MxCx Interview#30 "Jason Köhnen (Bong-Ra / The Thing With Five Eyes / Servants Of The Apocalyptic Goat Rave) "

Jason Köhnen (Bong-Ra / The Thing With Five Eyes / Servants Of The Apocalyptic Goat Rave)

Hello Jason. Thank you for taking the interview.
How’ve you been recently?

Hi Ume, you're welcome.
I've been doing pretty well recently, thanks for asking!

You went to Morocco last year, Right? What did you go out to do?
What was impressive in Morocco?

A memorable trip. Morocco is a country of extremes. Rich and poor, the desert to waterfalls.
And so are the people, they fill the spectrum of humanity, it was wonderful to experience and be part of real life again.
Not the life that focusses ambition or façades. It made me breathe again and realise there is so much more to see in the world than the bubble I have been stuck in for years.

We ventured into the desert with the Touareg nomadic people and we explored the Gnawa music culture that was imported by West African slaves centuries ago.

I think that 2017 was the year of change. A variety of things happened.
Especially Bong-Ra 's Breakcore activity stop was a shocking news.
Why did you make that decision?

It had to be done. 20 years of Breakcore was enough. I needed to rediscover my love and passion for music. That means letting go and daring to step into the unknown.
To leave the comfort zone of whats easy. Its more or less a metaphor for life in general. There are stages in life where you need to shake off the old, the habitual, and rediscover yourself. It can be painful, but after the dark comes the light. And it makes one stronger.

How was the last Bong-Ra Breakcore tour for you?
Did any change in the mind after finishing tour?

It was a bittersweet experience. Its strange to be performing knowing these are the last shows. One part its still fun, but on the other part you want it to be over.
I'm glad its over and done with. After it was finished I realised I should have made this change years before. I felt a relieve, and could start a new fresh page.

The new Bong-Ra is focusing on DOOM METAL.
How was the new Live show at RVLT? What kind of reaction did you receive from the audience?
Is the release of the new Bong-Ra a style like "Palestina"?

The show at RVLT was a good test run. It went really well. But realised that the new set up needs live drums. So there will be live drums on the album and live in the future.
The new release has some minor similarities to the Palestina sound, but it will be minimal.

Do you continue with VOODOOM and JUNGLE/RAVE music activities?

Yes, when is not sure, but lets say Voodoom is in a temporary ritualistic hibernation... the ghosts are in a frozen state of trance at the moment.

You released two albums in 2018.
First, please tell me about The Thing With Five Eyes - Noirabesque.
This album has more oriental elements than نور. What is the concept of the album?

The Noirabesque album is probably one of the best albums I have made. It contains a lot of personal energy and emotions, and mirrors an intense period of my life.
The oriental influence is a natural progression, which will continue onwards in the future. There is so much room to experiment. Timbres, instruments, composition and concept.
Its a flower in blossom, and hopefully will carry on growing to magnificent proportions.

Why did you choose "Leila Bounous" for vocals? What do she usually sing about in this album?

Leila is a incredible singer. Her voice fits perfectly with the sound of Noirabesque, and completes this album concept.
The themes vary, but the lyrics mostly deal with interpersonal relationships using mythological metaphors in storytelling.

Do you perform live performances of The Thing With Five Eyes?

Yes, hopefully the first tour will be around November this year, but I still need to focus on the complete liveset. Its still in the early stages of development.

Please tell me about the Restart of "Servants Of The Apocalyptic Goat Rave".
Why did you restart SOTAGR? Why did you incorporate BLACK METAL?

When Jurgen and I started writing new material, we discussed trying a new approach. It was clear we didnt want to continue on the same path or sound from 10 years ago.
It needed to evolve and be refreshing. The new sound came very naturally, as if it was meant to be. We hardly planned anything and just started composing and very quickly we managed to create this sound. The album was written in about a week time.

When was SOTAGR originally started? What is the first concept of SOTAGR?
What is the origin of the name?

We started SOTAGR in 2007 I think or maybe 2005, I'm not sure. It was just a fun project Jurgen and I wanted to start.
We would meet up and watch some Hammer Horror films and make some music. We thought it would be an interesting idea to create a project where we would mix the sound of 70s horror films with explosive beats. Where the name came from...I honestly can't remember. We must have come up with it during one of the sessions, I know we wanted to make a completely crazy name no-one would ever forget once they heard it.

How was "Queen Of Darkness" recorded? How did you make songs with Sickboy?

We produced it in Rotterdam in my house studio. We just plugged in the guitars, programmed some blastbeats, and the rest is history.

Do you think "Queen Of Darkness" is BLACK METAL(or Atmospheric Black Metal) album?

We'd like to call it BLACK ELECTRONICS. Its a hybrid mix of Black Metal and (extreme) Electronics.
Well balanced with aggression and melody. Jurgen made some great synthwave intermezzo tracks which add a great 80s John Carpenter vibe to it.

SOTAGR appear in Roadburn 2018.
What format will be the live performance of the new SOTAGR?

Probably a 2 piece outfit (both of us on guitar), but we hope that maybe Baseck will join us live for vocals.

26 years since the debut of your first band "Bluuurgh" has passed.
I think you always express METAL music for Various projects. Why you pursuing METAL music?

If you have grown up with Metal its hard to let it go. As with any music which you grow up with from your youth.
So the passion for Metal is still there, and I think its giving me a new impulse.

It is very difficult to keep music activities long. How to keep it long?
Artists and listeners leave aggressive music with age. Sometimes, do you have get tired with aggressive music?

I can't speak for other musicians, but music and making music is some close to my existence, its like breathing. I could not live without making music.
I dont do it for the money or fame, like many bandwagon producers do. Thats not making music, thats just boosting your ego for some years.
They come, they copy, and then when they realise theres nothing left to gain, they fuck off. I've seen them come and go over the 26 years.
They are in all the musical scenes.
I've always tried to balance aggression and melancholy in different projects : Bong-Ra with Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, and now Servants with 5 Eyes.
The yin and the yang. The dark and the light. That balance feeds off the other and keeps the creative juices flowing.

You have been active a long time in this music industry. What do you think about the music scene of today?

I dont really care about scenes. They come and go. There are good artists and bad. Interesting new genres that keepup  the hope up amidst the vast mediocrity.
But there are gems everywhere, you just need to look a bit harder to find them, but thats always a great challenge, because when you find that track or song that gives you those incredible goosebumps, you realise that passion again, and it keeps you going.

What are you interested now except music?

Reading and researching a lot into some fascinating subjects : Philosophy, Esoterics, Antiquity, Mythology, Hermeticism... very educational and inspirational.

Please tell us your release schedule for the future.

Bong-Ra : EP or LP in spring or summer.