with ZILLO Magazine (Germany Oct 96)
1. ZILLO: Before you got together you played in rather different bands like SNOG and EDEN. How did you come together and in which way did you get the idea that a collaboration between you could result in a sound that you both feel comfortable with?
SOMA (Pieter): Well, we didn't plan to start a collaboration together. The original spark that ignited SOMA was a remix suggestion that David put to me after he watched some EDEN performances. I wasn't really aware of what music Dave was doing at the time, but I liked his idea, so we got together and reworked two EDEN tracks. I had a few rough musical sketches lying around so when we finished the EDEN remixes we expanded the sketches into finished tracks which became the first SOMA tunes. I suppose because we weren't taking things too seriously we came up with some really interesting ideas that we wouldn't have pursued in our other projects. We come from very different musical backgrounds, but we soon realised that there was some good chemistry happening.
2. ZILLO: When the first SOMA album appeared, SOMA just appeared to be a side project for two musicians who usually and mainly work in other bands. Is SOMA, after the successful debut, a main project for you both now?
SOMA (Pieter): As we were writing "Hollow Earth" I was still recording with EDEN and David was busy with SNOG. SOMA fitted in somewhere in between, but then a fire destroyed the flat I was living in so I moved into Dave's place for a while. It was during this co-habitation period that we started writing a lot of music together, including SNOG songs and various remix projects.Once" Hollow Earth" was finished and released we realised that SOMA was taking on a life of it's own, outside of our other projects.
3. ZILLO: In which way do you usually create the SOMA songs and sounds? Do you still work in a similar way as you did before with your former projects or did you have to change something in particular? Is someone responsible for a specific part of your music, or do you create things together?
SOMA (Pieter): We don't have a set way of working. Because we are both active in different areas of music, we get a lot of ideas independently from each other. Dave will often have an idea based around a few samples and we'll get together and develop it. I tend to experiment around with percussion or a keyboard until an idea starts to form and we'll take it from there. We've done so much music together now, that we know each other's strengths and abilities and we don't have to say too much when working. I think we've influenced each other a bit so I'll sometimes find myself working on sounds that are more Dave's area and vice versa.
4. ZILLO: The music of SOMA fascinates mainly with it's alliance between very melodic and danceable structures and masses of various sounds. From where does all these sounds derive? How important is the technology for your music?
SOMA (Pieter): The music is a direct reflection of our musical tastes. Dave DJ's a lot and is into obscure 60's stuff, noisy electro things and the like. I'm more into atmospheric, melodic music, traditional stuff from around the world, dub/reggae and percussion. We go for a lot of contrast, trying to combine all these separate elements into something that works as a whole.Technology plays a vital role in our music because we like to fuck with sounds and rhythms. You need a certain amount of gadgets to be able to process and combine sounds in the way we do.
5. ZILLO: When I hear the wide spectrum of sounds in your music, I often think of the patchwork lifestyle of the 90's. Do you see yourself a connection between post modernism and your music?
SOMA (David): Well Dirk, I went to Art School for 4 years and I must say that when I hear the word "post-modern" the smell of gunpowder fills my nostrils. We don't really align ourselves with art or fashion movements. I suspect that most if not all art since the Dadaists or Surrealists has been produced for purely commercial, or fashion, or careerist, or "I Want to get a fuck" reasons. I don't know much about the "patchwork lifestyle of the 90's", but I do know what I do and don't like. I don't like empty-headed art statements, but I do like passionate music, ironic and humourous music. Therefore, we'll take inspiration, samples and atmospheres from anywhere- "The Silver Apples", "Luis Bacalov", or the "Dead Kennedy's". If we think it works we'll do it.
6. ZILLO: Which kinds of things, subjects, music and films does inspire you, when you're starting to create an album?
SOMA (David): Life is a constant source of inspiration. In the broadest sense our well was filled by a cascade of B-grade psychological/horror/thrillers, spaghetti westerns and strangely political sci-fi pics. A vast volume of the finest "conspiracy literature" was also consumed. Books like "Psychic Dictatorship in the U.S.A.", "Popular Alienation" and the "Unabomber Manifesto". Magazines like "Flatland", "Steamshovel Press". And the continuing, absurd amalgam of daily life.
7. ZILLO: The titles of your two albums have a very conceptual undertone, I think. Did you create them in a conceptual way or did you just put some songs together?
SOMA (David): Yes, there are firm underlying concepts behind each SOMA album. It's an organic thing. We don't consult our demographic charts or memorise the latest edition of "How To Win Critics and Influence Audiences". But themes and linkages naturally develop. For some reason the music of SOMA seems to circle the areas of magic, mystery and the 'supernatural'. On "Hollow Earth" the music and ideas naturally developed around obsessions with caves, water, soil, subterranean existence and the civilizations living beneath the earth's crust. On "The Inner Cinema" you can see an obvious rejection of late 20th Century cold materialism. "The Inner Cinema" celebrates passion, heroism, drama and emotion. We immersed ourselves in hot-blooded "Spaghetti Westerns", the lore of ancient and lost civilisations and bizarre sex and sacrifice rituals. We live this shit while making an album and then return to our day-jobs at the bank and the dog-pound.
8. ZILLO: SOMA is a member of M.A.C.O.S. Which are the main ideas of this organisation and how important are samples for your work?
SOMA (David): We are 'sample liberationists'. We believe that every sound recording has the right to self-determination. If a sound-byte, fragment or sample seeks asylum within one of our compositions, then we support them and their right to an individual-sonic-dignity. M.A.C.O.S. is an organization of musicians/programmers who affirm the validity of free sampling in modern music and who emblazon the M.A.C.O.S. logo on their products to alert others that they may sample from these products without fear of legal recrimination or moral judgment.
9. ZILLO: What about live plans and other ideas for the next SOMA album and other projects?
SOMA (Pieter): We're in the middle of cranking up the SOMA LIVE MACHINE and plan to be in Europe and the States early in 1997. Since completing "The Inner Cinema", we've been busy with other projects. I toured with Dead Can Dance for three months and David did a Black Lung tour of Europe. We've started writing some new SOMA tracks, but it's a bit early to talk about the next album. When we tour we will play material from both albums as well as new songs, and we want to incorporate improvised "sound track" pieces that will be different for each show.