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kollapsInterview with

Wade Black (vocals) from Kollaps

Seeing KOLLAPS live is an exceptional experience indeed. Explosion of brutal, industrial sounds combined with violent, extremely intensive live show has both shocking and cathartic effect. It’s hard to determine how noise of the kind may create a kind of harmony, but in a way it does. I spoke to Wade Black not only about the live show experience but the music experience in general.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: I recently saw you during XX Wroclaw Industrial Festival - I believe it was your second performance in Wroclaw. What were your impressions from this year’s edition - also in comparison to 2019 when you performed for the first time?
Wade: My impressions was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve spoken in past interviews regarding my high esteem for Wroclaw Industrial Festival, Maciek and Ania Frett, and the whole festival crew. These people have changed my life and raised the trajectory of the band’s career, they invested in it when it was nothing, and I will always remember and be grateful for this. Both the festival, the people, and the city are very special to me and is married to the soul of KOLLAPS - our histories are now inseparable. Wroclaw, despite being a very foreign city to me, simultaneously feels like home to me. The feeling of the festival was different due to Covid having hit since although it remained a very wonderful atmosphere and I think a lot of the audience members were starved for live music and generally the festival seemed a reprieve from the so-called “new normal” of corona virus restrictions.

RoD: Your shows are incredible - waves of noise sent towards the audience and kind of performance of shocking, provoking violence, anger outburst often directed towards the stage, towards you.  Are these shows a kind of a test for an audience or a catharsis for you?
Wade: Thank you. As a stage entity, and I mean as a live band made of three contributors, the aim has changed recently and we are focused on becoming more musical and structured while maintaining the harshness and rawness of the band. The mindless walls of noise that lacked composition are something that I have lost interest in lately; lunacy, madness, chaos, hatred, vitriol are indeed all things that I am still interested in however the aim now is to cultivate these elements into a finessed art project that has true intent, and true meaning. Generally speaking, I hope that the music is an auditory challenge, a shock of feeling that creates a moment of genuine emotional connection. I still have not understood if this project is positive or negative for my mental health however for now this seems inconsequential. The project in my mind is a necessity for me, a calling, and my participation not a choice but a fatalistic demand of the universe.

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RoD: The first time I saw you in Wroclaw, I believe you were hurt during the concert. Are the acts of violence that happened during those shows intentional? Is it a kind of an experiment on how far one can go?  Aren't you afraid it would go out of control?
Wade: Yes. Self-harm and mutilation have been intentional, my body is marred with probably hundreds of scars from self-abuse at this point. They’re akin to tattoos in that they’re made of memories and they tell a story of my life and the places that I have been, and so I’m not ashamed of them. I tested the waters with how far I could take self-harm as a method to communicate with the audience, the idea itself being this shared experience of suffering and I felt over these last years that it was the ultimate and most sincere thing that I could give during a performance - a lot of this stuff was also off stage, during tours I ended up heinously sleep deprived, emaciated, and mentally unwell. It would take me several months to emotionally, mentally and physically recover from tours in 2018 and 2019. I’m conflicted about this now; I have a sense of pride in the survival of it and I feel that it is now an indisputable fact that I took this a lot further than most would dare to however the act of self-harming in art is something that is unfortunately easily and often misunderstood and as such I’m quite selective on evenings where I would commit to doing this now - it is perhaps something that should I should consider putting in the past despite the personal satisfaction.

RoD: Industrial seems to be a very vast term - what is your own understanding of industrial music, and what is the purpose of this particular kind of musical expression?
Wade: First and foremost, to me Industrial music has always been music designed by and dedicated to the lower socioeconomic class which is an aspect of the genre that appealed to me greatly as I felt that it intrinsically made the genre anti-establishment. Artistically and in terms of sound, I find the genre to be almost entirely without limit and I feel as if there is a lot of unexplored sonic territory and even lyrical conversation within industrial music that hasn’t yet been had that can provide a fresh perspective. The purpose of this particular brand of expression differs greatly between acts however for KOLLAPS and for me personally it touches on the deeply personal and autobiographical experiences, personal traumas, and my perception of the world and ultimately an inherent rebellion of expectation that has been projected upon me by other human beings and by society and tradition.

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RoD: Sonic, performative and visual seem to coalesce in your artistic way - do you like mixing different kinds of art to reach the final effect? What inspires you to create new music?
Wade: Yes. Very much so. I feel that the band has a unique sound due to having sought unusual elements from unusual places that our contemporaries may not have thought to look. Lyrically, I’ve experimented heavily on the new album with William S. Burrough’s cut up method and have been obsessive with projecting the artform of collage across various mediums, not just visually or lyrically, but now in music theory, imagery (video as well), and sound.  Oddly enough I expected a wild and out of control result however this gave me a solid framework to set the foundations and draft a consistent narrative.

RoD: KOLLAPS’ music offers a vent for emotions relief - At least this is how I feel either listening to it or watching your shows.  When you create new sounds - do you have a particular idea behind, a concept, or a specific effect that you want to achieve?
Wade: You summarise it well here on my behalf when you say that it offers a vent for emotion. This is very true of the intent of the band. As I mentioned earlier a lot of what KOLLAPS is about is creating genuine emotional connection amongst those who are like minded, those who have suffered and endured trauma or illness. Myself and I also can make an educated guess and say that Giorgio and Andrea, at least when they perform in KOLLAPS, are also not so interested in appealing to well-minded and well-balanced individuals. I persist in my sentiment that KOLLAPS is a project that is aimed towards outsiders - specifically, emotional outsiders; for those who struggle with addiction, depression, delusions, whatever it may be. It is not for the well-rounded and well-adjusted individual. It is for those who know difficulty and suffering.

RoD: What is the link between KOLLAPS and EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN in your own view?
Wade: There is no link at all. I’m regretful of the decision to name this band after one of the pioneers of industrial music, in a word from a language that I do not speak or understand. I feel no personal or artistic connection to EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN, nor anyone in the band or the affiliates to them. It has been many years now since I have found their music to be inspirational or interesting.

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RoD: ‘Heartworm’, ‘Siblings Lovers’, ‘Mechanical Christ’ - how would you say your music and your approach to music-making changed with all those subsequent albums? And what do you think the next chapter will be?
Wade: The ‘Heartworm’ EP was made innocently; ‘Sibling Lovers’ and ‘Mechanical Christ’ were both a complete descent into an insanity that would ruin the lives of everyone involved - you could liken it to being fired into the sun. I think this for a time the madness worked for the performances, however, it was ultimately detrimental to the music and so I feel that the album that we are about to release is an enormous step forward.

RoD: You concluded your European tour just now - how would you summarize it? What was it like touring through the world in the times of pandemic?
Wade: Well, the previous people who I toured with recognised me not as a person or a human being but only as something to be syphoned from - creatively and financially. Touring was difficult for me because of this, and generally things became hideously out of control which at the time I was an advocate of. We had unanimously agreed that a major part of KOLLAPS was a kind of social experiment that was designed to push the limits of our sanity. We collectively felt that it contributed to the project, which indeed was true for quite a while however the longer we proceeded with the self-destructive behaviour the less functional we were - it became ridiculous, really - but the idea was to become nothing less than genuinely insane and we were proud of that; doing something mental was positively reinforced as it contributed to this narrative. From this, I know now that insanity ultimately leads only to misery, and misery is not a sustainable state to be in nor is it ultimately conducive to art.  To the contrary, it was particularly detrimental to the ‘Mechanical Christ’ LP, which I have always felt was a subpar release compared to how well the band could play at that time and for where I was at as a songwriter. As for how things are currently, KOLLAPS is a well-oiled machine with a schedule that we adhere to strictly, this is largely due to Giorgio who is a highly sought-after tour manager - so he sets the pace on the road, he knows best, and so naturally we follow suit. If I set the pace, we’d be dead. Or lost. Or drunk. Quite probably all of those things in the reverse order.

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RoD: What is music personally for you?
Wade: I have a very complicated relationship with music as a listener; I feel overexposed to it after my time in the industry and particularly as a songwriter so I do not often listen to new or challenging music. I’m constantly thinking about KOLLAPS, and artistic ideas that can propel the band and so by the time I put on an album I tend to feel exhausted. More recently I’m attracted to the opposite style of music that I’m interested in creating and so I’m listening to soundtracks and improvisations that are not hinged on structure or dark, emotional intensity.

RoD: As stated before - you just concluded the tour - what can we expect from you in the upcoming months? Are you working on the new material by any chance? Can you reveal anything at this point?
Wade: We have a new album tentatively titled ‘Heroin is a Gift from the Sun’ - I expect some pants pissing if I call it that however. I can’t really say much more although we have a lot being planned. I hope to take the band to the United States at some point as we have an excellent new agent there. In the future, I think it will be possible for us to release high quality material much faster than we have in the past so I hope to increase the momentum and creative output of the band significantly moving forward.

All pictures by Karo Kratochwil

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