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Black Egg - Interview

Interview with: Usher San, Corina Nenuphar
Conducted by: T.V.

Black Egg, a secret code and a discipline of chaos is a new, we can say an international band founded by French man from Dijon, Usher San, who's active in the music business since the late eighties, better known from bands like Norma Loy and Die Puppe. In his new creation, Black Egg, he was joined by adherent artist who are guided by an absolute desire and perfection, they all want to create music that's more than that, but it's an aesthetic that could change lives, an art of living and dying. Black Egg released last year their debut album entitled Legacy From A Cold World in a very special format with 17 featured songs. Album is a must for all those who strive for something deeper and different in the music they hear. There's magick, occultism, eroticism, a lot of experimentation. It's a ritual! Soon the band after some line-up changes will release a new EP and also a new album is in the making. But I think it's better to leave a word to Usher who kindly answered all my question and what came out is a very insightful interview. Also thanks to Black Egg's new member Corina Nenuphar who added some things.

T.V.: Black Egg were for me since now an unknown band, so I believe that many people don't know much about the band. Can you give us a short presentation?
: Black Egg is a band, but not only. As stated in the "Little Manifesto", Black Egg is a collective, a path to the light, we try to create an aesthetic that changes our lives deeply. Black Egg is led by Ushersan, who formed Norma Loy and Die Puppe in the past. We also had Judith on vocals on many tracks of the Legacy From A Cold World album, and we now have Corina Nenuphar (Ghost Actor) from Austria. On the machines, we have Ushersan, Normotone, Peter Render and Sebastien FD on guitars. The visual design is made by Mimi Gall and Titus le Pèse Nerfs, with Sebastien also conceptualising the videos.
T.V.: This "black egg" thing, which is also bands name is present on most pictures inside your album, as well on the videos you released, and I think it must be kind of a metaphore for something. Am I right?
Usher: Of course. The Black Egg is a metaphor for many things, it is a concept, a psychic concept, but it can be physical too. It refers to the Melancholia, but also the Willpower, the Black Light Inside our Souls. You need an initiation to understand what the Black Egg means for yourself, I guess.
T.V.: And how did you came up with this weird, but at the same time interesting and very original name?
Usher: We wrote a poem (which later became the song "Black Egg") after reading a book by Arthur Machen called "The Black Seal" in which there is a novel called "The Inner Light" with this character "Dr Black". It must have inspired me and I wrote the line "The Black Egg Is Coming Out". We were looking for a name, and it was like the answer manifested itself right there on that page. So I decided to keep it as the band's name.
T.V.: Your debut album, or better said opus, is quite an exceptional thing as there are 17 tracks on it. Do you consider Legacy From A Cold World as a double album?
Usher: I consider Legacy as a closed world, a special place, it could have been a double album, the "double Black album" like you had the "double White album" in the sixties. All the tracks are equally important to me and they all had to be on the record, because there are correspondences (as Baudelaire said) between them. It took us a long time to do it, everyone put their best into "Legacy", it is a Whole, so we had to have all the seventeen tracks together.
T.V.: Still, you divided those tracks in two parts. What was the punctuation mark for the tracks to be divided in this specific order?
Usher: Well, we had to choose 10 tracks for the album and then 7 others to be on the CD. The order on the album was chosen by Philipp Strobel and me, as we wanted the album to work on its own, with a beginning and an end. But it also had to work with the other part, the seven tracks on the CD. Like the two hemispheres of the human brain. The album "Legacy" is the visible part of the opus, and so the titles of the album appear on the LP sleeve, while the titles of the CD appear under the CD. But there is no hierarchy to me, as, for example, "Another Land" is one of my favorite tracks, and it is on the CD.
T.V.: And of course I must ask you how are you satisfied with the final result?
Usher: I am very satisfied with the final result. Philipp, Julia and Gabriel from [aufnahme + wiedergabe] did a great job. It is very easy to work with them, they respect the work and the vision of all the artists on the label. When I said to Phil that I wanted Friedemann Kootz to do the mastering, he just answered "Lets do it!". It has been a pleasure to work with [aufnahme + wiedergabe] on the album.
T.V.: And how did you got in touch with the label [aufnahme + wiedergabe]?
Usher: We met on Facebook! I was listening to In Death It Ends's Occult Machine and I said, "Well, I must write to this label!"
T.V.: Interesting, this facebook thing makes wonders. My next question is about your musical style... Like almost each [aufnahme + wiedergabe] release it's something difficult to label and yes, it's cold. How do you describe it?
Usher: Well, it is very difficult for me to answer this question. As you may know, I have been doing music for a long time, I was there in the late eighties, when industrial cold wave began, and I was part of it. I guess I am doing the same kind of music but now it feels more essential, refined and magick to me. But yes, it is a cold world. And its the right music for the right time, today more than ever.
T.V.: Understood. And there was a lot of buzz, especially from the side of male public, around your cover artwork... Any words about it?
Usher: Oh yeah? Well, it is Mimi Gall's work (and she is the model too). She is part of the Black Egg and her work is like the visualisation of the music we are doing - she will also sing on our new EP/LP to be released on June 8th. We don't view the imagery as sexual content but more like skin with numbers (magickal numbers) staring at the Black Egg. But of course sex and blood are part of the magick.
T.V.: If I see it right there are numbers XIX and VII written on the body of the model on the artwork of Legacy, plus there are some symbols. What's the real meaning of those?
Usher: XIX and VII, and two other numbers on the sleeve if you look carefully, have special meaning, both alone and together.
T.V.: Before I didn't want to say that it is a sexual content, but you can't deny that it is very erotic. I believe that we can expect more pictures like that on your upcoming EP?
Usher: You will see. The next EP/LP is going to be very specific, it is something else. But yes, it will be Eros without Furs this time for sure! Part of the Nature, in the forest with trees, stones and the spirits around, I guess... Eroticism is very important to us anyway, the lyrics are very often talking about sex, pleasure, masochism, desires, death, pain and so on. And I know you like that too!
T.V.: Haha, yes, you are right. So, that must be the reason that the lyrics weren't published?
Usher: Not at all. We wouldn't mind that, but we had the Little Manifesto, and we wanted to keep the minimal aspect of the record: beautiful imagery, few notes. We wanted the record to be like an art object, a fetish object. And the lyrics of all 15 songs would have taken up too much space on it!
T.V.: Let's return to the music of yours. I find that you must be pretty much influenced by Velvet Underground, at least the tracks from CD part of the Legacy..., like for example "Monhaupt" reminds me so me much to them?
Usher: Well, I like the Velvet Underground very much. I did many covers of "Venus In Furs" in the past with my bands and here I had this idea to re-create it in "Jesus In Furs". But on this special album that is the only song in which there is a conscious influence of the Velvet. "Monhaupt" has nothing to do with them, it is a song about the RAF and Burroughs and I am singing a bit like in the fifties. I am listening to it now and the only band that comes to my mind is the first Cabaret Voltaire (because of the saturated organ)...but who knows...
T.V.: Cabaret Voltaire are also the band that comes in mind, but first time I heard it I thought of Velvet Underground... Can you give us other names that influenced you as an artist?
Usher: As I said, my roots are in the late eighties and I have been influenced by bands I saw then like TG, Suicide, Fad Gadget, Einstürzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, PIL, Coil and old bands like the Velvet Underground, The Stooges or David Bowie. And all the noises in general.
T.V.: Please tell me more about your new EP/LP, can you already reveal details like it's the title, how many tracks will be on it, and so on... And will be this release also musically very different from the album?
Usher: The new EP/LP is called Brotherhood (the main song is "Brotherhood"). It is a very different song than those from Legacy From A Cold World. And then you have the "occult version" of this song and also another one called "Hymn", the lyrics of which are part of the "Black Egg poem" written and sung by Mimi Gall. Then we have many remixes from Legacy by In Death It Ends, Distel, The Devil & The Universe, Mater Suspiria Vision or In Aeternam Vale. I told you that it's an EP/LP because it will have the length of a long playing record. It will be printed only on 150 copies, and one issue.
T.V.: In the beginning of this interview you mentioned that Judith Juillerat is no longer a part of the band. Why did she left and how well Corina Nenuphar integrated into the band?
Usher: Judith left around may 2013, so I finished the album alone on the mix. I dont want to talk about that, it belongs to the past and to us.
Corina: I was very intrigued by the Black Egg from the first listen and even more so once I had read the manifesto and listened to the the entire album. I felt some kind of kindred connection to the Whole of it. As I am also on [aufnahme + wiedergabe] with Ghost Actor, it didn't take long before the connection was made between Usher and me. I have been interested in exploring similar experiences and subjects in music and writing, so becoming part of this journey that is the Black Egg came very easy to me. I enjoy sharing the process of musical creation and I like the collective approach Usher is taking with this project a lot.
T.V.: Most bands that are signed to [aufnahme + wiedergabe] deals with occultistic themes, how's with this in your case?
Usher: I have been interested in the occult since I was a teenager and many occult or mythical themes were included in the Norma Loy universe. During this time I created the CPM that had an occult approach but was also inspired by the idea of the "Inner Experience" promoted by Georges Bataille. It signifies the fusion of the Self and the outside world through sex, music rituals and so on. An experience of limits, which is what we are trying to achieve with words and music.
T.V.: And do you practice any occultistic or better said rituals and magick in your personal life?
Usher: I cannot answer that, but yes, magick is important to us.

T.V.: As you mentioned before you are active in the music business since 80's. Tell me in which bands and projects were you involved until now beside Norma Loy and Die Puppe? And do you have any future plans with those two bands?
Usher: Norma Loy ended in 1993 and then returned in 2006 with some gigs, and for the last album Un/Real in 2009. I did 4 albums and a 7" with Die Puppe from 2002 to 2009. With my band aPPareil we released a 10" TViruses with Kamisori Records. Minimal Wave reissued my work as Anthon Shield with DZ Lectric in 2013 with the album Lickin. On Inner Cinema Records (as Usher) I did a CD called Heal Heathen in 2011, another one called Le Chrysaor Paraphile with Zreen Toyz and Wehwalt the same year. In 2012, I did Au Delà and Der Traum on the same label. With my minimal electro pop project Adan & Ilse we did 3 CDs and an 12" since 2011, and as Ushersan I did an LP with HIV+ White Lights From Hatred Springs with Signifier records and a 12" Black Monolith on OPN Records. Today I focus all my attention on the Black Egg.
T.V.: The music you create or better said you have ever did is certainly not an easy one to grasp, and thus not for larger audiences. Who are the fans of yours, to what kind of audience do you strive?
Usher: Well, we did gigs for big audiences with Norma Loy in the past, and there are people who always follow my work. We haven't toured yet with the Black Egg, but we want to in the future. In terms of audiences, I have no preference. Of course I love when people tell me that listening to the music or a certain gig changed their life (laughs).
T.V.: You just answered to my next question about live dates of Black Egg, but still, when can we expect to witness Black Egg on a stage?
Usher: Yes we are thinking about it, even if it's difficult as we live in different countries.
T.V.: I noticed that. And sorry for not asking before, but can you give us some more words about the current members?
Usher: Of course. Corina lives in Wien and sings and writes for Ghost Actor, but also for Vile Oblique and Suicide Potion. Peter Render plays with Adan & Ilse and lives in France. Normotone is a gynecologist who lives in Bern and has been making electronic music since 1992. Sebastien Faits Divers lives in France and does a lot of videos of famous bands on tour, Titus le Pèse Nerfs is a painter, and Vera sings with Die Puppe and sometimes in Adan & Ilse.
T.V.: Has ever been the whole team on the same place rehearsing together?
Usher: No never. Not the whole team. But it will happen soon.
T.V.: I understand that. As you've been in the music scene for such a long time, tell me how do you see and feel all those changes that happened with the music and audience?
Usher: What happened in fact is a change in the status of music for people. In the sixties music was very important and changed the way of thinking and living for many people. When an important band released an album it was very important, and the record itself was some kind of fetish object that you were waiting for with joy and anxiety. Then the CD came, and now we have the mp3, music in its dematerialized form, just a product without any physical expression, at its worst. Already with the CD format the fetish aspect of the musical expression was lost. These changes have transformed the perception of music itself, and that is why we try to come back to vinyl, with beautiful sleeves, so music continues to be a ritual, an important one. And something like a direction in our lives, ethics, an art of living and dying.
T.V.: Like many other bands also Black Egg will come up on the next release with some remixes. I already asked some bands before where do they see the real meaning of remixed tracks and as well I'm asking you about this matter.
Usher: I'm not very excited about remixes actually. With my other bands sometimes we had some remixes and I was not very satisfied with the result. But with the Black Egg, and the Brotherhood EP/LP we have chosen bands we like very much, and we asked them to do an interpretation of the original track, we wanted them to keep our vision and add their own style on it. And they did, and for the first time I love the result, and the remixes.
T.V.: Have you already started working on your next full-lenght album. When can we expect it?
Usher: Of course we have started working on the new album. We have 13 tracks in progress. The next album can be expected around December 2014/January 2015.
T.V.: Will you continue in the same direction? Can you already reveal more details?
Usher: I am not sure yet about the title. I have an idea of course, but I'm not sure about it. I will continue in the same direction, but through different means and in different ways. It is a bit too early to say more about the second album, but it will be different than Legacy From A Cold World.
T.V.: And what are the things that inspire you the most as a song writer?
Usher: As a musician, it might sound strange but it is hearing something in my head and trying to reach it with the instruments I have. I use any kind of material, it can start with a noise or anything. The lyrics almost always hold meanings, but the music of words matters a lot.
Corina: Inspiration is something I cannot pin down into something explicable. It is tapping into the place where all the experiences roar. And like Usher said, trying to express this with the means that are there, with words, noises, there is no hierarchy, only a desire for relentless truth.
T.V.: Beside music, magick, occultism and eroticism, what are other interests in your life?
Usher: Art in general (books, paintings, drawings, cinema - I am currently involved with Porl King in the making of a movie by Cosmas from Mater Suspirira Vision), photography, theater and so on, psychoanalysis, stones and beetles.
T.V.: I know you are a good friend and label mate of Ashley Dayour. What do you think of his latest project The Devil & The Universe and his main band Whispers In The Shadow?
Usher: Yes, I am good friends with Ashley, I love The Devil & The Universe and its concept of creating music from magical systems, especially from the Crowley's Tarot card set and sequencing and chosing the chords of the songs from the selection by chance. With the Black Egg he asked me to do a remix of the track "NOD" as The Devil & The Universe did a remix of our "Blindheit" song, to be released on the Brotherhood album. Whispers In The Shadow is a bit more goth but I like it too.
T.V.: And have you done the remix of "NOD"?
Usher: Of course I did, with vocals and lyrics! It will be featured on the next The Devil & The Universe's EP.
T.V.: You already released three video clips for the tracks out off your album. It seems that you enjoy a lot the process of shooting them. Can we expect more of them in the near future?
Usher: Yeah, we're about to shoot a video for the Brotherhood EP and we already have a video for the "Brotherhood Occult" by Antica Napolecitta.
T.V.: Ok Usher, this will be my last question... Do you think that we forgot to mention something and what would you like to say at the end of this interview?
Usher: Nothing comes to my mind right now, I guess the interview is quite complete, thanks to you!

(Photos copyright of Pierrick Finelle and Sebastien FD)

Black Egg links: Facebook, [aufnahme + wiedergabe]