tinoC and KaiN from Ner\Ogris
NER\OGRIS is a band that’s been making waves with the release of their latest album, ‘I Am The Shadow, I Am The Light’. Their eclectic sound has captured the attention of many, and it’s not hard to see why. From the inspiring sonic elements to the diverse range of genres, this album is a true gem. I had the pleasure of sitting down with kaiN and tinoC to discuss their music, their inspirations, and what makes their sound so unique. In our conversation, they shared their journey of how they formed their band, their approach to music-making, and the experiences that have shaped their music. We also delved into the inspiration behind the album’s title and the stories behind some of the tracks. It was an insightful and inspiring conversation, and I’m excited to share their story with you.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: kaiN, your previous project was LES BERRTAS, and tinoC plays in AMNISTIA, MRDTC, and you also started your own project TC75. How did you all first come together as a band, and what inspired you to start making music together?
kaiN: There is a little story about this… tinoC and I, we have known each other for a few years and I am a big fan and admirer of AMNISTIA, TC75. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of material that didn’t really fit in with LES BERRTAS - but I couldn’t just let this stuff gather dust in a drawer. The material was too good for that. I wanted to make an instrumental album out of my ideas. I sent this album, which was ready for me, to some friends to get their opinion if something like this would work. tinoC got hold of the material and asked me if he could maybe try his vocals on one song which was ‘Shadowlight’. I thought it was perfect and so the idea was born to (maybe) do a few more songs together. Less than two to three weeks later the album was finished - with vocals :-) And NER\OGRIS was born.
RoD: What do you think sets NER\OGRIS apart from other musicians and artists in the industry today?
kaiN: Good question! Basically, we only make music that we would also buy ourselves and that we enjoy. When I look a bit to the left or right, I see a lot of bands that try very hard to sound like their idols. Our influences are so different that it somehow becomes something of our own. We’re totally into beat and danceable - but also into ambient and noise. I think we have hit the nerve of the time with our mixture without being the umpteenth band that sounds like SKINNY PUPPY. One thing makes me a little thoughtful though: Apart from 2ND FACE, there are no young bands in the scene - so there is no young audience either. The scene is aging with its bands.
tinoC: Maybe the “difference” is mentioned in your question… you are asking about the “industry”. We - and most of our musician friends - don’t see music as a “business”. A lot of bands do - especially the so called “big names” do and have to because they are professionals. I personally think that art should be free of monetary aspects. I know it’s almost impossible when a label or a profession is involved but we both don’t think about those things in the writing process because music is not our job.
RoD: Your music - and I don’t only mean the one you make with NER\OGRIS - has been described as genre-defying, with elements of ambient, electronic, harsh beats, and experimental music. How do you approach blending these genres together, and what effect do you think it has on the overall listening experience?
kaiN: My music influences are wide-ranging. I listen to everything that somehow transports emotions. I’m not fixed on one particular genre. Of course, these impressions also influence the way I make music. I process things from my life, let myself be inspired by music, books and films. Sometimes I’m sitting in the studio and suddenly there’s this one sound that triggers me to create a complete song. Other times I make music with friends and out of this session come ideas, soundscapes or fragments that are then further processed. It’s not so easy to make ambient noise and EBM work side by side, but I think we’ve managed it.
tinoC: I’m not a label guy and I am not the best in talking about myself. I personally don’t see any “genre defying” things in our work. Referring to the response and the feedback we have got so far, I think we have done a good record but I am not sure if it’s a “ground breaking” one. I see the different styles in kaiN’s music too and I think it’s great.
RoD: Your latest album, ‘I Am The Shadow, I Am The Light’, has received critical acclaim for its innovative sound and lyrics. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the album and how it came together?
kaiN: I see our album as a head trip. It takes you into the dark, hidden grey and black corners of the most remote musical directions. Besides the energetic, danceable songs, you also need a break to digest the whole thing better. I don’t want the album to be understood as a concept album, but the compilation makes sense and should ideally be listened to in one piece.
tinoC: I am happy with the feedback. When we are talking about the inspiration for my part - the lyrics - it has always the same trigger. When I have an itch, a thing that moves me, I write about it. Sometimes there is a lot of myself in the words, sometimes not. If you ask me how words and music come together, I have to say that the music tells me what kind of vocal I have to add. Maybe it sounds crazy but the music is the only thing that matters in that case because each song has its mood.
RoD: The title of the album suggests some sort of duality, contrast, and juxtaposition that is intriguing and thought-provoking. Could you explain the meaning behind it?
tinoC: The name is a line from the song of ‘Shadowlight’. When we gave the album to our label Dependent the name was ‘Shadowlight’. The idea to change the name into “IATS-IATL” came from Stefan Herwig. We agreed because the idea was simple and great. A label (sometimes) knows what works better and the new name describes the album better than one word. We did not see it when we recorded it, but there are contrasts on the album.
RoD: The sonic matter of the album ranges from delicate, even hypnotizing soundscapes, such as at ‘Pájaro’ or ‘Shadowlight’, but it also offers dynamic energy in songs such as ‘Reality and Fiction’, for example. Altogether, it’s very diverse and complex; your songs feature intricate musical arrangements and experimental sounds. How do you approach the song writing process, and what inspires your music?
kaiN: As mentioned above: it’s the things of everyday life or simply sounds. Or a song that I have been recommended by friends or that I have heard on an old CD or on Spotify. Once an idea is sketched out, it often happens that I fall into a tunnel and completely forget the time around me until a song is finished. When I listen to the songs on the album now, I sometimes ask myself what possessed me into it and how I did this or that... Many things are simply not reproducible and were caught in the moment.
RoD: Would you say ‘I Am The Shadow, I Am The Light’ is, in a way, a departure from your previous works, with a more atmospheric and introspective sound? What led you to explore this new direction, if I am even sensing this change right?
kaiN: I think musically NER\OGRIS is a logical development. LES BERRTAS is a little different - especially since we sing German there, which sounds much harder. But there are beats, bass and melodies there too. NER\OGRIS is more playful with more depth. Maybe you could say NER\OGRIS is more grown up.
tinoC: I feel and believe - and I hope I am not wrong with it - NER\OGRIS sounds different to the other projects we are both involved. Obviously, the same guy is singing but I think the tracks have a different mood and sound.
RoD: As stated earlier, you’ve collaborated with some notable musicians and producers. What has been your favourite collaboration so far, and why?
tinoC: I personally have some experiences with mastering guys and a lot of remixers. Before all the production, composition and editing was done by me or my partners in crime in my projects. So, Vincent of 2ND FACE was in fact the first “external” producer who worked on one of “my” tracks. It was a very great experience because I did understand what a producer does.
RoD: Your music addresses various issues. What message do you want to convey through your lyrics and music, and how do you hope to inspire your fans?
tinoC: As I said... there is no plan. I am not on a mission. I am just a guy who writes about some topics in one point of his life.
RoD: You sing in English, German, and Spanish. Where does the Spanish inspiration come from?
kaiN: I think Spanish has a beautiful sound. Everything is possible in one sentence: everything from extremely soft to hard as nails. The idea on our album is to title the instrumentals in Spanish and give the songs with vocals an English text/title. To stay with our motto, the contrasts.
tinoC: In fact we have recorded vocals for ‘Fiebre Oscura’ in Spanish but this version was not released yet. But we play it live. For me Spanish language has a very nice sound. So, we will see what happens in the future… I mean I don’t speak Spanish but I am sure we find a way to get some correct words in that language if we need it.
RoD: Your album-cover for ‘I Am the Shadow, I Am the Light’ is visually stunning. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the artwork and how it ties into the themes of the album?
kaiN: A little thread through the album is the story of the crow and the dove on Noah’s Ark. Somehow this story was present while assembling the songs (for the instrumental album). In addition, the comic ‘The Crow’ by James O’Barr fell into my hands while I was rearranging the studio. Only after the songs were written I started to work on the visual concept. Set was grey and black. For each song is in the artbook a double page with a special visual. The process of visualization was at least as challenging.
RoD: Your live performances are known for their high energy and unique atmosphere. How do you translate your recorded music into a live show, and what can fans expect from your upcoming concerts? Are there any specific dates that you already know and could share with us?
kaiN: For me it is important that live always something stands out from the CD production. The backings are mixed especially for live. I play different synths and control effects live. It’s all a bit chaotic - however, no concert is like the other. But the basic structure is fixed, so that tinoC can fit his vocals. Our next gig is at the NCN Warm-up in Deutzen/ Leipzig on 31st Aug 2023 and there are still two gigs in December, but more about that later...
RoD: What else can we expect from you in the upcoming months?
kaiN: I’m currently sitting over a few remixes, editing a video for a friend’s band and working in parallel on new LES BERRTAS and of course NER/OGRIS material.
RoD: Thank you very much for your time.
All Pictures by Alexander Jung