedish video artist Mikael Prey (Fetish 23) and Simon Kane from London with video projections when we’ve played live. We do want things to be very visually stimulating too.
– Why did you stop making music under the name WHITE STAINS?, my impression from your story on your homepage is that the last tour was perhaps a little bit ”too much” for you…
CA: I worked very closely together with Peter Bergstrandh, who’s an excellent and very creative musician. But we’d worked really intensely together for four years and we just felt it was enough. I do remember us having some naive ideas about actually making money off the music, but the German tour in 1993 left us with four Deutsch Marks… To share! The final album, ”Why not forever?” was released by Danse Macabre just after the tour, when in fact they had promised it would be out before the tour. There were many things that made us just want to kick back for a while.
– What is the Institute of Comparative Magico-Anthropology? (latest and general activities, current status)
CA: It’s an idea that sometimes leads to manifestation. The first big project was called ”Bardo Tibet” and consisted of a lot of research, several months in Northern India in 1996 and several months in Nepal and Tibet in 1999. We were interested in their views on magic, rituals, etc. In 2000, a great book came out with the same name, with Max Fredrikson’s fantastic photos and a lengthy introduction by me. What’s next? All I can say that it’s a slow moving project, but there will be more expeditions and more book projects. The ”Bardo Tibet” book was a great step forward for The Institute.
– You are well known in the area of magick, is this for you more an interest or way of life, which resonates in your various art projects or is traditional ritual magic of concern to you in your daily life?
CA: The most important thing is always to integrate any wisdoms or insights into daily life. Rituals and occultism have no value in themselves to me. I used to be very interested in those topics and have certainly devoted a lot of time to exploring various traditions and schools. But what it all comes down to, at least according to me, is that you have a life and you have a will. If those two aren’t united, bad things come. If they are united, on the other hand, miracles will happen. I work hard with trying to stay on the United path.
– Crowley is regarded my most schoolars as a magus, who was basically on a mystic path (in the sense of annihilation of the self) Do you see yourself as a mystic too in that sense (I ask, cause you are said to be a member of the OTO and the COS and for ”satanists” is the annihilation of the self more a disqualifying factor)
CA: What can be seen as something of a philosophical conflict, I think can easily be viewed from a kind of taoist perspective: Why choose between one or the other when you can integrate both? I see no discrepancy or conflict. The concept of ”self” is really just a psychological term that’s hard to understand. It’s all just theories and names anyway.
– Satanism is one term that can still really cause much confusion, because it was and still is (besides LaVey) mostly used in a polemical sense. Do you think ”Satanists” (like you) use this term just because it fits to the concept or is confusion (frightening people etc.) part of the ”game”. Your thoughts on this…
CA: I have absolutely no interest in confusing or provoking people. I just do what I feel I have to do. It’s strange how certain phenomena and terms are charged with such a potent glamour. I will never deny the inspiration from LaVey. I will never not call myself a Satanist. But I’m not on a path where I feel I have to introduce myself with the term or shove it down people’s throats. The best thing you can do is, I think, to inspire other people to think and act for themselves.
– You (like LaVey) seemed to be fascinated of long forgotten treasures in the area of cinema, what movies did you enjoy lately?, do you see a certain ”power” or indulgence in alienation and in doing these kind of ”occult cultural archaeology” ?, please describe your fascination…
CA: I think that one trustworthy navigator in life is resonance. For me, it’s OK to feel resonance without having to analyze why I feel the specific resonance. It has to do with aesthetics, childhood memories, significant phases, personal quantum leaps and transformations, etc. Alienation is an interesting thing in this respect. I’ve found solitude, darkness and silence to be among the most creative states of existence. The feeling of being outside, looking in, has followed me all through my life. Hence, I think, the fascination for voyeurism and weird kinds of anthropology. I’m also a strong believer in the power of talismans. Not necessarily inscribed with demonic or angelic sigils from ancient esoteric lore, but rather just objects, places or whatever that have inspirational power because they’ve belonged to certain persons or because they’ve been part of something that means something to you. Art is very potent in this sense – a great non-rational way to leave seeds of change in various places and dimensions. As for movies, it’s just obvious: Why spend time with ”Tomb Raider” when you can watch ”The Maltese Falcon”? I think the shit around us is becoming so overwhelming, that it’s no wonder that watching a movie with real sentiments becomes a sacred act of time travel and holiness.
– Magic is of course also often used in a purely aesthetic sense (adjective magically), why do you think that is and where do you see the relation between Magic and Music, especially as regards COTTON FEROX and your earlier works.
CA: That’s an interesting question. On an intellectual level, I hope that the material presented will make people go ”What do they mean? What’s this supposed to be?” or ”That’s fantastic… I have to check this out!”. To be seeds of their own magical development. On an emotional level, I hope the music can conjure atmospheres that are conducive to altered states of mind. Not as escapism, but as interesting and inspiring vibrations to higher explorations within. I think I’ve looked at things from that perspective all along, in all the music I’ve been involved in creating, alone or together with other people.
– You always had a lot of different activities running, could you please inform our readers about future plans and/or current status of LOOKING GLASS PRESS, FENRIS WOLF, BULT, TAN TRICK, editing MAGICAL LINK etc.?
CA: Looking Glass is no more. That was a publishing company that lasted between 1994 and 1998. Although we worked very hard with commercial advertising to make ends meet, the financial strain was too much. I moved on to another company instead: Übertext. It’s basically a company to promote my writing and photography, but it has also been the publisher of the art magazine BULT. Fenris Wolf will be out again. I know, it’s been ten years since the last issue and noone really belives me anymore. But who cares…? BULT no 2 will be out this year, and will be presented as a book rather than a magazine. Loads of goodies in there. Tan Trick is no more, because Cotton Ferox now reign supreme in the musical fields. However, there is a Tan Trick album, recorded in 1994, that will be released in 2002. Finally!
– Talking about sweden and perhaps ”stereotypes” or ”clichees”, what do you think about…
1.) Astrid Lindgren
She’s been a big influence on most Swedish kids, I think. In these times of shoot’em up computer games and moronic docusoap TV, her works are highly praised and rightly so. In a culture that breaks the spells of human fantasy and enchantment, she actively tried to weave the spells. There’s an anarchic, childlike, optimistic and benevolent spirit in all her works that still doesn’t shy away from the fact that life contains many dark elements. Her death recently probably made the Swedish population realise how influential she actually was.
Well-arranged pop. I’m not disturbed by it but I’m not enthusiastic either. I think they’ve managed to live on simply because of the overall negative inflation of the concept of Quality. When the total crap is overwhelming, the quality stuff stands out.
3.) Swedish Death Metal like Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed
I’ve never had any relationship to that kind of music, so I couldn’t really say. But I’m certain they’ve worked hard for their success, so I’m happy for them.
– We have here in BLACK one ”standard” questions, what are your last bought records? and by the way, what was the first record you bought in your life?
CA: Actually, I haven’t bought any records in a long time. I do get sent interesting things from friends with labels or just people I meet. And I do occasionally buy old spoken word records, to see if there’s something that could be used live or sampled somehow. As for the first record, I can’t remember either. It was probably some nonsense. However, when I woke up to music seriously, around 1978-79, I was in a state of bliss constantly. I remember hanging out at Pet Sounds, the best record store in Stockholm at the time, eagerly waiting for the British music weeklies and the UK and US imports to arrive.
COTTON FEROX INTERVIEW – KRZYZSTOF AZAREWICZ, ANXIOUS, POLAND 2003
1. Carl, you are well known from your very wide spectrum of cultural activity. In context of our magazine, first thing I’d like to ask about is musick. Not so long ago you created your new musical incarnation – Cotton Ferox. What happened with your long time existing project White Stains?
CA: Well, in 1994 me and then member Peter Bergstrandh thought we’d done enough. We had just finished a European tour together with Cassandra Complex. It was all very interesting, but there was absolutely no money involved. The German label Danse Macabre released our final album after the tour but had promised to release it before the tour. Things like that. We had also, in our minds, delved well into different styles of music and made some pretty great albums over the years. It was a good time to quit. After this, I continued making music on my own. There’s one unreleased Tan Trick album and in 2000, the project Oiling Noregs vs Deform Project released a CD through my art fanzine BULT. So the music-making has kept haunting me – It’s very hard for me not to be involved in music…
2. Do you consider Cotton Ferox as some kind of continuation of White Stains? Does it have the same motives, ideas, etc?
CA: Considering the project consists of me and Thomas Tibert, another seminal White Stains character, it’s hard not to regard Cotton Ferox as White Stains, part 2. Our communication and rapport is better now than it used to be, and although we’re very different as persons, our unions are usually very constructive. Our differences are actually an integrated part of our goal for Cotton Ferox: the union of opposites. Whereas differences often led to arguments and headaches in White Stains, we now strive at actively playing around with contrasts and conflicts in Cotton Ferox. As for other motives and ideas, one could very well say they’re the same as they used to be: We want to make psychedelic music that activates the intellect.
3.Your first album, First Time Hurts, has unique, evocative atmosphere. It oscilates between etheric space and tribal soundscapes. Everything is riched by your vocals, almost „spoken words”. The whole has almost meditative charakter. Was this effect intentional?
CA: In a way, yes. But we didn’t start out seeking a specific effect. We always have very vague visions when we start out. Meaning we know what we’re after but often have a hard time defining it mentally. And it usually ends up very different anyway. But it was certainly a distinct concept to make the first album ”spoken word” oriented, to include the poetic aspects of words so that it wasn’t merely another ambient album. We also wanted to include friends in this way, hence the contributions from Genesis, Michael and Krister.
4. Since many years you’ve been known on many fields of art. Tell me, do you think there is possibility of creating something original in music? Does it have any limits? How does original seem to be music of Cotton Ferox?
CA: As a concept, I guess we belong more in the art sphere than on the regular ambient- or electronica scene. As we actually have things like concepts and like to work with intellectual, philosophical or political themes, that makes the experience a bit more extended than just plain trip-indulgent music. In that sense, I do think that we’re original, as being intellectual and psychedelic pathfinders. I do think it’s a shame though that a lot of the music has been dictated by the current music technology. I would like for us to strive for more instrument use on the coming albums. Although there’s a lot that can be done with current software and technologies, I do think it confines the music to one very, very flat dimension. I don’t mean that this could be solved by using more reverb. I mean that the digital sphere is simply not organic. That’s something I’d like to produce in Cotton Ferox: more organic music. Music that’s throbbing and pulsating with blood, sinew and muscle… If we can arrange that, we would certainly be original today! In general, I do think it’s absolutely possible to create truly new and original material in all fields of art. However, this must stem from the soul of the artist, not from the technology used. I can’t stress this enough. The creativity that we’ve seen over the past decade, for instance, has been technology-based. I.e. tools like Cubase, Reason, Photoshop etc have been so predominant that people are just drifting and expecting the software to be the artist. And then claim that ”they” as persons have created something in making certain minor technical choices or adjustments. I think that the more primordial and raw the expression is, the more refined and adept is the artist in question. We’re living in an era of narcissistic ironic mirror-art, mere self reflections with a certain sense of wit. Art should rather be subtle or brutal explosions of will, intent and life force, if you ask me!
5. On your debut I found names of a few quests, among others, M. Moynihan, G. P-Orridge… With this last you recorded an excellent White Stains album, At Stockholm. Your acquaintance with Genesis has a long history. When and how did you meet each other?
CA: We first met in London in 1986. I’d been inolved in TOPY for a couple of years then. Parallel to this, I edited a fanzine called ”Lollipop”. I interviewed him in 1986 and we had a chance to discuss both TOPY-related things as well as then current music-related things. I think we’ve managed to keep a very healthy and constructive relationship over the years. We’ve worked on musical projects, book projects and we’ve even been on holiday together. I have very few friends that I’ve kept so close for such a long time.
6. You coocreated an idea of TOPY as well. What’s going on with this project now? I know that officialy activity of Temple was finished years ago. Any plans for ressurection?
CA: There are offshoots and spinoffs and splinter groups all around the world. The interesting thing is that it seems like both structure and idea have been equally inspiring to people. I feel very much involved in carrying on a living tradition, if that’s the correct term to use for such a young group. I couldn’t cope with the structure, meaning I didn’t have the time to deal with the administration anymore. Gen felt the same way, as did the American counterpart, Tom. We more or less took a new direction together, without knowing about it. I still work with Gen and what we do is very much a continuation of what we did a long time ago. For instance, the second, coming Cotton Ferox album, ”Wordship”, which was done together with Gen, is the follow-up to 1990’s ”At Stockholm”-album.
7. You worked on the book about Gen as well. I mean Painful but Fabulous which contains your texts and photos. It’s not your first photographic revealing… You published a book with your pictures taken in Tibet. What is so fascinating in photography for you?
CA: The Tibet book actually contains photos by Max Fredrikson who is also an old friend of mine. I wrote the text in it. But it’s true, I did take a lot of photos on the various Asian trips. And there has been more and more interest in my work as a photographer in terms of exhibitions. I really can’t explain what’s the reason behind my fascination. In essence, I think it’s that I belong to the now almost mythical character, ”the gatherer”. I go on treks, either near or far, and bring back material to my cave. I’ve been working as a journalist in the same way: traveling, interviewing people and bringing the wisdom or folly home. If you prefer to look at it from a psychological perspective, you could say I’m a voyeur. I like to watch and document at a distance and then draw my own conclusions from my findings. A private kind of anthropology study.
8. The trip to Tibet was connected with project of Institute for magicko-antropological comparatistivic studies. [I’m really sorry but I don’t know the „proper” name of this Institute.]
Could you tell me more about this body? What is the whole idea about?
CA: At first, it started out as ”The Institute for Comparative Misanthropolgy”. I liked to toy with labels, names, umbrellas, think-tank-structures etc. This was in the early 1990’s. In the mid-90’s, I changed this particular one to ”The Institute for Comparative Magico-anthropolgy”, as I felt that had more potential in terms of actually creating something substantial through it. It went from being an idea, a concept, to a real, very tangible project. The project has as its aims to gather information about how man relates to magic and ritual. The Tibetan project was extremely interesting in this sense. We interviewed monks, nuns, lamas etc every day for several moths. This will eventually be published in a more text-oriented book than the photo book ”Bardo Tibet” that you referred to earlier. It’s such an intriguing subject–and such an important one!–in a world where superficiality is forced upon us even by violence today. I feel it’s my duty to preserve–if only in documentation–this hugely important aspect of human life and human culture before it’s totally eradicated. I see this as a project I will work actively with all through my life, in the hope that there will one day be a museum specifically for magico-anthropology that I can donate the lot to.
9. You seem to be very busy man. Publishing books, editing magazines, doing musick, photography, etc. Creativity is very important part of your life…
CA: Yes. Over the years I’ve certainly had my share of internal struggles about this… Early on, I decided to follow my own intuition and later on my own will. This could have been fairly easy had my interest or will been limited to one specific thing, like, for instance, writing. But in my case, it’s been a mix of writing, taking photos and making music. These parts have been the essence of my life. Now I just live with that, and quite happily so. It’s not a bad life after all… One good thing about being diligent and hardworking is that as you grow older, there’s bound to be if not fame, then at least infamy! Which means you can attract editors or publishers more easily when it’s a matter of the writing. Models, girls, bands, artists etc contact you when they’ve seen your photos, as well as editors and gallery people. And with the music, it’s the same there: When people know you exist, they get in touch and want you to come play. That’s the main advantage of never giving up and just sticking to your own vision, regardless of whether life is cruel or kind: It’s the hard times that give you strength to carry on… And that strength will always lead on to new manifestations.
10. Is this creative factor connected with any obsessions (in A.O. Spare’s meaning of this word) which drive you in particular direction? Do they have any common denominator?
CA: Well, I guess you could look at this in many different ways. I don’t value psychology highly enough to merely say that ”massive manifestation suggests an inferiority complex” or something similar. I believe that psychology is just a very loosely-knit and extremely experimental science, if one dares call it even that. What I do believe though, is that when you have a talent for something, it’s your sacred duty to the whole to pursue it and work hard with it. One can refine and develop one’s qualities indefinitely, but one can never really become a different person. My need for manifestation I think more has to do with the fact that I like to work a lot and I like to see things manifested, in books, magazines, records, exhibitions etc. It’s become a lifestyle. I do hope that whatever it is I do can inspire people too.
If you’re smart, do something smart, if you’re beautiful, do something that displays the beauty, if you’re musically talented, you simply have to make music… It’s as simple as that! The only time you can really lose is when you’re pretending to be someone else. One should also be careful in constantly evaluating oneself and be honest about the findings and never be concerned about what other people might think. It should be totally irrelevant what other people think or say.
11. What is the difference between creativity and following scheme and trends in the art? Is creativity in modern, fixed and consolidated cultural pattern possible at all?
CA: Yes, I think so. Basically it has to do with being open to ideas and to the primal energy of creation. I think there are as many, if not more, creative people in other walks of life than art. The art world is a huge illusion and the idea of an art school is preposterous to me. Creative people are those with a passion for a certain thing and who also work very hard with it through an accumulated experience of life. I think that creativity exists all around us and especially in people you’d never suspect at first glance. Very few people who’ve attended art school eventually end up as artists. This has to do with the fact that a direct experience of life is necessary: the fight and struggle of life at its rawest. In a secluded and academic environment this is not possible.
12. I know you are interested in magick. What is the place of magickal arts in cultural paradigm in your opinion? Do they create some kind of vital influx in culture? Do they fix current of cultural development? Or maybe magick is an alternative for all ruling philosopohies or culural trends?
CA: These are interesting questions. Magic as a phenomenon has undoubtedly been a very marginal thing up until recently. There is definitely an increased interest and a resurgence in real life as well as in its reflection: entertainment. Music, books and movies, to name but a few media, have brought on a huge mass of information and inspiration to look further and deeper. If even only one percent of all the people exposed to this influx are genuinely affected, i.e. actually start treading a path of genuine spiritual development, then that’s considerably more than what was the case 40 years ago.
What started in the 60’s with the Eastern romance and the drugs have now caught on to something very much more substantial and constructive: young European people embrace their own cultural heritage and embrace it in a religious or magical way. For me, this is the only hope for mankind not to starve spiritually. I would like to see a greater heterogenization of ideas and values. Increased interest in the world is fantastic and home is naturally always where the heart is. But I also think that one always returns home in a physical sense too, meaning not to a specific house, but to a specific culture. This, I think, is the greatest reason for the problems we can see in America today. There’s such a huge amount of general historical as well as ethnical confusion plus other internal problems that they have to project the anger and confusion outwards in order not to implode. I think a lot of people in Europe are waking up to the fact that European history is more tangible and real than ”Beverly Hills 90120”.
Neo-Paganism, for the lack of a better term, I see as a great beacon of light in this respect. All good trees have healthy and steady roots. Young people not only should but must look to their roots and their origins and unite with the past in order to build a better future. I mean, what’s the point in Polish people taking absurd orders from a Roman power structure based on Semitic ideas? It’s absurd, a degradation, and, in terms of the contraceptive orders, a systematic rape of many generations of Polish women. I hope the Catholic Church will lose its grip of Poland and that soon. I’m much more curious in what went on and, hopingly, what’s still going on in the Polish forests at night!
Magic is very hard to define and I don’t think that even Crowley succeeded that well. It’s too much of an individual thing. But given that this creative blossom is allowed to grow, whether at night or day, magic is certainly an agent of transformation all through life. Perhaps one definition could be ”directed life force”. How people relate to that I can’t really say, but I certainly hope that they do!
13. Is your musical acitivity connected with any magickal experiments?
CA: Certainly. On a philosophical level, as mentioned, we actively work with the union of opposites. We either softly integrate minimal opposites or by force clash two contradicting elements against each other. On a more subdued level, we integrate ideas and concepts we know are seeds, either for personal or for larger flowers that will eventually bloom as a result. Also, in the structures, we like to use things that we know are inspiring or evocative for other people, in their own meditations-listenings-trips-etc… Certain sounds, scapes, rhythms, collage effects and so on. That’s what really makes Cotton Ferox a worthwhile experience for me: that it’s such a multifaceted tool to work with. We’re certainly not a band in the traditional sense.
14. In this context I’d like to ask you about playing live. What does ideal relation between musicians and audience mean to you?
CA: Here we come again to the music technology of today and its inherent advantages as well as drawbacks. There can never be organic interplay between musician and audience if there’s noone there to actually physically change the vibrations. I have been hesitant about our live work, as I feel we’ve been too attached to our computers. That’s not a good thing. The concert you saw in London is one of the best so far. I was in good spirits in terms of my own recitations and Krister Linder is a true singer, a true and geuine musician. We need to have more of that before we can affect people live. Strangely enough though, we had really strong reactions in Denmark in April. One woman came up to us almost in tears afterwards and said she’d enjoyed it so much. We didn’t have Krister along then but we did have a new and more powerful play of images on the backdrop. Things like that affect too, but it can never replace the organic vibrations stemming from one human being to the other. It’s almost like a sexual energy that transcends gender concepts. Computers are the condoms of music. You can fuck around as much as you want and you’re always safe. But you can never conceive new life. And that’s what I think the live shows should be all about: an explosive and vibratory orgy totally in tune with the harmony of the spheres.
15, Well, I think that’s all. Thank you, Carl, for All. Just, please, tell me about your nearest plans; when can we expect senond album of Cotton Ferox?
CA: As mentioned previously, the next album is called ”Wordship” and is a collaboration with Genesis P-Orridge. It’s the follow-up release to 1990’s album by White Stains and Psychic TV called ”At Stockholm”. We hope to release it in the autumn of 2003. I’m very proud of this album as I think our music and his words and voice complement each other fantastically well.
16. Last word belongs to you…
CA: Well then it’s in good order that I thank the beautiful young women and men from Poland who’ve been in touch over the years and have expressed interest and support. I haven’t been to Poland for over ten years now, but hope to return some time soon to meet more people and take more photos and write more and make and play more music for Polish people.
COTTON FEROX INTERVIEW – DAVID COTNER, ACTIONS, 2000
DC: What is the most demoralising aspect of what you create?
CA: Perhaps it is that I sometimes feel I offer avenues/structures of potential freedom in my soundscapes or words. That could be potentially demoralising for someone who doesn’t have the preparations within. That I think is something that will be more evident in coming written works. It’s not so much a provocation for its own sake but rather something that seems to be inherent in what I do, as it (whatever it is – music, writing, photography, painting etc) quite often deals with concepts like true individual freedom and how to enforce it. So in many ways I feel the ”moralising” (in this sense meaning individually strengthening constructive morals) and the ”demoralising” walk hand in hand, in creative union. And that, I guess, is as it should be…
DC: Does the motivation to carry on stem from you, or your work?
CA: This is a very tricky question. There is an undefinable drive that keeps me going and I think it has to do with my focussing neurotic energy early on in my life. It just keeps the flame burning. But at the same time I’m fascinated and motivated by manifestation too. Crowley has written about not lusting for result but that’s kind of hard when you’re in a creative business where you express yourself through a multitude of actual items – books, magazines, records etc. I think it’s more important to – sometimes – actively be detached from the process and the end result. But of course it’s very healthy to care about and to improve the end result. But the deeper I get into this, my own process, the more I realise that the work is spiritual fuel too, not just a mechanical, arithmetical, logical striving for results.
DC: What role does criticism play?
CA: Slim to none in my case. As my work is not dependent of other people’s views or opinions, I’m not really concerned. It does have a promotional value, though. Even a bad review is good, in the sense that it gives the project the credit of at least being worth mentioning. Constructive criticism from people I respect is valuable, but mainly from a point of view of generally inspiring conversation with folks I admire. The main bulk of criticism comes from professional nay-sayers around the world, many among my friends, who’re basically looking for their own means of expression but in the mean time just ”dis” others.
DC: Can your compositions ever be ”finished”?
CA: Yes, as existing sound structures. But as music, no. For me it’s a two-, or even multi-way, process. There is a structure, but it has to be listened to. The listener adds to the moment of experience by the emotions the structure evokes. That’s what makes it so intriguing. When I feel it’s time to leave a track behind, all mixed , mastered, even released or broadcast, then that’s when it really begins… So the compositions will never be finished as long as there are people listening.
DC: Is it possible to divorce your music from outside influence?
CA: Yes, I think so. If you look at the answer above, the kind of music I make needs some form of response from the listener to become alive and active. So as for them, they are two distinctly divorced parts that, if all goes well, become married in an audioerotic relationship. As for myself, I would like to see myself as divorced from outside influence. I just fidget about with knobs and keys. The influence, if it has direction at all, comes from the inside and out.
DC: Does your music ever make you feel sexy?
CA: Yes, to a certain extent. Male sexuality extends from the creative potential of the phallus. Aggressive manifestation. The potential of fertilisation, no matter on what plane. I’m a fairly asexual person but I realise that everything I do in terms of creative projects is steeped in a strong sexual force. So I do feel very sexy when working.
DC: Is your work an act of curiosity, or of contempt?
CA: Well, I would certainly hope one of curiosity. I’ve tried to cut down on different modes of expression so that the overall transmission doesn’t get diluted. So now I’m only down to writing, music, photography and, to a certain extent, painting. So, hell yes, I’m a curious person. Contempt is just something I feel when I don’t live up to my own standards or ideals.
DC: Which is more prevalent: ”having,” or ”being”?
CA: I can’t have if I am not, so thereby to be should be more prevalent than to have.
DC: Does ”having” count more than ”being, ”today?
CA: Well, in the Western sphere that certainly seems to be the case. To have enough – or in most cases much more than enough – is a criterium for accepted existence…
DC: Can your work be taken simply at face value?
CA: I hope so. Structures of non-linear, non-pop music are becoming more and more frequent and it’s easier for folks previously not initiated in listening to ”weird” music to accept it. That means that tolerance and acceptance of strange music increases. People get more and more accustomed to making their own decisions in the spur of the moment. Face value is the order of the day and there’s not such a strong need to intellectually be knowledgeable about the band or the music as such.
DC: Is it possible still to instill strong feelings in today’s listener?
CA: Absolutely. And it doesn’t have anything to do at all with things like machine parks, mixing desks or instrumentation. It has to do – as always – with the people making the music and/or the spirit that runs through them in those magical moments of documentation.
DC: What does the term ”avant-garde” mean to you?
CA: To be ahead of most.
DC: What role do words play in your music?
CA: That has changed and will hopingly keep on changing. These past years I’ve made wordless music. At some points maybe there’s a transmission with words interwoven, but for the most part not… I’m currently thinking about having words and frequencies cooperating again. Like a movie without the visual aspect.
DC: Is definition an issue?
CA: I don’t think so, but it IS a fairly abstract question… Definition is useful and perhaps even needed in terms of spreading whatever it is one has done to other people. They would probably be pissed off if they’d expected ”Swedish dark ambient” on a specific record and I’d given them gay-vibrating house anthems. But it has to do with that aspect, of presentation of something that can’t be directly preceived. I’d be angry if someone presented a photo of mine for a third party with their own interpretation, trying to define for other people something that should just be subtly experienced first hand.
DC: How does definition constitute knowing?
CA: I’m not so sure it does. There is also a form of knowledge which is ”direct”, and I would rather define (paradoxically?) that this superior type of knowledge is by definition non- or undefinable. Pure metaphysics. As for the material, human realm, we know what our senses convey to the brain, which then analyses and ”defines”, comparing the data with similar or not so similar experiences. Definition is a prerequisite for communication, but it doesn’t constitute knowledge per se.
DC: Do you enjoy the situation of not-knowing?
CA: Yes, becuase it’s the first stage in the process of learning and thereby the most innocent, exciting, thrilling and creative stage to be in…
DC: Have you ever been in a fistfight because of your music?
CA: Not with anyone else than myself. And that rarely happens these days.
DC: Does your work come first, over all else?
CA: If not, then very close to first. I guess some form of self-preservation comes first, which also includes my family. Then my will, which is where it all begins. And then… Joyous, joyous work.
DC: Are concepts like ”good” and ”bad” relevant in experimental music?
CA: No, not really. It’s a matter of presentation for the artist and of emotional reaction and interpretation for the listener. One can certainly think, feel and convey to others that ”I think this piece of music is good”. But in this vein of weird, psychic music, most everyone knows that it’s a 100% subjective statement. As compared to a new record by someone like Britney Spears, who is only ”judged” as good or bad by how many ”units” are ”pushed” and how much attention that brings in the media.
DC: Do you have any regrets, so far?
CA: Not really. It’s such a clichÃ©, but it’s true: you can always learn from the mistakes. I’m very content with what I’ve achieved so far, but I’m even happier when I meditate over the future. There’s a lot of things to deal with, and I feel highly energized by them all.
DC: What’s the best way that you’ve found to remove white stains from clothing?
CA: Nah, why bother? I think it’s the ultimate fashion statement for men to have dark pants with weird stains in the groin area. It just shows how relaxed and secure you are as a man. And it’s a real turn on for women and gay men or dogs or whatever your trip is. ”No prob, just come get it.”