Sopor Aeternus are with no doubt one of the most enigmatic acts in the German Goth/Dark Wave scene these days.
The music portrays the universe where the soul of Anna-Varney, the leader of the project, seems to dwell and where different shades of light and darkness blend into an unique ambiance and macabre scenario...
This interview with Anna-Varney will hopefully be able to diclose a bit of what lies within this magic amd fascinating realm...
(A small excerpt from the interview featured in full on Dark Oath #6)
From what I read about you so far, it is undisputable that you believe in reincarnation, life after death and related subjects. Does this sort of stuff has a place in your life outside your work with Sopor Aeternus or is it solely the concept you've chosen for this project?
There is no life 'outside' Sopor as it is all one!
Supposedly, and according to spiritism, one's objective is to reach perfection is his earthly life in order for his soul to be able to reach the next stage of evolution, do you see that as your goal?
Well, I would not call it 'perfection', but essentially I do agree.
Don't you think that playing music like the one you do might not be that helpful for said objective, as your music has a quite negative vibe? Or should Sopor Aeternus be seen exactly as a scapegoat for those negative vibes in your life?
Negative vibrations?!? Maybe lyrically, but certainly not regarding the music of Sopor! On the contrary, I think that the music is quite positive and in combination with the admitingly sometimes depressive lyrical monologues an acceptable balance is achieved. If not healing, it is at least a relief.
It seems that you have some very particular assistants in your music - the Ensemble of Shadows... Could you tell us a bit more about that? Who or what exactly are they? Are they damned souls bound to this earthly world?
"I can see things that you cannot... - invisible things". We are all constantly surrounded by powers and entities most people haven't even heard of. Those entities exist on a completely different, far more refined, level. They have a higher frequency of vibration so our 'everyday senses' cannot perceive them. All those 'creatures' - even spirits if you wish - are part of the ensemble.
In general we may say that everything we do perceive has an influence on us in one way or another. This perception - no matter whether it is conscious or subconscious - comprises all things of life. Therefore even the weather, the purring of a cat sitting on your lap or the taste of your favorite chocolate, etc., have an influence on your existence, your behavior and of course your creative work as well! So all of this is part of The Ensemble of Shadows too... - and this is all which I dare to say.
Not all people have the ability to communicate with spirits, if this is the case, as apparently you do, how did you find out that you could do that and how has it changed or influenced your life from then on? Are you happy that you possess such a gift as I suppose that it can be rather uncomfortable at times?
At the moment my senses are not that strongly developed that it makes it worth to talk about... Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: I would not want to miss it as most of the time it is the only form of communication that I have...
How is your life when you are not devoted to your work in Sopor, does the music reflects your personality, that is, would you say you are a gloomy and depressive, and with all due respect, even slightly disturbed, individual? What does Sopor Aeternus mean to you? Is it fair to say that this is also a way of coping with the fact of being unable to live a normal life or should I say 'existence'?
The word 'normal' is nothing more than a statistic term and therefore hardly appropriate to be used as reference-point, a design for life! 'Normal' just says that a majority of some people (!) (in a certain area) behave in a certain way... THAT'S ALL!!! And even they are a minority compared to the entire population on this planet! WHAT APPEARS TO BE GOOD AND SALUTARY FOR SOME MIGHT BE EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE FOR OTHERS! So why should I attempt to mutate into something I do not feel comfortable with just because a few ignorants fascists cannot broaden their narrow minds!?!
Just imagine a man walking cheerfully through the sunshine, passing a meadow where some cows are enjoying the sweet grass and the warmth of the day. 'Yes, those animals are happy ones', the man may think. 'They've got fresh air, the sun shining on their heads... - all the beautiful things that make life worth living'. Continuing his walk, the man comes to a small lake, and as he looks at it, he starts thinking about the fish swimming in the cold and wet darkness. 'Poor fish', the man may say to himself. 'It sure must be awefully lonely and gloomy down there... - But don't worry! I will save you all!' So he organizes an enormous net and catches the fish with great effort to lay them on the grass. But when he finally looks at his work with pride, he realizes the creatures' agony as they suffocate and die. 'Stupid animals', the man shouts. 'You don't know what's good in life. You're sick and ugly and if you're unable to treasure the beautiful sunshine and the fresh air you probably do not deserve to live on this planet at all...!' WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS WITH INDIVIDUAL NEEDS and certainly not some homogeneous masses! In parts we may share some common ground but that's all! Indeed, individuality is an important part of the essence of the human nature and if there are people, who deny the truth of it, then guess WHO is 'slightly disturbed' here...! (I value individualism strongly myself and I couldn't agree with you more! - Ed.)
Do you see earthly life as a burden and what are the best and the worst things about life and death in your opinion?
I see life on Earth as an opportunity to learn and to develop. Though sometimes it can be very painful. The same goes for the 'timeless' period within the spheres on 'the other side'... - a gathering of knowledge. The death of the physical body allows you to change the flesh, the perspective and with each new incarnation different paths and constellations are offered...
Would you like to live in a world free of humans and do you still see hope for us, humans?
There are people who believe that it is the animals who are the true inhabitants of this planet, while we humans are basically nothing more than visitors... Somehow I am inclined to accept this as I feel there is a lot of truth in it.
There is a film called "The Quiet Earth" in which story - except for three people - all human and animal lifeforms disappear from the face of the earth, respectively they are (probably) transported to another dimension. I always found this variation on the idea of loneliness very attractive, and so I pictured to myself how it would feel like to be the only living creature here, waiting alone through the deserted cities and forests. There was so much peace in this thought... - very healing - ... at least until the very moment when I realized, that all the spirits and animals were gone as well.
A cognition that made me very sad as I found out that those were the only energies that I would truly miss.
Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows "The Inexperienced Spiral Traveller"
CD 1997, Apocalyptic Vision 15 songs, 72'
"The Inexperienced Spiral Traveller" comes to follow the "Ehjeh Ascher Ehjeh" limited edition MCD released last year. This is already the third full length CD for this German band and just like their previous material, it displays a fair share of development without compromising their unique style. On "Todeswunsch", Sopor Aeternus took you to their own world - a magic and ghostly world, where sheer beauty and bliss wore dark and macabre garments. The music celebrated death: all of its grief, but also the peace and comfort that it brings. "...Traveller", on the other hand, seems to be more like Sopor Aeternus reaching into our world... Don't quite know how to put it. "Todeswunsch" was often shiver-inducing for its depressive and demented vibes, "...Traveller" is instead more of an uplifting listen, relaxing and soothing, even if dark and melancholic, even if lacking cynically festive sounding pieces such as 'Todeswunsch'.
Musically, the band's Medieval Folk compositions where flutes, clarinets, oboes, bagpipes and entrancing, close to tribal, percussions blend are still their trademark, but the inclusion of violins and harpsichords often sets this on a more Neo Classical/Baroque soundframe. The ever-tolling bells that haunted you on "Todeswunsch" and that seemed to dictate an imminent apocalypse now have a less prominent role, but the vocals are as unique as ever - often calm and serene, in other occasions disturbingly joyous, as if he is laughing to hide the sorrow that riddles his soul, or simply deep and mournful weeps combined with strong and impressive operatic female vocals which are unfortunately too few this time (they are only present on 'To a Loyal Friend', if I'm not mistaken). Actually, much of the album is instrumental - half of the songs, to be precise...
I personally liked "Todeswunsch" better... Perhaps because I am a masochist and because I like to wallow in misery and depression and those are perhaps the kind of feelings that are most easily put to music in a legitimate way. And I miss that a bit on this one, that deep and intimate atmosphere. I'm sure that this album is just as personal to Anna-Varney, and perhaps even more painful and heartfelt than the previous, but musically, it feels much more tender and 'positive', even in the aching and grievous 'May I Kiss Your Wound'. You should also note than I am now referring to my personal feelings towards this, regardless of the musical quality of the disc, which is, by no means inferior to "Todeswunsch". On a final note, and if "...Traveller" is anything to go by, it's good to see that Anna-Varney is making it out of the gutter. Am I right, my dear?
There is a luxurious digipack edition of the album which includes a fabulous and impressively designed full color 12 page booklet. Need I mention that this is essential?
Official Sopor Aeternus Homepage