UNMASKED THEORIA 3: PERSEPHONIC SIRENS
Third guest on Unmasked Theoria, our new interview series dedicated to vinyl labels, is Ancient
Methods, a name that really needs little introduction.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Michael Wollenhaupt (real name of the artist) a little over a
month ago, a time in which there was a lot of hope for things reopening some time soon. We asked him his view on the pandemic changing the way we party and appreciate music, as well as some thoughts on the future of clubbing (read until the end to discover his answer!).
He explained us how his creative process works, ”a bit like writing a book or painting a picture”,
where his inspiration comes from, as well as the influence of other form of arts on his artistic output. We also discussed the idea behind Persephonic Sirens, the latest releases on the label and the plans for the future. Enjoy the read!
Q: Hello Michael, welcome to Unmasked Theoria and thanks a lot for taking the time out for this
interview. We are happy to have the chance to be chatting with you, in times that have felt a bit
difficult for the music industry, but that slowly seem to come to an end.
First of all, how have you been? How have you spent these lockdown times?
A: Thank you. After some months of paralysation I’ve been back in my day job to make a living.
Q: You have been in the music industry for quite a long time now. Do you feel like your creative
process has changed through the years? How would you describe it now? Where do ideas come from and how do you go about making them into music?
A: Maybe there has been change but it must have happened at such a slow pace that I didn’t notice. I pick up ideas from everything that surrounds me. Sometimes I think it’s a bit like writing a book or painting a picture. I need to have a very specific idea before I start, like a story for a release and like a chapter for a track. It usually evolves naturally, a track can be very detailed in my head before I even started to touch any machine or music paper.
The most difficult and time-consuming part is to carve out the idea exactly like it is in my head. It
requires control over the tools I have in order to get the desired result as fast as possible and as
detailed as imagined.
Q: How have you applied the above for Persephonic Sirens? Can you walk us through the original idea for the label and the way you choose what to release on it?
A: I started the label as a follow-up for the Ancient Methods label, which was sealed with the seventh release. Even though it didn’t have a lot of releases, I considered Persephonic Sirens from the beginning as open for other people’s music. And the initial idea was to release as much diverse music as possible, as long as the label maintains a golden thread.
However the connecting link to my own music presence is the passiveness. I do not approach other people and ask for a demo/release. Therefore I might miss out some good occasions and limit the label, in particular stylistically, but that’s the natural consequence of it.
Q: Do you have a plan for the label in the coming years or simply planning to release what feels right for it?
A: Sharplines and Second Tension are the most recent releases on Persephonic Sirens, both out this year.
Q: Is there anything coming out on the label in the next months, that you want to give us a little
preview of? Any release of Ancient Methods?
A: The plan was to have bi-monthly releases. I recently got a lot of interesting demos, there are many incredibly talented young artists I’d like to give my modest support. However, the current situation for a vinyl label, particularly the explosion of the productions costs and long, unpredictable turnarounds makes it quite difficult to stick with any reliable release plan.
As for my own music, I hope in the future I can make a sufficient income as a musician again, which will provide for the necessary freedom to dedicate myself to music but at the moment there is no new music in the making.
Q: Through your music or your taste as individual, is there any other form of art you feel a special
connection to? Have they ever influenced your music?
A: I consume as much literature, poetry, visual arts, films, as time allows and of course it has been
influential. It’s impossible to highlight any of these art forms since the impact of only one singular
piece can be so vast while at the same time it does not necessarily radiate on the art form as a whole. In general I need to discern craftsmanship in art, otherwise it’s too artificial for me and I can’t connect.
Q: Apart from techno, which I read you don’t listen to (nor to your own!), what kind of music do you like? Does it inspire in some way when you create or is it simply something you listen to when
A: Instead of dropping some indistinct genre designations, I encourage everyone interested to give a listen to the discontinued show on Berlin Community Radio. They are still available in their Internet archive and cover a few but important areas of the things I appreciate.
Q: Do you think that art should/can be political? And music?
A: I guess there is no serious doubt that art and music can be instrumentalized for political agendas. Maybe the most powerful counter-argument against my anti-political stance I once got answered claims the impossibility of not being political.
However, this idea prompts inevitably into full-length conversations on semantics of the “political”. When it comes to art, music included of course, I don’t think there should be any “should be“. Such an imperious, thus already inherently political idea offers a pretty creepy prospect: thinking of a climate, where every musician or artist would feel obligated or even forced to attach some political rhetoric to its work, would certainly remind me of darkest times in human history.
Q: Do you think that the break we have had from nightlife and clubbing, will have any impact on the way we will return to the dance-floor? And on the music industry, more in general?
A: I guess you mean, if it will alter the way people party or appreciate music? Well, some predict a
revival of the “Roaring Twenties“ but I’m really not sure and I don’t think too much about it.
I suppose anything is more mood elevating than watching a live stream from an empty location and I assume some people can relate to that feeling. And maybe that’s exactly the reason why I’m
uncertain about how much the return to the dance-floor will change. I hope the pandemic would have changed the appreciation for the actual musical content and the work behind the scenes and lead to a more conscious, music-dedicated partying. But while we had DJ and live set streams in abundance throughout the last month,s everyone is starving for a party with real social encounters. It might be a bit like opening the floodgates and imply the opposite effect to
music-dedicated partying and give priorities to other elements of the nightlife— and who will blame people for it? As for most parts of the industry I don’t think the pandemic will change anything that is not determined by health regulations, but proceed exactly where it left off.
Q: If you could change one thing in the so-called techno scene (hate to call it this way, but its hard to find a synonym!), what would that be?
A: I understood the “scene“ or whatever part of the creating subculture could be addressed, as a
conglomeration of individuals. And I believe the reasons why someone wants to become a musician, DJ or artist in a broader sense is as personal and individual as the decision with what kind of content - artistic or artificial - someone is going to fill this existence with.
Therefore I don’t feel entitled to comment or judge anything else but my own entity - and here I have already enough deficiencies and failings to learn from and to change for better. There are already so many self-proclaimed moral instances out there, teaching others right from wrong and I really don’t feel like joining them.
Q: Let’s talk about LIVEs and your way of conceiving them. Can you walk us through the way you
prepare for your performances and how much what’s happening on the day of the LIVE influences
what you put out for your crowd?
A: I haven’t played any live show in two years. But back then it was just like many other bands would prepare, I’d say. Rehearsing the tracks you want to play, which were mostly rearranged and modified “live“ versions from the records or sometimes kind of medley versions of different tracks together. The days of the performance were mostly characterized by hope. Hoping for your instruments to arrive at the destination airport, hope that the required backline will be there and function, hope to get enough sleep before the gig, keeping fingers crossed the machines don’t drop out and hope not to make too many embarrassing mistakes.
Q: It feels like almost everywhere in the world, we are slowly coming back to reality. Do you have any plan for 2021 that you want to share with us?
A: I’m looking forward to go on a hike in the mountains.
Interview By / Stefania Trinchero.
Published / 29.07.2021