ENZO KREFT is a Belgian solo-project set up in the 80s by Eric Vandamme. After a long break the artist reactivated his project and started composing new music. Early this year ENZO KREFT unleashed his newest album “Different World”, which is the first new work since the artist’s come-back. The album is inspired by the ongoing pandemic while the sound mixes elements of EBM and Electro-Wave. “Different World” sounds as the imaginary hybrid between GARY NUMAN, KRAFTWERK and DAF. I talked about this accomplished retro-like work with Eric Vandamme.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Your new album “Different World” is clearly inspired by the ongoing pandemic while you also hold on your dystopian perception of the Western World. Do you think dystopia became reality? And what do all these themes say about the person hiding behind ENZO KREFT?
Eric: I think we are indeed in dystopia at the moment. Very often I write about fictional future dark scenarios, but this time it became reality, very close to home for everyone. In “Woke Up This Morning” I therefore sing’“It’s stranger than fiction, this is a different world’. Never before today’s generations have experienced such a dramatic event on a global scale. Its impact is enormous.
The person behind Enzo Kreft… well what should I tell about myself? That as an individual I was of course also very much shaken by the outbreak of this pandemic. I usually find the inspiration for my projects in themes related to threats to our society and I can express my dissatisfaction, anger or concern. Working on “Different World” was a good way to personally channel and process this pandemic.
Q: I often think it’s easy –although important, for ‘artists’ to deal with all these subjects, but what’s the real goal behind it? Is it a kind of message or an internal exorcism? Do you think it can have any form of impact on listeners?
Eric: I guess I simply feel the need to write about these subjects, because we live in strange, very uncertain times. It’s primarily a way indeed to exorcise my fears. I do hope my topics can have an impact on listeners, on the one hand they might be a wake-up call for some. On the other hand, a part of my audience consists of fans of Wave music with a dark edge, who simply like this kind of music about dystopian themes.
Q: Over now to the writing process of the album. How did the composition process happened? Did you try to change and/or improve some aspects compared to previous albums?
Eric: I always experience realizing an album as an organic process and it actually felt the same way when creating “Different World”. Maybe this time I’ve been more into perfectionism than on previous albums. Making “Different World” felt like writing a varied and relief-rich but consistent story.
I usually collect a number of ideas, topics, words, sentences, a catchy melody line,… Some of those initial approaches can grow into a song surprisingly quickly, others simmer for a while and take shape a little later. It’s thinking, ruminating, letting things sink in, puzzling,… The more the album evolves, the better I understand which direction it should go and the more clearly the pieces of the puzzle come together. Then the feeling that everything is right becomes stronger. Which does not alter the fact that at the end of the whole process I’m sometimes overcome with doubts and cold feet to come out with it. But at that moment everything is over and I have to let go of the beast anyway.
Q: I experienced “Different World” as your most diversified work to date although still connected by 80s influences. What makes the 80s still special to you and did you handle specific criteria and references to compose your new work?
Eric: I could say that I got stuck in the atmosphere of the Electro-Wave of the early 80s from a kind of mesmerization. I’ll never forget the period when I first heard synth music in some obscure clubs. It sounded unbelievably otherworldly and it really blew my mind. Love at first sight! So it didn’t take long before I bought my first synthesizer and rhythm machine myself.
I do indeed use specific criteria and references to compose my new work. I actually see it as my personal recipes that I gradually developed. My own sound idiom with a number of elements rooted in the 80s that I continue to use and combine with each other, a bit like a painter develops his own recognizable style. That happens in an almost intuitive way when I compose, until I feel that everything is right.
Q: More than ever before this album has been accomplished in a true D.I.Y. spirit except the collaboration with Wool-E Discs. Why is it that important for you to control all aspects of the production? How do you expect the future for D.I.Y. artists?
Eric: I love all aspects of the production of an album: writing songs, playing instruments, working out lyrics, arranging, composing, recording, mixing, mastering, producing,… all these things I really enjoy doing so I don’t feel the need handing things out. I like working out visual aspects such as artwork and layout of an album and I’m also fond of producing video clips. In the end I have the feeling that everything results in a well-matched whole that becomes more than the sum of the parts, after all it all comes from within myself. And finally, it may sound a bit selfish, the production as a whole runs more smoothly than when working with several people. I think the future for D.I.Y. artists is promising anyway thanks to the current technical possibilities.
Q: Since you reactivated ENZO KREFT you never stopped composing and releasing new material. How do you perceive the evolution/changes from your early 80s work towards the different productions from the past five years? What are your further ambitions and challenges?
Eric: The albums I made in the early 80’s were much less elaborate than my recent material. This was partly due to the technical limitations I had at the time, I had to achieve the best possible result with minimal resources. That made my songs sound a lot messier and more LoFi, but those imperfections also have a certain charm. I didn’t want to listen to that early work for years, now I’ve made peace with it and I can look back on it with a smile.
So I have indeed gone through an evolution, I’m now almost 40 years older, that will be felt and moreover I now have an unlimited arsenal of technical possibilities. That makes a huge difference, yet I think the connection with my early work is still there.
Ambitions and challenges? They’re certainly still there, I keep dreaming of new projects and I’ll be ready to start breeding on a new album in a while. In addition, I’m considering planning something for the year 2023, when Enzo Kreft will be 40 years old. The future looks bright.