Album of the Month

SubRosa return with their most Doom-oriented album to date, which proves to be yet another masterpiece.
(Read more)

Classic revisited

Random band

Though their music can be summed up as a blend of Sludge, Stoner, and Doom Metal, SubRosa take the style to atmospheric and hypnotic territories that are...
(read more)

How do they conceive their art, and how should it find its place in our changing relations with music, that's, among other things, what we asked to the three members of that intriguing entity named The Nulll Collective.

Interview with The Nulll Collective.
1/ Hello to all who will answer these modest questions! How did the Nulll Collective take form in the first place? Who got the idea of the reunion? Do you see your self as a proper band?

EMH : We were born out of a project called "The Sad Sun" between SVC and myself, which began in 2004 or so. In theory, you could say 'The NULLL Collective' first formed in 2004.
I don't think of us as a proper band in the old-fashioned sense. We are more a collection of many different bands working under one banner, writing and recording together.

SVC : During the writing of De Monstris (early to late 2009), at the time still intended to be an album for 'The Sad Sun', I had released my most recent UDOM album. As usual, I was complaining about how unfair and unreliable label-deals are, by default, for bands in the underground, especially for smaller projects. From that point, EMH and I tried to come up with a system which would give us more control over promotion on one hand and would allow us to remove unnecessary 3rd parties that stood between us and our fans and who always tried to impose their rules on, as well as try to make money off the artist-fan relationship. Short term we would focus on promotion and that's how the NULLL Infra download series was created.

To make clear who was behind this idea we needed some kind of entity that combined our ideas and so we came up with TNC, which was quickly adopted to also become the name of a project under which we would release music. We invited SPW and basically assimilated The Sad Sun.

SPW : I was invited; it's Stijn and EMH's baby and I accepted their invitation to join them because I respect them musically. That's not to say I see myself as a lesser partner in the Nulll Collective.

2/ Considering you're both 3 different musical personalities, who brings what in term of composition to the Collective? How is a song written? And is everyone of you systematically involved in each song?

EMH : We each begin songs individually, then submit a raw bare-bones version of a song to the other members. Typically, the tracks that i begin are already complete songs which the other two can edit or re-write portions... or simply add extra new parts of their own. Sometimes they may only play what i write for the track. Each song is a different experience and a different universe unto itself.

SVC : There are no set rules on this matter, it's all quite relaxed. Someone might have an idea for a track and submit a raw version of it, or maybe just a part of it. Others might contribute or not. Some of our tracks are going to be written by one person, others will have work of all 3 of us in it. For a project like this it would be very harmful to force ourselves to contribute 1/3 of each track. Working relaxed and without stress is key.

3/ Isnít this way of sharing music more adapted to Funeral Doom which is an introspective genre - egotistic even could we say - and whose expression can be satisfied with the resources of one single person? Alone with his instruments, his machines (his voice it-self could be processed), the digital approach becomes an evident way for this artist-engineer to think his music.

SVC : I think all art is personal in a way and in the end it probably depends on how important the artist thinks he is. If the artist can factor him/herself out of it easily, it's probably easier to share the music, on the other hand if the artist insists that the music (or artwork in general) is about him only he might demand some cash to let others bask in the glory of his creations.

The more personal and dramatic the contents of the art is, the harder it is to predict how protective the creator will be. He might want to have that emotion out there, perhaps to get some feedback on it, which might be interpreted as understanding or compassion, or he might just decide that no-one should ever hear it. A struggle within the artist to decide wether or not to release it might be to offer it for such amounts of money that only a very few will buy it. Of course this is not as straightforward with any form of art that can be easily digitized and spread around the internet.

Personally, when I release music, I feel as if I have lost control over it, as if it's no longer mine. People can upload it, download it, edit it without too much hassle and I can't prevent that. It's a matter of looking at the music on a track-per-track basis and deciding wether I can handle or afford to 'lose it'. I have quite some stuff that's either been delayed for years until I was ready to give it away, or that hasn't been released yet as I simply don't want to let it go yet.

The other end of the spectrum is mainly found in the mainstream, where there is no content and music is nothing but a product manufactured by companies. Companies giving something away for free is very rare, and when it happens, it's mainly for marketing or advertising purposes, not because they like their fans.

4/Are you not afraid of being assimilated to the bedroom Funeral Doom wave, to be placed in the same bag and then running the risk of not being heard or seen the way you want?

SPW : This term is ridiculous; why should it matter where and how something was recorded? or how many people were involved? No one bashes the idiot from Burzum for being a one man band! Why pay to use a studio when you can do it yourself for nothing? Ok some of the so-called "bedroom" music is shit but then so is a lot of music recorded in studios. The whole concept of "bedroom" music is a term used by internet "tough guys" who think they know best about everything and the "genre police" who seem to think it's their duty to enforce the laws of what they see as acceptable or not within some rules that they themselves invented and think that we should all adhere to.

EMH : It doesn't really work to lump us in with some existing group of bands because our approach and music are so different from everyone else. With the advancement of recording technology accelerating, "bedroom music" can be just as good (or just as bad) as anything recorded in a "real" studio these days. Technology has equalized everything; it is only pure songwriting that matters nowadays, because anyone can 'sound' professional.

SVC : People who blindly lump every small or solo-project into the 'bedroom project' bag are usually ignorant idiots who have never achieved anything in their lives. By belittling other people's works and achievements they try to please their miserable egos. I have a bed in the room where I create all my music, I can't help it that I need sleep once in a while, but I don't see how this affects my music.

The majority of people who have ever had an opinion about my music are people whose opinion I don't care about. I don't make music to please others or to belong to a certain scene. I do it because I like the music and if people feel the need to put labels on the music, regardless of that being in good or bad intent, it's really their problem. And if people refuse to listen to something simply because it was given some or other label by a random idiot, again, it's their problem.

5/ Music is an intangible art. You make it even more abstract by removing the physical support, the notes are converted into bits , deciphered by computers and mp3 players ... Is there some kind of philosophy lurking behind that? Or a more pragmatic marketable concept?

EMH : Sometimes i feel i'd like to completly dissolve my physical body and live as a digital entity. The physical "album" format is dead... it's old nostalgic fools like me who remember the "good old days" and keep digging up the corpse of this dead medium by continuing to release CD's. One day physical releases wont exist at all anymore, and that's not such a bad thing; it's mostly lifeless packaging and clutter that is being discarded. The music itself will go on forever and will not suffer at all from the death of "albums".

SVC : The mainstream industry realized decades ago that the shallow crap they keep pumping out wasn't going to sell all by itself, so they tried to move the attention away from the content of their releases. Now it's all about the so-called 'personalities' behind the music, about the packaging, about all those elements that have nothing to do with the creative or artistic element of what they're trying to sell.

In my view, the ideal situation is one where you get the music to your fans in it's purest and easiest form and without any delays. What could be easier than providing mp3s that can be downloaded in a matter of minutes versus CDs that cost money and need to be ordered or gotten from a store somewhere. The physical elements in most cases are synonymous with restrictions.

6/ Is Funeral Doom aimed at all those young hipsters or/and ignorants who blindly stock 100 Go of music in their computers? Where does the will to have oneís music heard stop and where does the complacency start?

EMH : Our music isn't really aimed towards any one; we're not trying to isolate a target demographic or anything. Just look around at the world we live in, and look at how music is treated these days. You can find literally every album that's ever been released for free illegal download on the internet. Who is downloading all these albums we've put so much time and work in to? Are they 'ignorant young hipsters'? No, everyone is doing this... the underground is not immune to this blind music hoarding phenomenon that is currently vampirizing music and artists.

SVC : Complacency, hell, I'm already past that point. I became very conscious of the time I spent recording music and the efforts I did to get the music out there and make it easy for interested people to enjoy. If all I get in return is grief, personal attacks and hypocrites demanding even more, but I get zero respect or feedback, well, shit, I'm not going to bother anymore. That makes sense, right?

I still write as much music as I did before, I just rarely bother to record, mix and release it and in doing so I have not only freed up a lot of time that can be spend on my other creative works, but I've also gotten rid of another restriction and my music has become better because of that.

EMH : Contrary to my partner's thoughts on this, i feel that if my music isnt heard by someone, it doesn't really exist. An artist can't be the only one to experience his own art - otherwise it doesn't need to be created in the first place (i can find other things to listen to to entertain myself).

Whatever music i do create comes from my own need to comminucate something inside me to anyone who may hear it. If i knew no one would listen to my music, i wouldn't bother creating it because it's the only real form of true unfiltered expression and communication that a self-isolating introvert like me can have.

SVC : I make this music for myself, mainly because the majority of the music that exists is not to my liking, the 'entertainment' comes from the creation of this music and then enjoying the finished track. I don't make music for others, or to be considered an artist, if someone ends up enjoying it or not, that's fine, but not my concern, really. The thing is, that quite some people think they own my music and that they can tell me what to do or what to create, or even have the nerve to demand things from me.

SPW : Speaking for myself here: I make music to keep myself sane; I simply don't care if anyone thinks my/our music is aimed at them or not. If they like it then fine, if they don't like it, well that's fine too.

EMH : All good points, but i find it nearly impossible to "enjoy" my own work. The exact opposite really, ha... i find listening to my own music to be emotionally excruciating. I do enjoy the creation aspect... the writing and recording; but once a song is done i never want to hear it again.

7/ How to make a living from oneís art? how to convince fans to pay for a sound which they take pleasure from? Should pleasure be free? Isnít paying increasing the pleasure, making it more precious?

SPW : Should pleasure be free? Nothing is free; you pay for everything in different ways. Love, pleasure, happiness: none of these things are free; they might seem that way but they aren't. You buy a CD, a DVD or computer game then you pay for it. Sure some say art should be free, maybe it should be, but it's not. Do these people use this excuse to steal from shops? "sorry but I consider all property as theft so I'm stealing it", how very utopian but unfortunately stealing is still a crime despite what hippy ideals you cling to. Why should people benefit from all this music and art which gave them pleasure and enhanced their lives but the people that created this art not? Its not like music and art is some act of altruism.

SVC : It mainly depends of what one defines as making a living. I live very simply and modestly and for a few years I was close to being able to live solely from my music. Over the past 5 years or so this has changed completely.

I believe that all art should be free, or at the very least it should be able to be experienced by whoever wants to, without any restrictions. But that shouldn't mean by default that artists or creative people like me who provide this art and work 70+ hours a week on creative materials shouldn't receive some kind of compensation for it Ė you can't expect me to have a full-time job and do this much music at the same time. I chose to have a simple and cheap life mainly because that meant I only would have to work about 5 days a month to have enough cash to live from, leaving me with plenty of time to work on creative things. I admit that sometimes it feels like others, who don't deserve it, benefit from this as well. I find it hypocritical that those people who want to decide for me that I should do everything for free are usually those with big jobs, big wallets and expensive ways of life.

You could indeed say that if people were to spend their hard-earned cash on something, they'd value it more. But that only goes for people who have money to begin with. Personally, even though I wouldn't mind getting paid at least something for my music, I would never insist on getting money from people who have to get by on less than me. But those others, who insist on me releasing stuff for free, even tho they are better off, they are the problem.

8/This is a harsh question, but I canít help provoking you a bit: What influence do you think you have upon the hordes of downloaders who pirate the industry? Do you want to educate them by offering free music? Do you count on their Pavlovian reflex in front of the download button or do you think they make the difference between what is offered by the artist himself and what has been stolen?

SPW : What influence? none what-so-ever. My 'faith' in anything was destroyed a long long time ago. There is no educating the willfully ignorant. The industry itself is the problem; think back to those old record sleeves that said "home taping is killing music"; it wasn't and it didn't.

EMH: It's very strange; people who habitually download music illegally only seem to covet things they should not have. These people place a higher value on their 'stolen music collections' than on music offered freely from a band in digital format, regardless of the music's quality in many cases. An interesting psycological phenomenon.

SVC : I admit to having the secret hope that everytime I put out something for free, I'm also making a statement that will change people's mentality regarding music. But to be completely honest, in the years that I've been ranting about the issue, I've had maybe two or three people tell me they understand and they will stop downloading 'illegally'.

It's not about illegal downloads and about piracy anymore, because it's the industry who has caused it and since it's harmful to the industry, it's also usefull in a way. My last UDOM album was a nice experiment for me and it was timed such mainly for that purpose. Within 3-4 days of the first copy of the album being sold, it was already being spread illegally around various sites. Within one week, and for several months in a row, if you were to search the album title on google, 19 of the first 20 results were all links to illegal downloads. If a regular interested fan sees all this, are they going to keep digging until they find a place where they can buy the music or are they going to download it from the first link they'll get?
It's about mentality and I was naÔve enough to think that because I have offered so much in the past for free, people wouldn't mind me putting out something they had to pay for.

Through our NULLL Infra download series, however, we've had a few comments that show that some people can differentiate between free music that comes straight from the band and free music that's been provided without the consent of the band. So there's hope and as long as there's hope I suppose I should keep on ranting haha.

In the end I don't care about illegal downloads or uploads, I'm not the one who came up with the laws that decided these were illegal, I don't even support the system that created these laws. I care about getting some respect for the music I've made. If people download and upload it in such numbers, it must mean they still like it, right? Or are they afraid to admit they liked it as that means they'd also have to admit they downloaded it somewhere?
Of course, as counter to that point of view, I did discover that quite some of these uploaders do earn money by spreading music illegally. So the old idea of the hacking/pirating scene groups doing it non-profit and for the fun of it can be shelved as well. As if seeing your music get uploaded by people who shouldnít do so, wasn't bad enough, now you also have to live with the fact that they make more money of your music than you do. This is the ultimate lack of respect, and again I wonder : why should I bother to continue releasing my music at all?

9/ The release of De Monstris proves you havenít completely turned your back on traditional format. Donít you think that, most people who buy this cd being fans who follow you with regularity, and cds becoming so terribly neglected by the mass of the music consumers, you should mark every occasion by releasing more unique albums in terms of artwork, of materialsí quality, etc ... Personaly, I think CD still has its Ďraison díÍtreí and even enhances the music it contains: let the packaging being damaged and the content is lost. Itís an object which the amateur takes care of and doubly when it comes to vinyl. I mean: donít you self like the good old cd, the mighty black vinyl ?

SVC : To me, the medium doesn't matter, it's the contents that matter. The people that buy the CD either still care about the format or they want to support the band or the label that released it, by buying it from that band or label.

There's no way in hell I would spend extra time on top of what I'm already doing when it comes to releasing music to make it appeal more to the masses. It's the music that should make people interested in spending money - if the music doesn't convince people, that's it for me, I'm not going to do tricks or whatever to have them change their mind. Leave it to the mainstream marketing scumbags to make the packaging more important than the content.
Regarding De Monstris, I never cared about wether or not this ended up as CD or as a net-release and I don't understand the hype regarding vinyl either.

EMH : I would actually prefer vinyl releases to CD, for one simple reason: I rarely, if ever, listen to CD anymore. I immediately rip them into mp3 format and store away the CD itself, thus basically collecting jewelcases and artwork. This is why vinyl is more interesting to me; since i only listen to my ipod and mp3s anyway, i'd rather buy and collect vinyl with bigger artwork and have something decent to look at instead of a bunch of jewelcases piled up everywhere.

To me, "owning" a cd doesn't increase the value of the music itself. I will listen to and love the same music regardless if i'm holding a physical copy in my hands. Music only exists in sound waves... in the ethere... and in the listener's mind. CD's are just cheap pieces of plastic, they can not increase the quality of the music they contain.

10/ Your cover of 'Silent Night' is both a great idea and an excellent rendition : what brought the idea of this very cover instead of a more regular (classic Rock/Metal) one?

SVC : A year before we released this cover, I had already done a similar thing : I released a cover of 'Twinkle twinkle, little star'. Besides the fact it was just plain fun to do, it also gave me the opportunity to poke some harmless fun at all those who take doom too seriously and think that it should be governed by strict rules and to make fun of religions by taking a song they consider to be 'theirs' and give it a sound some of them consider to be 'satanic', again poking fun at people who take things too seriously. I have no idea if it ever achieved that, however.

EMH : I would like to cover some classic rock or metal songs as well... i have a very long list of tracks i would love to cover in fact. The thing holding us back is copyright laws. It's not worth the trouble of dealing with copyrights to release covers. Old traditonal songs and classical pieces in the public domain are the best source for pulling covers.

I believe we will release a new Christmas song every December from now on. Perhaps we can compile them all in ten years or so for an official 'Doomy Xmas' theme album. We've already discussed what this year's Xmas track shall be... I think 'Jingle Bells' is the front-runner, but i'd like 'O Holy Night' or 'White Christmas' as well, haha.

SPW: Christmas is shit. I feel that sums it up completely.

11/ Considering it's a Collective, is it possible to have it expanded to other personalities in the future? Who would you consider fit to join the Collective (it sounds like a bad Borg catch-phrase, I know)?

SVC : Don't know anyone else that would fit in. TNC is not a band for which potential members only need to be able to play some instrument to join. Even playing the 'right' music is not enough.

Mentality is what matters. I'm sure there are people out there who share my views on music, or on creativity in general. But seeing how generally distrusting I am about all but a very few people, I don't think I could ever work together with other people than those who I've been working with thus far.
I don't want shut everyone out by default, but chances are I wouldn't accept anyone else. I'm only one voice of three, so I'm not the only one who decides on this matter.

EMH : I would consider it, especially with someone who brought something into the Collective that isn't already there... such as a strong clean "Traditional Doom" vocalist, or something similar which would add a new dimension to our sound. Still, i would proceed with caution and do a few 'test songs' with them before inviting anyone in.

SPW: Personally there are plenty of people/bands I'd love to collaborate with but would they fit in with the collective? I'm not so sure. Always wanted to collaborate with the guys from Moss but I'm not sure if their style would come across well in the Nulll Collective. Vidar from Hlidolf/Hjarnidaudi maybe? Always liked his music and he's a nice guy too; not spoken to him in ages though but I'm sure he's still out there somewhere. Obviously I could suggest many people who could potentially be members but it's something that I feel all three of us should be happy with. Having other people involved could be beneficial but then again it could end up being a case of too many cooks spoilling the broth.

12/ The Nulll Collective live : a dream that will never be or a soon a reality?

SVC : Dream. It would take a lot of time to make something like this possible and if I had such spare time, I'd be spending it on other things.

EMH: I would love it, but it would take such a tremendous amount of planning and investment... it probably wouldn't be worth all the trouble.

SPW: Considering we all live in different countries then I'd say it was improbable but not impossible; that's not to say that it would happen or not. I would say that such a thing will be less probable as time goes on as I have a rather serious progressive health problem; but that just adds to the doom.

EMH : I had an idea where all three current members could hire session players and in effect create three separate working live bands called "The NULLL Collective" in three different parts of the world... all playing shows simultaneously.

13/ What's the future for the Collective?

SVC : To continue what we're doing for as long as we have fun doing it. If we can't enjoy it ourselves anymore, there would be no point to go on I guess. Other than that there are no really big plans. Music-wise there will be more music and very likely, more albums. And we're currently working out an idea on the same level as the NULLL Infra download series.

EMH : Our second "physical" release... which i hope will be out in mid-to-late 2011, is still un-named but we already have several songs written, and even more in the planning stages. We are already offering a taste of this album as well, with the august "INFRA" single called "Cerberus Trisector" : http://nulll-void.com/nulll/collective/10_08.htm

This track will appear on the new album, but in a different form. More snippets of the second album will be leaked slowly over the next year via our INFRA digital singles.

Visit the The Nulll Collective bandpage.

Interviewed on 2010-09-03 by Bertrand Marchal and Laurent Lignon.
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com