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GODKILLER - Interview, Part III

GODKILLER - Interview, Part III

This extensive interview in three parts with Duke Satanaël was originally published by French webzine Obsküre in summer 2022. With their permission, we translated the conversation into English. The third and last part of the talk is below. Check out the first two parts here: Part I, Part II. The original version of part three in French can be found here.

After seventeen years in 2020, Herr B also known as Duke Satanaël (GODKILLER) broke his silence and returned with a new project: A PRAYER FOR THE WORST. The first album was, ironically, titled "Lullabies for Babies". While the first two parts of the interview focused on the GODKILLER era, this special third part deals with the Artist's new project.

Q: After 22 years of absence, you are back with a new project, A PRAYER FOR THE WORST. To me, it is the logical continuation of the two last GODKILLER albums, because there are specific Electro sounds as well as lyrical themes which oscillate between spirituality and despair. When did the idea for this new project arise? Was the Covid-19 pandemic conducive to its creation?

It wasn't quite twenty-two years. Despite your extremely well-informed interview, you forgot one of my projects – but perhaps you discarded it on purpose? - namely MILLIGRAMME. Under this banner, I created a mixture of Industrial and Electronic music, mainly inspired by English artists. A double album, "Anatomy", was released via the label Parametric in 2003. Back then, this label was run by Rémi Pelleschi from MLADA FRONTA. I even did a few gigs. Then came the 'blackout', so to say. However, I never stopped making music. I practice it almost daily, and I compose on a regular basis, but it’s correct to say I did not release anything for seventeen years. However, the idea and the desire to release a new record one day never left me. Because the contract with Wounded Love ended (after "Deliverance" in 2000) by mutual agreement, I had precipitated the end of GODKILLER. Concerning MILLIGRAMME, the relationship between Rémi and me somewhat deteriorated. I do not know why anymore, but it was not the result of a disagreement, simply a natural estrangement. Therefore, I did not follow up on that project either. For seventeen years I essentially worked on my currently active project which I had, at first, named CHILDREN OF GOD but has now become A PRAYER FOR THE WORST.

I have composed tracks for A PRAYER FOR THE WORST since the early 2000s and it has evolved over all these years. However, the foundations were already laid at the very beginning: it was supposed to be calmer music than GODKILLER, more meditative, more introspective, more mystical, mixing old sounds with contemporary sounds, and it was intended that a melancholic or sometimes desperate side should always be there. At the start, the guitar was still a regular feature (acoustic or electric, in a more 'Alternative' or 'Rock' fashion; it was not supposed to sound 'Metal'), but then this instrument ended up disappearing completely. The period of confinement due to Corona has been one of the most beautiful periods of my life in recent years. I found myself totally free; I was able to devote myself entirely to music, reading as well as listening to records. This period allowed me to complete some of the pieces for A PRAYER FOR THE WORST that I had accumulated over the years. I could also mix them and prepare the release of the album. As far as the confinement is concerned, I remain very surprised by people who have complained about it. I mean, after all, it was finally possible for all of us to find ourselves and look back on our existence without being disturbed by the obligations of everyday life. The ban on going out was largely compensated by the freedom we had at home. But it seems we really must believe that "all our evil comes from not being able to be alone," as La Bruyère writes.

Q: Initially the project was to be called CHILDREN OF GOD, but in the end, it became A PRAYER FOR THE WORST. Why did you choose this name? And why not keep GODKILLER?

For me, it was obvious. The years had passed, the guitars disappeared, the spirit was different – I could not see myself using the same name. The guitars still form(ed) the skeleton of GODKILLER; without guitars, is it still GODKILLER? However, I was completely wrong in not having communicated on what I had done in the past concerning this new project. I wanted to start from scratch, to wipe the slate clean. And then the first people to show interest in A PRAYER FOR THE WORST were GODKILLER fans. You cannot imagine my astonishment. In fact, I had forgotten how loyal and open-minded the Metal scene is. It is remarkable, and I am infinitely grateful. I realized that I had completely mistaken myself into thinking that it would not interest this audience at all.

Regarding the name of A PRAYER FOR THE WORST: I keep a nihilistic approach and, basically, quite an anti-Christian one. A prayer, usually, is done to invoke an improvement of things. On the contrary, a prayer that invokes the worst is an act of faith concerning the disappearance of humanity and the world. But maybe if the worst happened - the disappearance of the human species - it would be the best thing that could happen. Not for the good of nature or the universe, but for the good of humanity itself. We might just be better off disappearing. It is not that the human species is "evil" in the moral sense of the word. No, it just failed. The species had all the means to make the world a pleasant place, yet we created a vale of tears because of the very way the species is designed. Because man does not know and understand and cannot do anything else but self-destruct. It is even what he and she does best. There is a design flaw in the human being itself. If there is a God at the origin of the species, he completely missed his creation.

Q: The original cover, created by yourself, represents pigs indulging in the preparation of their meal. The cover is pink just like the vinyl. The pig is an impure animal in monotheistic religions, an English bestiary describes it as "a filthy beast, which constantly searches the earth with its snout to seek its food. It always looks down and never raises its head upwards to the Lord. That is why he is the image of sinful man." Is that the meaning you wanted to convey? There are no lyrics, can you tell us more?

Interesting quote. That's quite right. Except that, on this album, it is not about sinful man, but man in general. In summary, the meaning of the cover is the following: man is a pig. He is no better than what he himself despises most in the animal kingdom. The cover reproduces an anonymous illustration dating from 1820-1830 which is entitled "Picture of the overturned world. Here is the man slaughtered by the hungry pigs" ("Tableau du monde renversé. Voilà l’homme égorgé par les porcs affamés"). That is a fair representation of our world. To parody Hobbes (in fact the expression goes back to Plautus), one could say that man is a pig to another man. The lyrics – and I regret not having reproduced them on the record because I have been questioned about them several times – deal with the failure of creation, the need for solitude, the passage of time, the failure of all existence. There are only a few texts, however, a good half of the pieces are instrumentals.

Q: You once again approach the mystical with, for example, 'A Cry In The Desert', and, in one title, you evoke Simeon Stylites, a hermit of the early Christian times who decided to withdraw from the world to get closer to God by perching on a column of a ruined temple. He was the inventor of a new form of asceticism in the Eastern Roman Empire. Are sacred texts, hagiographies as well as mystics still a great source of inspiration for you? Can we still live like a hermit in a globalized and ultra-connected economy?

Since my adolescence, I have been attracted by religious texts. Some of them were clearly mystical. The Bible remains "The Book" of tremendous depth, richness, and influence. We cannot understand our history and our Western societies without knowing the Bible. And we could not understand Western Art without it. For example, Qoheleth, the supposed writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes, like the Book of Job, laid the groundwork for pessimism. The Song of Songs is of great beauty and great sensuality, bordering on eroticism. These are founding texts of our civilization. Likewise, the epistles of Saint Paul founded – for the worse – the morality of our civilization. It is unavoidable. Whatever one thinks of our de-Christianized societies, the traces of this past are always visible and present, even if they are underground.

As far as the texts of the mystics are concerned: I am both totally distant from them – my mind being by nature very materialistic in the philosophical sense – and irresistibly attracted to them. Seeing how many people have lost themselves in God never ceases to amaze me. Therese of Lisieux, Catherine of Siena, Angela of Foligno… it is fundamentally incomprehensible to me and yet I remain subjugated by it. As for knowing if one can still live as a hermit today, no, that seems to me quite impossible. The smallest tract of land on this very small Earth has been colonized by man. There is no longer a possible hermitage, hence this nostalgic attraction for hermits, of which Simeon Stylites is one of the great figures.

Q: In terms of music: we still found guitars on "Deliverance", but afterwards you made the choice to create 100 % electronic music...

Gradually, I gave up the guitar (I still play it from time to time, rarely though). Early CHILDREN OF GOD tracks had a few guitars in them, and like I said, they ended up completely disappearing. I find more inspiration in the sounds of synthesizers which allow me to explore lots of different tones, dark, distorted, ethereal, cinematic, acoustic, medieval…

Q: In twenty years, the world of music has evolved a lot, and not necessarily for the better. We are witnessing a certain stagnation at the general level or even a great recycling of what already existed. Thus, Mirwais (a French music producer) explains: "We must distinguish between falsification and remake. Remake is about people without great talent who want to earn 2 or 3 %. [...] Falsification is pretending to be what we are not." In parallel, there is also interpolation, where you use a melody composed by someone else to make your own song. How do you view current music? Besides, what are you listening to at the moment? What is the last album that made you vibrate?

Ah! 'Cherchez le Garçon'! I really liked this song when I was a kid. In short: The evolution of the music world has not been for the better, to say the least. To continue in my register of an embittered old man, I find the current situation of music quite deplorable. It is indeed only bad recycling of melodies or ready to use rhythms, recovered in software. And software is even being used to generate random melodies and rhythms. It is the same concerning the production: the sound of music is horribly uniform. However, production and sound are essential. It is the identity of a group or an album. Take 'Seventeen Seconds' by THE CURE. There is not another band, not another album that has this sound, this padded, dull, oppressed sound. Today, I have a hard time finding something that surprises me. The way music is consumed has also evolved in the wrong direction: few people today, among young people in any case, immerse themselves in an album in its entirety, take the time to listen to an album from start to end; most listeners are content to nibble a piece here, another there, passing from one group to another. This is a shame because an album is a work in itself: it has a beginning, an end, an unfolding, a spirit, a cohesion. There have always been compilations, of course, but today it is a bit like a permanent compilation, especially with these new listening platforms, Spotify and others. For me, it was an almost sacred ritual to put a record on the turntable and listen to it in its entirety. Even with the tapes we made ourselves, on which we recorded a record or a CD, we recorded the albums in their entirety – and sometimes, admittedly, we concocted a few homemade compilations. As for the latest albums that I liked, I discovered them on Bandcamp. Bandcamp is a great breeding ground, there are lots of good things – and a lot of bad. You have to search, but you end up finding great quality stuff. Recently, I discovered two groups: a Norwegian one, MoE, whose latest album, "The Crone", bewitched me; and an Italo-Germanic band (it seems), SNEERS., whose albums are all excellent. If I go back a few years, one of the artists who blew me away was PHARMAKON. I discovered her in the context of the first album. I saw her at a concert and watching a small woman who screams is quite fascinating. In a completely different register, that of classical music, but still a woman, Gloria Coates. Her first symphony in particular captivated me; she is always in tension and seems caught in a kind of permanent and anxious rise.

Q: You founded Lonely Demon Records to produce your projects. Are you tired of labels?

It's the only thing I approve of in the evolution of the music world. Everyone can now produce their own music and distribute it without having to go through a recording studio, complying with the requirements of a label and without submitting to the wishes of a producer. Unfortunately, every good thing brings its opposite, and the democratization of the means of distribution has led to a saturation of the market. Anyone today with a computer can have fun composing music and streaming it. As a result, there are too many projects, and the quality is diluted. Not all labels are bad or tyrannical, though. For me, however, I wanted to take care of all the steps for A PRAYER FOR THE WORST, not leaving to someone else what I could do myself. I have a very specific idea of what I want and how I want it done. It's a lot of work and not necessarily rewarding, but it's the price of freedom.

Q: The debut album was released in December 2020, have you already started working on its successor or do you have other projects in the pipeline?

The successor is on the way. I would have liked to release it in 2021, unfortunately I dragged on, as usual… The tracks are all composed, I must still mix them – which I am currently doing. I hope to release the next album in the second half of 2022. My wish is to keep a tighter schedule. One album a year would be ideal. I am also thinking of releasing thematic EPs under the name of A PRAYER FOR THE WORST. Some of my songs are very cinematic, for example, others have medieval sounds, so it is possible that I will collect them by theme on EPs.

Q: Thank you very much for the time you gave us. Any last words to conclude?

Thank you for these deep and very well-informed questions. You took me back to my past. I am left with both an anxious feeling, all this time that has passed…and a desire to compose music again and again, if it is spontaneous and honest.

Posted on 11-24-2022 | Category: Godkiller