Interview: Totem Obscura (Alfa Matrix Records) (gothic/ebm/industrial)


Totem Obscura is an amazing project hailing from Germany consisting of members from the bands Acylum, Aengeldust and Haushetaere.  What makes Totem Obscura unique is its blend of gothic, darkwave and neo-classical elements, creating often complex but still accessible, even haunting atmospheres.  After hearing their unique new album Nordische Feste on Alfa Matrix records, we took it upon ourselves to request an interview since there weren’t that many with Totem Obscura.  We are grateful for their time.

For readers who may not know, please talk about the meaning of the Totem Obscura name, also give a brief history including the members and their roles in the band.

Totem Obscura is me (Pedro “ACYLUM” Engel) responsible for the music and some vocals and Nadine “Aengeldust” Engel responsible for lyrics and vocals.   The meaning of our name is not easy to explain, we leave it to the fans to explore what he really means 😉


Totem Obscura’s lyrics seem to be all in German.   Is that accurate? For those of us who don’t speak German (or in my case, still learning), could you give us some idea of the themes or topics of your lyrics?

Yes that’s right .. most of the songs are in German.  It is about the past of our time and history, mostly from the dark middle ages ..


Is there a general theme with the new album?  Otherwise, what sort of topics do you talk about in your lyrics?

It’s about different things that humankind employed in the Middle Ages; honor, wars, heroes, religion, witches and much more!


The mix of influences in your music often seems complex with a mix of ebm,
goth and even neo-classical. Could you talk about the different areas
of musical inspiration that you have?

It’s just a lot of fun to mixing different genres and not just one category.  We are fans of the scene typical “dark electro” and “gothic” music but also the classical music and we love instruments from the middle ages.


You also have the side projects Acylum, Aengeldust and Haushetaere.
Why is Totem Obscura different? Is there a different motivation?

Yes, in any case!!  ACYLUM is very hard, brutal and always has the claim to provoke
it reflects the sick everyday life of our society.  AENGELDUST is a pure industrial / dance club project the contents or themes of the songs are not that important.  The most important thing is that it goes loud and in the middle of the face :-))  Totem Obscura is very different from the other two for us it is a very big passion to create the songs to write the lyrics we put ourselves in a kind of dream world.  In short, this is our most personal project.


What non-musical things inspire you? For example, are you influenced
by other forms of art such as painting, sculpture, or otherwise?

Nadine trades and works with antiques and old books and in some parts of our house it looks like a historical museum.  I think that also has some influence on Totem Obscura.


You have some intriguing samples in your songs.  Could you talk about some of them, the sources and maybe how they fit in the context of the songs?

Many of them come from medieval films / series / documentations
and some samples give the songs a highlight and show the listener quickly which theme is in the songs.  I know it is so typical for our scene but i like it 🙂


The album artwork for Nordische Feste is quite intriguing.  Could you talk about that and how it fits with the theme of Totem Obscura?

Tomoki Hayasaka is responsible for the artwork.  It is an extremely talented artist from Japan who has perfectly transformed our ideas.  The idea was it must be mystical, cold and dark but also unique.  He have make a perfect work!!


Some artists outside Germany still focus on Germanic history and
culture in their songs. But Totem Obscura is a German band with an album
that references “Nordic festivals.” So it’s a bit of the opposite?
Why did you choose this perspective?

We just love the Nordic mythology, the Nordic history and their forgotten religion with their gods.  But Nordic and Germanic history are often close to each other so I feel a bit like a north man ;-))


What plans do you have for 2018?

I think we will do another EP with Totem Obscura and after this a new ACYLUM      album !!!


Hockey: Hannover Indians, Hamburg Freezers or Dusseldorfer EG?

Ohhhh Hockey in Germany is sooooooooo bad !!!!
A few years ago i had a NHL PlayStation game there I always played with Montreal Canadians and I won the Stanley cup with them.. so i take the Montreal Canadians!!! :-)))



Many many years from now, a very distant relative locates a box hidden in the attic of an old house.  Inside the box is a Totem Obscura album and something to play it on.  What do you hope this person learns about your legacy just from listening to your music?

What I hope does not matter.  I think he thinks what a fucking great shit!!!!


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