Built to last...
“Well I am schizophrenic when it comes to music and I get bored really easily when it comes to doing and repeating only one thing. When I've spent a lot of time on particular style of music it's natural for me to move on and explore new territories.“
Slovenia's Neurotech, AKA multi-instrumentalist and composer Wulf, is a music connoisseurs dream. Since the release of 2008's 'Transhuman' EP, Neurotech's brand of cybermetal has grown to a dizzyingly high standard. A standard that puts a fair few major label industrial metal bands quite frankly for shame. In addition to this, Neurotech has expanded into cinematinc intrumentals that can only be described as soundtracks to sci-fi epics that haven't been filed yet. Perhaps the best summing up of these two sides to the project can be summed up in last years releases 'Stigma' and 'Evasive – both of which Wulf has released for free (as he has done with all of his material).
Intravenous Magazine caught up with Wulf to discuss the evolution of Neurotech's sound, why he opts for the free music model, and his process as a songwriter.
Intravenous Magazine: First of all, for those unfamiliar with Neurotech can you explain the origins of the band and how you got started as a musician?
Wulf: I started with Neurotech in 2007 with an intention to write music by myself. I was a drummer in metal bands for many years prior to Neurotech and wanted to do more electronicly driven music. So having bands and after years of experimenting of making mainly trance music in a cracked version of Fl Studio, I said to myself in 2007 to focus on only one thing and do it solely by myself.
IVM: You've recently released two very strong albums – the industrial metal 'Stigma' and the cinematic ambient 'Evasive'. How has the reaction been to the albums so far?
Wulf: Mainly positive. Both albums are not for everyone, but for those who like this kind of mix loved it.
IVM: Why did you choose to release two very different albums in such quick succession?
Wulf: Well I didn't consciously choose that, it all sort of happened. Stigma was written fairly quickly, I'm getting better at keeping my conscious mind away from writing and let my inner auto-pilot steer the boat. So I knew what it was supposed to be and I finished it without too much second-guessing. 'Evasive' was a whole other deal. I was writting down-tempo instrumentals pretty much from the start of Neurotech's career. By the start of 2015 I had over 30 songs which I thought I will use for my instrumental album. But after Stigma, I didn't use any of those songs. I opened up a blank canvas and was inspired and I had a vision for an album for more many years of what I wanted to hear. And because it is quite different from Stigma, it was fresh and new so the momentum kept rolling.
IVM: What were your motivations and inspirations when approaching both albums?
Wulf: The same with all my previous albums - a desire to create, experiment, trying something new. Essentialy doing an album that I personally would want to hear in that particular moment in time.
IVM: You also released the epic 'The Ophidian Symphony' at Christmas. Again what inspired this piece and how has it been received so far?
Wulf: As much as I love doing standard pop structure type songs, I also like doing long instrumental pieces which incorporates lots of different styles. The concept behind symphonies is that they are a mash up of orchestral, electronic & metal music and are quite long journeys which start at one place and end in another. Reception was also positive, it has become some sort of a Neurotech's Christmas tradition to end the year with something more challenging to listen to.
IVM: Considering the fact that Neurotech has so many distinctive elements to it, how would you define it as a project?
Wulf: Well I am schizophrenic when it comes to music and I get bored really easily when it comes to doing and repeating only one thing. When I've spent a lot of time on particular style of music it's natural for me to move on and explore new territories. Neurotech is a vocation of my musical personality which is broad and I like to keep it diverse and interesting.
IVM: As a solo artist/composer how do you typically approach creating a song?
Wulf: I do lots of demos and lots of sketches which are written fairly quickly. Mainly with synths & drums & then I add a vocal melody mumbling some gibberish into the mic to get an idea of the whole song. For an album I write around 20 - 25 songs and then narrow the selection down to around 10 songs and then spend a lifetime on them and refine & polish them until they are done. Basically what my process is like is that I write lots of material and when I've an idea of what is the main red line between some songs, I choose those who represent that era the best and I threw away the rest. It's like a sonic diary which represents the best bits of what I create at a certain time.
IVM: You've made all of your releases so far free to download through your Bandcamp. Why have you chosen this model and how has this worked for you in the the current music market?
Wulf: Well it all started with the notion that I am only one guy, from the middle of nowhere, which is Slovenia, with no backing from any label or agency, the only way was to put my music out there for free and that made it easier for people to discover it and give it a shot at hearing it. And year by year, album after album, financing everything from my own pocket, a certain following started to emerge. The whole idea of name-your-price method is based on my personal experience - yes I also sometimes ilegally download albums if I don't know an artist or whatever, but if I like what I hear, I'll buy it. So I brought this whole mindset in my musical career as well. It has been doing okay for the last couple of years, now when everything is also on Spotify and Youtube and so on, the decline shows. I'm giving it another year to see if this is still a viable option, otherwise I'll change it to something else.
IVM: Would you consider signing to a label in the future?
Wulf: Never say never, but in the internet era, where everything is digital - it's pointless in my opinion. Small labels can't do much more than I can do by myself at the moment, and big labels are now more or less just an extension of booking & publishing agencies and PR firms which are still much needed for the big artists who do lots of touring & press have a considerable amount of radio airplay. For small artists, we have our own distribution platforms which are rock solid and we can manage them ourselves.
IVM: As a solo artist in the studio how easy is it for you to transpose Neurotech onto the stage?
Wulf: I've done the whole band thing with hired musicians and it does not work. Sonically it doesn't sound good to me. My albums are not played by people, they're constructed in the computer, bit by bit, where everything is layered and polished and heavily electronic, so I guess I'll have to find a way how to translate that into a electronic one-man show someday. But I'm still putting the whole live thing on hold for now.
IVM: Can we expect to see any live dates in the future?
Wulf: No plans at the moment.
IVM: Your first album is eight years old now. Looking back at 'Transhuman' is there anything that you would have done differently?
Wulf: I would leave it exactly as it is. The production is not good, but the songs are still okay to me. In a way its a statement that you have to start somewhere and keep evolving and improving yourself. When I listen to Transhuman now I cringe at certain moments but in a way I am still proud of it. I gave it my best shot in that particular time, with the limited knowledge of production / songwriting and general lack of experiences.
IVM: With two full length albums and a symphony under your belt last year, what does 2016 hold for Neurotech?
Wulf: I am currently writing a new album which will be released in parts, the way I did with 'The Decipher Volumes'. Other than that, I like to keep my options open to any cool projects that may come along.
IVM: Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Wulf: Thanks for the interview & a big shout to all my fans!
Neurotech's latest albums 'Stigma' and 'Evasive' as well as 'The Ophidian Symphony' are available to download for free from the Neurotech Bandcamp page. For more information on the band including new release information, please visit the Neurotech Facebook page.