Tomas Pettersson from Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio
ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO are masters at building an absolutely magical atmosphere through their sounds and lyrics. They provoke thinking, slowing down, and contemplating, but they also give space to dive into the world of sounds, imagery, symbols, and their definition of the world; they invite us to the places where beautiful music carries hidden meanings and messages. The art they offer has the quality of a Chinese Box - with every layer uncovered, there comes next, even more enchanting. The new EP entitled ‘La Fleur du Mal’ was out in March. The full album ‘Nihilist Notes (And the Perpetual Quest 4 Meaning in Nothing)’ will be out in May. I thought the two events were enough to ask Tomas Pettersson - the leader of ORE - a few questions. What I came out of it was not only a discussion about the new or the upcoming release but, foremost a sincere comment about the condition of society and its fears, pains and frustrations.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: ‘La Fleur du Mal’ was out in March. It’s very poetic and profound. What feelings and inspirations were your backgrounds when you were creating it?
Tomas: When I create music I utilize mental images and emotions. Sad times reflect “happier results” and vice versa; basically causing each individual work to become a psychological evidence of my emotional state of mind over and particular period in time. Same goes for ‘La Fleur du Mal’. I was asked by our label Out of Line in Berlin to present them with an appetizer for the upcoming album ‘Nihilist Notes’ and I started to examine myself, the forest of my soul for whatever residues were still there. And my findings became the results you have heard. The process of LFDM started about a month after I sent my masters to OOL in November 2021, and came to an end in mid January.
RoD: The title brings Baudelaire’s poetry to mind - was it a kind of a starting point for creating your album in any way?
Tomas: It was not so much a starting point as a point of conclusion. After finishing the songs and hearing them together as a whole entity I was pleased. The results surpassed my expectations. But successively, after listening to the material over and over and over (like I always do in my search for errors) I started to develop a sense of nausea. The material felt too contemporary, it felt too alarming. A flower of evil, possibly provoking, possibly too provoking.
RoD: Baudelaire was punished for offending public morals with his poetry - do you also like provoking your audience – both with the music and the visual part of the art you create? What, in your view, is the purpose of art in general?
Tomas: I think the idea of “industrial culture” is provocation. It is the manifestation of anti culture. But provocation is not a sole purpose. My purpose is contemplation. And the more alluring the music is, the more effective it becomes in attempt to seduce the listener/s and maybe pay attention to the words that have been written and sung. Art is supposed to make the receiver feel. It is supposed to cause sensation, provocation, infatuation. Art that doesn’t emit and transmit anything serves no purpose.
RoD: I personally find your music very beautiful, meaning-loaded, and demanding. It's definitely not the kind of music one may listen to in the background while doing other things - it requires complete focus, which in my view, is a value in itself. I might be generalizing, but in a world where people constantly run and chase something, the moment of contemplation is a treasure. I'm wondering what is the place of art in your life?
Tomas: Life is art. The process of creation is living. Being alive is something we take for granted, but the art is created through living, the canvas is our context between life and death. I appreciate art. The beauty of painting, the magic of photography, the allure of words, the everlasting fascination of sounds and music. I made this quest, this endeavor my legacy whether or not anyone recognizes my accomplishments as “art” or not, but this is the life I choose, it is what I need to do to stay sane. It is what I choose instead of stability and money. It is who I am. Without it I’m no longer me. But it came with a price.
RoD: You employ a lot of symbols and metaphors, and you use ambiguous language - do you want to make people think or make them intrigued? Do you think we, in the majority, lost the ability to read the symbolic language in general? And I do not mean emoticons or imagery here, but rather some representations or paraboles the written language carries.
Tomas: People have become increasingly simpleminded with the passing of time. At least that’s what I feel, and you too as it seems. But at the same time, maybe the mere understanding of the world and our ability to perceive it, understand it, and possibly utilize it, only rests in the hands of the generations who are to inherit it. Maybe it is us who have become stupid to the current standards. Maybe it is only us who are unable to grasp this new reality of constant news flow, perpetual split second change, images replacing words, digital icons gathering unmeasurable net worth, ungraspable hypes appearing and disappearing over night. Maybe it’s just another generation gap. But from our point of view the general public have become incredibly dumb. Simpleminded fools with the attention span of three year olds. The “new generation” doesn’t have the ability to grasp metaphors, symbols and understanding images as words. This is seemingly beyond their level of comprehension since it requires reflection. And today, does not offer the time to reflect. But in the other hand, we are the ones dying next. We are the ones clinging to a dying scene. Maybe we are the ones who are truly stupid, and obsolete.
RoD: I’m asking this also because I have a feeling some time ago, there was a shift in the way we communicate - images replaced words. Do you have a similar impression? Your art is versatile: it’s music, but also words and images. Which part do you think makes the most significant impact on your fans?
Tomas: I want to believe that the synergy between words in play with music is what attracts the people who appreciate and pay attention to our accomplishments. But in the beginning, when Ordo was born I am quite confident that it was the words who attracted the majority of my followers. But things have changed, naturally and willingly, into what ORE is today, and nowadays I believe that there is a more versatile selection of women and men who appreciate our endeavors for different reasons.
RoD: The album consists of four pieces - differing in sonic shades, yet evolving around the metaphors, symbols, and the pounding, reverberating main motive. Was the album intended to be a four-chapter of one story or rather four separate units?
Tomas: There’s a vast difference for me to create an album or an EP / mini-album. Creating an album requires time and commitment. It requires an opening, a continuation, a climax, a passage, a surprise, and an end. An ep doesn’t require anything. You just need four tracks that work relatively well together, they can be all hits, they can be all average, they can be all different, they only need to be brought together under a collective title like ‘La Fleur du Mal’ or ‘4Play’ or ‘Ménage à Quatre’. EPs are the ORE superpower. Maybe because I find it relatively easy to make four good songs and make them “come together”.
RoD: ‘La Fleur du Mal’ is said to be a harbinger of your full-length album ‘Nihilist Notes (And the Perpetual Quest 4 Meaning in Nothing)’, which will be out in May 2022. In what way does it represent the content of the upcoming album?
Tomas: I’m not sure it does. I only said that it serves as a perfect introduction. And it does. Four competent songs creating the scenery for what’s to come. The ambiance, the despair, the “nihilistic” approach to the world in which we coexist and the values that supposedly dictate our lives are likely similar, but as we have established before, LFDM is just an ep, it’s only four songs, ‘Nihilist Notes’ is a complete album. The feelings and concepts it explores are more diverse and complete. But I do believe, that after you have listened and experienced Nihilist Notes, you will realize it is darker, more oppressive, harder and more unforgiving than any ORE work in many years.
RoD: With the new music, you are also going back to performing live: you’ll be playing at Porta Nigra in May and Castle Party in July. Are there any other dates that you have confirmed for now?
Tomas: We are conducting our premiere presentation of ‘Nihilist Notes’ in Stockholm Sweden on May 26th, followed by the European premiere in Aarschot Belgium on the 28th. Thereafter we will perform in Leipzig Germany on July 8th and as you said at Castle Party Poland the day after in July 9th. What comes after Castle Party is still written in sand, and I believe most organizers interested in ORE as a potential live concept are waiting to behold the feedback of ‘Nihilist Notes’.
RoD: Some artists love playing live, and some hate it. How do you feel about meeting face to face with your audience?
Tomas: I love playing live, we love playing live. It’s the reward of hard work and considerable doubt. Finally being able to face your fans and adversaries is a privilege. It becomes the physical proof of your endeavors. The energy that the audience provides is the medicine that your spirit and psyche need to revitalize and resurrect.
RoD: To wind up our discussion, I wanted to ask how do you, as an artist, feel in the kind of reality we are currently living in? How does it influence your creativity?
Tomas: The reality in which we coexist is often cold, desperate, cynical and vicious. It’s an unforgiving world. Nothing is free, everything comes at a cost. But there are occasional spots of immense bliss, joy that you create yourself by different means. Maybe the world has always been cruel and relentless, maybe that’s how it’s always been perceived throughout the ages, but I find it hard to imagine that life has ever been so cynical, callous and shallow as it is today. The majority of people lives their lives online. Physical encounters are secondary at best. YouTubers and social influencers are the rockstars and royalties of the modern world. And their fame and fortune (vast fortune in many cases) are not the results of any greater accomplishment, they didn’t invent something, they don’t advocate anything, they don’t contribute with anything life changing. On the contrary. They entertain, give make-up advice, they do online gaming, they review sponsored products, they fill peoples’ meaningless lives with shallow content. Our lack of purpose, aim, content, physical and mental stimuli provokes this situation and forces it to withstand. Resulting in 16 year old girls getting breast implants, lip fillers, ass fillers.
Youths committing suicide before they even stop being teenagers. People in their 30’s and 40’s dying from stress induced heart failures because they aren’t “full-filled” and/or having earned their first millions, visited all the continents, own four cars and a luxury estate. We are all tangled up in a consumers culture. Earn earn earn spend spend spend. Whoever has the most wins the human race. It’s a pretty sick world, a world sometimes beautiful to look at, sometimes just as ugly, but it’s our world, our existence, and all we can do is to remain true to ourselves. Maybe find someone who shares our core values. Someone we want to share our time with. Someone to love? And if we ask ourselves “What do I want? What matters to me? What intrinsic values mean anything to me at the end if the day?”, and if we able to respond to these questions with an answer that provides us with a sense of fulfillment, meaning and conscience, then at least we have a sense of personal meaning and self-worth.
RoD: Thank you very much for your time Tomas!
Pictures by Holger Karas