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Lux Interna "Neofolk Or Not? That’s The Question!"
Vor einigen Wochen hatte ich das Vergnügen die ergreifende Musik, dieser für mich neuen Band, zu erleben (siehe Review). Kein Wunder, dass ich sofort Bandkopf Joshua Ian Levi Gentzke kontaktieren musste, um eben mehr zu erfahren. Aus persönlichen -mir überaus wichtigen- Gründen belasse ich das Interview so wie es ist: Fragen deutsch - Antworten englisch! Eine Übersetzung würde einfach vieles zerstören. Aber wem sage ich das: lest mal selbst wie redegewandt der Wahl-Europäer ist…
Weitere Infos zu Lux Interna:
Lux Interna God Is Not Dead For The Birds
Lux Interna [a Lantern Carried In Blood And Skin]
Lux Interna There Is Light In The Body, There Is Blood In The Sun
Lux Interna - Neofolk Or Not? That’s The Question!

Hi Lux Interna ! Die neue CD „god is not dead for the birds“ hat mich wirklich überrascht. Daher muss ich einfach etwas mehr erfahren, was diese Scheibe und allgemein die Band angeht. Erst einmal: wie geht es euch und wie verläuft die Resonanz zur neuen CD? Habe vor kurzem sogar ein Interview im polnischen Webmag entdeckt.
Thanks for the kind words! I’m not sure how well known we are in Poland – but we did do an interview a while back with a Polish magazine. As far as the response to the new album, it has been quite positive from many corners. I try not to spend too much time reading reviews – but I am happy to say that we have received quite a few nice notes from people who have a copy.
Though ultimately, we are creating the music, because it is something that we ourselves need to do for ourselves, we obviously want what we do to be heard, because we choose to release it. Personally, I am quite interested in the aspect of art that far outreaches the artist: the way that art converges with those who engage with it. It is never a finished “thing“. When we hear from someone how a certain song, or indeed the album as a whole, has taken on a (positive) meaning within the context of someone’s life – this really means something to us. That is „success“.
It is always a problem for an underground band like us to get the music out for people to hear it. This is the case perhaps especially for us, due to the fact that no one in Lux Interna is particularly savvy with such “business” aspects as press and the like.

Da ich (vielleicht) zu den Wenigen zähle, die euch kennen, so wäre ich trotzdem dankbar für eine kurze Bio über euch. Entstehung, Mitglieder, Veröffentlichungen usw.....!?!?!?
I began Lux Interna (conceptually) in 1999 as a solo project. I had not done music publicly for some years at that time, and I was unsure if I wanted to go that route again. I had had a background playing (how cliche!) in punk and gloom rock bands…but had decided to trade in the electric guitar for the acoustic. The energy that I had felt playing the former types of music had given way to certain feeling of stagnancy, the noise that I once felt was so poignant had begun to feel a bit masquerade-like. I wanted to go where I would not have the luxury of hiding, and folk music seemed the logical answer to that.
Basically, Lux Interna began as a collection of songs that I had written based around acoustic guitar. The rest of the people that would work along side me on this project were all close friends of mine, whom it was only logical to include. Only Kevin was, prior to Lux Interna, a musician, strictly speaking. Kathryn and Shane, both people who are extremely gifted in many areas, decided - at my coaxing - to come aboard and contribute what they could. The scope, form, and content of the music has changed drastically over the years – as I can only hope it will continue to do in the future. In my opinion a lot of skins have been shed, and the music is moving closer to the core of what I want it to be.

The lineup for live shows is always somewhat provisional and mutable, due to the fact that Kathryn and I having been living in Europe for years now, while the rest of our members are scattered across the east and west coasts of the United States. However the studio lineup has so far been consistent. Recently, happily enough, we have been joined by Katherine Trimble on cello. The current line up consists of myself (voice, guitar, mandolin, bass), Kathryn Gentzke (voice, autoharp, percussion), Kevin Sweet (piano, keyboards, hammer dulcimer), Shane Halinan (percussion), and Katherine Trimble (cello). We have also been lucky enough to enjoy rather constant collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Doug White from Tearwave. Our releases are as follows: 2001: Truth and Beauty and all their Severity (10” and limited CD), 2002: Absense and Plenum (full length CD), 2004: Ignis Mutat Res (full length CD), 2007: God is not Dead for the Birds (full length CD), 2008- (?)…..

Woher stammt der Bandname?
Lux Interna (lit: “the inner light”) has a plethora of meanings and associations to me, which seem somehow elastic enough to grow and change with me/us as time goes by. In that regard I am glad to have chosen the moniker. I am quite sure that there have been major semantic shifts in how I understand the term from the time that I chose it.
On the most basic level, Lux Interna is the guiding light within us, hidden by the surrounding darkness, din, and clamor of the world of illusions. It is the lantern we carry in blood and skin: the part of God that we have swallowed. The name was chosen at a rather desolate time in my life, when I needed to see this light more clearly and the intention of the music was to give this light a voice. In that way, the name is something that inspires us, and which we aspire to.

Wie würdet ihr euren Musikstil selbst bezeichnen und welches Genre sowie Musikliebhaber/Fans sollte es in erster Linie ansprechen? Leider ist dies in der heutigen Musikszene, vor allem in Deutschland, was das Schubladendenken angeht.
The question of music style and genre is something I’ve always (and progressively) tried to shake from my mind. However, it’s always a double-edged sword for musicians, because though a genre label is limiting, it is hard to be „successful“ without one. Many people buy according to these labels, and often (sadly) image proceeds (and succeeds) the actual music. It’s unnecessarily constricting, and the worst thing (for an artist) would be to start producing music for a certain scene. We are often labeled as neofolk and, while I do not pretend to have a definition of “neofolk” handy, I feel that, at least in the capacity of what this term has come to mean, it does not succinctly our music. The more we have progressed; the further (I feel) we have distanced ourselves from preset genres of music. I just want to make honest and expressive music. That is all. In regard to a label for our music, I would prefer keeping things open. When asked by someone who has never heard us, I usually just state that we make music which happens to be somewhat “folky” with a darker temperament, due to the temperament of its makers.
In the end perhaps it could be said that we are making gospel music for a deus absconditus.
As far as reactions to our music, I am always glad when someone hears something in our music which shows some original thought. There seems to be a strange phenomenon which occurs in music, wherein one reviewer will hear the music and state something rather unperceptive about it, and suddenly everyone seems to “hear it” in the music. It is usually fairly easy to tell if someone is directly engaging the music itself, or if they are hearing what they perceive to be the genre of the music first and foremost, and the music itself only in reference to their preconception. I think that immediately categorizing Lux Interna as “purely neofolk” - at least unequivocally so - is a bit of intellectual laziness. There are many elements musically that go into the mix. As far as there being „country-specific“ ways in which we are heard – I am honestly not quite sure.

Wie kommt ihr zur Musik? Was waren/sind die Auslöser, um eben diese Art der Musik zu kreieren und wie sieht es mit Idolen/Vorbildern bei Dir/euch aus? .....und gibt es auch noch andere Projekte oder frühere Tätigkeiten bei Bands etc.?
Well as I said above, my path to music was rather a cliched one – beginning as an angry teenager playing in a punk band – well actually we wanted to be a bit more sophisticated, along the lines of Joy Division, but we severely lacked any musical prowess at the time. My other great draw to music was that I have always been drawn to the written word – be it poetry or prose – and for me music was the perfect way to make words come alive and dance. I was, and am, fascinated by the way that poetry can be performed in music, and the way that music can actually fuse with, and add to, the semantic values of words. Words within music can become wonderfully polyvalent, due to their fusion with sound, which is by nature “non-discursive”.
As far as the inspiration behind the music – which of course I can only speak for myself about given that the other members may have different feelings – the impetus is always very personal. It is lived. That said, one of the main things which I try to express (and perhaps one could even say achieve) through the music, is the interlocking of the personal with the conceptual. That is to say, the space opened and maintained by the music creates a sort of hermeneutical space of intertextuality – a space where my life fuses with the ideas which inspire the text and music of Lux Interna. Thus something like Rilke or Hölderlin’s poetry, Valentinian texts, Heidegger’s work, or the Bible, becomes – in this space – something other than an intellectual influence. It is no longer an intellectual interest: It becomes lived. That is a main reason why I “do” music.
Other than remaining honest to ourselves as artists, there is no “ideal” that we are trying to conform to. There are of course many inspiring musician which have touched us in many ways, and therefore effected what we do, but there is not a certain “sound” that we are trying to achieve.
As far as previous musical projects, yes there were some. I was involved with Kevin in previous and ill-fated bands. Lux Interna, at the moment, is the only mature fruit of our collaborations, although Kathryn and I currently have something „in the works“.

Bei eurer ruhigen, ja geradezu -minimalistischen- Musikart sind Texte eine besonderer Punkt und haben einen enormen Stellenwert. Wie steht ihr dazu? Welche Bedeutung hat das gesamte Programm, angefangen bei Musik, Texten, Covergestaltung etc.?
With Lux Interna we have tried to create a work, wherein nothing is superfluous to the whole of the work. Because of the themes and inspirations that run as a red thread through the music, it seems only natural that our aesthetic, as well as our musical arrangements, would be somewhat Spartan or minimalist. I want everything to feel like a small thought that comes on a quite night, but which upon the introspection that that quiet night allows, becomes so large and infinitely deep that it swallows up the whole of everything. I want our music and art to be an Other to the frivolous clamor of the day to day: this is not to say that I want it to be escapist in any sense of the word, but I want it to echo those places and voices that speak inside - but which so few bother to hear anymore.
I’ll turn this question over at this point to Kathryn, who is responsible for almost all of our visual aesthetic(s).
Kathryn: Lux Interna’s aesthetics is the point where the musical composition, Joshua’s texts, and my visual art converge. In general, I would say that my approach to the aesthetics is based on my interpretation of the individual album, but because of the nature of our work, there is often a certain consonance between my photography and the music of Lux Interna. Even though my work as a visual artist is generally created outside the context of the band, the themes and concepts that I deal with are somehow never all that far from those that Joshua focuses on in the lyrics. Each album manifests out of a particular stage or period of our lives, and as such, the work that I create during the time in which the album is being created tends to have a certain resonance with the album itself. This was at least the case for Truth and Beauty and All Their Severity, Ignis Mutat Res, and god is not dead for the birds. The cover work for Absence and Plenum was adapted from one of Joshua’s paintings.

Und wer ist für was bei euch verantwortlich und wie lassen sich diese Personen beeinflussen bzw. inspirieren Texte zu schreiben usw.?
I write all of the lyrics. They are generally the core around which the music is built and shaped: the words within our music are, I feel, integral to Lux Interna. As far as inspiration – much of that comes from simply living. Everything in my life is tangled up in the words of our songs. Many of the songs come about as intersections where certain “external” idea(l)s meet the interiority of my life. I also have linguistically interpreted Kathryn’s visual work on occasion – for instance in the song “Blossoms” – so in this sense she has also contributed to the songwriting.
Of course, I am also quite inspired by the literature that I engage myself with, and much of this leaves a mark on my lyrics. I have a voracious appetite for sacred literature, apocalyptic works, poetry, and philosophical works. I am also involved in the academic study of Western Esotericism and Religious Studies in general, and these studies in many ways merge with my work with Lux Interna. Some of the authors which I find especially fascinating at the moment are Jakob Böhme, J. G. Hamann, Martin Heidegger, Elliot Wolfson, Hölderlin, Henry Corbin, and James Joyce. In the last year or so, I have been deeply interested in kabbalistic ideas on language, as well as German “tradition” of language speculation and Sprachmystik. The idea that language is ontological, has been a major interest for me.

Kann man an dieser Stelle einige der Texte näher erläutern? Welcher Songs liegt euch/Dir am meisten am Herzen und welche Aussagen sollen diese haben?
That is extremely hard to say. Though all the songs have deeply meant something to me, it is true that some of our older work feels quite distant from who I am now. There are songs, which we have done in the past, that are “finished” for me in the sense that I can no longer relate to them. Other songs are able to open up to me again and take on new and fresh meaning. At the moment, I am very close to all the songs on “God is not Dead for the Birds”, as they are some of the most personal, most naked, and most real songs that I have ever been able to write. They are all quite meaningful to me – however if I had to pick one I would say that “Aporia Waltz” is a very special song for me. However, I prefer not to really discuss what it means to me, as it is very personal.

Wie sieht es mit Liveaktivitäten aus? Ich denke, dass ihr durchaus bei einer Tour mit Bands wie Antimatter, Orplid, Nebelung, Neuen Welten oder Dornenreich mitmischen könntet? Sind euch diese Bands bekannt und liege ich da richtig?
Unfortunately, due to the geographical distance between band members, it is not always easy for us to play live. We usually manage to do so however, a few times a year. So far we’ve played shows in Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, and the U.S. Recently we performed in Leipzig at the Wave Gotik Treffen, with the added bonus of having the very talented Henryk Vogel of Darkwood as a guest musician. I was quite pleased with the show, as well as many of the reactions we received to it. I am always a bit nervous about playing (especially) large shows, because we play an almost entirely acoustic, and straight forward live show. In a time when many people are used to hearing perfectly prerecorded music, or extremely loud volume, I think a show like our demands that the listener make a bit of an effort to concentrate on it to get anything out of it. This is in no way meant to put other approaches to music down, as I am in no way dogmatic about how one should make music – however it is simply our path to do things as we do. On the other hand, while we are certainly not bombastic in any sense of the word, we do put a lot of energy into our live performances, and I think (I hope!) that this shows.
We would love to do more live appearances in the future, and hopefully we will find the time and opportunity to do so. Though I am not familiar with all the bands that you have mentioned, the ones which I do know would be great to play with.
At the moment Kathryn and I are living in the Netherlands, so hopefully there will be some more European shows soon. Anyone interested in setting such a show up – please simply get in touch!

Stört es Dich/euch, wenn man bei deiner Stimme Joshua den Vergleich zu u.a. Nick Cave / David Bowie heranzieht? Ist es eher peinlich, da man durchaus Nick Cave als einen „untypischen Superstar“ bezeichnen kann oder freut es einen?
Well…I don’t really give it too much thought, but I don’t take „offense“ to either comparison. I like a lot of the work of both Cave and Bowie, and I could certainly imagine worse comparisions. However, I’ve never really tried to achieve a specific sound with my voice, I merely sing how it is comfortable to do with the voice that God blessed/cursed (depending on one’s opinion) me with.

Was steht bei euch als nächstes an?
I suppose time and fortune will tell. We are constantly in the process of working on new material, so…the journey goes on!

Vielen Dank für die Antworten. Ich wünsche Dir/euch viel Erfolg mit der neuen CD, hoffe auf eine Livevorstellung und verbleibe mit einem freundlichen Gruß!
Thanks so much for your interest, and for the interview. May all be well!

geführt am 19.09.2007   von Arturek
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