The story behind this interview is quite interesting, because the first questions I’ve sent to Demian… I don’t remember, it was 5 years ago or something like that. As far as I remember it was my second “journalist” attempt ever(the first one was with French band Storm Of Capricorn – I guess no one remember that name anymore). The first answers I received… 2 years later. Then we did a second part, because at that time “Cuando el Tiempo Sopla” was out. So it was finished in 2008. But then there was some confusion where it should be published and in what form, I was waiting what comes out, and because of that all in all it landed in my virtual drawer. I wasn’t even sure if it will ever see the light of the day. Now we have 2011 and I finally decided to publish it on Santa Sangre. I think it is fascinating interview, definitely worth reading by wider audience. I invite you to read this conversation, but please, keep in mind that it is old, some things we were talking about are out-of-date. Maybe one day, in 10 years, we’ll do a follow-up and talk about another Demian’s albums. But now, ladies and gentelmen, here’s O PARADIS.
Is O PARADIS your first musical activity?
No, I’ve played in various projects since I was 15 but now that I am 32 I only need “O Paradis” to find what I am looking for.
I’d like to ask you about the name of your project. Is it reference to DEATH IN JUNE song?
Yes, at that time I thought it was a good idea to use the title of the song, though after a while the names of bands loose their significance like when you repeat a word again and again, in
the end there is only a sound without meaning, a brand. This also happens with some good ideas. Tendencies, then fashions and finally brands, that’s the cicle.
How would you describe your music? What feelings should O PARADIS bring to the listener?
I am a suffering man with no answers, drowning in a sea of possibilities and “O Paradis” is the rope someone threw for me from nowhere, to help me. It makes me proud that some people use the same rope to save moments in their lives, that’s good and my music is for them.
You always wanted to be a musician? Did you try to realize yourself in other forms of art (writing, staging) in the past?
I’ m no good for any other kind of creation, this is the only thing I know how to do. I like writing texts and the music for popular songs.
Would you find yourself in some more popular musical genre, like more conventional pop or rock?
I think “O Paradis” is pop, more or less strange according to my mood. In fact all music is popular, from the troubadours of the Middle Age telling their stories to contemporary
classical music, it’ s all stories to entertain the masses. Making people think is the best way to entertain.
What is music for you personally? Is it just simple entertaiment or something more – some kind of spiritual experience perhaps?
Making music is in itself a spiritual experience. We sing without answers but these flew from another place and are transformed in our songs. The bad part comes later, we don’ t
know how to decipher these hidden truth in our work, an authentic drama, like all the stories that are worth anything. The world is absurd, people, but even more so when we feel that maybe it couldn’ t be.
Tell me about your inspirations.
Your questions inspire in me, to kill someone, make love, my ghosts, the books that move me, the movies that carry me off to other worlds… cinema is underestimated, it’s pure magic, from the moment when the Lumiere brothers presented their first movie in France and the people came out frightened. It hurts to look in the mirror when you are human, animals are better than us, I can now understand Sergio. Musical influences are too many to name in an interview, I like “O Paradis”. I don’t want to talk about labels like “Nike”. The music that influences us most is that which drives us mad when someone turns on the radio at work.
What do you think about first O PARADIS releases, “Ensuenos” and “Reinos”, today? Would you change anything in these releases if there would be such possibility?
You can be sure of that, the “O Paradis” records are incomplete, it hurts to listen to them because they are my children, born from pain and they never live as their parents would like them to. The children we are and those who they hoped we would be are very different, often conflicting.
I think O PARADIS has very “mediterranean” feeling. Does the place where you live inspire you in any way?
The Mediterranean is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, seas full of phantoms, of stories which go back as far as our own hearts, of heroes, of Machiavellian women, of human Gods
and human messangers of Gods, of saints and of deep sound, of waves which continue to arrive despite all. A place like that influences us even though we don’t want it to.
You were collaborating with many great projects (ALLERSEELEN, NOVY SVET, TOTENLIEDER to name a few). Which of those collaborations was most “educational” for you?
I’ m not sure that education has anything to do with experiences, more than anything I would say that we always end up dissapointed or dissapointing others. We are all different and
looking for different things. For this reason musical relationships between groups have a sell – by – date. Without doubt, the most intense experience was with “Novy Svet”.
Is there any musician you especially would like to work with in the future?
I’d like to record with “Christian Death” of the 80s.
You seem to be in close relationships with Jurgen of NOVY SVET. Is it only on musical ground? What kind of person is Jurgen privately?
Nowadays we are not in contact. I think Jürgen is a person with many facets, a real genius, someone too big for this tiny, mediocre world and also a complete bastard.
In my opinion the music of O PARADIS, (especially on “La Boca del Infierno”) is very beautiful but also very surreal in some way. I could compare it to Salvadore Dali paintings. Would you agree with such comparision? What do you think about this painter?
I don’t really understand Dali. They say he was extremely shy, hiding behind a mask of excentricity and I don’t trust people like that. I find the secrets painted in his pictures more
interesting than the pictures themselves. “La boca del Infierno” (The mouth of Hell) is imprinted on my experiences in Tokyo and the bitter flavour of an old love.
What about the other forms of art? Are you interested in literature or cinema?
The last 2 books to move me were “Kafka on the Edge” (Kafka en la orilla) by Haruki Murakami and “This story” (Esta Historia) by Alessandro Baricco. The cinema director I like
most is Wes Anderson, his movies have an exquisite delicacy and I like the impression their meaning leaves in my heart.
I’d like to ask you about that vagina on the cover of “La Boca del Infierno”. Tell me about its symbolism. Is it the reference to the title of the album – “The Gates of Hell”?
Of course, the door to hell is a humid vagina, humid to make it easy to get out and hell to get into. Although the vagina of hell for me would be very hairy, not clean cut. Don’t you think that being born is like a welcome of hell for a newborn baby?
In my opinion the most beautiful O PARADIS song ever is “Dios sin Ojos”(Gods without Eyes?) from your collaboration with NOVY SVET “Destrello de Estrellas en la Frente”. Could you tell me about its genesis, its lyrics?
God doesn’t have eyes, doesn’t need to see us. Actually, according to “Kybalion” the universe is a mental state and we are a thought, actors in the mind of a divine “Shakespeare”, taking a role in the world/stage, denying our own nature which finally destroys Ego, in this way making “Maya” disappear, the lie which keeps our feelings lost in human bodies cutting the strings which move us like puppets, the strings which we ourselves tied to our hands and feet. I don’t feel able to explain in a few words what this means to me but if we look at God as a symbol, if we humanize him, for me it is poetic to think that although He can’t see us, He feels curiosity, is attent, listens to our story tumbling around his lonely kingdom, the loneliness of the creators and although his expression doesn’t change, underneath it all He is sad. Trying to explain a song is horrible, that’s why the song exists to explain itself and eloquently but that was more or less the idea.
I’m intrigued by the song “Destrello de Estrellas”. If I’m not mistaken, Jurgen very tenderly whispers your name there. Am I right? Could you tell me about the lyrics of that song?
I think Jürgen tried to include me in his intimate experience. Often songs bring out the best in us. I don ‘t know if real friendship exists but the experiences that make people share great
moments, they are real.
Are you religious person? What is your opinion about combining music and religion?
Yes, I am a religious person and I can’t imagine my music aside from what I am. Everything we do is perfumed by our intimate truth although later we justify it in another way in public. You can never escape from yourself. The secret is not to hate yourself and to forgive yourself your errors.
Are you afraid of death? In your opinion is there anything “on the other side”?
In my opinion there isn’t another side, death is the continuation of life. No hell disappears after death and somewhere we find our heaven. Despite this I am afraid of death the same as I
am frightened of the future, of the unknown. Who isn’t frightened or is disturbed or has arrived at the end of a long journey.
What is the meaning of love in your life? Have you found your true love?
Love is a spark of knowledge, it helps us to make everything relative, including love itself. I’ve fallen in love many times, with places, people, sensations, songs, absurd circumstances… But true love is an ideal and as an ideal doesn’t stand the passage of time. I’ve come to the conclusion that ideas are overestimated, they are usually used for some interests or are caused by some defficiency. In the real world we meet much more interesting people than a dream love, we meet people who never love unconditionally, who expect us to better
ourselves and with whom we have to work hard to be mutually happy. After a while we discover that that’s what really keeps us alive, what gives us peace and brings us closer to God. I’m in love with someone who gives me that.
If there would be the possibility to travel in time, where would you like to go?
I’d like to back 80s, meet Christ, have the chance to change the past and not to do it. No, actually I’m in love with these grey times we are living, this beginning of the 21 century where we have to invent hope because quite honestly we’ve been robbed by our governors, it’s a goal, waiting for our reaction which will be bloody and beautiful. We are the perfect product of
our times. What some people call “underground” is only the trailer of a feeling of frustration which we have to transform in victory. We are its children, who won’t be eaten up. They
can bombard us with fashions, manipulate us with lies, torture us with a ghastly existencial vacuum, play with our feelings of guilt, but they have missed out why we no longer believe in this world. I love the society which creates a monster that will end up destroying that same society.
Is there any historical figure you especially admire?
Those who played their historic role well. Those who one way or another believe in something and will leave their mark without running down those who opposed them. Rommel, still faithful to Hitler, respected his enemy in the North of Africa and is remembered for it. If you’re born to destroy, don’t leave a pillar standing, if to protect may no-one fall under you. If
you’re born to speak, convince me of the contrary. If you’re born to isolate yourself, go so far away that you can’t hear the voice of man. Come out and follow your destiny.
Many did this without faultering, doubts make us weak. The philosophy is, if you do something, do it big. I won’t name historical characters but it’s evident that although I defend
strong will, I identify more with some than others. Someone said that was only one Christ but many Ceasars. Well, I believe there’s more quantity than quality in these characters.
I’d like to ask you about your hometown, Barcelona. What should I visit? What is the most beautiful place in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a beautiful city, full of very different people. A city which has always preferred to negociate rather than fight and for this was always hated by the Spanish capital in the past.
Tibidabo mountain is an obligatory visit, the Gaudi monuments, the port, the gothic quarter, the historical part is fantastic. if you come here, I promise to take you some of these places. I don’t have a favorite, it’s the atmosphere, the aroma, sometimes the stench, which makes me feel at home.
Do you feel more Spaniard or Catalonian?
I don’t take sides in a divided Spain. Since the civil war or maybe before, Spain has been divided in two. On one side are the conservatives who seek to unite and centralize and therefore
dislike the nationalisms within the Spanish state and on the other hand the left wing. In other words, the children of those who won the war and those of the side that lost. Catalonia is an autonomous community of businessmen, one of the richest in this country, which makes the Catalan think that it’s unjust that Madrid should administer their money. There are also important cultural differences with respect to the rest of Spain, starting with the language, but I’m not sure that it’s another country. Personally I feel Spanish, starting with the Catalan. Spain makes me smile with pride, a country of “Quijotes”, of unattainable dreams, of roguery and extraordinary sense of humour, of idiots and geniuses, all this including Catalonia. I like to be spanish but my motives are no way political or economic.
I see on your Myspace profile, that one of your influences is “the little Midori”. Who or what “The little Midori” is?
Midori is my little cat. You can’t imagine the influence it has on “O Paradis” and not all positive, you can ask my machines.
Lately you’ve released another album called “Cuando el Tiempo Sopla”. What does the title mean?
Sometimes I have the feeling that time has whizzed past all at once, as though it’s been stopped, as though we’ve been living a nightmare which we can’t wake from because we don’t know we’re dreaming and we finally open our eyes, we mature, we change something in our rigid way of understanding the world. “Cuando el tiempo sopla” (When time blows) refers to this sensation, but it is curious that when I recorded the album I kept receiving information about time and space, both scientific and religious, quite by chance and also books and films and this influenced me alot. I’m also grateful to the film “Donnie Darko” and the book “El pájaro que da cuerda al mundo” (The bird which winds up the world) by Murakami for their inspiration.
I’d like to ask you about the symbolism of the cover – this sad, winding toy.
The toy you have to wind up that it walks or smiles responds to the necessity to explain the feeling I spoke about in the last question. A fragile doll you have to wind up is like a human close to death. Sex, food, chatting with friends, laughing, beauty, all loose colour when time/the wind doesn’t pass and we can’t enjoy the movement necessary to activate our hope again. it’s the fight between life and death which goes on within all of us.
Could you tell me few words about the lyrics? What are they about?
I’ll translate you one of my favourites: Like the hands of a clock, you walk in circles and the things around you escape your absent look. Some time ago someone wound your life up and then left… and you wait for time to stop at last. Like the sea your life comes and goes and you wait in the sand… and things around you escape your absent look.
How about the instruments you’re used? Is it more ‘acoustic’ or ‘digital’ album?
About 50% played in real time and 50% programmed, but I think every day I need less machines/instruments to explain what I need.
“Cuando…” is more mature, more deliberated album than for example “Ensuenos”. Does the composing give you the same pleasure today as few years ago?
No, normally I don’t like listening “O Paradis” songs. I constantly listen to my work before it’s published, but once it’s edited, only from time to time. “Ensuenos” has a very personal value for me, but objectively speaking I would take out some songs. I don’t feel I have ever made the perfect album but I feel I could, every day a little more. My music is my life, a journey where the sense or the final conclusion are a journey in themselves
What can we expect from O PARADIS in the nearest future?
I love not having a reply to this question. I can be a year without recording anything, but when the songs come I record non-stop, I don’t know where they come from and it’s great
to record like that.
Thank you Demian for your time. Last words are yours.
Nothing special. Tonight I’d like to drink sake with Conny and end up drunk in a Barcelona backstreet but I am alone. I’m grateful for the interview, it helps me, I enjoy replying to you.
If we are busy doing what we love we life calmer, with the sound of anxiety in the background OK, but calmer. Come to Barcelona and we’ll celebrate something.
I sure will, one day…