First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about both of you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, what instruments you can play, and where you live would be pretty standard?
My name is Kenan Sehic. I’m 41 years old. I live in West Austria, close to the Swiss and German border. I’m making electronic music under the name NegativePowerUnit.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is their a vibrant music community for you to indulge? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
I’m living in an almost rural area. There are smaller cities nearby, but none is exceeding 50.000 inhabitants, so it’s rather calm there. But I like to live there as you can easily go to Switzerland or Germany. And even all these countries speak German, the slangs and cultural attitudes are quite different, which makes it interesting.
You can imagine in an area with low population density, there is not much of a local music scene, especially if you make a specific kind of music, which is a kind of dark electronic music. It’s clearly based on industrial rock, EBM, gothic, post-punk music. The interest in this kind of music already started almost 25 years. As a teenager you are listening to all kinds of music and I was in fact a Guns’n Roses listener, but then got a record of The Sisters Of Mercy, and thought first “well, that’s different, I think I don’t like it” and then realizing that it touches me just more and that I love it.
You can call it “touched by the hand/sound of goth”.
At the similar time (god knows why) others teenagers in this rural area, where also into this Gothic/EBM music and suddenly you had in this small area in West Austria a very high density of Goth teenagers. Which was at this time very confusing and concerning for the adults/parents in the sense of “why is my child dressed in black. Is something wrong with him/her”.
One of the leading Austrian radio channels (fm4) once mentioned that West Austria (where I live) is the center of Gothic people. So, yes, the area influenced my attitude/creativity. Not the local music scene, but friendship with open-minded people.
Nowadays you have to see it differently. People around the world can easily and instantly communicate to each other. Especially soundcloud is a great opportunity for music makers to get a feedback, which is not biased (by friendship or local preferences), to see what others are doing and to cooperate with each other. To exchange ideas worldwide is my influence, and I love it.
What drew you to start creating music yourself? What does your band name mean or where did it come from?
Well, it’s quite simple. You adore the music of a band and you are wondering if you can do something similar. I liked to listen to a band called “The invincible spirit”, which did EBM, and sometimes mingled their music with guitars. That sounds like industrial rock, but it isn’t. The electronic part had much more importance.
Regarding my band name: for quite some time I used “SINsonic” but unfortunately found out that someone already used it. So a friend suggested “NegativePowerUnit”. It is based on the exaggerated positive thinking attitude, that things will just get better when you think positive. But that’s just an uncritical approach. You need to be allowed to critisize things and be open for alternative solutions. The negative in the bandname is meant provocative and not destructive.
What sort of unusual or strange music and art influenced you growing up and helped encourage you to peruse what might be called "alternative electronic music"? Are there any experimental bands out there that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
As already mentioned definetely The Invincible Spirit, the classic goth rock bands like Fields of the Nephilim, The Sisters of Mercy, Front242, Frontline Assembly and industrial rock from Ministry, NIN were my influneces. And I always loved soundtracks. You watch movies and they support the scenes or when you listen to them solely they create emotions and adventures in your head.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
When I made my first attempts it was just to try to replicate what I liked to listen, but now I would say it’s for me rather a therapy or like yoga/sports. It’s relaxing. And for sure music is an expression for me.
Hence I don’t see music as a career. I’m working on my music and of course would like to have a lot of listeners, but at my current stage the interaction with the listeners is more important than fame.
Especially the last two years were very fruitful as suddenly I got feedbacks from all over the world.
When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Do you participate in the analog versus digital debate, vouching for the purity of analog sound? Or do you find it negligent with the advances of technology nowadays?
I started with a yamaha cs1x and cakewalk, but today i use software-synths controlled by native s49 in fl-studio. The debate about analog vs. digital absolutely doesn’t bother me at all, because music for me is part of life/of emotions and not a technical decision.
Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?
Fl-studio. And native komplete 10 are always included in my songs. But i am compelled to buy new software-synths every once in a while
Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What's your relationships with presets?
When you buy new software preset are great to get an idea of the potential of the instrument. But of course when you work on a new track presets are not always matching on the song structure, so you have to tweak until you get the sound or effect you want to produce.
What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for the band? What do you see in the future for your creative output?
I’m since about two years on soundcloud and I used and still use this platform to provide my music to the audience. With the feedback of other musicians, I got more influences and my music style became wider. I’m very glad for this exchange of ideas and I’m continuing this path and probably will interact musically more often with others, meaning: doing songs together with others.
Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?
That’s entirely correct. You have to find a balance between your “real life” and your musical output and it’s quite a challenge. The world became more demanding regarding your work performance, a lot of things became DIY but not in a positive way, meaning that you have to do it by yourself but still have to pay for it, and also I have a family and still want to continue to be a caring father and partner.
Other then the genres that you are most typically known for working with, and being inspired by, are there possibly guilty pleasure bands or genres drastically different your usual repertoire that find themselves working their way into your inspiration?
I’m an open minded person. If I like something then I just listen to it. I can’t say to which extend things are influencing my musical output. It’s all a melting pot. It can be the smile of my children or that someone is annoying you.
What are your thoughts on genres in general? Do you find them creatively helpful as a template to work with? Or do you find them restricting? Or possibly somewhere in between? Now that the internet has caused so much crossover in music, would you even say genre labels are relevant any more?
The idea of creating genres was once useful for the music industry, because you could label things (and for record stores it was ideal). Also the listeners were strictly departed. You had the mainstream music and the alternative music scene. Then on the peak of the music business (years ago) you had all kind of sub-genres.
When I grew up people stayed pretty much in their genre. You were a Gothic, you listened to Gothic music (and the Smiths as an exception). And nowadays when you see what people have on their players it is entire diversity. The same person listens to a song of Green Day, next an Austrian local band, then Metallica, afterwards Beyonce, etc…
The relevance of genres is for sure diminishing also due to crossover but much more due to the listeners. I personally had my influences and I keep it in my head and heart. However I’m always open for new interactions and influences.
I find genres still useful when you search similar music styles. You need to label things to get a structure. And as long as the structure is not discriminating, it’s fine for me.
What sort of influences outside of your primary artistic expression help move or guide your artistic expression? I've often heard from musicians that their mundane jobs or family lives often provide a unexpected platform for inspiration.
As already mentioned I see the source of inspiration as a melting pot of the interactions I have. This is mainly my family and friends. Also consuming media like watching movies and series (which became luckily much more complex) are an influence.
Is collaboration something that is actively important to you? Do you have any individuals you are particularly successful, or unsuccessful, in collaboration with? Has there been any collaborative based songs that you would say stand out to you?
Collaborations are very interesting for me. It’s nice to see how others are re-arranging my songs when remixes are done. Also I sometimes remix other musicians and give the songs a new flair/style.
I’ve created for a friend in Florida some remixes and he remixed also one of my songs.
With another friend I will highly probably start another collaboration.
I always feel honored when someone asks me to work with them…. so feel free to contact me via Soundcloud!
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
First of all i want to thank the infidel netwerk for giving me the opportunity for this interview. I am deeply honored.
I would like to thank everyone who takes time to listen to my music, especially when they write honest comments.
Stay tuned. NPU
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