SPARK! has been a name praised throughout the Swedish and international EBM scene. Releasing music since 2007, SPARK! captured the attention of the esteemed label Progress Productions and has been signed to the label since the release of the single 'Popkomplex'. 2016 has seen the release of their latest album Maskiner and with it comes their new vocalist, lyricist, melody maker, and mixer Christer Hermodsson. So, dive into the interview below to learn about what the band has been up to, history, as well as information on their latest album!
Hi there! Welcome to Brutal Resonance! Let's start off with some basics. Who are the band members in SPARK!, what are their responsibilities, and where are you from?
SPARK!: We are from the southern parts of Sweden. SPARK! consists of two persons.
Mattias Ziessow: Invents all the music (because "writing music" is such an outdated expression). Operates all the analogue modular Synthesizers and plays the drums.
Christer Hermodsson: Vocals, invents lyrics and melodies and does some final mixing of it all.
Where did you two first start playing music? And what was the first instrument that you picked up?
Mattias Ziessow: Music have always been a big part of my life in different ways. I started composing music when I was fifteen years old and was introduced to the tracker-programs on the Amiga 500 computer. And from there it went on. Damn, that was twenty-five years ago…
Christer Hermodsson: Where? In my childhood home. We had an old piano which I started to play. I had no musical training. I’m just self-taught and was driven by pure lust for music. It wasn’t until my teenage during the 80's that Synthesizers came along. My voice/singing happened during the S.p.o.c.k years. We had A LOT of live shows and it was during those I got my training and self-confidence to sing at all.
How did you guys discover EBM? Through friends, radioplay, clubs, etc.? And could you name five bands that have influenced SPARK!'s sound?
Mattias Ziessow: Oh. I really don't remember when it first struck me. I think I saw an old Front 242 video on the good ol’MTV in my youth or something. All kind of music inspires me when composing. Not just EBM.
Christer Hermodsson: I don’t know, I think EBM has always been around in one way or another always crossbreeding with other electronic genres just like other genres slipped over to EBM. It’s a “ingredience” just like early old-time American blues. Nitzer and DAF refined it.
Where did you two first meet? And when did you first start playing music together?
Mattias Ziessow: Me and Christer came in contact through the SPEKTRUM album, and from there it developed into a great collaboration.
Why did you name your band SPARK!? Where did the name come from? Who thought of it?
Mattias Ziessow: It was from an old studiosession with the ex-singer Stefan Brorsson when we made some other music under the name Les Digital when I told him that we should make some EBM and we should name us SPARK! (swedish for 'kick').
I looked you up on Discogs.com. The earliest release on there is 2007's 65 Ton Stål. Do you have any demos or other music that was never released before 65 Ton Stål? If so, do you ever plan on releasing it to the public?
Mattias Ziessow: Not as SPARK! no.
Overall, how has SPARK! Operated? Would you say you both get along well? Do ideas ever collide?
Mattias: No, on the contrary! We work really great together and everything goes smooth. We are definitely on the same level of thinking. We also strive toward the same sound.
Christer: To be quite honest I have a deep respect for the previous SPARK! material. So actually, for me, I’ve just tried to continue the "tradition". I’ve always said that SPARK! was not just a "funny" EBM band. There has been some sort of 70’s punk element to it. A “raised middle finger”. This is hard ( and fun) enough to continue. So maybe because of that our ideas never really collide.
Your latest album Maskiner has come out on Progress Productions this year. I saw you've been with Progress Productions since 2010. Tell us how you became signed to Progress Productions.
Mattias Ziessow: Torny Gottberg (founder of Progress Productions) signed us after a gig in Gothenburg.
How did you make the music different and better on Maskiner in comparison to your previous albums?
Mattias Ziessow: We have implemented much more hardware and made the overall production more thought out I think.
What themes or messages does Maskiner hold to you? Anything political or personal? Or is it an album that was made for fun?
Christer: Well I know what I DIDN’T want the album to be: boring, old, overproduced and flat. Fun and plain humor is definitely part of SPARK! but it would be boring if it didn’t have any depth. So yes the lyrics are very much set "in this world that you and I live in". I can’t sing classical EBM lyrics about working in a steel factory or semi-stupid lyrics about BDSM. Some are just fun like 'Monolog' (which is about a real person who used to book live shows...Shhh ). And there’s 'Stå emot' where I had the 2010 'Arab spring' in mind, the kidnapped revolution.
We sing in Swedish so naturally it’s only Swedish speaking people who can understand it all. We did get some good reviews regarding the lyrics by the Swedish press. For others it probably just a bunch of gibberish.
One problem though; half of our fan base is German. So I’ve tried to use Swedish words that are similar in German. I’ve sometimes even invented some sort of strange accent to make it more understandable This way at least the Germans can have some chance of understanding what a song is all about. Like for instance 'Vansinne' and 'Brinner'.
How did you feel about the album when it was finished? Did you think it was perfect? Did you see room for improvement?
Mattias: We are really happy with the album and how well it has been welcomed among the fans. I think its the best album so far (as always...).
Christer: It has eleven songs. I’d like to quote the movie "Spinal Tap" when the guitar player in one scene explains his amp: "This one goes to eleven!!". I’m happy with it, I think we have implemented the most hardest thing you can do in this digital modern age into it: a "soul".
You've recently had a music video released to coincide with Maskiner's release. The music video was for the track 'Zombie'. Who directed the video? Where was it shot? And did you have fun shooting the video?
Mattias: It was directed by the very talented Joel Nilsson (Kajak Media) and we had very fun shooting it. We filmed everything in my hometown Falkenberg.
Christer: It was…Cold…Very cold. Mattias got to play drums indoors, lucky bastard.
So far, how has the reception from critics and fans for Maskiner been? Positive? Negative?
Mattias: Really good! Amazing reviews so far!
Christer: Overwhelming so far! Ok, I think we’ve done a good and honest job but I didn’t expect this.
Do you have any live gigs or tours in the work for SPARK!? If so, is this information available online yet?
Mattias: There is a lot in the planning and we always announce it on our Facebook page.
Lastly, I'd like to thank you for your time and wish you the best!
SPARK!: THANK YOU!
Maskiner can be ordered via Progress Productions HERE!
The unfortunate thing about the "drama" that started is that it created an environment where people were choosing sides on if they liked the first album or the second. Our idea was just to give the fans a different angle to Die Sektor and we still loved all our fans from the first album. We were not trying to make people choose sides. Just make some new tunes for people to bump in the cars or whatever.
Die Sektor, May 30 2011
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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