Vocalist Mario of Katanga
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for making the interview possible.
Thanks to Massacre Records for the promo pictures of the band
Katanga is a German goth metal band with both female and male lead vocals. I had the pleasure to talk to male vocalist Mario a while ago. We talked about the bands newly released second album MOONCHILD as well as the line-up changes the band have gone through, why the band sings in both German and English and how he looks upon the bands future amongst other things. If you like Goth metal I suggest you take a closer look at the music of Katanga.
I thought that we could first talk about you and Katanga’s new album MOONCHILD; it was released it January but how long did it take to record the album?
Recording and producing our album MOONCHILD took almost five years altogether. We had to overcome some obstacles on the way and had almost lost hope of ever finishing it, but finally we did.
Who has written the lyrics and music and what are most of your lyrics about?
The music is written cooperatively by all of us, with major contributions by Micha and me. Lyrics are written by Wilko and me, they are influenced by movies, books, and our very own personal experiences. We tend to comment on the darker and more unappealing aspects of society.
How come you chose to sing in both English and your native language German?
We are of the opinion that every language is something special and opens up a beautiful new world. Any band should consider using their own native tongue.
Which language are you most comfortable to sing on?
In English, actually. I find it much harder to write lyrics in German and singing in German has special difficulties as well – German listeners will be able to understand semantic nuances better and content, tune, and phrasing have to be just right.
Your debut album DARKCHILD is from 2006; what have you been up to in between the album releases?
What each and every band seems to do between albums: We played live a lot and worked on our upcoming album.
Do you think that the band have developed music-wise throughout the years? If so in what way?
We developed our creative processes and worked on our live-act, songs have gotten tighter and more energetic, we feel. We did not change our overall style, though.
Your debut album was titled DARKCHILD and your new one is called MOONCHILD what’s up with the “child” theme?
It is supposed to become a trilogy. I personally like to be able to find a certain coherence between a band’s albums.
On the new album you have featured three re-recordings of three of your songs that you had on your debut album why?
People have less and less money nowadays. Especially with the advent of the new media there is a certain temptation to download music illegally – we wanted to reward people who pay good money for our current album with a lot of playing time, to this end we re-recorded three titles from DARKCHILD.
Who has done the cover art-work of MOONCHILD? What do you think of it?
Stacey Ann Borg from Malta did the cover art, and has succeeded in capturing the album’s mood exactly: dark, melancholic and romantic. Stacey did fantastic work.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Katanga plays?
Our music is a crossover of different styles, such as Heavy Metal, Darkwave, Neue Deutsche Härte, and Electronic Music. To describe it in detail is really hard, it is a bit as if The 69Eyes, Metallica, Rammstein, and Depeche Mode cooperated in the studio. Even if our promotional pictures may suggest it: we not another female fronted Gothic Metal band, rather we are really melody-driven, and we try to put the song first, not single instruments.
Sven Friedrich makes a guest appearance on the album how did he end up on your album are you past time friends?
Jenne, owner of our former label Rabazco, used to be the bassist of the Dreadful Shadows, who were graced with Sven’s exceptional and unique voice. We asked Jenne to bring us into contact with Sven, who listened to our material and agreed to cooperate with us on MOONCHILD.
On which song(s) does Friedrich sing?
He has vocal lines in three songs: “I’m gonna die for you”, “Mondscheinfahrt”, and “Bittermond”.
Have you read any review of the album in the press? Do you care about what the media and what the critics write about Katanga?
Oh, yes, we read quite a lot of reviews, online as well as in print. They cover an astonishing range from absolutely atrocious to immensely inspired. From experience we know that it is impossible to please everyone. A person who likes Black or Death Metal is not very likely to be pleased with our music, this is a fact we are going to have to face.
Furthermore, we really love to experiment: On “Mörder der Erinnerung” and “Lemuria” we fore go the typical guitar solo and recorded a piano solo instead. This may come as a shock to some people’s expectations and may not sound too pleasing at first – we encourage people to take some time and experience our music, though. It always pays to question one’s own stereotypes, likes, and dislikes.
What do fans think of MOONCHILD?
Most of them actually do like the album!
Did you throw a release party for the album when it was launched?
Sure we did, and we chose one of Berlin’s finest venues, the K17, where we were able to share the stage with Eden weint im Grab and Divine Genocide this past weekend. It was a hell of an evening…
Where was the album recorded and who has produced the album?
The album was recorded at Landhausstudio Berlin by Ron Thiele.
How come you chose to work with Thiele and have you worked with him before?
We knew Ron as a musician only. He is the drummer of the Dreadful shadows. Before finally settling on a producer we tried some people we knew, but had a rather consolidated idea what the album was to sound like beforehand: 80s-like and warm. Ron proved to be the person able to create that sound for us.
What’s Thieles strongest feature as producer?
He picked up on our ideas what the album was supposed to sound like and was able to incorporate that into the production process. Furthermore he has a composed attitude and an unhurried work ethic.
Do you think that you’re going to work with him in the future?
Actually, we are doing so right now, yes. For our third album we want to try to include Ron in the creative processes that underlie the creation of our music. About half the songs that will make up our third album are done and have already been made into demo-tapes in Berlin at the beginning of this year.
Who’s done the mixing and the mastering?
Ron did the mixing, for the mastering we were able to cooperate with Vincent Sorg, Peter Pluto Neuber, and Thorsten Wyk, who in turn cooperated with In Extremo, Grave Digger and Die Toten Hosen.
Was it hard for Katanga to land a deal with a record label?
No, it was a piece of cake. We sent in our material, exchanged contracts, and we were signed.
I know you have released a few EP’s prior to the debut who made sure that you could release those EP’s? Were you signed to a deal or did you finance the releases by yourself?
Material from the “Batflight”-EP is re-recorded on our first album “Darkchild”. The publishing of the “Leben”-EP we financed ourselves, we consider it our first tentative step on the path of greatness [smirks]. Our next album will feature a song, with the working title “Abgründe des Lebens” (literally: “Abysses of Life”), that will take material from “Leben” (Life) and re-interpret it for our times – it was an idea we had to mark the 10-years-anniversary of the band.
Why did you end the co-operation with Rabazco?
Jenne, owner of Rabazco, changed jobs and became a father and had less and less time for the time-consuming work, so we unfortunately had to leave.
Which label are you linked to today?
We managed to sign with Massacre Records.
Are you happy with the work Massacre Records have put into the band so far?
Yes, absolutely, we are. They are a hard-working and active firm.
What’s the main difference between co-operating with Rabazco towards Massacre Records?
With Massacre Records the emphasis is much more on advertisement and on interaction with the press and in social media.
For how many albums are you signed for at Massacre Records?
The deal is for one album with an option for one more, as of now.
Do you think it’s an advantage to have a label that’s based in your own country?
That is really hard to say, because we do not have any experience with foreign labels. At the end of the day, if you ask me, what matters is not the nationality, but the amount of work that gets put into a band.
Is it possible to purchase DARKCHILD in record stores today?
We were surprised to find that it is possible to buy it on the internet still. There seems to be a backlog, somewhere.
Are you currently working with any booking agency or management?
Our booking needs are fulfilled by BMC Booking, run by our good friend Stephan Haese.
Has the album been released worldwide today?
We really do hope so.
When and where was the band born? And who is the founder?
Katanga was founded in Greifswald on the shores of the Baltic Sea in 1997. From our first line-up only Micha (g.) and I (voc.) remained, Wilko (b.) then joined us in 1998. Doreen (voc.) became a member in 2002. Drummers and keyboarders have been coming and going quite often throughout the years.
Where does the band name Katanga come from?
It is derived from the movie “Gattaca” which was shown in cinemas during the time when we founded the band. For legal reasons we changed the name a little. What we wanted was a name that it easy to remember and does not pigeonhole us, it has absolutely nothing to do with the former Belgian colony in Africa.
Was it given from the start that you were going to play this kind of music?
Yes, we stuck to the role model of our favorite bands from the 1980s whose music left indelible marks on our minds.
Does the band members have any common idol or artist that have inspired them?
Quite a lot, to be honest: The Doors, Metallica, Megadeth, Nightwish, Depeche Mode, Dreadful Shadows, Rammstein, Oomph, The 69eyes, to name just a few.
What did the fans think of the ’99 EP LEBEN and the ’00 EP BATFLIGHT?
“Leben” was given to close friends and relatives only, it represents our first musical attempts. “Batflight” was received quite well and material from the EP forms the core of our live-performances even today.
Do you have a solid fanbase? Where in the world do you have your biggest fanbase?
Most of our fans are in Germany, a lot of them are in Eastern Europe – generally people from there tend to love German music.
The band have gone through some member changes trough the years has that been hard for the band and do you think that the changes have had any impact on the sound of Katanga?
Some changes we had, they sometimes even hurt, but a core of members have always stood together preserving our sound, our ideas, and our general outlook on life.
Who plays keyboard on the album?
With the use of recording software we played them cooperatively, in fact.
Is the line-up of today a solid one?
It has been rock solid for several years, yes, and hopefully will be in the future. And we hope to be able to find a new drummer as a permanent member in the near future.
Your website is only on German do you have an English version coming up as well or?
We are currently working on an English version, but it is a slow-going process that sadly did not make the top of our list just yet.
Is the band active on MySpace and Facebook and do you think it’s important to be seen on social networks?
Both social networks are being used by our band. You cannot really be without their benefits today, they are most convenient for making and cultivating virtual friendships around the world. They are not a compensation for real-life contact, though.
With thought of that your singing on German what parts of the world are you focusing on?
All of it )).
We do not use German exclusively and will not be restricted to one language only. This is not a capitalistic impulse to generate revenue, but an artistic conception of finding beauty in different languages: To use only one language would be boring, and music is supposed to cross borders, after all.
Are you going to try to conquer the Asian and the North American market as well?
We will certainly try, world domination cannot be achieved without conquering… no really, we have not thought about that just yet. Our music is the reflection of our thoughts and feelings and does not target specific audiences.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you’re getting from fans?
Often we are asked if our shows will contain appearances of Sven Friedrich, otherwise fans mostly have personal questions in one-on-one situations.
Are you going to go out on tour now that the new album has been released?
This year we managed to play several bigger shows already. Our day jobs have been preventing us from embarking on a tour until now.
What would you like to say to the people that haven’t discovered Katanga yet?
Listen into our music, please, and take some time. It will be worth your while.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy MOONCHILD?
MOONCHILD is an interesting and varied album. It can be fast-paced at times, it can creep up on you at other times – an album for many moods. It has a playing time of over 73 minutes, into the bargain.
Well, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with everyone out there?
Always stay inquisitive and do not be afraid to question everything.
That’s all I had for this time. Thanks once again for making the interview possible and I wish you and the band all the best in the future.
Not at all, thank you for having us. All the best to your readers, as well, have a bright and beautiful future and keep on rockin’.