Sandy Nijs aka ‘Magthea’ started composing music in the early 80s. He has been involved with different projects, but Hybryds became his most renowned ‘sonic alter-ego’. Hybryds has been mainly driven by Ritual- and Industrial influences, but also experienced with other genres. By the end of 2021 they self-released the new album “Mythopia”. It’s an intimate work driven by Ritual sound elements mixed with Ambient atmospheres and Ethereal-Pop. I talked about the new album with Magthea and Peter De Koning.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: After nearly 40 years of involvement, the new Hybryds album “Mythopia” sounds like announcing a new approach. Can you give us more background about the concept and production of this work?
Magthea: With Hybryds I’ve always been trying to create new sounds for each new project. In the past we used hardware, synths, drum machines… But Peter is very good with a DAW. I used Logic more as a tape recorder. Over the last years with help from Peter I worked with samples in Logic on a laptop. It was thanks to Corona time and a new computer with a big screen that I started creating new things myself in Logic. Peter helps me sometimes with arrangements. He’s a classically trained musician, I am not.
Peter: The tracks on “Mythopia” feel more like songs. The use of a DAW for structuring the sounds and rhythms certainly has a place in this. But I also feel that Magthea had a very clear vision of what sound he desired, like always.
Magthea always tells me that I am classically trained but I never actually finished my education so that is relative. I have been playing piano since I was five years old though, but mostly by ear. Piano’s are great but they limit you to 12 notes in an octave, as long as you do not mess with the strings. Hybryds was one of my gateway drugs to more Abstract music that couldn’t care less about these limits. Magthea doesn’t consider himself as a musician but for me he is a very skilled and trained master in his own art. I owe to him that I was able to broaden my view on music.
Q: “Mythopia” is an interesting title, which I directly connect to the fantasy universe of writers like Tolkien, Martin, Lovecraft, Blake ao. What did you try to express by this title and is there any link with the ‘real world’?
Magthea: The project Hybryds has always been inspired by myths, rituals and pre-monotheistic times. Most of my visual art has this connection too.
“Mythopia” is a place where all the stories, legends and myths of mankind come together. They are the mental DNA of the human race, and we have to take care of them (cf. Joseph Campell).
In this ‘real’ world we do live from stories, for instance: all those old myths have created impressive movies. These stories are the mental fuel for the human race.
Q: How did the album took shape? What’s the input of each member -including the singers and what have been the main difficulties to achieve this work?
Magthea: Corona gave me time to delve into Logic and work in it. We could not physically meet each other, especially the singer Madeline, who lives in Dresden. I started to make the music with bought esoteric vocal samples, and sent them to Dresden, so my singers had an idea of what I wanted. Madeline also took care of the lyrics. She asked Katharina to join for the vocals.
They worked for months at their place in Germany. Last summer they were allowed to travel to Belgium. In a short span of only 3 days we recorded the vocals of 18 songs. Peter helped me with arrangements of some songs as I got the tendency of making the intros too long and including too many breaks (having fun in Logic). Out of the 18 songs we choose a selection for “Mythopia”. Working with samples even introduced violins and piano to Hybryds. Peter plays the piano part live at the gigs. Zoharum was not interested in releasing the album because it did not sound like former Hybryds releases. So we released it on our own label 3RIOART.
Peter: I feel that my own involvement in “Mythopia” is limited to some tweaking and audio cleanup. 95 % of the work was done by Magthea, Madeline and Katharina. And what a great job they did!
I play the piano part live but I do not play what’s on the album. I just feel the moment, improvise and go with the music. A Hybryds gig cannot have a script.
Q: I think it’s interesting listening to “Mythopia” and next going back to some of your earlier works like “Music For Rituals” or “The Ritual Of The Rave”. How much of the early Hybryds do you still recognize in “Mythopia”?
Magthea: Personal for me its 100 % Hybryds. The sound is different, but for me it’s still the atmosphere that I want to create with HYBRYDS.
Peter: Before joining the project, I was a huge fan. What I liked and still like about Hybryds is that every album has a completely different approach. You cann’t compare for instance the ritual sounding “The Atavistic Fetisj” 1994 with the Rythmic-Noise of “Mistrust Authority” from 1996. So the new-approach-with-each-album-thing isn’t really new, in my opinion. Still, you always hear the typical Ritual signature sound of Magthea.
Q: There’re artistic nude pictures inside the digipak of “Mythopia” while the front cover doesn’t show any nudity. I can’t get away from the idea you did it because of the censorship on social media. What is it all about and how do you perceive ‘artistic freedom’ versus censorship? The 80s were definitely more progressive don’t you think!?
Magthea: OOH, it’s terrible being an erotic artist in these times were woke and religion destroy our artistic freedom. We lost our Hybryds Facebook-page with a few thousands followers for nudity (a small body painting picture of ritual witchcraft). But not only social media, Zoharum asked us to include all erotic art inside the CD, because they could not sell the CD in many places if the front cover contains nudity.…
Peter: The incident with the body paint is bloody ridiculous, we had an active page with lots of interaction from the listeners, so it’s really a shame that it got removed. I agree that our society is becoming more prudish in recent years and that artistic freedom is under pressure. Personally however, I mostly blame media imperialism. We have to walk the line that is best for their profits and must meet the standard that they impose on us. Social media such as Facebook shouldn’t have that kind of moral power. But of course, we give them that influence ourselves by using it.
Q: You’re also busy with a new project called Rabbits Wear Boots, which sounds more into ‘Dance’. Tell us a bit more about it? Who’s involved? What might we expect? And last, but not least what brings the further months for Hybryds?
Magthea: It’s my solo project. On Mixcloud I find a lot of great ‘dance’ music, laptop music made by unknown bedroom producers: Techno or chill-out Ambient with beats. I very often listen to this. The Rabbits Wear Boots project was born, when I was learning Logic, time stretching rhythm loops and my girlfriend came in shouting to me: ‘Hey this is great stuff to dance on, it is like the drumming of the Duracell rabbit’! Its dance music referring to ‘cyberwave’. The influence of the digital world on the human race. Let this be the dancefloor version of the Hybryds cyber noise project in the 90s. (“Tectonic Overload” and “Virtual Impact” re-released by Zoharum).
Hybryds did a first live gig with “Mythopia” on Porta Nigra-festival (Belgium), so both projects can be booked for live gigs. This time, Hybryds live comes with 2 female singers, 1 female dancer and 1 pianist.
Since you’re here … … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Side-Line Magazine than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Side-Line’s independent journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we want to push the artists we like and who are equally fighting to survive. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as 5 US$, you can support Side-Line Magazine – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. The donations are safely powered by Paypal.