Gregor Beyerle from REAPER, Skyla Vertex, L’âme Immortelle & Nachtmahr
L’ÂME IMMORTELLE, SKYLA VERTEX, REAPER, NACHTMAHR. Sounds like a lot of foreign words, like synthesizers, somehow like music but also like a lot of work. What do those music projects have in common? That's right.. Gregor Beyerle, live musician and producer, is somehow involved in all those projects. Those who want to know more about music production, the search for the wrong musical idols and blue sneakers which became a colour concept, should definitely read the answers of the self-proclaimed “musical island talent”.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Hi Gregor. Classic first question: What are your musical plans for the near future?
Gregor: I play with REAPER in the Matrix in Bochum on the 13th February, on the 14th February I am in Switzerland with L’ÂME IMMORTELLE and on the 15th February is my birthday. The latter has only partly to do with music, though I will celebrate my birthday for the third time on stage this year. This pattern seems to haunt me. Two years ago, I stood on stage in St. Petersburg for my birthday and one year ago it was Bochum.
RoD: I hope that Thomas Rainer (NACHTMAHR, L’ÂME IMMORTELLE) will personally bake a birthday cake for you since you have to work more or less on that day. While talking about bands: You haven't done anything with your own band SKYLA VERTEX in a while. I really have to ask how that name came into being.
Gregor: This makes actually quite a funny story. My band colleague “made up” the first part of the name. He concerns himself a lot with Scandinavian Metal and came up with the word “Skyla”. It's Swedish and its translation is “to veil, to hide, to disguise”. Well, and the word “vertex” has always fascinated me for some reason. I can't really tell why. In geometry, the “vertex” is the turning point and this fit quite well with our musical concept. We wanted to create a deeper form of EBM which was meant to stand in contrast to bands from the same genre, especially concerning the lyrics. By taking all that into account, the best translation of the band name would be “hidden change” or “hidden turning point” and it really suits the innovative element of our music which doesn't immediately stand out – the lyrics only grab your attention with the second or third listen.
RoD: Apart from that, how is your musical career going at the moment?
Gregor: I have been a producer for a year now which hasn't given me time to dedicate myself to my own music. I have re-arranged and produced fifteen different songs from a timespan of 20 years for L’ÂME IMMORTELLE, according to the motto “Guitars out, Synths in”. People really enjoyed that, even at our recent Russia shows where they really love the guitar sounds of LAI. Besides, I have accepted several production commissions for various bands, I am making remixes and I am working with Vasi Vallis (NAMNAMBULU, FROZEN PLASMA, REAPER) on the new REAPER record.
RoD: How is the cooperation like when two creative minds meet? Do you argue and do you still like each other? Or do you drive each other mad?
Gregor: On the contrary. Vasi is an uber-creative person who still gives me a lot of freedom. The way we work is that he provides me with melodies and demos and I can finalise their production. I would consider this a just labour division.
RoD: This sounds almost like bromance to me, especially because he praises you so often.
Gregor: Well, it is a bit of a bromance (laughs). But seriously, it is an honour to work with Vasi. He knows exactly what you need in order to write a hit. He's genius. And still, he is one of the most down-to-earth persons I know.
RoD: I have seen the new promo pictures with those blue outfits. Who came up with the idea of using blue as a concept colour?
Gregor: Our photographer Verity Vian once said that we should take pictures with a recognizable colour scheme which would also fit the band concept. Since the end of 2012, we have rather done DJ gigs instead of shows with frocks and masks. As you know, DJs wear rather normal clothes but then again, normal clothes are quite boring and you need something that will draw attention to you – at that point, I remembered the blue sneakers I had bought recently. I then called Vasi and asked whether he has a pair of blue sneakers, a blue shirt and black trousers und he affirmed. Thus, we had a colour scheme who no one has used in the scene before and which suits the usual DJ attire while still making us recognizable for the scene. I like blue and black as a colour scheme as it is not too colourful but still very eye-catching.
RoD: When will we finally get to listen to your work?
Gregor: I believe it will be in the first half of 2015. It's still unclear though whether it will be a full record or only a single.
RoD: You do spend a lot of time with L’ÂME IMMORTELLE and REAPER. Are you a bit sad that you work more on other projects than your own at the moment?
Gregor: To say I am sad would be an exaggeration. There will surely come the time where I can spend more time on SKYLA VERTEX. I rather consider myself lucky that I was given the chance to work as a producer in the studio and actually benefit from it. Luck is really the right word for it as I have lived on the merits of music for a year now. This hasn't been always the case and it isn't the standard either. The music industry doesn't really promise a lot of money to musicians, especially if you want to spend a lot of time in the studio. You have to tour for two thirds of the year and/or hope for the minimal chance of a breakthrough in order to make money with music. It's only the producer who makes money in the studio and that's only because there are still musicians who value and pay for quality. Those who still purchase records are musicians themselves, aren't they?
RoD: You listen to music all day long. Sometimes finished pieces, sometimes demos, sometimes remixes. What do you listen to when you are not in the studio?
Gregor: I listen to a lot of stuff from outside the scene. I find that important because we wouldn't evolve if we only listened to music of our own genre. Consequently, the same drum and bass lines would be still used in twenty years’ time and this doesn't really help anyone. New releases like SHIV-R's ‘Wax Wings Will Burn’ show how stylistic devices like Dubstep, EDM, etc. can enrich “our” scene.
RoD: Is that some form of criticism?
Gregor: Of course. I am not one of those who say “We should only listen to our own bands”. On the contrary, I have once done a remix for ORANGE SEKTOR, an EBM band, and I embedded some Dubstep elements into the song. It was well received as it was something new which brought something fresh to their old-school sound. Scene music definitely has to be able to keep up with modern music otherwise we will still listen to NITZER EBB cover bands in twenty years. This would lead to a generational problem – If we only stick to sounds from the past we will not gain new, young listeners.
RoD: Please, give me an example of what makes the work as a producer interesting to you. What do you consider a great request and what bores you?
Gregor: Let's imagine that two people come to me. One of them tells me that s/he wants their music to sound like AGONOIZE. I think, okay, I can do that but it's not really fulfilling. I can do much more when the second person tells me that s/he wants their music to reflect the feeling of a grey November day. With this kind of request my creativity doesn't get too confined and I can do something good for the world of music as I can create something new without copying someone else's work.
RoD: What would you do if I came to you with a demo and told you that I want it to sound like RAMMSTEIN and EISENFUNK?
Gregor: Then again, I would find this mix of styles quite interesting as it hasn't been created yet. Something completely new can evolve out of that. It's always a bit sad when newcomers bring along their three favourite songs on their IPods and tell me that they want to sound like them. I think that especially as a band you shouldn't stick too much to established rules simply because they have worked. It's much better to develop something completely new.
RoD: Do newcomers look for the wrong idols or do they approach the subject in a wrong way?
Gregor: Some surely do that. I don't really see a point in following an idol's path. Something like AGONOIZE that has been repeated over and over again. Before approaching music that way, it would be better to not look for musical idols at all, to not really follow another musician's path, but to simply create music.
RoD: I still need to ask some questions regarding NACHTMAHR. May I?
Gregor: Of course.
RoD: The band is quite controversial. It is discussed a lot and everyone has their own opinion about it. Does NACHTMAHR have an image problem?
Gregor: No, NACHTMAHR doesn't have an image problem. Much rather do people have a problem of comprehension because they don't understand the basics of dramatic arts theory. In art, for example in theatre, you depict a certain attitude on stage which you don't necessarily have to agree with personally. Dramatic arts wouldn't exist if attitude and meaning meant the same thing as this would mean that an artist who plays a mass murderer doesn't really play the role as s/he would be a mass murderer in real life as well. I don't really understand people who take everything that happens on stage seriously. There is no obligation to apologise for this incomprehension. Art should never conform to the meaning a receiver attaches to its subject.
RoD: What is your opinion on the contemporary electro scene? By this I don't only mean the music with its new bands or clubs but also its people generally.
Gregor: At the moment everyone looks the same, somehow. There are no differences. It is quite mainstream actually. I have never experienced as much political correctness as in this scene. Everybody wants to be vegan, politically correct but at the same time they also want to provoke by getting a piercing. I don't get it. You want to provoke and attract attention and then you become part of a scene on which you try to confer your philistinism and your uber-correctness.
RoD: What was the funniest question you have been asked so far?
Gregor: Someone with whom I have been Facebook friends for a long time asked me recently whether I still make music. I seriously answered with no and his answer was “why???”.
RoD: Last question for today.
Gregor: Okay, go on.
RoD: Do you still make music?
RoD: No, but seriously: What have you always wanted to tell people.
Gregor: Dear people, I do a lot of nightshifts as a producer and I am definitely not lazy when someone wakes me up with their call at 1pm. It is really depressing when you work on the perfect remix until seven in the morning. Then you go to bed and someone wakes you up in the noon. People then complain why I just woke up and why I am so confused. Sometimes they even tell me I should look for a proper job.
RoD: The suffering of night owls. I know that feeling.
Gregor: You say it.
RoD: I recently came up with the idea that every person I interview is obliged to nominate another person I should interview. You are officially the first person to pick someone. Let's go!
Gregor: Johan von Roy of SUICIDE COMMANDO, because he believes I ignore him (laughs).
Written by Fee Wundersee, translation by Alex Ultra-Riot
Promo pictures by Verity Vian (www.verityvian.com)
Interview in cooperation with www.depechemode.de. You’ll find the German version here: