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Feed your emotions with the right kind of music

The German dark scene is one the strongest musical communities of our days. Legendary Blutengel has always been the most outstanding representative of European darkwave skillfully united with gothic rock, industrial and EBM. This year band is coming to Russia, and so that we could have a chance to sweeten our awaiting, we talked to the mastermind of Blutengel Chris Pohl about believing in yourself and your art, relationships with society, conceptual albums and many other things.
Lets start from Blutengels new album UN:Gott. Could you please explain whats behind the title, whats conception of the album?
First of all, I can say that this is the first little concept album. That means that most of the songs deal with the question Which side shall I choose? . God or the Devil? And in case I choose the side of light Is this a good choice? Will God be there for me when I need him? Will he listen to my prayers? Or is this all just a joke and there is nothing spiritual around us or above us? I do not know why but during the process of writing I had lots of thoughts going this direction. There are also other subjects but the good/evil thing is featured the most on this album.

Seems like UN:Gott is the heaviest album in Blutengels history (musically (we can hear more guitars), lyrically and vocally). Is it a new approach inspired by your own emotions/feelings, or an experiment?
Good that you noticed it! (smiling) Well, before Blutengel there was Terminal Choice - an industrial metal band with lots of guitars, real drums, harsh vocals.... I loved it but I had to concentrate more on Blutengel, so I finished this band. Due to the concept of UN:Gott, I felt that I could use the old Terminal Choice spirit. That means: a little shouting now and again, featuring the guitars a little more. So, this style is not new to me but to Blutengel. But I thought that this combination could work and I think it does! And when you are a little angry about things going on in the world like people killing each other in the name of God you have to feed your emotions with the right kind of music!

Since Monument the song topics have started to become more and more complex, and the albums prominently more conceptual. Havent you ever been afraid of becoming so serious, of demanding listeners to think more critically than before, while staying an electro-band (if we can put it this way) and having this dance-structure?
It was never my intention to create dance music or be a part of a special genre. When you read interviews from the past there is one thing I always said: I will always do
what I like without subjugate myself to a specific genre! That´s why the next album could be more depressive, more gothic or maybe more danceable.... I was always serious. That means I had always these subjects in my lyrics, just not always that obvious. In the past I was obsessed by vampire stuff. I always sing about my fears. Nevertheless, I am getting older and so the focus changes a little. Important for me is that I do what I like and not what people expect. And indeed: The listeners should think more critically these days, no matter the scene (dance, hip hop or gothic scene) . Open your eyes and look around! Think about the things you can do to make the world a better place!

Being a frontman for many-many years, how did it happen that you shared your lyrical work (and, as I know) vocal lines work with Ulrike (besides the vocals in general, of course)? How does it feel to work together? What is the secret to sustain such band relationships, stay together as a creative duo for so many years?
Since the beginning of Blutengel and even in the former project SEELENKRANK, I worked with female singers. I like it to have these heavenly voices in my bands. Even in the past some of the girls wrote their lyrics themselves. But most of the times it was just one song on the album. It is the same with Ulli: sometimes she writes the text for one of her solo songs sometimes she does not. She is - and that is for sure not meant in a bad way and I am not complaining only a small part of Blutengel. But when you see Blutengel as a whole (pictures and live on stage): she is a much bigger part! And that is cool! She does what she can but she has a regular job, so, there is not much time she can spent on Blutengel. But maybe that is the secret even. (winking)

Besides the topics of God, God versus Lucifer, vampires and mystical stuff, you often talk (sing) about the problem of loneliness, of self-identifying in society, suicidal thoughts. Is it because those topics are still so close to you personally, or because you see many such stories around you?
It is a mixture of all of it. I see and hear from many people having problems with their own i
dentity. They did not find their place in society. They feel lonely. They are different. The same with me: it took me a long time to realize where my place is. I found my place through a lot of self-consciousness. But sometimes I feel lonely and I don´t even know why... There are still many fears I have. That means there are enough feelings that inspire me for my lyrics.... Maybe I repeat myself but these facts are the things that make me who I am and I want to sing about it. (smiling and winking)

Blutengel is one of the most fruitful bands Ive ever known. And this fact is especially amazing at these times, when music industry is so huge and competition is so hard (along with the net development and piracy). How have you been handling all these issues?
It is getting harder, even for me.... The business is getting worse each day for bands like Blutengel. The fight is getting harder. I am a person who releases a new album every two years. That is not a lot. Ok, sometimes we release an EP or something similar, BUT it´s not much compared to other bands. AND we don´t go on tour very often. Hmmm.... Yes, it would bring more money if we were doing all that. But for me it is better to stay in business longer! That is why I don´t want to overstrain the people! Maybe this is the right way At least I think it is and I hope that I can go on with Blutengel at least 10 -15 more years Even though I will be over 60 years old then. (smiling)

Chris, what about your others projects? Can we wait anything from them in the future?
As I said before Terminal Choice is history! All the former band members have different lives now. And I have a lot of work with Blutengel myself. BUT Haha! I just finished the recordings for a new project last week. Yes - a new project is coming! O-oh I haven´t announced that in Germany yet! (smiling) It is a minimalistic, electro wave project with a big 80ies attitude. A little synth pop even? Maybe.... In relation to Blutengel it´s really minimalistic. And I sing myself, so maybe Blutengel fans will like it, too (smiling).

Along with UN:Gott, you released the c
ompilation of cover-versions Demons of the Past. The list of the songs youd chosen for covering is quite surprising! How did the idea of such compilation come to your mind?

I worked on Send Me an Angel years ago just for fun. And when we thought about content for the limited edition, I had the idea to do more cover songs. So, I started with Send Me an Angel and also picked some other of my all-time favorite songs. I am a child of the 80ies - this was my youth and I thought this would be a good idea. Many bands did it before, but Blutengel never did (laughing).

As for the language of the songs, do you choose the language first and then write the lyrics (so it happens consciously), or it all about the inspiration? Do you feel the difference in writing (and singing) process while using English and German?
Well, it depends on the subject. Sometimes a German sentence comes to my mind and I write a German song. Sometimes I listen to my songs first and then a German sentence comes to my mind. But in general it is that I listen to my songs and have English sentences in mind. English is so much more melodic. It is easier for me to sing and write in English I don´t know why it is like that, but when bands sing in German they very easily get considered Schlager (like German Folk Music). But I do like German lyrics. There are some subjects that need to be sung in German language.

Talking about you personally, how do you use your free time? Have you learned to forget sometimes that you are a creative person and just to relax? Do you need to have a rest from creative process at all?
Yes, sometimes I need this kind of normal life! No fans, no music! Not being a star (joking!) (smiling). When I finally have some free time, I love to play computer games (Xbox, PC, PS4). You can pretty much call me a gamer I love Role Playing games: stepping into a different world - that is the best way for me to calm down.

What character trait you personally would define as the most important one for a creative person? What is your way of staying on your path: getting at least some support from your close ones or
other people from the industry, or the power of one, moving forward no matter what?

Good question Hmmm Difficult to answer. I think its important to be true to yourself without wanting to please everybody. I am a very down to earth person, I don´t pretend to be a rock star or whatever. I am very grateful for my fans and the life they enable to me!

As an experienced and successful musician, what would you advise anyone who is at the very beginning of his/her creative path? What illusions/fears he/she should be ready to rid of?
In these times I would give the advice NOT to become a musician. Well Ok, at least not a full time musician. If someone really loves music and has good ideas or a great voice or writes good lyrics, he/ she should give everything and put all the power he/ she has into the music! No matter if there are obstacles on the way. Believe in yourself! Go your own way and work, work, work on your music!!! You should realize what kind of people would like your music. Play live. You might not get rich and famous but maybe you could help some people to feel better with your music.

Coming back to Blutengel, what can we expect from you in the nearest future?
On 01.11.2019 we released Damokles. It is a mini album with 13 tracks (not soooo mini, hmm?! (smiling and winking)): 6 new songs, 5 from the UN: Gott sessions and 2 remixes. This year we go on the double headliner tour with Hocico and I will release the new project (can´t tell you the name yet!) (smiling and winking).

You have a big fanbase here in Russia, and being a member of it, I can say that were crazy eager to see you in our country! Blutengel fan communitys life is quite active: there are even special fan events with your music, live videos and clips. Now youre finally coming to us next May. What do you yourself expect and what can we expect from the shows?
Thank you! That sounds great!!! I love crazy people! (smiling) I hope the people like the new band (Russia has not seen the whole crew yet, I guess), the new (and old) songs, and of course still like me, even though I am much older now hehe. Unfortunately, we cannot bring all the video equipment and fire stuff with us, but I promise that we are going to do two very, very good shows with lots of energy, fun, love and sex?! (laughing)

Chris, thank you very much for the interview! Looking forward to anything youre preparing for us!
Thank you for the good questions! Looking forward to see Russian fans!!!

By Zhanna Sadovskaya
Photos by Daniela Fisher, Annie Bertram
4 2020
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