Hey Zoog! Always glad to have you back on the site. Let’s start off with a basic question that I’ve never asked you before and one that I’m eager to hear the answer to. Give me three of your favorite albums of all time and tell my why you enjoy them so much.
Zoog Von Rock: Thank you Steven! And thank you for connecting bands with fans during a period where we need it most! Three favorite albums. Damn, tough call...
"Songs in the Key of Life" by Stevie Wonder. Every song on this album is a timeless anthem. The music, the lyric, the production - it's just perfect. I never get tired of this album. Stevie Wonder offered it to Barry Gordy (boss of Motown Records) for thirteen-million dollars in 1976. Barry said it was the best thirteen-million he'd ever spend.
"Oxygène" by Jean-Michel Jarre. This album is a classic. It's simple and brilliant. It's not just what Jarre did right, it's also the short-comings in production which make it sound glorious.
The synth work on "Oxygène" is beautiful- it's like listening to a Claude Monet. I also love how Jarre's sound evolved with technology with each release; "Oxygène" is firmly planned in mid-70s modular synths and monos...and the odd organ. It should also be mentioned that Jean-Michel was emerging from his father's shadow - the brilliant Maurice Jarre (three Oscars, four Golden Globes, two Grammies - composed the scores for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Hitchcock's Topaz, Witness, Dead Poets Society and many more.) Jean-Michel was a rich kid.
"Construction Time Again" by Depeche Mode. Four young men fearlessly charge into the night...knowing that if this album fails, they're finished. The press doomed them to failure before they even started the album. They are alone and not hindered by rules. They created an album which is still cited as a genesis for industrial music. I am always inspired by this album - the risks it takes and it's clean simplicity...and wonderful use of early samplers and digital synths.
And onto business. “The Ignorance Cartel” has just been released. I read that the album was made before the pandemic hit but the lyrics and themes fit perfect for this time of discontent. When you originally wrote the album, what were the thoughts and emotions that inspired it?
Zoog Von Rock: I was watching America fall deeper into Idiocracy - wondering what bombshell was coming next. "The Ignorance Cartel" is the second part in the "Hexe Trilogy" which examines the conservative Right Wing's thirst to burn witches to uphold "family values"...and they're still doing it. Meanwhile people are still dividing themselves into smaller groups, finding reason to attack rather than forgive and rebuild while more disinformation was being pumped into your anti-social media feed, not being fact checked, just being re-affirmed by the all seeing algorithm. I was a little frustrated. Covid and the important civil liberties marches happened during the album's production - which inspired a harder, angrier sound.
Tell me a bit about the cover art. In my review of the album, I described the personality on display as the ring leader of the titular Ignorance Cartel. Is that true? And who designed and made the cover art?
Zoog Von Rock: You nailed it - yes, that's the ringleader. He's trying to lure you in like a trusted friend and filling your head with bullshit. En Tze Loh painted that artwork. En did a brilliant job. I've known En for over ten years - and I am thrilled that we finally got to work together.
For “The Ignorance Cartel” you had guests from Gasoline Invertebrate, Queen of the Static Opera, and Miss Ballistic, and many more aboard for the album. What did these artists bring to the album that you sought them out for? What was it like working with them in the virtual world?
Zoog Von Rock: I'll use any excuse to work with Brian from Gasoline Invertebrate. He's such a good mate! Melody from Queen of the Static Opera also lives in LA. We have been talking about working together for a while. I definitely want to work with her again soon! I love working with Miss Ballistic - they are crazy fun! Roxy Von Rock (aka my hot babe wife) and Tiger Kitty Hell helped out on vocals. Roxy also helped make several of the videos which appear on the VHS...'coz we shot it all in lock-down.
Your last album “Bang Operative” was only released last year. I’m curious to know if there was anything you learned from your last full-length release that you brought to the table for this album. Any lessons, new production techniques, or musical influence that you wanted to add in that you did not previously?
Zoog Von Rock: "Bang Operative" had a softer tone. Well, softer for Angelspit! I was going for the sound of 1978 to 1981. Yes, very specific, but that period had a definite synth sound - most classic synth albums happen then. "The Ignorance Cartel" is darker and heavier. The sound is more distorted and clangy with more guitars. It's much meaner, more out-of-control. The synth sound is whatever I could destroy at the time. I refer to "The Ignorance Cartel" as the red album. It's fiery and angry. The next one is the black album; it will be nasty.
I always like including this question as I’m always told it’s a tough one to answer. But what is your favorite song on “The Ignorance Cartel” and why?
Zoog Von Rock: The opening track 'Eat the Children'. Musically, it's a thumper. The beats, synths and guitars are and assault. Lyrically, it's layered under fairy tales, quotes from holy books and commonly used soul-crushing propaganda. 'All Puppet No Master' is a close second. P.S. Well spotted on the lyric connection in your review!
How has reception been for the album so far? I gave it a 7.5 out of 10 and enjoyed my time with it. Have you seen any negative press for it? And, if so, do you ever let less than enthusiastic words from reviewers get to you?
Zoog Von Rock: Thank you again for the review! "The Ignorance Cartel" has been received very positively - I am honored that people are enjoying it. It's funny how some people love certain tracks, while others fast forward them and prefer other tracks. There are songs I personally don't love, while others adore them. It sounds weird but I am reminded that it's important for an artist to be a channel for the art, and let it have the freedom to grow on its own and let it become the song it wants to be because someone is going to love it the way it is. God, that sounds strange, but I'm being honest. Regarding negative criticism: sometimes negative criticism has wisdom which can help me develop. Sometimes it's just hate. In that case I don't care.
Now that this album is done, are you going straight back into the studio to work on a new album? Do you have any remixes, EPs, or singles planned for the near-future?
Zoog Von Rock: Next is the VHS release! All fourteen tracks from "The Ignorance Cartel" are getting videos. I've enlisted the help of some directors I love to work with including The Liar, Kino McFarland, Keith Jenson, Chris Davis, Steve Hasse, and I have also directed several videos myself. It's great fun re-interpreting the music into visuals. The VHS is a strictly limited run, details HERE. Play the video and die within 7 days.
The super-cool thing about releasing a VHS is that it's out of the reach of the great algorithm; a VHS can't be flagged for content or muted for copyright infringement. Self-censorship is a pain in the ass and blocks the creative flow when your work is not PG rated. So it's liberating to work on a medium that is offline. After this I am producing tracks for May May Graves, SpankTheNun, Elz and the Cult, Miss Ballistic and Ice Planet 9000...then Angelspit's next album.
You’ve always been cyberpunk inspired and, with the release of Cyberpunk 2077 and all of its hype, a lot of people are starting to call out and say they’re sick of the genre. Does this sway your opinion on the genre at all? What would you say to those people if they said that to you?
Zoog Von Rock: I don't know what the genre actually is. I don't know what constitutes as "Cyberpunk". I personally think we live in a world which is more cyberpunk that William Gibson could have imagined. I think this world as a darker cyberpunk reality than the Cyberpunk portrayed in Cyberpunk 2077. In that world, they are active. Here, we sit on our asses watching Netflix, getting our dis-information from an AI run by corporations which will gladly erode us for advertising dollars. While we're playing Cyberpunk 2077. God, that's so perfectly ironic. But it would be brilliant if they did a follow-up called Steampunk 1877. "Hey, buddy, I need to smuggle these brass cogs in your blimp."
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time. I leave the space below for you to mention anything that I may not have. Cheers!
Zoog Von Rock: Angelspit's new VHS is shipping now. Some of the videos are fucked up - these versions will only be seen on the VHS. Youtube friendly versions will be uploaded over the coming months. Details HERE. Many of us are going through a rough time right now. Remember, you can listen to ANGELSPIT for free on Spotify and watch all our videos on YouTube. We do a free weekly meet-up for artists who are struggling or in a rut - details posted on our Patreon.
Please wear a mask and keep safe! You are part of an awesome tribe and we need you!
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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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