This time during «Electronic Set» tour «De/Vision» visited St. Petersburg as usually. Right there our conversation took place just after the fabulous anniversary show.
Inspire of the sad dark lyrics, the author, Thomas, turned out to be a very positive person and though it was late the interview appeared to be pretty long.
First I would like to thank for this performance, it was really great and thank you for your really great innovative album «Noob».
This year «De/Vision» has had the 20th anniversary, so, please, accept my congratulations!
Yeah, we are old (laughing).
Oh, no! It’s great to be on the stage for such a long period.
But your new album is called «Noob». Why? You are not «noobs» in music, particularly in synthpop at all.
Yeah, it’s true. We chose that title because for the very first time in our career we accepted somebody who doesn’t belong to the band to write songs for us. For the very first time our producers, with which we’ve worked together for a very long time already, also contributed their very own songs to our music. In the past Steffen and me or when we were 3 persons in the band or 4 persons in the band, only the band members wrote the songs. But for the very first time on «Noob» our producers also wrote songs, that we put on the album. It was a very new way for us, a new way of working. In some kind we felt like noobs.
Did songwriting deal with composing or with lyrics either?
Also the lyrics. When our producer, for example, he writes a melody, a song, and of course it’s quite understandable for me that he also has his own words in his mind. We shared the songwriting and the lyrics.
You’ve chosen a bit electroclash and by implication ironic «Flavour Of The Week» as a promo single, why this track?
Why this track?.. Because everybody liked it.
Yeah, it was seen on the concert, that public really likes this track.
The guys from the record company they liked it, they loved this song from the very beginning. The way we work is, we record the songs, than everybody listens to it, everybody who is involved, the record company guys. Then you choose which could be the next single, the first single. And everybody liked this song from the very beginning, it simply stuck in their minds. We liked it too.
«Noob» is a very beautiful and sad, even melancholic album.
Like all De/Vision’s albums... (laughs)
Did you have some kind of the conception, the main idea for this release? How do you feel about this album?
We have a rough conception before we start working. In this case for example, in the case of «NOOB» we decided to go back to the roots, to bring back the 80’s feeling. I’ve talked to many people and everybody told me: «Hey, this is really going back to the 80’s». The melodies, it’s very easy to understand. I think we reached our goal in accomplishing what we had planned in the beginning.
Do you have any favorites at «Noob»?
I like all the tracks very much. Especially songs like «The Far Side Of The Moon» or «See What I See». We’ve never played that song live.
«See What I See»?
Yeah, but I think it’s one of my absolute favorites on this album.
On «Noob» it is again possible to hear a new experiment with melody, rhythm, sound, especially pad sounds. How do you manage to make innovative things on each of your albums?
I really don’t know (smiles). Because when you write a song or lyrics or anything you never think how can I make it innovative. You just write the songs, the melodies. It’s interesting sometimes to see what comes out, but it’s not really a plan behind it. Like I told you it’s a rough plan. You never know what comes out in the end.
In «Obsolete», at the end of the track you used, maybe the first time, some kind of whispering vocal. Was it Steffen’s?
Not, it was mine (laughs).
Like in «Summer Sun»? Have you decided to repeat your debut?
Yes. I’m not a big singer, I always feel not comfortable, when I have to sing. This is something I may always do. I tried.
What does the song «Obsolete» lyrically deal with? Is the meaning of «obsolete» close to «old-fashioned»?
That’s a very good question. To be honest I have my very own opinion about this song. But I haven’t written the lyrics. It was one of the songs from our producers. I have my very own idea about the lyrics and everything. But I did not talk to the author: «What was your intention when you wrote this lyrics?» And I think all the listeners should make up their own minds and think about what it could be.
May the track «The Enemy Inside» be a kind of «My Own Worst Enemy» development? There are two songs about that you are your enemy and should fight with yourself from time to time. Are these songs connected in this case?
No, it’s not really a connection, maybe it is, but it was not planned. It’s a new song, it’s a new idea behind the lyrics, at least for me. But to be honest it’s a connection between all the De/Vision’s songs. There is some kind of a development. Right now I don’t believe in the same things I did 20 years ago. Each album you write is another step towards enlightenment.
Thomas, you said that you like very much «The Far Side Of The Moon». It’s a very beautiful metaphor. Does it have any additional meaning in the song?
It was a long time ago. After a while you forget what you wanted to say. Let me go through the lyrics in my head for a second... For me it’s a song about loneliness... «A flower cannot bloom on the far side of the moon». I have met many people in my life. A flower needs light to bloom, where there is no light, there is no blooming. For me it’s very hard to understand. There are so many people who live without light, they always seem to dwell in the darkness. I’m a very happy person. This is something I cannot really deal with. Although I have to admit, there are times in everybody’s life when you feel sad and lonely. No matter what you do, you have to find happiness in yourself. I know a lot of people, they are only happy when they have somebody else. Like a flower they bloom as long as there is someone to rely on. My opinion is you have to find the way to happiness without somebody else. If you always rely on someone else, you will never find true happiness. And this is what is this song for me about. Find the light inside yourself.
When it comes to songwriting, what appears first: music or lyrics?
Music. Always music first... I was asked very often «Don’t you write lyrics and then the music to it?» No, it’s impossible for me. I need a melody, when I have the music, this music gives you a certain feeling inside. Sometimes a happy, sometimes a sad feeling. Most of the time in De/Vision’s songs it’s a sad feeling. I need a melody, it gives me an inspiration. This is what I need to write lyrics. I can’t just sit and write a poem.
So, music is a source of your inspiration. What else influences on the process of composing, songwriting: films, stories in life?
Everything. Sometimes it’s a movie. For example. Do you remember the song «Green-Eyed Monster»? It was a b-side.
Oh, yeah! I remember.
I wrote this lyrics after I watched «Natural Born Killers».
A movie by Oliver Stone?
Yeah. Do you know what the green-eyed monster is? It’s jealousy. If you watched the movie. Jealousy is also a very important part of this movie. There is just one scene where Juliette Lewis is at some gas station, she’s playing with the guy who is working there. She’s very upset because her boyfriend wanted to fuck somebody else, I don’t remember it exactly. But it doesn’t matter.
Some times a movie is the influence. Most of the time your own feelings, your own experience about life, the upside-downs of life. But sometimes it’s just a fucking movie, or a book, or whatever.
Your creativeness, I mean the fascinating fact that you release new album almost each year, is caused by your inner motion, or this inspiration, or something else?
It’s quite funny because very often people ask us or me: «Hey, you release an album every one and a half years. How can you do this? It’s a very short period». My answer is, I don’t think it’s too much to write twelve songs, if you take an album, there about twelve songs, in one and a half years. Sorry. How much time do you need to write a song? Two years? This is also a very important fact that we are living from this. We are not «Depeche Mode». They can afford to release an album every five years. They can easily afford this. Probably for four years they sit at the beach and have a good time, and let the sun shine on their faces. And then they go to the studio and write a few songs. We can’t afford this. We have to release music in a certain period of time.
But it’s great for your fans and listeners!
Yeah. But also I don’t think it’s too much to write twelve songs in one and a half years. We are musicians. Everybody else who goes working every day, they do this every day. They have to work every day to get their income. So, I don’t think it’s too much for an artist to write these twelve songs, it’s ok.
Is such creative activity connected in any way with the fact you feel satisfaction in your relations with «Drakkar»?
To be honest I don’t think about «Drakkar» or anybody else when we write songs. It doesn’t matter. That’s what we like to do. This is what we have chosen — to be musicians. I don’t want to sit at home for two years and do nothing at all. Every human being needs to do something, some kind of activity. Your activity as a musician is to write songs. I don’t want to sit at home and enjoy myself and watch TV all the time. We like to write songs. It’s our fucking job. We are not getting bored of it.
And it’s really great, I think! Your fans and listeners have an opportunity to listen to a new release every year.
Do you keep an eye on european synthpop, electropop scene? What is your view on it? Is it on the rise or vice versa on the decline?
I really don’t know. One year everybody tells you that synthpop music is on the rise, the next year it’s going down. I’m not sure, I really don’t know. To be honest, I don’t care about that. All you can do is write your songs, your music. You can’t think all the time will it be out of date the next year, or will it be in, modern again. That’s not what you are thinking about. There was always an audience for this kind of music. Since synthpop exists, since the very first days of synthpop. There was a crowd for this and it’s still a crowd for that. There are still many people who like it, who want to listen to it. And I think it would be like this in the future. I don’t think it would be out of time.
Thomas, in 2004 you were a keyboard player at the live show of «In Strict Confidence»...
Yes, you were, you were in Moscow with «In Strict Confidence».
Oh, yeah, right! (laughs)
(laughing too, but still trying to ask my question) Does this collaboration have any continuation?
It was just for a single show. I did the same for «And One» many years ago on a festival in Sweden. I played as a keyboarder. It was just one-time event. I really like «In Strict Confidence» and I like Dennis very much, he’s a very nice guy. But this is not the thing you can rely on. You do it because at that time they needed a keyboarder. There is no big deal behind it.