CLEMENS “ARDEK” WIJERS (Carach Angren): “What we’re doing is our passion and people can feel it“
Some time ago, I went to cover Carach Angren’s concert who were supporting Fleshgod Apocalypse on their first headlining tour alongside Italian newcommers Nightland. Just before the show, before the band started preparations for their performance, I met with Ardek and we talked about his ways of doing music and little tricks that make listeners dive into the band’s stories.
Interview and photo: Martina Šestić | email@example.com
VENIA: Hi, Clemens! How does it feel to be back on tour with Fleshgod Apocalypse?
ARDEK: Pretty good, we love the guys, it is very easygoing and we know what to expect from the them and I think musically it’s a good package, a nice combination.
VENIA: Yeah, all the three bands fit together. Plus tonight in the next room there are two more bands of the similar sentiment playing – Batushka and Arkona from Poland.
ARDEK: I heard, and they play in the other hall.
VENIA: Yes, right next to you.
ARDEK: Nice, a bit like festival.
VENIA: A bit, yes, but tell me this. I’ve noticed that many journalists keep asking you in the interviews if you were a Satanist and if your music is satanic. Are you a bit tired of having to explain this over and over again?
ARDEK: No, not at all. Maybe you’ve heard, but recently in Netherlands there was a political party sort of protesting against us. For us it is free promotion.
But we are foremost horror storytellers and it’s not annoying. I mean… I can understand because we come from the black metal background but we are a little bit different, we tell stories and the original black metal was about Satanism, it was anti-religious. We tried to get out of that by presenting us differently. But people need to get used to that so they can ask us this as many times as they want but we hope that they are listening and going into our music, understanding what we are really about.
VENIA: But, what happened in the end with the concert in Netherlands? Did you invite those protestors to join the show?
ARDEK: We had some TV interviews, gave them a lollipop form This is no fairytale and the album but they didn’t accept it. They got really scared by it because they believe in black magic and stuff. They didn’t come and I heard there were some people trying to convince fans not to come in. But there was many people there, it was packed and in the end it was an awesome show.
VENIA: So to their disappointment you didn’t bring dark forces to the city?
ARDEK: No, but who knows 🙂
VENIA: Does it often happen that they try to ban your concerts?
ARDEK: No, not at all. And this was funny because we’ve been touring the world and, as I told reports like yourself, we’ve been in Dubai, we didn’t know what to expect there and it was madness. There were people in Halloween costumes, smoking, drinking, it was total chaos. And then, for one day, we come to the Netherlands, and after we landed I read that we were banned in the most liberal, free country in the world, almost. So in my home-country you have that stuff going on. We never ever had any problems like that before.
VENIA: Last time I heard about this in Croatia was when Iron Maiden came. There were some people handing over leaflets to the fans and telling them how evil that music is.
ARDEK: Oh, and when were in Croatia with Dark Funeral, I heard the same story but nothing serious. Usually we don’t have any problems. But I think the problem could be in the way how we visually present ourselves and maybe some get scared.
VENIA: How long does it take for you to prepare for each performance? How challenging it is?
ARDEK: It takes some time, of course. But we played a lot of shows and we already have a routine and we are very quick with it but we prefer to have time. We could do it in couple of minutes but that’s not the idea… Like today, it’s OK, we have time to prepare. It’s not like we spend hours and hours laying on the floor doing nothing but you get the point.
VENIA: Who designed your corpsepaints?
ARDEK: Seregor did them. He is the artist and also designs masks. That is his super great talent.
VENIA: But your super great talent is music… 🙂
ARDEK: Yeah, yeah, I tend to be a composer 🙂 Guys trust me with that. I got the privilege to compose all the songs.
VENIA: What is, for you, the best way to make music sound creepy? What is your recipe? Would it be using lots of dissonances, maybe adding some children voices or something like that…
ARDEK: It depends… This is an interesting question. I mean, we just finished the new album and what I have learned is the less you do, the more effective it becomes. I always try to think of what is the emotion you want to communicate through the music. Sometimes one little distorted sound recorded in a very bad way can sound way more creepy than a whole orchestra with dissonant. I’m always thinking about it. And for the last album I built a little organ that I’ve had for twenty years and I use one little chord and it is a creepy tone… There is no particular answer to it. But my leading guide for the music is always the story. It tells me what to do. Like for this album the children were very scared, ran out of house… You can make it big and epic but that wouldn’t be true. I used fast piano, and some blastbeats. It’s hard to explain with words. Usually I feel when it’s correct. When I feel this is hitting it and when I hear from the fans that they’ve felt it, it’s really cool.
VENIA: Is there maybe some music that scares you?
ARDEK: Hmm… Some horror songs, for example I like stuff that Christopher Young does. He did music for The Grudge, Exorcism of Emily Rose. He uses a lot of these creepy sounds you cannot really bring home – but he uses it in a very minimalistic way which grows tension inside you. It’s not like everything comes at you all at once but it builds up…
VENIA: Until you freak out…
ARDEK: Yes…. When something really hits me is when the composer is truly into the story and the emotion they wanted to transfer, when I can feel it. The same is with the movies. When you can see that the director is on the spot with the music. Like with movie Shining, the scene in the hallway… The blood… I will never forget this stuff. To come up with something like this is just brilliant. Sometimes these days you see those Hollywood movies and they don’t do much for me. I mean they’re nice visually, with special effects, but there is no emotional undertone and that’s super important for me. But it takes time, you cannot write stuff like this over night.
VENIA: What do you like the most about horror genre?
ARDEK: It allows you to do so many different things. There are those slasher type of horrors that are more a comedy but with this type we’re doing you can grow tension. You can set up a storyline maybe even about a happy couple and take it to darkness and that transition is pretty cool. You can hear it sometimes in our music. We have epic parts, aggressive parts… Within a horror genre you can do that. In typical horror movies you see a happy beginning and then slowly but surely it goes down. And you as a listener feel with them… I think that’s that the privilege of horror genre…
VENIA: But horror is not your only point of creativity. You have other, different projects. You collaborated with Lindemann, you wrote music for TV… How does it differ from your work in the band?
ARDEK: Depends… The band is my core things and what I love. As I said the guys trust my composing skills. And there I start from the scratch. For example, what I did with Lindemann was awesome, there were Peter and Till writing the songs and I was able to work on the orchestra. Make it bigger and that’s a different way of working.
TV is another way… There was this game show I did last year with two other composers and it was like “we need tension on this part, how do we do that?” It was a different approach, it was creative but in another way. But what I really love is making music from scratch, like for my band.
Recently I did a short horror movie which was really cool, worked really close with the director. It was awesome because I could go completely crazy, like 80’s style, over the top music and sound effects. And yeah, I like it all but it’s diversity that makes me creative.
VENIA: Would you make music for something that is not dark, maybe… Disney cartoon?
ARDEK: Oh, I did already, last year. I did Christmas commercial and I liked it because it’s something completely different. Sometimes when you work on the same thing all the time you can get blindspots and it’s tiring, you know… Doing dark music all the time, can get you stuck…
Doing music for Ex Deo, was a super cool approach, Roman approach. I used completely different sounds and instruments. I took instruments from India and some sounded super creepy and I remembered that – and I’m going to work with them for the new Carach Angren. Some creepy Persian instruments… Sometimes working in different areas can inspire you to go back to your core.
VENIA: How much do you like your fans and things they do on the internet, like creating viral memes etc.?
ARDEK: We love it. We love our fans. We like talking to them and never take them for granted, I mean, like twelve years ago I was writing this music in my little bedroom not even thinking about where we are now. And I never forget that. When I go to the stage, people come here, they worked to get the tickets to see us and that is so awesome to us. We will never take for granted that there are people doing stuff all around the internet, following us. I love it. I love them all out there.
VENIA: How much time do you invest in making contact with your fans through social media?
ARDEK: Actually a lot. We are talking about this a lot. Social media is always developing, ten years ago we did lots of backstage footage and stuff. At that time it was pretty new and not many were doing it but these days my old aunts are on facebook 🙂 I hope they don’t read this 🙂
But, the thing is, when you log in, you get overwhelmed with content and what we feel, at least this is how I see it, is that our fans deserve the best content. I could make a picture of me sitting here and they would like it but we feel that they deserve more. That is why we do our best with every post. Today we did something with the altered keyboard we have on stage and spent some time preparing it. I think people loved it.
VENIA: So social media is helpful in creating your career?
ARDEK: Yes, it definitely is. You can reach so many people at once.
VENIA: You don’t mind that you constantly have update people of your existence because the times are coming when they forget about you if you don’t post often enough?
ARDEK: I mean, it’s not good to update too much, some are doing that constantly, but what we do is that we prepare a good idea and then we release it. And that is why they don’t forget about us… Maybe people would get bored if we would post five pictures from the backstage every day. See Namtar and Ardek sitting on the couch… 🙂
We keep away a bit and then we bring something back. It works with us. Hopefully.
VENIA: What is more stressful for you – the time you’re creating the album or the release date?
ARDEK: Everything before the release. This month we recorded everything for the new album. I worked day and night on the arrangements. Peter Tägtgren did production this time, worked round-the-clock. This is stressful but nice stuff because you’re working on a new baby that’s getting out there. Then we deliver it to the record label and they start with the promotion and we can spend time working on art. So for us, the most stressful time is gone, I hope. But these days we’re working constantly, we want to tour more, we want to build the shows, we don’t go on holiday all the time. The band is not just the three of us, we have a great team, people helping all the time…
You cannot do the album and build the show at the same time. It’s impossible. Or at least for me, I would go completely crazy. The more you grow, the more people you have believing in your art..
VENIA: Did you bring lots of stuff for the stage?
ARDEK: Yeah, we have some cool stuff. You’ll see it. We like to bring something extra every time. We don’t like the approach – here we are, play our songs, goodbye – that’s not us.
We have lot of fun on stage, we laugh, what we’re doing is our passion and people can feel it.
And just how it was, you can read in our concert report – here, and see in our gallery – here.