Аmbient and drone on Fluff: Interview with Wilhelm Grasslich

This year your favorite summer hardcore punk festival Fluff Fest in Czech Republic has its own ambient and drone stage. So far bands and projects playing music in these abstract and obscure genres, which on the first look seem quite far from what’s happening on the main stages on Fluff Fest (July 21 – 23, Rokycany Airfield, Czech Republic) found their place in the Psych Tent. Not anymore, in 2017 Fluff will have Archa Bláznů its own dedicated space for those with the heart for deep or aggressive drones, embracing ambiances and often beatless and drifting music. If you have followed DIY Conspiracy throughout the years you have probably noticed we are interested in experimental music as well and we got in touch with Willhelm Grasslich an artist, experimental music veteran and moreover the person making this whole thing happen. Hear it all from him.

First of all, please present yourself and the stuff you’re involved in.

Hell O))) I am a descendant of Gaius Caligula, so I permanently work on becoming the living god! The two DIY labels (Pravěk focused on literature and audiovisual terror Pravěk Noise Section), one festival (Pravěkfest) and six bands/projects (Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus, Yamabushi, Bambulkyne Dobrodružstvá, Lhostejnost and Den Lumíků) are my main instruments of that struggle. Besides this I create artzines, various texts (music journalism and history), paintings, 3D not-PC graphics etc. I also experiment with various visuals for my noise shows, I musically improvise in accordance with the old avantgarde movies and so on. Simply put it’s a dream for some and a nightmare for others!

Please share with us how did you get into ambient and drone, you already mentioned it was through punk and hardcore, how did this happen?

Well, to be first poetical before to be political, I would say that this kind of music was hidden deeply in my personality centuries ago and when it surfaced again there was no turning back. Moreover the deeper you move, the more you feel the omnipresence of an irrational creative energy, which has existing ages before the human existence… Anyway, to be political at last, I have been involved in punk, hardcore and also metal scene for a long time, so not only I have found many ways how to feel and play an extreme music, but especially I have assumed punk DIY and “anyone can do it” ethics that is, at least in my opinion, close to ambient and drone art, because it is also based on the extreme/irrational/emotional elements and also on the will to change things.

There’s an ambient stage on Brutal Assault already, Ieper are also sometimes booking more experimental artists. When did it become clear that Fluff also needed its own drone / ambient stage, separated from the psych tent that so far has been hosting such acts?

First it must be clarified that there was no special plan to organize dark ambient stage on Fluff. The organizers simply offered me to contribute to the festival by coming up with an additional program (as to the other promoters connected with Underdogs’, the venue they administer). So I decided to do this in accordance with their openness in general. I think the difference (or the development?) from Psych Tent is quite visible, because Archa Bláznů is designed conceptually, so not as a space mainly for the artists connected or related to some label (as it is with Psych Tent – Stoned to Death rec). And not only as a conceptual matter, I decided to invite the artists with whom I have never worked before and who were never given this kind of opportunity.

How would this stage be different than bigger and mainstream festivals and what are your expectations for this first attempt for doing this on the festival?

I think the main difference is visible in the rather repulsive audiovisual artwork used for the poster, not just a cool game with “the darkness”. Or the other example – the ambient stage on Brutal Assault is also promoted with enthusiasm, a real atmosphere and with a knowledge of this kind of music, but on the contrary our Archa Bláznů stage is totally DIY. And the expectations? I would quote one of the legendary industrial artists (Do you know which one?): “If these images and sounds persuade at least one individual to stop and think about what is pushed into his/her mind in general, this mission would be successful.” …or particularly your interest itself is a great prize for me, thank you very much!

Can you present the projects you’ve picked for the first ambient / drone stage on Fluff, feel free to include links photos, whatever you feel like adding.

The aesthetics and also the denotement of the stage is conceptually based on Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s novel Ward (Pavilon) no. 6 and on the movie adaptation of that – Ivan Balaďa’s Archa Bláznů (not officially translated, but something like “The Arch of Lunatics”). The potential fans of the stage should maybe just check it out. Anyway all the bands/projects more or less share this kind of aesthetics and also express social criticism (especially towards religion or for example anti-NSBM).

The atmospheric heaviness with an appropriate depiction represents first of all Aether, whose influences root from dark ambient-drone to electronic black metal. This is his extra special show, when he will play a mixture of all his stuff.

The second guest from Germany is Kluizenaer. His music is on the other end of the spectrum being more harsh-electronic-industrial, but intense to all senses. This show will be also special as some featurings on guitar and bass are expected.

Some more alternative project was needed as well, so Pachuka, a group of Czech experimental artists lead by electronic musician Lukáš Kleberc, will start the program. Not only electronic ambient waves are expected, but other instruments like trumpets as well. Maybe listeners will feel the atmosphere and melancholy of the 80s’ new wave bands.

The last band is probably the most doomy one. Lhostejnost (meaning ‘indifference’) is based on guitar and Sunn O)))-like drones, supported by analog harsh ambient/noises and also theremin sounds. Indifference also stands for the metamorphosis of a man into an insect…!

Angel S.

Freelance journalist and full-time copywriter from hell. Playing ambient & drone music as Mytrip, teaching Sound Art, booking shows with For The Kids & Amek Collective. Always in for a cup of coffee.