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Interview with Clan of Xymox

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On December 15th 2012 Clan of Xymox performed at Vienna's Viper Room. The concert was exciting, well visited, yet also very intimate. Afterwards, I took the opportunity to catch Xymox' mastermind Ronny Moorings to ask him some questions. During this talk Ronny revealed what he thinks about Facebook, Wikipedia and about musical categorization.

Savetier: Ronny, you already gave me a Christmas gift by playing 'Moscoviet Mosquito'. Actually I never thought I would hear it live.
Xymox: It's been a while since we've played it.

Savetier: How do you choose the songs you play live?
Xymox: What I feel like playing. Something that may be valid for me now.

Savetier: How long before do the co-musicians, do you know, the playlist?
Xymox: Well, you do tours and stuff in some kind of sets so you play certain countries at certain times. Or you have these sets prepared for each country and you come again and you change it accordingly.

Savetier: It's for each country different?
Xymox: Yes.

Savetier: But do you think people care which songs you play or they just want to see you live no matter which song?
Xymox: In general you trust the band that they play something you like... there's no way to please everyone, you could please people by another set that the songs you choose are good for that session. I wouldn't play songs if I wouldn't get feedback.

Savetier: How do you measure the feedback? I saw that you really observe the people. It' s not many musicians where I felt, oh, now he's looking at me. Do you see them, I mean, because of the light.
Xymox: Yeah, I see everyone. Except the ones very much in the background.

Savetier: You have been through a lot of different kinds of music. But still it's not that you went off your way, ever, it seems.
Xymox: I did, I also had my experimental period, and a pop period, jumping from the Twist of Shadows into Phoenix, then more experimental, then Metamorphosis, then Headclouds and then restarting again with Hidden Faces. And the blueprint of that was actually the Clan of Xymox first album.

Savetier: Do you think it's necessary to define yourself musically as gothic, since all the different genres that came of post punk, new wave, it's such a huge thing.
Xymox: Under the name of goth you have VNV Nation, and they also play on goth festivals and they are like EBM or future pop. So there's a whole range that has been taken by the goth badge, actually I do both parts, some things are more beat orientated, or I take my guitar sometimes or make electronic. I'm also going different directions, but it's still the same attitude towards music.

Savetier: The interesting part is, that you are authentic in what you do. And I I think it's very important. The communication with the audience just works. And when people cry, like I noticed during the concert tonight, I think there's no better experience the audience can have - and also the musician.
Xymox: It's nothing more beautiful than having that effect on people. Having people cry of happiness or cry when you hit some knot, that reminds them of a person or whatever, or a situation. It's that emotion that makes you feel that you achieved something. Music is there to move someone. And if you do that, it's the ultimate compliment, if that actually happens. Cause I cannot control what someone else feels.

Savetier: Isn't that the greatest thing you can have as the musician?
Xymox: It's a by-product, not really the greatest thing. The greatest thing is the moment you actually... to me... the moment when you write the song and think about it and you think that's my holy creation, write a new song and then later play the song live in a club where people play it and they take it to another level. My personal victory is when I'm really happy about a song, to be able to record it in a studio and it comes out later and then starts having an effect. But it's a very long process then already.

Savetier: Where do you take your inspiration form?
Xymox: Nothing.

Savetier: Nothing?
Xymox: Everything.

Savetier: Everything? Life stance, literature?
Xymox: My own life would be actually very boring in that way, because it's so constant.

Savetier: Is this a bad thing, to have a constant life?
Xymox: I LIKE it, I like the way I live. I take things from other people, that I hear, and make them into a life form.

Savetier: So, you collect stories?
Xymox: Definitely. It grabs me and I don't really know what it is, it's in my head and it comes out, and it reminds me that I know about this and this and it reminds me of that. And I do this all night. And there's always stories, there's always people telling these stories, tell me things people experience, doesn't need to be that it's my life. I don't know Louise, I don't know Evelyn, I actually don't know any of the female names I've chosen, because they are fictional names.

Savetier: This would have been my next question, who are Michelle, Jasmine and Rose? They just fit to the rhythm, or what?
Xymox: Names I like.

Savetier: Fits perfectly. And there are lots of legends around, who these women are.
Xymox: They are real persons, but they are not called like this. Because it's about some situation about a real person, sure, but it's not Louise definitely, but it's about an ex of mine. I'm not gonna put their names out and write about that name. It should be actually a name that rings or that you can sing.

Savetier: Which song do you like to play most live? Which is your heart piece?
Xymox: It's always the latest song. It's always a challenge because it's not yet sunk in the musicians so much. New and new things are always the most challenging.

Savetier: I never got this answer from a musician before.
Xymox: Really? People always say their classic hits? (laughing)

Savetier: What are the classic hits for you?
Xymox: Well I know that Louise is a classic hit. It's an obligatory song, because people expect a concert not to be without that. How would I say, yeah, that, I really really enjoy playing that, again, but I will not play it as if it's a new song...

Savetier: But you managed it that no song got stuck with your name, like 'Satisfaction' is for the Rolling Stones. They have their stigma. They always need to play that, kind of. Let's say for example 'Louise', if you would play a set without it, nobody would be disappointed.
Xymox: Yeah, that's why I always take things from the past and present. It's this theory that of all people, some people maybe only came for the last two albums to Clan of Xymox and they only know the last songs and they go slowly back in the time and that's also nice.

Savetier: This is a really interesting thing that people can step in any time.
Xymox: And they do. They definitely do, because I, otherwise I would only have an audience of about my age, and it's definitely younger than that. I think my music should be for any age. I don't want to be the hip band for only teenagers and I don't want to be a band for old people either.

Savetier: Yeah, I think today the crowd was quite mixed, I guess between 20 and 40.
Xymox: And that's also the best crowd. The youngest always stand in the front and the older, more skeptical, in the back.

Savetier: Do you recognize some of the people when you are more times in one place, that are always in the front row?
Xymox: I recognize people, I notice some people that come to the show and comment on Facebook and then you know.

Savetier: How private would you go on Facebook?
Xymox: My real private page no one even knows how to find.

Savetier: So, the Clan of Xymox page you manage yourself, you have a Ronny Moorings profile and your private one.
Xymox: I have two Ronny Moorings ones and then I have a private one.

Savetier: Why do you have two Ronny Moorings profiles?
Xymox: One has 5000 and was full and the other one is almost full too. That makes 10 000 and that's the limit kind of thing. And I didn't want to be the "like thing". Some kind of stupid Wikipedia. I hate Wikipedia. You can't have any instruments against all their nonsense. I'm really disappointed in Wikipedia, cause they are kind of idiots and they actually think they could control it, cause they have no lives. I actually delivered once a bio to them, that got dismissed, as if I was talking bullshit.

Savetier: You wrote your own bio?
Xymox: Of course I write my own bio. Who else could know more abut the band than me?

Savetier: I remember this from Wikipedia like "after the split from the other two members, Clan of Xymox became increasingly goth" and then goth was underlined and it was a link, which linked to goth – the subculture.
Xymox: I know, they change it all the time. Every time there's an idiot, who tries to think just and there's an even bigger idiot who tries to trump it again. It's like some super-Wikipedia editor, who doesn't allow anyone else to say anything. So so much for democracy. It's like Wiki-nazis, we call them. And if you're lucky, with your band, they have one on your case, they never let loose, they're pit bulls, look again on the Wikipedia, see how far you can get with the actual history, you get a total mesh from 2001 to now, 11, 12 years, it's short, I mean, hello! Like the only thing they submit is the albums but they didn't talk about it so it's like,... I once delivered to them like this album, that album came out, and had to be neutral, so it's totally boring anyway, but then this guy. I know, actually, this guy, who holds this page hostage. He used to be, it's kind of pathetic, in a rival band in the 80's and this guy became a Wiki editor and so he thinks we all have a fight as bands and now this band doesn't exist anymore and he takes it out as Wikipedia hobby and overrides people, it's horrible. So, since I know that I don't take any articles serious anymore. It gives me a little bit of an indication, sure. Some bands write their own bio and the articles survive because nobody cares. They don't have Wiki hounds like we have. Wiki hounds, Wiki nazis. I haven't discussed that in a long time, because, then I cared, now I don't care. I'm already asleep, because Wikipedia is so boring.

Savetier: About the new album, how did you choose the covers? Was it a difficult to decide?
Xymox: It was actually easy. I just had to think about bands which made me make a decision to take my musicianship a bit further than it was, I always played in bands and I always played music, but to really start writing my own, to get an actual impulse, these bands gave it to me, it was like everyone can play music, the attitude, you can do it, you can really make music. It was an important time in my life. I was about 21. Actually, most bands are from that period, and I chose them. There was Shocking Blue, it's actually one of the first bands I knew as a kid, so that was ok, I definitely should cover that one, and Bowie of course, lifelong inspiration.

Savetier: One final question: You always come back on stage more times, no?
Xymox: In general, yeah, cause people just ask for it.

Savetier: Usually a band comes back once...
Xymox: I don't care what they do.

Savetier: Thank you very much for the interview.

Translator: harpia
Add date: 2013-05-08 / Interviews

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