Solar Fake is the Electro-Act of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sven Friedrich, also known by his other projects Zeraphine and Dreadful Shadows. On 12 February 2021, the new album, “Enjoy Dystopia”, was released as a CD, 2CD deluxe version, 2 LP vinyl version, and as a limited fan box including the bonus acoustic album, “Masked”, featuring Dirk Riegner as well as Norman Selbig, André Feller, and Jens Halbauer. You can find the album here.
Hi! I’d like to focus on your release ‘Enjoy Dystopia’ and namely your newest music video ‘It’s who you are’. When did the writing sessions for ‘Enjoy Dystopia begin? Although we know you Sven are responsible for the music production and lyrics, has it been any different now?
I think I started writing the songs for the new album in Autumn 2019 after most of the many concerts were played and I’ve had some time to really focus on new material. The songwriting and production weren’t very different from the other albums. I usually have some melody or even arrangement fragments in my head then I work on it in the studio and when the idea works, I add more parts to it and when I still like it then, I start writing lyrics and vocals melodies. Well, sometimes I even have everything in my head at the beginning. This can be helpful, but sometimes it’s also bad when it all turns out to be not as good as I thought when I hear it.
Please give us an equipment overview for the album sessions. Any special or unique pieces of equipment employed in the studio during the recordings or it was pretty much your gear?
I have everything on my computer, so I don’t have much hardware that I use, only my Audio Interface, a master keyboard, 2 sets of monitors (by Adam and by Bluesky), and 3 microphones. My microphones are by Neumann, Rode, and (don’t judge me) t.bone. All of them are different so I can always pick the right one for the demands of the song. Most recordings I do with the Neumann and the t.bone. Funny thing, the t.bone was not at all expensive, but it sounds awesome.
But the main job is done on my computer, I use a lot of softsynths by Native Instruments (plus lots of instruments for Kontakt), Spectrasonics, and such. I’m not the guy who needs to create each synth sound from scratch, starting with a saw, square, or sine wave, but I like to tweak sounds a lot to make them fit perfectly. Production-wise I use an overwhelming amount of Waves plugins, as well as Izotope, Nugen, and some other smaller manufacturers, like Gulfoss and such. I don’t have a fixed effect chain that I always use for certain instruments, but of course, I have a certain way to mix my vocals. So my studio looks more like an office, without fancy blinking gear and huge mixing desks. I don’t need this to get the results I want… just a good room, good monitors and large screens.
What are some of the lyrical motifs listeners we’ll find on ‘Enjoy Dystopia’?
It’s all about human abysses. About human characteristics that I dislike or despise, about mental problems and illness and how people deal with it, about people ruining everything around… It’s not easy to bear all the assholes you see every day on the streets or TV. And some so many unthinking people just see themselves and ignore the ones they interact with; it’s a boundless bag of themes and subjects. But I usually try to get closer to those themes with some irony or even cynicism. However, it’s not very positive and not very bright, but I see our future as neither positive nor bright.
Does the conception come first or does the song evolve naturally – do you have a clear idea of what it will be before you start to make it?
It depends. Sometimes I have a whole part of a song in my head before I played one note on my keyboard, sometimes it’s just a melody or a rhythm and I start experimenting and ‘jamming’ with it. There’s not a real ‘formula’ for how I write a song. Only one thing is always the same. First comes music, then lyrics. And I never start by thinking ‘I need another slower/faster/softer/whatever track now’
How do you feel the band has grown in the time since 2007, both personally and musically?
Well, I think it has made a crazy, but wonderful development. Starting as a small project with 2 shy guys on stage up to some kind of Electro-Rock band with drums and bass on stage. I think the band, as it is now, is really perfect. The 3 of us perfectly fit together personally and we have the best live crew we can imagine and each concert is so intense between band and audience. God, I really miss the shows.
Musically I think Solar Fake has always developed from one album to the next without betraying ideas, sounds, and character. Our fans grew along with us and it all feels like a fantastic family. When we introduced live drums to our gigs people loved it from the first gig and meanwhile, this has become a very important part of our shows. So, I’m totally happy with the development and also with the growing success, of course.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I don’t know. I think I have learned to focus. So, when I have some idea in my head, I can just turn off all distractions and completely focus on creating music. This can sometimes be a bit frustrating for the people around me and my partner, but I think and hope they got used to it. But of course, there are situations when you have an idea and can’t immediately get to the studio. Then I can just take notes or sing a melody into my phone and then when there’s a better time, I can start working.
Who amongst you has the oddest touring habits? We’ve heard it all, from ice-t bottle collections or to guerilla-tactic swimming missions in a random hotel. How does Solar Fake rank up?
I think we’re quite boring at this. I also know befriended bands who always need to find an Irish pub to have a cider there or to visit a Starbucks or Hardrock café in each city and buy a mug or t-shirt there. But we don’t have this kind of ritual, I’m afraid. We usually try to take some time, especially when we’re abroad, to visit the city attractions or some bars. Usually, we don’t have so much time on tour, but we try to see something of the city we travel to.
What other creative outputs do you engage in that we may not suspect?
Well, I’m responsible for everything concerning Solar Fake, so I make the videoclips, the artwork, merchandise design, ticket design, literally ‘everything’. That’s all, but I also work for other artists too, regarding videoclips or artwork.
I want to ask you about the bands that have been continuous influences for you, but also about new bands and new records that you think are exciting in the post-rock scene. What do you look at and say “that’s the future of this scene”?
That’s really for me to say because I think the scene is so variable. Of course, my early influences were The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy, and stuff. That has opened the door to ‘the scene’ for me when I was young. Then I stumbled across some Goth Rock, like Fields of the Nephilim, some EBM / Electro / Synthpop, like Deine Lakaien, Covenant, VNV Nation, Project Pitchfork, some Indie Rock, like Placebo, Editors, She wants revenge and the like. Four years ago I discovered this brilliant Canadian band “Metric” which I totally love and I very much love “Iris” and “Sono” and much more. At the moment I discover some Post Punk stuff that sounds like my first band when I was 13 years old. That’s fun! But I have no clue if that’s where ‘the scene’ is moving towards.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I have no idea. I’m afraid to think it through. Most kids today don’t give a shit about music at all. So I’m not sure whether I want to know where this is heading or not.
The interview was originally posted on CVLTARTES BLEMISH ISSUE.