Diverje: an interview with Tommy T. Rapisardi

Combining elektro-industrial, aggressive coldwave, melodic EBM and splatterings of power noise with experimental and drum-n-bass, Diverje is a band built for the future – unpredictable-sounding and off-centered from the more “popular, and watered down electronica” that we mostly hear as the mainstream ‘representative’ for electronic music in America. Raw, aggressive, thought provoking, and emotional sounds… this is what Diverje is about.

DiverjeHow are you doing, Tommy?

I am doing good… The new CD is out and selling good, and more importantly getting great feedbacks and reviews! I am very busy as always, but I guess that’s the only way to be there days!

How long have you lived in New Mexico? How do you occupy your free time?

I have been here in New Mexico for 18 years now. I usually do not have much free time… Between working 3 jobs in addition to the band, the label, and the radio show I don’t have much free time anymore.

Something I always like to ask people is: can I have a quick list of favorite artists, musicians, writers and directors?

My favorite musicians/bands of all are Skinny Pupy, Depeche Mode, Ministry, Leaetherstrip, :wumpscut:, KMFDM, The Doords, Pink Floyd. And many, many more… As far as writers and directors, my favorite is: Quentin Tarantino! Also Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Stephen King…

Your style seems to be an interesting mix of hard electronics, aggressive lyrics, catchy synths and club beats. What would you claim as your inspiration or influenecs on your work? Also what would you claim your music to sound like out of curiousity?

I am influenced by so many bands, and styles so its hard to pinpoint a few… I guess my ‘favorite bands list’ is what influenced me the most. Their songs and sounds made me want to write my own stuff with their inspiration! I hear so much newer stuff though that also inspires me and makes me want to keep learning and evolving as well. The problems of this world, personal issues and the way people are to each other also inspire me a lot and bring out the more aggressive, angry stuff, and past relationships bring out the more emotional side also.

I don’t know who we sound like really? A mix of it all I guess… Mostly the EBM/Industrial style with each song having its own personality and sound overall… We try to write each song as its ‘own song’ and not follow the trends or others.

Would you consider your music a free flow of creativity or do you set out with something intentional in mind? Do you find yourself writing for the fan response or for your own amusement?

I really find it as a free flow of creativity. Going back to what I wrote in the last response: each song is its own song, and not sure how any of them will come out till they are done.There is no ‘certain way’ or style to write a song for us, we just do whatever flows. We definitely write for our own amusement and hope that the listeners will be able to relate and understand what is going on.

How long have you been creating electronic music and managing a record label?

I have been writing electronic music/vocals since 1993. The first DSBP Records release was in 1995, and the first Diverje CD came out in 1996.

I know you are a huge supporter of the underground by the wide range of artists and genres aired on your radio show, Cyberage Radio. How long has the show been on the airwaves and what are some of your favourite moments from its past?

Cyberage Radio started up around 1995 as well, and finally became an ‘official show’ on K.U.N.M. around 1998. The show is a fun time for me every week! Each week is great fun, and the people who listen, support and spread the word are the best!

My favorite moments have been airing brand new music before anyone else… Hearing those bands get bigger through the years is also cool. Also having some fun guests down and partying all crazy on air (sometimes things get out of control)! The worldwide audience and how we all communicate during the show is amazing as well… So many memories and it’s all good!!

What pushed you towards the genre of experimental electronic?

I love the experimental, noise, IDM, d’n’b, and minimal electronics side of things from being exposed and promoting Ant-Zen and Hymen record labels for 12 years! They always turn me onto new artists and sounds and I just love the different sounds, styles, textures and art these genres produce. It keeps the mind open to more possibilities and hybrids as well.

Classic question but it has to be asked, where did the band name Diverje come from?

The name I came up with because I always feel like I am diverging from the norm, and from society in general. Separated from the main path and typical way of things, we have continued to develop into different directions. I wanted the spelling to be with a “j” in place of the “g” on Diverje because I knew no one else would steal the name then. And it worked! I really like the way it looks with the “j” as well.

DiverjeAlso where did you come up with the new album titles, “Burn Away” and “Evil Never Dies”? What are they in reference to?

“Burn Away” is the name of the new album. It is almost a conceptual album overall. We write about what humans are doing to the planet and how we are destroying it more and more each day. We present the reasons why this is happening and the results of it as well. The song with the same name has been getting high praise from our fans and reviewers for its informative and well timed release. This is all going on now in our world and we write about much of that on the new album. This isn’t just another band writing about clichés… Each song I write has deep meanings to them and well thought out, re-written and edited for months.

“Evil Never Dies” is a track on this new album and also the EP carries this name. This song is written about how we have so much evil spreading wild in this world, and it is growing and cannot be stopped. Evil comes in many forms and that’s what is being said. There really is no way to avoid it, it will find you one way or another. For the video we linked it up with our favorite horror movie icons and made a nice collab between the horror movies and the reality of life today!

I noticed that you brought on some extra help in the studio for production, etc. Can we expect the same sound from previous releases or is this a sign of maturation of the band’s sound?

Every Diverje album is based on collaborations and new writers. Also a few of the collaborators are from previous albums. I think we have put together a great bunch of people for “Burn Away” and the results on the album have a more varied and powerful sound than ever before.
I definitely think bands need to evolve more and not stay stuck in the same sound all the time!!

How did Kickstarter help you in the creation of these new releases?

Kickstarter.com was a great way to fund the full length CD “Burn Away”! Our friends and fans collaborated with us by ‘pre-ordering’ the album and jumping on the different packages we had available for different pledges. We did $15-25-35-50-70 options that people could support with and get themselves a lot of music for their money as well – and we made sure to give them extra and not charge for the shipping costs it was going to cost. We were fully funded and were able to release the album a month after the cash was all received from Kickstarter. It seems to have worked well as everyone has been happy that they helped out!

It is a really good way to try to release an album on CD if you can’t do it all on your own but, I don’t know how many they will work with for doing albums. I think I was lucky and worded my proposal for Kickstarter well, and they took us on for it, and we came through by getting it all funded and beyond! They take a 5% surcharge for their hosting of it.

Do you ever perform live? If so what does your live performance consist of and what can a fan catching your show expect? What weight do you put on a band touring versus being strictly studio based?

Of course we play live! We have for many years and the lineup usually changes every album or so, but we always bring it hard and energetic with each lineup and we do have a more live sound than many many bands I have seen that don’t play a lot of the stuff live at all. I think its important to play live, for sure…

But touring is pretty hard when we all have regular 9-5 or night jobs that we are at every day. It’s not really financially smart unless you have a lot of cash saved or getting some guarantees and pre-payment from clubs, which doesn’t happen. So I don’t think bands really ‘need to’ or ‘can afford’ to tour for the most part, as we all aren’t on Metropolis records you know? I am fine with doing a few shows here and there and one-offs are good too. Touring would be fun but I doubt we can do it with the current state of the economy.

What does your studio setup consist of? Do you prefer hardware or software for production? What is some gear or software you are looking to acquire or wish to include in your setup?

Well the Diverje arsenal is vast, for sure… With all those collaborators comes a lot of equipment, variety in soft/hardware synths and effects. I mean, just listen to our songs, there’s different sounds in most of them, and that’s why. I mostly use hardware myself – I prefer Korg, Roland, Ensoniq, Access Virus, Nord Lead. I love the feel of them, the sounds and the way you can really create new sounds and layers with combinations. Fun stuff…

I do use software for production and mixing for the most part, but will be looking to get more soft synths soon too.

Musical creation is more obsession that necessity. Do you think an artist has to be a little out of his/her mind to thrive in this genre?

Yes! I totally think so! We are all stark raving mad I tell ya!

Any plans for future side projects or future releases?

Yes! We plan on doing another “Bio-Mechanical Degeneration” sometime this decade. And I will be doing more solo work as In-Fused and working with Chris Cozort as well. I also am down to collaborate with other bands as a vocalist on some tracks if they need one…

Any tips for the musicians out there?

I would just say to do it with heart, soul and passion, and keep it consistent! Stick with it if you love it! Never be afraid to evolve and change shit up a bit, and if you are serious about it all, then go to the extremes to get it heard, known and selling.

Thank you so much for your time, Tommy.

Thank you, bro! I appreciate your time and support of Diverje, DSBP Records and Cyberage Radio! Best to you and your music as well!

Diverje

Relevant links

Diverje
Diverje @ Reverbnation
Diverje @ Facebook
Diverje @ MySpace
Diverje @ Vampire Freaks
Cyberage Radio

— interview by James Church (January 2011)