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The Dawn of the Ice Ages: an interview with Richard Lederer

Ice Ages

Ice Ages was founded in 1994 by Richard Lederer, one of the creative forces behind the Dark Wave band Die Verbannten Kinder Eva’s and the Tolkien-inspired Black Metal band Summoning. In 1997, the first Ice Ages CD, entitled “Strike the Ground”, was released (M.O.S. Records).
Compared to the moody atmospheres and orchestral sound of DVKE, Ice Ages is more aggressive and darker conveing feelings of dread hopelessness and loneliness, through the use of cold synthetiser music and Richard Lederer’s distorted voice.
In late 2000 “This Killing Emptiness”, the second Ice Ages CD was released by Napalm Records. This latest release presents even darker haunting moods.

C.B. – Mayhaps we should begin with some historical background… How did the Ice Ages project begin?

The first Ice Ages song is as old as the first DVKE song. When I got my first Synthesiser I started to make music in both ways (as well classical orientated as electronic orientated). At this time I already liked bands like “Leaetherstrip” very much and also wanted to make music in this way.

I recorded many electronic instrumental songs but didn’t release them as early as I released the songs which were written for DVKE. Later I discovered the perfect way to sing to my instrumental songs. I always wanted a distorted voice for my music, but didn’t exactly know the ideal sound for the songs. But finally I found my deep singing style the focused more on the darkness of the voice than on its aggression.

Later I signed a CD deal with “MOS” and released the first Ice Ages CD. Due to some problems with the label I signed the second Ice Ages CD with Napalm Records/ Draenour Productions.

C.B. – How was it related to any other music projects you had at the time (like Die Verbannten Kinder Eva’s and The Summoning) and what prompted this different music direction?

I think the difference is more in the sound than in the composition. Of course the songs of Ice Ages are much more rhythm orientated than songs of DVKE, but anyway all my projects have something in common; they are dark as well as melodic. DVKE just focused more on classical moods whereas Ice Ages focuses more on a futuristic cold mood.

The reason why I make music for these different bands is that I want to keep my work varied. There are times when I do not find any good tunes for an classical arrangement, then I start making music with electronic sound or distorted drums, and suddenly I get many ideas. For me this way is perfect to keep the music always fresh and creative.

C.B. – And the (obvious) question… how did the name Ice Ages came to be?

The name was created by Ashley from the band “Whispers in the Shadow” (www.wits.tsx.org). Before I just knew that I wanted a name that expresses the cold- and darkness of the music best; and Ashley’s idea was the best one for this purpose.

C.B. – Is there, currently, any sort of creative interaction between The Summoning, DVKE and Ice Ages?

Not really an interaction. But I think that the projects would sound different it there would be the other. The only real interaction was when I once used the main tune of the song “Trapped and Scared” of the first “Ice Ages” CD for a “Summoning” CD. But apart from that the projects are independent from each other.

C.B. – What are, in your opinion, the main differences between DVKE, The Summoning and Ice Ages?

DVKE spreads a historic mood. In this project I use my synthesiser for more classical sounding tunes. Tania and me sing with classical inspired (not distorted) vocals accompanied by orchestra sound (like horns. strings typmanies).

In Summoning I do not only use synthesisers and vocals; I also play the guitars. This project spreads the mood of Tolkiens fantasy world “Lord of the Rings” perfectly. The music is much more pathetic and aggressive than the one of DVKE; an Silenius and I use shouting (screaming) vocals instead of classical inspired ones.

In opposite to that the music of “Ice Ages” creates the imagination of a dark cold future world; with machines instead of humans. Even the distorted voice doesn’t remind on a human being.

C.B. – What, in particular, characterizes Ice Ages? What would you say is the ‘objective’ of Ice Ages (no, we’re not suggesting it should have a ‘message’ ;-] )?

I just can say that the main purpose of Ice Ages is to create dark, electronic music. In the last time, most bands of the EBM sector transformed their music into techno orientated music with not much darkness in it. I try to keep build on the musical tradition of the older EBM Band (like Leatherstrip) and adapt it more to my musical taste. Instead of taking influences from the techno – dance floor scene I try to go more in the Darkwave – gothic direction.

C.B. – Browsing through your discography, it becomes readily apparent that you must be a very busy and dedicated person. How much time and dedication does it take to be as musicaly involved as you?

It takes some time, but not so much as you imagine. In opposite to real bands; I just just my synthesiser and do not have to practise already existing songs over and over again for live gigs. I can make songs whenever I want and do not have to go to a special music room if I want to create new song. So my music doesn’t take as much time than if I would be a member of a real band.

C.B. – How do you coordinate your different musical projects, and what are your main sources of inspiration to pursue all those projects? In particular for Ice Ages, are there any inspiration sources that were especially relevant for this project (literature, music, cinema and art in general)?

I can’t name any books that inspired my work, but if I have to name a movie that suits best the mood of my music I would name “Dark City” (due to its darkness and futuristic mood). The painting of Bekzinski (who painted the picture, that I later used as Ice Ages cover) also express a special feeling that suits very much to my music.

C.B. – How does your creative process work, especialy in solo projects like Ice Ages?

I have a small music room (with my synthesisers and my computer) in my cellar. If I get into the mood of making new songs I just have to walk about minute downstairs and then I can start. Often I start searching for new tunes, but completely fail; but often I succeed.

C.B. – How does a song/musical piece come into existence (i.e. do you compose pieces first and then tweak them, do you make them as you go along or some other process)?

Normally I create a song in one piece. Once I discover a new way of creating a tune I can really feel how my mind starts to open for new tunes. It is like a locked door that opened; and suddenly the trespass is so easy. Once I start I get so many ideas the there are more than enough for a whole song. Once the instruments are finished I find the vocal tunes in a very short time.

C.B. – We believe that the album “This Killing Emptiness” was the first time that you wrote lyrics for one fo your CDs, the lyrics for the rest of your musical work being written by others (Shelley in DVKE, Raymond Wells from Pazuzu in “Strike the Ground”).

You are right. In the past I was just not able to write lyrics. When I tried writing lyrics in the past I always wrote very clear sentences. I was not able to get away from the logic aspect of the words and use them more as methods to create a mood. In the meantime I am able for this; I do not really know why.

C.B. – How do you create your music using lyrics from external sources?

On “This killing emptiness” I do not only use self written lyrics. 4 lyrics (which belong to the best ones) are written by Grom. I got in contact with him because of the Summoning homepage, in which he is involved. He lives in Siberia but this far distance was not handicap for a lyrical cooperation. He sent me the lyrics with e-mail. The title track; as well as the name of the CD is from one of his lyrics, for example.

C.B. – Also, there is a noticeable evolution from “Strike the Ground” to “This Killing Emptiness”, in terms of style and mayhaps a also in the moods and soundscapes evoked by the music. “TKE” seems to convey a greater sense of hopelessness than “StG”. While “StG” represented (in our opinion) a totaly desolate scenario where life never existed and never will exist, in “TKE”, despite the barren scenario, there is a feeling that there was life and hope that were lost but will never be regained. Also in “TKE” there is a feeling of a presence that serves as companion to the listener, telling of its plight, while in “StG” the listener was an observer and completely alone; this presence actualy makes “TKE” a more depressive album (and let us also add that the cover painting by Zdizlaw Beksinski is perfectly adequate for the moods conveyed by the music). Would you care to comment on this?

Ice Ages Thank you for your interpretation. :-) It was really interesting to hear what you think when you listen to IA. In fact your interpretation is similar to mine in most cases. But I wouldn’t say that there is one true interpretation existing; each listener should search for his own.

Anyway I am very glad that you consider TKE as the more depressive one, because this was my aim. I think that the songs of TKE creates one big world, whereas the songs of STG were more separate. The most difference in the composition was that the songs are now much slower (what makes them more depressive).
And of course the new musical equipment and the fact that I recorded the whole music on my own this time is important for many changes.

I agree that in STG in opposite to TKE the listener plays the role as the observer (although I never thought about this idea:-). I guess the reason for this is that the voice sounds more close to the listener in TKE.

C.B. – Departing a bit from the “technical” and inquisitive questions about your work… What are your plans for future musical releases of your projects?

I have no planns for DVKE and Ice Ages. The next CD will be surely a new Summoning CD. There are already some new songs existing. Once the new Summoning CD will be released I will start thinking about any other released, but at the moment I can not say anything about it.

C.B. – And, of course, plans for live performances?

The only thing I can tell you about this it, that there will be a concert in Holland (Tilburg) on the 13.04.2001 as support for “In Strict Confidence” (www.instrictconfidence.com).

C.B. – What is you opinion about the current state of the so-called ‘dark scene’ (electro/industrial, gothic and metal) in Europe?

The problems I have with most band of the electro scene is that they transform more and more into a commercial dance floor. All band I liked in the past (Funker Vogt, Evils Toy), now use techno bassdrums and rave sounds. I would prefer if there would be a real techno scene and a real EBM scene instead of a mixture of both.

C.B. – What do you think of the possibility of the ‘dark’ sub-cultures becoming object of mainstream attention and a potential target for mercantilist exploitation as other sub-cultures were?

I think that the dark sub-culture is on its best way to become pure mainstream music. In opposite of creating a real opposition to the mainstream (like for example the metal scene did in the past), the dark sub-culture tries to involve more and more trendy elements to its music; but this no underground for me anymore. Of course there are some exceptions that make melodic electronic music (like Anaest , Leatherstrip or In strict confidence for example).

When I think of the Darkwave scene about 6 years ago (when I got to know it), I remember for example the first CD of “Das Ich” which was totally dark in a specially way and used totally “un-groovy” (more like a machine) rhythms. But now most bands added plenty of real drummers, guitars or techno rythms to their music (I don’t have anything against guitars, real drummers or techno beats; but it is sad that there is not much alternative to it anymore).

C.B. – Any final words or final requests? ;-)

Thank you for the interview; it was really interesting.

Relevant links

Ice Ages

— interview by Miguel de Sousa and T.P.W.A.N. (March, 2001)

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