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Severe Illusion: Infidel Interview #74

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard? My name is Fredrik Djurfeldt. I am old enough to be your mother. And I live in, no actually, I live under, a house just outside of Stockholm, Sweden.

Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What is your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?

I think there are no real scenes when it comes to electronic music anymore. Some time in the 90's everything started to blend together. The music we make with Severe Illusion and Instans has it's roots in early EBM and Dark Electro. Being an old fan of TG and SPK, I feel tempted to also mention Industrial, but that word really has no meaning anymore. Back in the day, Industrial was the name of a record label. Now the term is used for cheap dance music of any kind. With Analfabetism, well, according to Malignant Records I make Death Industrial. So I guess I am part of the Death Industrial scene, too, then.

And I don't mean any of this in a negative way. It is probably a good thing that the scenes evolve, rather than getting stuck in the past. Else we would all be listening to Slogun and Headhunter, and nothing else, to this day. I would not like to live in a world like that.

When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself?

I started off making music when I was really young. Like six years old, or so, because I had access to a lot of old electronic equipment, stuff my father brought home from work. I am talking about science equipment here, not electronic music instruments as such. Left over, obsolete machinery originally used for deep sea exploration that I found new use for. I wrecked some old tape recorders and, well, anything that would make sound. I was far too young to have any concept of what other people did.

When I was eight years old, I came across some of SPK's music and I instantly fell in love with it. I tried to listen to some mainstream pop for a while, to be able to have normal conversations with my fiends in school, but never really liked much of it.

​​The thing that got me into composing in a more traditional way was really the Commodore 64 demo scene. Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Maniacs of Noise, the whole lot of them. I still consider myself a fan of that music. Rob's 'Spellbound' may very well be the best piece of music ever created, by anyone.

Are you musically self taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop? Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand? If so does/did your previous musical experience affect your electronic compositions? I took piano lessons when I was nine or ten years old, for, I think, two years. Then I have done a lot of reading. And a lot of listening to others. I have lots of instruments I can not really play, but I own them anyway. Like accordions and stuff. I buy them, then I try to learn how they work, but I never properly learn, and then I move on to something else. The main melody on Dirt by Severe Illusion was first intended for accordion, but I was poorly self taught so it sounded like a dying cat more than it sounded like a melody, so I settled for the a synth in the end.

When you write music there is a lot of trial and error. Would you consider yourself a person who goes into production with a defined sound in mind, and you work at it until you achieve the closest to the results in your head? Or would you consider yourself more of a person who feels and grooves music, letting songs progressively evolve and define themselves throughout the creation? As Steve Albini once famously said: If a record take more than a week, to make, somebody's fucking up. I would not release my music into the public arena, and I would not be playing live either for that matter, if I did not feel confident I knew what I was doing. Also, I am fully aware how arrogant that statement sounds.

Typically I will spend a few hours on writing a new track. Then I go back a few days later, and change some stuff, and then I am done. Music is not about being perfect, but about conveying a message. If one spends forever changing things, that message is probably lost. And really, my old Skinny Puppy albums, recorded on fairly primitive hardware back in the 80's still sound way better than any over produced future pop of today. ​​

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 make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music? I am not too much into using presets. Mainly because they are usually intended for music different from the music I want to make. So I don't have an ideological or religious problem with them. I do some field recordings. I have been out in nature to record some frogs and birds, and you can hear them on some of the tracks on Severe Illusion's album No More Alive than you Deserve. When I have been working with software.

I have developed techniques to wreck the sound to make it sound more, how should I say? More not like a computer. I have an old bass amp that is sort of broken. It even has some holes in the speaker. Then what I do is I play the computer generated sounds through that, and record it with a microphone back into the computer. This one has been one of my favorite tools for the past fifteen years or so. Also, did you know that a bath tub and a microphone can be used as a really crude form of reverb? You have to scream really loud for it to work properly.

I have a bunch of euro rack modules that are quite essential, especially for my work with Analfabetism and Boar Alarm. Toppobrillo's triple wavefolder and The Harvestman's Polyvoks filter, more than anything else. I also use the modular stuff live when I am on stage with Alvar.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process? All the time, yes. If I was not constantly trying out new stuff, I would get bored very quickly. What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes? Coffee. Lots of it.

You have released quite a few releases over you're active musical years. What has been your favorite album you have put out so far, and how do you feel your music has evolved over the years? I think I always like my latest release the most, regardless of when you ask this question. Right now I am really proud of the two DCDs that came out last week on Advoxya. When we first released Discipline is Reward Enough in 2003, I was unhappy with the mastering. And the artwork was something forced on us by the record label. Now with the new artwork, with excellent mastering and with tons of new tracks added, it's certainly one of my favorites.

It is currently competing with the new album from Analfabetism, Skammen, that will be released on Malignant Records in a month or so. I came up with the idea for it while in Germany in 2015, then I recorded the whole thing in Vancouver, BC, last year, in between shows I played in Canada and the United States last spring and summer. By being in an environment I usually am not, the whole thing took off in new and unexpected directions. So it is certainly one of my favorites too. Until I make another one. What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output? With two album releases just having taken place, and another one in a month, I will now focus on playing the music live for a while. Next up is Denver, Colorado in a few weeks, where I will share the stage with Of Earth And Sun and A Light Among Many. With Severe Illusion we're playing at Front Fabrik Festival in Poland in April together with some of my favorites in that scene. And so on. Then I guess some time in June or so, I will start working on new albums again for Analfabetism, Severe Illusion and Boar Alarm.

Though your music has continually evolved and matured as you have progressed through releases, you have also maintained a consistent sound. You obviously feel there is a lot left to do and say in industrial. What are your thoughts on industrial music now that we're going almost half a century into it's inception? Where do you see things going from here? I don't really agree with that at all. I think Industrial is dead, and has been for a long time. Whatever it represented, is forever gone. What it really was, was a counter reaction to what the mainstream was in the 70's: Industrial music for Industrial people, as the old slogan went. It is ironic how it just created a new mainstream, and how quickly that happened. Fact is, we started Severe Illusion after having a conversation about exactly that. Music had all gone wrong, someone should do something about that. And when we realized that we are 'someone', we took it upon ourselves to try to make proper music. Of course, we did not change the world in any dramatic way. That was never our intention. The world needs a cultural revolution now more than ever, and that requires more people doing something about it. For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented? I think the audience is at least as important as the band. A live show is a form of communication, and it needs everyone to take part, in one way or another. So I always feel that a live show is something I am doing together with everyone in the room.

What would you say has been your favorite live show to play throughout your career? Who has been some of the coolest and nicest bands to tour with? Any good tour stories worth sharing? It is impossible to only mention one show. I am always exited to go to new places, meet new people, and hear new music. First time with Severe Illusion in Ukraine was something very special, because we got to play with some bands that were totally unknown to us before, like Error Genesis, who are a really good live band for example. Playing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the legendary club Madame, was also one of those moments that will live with me for ever. Or until I get old and get Alzheimer and forget the whole thing again. Or the unannounced, very spontaneous appearance at the Verboden Festival last year in Vancouver, where I was asked to play two hours before I was to be on stage. I got there on a bicycle, with all my music gear in a back pack, ran into the club, set up my gear, wrapped my head in plastic and my first show on the North American continent just kind of happened. If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be? Playing with dead people sounds kind of dull. I have never played in Africa, and Africa is really big so an African tour would be interesting. Anyone who knows Severe Illusion knows Congo would be on top of that list. ​​Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy? I never had like an agency do all the work for me, because every time I have given control over to others I have had to spend a lot of time arguing with them about every little detail they are doing wrong. So in the end it is more work, not less, and in the end things never turn out right. Or I am a grumpy old bastard. That is clearly an option too. What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career? 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? As I mentioned before, music is what I have always done. Ever since I could reach up from the floor to the keys on my fathers' piano, I have made sound in one way or another. I don't mean to be rude or anything, but it is like asking me how my life has evolved since I first tried food. ​

Outside of Industrial and Hard Electronic Music, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by? Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? I don't know if my music is really that hard to being with. 'Hard' is a point of view. I think most of it is harder than, for example, the Beatles. Then again, I think there is a lot of music that is much harder than anything I have ever been involved in. I am probably not angry enough. I listen to some 80's metal, from time to time, when I want to clear my head off all the electronic music I am normally listening to. There are some good vocalists in that scene, and I listen to them rather than their music. I also like listening to birds, frogs, insects and some mammals. On an early recording I did under the name Knös, the project that later morphed into Analfabetism, I had some help from a red bellied parrot called Scrongo. He was beating the rhythm with his beak on the microphone. So, yeah, there was some inter spices collaboration going on back then.

​​The projects I am currently involved with are Analfabetism, Severe Illusion, Instans, Boar Alarm, Mongo Erectus, and as a live musician I am joining Alvar live on stage. ​​If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them? There are probably a few out there I could imagine doing something with. Someone with an amazing voice like Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P or Udo Dirkschneider for example. I admire their singing, though I never really cared too much for their music. I have been working together with Peter Nyström from Megaptera and Negru Voda on a few occasions. He has been one of my favorite death industrialists for decades, so I am really happy to have had that opportunity. For the most part, I prefer to work entirely on my own though.

Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being so prominently exposed through todays non-stop 24/7 media, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs? I wouldn't worry too much. The Apocalypse is always just about to happen, and as soon as it is proven wrong, a new apocalypse comes along to replace the old one. The world did not end in 1999, or in 2012, and it is not going to end now either. Living in fear is not going to make the world a better place, so I refuse to do that. When I grew up in the 80's, it was not a matter of if, but of when, the Soviets would attack with h-bombs and stuff. A new ice age was just about to begin, and it was of course all our fault and we were so going to die. All of us. But we didn't. Now, any day soon, we will all be killed by Islamic terrorists and man made global warming. We're told to be very afraid, to live in fear and shame. It is the same old trick again, so don't fall for it. Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements? I really like birds. Currently my favorite has to be the Red Winged Black Birds. I also go hiking in places with beautiful nature and where there are few people around. I have never met a real, live penguin in the wild. I would really like to do that. Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience? Thanks for having me. Yes, I do have something to say to your audience. Now when you have read this whole interview, try reading it again, but backwards this time, and see if you can find the hidden message.

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