Continuing with the always under-appreciated and over-looked German noise scene, we turn our attention now to another intriguing underground act: Scatmother. The latest release is a split with Chaos Cascade called Sacrificial Rites of Devotion. Scatmother uniquely combines harsh noise with death industrial/post-industrial elements and occasional, abrasive vocals. We’d like to thank Scatmother for their time in this interview.
Could you give us a background and tell about the beginnings of Scatmother and your idea behind the name?
SM: In my search for extreme and transgressive art, I ended up discovering PE and Harsh Noise something like 10 years ago. The more I listened, the more I connected with the sound and the content and I was dead set on creating my own material. The beginnings were a bit clumsy and mostly based on digital sounds and processed field recordings.
The birth of Scatmother as it is known today happened around 2014, when I bought analogue gear and started working with more ambition and focus.In general, I would say that Scatmother is simply the project, in which I deal with my emotions and obsessions, as well as philosophical and spiritual interests or beliefs. It basically reflects me as a person, or better said a certain aspect of myself. There is a lot of focus on how I see my surroundings, perversion and urges and antagonistic sentiments against society and many people around me. The latter inspired me to coin the antithetical term “Scatmother”, which is a blend of a irreproductive and transgressive sexual practice and a glorifying term for a woman. It seemed very fitting at the time and still does.
In 2018 you released a couple of limited edition DVDrs. What can you tell us about the content on those? Is visual violence just as important to you as sonic violence?
SM: The DVD that Wrath released contains music videos for the “Vanticism” album, which was released shortly before. I am very happy with the result, but the praise should go to the label owner, who created all the great clips and booklet designs. The Hiisi DVD is a documentation of the concert in Finland. This was actually the idea of the label owner, who approached me on behalf of this matter. If we interpret “sonic violence” as subject matter, I would say that it is very important. I have always been intrigued by music that offers intense sounds AND ideas and for my work as Scatmother, music and content are interdependant. Scatmother is fueled by the themes I associate with it, ranging from sexuality to spiritualism, the search for superiority and value in a worthless society and personal experiences (and problems). These concepts are the inspiration for the sound and the sound and creative process bring me closer to the concepts.
I’ve often argued that Germany has a very under-rated noise/power electronics scene. How do you think the underground scene in Germany is different or unique?
SM: This is a bit hard to answer, but an interesting line of thought. I do think there are many good Harsh Noise and PE projects from Germany and some of them are terribly underrated, others – especially those leaning towards Industrial structure in sound and political extremism in content – seem very appreciated. Most PE and HN fans and artists in Germany appear pretty civilised and intellectual to me and there is a lot of stuff that may be labelled “artsy” by some. Many people doing different things. Scatmother is not very “German”, very few people here create perverse and raw PE – ambiguously political Industrial or softer experimental Noise seem to be the biggest niches here. But you are definitely right when you say that there is underrated material. Many artists that I highly respect get very little attention.
Discogs lists 2 aliases for you. and 2 groups. What can you tell us about these?
SM: The aliases are side-projects of mine. Penetration Squadron is PE in the vein of early 80ies prototypical material. Feedback as the main element, minimalism, murky and painful sound. Much more traditional and conservative than Scatmother and probably a bit harder to consume for most. Citalopram Shunyata is pure Harsh Noise that is the result of sonic experimentation and a love for free-flowing , rumbling sound and gritty texture. Both have the same sleazy and obsessive nature as Scatmother but are less personal and diverse and more about sticking to core ideas and evolving within the limits I set for them. The bands were basically collaborations with other artists.
How important is ritual to the creation of your work or your performances?
SM: When it comes to recording, there is very little glamour or ritual. Sometimes, I have a certain idea that I try to grasp, and sometimes I just create a certain setup and see where it leads me. Working with Noise is a wonderful process that can lead you to surprising results. I do try to stay open and be guided at times. But the more experience I get, the easier it becomes to translate certain ideas into actual sounds. To make it short, I would say that the process of creation is rather pragmatic and is aimed at achieving the best possible result.
Can you talk about your studio and the hardware you use for your creations?
SM: This is also rather far from glamourous. I don’t go to a real recording studio and don’t really see the point in it – having the right gear and working hard is the way for me. I mostly use a lot of modulations and some Distortion and Fuzz to get the right amount of chaos. The sound sources include Synthesizers, Feedback, Metal, plastic and virtually anything that I see fit. I really like experimenting and being eclectic. Some material is live one take, at other times I record single lines and layer them in post-production. Everything is analog.
What plans do you have for the coming months?
SM: Right now, I am just recording and collecting material without concrete plans of releasing it straight away. As opposed to many others, I actually heavily enjoy recording and creating, which is why there is always a healthy supply of material. It always takes form and manifests pretty naturally.
Some of the tracks on your new split release, “Sacrificial Rites of Devotion” have a very old-school, death industrial element. I’m curious of your death industrial influences and what “found objects” you use in your work?
SM: The aspects of the sound you address are basically the result of two ideas. First, there is the connection between sound and content. My side of the split deals heavily with war from a sexual, philosophical and metaphysical angle. The sacrifice of yourself – the Ego, if you will-,the strife for superiority and domination, human life in its full fragility and worthlessness and the cruel , sadistic urge that plays a role in certain contexts of this theme. It was clear to me that heavy and oppressive sound would be best-suited.
The second thought is more practical. Chaos Cascade’s material is very bestial and well, chaotic, so I wanted to offer a little bit of contrast to make the split a bit more diverse. The main found objects used here are actually various metal items. Chains, heavy plates, rods. All mixed with loops, modulation and distortion of course.
I do like Death Industrial, if it is done well (actually, this applies to every Post Industrial style), though I wouldn’t name it as a direct influence for these particular recordings. There is the element of structure, but the atmosphere is more brutal than dark, I would say.
What artists do you consider to be influences? Has there been one noise release that has affected you the most?
SM: Nowadays, non-musical influences are most important for my work as Scatmother. Fetish porn revolving around cutting and violence in general is a recurring theme and influence. Then there is of course literature, including the “typical Industrial PE authors” like Sotos or Mishima, as well as French decadence / fin de siècle, German Expressionism, Surrealism or even 18th century classicism. Spiritualism is becoming a larger influence, as it plays a large role in my personal life. This includes Tantra, Germanic Heathenism, Zen Buddhism, some Qliphothic work and basically any Left-Hand Patch practice I can establish a connection with.
Musically, there are of course the pioneers of the genre that will always remain an influence. The same goes for a lot of post-2000 Finnish material and some American PE. I am actually more fascinated by the texture and heavy chaos of Harsh Noise than PE, oftentimes. I could not name one life-changing release of any period, though…
Bandcamp states your tracks “all evoke soundscapes similar to those recorded on a battlefield.” Can you talk about this? Is it more important to create a destructive, sonic battlezone or imagery for the listener?
SM: Apart from the aforementioned oppressive aura, brute force and bursts of aggression are the emotional base of the sound. I did not conceive them to mirror the sounds of a battle field, but I like the idea and think it’s a rather interesting remark by the person who wrote the text. Usually this type of creation seems very natural to me, and I only notice certain aspects or parallels after having completed it. I would agree that sound can evoke certain images and scenes and this did play a certain role for me.
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