Interview: Kultopfer

Kultopfer is an electronic musician from Wales and someone I’ve followed on Twitter for a while. I featured his EP, Execution Disco Tonight, in the last What I’ve Been Listening To. I usually talk about rock music on this blog, but I also enjoy synthpop/vaporwave music. As someone who likes to show the diversity in music, I always want to broaden my horizons and show my readers something different and introduce them to new faces in music.

Just a story history on why electronic music has a place in rock history since it’s important to know the history of the genre and how it evolved: Electronic music isn’t anything new, it has origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with experimentation with emerging electronics and musicians would use these electronic musical instruments. A lot of developments happened in Europe and Japan in the 40s and 50s with musique concrète and elektronische musik and one of the first electronic instruments was the Yamaha Magna Organ. Synthesisers and theremins started to be used in rock music starting in the 60s. Some notable examples include The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”, the mellotron and tape loops used in The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and Gershon Kingsley’s 1969 novelty electronic dance song “Popcorn”. In the 70s, electronic music got even more popular and took off with Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Tomita, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Prog rock bands like Yes, Genesis, and ELP made a lot of use out of synthesisers. By the 80s, lots of music was synthesiser and drum machine based and synth-pop really took off with the New Romantic and Second British Invasion scenes.

Anyway, with that bit context added, you can understand why electronic music fits right in this blog and that rock musicians used elements of it.

Back to Kultopfer, keep on the lookout for his next release, Underground Temples, which is out July 7, the day I’m publishing this post. You can stream it below. My favourite tracks on the EP are the dark instrumentals “Flesh Interface” and “Taste of Decay”.

We’re lucky to have him on the blog to talk about his music so if you want to learn more, keep reading!

Angie Moon: Who is Kultopfer – what should new listeners know about you and your music?

Kultopfer: Kultopfer is essentially the dark side. I aim to represent music after hours-that is, stuff that is dark in thematic content and atmosphere, and yet still in a sonic language that listeners know and understand.

Angie: What are the origins of the names Kultopfer and Obsidian Deluxe?

Kultopfer: The name Kultopfer was inspired by another musician I was listening to a lot of before I started composing stuff under my present name. I’ve gone under a lot of other synonyms in the past, but Kultopfer was inspired by a Colombian producer by the name of ‘Filmmaker’, a producer of minimal synth/electropunk much like myself. Kultopfer is German for ‘cult victim’-I wanted a single word moniker that represented a kind of darkness, the moniker I chose reflecting my fascination with cults in particular (Aum Shinrikyo, Branch Davidians etc.).

ObsidianDeluxe? Obsidian is a black-coloured mineral, and I just happen to like shiny, black aesthetics. And why can’t it be deluxe? My listeners deserve the best!

Angie: How did you get started making electronic music?

Kultopfer: I never originally wanted to make electronic music. I’ve been making music for years electronically because for I couldn’t quite get to grips with physical instrumentation (only recently am I making real inroads). I originally wanted to start a band- I still do actually. A kind of doom-and-gloom dark metal outfit.

Angie: How did you get into the goth subculture?

Kultopfer: I used to be a fan of nu-metal, especially bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. Through these industrial nu metal bands, I discovered Nine Inch Nails, and through *that*, I discovered Trent Reznor’s love for bands such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cure etc. It was just a question of digging deeper, snooping around, and finding out over time ‘yeah, this is good stuff! My stuff!’ Dark and insistent and beautiful and poetic by turns.

Angie: What does goth mean to you?

Kultopfer: Simply put, it means to embrace darkness with both arms. Not just on an aesthetic level. Hell, I don’t think I could ever pull off a gothic look, haha. To me, goth is both the yin and yang-the dark aesthetics and themes and sounds and the love of the aforementioned and feelings of belonging within the community and with the music.

Angie: Who are your favourite electronic/synthwave/vaporwave artists?

Kultopfer: Too many to count! If had to single out individual acts, I’d say I listen to way too much Nitzer Ebb and Boy Harsher whilst recording. And Front 242, I love EBM and industrial dance genres. Electroclash of the turn of the millennium is also a guilty pleasure of mine, stuff like The Hacker and Fischerspooner. Soft Cell is also an influence, and by influence I mean I have a major crush on 80s Marc Almond. But seriously, Soft Cell are indeed fantastic, up there with Depeche Mode. I also enjoy a lot of straight-up industrial of that period, acts like Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazzaza and Coil. On synthwave, I like it dark, nasty and heavy. Stuff like GosT, Shredder 1984, Dan Terminus and Carpenter Brut. It’s just an awesome vibe.

Angie: What other genres of music and musicians do you like?

Kultopfer: Metal, and quite a bit of it. I remain a fan of industrial metal, bands like Godflesh, 3TEETH, and Fear Factory being personal favourites. I love gothic and doom metal as well, stuff like Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Katatonia etc. Judas Priest is awesome too, I listen to that with great regularity.

Other than metal, I’m a fan of post-punk and gothic rock. Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ was one of the first albums I ever owned, and I love it. The Sisters of Mercy as well, and also Xmal Deutschland and New Order.

Angie: Describe the process of composing and making an electronic song.

Kultopfer: I base around 95% of my tracks around the bassline, which I sometimes think of consciously, but a lot of the time it comes to me quite suddenly in my head, and I try and I hold it there until I get a chance to recreate that in the sequencer. Next come the beats, and I usually layer several drum machines over each other, mix-and-match. I most commonly use a TR-606 and a 909, although recently I’ve warmed to the classic sounds of the 808. Finally, I add the pads. samples and SFX-I like to use a bitcrusher, microphaser and a ring modulator effect to add some hiss and metallic distortion to the pads.

Angie: What inspires your music?

Kultopfer: Mainly what I’m interested in. Morbid fascination regarding subjects such as cults, serial killers, human experimentation, as well as themes/tropes within cyberpunk science fiction and horror. Also, I am inspired by less edgy themes such as mental health, and love from my own gay perspective. A lot of despair, anger and depression goes into my music. When I say that morbid fascination inspires my music, I mean it helps me get into that kind of creative state to think of atmospheres and moods I want to convey (anxiety, gloom, maybe an unnerved state).

Angie: Tell me about your latest release.

Kultopfer: Underground Temples is essentially an industrial album. There’s some familiar content around, but that’s got an edge to it that hasn’t been there before. Some more noise, a lot of more sampling and experimenting with soundscapes. Overall, this is a darker offering in a whole new way.

Angie: Tell me about Execution Disco Tonight, what sound were you going for and what inspired it?

Kultopfer: Execution Disco Tonight is, essentially, a dance album, a disco house recording. I basically wanted to process the sound and feel of Boy Harsher through a techno translator and see what came out. Also, there’s a distinct cold wave vein running through the EP, in terms of the usage of space and reverb. It’s very minimal. I wanted to create atmosphere and unease as much as I wanted to create an electropop recording.

Angie: What are your ultimate goals as a musician?

Kultopfer: Ultimate goals? Well, this really is just a labour of love to be honest. I do hope to start that metal band at one point in the future, and keep making synthwave/electronica on the side. I’d sure like to play live some day, perhaps compile a DJ set or two, gain a following. I’m not terribly interested in fame or anything like that. It’s all great fun for now.

You can follow Kultopfer on Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, and you can stream his music on Deezer and Spotify.

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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