(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries) Enzo Kreft –real name Eric Vandamme, is already back unleashing a new album. The Belgian artist started composing Electronic music in the 80s but his most prolific period started a few years ago. Enzo Kreft is releasing new work at regular basis and his albums are always centered around one, specific, topic. The new and again self-released full length “Shelter” is driven by war themes. The music remains a mix of Electro-Wave, EBM and Minimal-Electro; retro and yet refreshing!
Q: Your newest album “Shelter” is inspired by war themes. I should say nothing really original but yet still ultra inspiring for artists. Can you give us more details about this theme and the way you transpose it into songs?
EK: War themes are indeed not really original, but wars are of all times and unfortunately we live in an increasingly grim world today… Artists have always denounced wars in their work and more than ever artists today feel the need to do so. Through music you can draw attention to the negative consequences of wars, such as loss of life, human suffering, refugee problems and the destruction of societies.
I consider “Shelter”my protest album where I could actively speak out against war and violence. “Shelter”is a critical reflection on the policies of governments and criminal powers that start or continue wars. I felt the need to speak up, spread a social message and contribute to greater awareness and change around this important issue. I came up with songs quite quickly by keeping my finger on the pulse of current events and taking notes regularly. Song titles presented themselves automatically through the media over the past two years, I didn’t have to wait for ‘divine inspiration’. For certain tracks I started writing beforehand and the music came on top later, for other songs it happened the other way around.
Q: You like working with themes for every new album. Is it a kind of conceptual work or what is it all about? And how do you prepare such an album -I mean is there something like research, collecting samplings & sounds etc?
EK: My albums are indeed always built around a certain concept. Just like with the previous albums, I have also ‘immersed‘ myself in the theme with “Shelter”so I’m working on it day and night, both consciously and subconsciously. That was not difficult this time, because the war theme passed in review almost daily, you just couldn’t ignore it. When preparing an album I indeed usually collect text material, newspaper articles, video and sound recordings, I do mind mapping,… I did that this time too.
Q: What have been the different stages you’d to go through to achieve “Shelter”? And what have been the main difficulties you encountered and biggest points of satisfaction?
EK: Because I’m a DIY artist, I really go through all the stages that come with the creation of an album. That starts, as I mentioned earlier, with collecting material and mind mapping. From this arise lyrics and songs. Everything is played and sung by myself, then mixed, produced and mastered. At each of these stages I encounter difficulties, hurdles and obstacles to overcome. I often feel it is a matter of trial and error, deletion and replacement, planning and polishing.
I also regularly have to distance myself from my work and stop listening to it for a few days or weeks. Especially when mastering, I find this very important, to be able to listen to my work with ‘fresh ears’ over and over again. It is often intensive work. But so much fun to do! I have the greatest satisfaction when I have the feeling that I no longer have to do anything about a text, a track, the master, that everything is ‘right’.
Q: You’re not only a musician but still dealing with other formats of artistic expression. Tell us a bit more about your artistic activities and what do they mean to you -as every artistic expression is quite different?
EK: In addition to music, I do indeed have some other artistic aspirations: I like to paint and draw, I’ve also made screen prints and etchings in the past, I’ve made sculptures and I’ve also been active with video art. For several years I’ve exhibited my works, sometimes in groups, sometimes as solo exhibitions. In short: there is always an urge in me to do something visual as well as music. Nowadays I take great pleasure in creating videos and visuals to accompany my music. I’m also happy to take care of the artwork of my albums myself!
Q: During Covid-19 and the lockdowns people clearly realized how important music and artistic life are. What have been your experiences as a citizen and musician? And do you think Belgian authorities are doing enough for artistic/cultural life?
EK: Indeed, during the Covid-19 period, people realized that music and other artistic expressions are important. However, it became difficult, just almost impossible for artists to get a job or perform. So planned gigs didn’t happen for me either and that was a line through the bill. Some musicians tried to solve this problem by streaming performances online. I never wanted to do that myself, because that way you don’t make a real connection with an audience, the vibes you feel in a room are not there at all.
Personally, as a citizen, I was able to cope with the isolation that resulted from the lockdown, as I’m quite solitary, but that doesn’t change the fact that I missed certain people very much, fortunately not my life partner.
Are the Belgian authorities really doing enough for artistic life? One can never do enough for culture! Unfortunately, government priorities lie elsewhere. In any case, I do not enjoy any benefits or grants, since I belong to the nation of ‘underground rats’ [laughs].
Q: Your music and lyrical themes still have this typical 80s spirit which I often define as ‘revolt’. What did it mean to you and do you see ‘younger’ artists sharing a similar spirit?
EK: In the 80s, there was indeed that spirit of rebellion for the sake of it including the nuclear threat, inequality and injustice, economic uncertainty, etc. That rebellious spirit of the past has not disappeared at all and I do not hide my displeasure and anger either, I speak out manifestly! We have once again entered a Cold War with even greater tensions than in the 80s, political divisions and polarization are taking on frightening dimensions, we have to live with health crises, incredibly rapid technological progress and its consequences for privacy, employment and social interaction, and last but not least, there is the downright alarming climate change. You would rebel for less! So now is not the time to sing silly songs, artists and people in general should dare to make their voices heard! Recently a reviewer described my attitude as Punk. Well, you can’t be Punk enough these days. People can have the power and we should make it feel! Fortunately, there are indeed younger artists who want to propagate this spirit, unfortunately this is still a minority. They’re certainly not mainstream artists…
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