Translation: Dope Fiend
SeQ – Drums, Electronics, Keyboards
KuL – Vocals
PitU – Bass Guitar, Vocals
ThUg – Keyboards
IJon – Keyboards
Prince Olo – Guitar
Little Rave N. – Guitar
The advantage of the physical hard copy is of being able, sometimes, to contain in itself a really complete form of art. It is not easy an easy process, but there are artists who have the skills to do it. Today we talk with Hipgnosis, Polish band of which you will find the review of the album "Relusion".
Welcome to our website, how are you?< SeQ: Great, thank you very much! We just released our studio album on LP in astonishing hard-case box!
Let's start by asking about your monicker, is there any connection with the London-based studio that gave birth to the album cover of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, U.F.O. and Emerson Lake And Palmer, or I'm completely wrong?
No, you're not wrong, this is one of the inspirations. We pay much attention to artworks of our albums and i was always impressed with the creations of this studio. They are connected with so many groundbreaking albums, chapeau bas! What's more, my approach to music is perfectly described with those two words: hypnosis and gnosis. And even more, I'm a big Pink Floyd freak (since I remember, even at the time of big punk rock boom, and this was not popular).
How and why Hipgnosis are born? What is the reason that promped you to the formation of this band and who are the musicians/artists who compose it?
At the begining the reason was really trivial. I'm a drummer, and drummers are often musicians for hire. So, after i was expelled from another band, i said "enough" and decided to form my own band. After that came more serious reflection, that i'm serious man and it's time to create my own music and not just play somebody else's compositions. And slowly i started to implement this plan into life. I managed to gather around some people who were quite unique in what they were doing. And more important, it all happened on friendly basis. We set it straight that the chances to earn money are minimal, we'd rather have to pay extra from our pockets (what we still do till now). Later, playing and composing was only thing to do. And to make in even more difficult we decided to hide all our previous experiences, do not reveal our names and photos. Our way or no way, we will either succeed with only our music or we won't at all.
Defining your sound is not quite simple: for one moment my mind has been crossed by the words "cosmic prog", since you have elements of different nature, both progressive and cosmic music. How do you give birth to the songs? The jamming spirit in the rehearsal room/studio is a basic component or do you want to have well-focused ideas before merging the sound streams?
In general, the sketch is first created on my computer, i record various sequences, keyboard sounds, loops, trying to create an atmosphere of the song. Later I prepare drums, and finally together with the band we are working on the whole composition. Of course I'm not the only composer, though the main one. For example it was our keyboard player, ThuG, who solely created and composed the song "The Garden". I don't waste my time thinking what kind of music we play. Indeed, I like "cosmic" sounds, been always listening to electronic stuff (Schulze, Tangerine Dream, we played with them on one stage in Loreley!) and possibly those "spaces" are audible. The rest i leave for critics and our listeners.
I really liked Kul's performance, I find elegant and pleasantly his singing that sometimes has a fascination similar to the more "intimate" ones by Bjork. How do you choose the song's traits to fill with voice and the type of approach to provide in?
I've met KuL many years ago in one band and when eight years ago I set up Hipgnosis, i was desperately seeking contact with her. I found her, she got interested and since that time we're together in a band. I think that Hipgnosis means as much to her as it means to me.
What was your first thought after you finished the recording of "Relusion"?
I simply didn't have a clue whether we recorded good or bad album. After months of recordings, mixing and over four hundred hours spent on preparing this material got no idea. Slowly it reached my mind that maybe we created something unordinary. For me this is definitely the most important album in life.
Your album is a relaxing listening but also a challenging one (it seem a paradox, I know): the atmospheres are particularly "trippy" and, to fully appreciate their nuances, they need to be slowly absorbed. Considering that I have fully appreciated the album, if I asked you to choose one representative song to submit to our readers, what song would you choose and why?
Difficult question. In every piece of music there is a lot of "me". Difficult because those songs differ from each other. This might have been the title track as it is the main idea behind the whole album and when it comes to sound it's pretty close to my beloved Pink Floyd (guitar solo by Little Raven!). But also "Large Hadron Collider" where, apart from guitars I recorded all instruments by myself, so this is more personal twenty-two minutes of this album. I don't know, honestly. This album should be treated as a whole. Roger Waters might have had the same problem when asked about "The Wall".
"Relusion" is the synthesis of the words "religion" and "delusion", right? You are inspired by the manuscript "The God Delusions" by Richard Hawkins, but you can be really disappointed by a human creation? Or the disappointment lies in the fact that there is no god and so the man himself try to replace it and fail to do it?
I'm an atheist so my perspective is quite clear. If somebody read Hawkins, he should find there everything. I mean that the religiousness of human comes from rooted need to have above us something unexplained, undefined, something man can bow to. Human gods, ancient or modern are not necessarily good. So we don't search only for the protection but for domination as well. God pictured in Old Testament is negative, even evil, just as some Greek gods, Kali goddess, etc. This is pantheon of bloodthirsty and demanding tyrants. How to explain that? Human need to be submissive? Need to serve somebody? Sounds little probable? Why did people follow Stalin or Hitler? Atheism is for me, more independent, proud form of spirituality. Yes, spirituality! Liberation from those who would like to take decisions for me. Removing the fear of dying, yes! Please keep in mind that it's mostly Christians who are afraid of death, though they should be rid of this fear. Death is for me the final and unavoidable part of life. And due to it – it's fair and equitable. Maybe because of it I respect life more than faithful people. I also don't eat meat, cause animals life also matters to me. Finally due to it I don't want to lose any single day, don't want to waste my time. I am not on my knees and don't serve anyone. I feel free and proud.
How did you choose the quotes included in the booklet?
I tried to pick those unique, those that keep the essence in few words. And to be the quotes from people whom everyone recognizes.
In this scenario, in which Religion and Science are once again opposed, where does that leave the drawings of Tomasz Setowski? What is the meaning you give to these so special representations?
Paintings of Setowski are not a direct commentary to our ideas. There is no place for direct symbols here. For example, when I see a pentagram on the cover, it mostly reveals the content. In our case this is different. First of all, these are just beautiful, imaginary, "cosmic" paintings that fit our sounds. They are the proof of unlimited imagination of Tomasz – and this is great advantage from atheists point of view. Remember that atheism is mostly belief in one own's abilities. His art is the proof of unlimited human talent. The painting on the cover is called "Two Worlds". But there are no distinct opposites here. So Religion and Science don't have to exclude each other. We can coexist and learn tolerance and respect other people. Very difficult subject, especially in Poland nowadays. For some people such statement is already a provocation. We shall just try to fight this stupidity.
Poland is somehow related with Religion? In the past Wojtila had tried to mediate some points of view, but I think there is a very strong hatred for the status of the Church and for what it represents.
Poland is a country hard to understand for somebody who was not born here, who doesn't live here. We have our triumphs and our curses. The curse is our history: we were tought since years that we're the only rightful, we die with honour for our homeland. "Poland is the messiah of nations", this is the quotation from one of our national poets. Now in times of free speech, when somebody says that in our past not everything was perfect, we as a nation cannot face our sometimes dark past. Recently, our cinemas played a new movie by Pasikowski called "Poklosie". It's about murdering people by Polish citizens during II World War. We have a problem with this movie cause for many people (especially from the right wing) it's a slander, because the cannot allow talking about our past in such way. And this is obvious that every country has bad experiences in its conscience. Everyone has to deal with it, otherwise we can't go forward and learn anything. Germans had to face to crimes of fascism and both World War, and they managed to. In Poland there is always talk about who is and who is not a real patriot. If you're not a catholic, you are not a patriot. It's sick and from that point of view choosing Wojtyla for pop was not necessarily helpful. In seventies it had undoubtedly given the ignition to start Solidarnosc and begin to abolish communism. But now it's treated and the determinant of only one acceptable attitude. Coming back to Wojtyla, one this was very bad, namely signing of concordat. We feel the results, also economic one, till today. Komisja Majatkowa which had to oversee the returns on goods and grounds taken from Church has robbed us. There are some court cases still open, but those goods have already been sold, and the value of returned immovables exceeded the level of harm. Church as an institution will never return enything freely, until it will have to. So it fights to keep power and influence on our lives, holding important positions in politics. And our constitution says that Poland is secular country.
For me and many others, your country is one of the most flourishing "metal machine" in Europe. I know not much about the scene outside of that landscape, I was able to approach and appreciate Millenium and now your music. There are other bands with whom you share same passion, or fed the sincere respect, that you feel they deserve greater popularity?
There are lots of great bands, in my opinion! Both in progressive and metal music, possibly in other genres as well. I sometimes work as sound manager during concerts I had a chance to meet really tones of bands that I haven't even heard of before. Worldwide popularity gained Vader and Behemoth and in progressive music Riverside. The background of those careers is huge and musicians play on such high level that I'm often jealous. However in times of Internet and free downloading – the musicians can't make ends meet. This causes the need to work regularly in different areas, to pay the bills, and also makes the live on many bands and projects much shorter. For example I could point Grendel, who released only one band. When it comes to recent releases, Retrospective, Ananke and Logic Mess recording great album on top world level.
How is the music industry in your country? In the charts there is a slot for similar art forms or they are filled with commercial pre-packaged products as here in Italy?
SeQ: Music industry exists mostly in Warsaw. Rest of the country is hopeless fight with adversities. For example, we recently played a live gig in one radio, but we had to pay for the transport as they couldn't even return us the travel costs. Not that they didn't want to, they just couldn't afford it! Most radio stations was "formatted" so they only play the same songs on the base if their idiot playlists. DJ programmes almost don't exist. This is giant loss for the culture, but noone from those who decide seems to care. Music companies hardly make ends meet, selling mostly ringtones. Fortunately the pressure from the bottom, from the bands is huge, hundreds of artists do their music against economical logic. But it has nothing to do with well understood "music business". Those companies often hire businessman then music fanatics, so sales report rule, and the artistic vision doesn't matter.
On stage you are also supported by a visual section, perhaps using a projector or other?
No, we almost don't do it. There were several shows with visuals, but only when suggest by somebody from outside the band. In my opinion it's not necessarily good for us. Although it seems that progressive act would be well supported with visuals in the background. Not for everyone. Maybe good for Pink Floyd or Polish band Lebowski. I try to avoid simplifying things when it comes to Hipgnosis, try not to give direct impulses. That's how the whole "Relusion" is crafted: nothing pushy, nothing straightforward. I decided not to interfere people with their own imagination and vision of our music. That i'd rather leave them free space to inspire, to close their eyes and use their imagination.
The five albums that a music lover can not do not have?
I cannot answer this absolutely honest, because there are hundreds of these. Without much thinking and pointing only rock albums,i'd choose: Beatles "White Album", Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon", Genesis "Trick Of The Tail", Led Zeppelin "IV", Yes "Close To The Edge". But I already have fifty more in my mind, and i feel bad that i cannot list them here.
The five albums that have indelibly marked your life?
You're not giving up. For various reasons I'd point: Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here", Beatles "White Album", Yes "Relayer", Led Zeppelin "The Song Remains The Same", Vangelis "Heaven And Hell".
What can we expect by the future of Hipgnosis?
I don't know. We assumed that the band will exist as long as it will make sense, in personal and musical meaning. I'd never want to record piffling, unimportant album. We'd like to play more live shows, also outside Poland and we will work on that, i suppose that many people may be interested. We started working slowly on new songs. That's good. But life is full of surprises, that i'm very cautious when talking about future plans.
The interview is over, thank you for your availability, do you have a final message to our readers?
A piece of local patriotism: please try to find interested in more Polish bands, cause they will surely surprise you. And buy their albums, thanks to you the might have the chance to record another ones.