Infidel Interview #120: Xentrifuge
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?
Chris X and Lisa Hellen, we are from the NYC area, born and raised. We've known each other for over 2 decades, kinda grew up together, and here we are now as Xentrifuge.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
Living in the NYC area is both great and frustrating at the same time. While there are so many bands and events to check out, you sometimes have to pick and choose what to see and what to miss. With so many artists in the same area looking for shows it certainly keeps the creativity and Do-or-Die attitude flowing. Definitely have to be on your toes and go all in, in order to stand out in this area. Not to say its any easier for artists outside of this area, but it certainly has a distinct dynamic, just as LA has and I'm sure so many other great cities around the world. Overall, we absolutely love the NYC area and its people!
What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Industrial music scene?
Right now we think we have a different sound than a lot of the "Industrial-EBM" type projects. Xentrifuge is gritty, raw, in your face industrial! The way we like our Industrial Music to sound, rather than just an aggressive form of techno. We hate to categorize ourselves and others, but we all need to fit in somewhere. Raw, gritty, cold and mechanical Industrial would be the best way to describe us with within this very broadened genre.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?
We are inspired by many things, rather than sticking to one concept throughout an album, especially on this new album. We draw inspiration from personal, everyday life situations and experiences, a bit of the occult and religious concepts, anything that grabs our attention along the way. We like to keep our inspirational radar very broadened as to run with any great idea that strikes us.
Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being primary musical themes that dominate your music, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs?
The world is a fucking mess but very beautiful at the same time. I guess it really depends on where you see yourself in life and where you want to go that plays into how each individual perceives the world around them. There are so many factors that have to be considered and thought through in order to truly answer that question. Everyone is different. Everyone sees and thinks differently. When you look at that as a whole, I think it is a lot easier to understand and survive in a world such as ours these days. On another note it surely fuels a lot of lyrical content, image, and concept right now especially. We often wonder what some artists would do if this world was not in the state of being that it is now. LOL
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
We have some pretty big ambitions to fulfill or die trying LOL. Xentrifuge will be going all out, no holding back. Performing is always a top priority and we plan to be on the road as much as possible. We will always be sure to increase our creativity and bring something fresh while maintaining our sounds as each bit of work is released, or else it will not be released. We hope listeners will take notice and we have already begun working on the next release with plenty of remixes, compilation appearances and collaborations in between and along the way.
The interview continues after this video and all further streaming content...
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?
oh definitely. We have always been very much into music as listeners and as musicians. We've always been drawn toward the darker and heavier side of the music realm. We have both played in other bands with traditional instruments in our early years and then were introduced to Industrial/Goth. Some early Leatherstrip, Wumpscut, Hocico etc... also just about every other band under the Cleopatra Records banner at that time (Ironically!). The finding of Diary of Dreams, that is when we really understood what we wanted to pursue and have not looked back. To this day, Diary of Dreams is still one of our most influential bands we follow, Adrian H seems incapable of anything less than pure genius. Listeners may not hear this in our sound but is very much a major influence.
When it comes to your musical self and your real-world self, would you say that there is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?
It depends what setting we are on at the time. While we are in the studio, we can sometimes become almost catatonic and tunnel-visioned. World War 3 could be surrounding us and probably wouldn't know it. When we hit the stage that's when all inhibitions are let go and we don't even think- we just do. Minute by minute, second-by-second, we are just going with the flow. We are definitely completely different people on stage and not forced or rehearsed. We have no control over our ways when we hit the stage. It isn't often but those 45 minutes every month or so when we do hit the stage is when our true selves are being shown. It is instinct and energy driven.
Are you musically self-taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?
Chris X - Completely self-taught. Never had lessons. Lisa Hellen - Had some musical training from my father growing up, other than that closely watching friends, musicians, and mostly Chris X lol. Of course there are tons of musicians and artists we look up to and learned from by listening and such. However we find that sometimes being taught or taking lessons can take away an individuals natural creativity by replacing it with someone's instructive creativity. Not bashing anyone that has had or is taking lessons, We just find for ourselves that whatever sounds good is good and that's the way we like to do things.
When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?
For the most part there is no specific formula or method to our Madness so to speak. Most of the time we just start writing. Sometimes we feel like throwing a baseline down first. Sometimes we feel like throwing a drum track down first. Guess you can say we have consistency within chaos if that makes any sense. In other words we are consistent and constantly jumping around and just doing what feels right at the time. Our writing is very abstract as a whole, especially lyrically and sometimes things do take a life of their own, but in most cases the start of that process is always chaotic, which leaves a wide door open for all kinds of ideas.
When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?
Again there is no specific method to our Madness. However, we do reach a point where things do need to be structuralized; that is where some tricks come into play such as finding the right amount of a particular sound to be used against another. Most of these techniques and tricks come towards the end of the writing process for the album in whole to keep consistency during the listening experience.
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' 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?
We probably spend more time creating and tweaking sounds more than anything else actually. No out of the box presets whatsoever. Of course we manipulate, layer and tweak presets to create our own sounds, but that is just the start. Then comes the chains of effects brought on board. We are definitely more software-based however with the upcoming album and in the near future we have and will implement much more analog style into our work. Yes, there are some very specific tools we use in order to maintain our sound, such as lots of distortion, LOL, in case anyone hasn't noticed already.
Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?
The sounds in whole are always most important. We can't move forward without having the right set of creative sounds, just as a painter can't move forward without the right set of brushes, so to speak. It kind of balances itself out on it's own that way. In a lot of cases we will design a session template with sounds, drums, tracks, etc. ready to go, as to not interrupt the creative process when we have a good flow going. Of course there are times we have to make adjustments and changes on the fly, but for the most part it always starts with sound creation. Every aspect and element is important, this way just seems to be our approach to our chaotic process.
Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?
We kind of make it a rule to learn something new each song or project. That helps keep things fun and fresh, as well as learning and advancing at the same time. Whether it be that one little knob, fader or effects patch that you've never really fucked with yet, we always find something new to learn. So yea, we try to make every project a small learning experience at the same time.
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?
Yea we have a method, it's called overworking ourselves to death lol. We have no spare time, no free time, no party time. We are hoping that might loosen up a bit, but we have a feeling that's not going to happen, and quite happy with that because it means we 're doing something right. Of course, we do try to get out every once in a while and support artists, venues, events, etc. as much as possible and see familiar faces. We love what we do and would do it no matter the sacrifices.
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?
We are definitely an audience-driven, energy-driven, live atmosphere act. We surely use lighting and some visuals to our advantage, but it's all about performing rather than unnecessary stage props and fake blood being thrown across the stage to keep the crowd interested. That's what works for us and we wouldn't have it any other way. Our music and performance is what we rely on to get us to the next level- not a faked image or concept which may work and suit others better- its just not for us. We feed off the crowd's energy and hope they feed off of ours in return. It's a show for us when we are on the stage as well. It's always great to see an audience feed off our energy- it creates a cycle and creates a better experience for both the audience and ourselves. So, anyone planing on catching Xentrifuge live, don't be shy, move around a little and have fun!
When it comes to performing, what are your favorite sort of venues to play in, and what are your favorite areas to tour? If you could tour with any other band in the world who would it be and why? What are some of your favorite memories of touring?
Mid-sized venues (in comparison from your average nightclub to a stadium) are where we seem to do our best and have the most fun. Xentrifuge has never played an arena or stadium, but can't imagine it being as personal and interactive as a mid-size or smaller venue.
We love to tour everywhere, most specifically, the places we haven't toured yet lol.
Right now at this moment, we would say Diary of Dreams to tour with. (Surprise LOL). They have always been a huge influence, as we mentioned above, and we would love to share the stage and just be able to have a conversation with such great artists. Favorite Memories - being able to meet so many new people and true fans. While the internet is great, there's nothing better than getting to interact with fans after a performance, whether at the merch table or outside smoking. (Always come say hi!)
If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be?
Nirvana, at Reading Festival '92. Plain and simple.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
It's always awesome to get a message from a fan letting us know what our music has done for them, or how it has impacted their life, on any level, big or small. Those are definitely stand out moments that we always remember. Also, reaching new fans and breaking new boundaries that we haven't broken down yet, such as being able to put out a record on such a label as Cleopatra Records. We have been fans since our early teens, so this is a pretty big achievement for us and definitely drives us forward.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
The biggest challenge was to find compatibility with another artist to work with. The line-up we have now is stable, very creatively-driven, and permanent. In the past, it was very difficult to maintain all of the above mentioned. I guess some people are cut out for this kind of work, and some are not.
Another big challenge is keeping up with everything. From messages, to deadlines, pretty much all business aspects. We are working on management to lessen this challenge. In any case, we will move forward.
Outside of Industrial 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?
If we weren't creating Industrial Music, we would probably be producing hip-hop/rap, or trying to create a new form of music altogether. Although hip-hop does not inspire Xentrifuge, it does have an anything-goes attitude. Other than that, we take on some remixes here and there and may have a collaboration or two coming up. So, be on the lookout!
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? What sort of new bands have come out in recent years that have caught your attention? Is there any bands out there you see yourself, or would like to, remix or collaborate with in the future?
Again, Nirvana would be number 1 to share the stage with. Too many bands to list that we would love to collaborate with and some of that may come to be. As far as newer bands, 3Teeth obviously lol. Bornless Fire! We tend to give everything a listen and keep a wide range of artists on rotation.
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?
Right now we are working on management to handle a lot is this. Up until now, it's always been just us taking care of everything from promotion, to all social media, booking, artwork, photography, and anything else that comes with the territory of being an artist today. It is very challenging and time-consuming, especially with a two-piece band.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
We don't have much spare time unfortunately. When we do, we try to catch up on our favorite TV show "Vikings" and sometimes actually sit down and have a nice dinner. Basically just try to have a little normalcy whenever we have that chance.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
First, thank you so much for having us! To our fans- we can't thank you enough and we would not be here without YOU! Love you guys, rock on! Be on the lookout for "Desensitized Parallels" via Cleopatra Records early 2018, as well as an official music video for "Circles of Dust"!
Find their music for digital download on their Bandcamp:
Keep up to date with their latest activites on their Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Xentrifuge
They are represented by Cleopatra Records, which can be found here:
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