After years in the pitch, our dear friends from Athens-GR Paradox Obscur (Kriistal Ann, Toxic Razor) officially announced their collaboration with the American independent label Metropolis Records, which was a pretty lovely shock for us all. Paradox Obscur exists since 2014 and with a string of 10 official releases so far (including 4 LPs plus EPs and singles), they’ve managed to draw the darkwave cosmos attention, while they’ve also performed dynamic live gigs all over the European map. I was with my girl and another renowned synth-duo at their home some time ago while sipping on a cargo of red wine Kriistal Ann gave us the news…we went crazy happy about it as Toxic Razor was laughing meaningfully. A few days ago I asked them officially from WL//WH about the exciting new chapter along the way, plus the first release “Singles & Rarities” on Metropolis Records, future plans on their schedule, they shared their thoughts on their course until now, we talked about some things about the past, their view on the pandemic issue, and a few more interesting things for you.
It came as thunder to us all when you trusted us your news regarding your deal with Metropolis Records a couple of months ago and now that it is official on both sides give us the news of it all; Paradox Obscur (Athens) on the roster of Metropolis Records (Philadelphia). How did it all happen, how long will your contract last, and what made both sides come to an agreement?
It was a great surprise that morning when we opened our e-mail to read the deafening letter of admiration for our music and the prospect of collaborating with the ‘first’ big US label that had approached us that day and as we began to consider our possible collaboration with them, a short time later another equally reputable US label approached us for the same reason! There we really felt to the bone that it is not just a coincidence or luck of the moment. It was the Metropolis Records with which we finally chose from these two to continue our journey. You know, our only purpose is to create music that will satisfy our souls. Confidence in the material is something that concerns us directly. The trust and dissemination of music is a matter of the dynamics of a label. For the next decade, the game may be played differently, with greater support and respect. We all know the season is shaped in such a way that if you do not have big balls behind you or you are out of the circle of the so-called elite, things are bad for your decent expansion. Nevertheless, you have to admit that this was an achievement written only with our own sweat. Since we could, others can too, as long as they do not give up.
And right after that, both you and the label announced their first release together which is no other than the 12-track compilation “Singles & Rarities” out on March 12. Some of these tracks why hadn’t come out so far? And what was Metropolis’ impulse on that kind of a record and as the first offer of your collaboration?
“Singles & Rarities” is a collection of individual songs that we had written throughout our journey, with the aim to support some small exclusive compilations that had been released by independent blogs, labels, and online magazines. Songs that fans many times asked us to release them in physical form so they include in their archive as a release. There are songs that have hardly been heard at all, as well as an unreleased track. It was our decision to give this material to Metropolis, since our new album is not ready yet and the collaboration had to be defined in time and officially.
I see the name of Nick “TheMute” Chaldoupis in the credits for mastering this record. The dark scene of Athens (and not only) knows well his name and skills and I’d like to ask what made you hand to him your music for a final process?
Thank you for this question! Certainly, Nick has been the auxiliary touch in our productions for the past two years. He is an excellent guy with a deep knowledge of sound, being the same music producer with a fully equipped studio and the trust of many remarkable bands. We are very happy to have him on board.
When do we expect new material from you on Metropolis? And what should we also expect from the label regarding the promotion of “Singles & Rarities” as the label underlines it is “an explosive exclusive collection”? Any new video maybe? What..?
In 2021 we are preparing many new things, which still have a lot of work and dedication, but we estimate that at the end of 2021 and the beginning of next year we will be able to release a brand new album. Of course, you should expect in early March an exclusive video for the upcoming release of “Singles & Rarities”. As for the promotional part, we completely trust the label publishers with whom we work closely, as their reputation and public relations include a 25-year journey and experience on these topics.
Paradox Obscur 2014 with the S/T debut album to Paradox Obscur 2021 on Metropolis Records. A very long trip with amazing thrills for you and the fans, and here we have a new chapter in your career. Can you share with us your emotions and your feelings for these unique years, and your goals from here on out?
It is indeed a long journey, complicated and often tedious. It is a path for a strong stomach and this can be confirmed by all the people who deal with their self-exhibition and move in the artistic space. Joy has always been within us because we know that no matter what happens, music is what will remain as the means that guides us to the ethers. The joy could be greater if we did not cross through such a difficult year for all mankind. Nothing is easy and nothing is as it used to be. We love what we do and we are grateful for the journey so far. We hope for the best, not only for us but for all those who put a soul into their works and persevere.
If I asked you to tell us which one of your records is the one you love the most, and which one was a very difficult job for you, which ones would you choose and why, please?
This is always a challenging question for us. You know, it’s hard for creators to choose one of their works as a favorite. It’s like asking some parents to choose which child they love. Nevertheless, as you said, there are times when inspiration comes effortlessly. Definitely, a landmark album was “Anacrusis”. The “Artifact” has songs that have become a classic trademark. The small album “Atrapos” performed in Greek in a duet, with a guerrilla tone and revolutionary attitude on social issues, while the “SYNΘESIS” is the advanced version of our inspiration. Here there may have been more difficult in pushing ourselves to overcome any stereotypes that leave us behind or stand in familiar paths. Whatever album or EP you look at, you will find several diamonds hidden. For something we are proud of is this. Wherever a fan goes, will always find something that will fascinate.
I was initially shocked’ by Paradox Obscur’s darkness of “Anacrusis” LP (2015), and two years later it was Europe’s turn to be shocked by “Artifact” LP (2017) and its ‘stories’. Your last album “SYNΘESIS”(2020) made a huge impact on the dark alternative front, and I am wondering about the new shades and the new directions of your music; after all, Paradox Obscur had never released the same disc as the previous one.
We know that there were several of our original fans who left with the release of Anacrusis because it did not have the homogeneity of a classic minimal wave album. It sounds funny, but it’s a fact. There were many who tried to scare us that we should follow a certain style, you know, this monotonous, colourless, and odourless style much worn by the supposed scene experts. There are many who are alienated by the changes, which is ok! It’s respected. But it becomes so indecent for an artist to repeat himself just to keep his fans. And this dishonesty, in the end, swallows its creators, as it did with many bands of our time. No, we are not in a high horse as it may seem, we are just defending freedom in all its forms and we are bored, we are unimaginably bored with repetitions and definitions. We want everything we do to be authentic, to always have a scent of uniqueness. The next direction will definitely be different as you rightly expect. There will be a mix of genres with the main element of the vivid electro-dance style, always incorporated in the traditional Paradox Obscur touch.
I guess that any of your upcoming releases will be the product of lockdown/quarantine like many other bands do. How has the pandemic affected your lives, your art, and your views on how the authorities handle it?
The issue no longer concerns us on an individual level. It is something that affects humanity as a whole. 2020-21 is a milestone year in world history. Obviously, we all realize that the coming years will have nothing to do with what we have experienced so far. Old theories the established ones end up in an epic and slow death. The pandemic was the ace up the sleeve of authorities for the control of people, the silencing of freedom of speech and art, economic hardship, the violation of human rights, for increasing in the turnover of companies such as the media. Because, someone was paid dearly for this prolonged brainwashing of the masses, with the most effective means of manipulation which is fear. The whole system in its decline must be cleansed. In war, however, along with the drylands, the green ones are also burned. This is the wound we must try to heal by cultivating love and compassion. We have to get into each other’s shoes and manage crises as a team. Let us finally understand that we are all one and the energy from which we come is of the same source.
I know well that you like various other genres out of the darkwave, may I ask you to give us your best music picks within this stressful whole year?
We personally loved the diversity of Maria Davison‘s album in collaboration with L’Œil Nu on “Renegade Breakdown“, Ulver‘s album “Flowers of Evil” by an equally fascinating band.
The entire art workers branch is suffering for already a long time now, artists, technicians, clubs, fans, every one of us not having the time of our lives at home. Do you think online events can do something, is this the new reality?
It is not at all a pleasant reality, with which we personally find it hard to deal. Life is to offer joy to people, sharing, travel, art, pleasures, not to have sterile creatures in cages separated by some abnormal situations. But as we said above, it is a new reality that is dawning. Many of these data will not come back as we knew them and of course, technology will now play a leading role. You know, it is not the virus that created these changes; it is the human need itself to take up more and more space on the planet. Humans are insatiable creatures, clearly beautiful, but basically immersed in matter. So yes, we believe that the new reality will play a lot with distances. With new technologies, with perhaps exciting digital effects on art and music, but far from direct human contact. It will begin to decline, as an ancient romantic story…
Can you tell us when and where was your favorite live gig as artists on stage and as part of the audience too?
There are really many moments on stage in different countries where we became one with the audience. One of the most exciting was the one in Berlin at the Night Shift event. With plenty of people some of them who had never been in contact with our music before, and yet above the stage we could see this single vibration of the crowd, the joy erupting from their aura like a wave that creates a body mass rocking in the same beat. The concert in Vienna on Vanity Vague organized by Dj Darktunes & Dj Sirius was an equally exciting experience! Undoubtedly, the first concert in Belgium. But, also one of the last in Poland at the Kalisz festival.
Kriistal Ann, Toxic Razor, with our best wishes to your new chapter in discography, last words on you!
Mike, thank you very much for this fascinating interview! Let us please mention something very important. You are one of the few independent scene writers who edit his reviews and interviews in depth. One of the few honest columnists who focuses, respect, and delve into every new release. We greatly appreciate your dedication! What we would like to wish for the whole world is to meet soon with passion, enthusiasm, and a strong desire for dance, exchange of thoughts, sharing of emotions! Do not let any fear absorb the dynamics of your divine self. Fight for life!
Keep up with Paradox Obscur:
Interview by Loud Cities’ Mike