Set up in 1987 by Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, Leif Holm and Jouni Ollila, Pouppée Fabrikk rapidly became a new EBM giant. The Swedish band’s early albums “Rage” (1990) and “Portent” (1991) became an instant success. They moved on with the albums “We Have Come To Drop Bombs” (1993), “Djävulen” (1998) and “Your Pain – Our Gain” (1999), which were driven by furious industrial guitar riffs. All productions were released by the legendary Swedish label Energy Rekords. We had to wait till 2013 to see Pouppée Fabrikk releasing the album “The Dirt” on the Belgian label Alfa Matrix. This work featured reworked songs from the early years. Pouppée Fabrikk is now finally back on track with a totally new studio album featuring ten songs, which possibly are the darkest and most aggressive ones they ever composed. “Armén” has been again released on Alfa Matrix and is for sure one of the EBM highlights from 2020. Front man and singer Henrik Nordvargrg Björkk kindly answered a few questions about the new work.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: The album “The Dirt” featured reworked ‘old’ songs so “Armén” is your first totally ‘new’ studio album in more than twenty years! Did you ever expect to release new Pouppée Fabrikk songs and what made this comeback come true?
Henrik: Yes, we totally did expect to do a new album, but it just took a lot of time to get in the right mode for it I guess. Even though we have been a bit inactive over the years we are still good friends and hang out, so the spirit of the band is always present in our interactions.
Q: How did it feel to work back together on totally new stuff? What has been the input off each member and what have been the different stages in the writing and recording of “Armén?
Henrik: “Armén” was mainly composed and recorded by me, so it was a different approach. I used to only be the singer and occasional ‘noisemaker’ in Pouppée Fabrikk, but this time I also did the musical parts of the album. Of course we bounced my demos back and forth a bit, but the writing and recordings all took place at my studio in Nora. This does not mean that Pouppée Fabrikk is my solo-project now, just that this specific release was mine to make. Over the years some of us, including me, have been inactive on some releases and shows, and it is just the way life plays out -as long as the spirit of the band is present we are a functioning project regardless of the participants at a given time.
Q: “Armén” sounds to me as a move back to the early years of the band. Sound-wise it could have been the last chapter of a trilogy, which started with “Rage” (1990) and moved on with “Portent” (1991). Do you recognize this link with the early stuff? And how do you see this album in the Pouppée Fabrikk discography and history?
Henrik: If you only count our ‘pure electronic’ albums you could call it a trilogy, but I still think that the rest of the albums are important too, but they are different in sound.
The idea with ‘Armén’ was to make the hardest goddamn EBM album ever, using our roots and old ‘rage’ as the foundation, but combine it with all the years of experience and accumulated anger inside…
Q: Are you guys perfectionists? When do you consider a song/album as finished? Do you handle specific criteria when it comes to equipment, recording, mixing, mastering etc?
Henrik: No, I think we have a very relaxed attitude towards our music, focusing more on the feeling of it rather than the production values. But over the years we have become a bit more critical and more careful of how we finalize the product, putting more hours into making the mastering sounding ‘in your face’ and powerful. When it comes to equipment we are still sticking to hardware; trying to avoid softsynths and such weak stuff.
Q: The lyrics of the album have something like a kick in the ass! Is this an album with a message? What did you try to express and what’s your perception of the ‘classical’ EBM productions without real lyrical substance?
Henrik: I just write down what flows out of me; this time it was a bit more personal maybe, and I had a lot of things on my mind at the time I wrote the lyrics. The message is quite clear I think. “Armén” is a very pissed off album, pissed off at the world, the polarized worldviews, the rich getting richer, the control that is forced upon us everywhere, the slow removal of privacy etc etc etc… I could go on for days. The ‘inversion’ of the Swedish state symbol should say it all.
Q: I can imagine it must be frustrating when you’ve a new album out to see you shows cancelled/postponed because of the Corona pandemic. How do you experience the whole thing and what are the further plans for Pouppée Fabrikk?
Henrik: We are all staying home and trying to keep safe, so we are all doing good up to this point. But we are mighty disappointed that we had to cancel all the shows that we planned -I mean, we release an album for the first time in forever, and when we want to go on the road again to promote it this shit storm hits… arrghhh.
But we are not slowing down now; we have plans to all get together in June to start recording new material, so it won’t take another six years for the follow up to “Armén”.