First of all, can you give us a short introduction about your band?
El Soter is my solo project. I work here on everything: songwriting, recording, playing, singing, producing, working on video and the label. I had some (not all of them) negative experience in collaborating with others, so I thought to make it a try on how would that be by working on my own. I know what mistakes I made in the past and I know what mistakes I did now. Part of the learning process.
Now lets start with a practical question - what does the bandname mean?
Soter means 'savior'. Its root is in Greek language, but often used in some Latin languages, too. I thought of the concept of the savior that we are looking for, the one we are awaiting, probably in vain. Also big part of the album concept is based upon that name.
How did things get started?
I had another project called Amateur God. There were me on instruments and Helena Gabrijelcic on vocals. We got along well together and we were also a supporting band for Marilyn Manson last summer. Anyway, Amateur God's music was pretty slow and semi-ambient, so I wanted to work on different kind of music and initially it was meant to work on something more danceable with rock elements. I was supposed to work on it with another person, but it turned out that she wasn't that much interested. So I continued on my own and let things develop spontaneously. I don't know why it turned out with so many vintage rock sounds, but somehow I liked it in combination with electronics.
What are your main influences? And how would you describe the music you make?
I have kinda 1000 albums at home on CDs and vinyls and I listen practically to all of them. My main influences were for sure Mortiis, Katatonia, Oomph!, Paradise Lost, Megadeth, Rush, Mylene Farmer, Smashing Pumpkins and Voivod, but not only. I also enjoy having played NIN, Ministry, Disturbed, Imogen Heap, Porcupine Tree, Iris and so on.
I don't wanna sound like any of them. I don't want people to recognize my influences and I surely don't wanna be someone's clone, although sometimes we do that unconsciously.
I think that in my music I gather electronica, symphonic elements, industrial and vintage rock. You might hear some metal (although metalheads went wild when I said that), not only because of the distorted guitars, but for the structure of songs.
The El Soter debut album, called 'Appletree of Discord', got an excellent rating on our page. But, what do you think of the release yourself?
It is personal with distance. It is personal experiment technically as well as conceptually. It is my ultimate form of expression containing music, design and video all made by myself. You can imagine that no-one can actually do that many areas as well as the ones that are concentrated into music only, for example, and leave the design to the ones that are into design only. I only want people to keep that in mind and forgive me for some mistakes they may find in this album. I am aware that vocals and drums could be improved and that's what I'll do in my next releases. I am proud of the result anyway.
What do you consider to be the best track on the release, and why?
Hard to say. Every one has something that makes me appreciate it by the difference: The Hail is the most accessible (that's why I made the video on it), Blaming the Moon is technically most complex, Sum is a waltz with cheap-restaurant-band feel, GIPFE for its gentleness, Freak Show for its heavy atmosphere and in the opposite of it - To the North. So, every one has a different story and different approach. I wanted people to notice that. It is not like Tatu's albums that you like at once, but rather something that you need to put yourself into as a listener to enjoy it.
What's the message you try to spread lyrically?
Appletree of Discord is a socio critical album. Despite the album is an observation of the surrounding world, it is made in a sensible and personal approach, ranging from hard-rocking compositions to gentle instrumental songs (Girl in Pink, for Example).
An apple of discord is a reference to the Golden Apple of Discord which, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Eris said would go "to the prettiest" at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, sparking a vanity-fueled dispute between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War. Thus, "apple of discord" became an euphemism for the core, kernel, or crux of an argument, or for a small matter that could lead to a bigger dispute. Because of this, the Roman goddess corresponding to the Greek Eris was named "Discordia".
The main conceptual drive of the album was the lack of reference points in the human society. The lack of a guiding star and someone that might enlighten us with showing us the way to follow (that´s where El Soter name for the project comes from). Our unstable nature leads us to paradoxes, intolerance and many extreme behaviors including hate.
Pre-Initiation intro is enriched with the poem No. 739 from one of the most sensible poetesses of American literature, Emily Dickinson. Songs then start to dig fearless into various problems ranging from religious frauds about the end of the world (Initiation), through despising the different (Freak Show), seeking guilt in others (Blaming the Moon), to quasi global-epilogue (To the North). Typical song on the theme of "the saviour" is Chaos Based Directions, that lends Monty-Python's dilemma: "shall we follow the gourd or a shoe?", as a result of hyper information and lack of reference points. After 45 minutes the album concludes (Post-End) by above mentioned Mrs. Dickinson with her poem No. 435.
You also did a video for the track 'The Hail'. Why did you exactly pick this track for a video clip?
As mentioned before, I thought it is the most accessable track. With this I mean that is not actually my favorite or best track, but something that represents all other songs. It is musically politically-correct and pretty flowing song, not too complicated as a structure.
As well we find an intro and an outro including poems by Emily Dickinson. Why did you decide to use her poetry for the tracks? What other literature are you influenced by?
I generally don't like poem books. I don't hate them, it is just not so easy for me to find a book of poems that sucks me in. I love Emily Dickinson for her extraordinary sensitivity and her genius. I adore her for the life she has chosen - isolated from the world, like she was too fragile for it. She became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room.
For this very same reason I liked Marcel Proust, but since I am a technical guy, who is into mathematics, I always adored good abstract science fiction.
Before El Soter, you released a bunch of albums with Amateur God Project. I must admit that I never heard of this project before. Is it musically compareable with El Soter? Is the project still existing?
Yes, the project is still existing, but somehow still. I released three albums on Amateur God: one with Wampus Multimedia (USA) and two with Black Rain (Germany). There are not that many parallels with both projects, but you cannot escape from yourself, so some similarities may be found.
Although you released Amateur God Project albums on established labels such as Wampus Multimedia and Black Rain, you decided to release El Soter on your own, newborn label called Neversun Records. Why did you decide to do it this way?
Simply to keep things under control. Labels release your album and you pay nothing. In exchange you also get very few money out of the sales, so what you can do to survive is playing live. I always liked playing live, but it is hard to find places to play that kind of music. Clubs are great and I love the atmosphere and chat with folks at the end of the performance, but it is not a genre that is very well followed here.
Slovenia isn't really known for it's music scene. How is the music scene over there?
Probably the best music messiahs from Slovenia are Laibach. Also Umek and Valentino Kanzyani are rated among best DJs in the world. Plenty of local bands are famous in Europe, but overall Slovenia has two millions inhabitants - pretty small place of which you cannot expect too much. As told before, there are some good local musicians, interesting only in the context of this place.
What are, next to music, your other passions in life?
Graphics and photography. That's what I make for living, but when I am off duty, I like to do sports (mostly skiing (I am a ski instructor, too)) and motor bike. Take these two things off of me (beside music) and I'd better die.
What can we expect of El Soter and Neversun Records in the near future?
What I started working on now is Amateur God's music from previous three albums under the name El Soter, played in a different, more dynamic and rocking way.
The end of the interview lays here, thanks for your time answering the questions. If you got some final words to add, you can do it here.
For the ones that came this far with reading I would like to thank for their time and also invite to visit www.elsoter.com. You can sign for a newsletter on this page, where I talk about things that I am going through: news, my views of the world and music, of course. Also if you'd like, get in touch with me. I like hearing from you.
Interview by: Gerardo, answered by: Blaz Erzetic (all arrangements) - October 2008