K.R. exchanges dialogue with the man behind the Swedish Power Electroncs project
1, Martin, let’s start with the standard question of introducing your project, perhaps with a brief overview of your achievements with Green Army Fraction to date, and how the project became animate to begin with. What first inspired you to create your own music, and was Green Army Fraction your first musical venture?
I think I ought to write a mini-bio, so that I can simply paste it in the beginning of interviews. G.A.F. began in late 2000, after a period of listening intensively to acts like Genocide Organ, Operation Cleansweep and then-quite-new project Survival Unit. I had been involved in making music way before this though; my first black metal recording was made in 93, for instance. I’ve also written lots of acoustic music, as well as dabbled in a few other genres (most Swedes will probably know what I mean, heh). Anyway, the first actual recording and release of G.A.F. was the ”Chlorophyll Flood” CDr. It was of course not very good, but it has it’s charm, and in it’s rereleased and remastered shape it is almost listenable.
2, What led you to become interested in Power Electronics in the beginning? Are there artists within the Power Electronics or Post-Industrial scene in general that have had a direct impact on the formation or sound of Green Army Fraction?
Partly a natural evolution in ”extremity of sound and concept”, having previously developed through the Iron Maiden sessions of my childhood, death metal in my early puberty, and a number of years as a diehard pagan/black metal fan. During this latest phase (perhaps the last actual phase in my musical life) labels like Cold Meat Industry and Stratia (the latter was, I think, called something else back in the day) offered up alternative music, which was still ”acceptable” to the totalitarian mindset of a teenage black metal brain. Apart from BM side projects like Vond, Wongraven or Mortiis, we spent quite some time with stuff like Brighter Death Now, MZ-412, En Halvkokt i Folie and even Killer Bug. I think someone had a few Whitehouse records as well, but I never really got them. Still don’t, by the way.
My actual interest in creating power electronics can be said to stem from my contact with K of Survival Unit (now disbanded until further notice), at least as far as I can remember. Though we were and are very different sound wise, I still think the impulse to move me from listener to creator in this particular genre came from my contact with him.
3, There are several themes within the musical work of Green Army Fraction that seem to be recurrent. Amongst these are themes of radical traditionalism and Indo-European subject matter. Can you discuss your interest in these topics and how they present themselves in your music?
This is the sort of question which either gets a very brief answer, or an all-too-long one. I’ll go with the former: traditionalism or perhaps rather religion in general, is an integral part of my life and world-view. Quite apart from this, I have a more theoretically inclined interest in history and philosophy in general, so indeed these subjects are not really a part of a G.A.F. ”concept” (like radical ecology in the beginning of the project), but rather of my life as such. Regarding the Indo-European subject matter… I was born on this continent, so it comes quite naturally. On an upcoming tape split with local Deathhall/noise project Dagner Hilton we will explore the finer points of African heritage as well, though, so there are always exceptions…
4, Do you think most of your audience takes the time to research the themes present in your output? Is this something you would initially hope for when putting out an album?
I really have no idea, but of course that’s part of my idea behind making music in the first place. I have certain listeners who are far more into the concept than the actual sound, whereas the purist or arty-farty noise listener may be annoyed or even offended by my concept and lyrics. To me art for art’s sake isn’t art at all. The purpose behind a creation doesn’t have to be simplistic, straight-forward or political, in fact it is better if it isn’t. But when someone says ”I want the listener to figure this out for himself, and hear what he wants to hear/see what he wants to see”, I can only reply: ”fuck you!” Why would someone need “art” to ”think for himself”? If one has nothing to say, one should shut up. I think that’s a pretty good way of approaching life.
5, I’m led to believe that the Green Army was indeed a militia of armed peasants who fought against Red and White armies during the Russian Civil War in the 1920’s. Why did you choose this particular moniker to work under?
This is simply a funny coincidence, but it is interesting that you noticed it (it’s a first). When I started G.A.F. I was unaware of the nationalist-anarchist Ukrainian peasant militias of the Russian civil war. However, this actually fits the early stages of G.A.F. very well, given that I used many modern third position-type of concepts and ideas, along with the radical ”ecofascist” environmentalism in the early stages of the project. The reason for me choosing the name was much simpler: it was related to the ecological side of the project, and just a play on the name of the German Rote Armee Fraktion (this, by the way, is the reason why it is spelled ”fraction” rather than ”faction” – the German original name stuck with me into the English translation – fraction making more sense anyway).
6, I understand that you’ve worked with a different label for almost every release thus far. Is there any particular reason you prefer to work with an assortment of labels?
Well, I’ve made two releases on Steinklang, and I will probably make a few more in the future as well. Other than that, I have tended to utilize different label, but there is no particular reason. I have, at least periodically, been quite prolific in my work. Then many labels are needed to get it all out, and many of them simply make a few releases and then disappear, or at least show no further interest, making any continuity impossible.
7, Your releases are often presented in packaging that differs from the usual standard. Do you believe that the aesthetics of a release is just as important as the music presented on it? Do you have much input towards how a release is artistically presented or do you prefer to leave those decisions up to the label?
I think this is pretty typical of the genre. Special packaging usually enhances the quality and overall feel of a release. I don’t think the packaging always needs to be supremely original, though I really don’t share the cliché view that it is somehow ”silly” to do release things packaged in interesting ways. I think it’s a nice aspect of the noise/industrial scene. The only downside to it is that some releases don’t fit in with other CDs or vinyls in the shelf, but that’s a small price to pay for a little variety and an extra possibility to make something a little more interesting. I’ve made some layouts myself (with varying results), and left it completely up to the label sometimes (with even more varying results). The only layout I’ve made myself and been satisfied with is the ”Caste War” layout – Max of Steinklang came in and fine-tuned some things a bit, but all-in-all it is my product. Since I am no genius when it comes to layout and graphics, I do prefer a combination these days however. This means that I supply images, overall structure and ideas, and someone professional or at least competent realize the actual layout: I’ve found this to produce the best results.
8, Some of your earlier material seems to have been released in small quantities, mostly on CDR format. Is there any chance of reissuing this material for those who missed it like the Chlorophyll Flood CD, or will they remain as limited items for collectors?
There has been talk of reissuing ”Restoration Through Revolt”, but I am not too sure. Not to keep it a ”collectors item”, but because it isn’t a very good recording. It has some good tracks, but others which are god-awful. It is not impossible that there will be releases of other early GAF releases, but I like to focus on the creation of new material.
9, Green Army Fraction has performed live on a number of occasions. Do you handle the performance entirely on your own, or perhaps enlist the help of others? How does a typical Green Army Fraction live demonstration affect the immediate audience?
Most of the time I do it myself. I had a friend assisting me on one occasion, when we played live in Luleå of northern Sweden. On that particular occasion all hell broke lose, since the people arranging the gig were some kind of left-wing extremists. They managed to misconstrue the call of ”Jihad” in ”Allah’s Retribution” and actually thought we sang ”Sieg Heil” (which, by the way, is illegal in Sweden). The whole issue was very annoying, since we didn’t get to finish our set (while finding out that the actual audience had NOT made this absurd assumption). We did get paid in the end, so I suppose it was ok. Other than that reactions have varied. I played in Halle/Germany a while ago, but people there didn’t really get the point at all. They were concerned that the sounds weren’t ”powerful enough” – mainly EBM people, I think they wanted to be ”blown away” with heavy bass and crazy frequencies, and they didn’t really care about the content. They clearly preferred purely computerized electronics to actual live manifestations of sound through analogue effects and such. Still, there is something to be learned from all criticism (well, not from people hearing imaginary Nazi slogans, but from most criticism).
10, There exists a handful of bootleg releases on the label In Stahlgewittern Organization, based in Germany. Your comments concerning these releases?
It is now so long ago I don’t hold that much of a grudge anymore. I was very pissed-off at the time, though. He released songs I had sent to him on mp3 just so he could listen to them, without even answering e-mail from me. At least one of the tracks isn’t even made by me (”Dente” – I forget on which one it was featured). But it’s all water under the bridge.
11, It appears you’ve covered the track “Dirty Bitch (Feminist) by US Hatecore act Attack. Why did you choose this particular song to do your own rendition of, and was it difficult to recreate a guitar/drums based composition the Green Army Fraction way? (apologies if I’m mistaken with this one, I haven’t heard the track in question)
I thought the song was funny in the ”really quite clueless but sometimes hitting the spot” way so typical of WP-types and skinheads. My dislike for so-called gender-studies and the feminist retardation which is connected to it is genuine, and I guess that is the major reason I chose it. I don’t really remember how I went about creating it (I may have sampled a loop from the actual song and distorted it, that sounds about right), but noise covers usually, at least musically, stray quite far from the actual original anyway.
12, Can you share what the future holds for Green Army Fraction?
I suppose a few more releases. As we speak the Audial Decimation compilation CD has just sold out in a record two weeks or something like that, but there will be a tape release on Skulls of Heaven entitled ”Airyanem Vaejah”, and a track on a tape compilation (a tribute to the superbly bizarre Australian band Streicher) on the same label released in the near future. Also, there is a split LP with Halthan in the works, as well as a number of other projects and releases, mainly on tape. I will begin work on a second ”real” full length CD as well, but I am not quite sure when.
13, Thank you Martin for taking the time the answer this interrogation. This final space is yours.
Well, I think I’ll leave it pretty much empty. Visit http://www.greenarmyfraction.com for a webpage which is even updated sometimes, though not very often.
Hail the triumphant sun!