An Interview with Kinder aus Asbest
by Nordr Sunn
Kinder aus Asbest is a man of many faces, mainly Erik Söderberg, but his discography spans over ten years from his early independent CD-R releases—which were lo-fi synthpop—to his debut on Dödsdans Rekords, Inside—a more experimental, minimal synth-oriented album. His second and most recent album, Electro Magnetic Tape, sees Kinder aus Asbest suddenly delving into industrial electronic body music.
There’s a lot that you might not know about him at first glance. Having made music for more than fifteen years, he’s a veteran within the electronic music scene. Yet, he’s not been prevalent in the media in the same way as other artists because he’s chosen to create music for himself by himself, with the ethic of, ‘if anybody likes it, then that’s just a plus’.
Heathen Harvest: What generated the name Kinder aus Asbest? How is it that it became the name of choice?
Erik Söderberg: Kinder was thought up sometime between 2002-2004. I had produced synth-based music since a couple of years back under the name of EKSS. I started with experimental noise inspired by post-rock and Throbbing Gristle and worked my way on to chiptune and synthpop. It was some time thereafter that I discovered minimal synth and Neue Deutsche Welle.
When I saw the title ‘Kinder aus Asbest’—a real banger of a song by the band Eiskalte Engel—I then thought it would work out great as a band name. I barely found anything when I googled it, so I took my chance and made it mine.
HH: How was it to create music during those years in comparison to how it is now? What is the difference between now and then?
ES: Just before Kinder, I had been keeping myself occupied with a portastudio and hardware (OB12, TR-606 & 707, electric organ, SidStation, and a bunch of toy synths). It was kind of difficult to understand how to get everything in sync.
Then came Reason, and it was more or less the same thing, only it was in your computer and so much easier. I still use Reason; both the gear and I have progressed a lot since then and now. I really feel like I can master it. Otherwise, the greatest difference is that I barely listen to synth nowadays, even if I still like doing songs in that kind of style.
HH: What’s your music really about, and what is its purpose?
ES: The purpose is unclear. It’s probably first and foremost that I think it is fun to elaborate with sounds and moods—the creative process itself is very satisfying. It’s a way of expressing feelings. The lyrics have been about my own experiences—like on the album Inside—where I had made the music and thought it would sound better with added singing, but I knew no singers, so I decided to sing myself. It became much better than I had previously thought, so I continued with lyrics after that. I wrote the lyrics based on my experience of going from depression to feeling quite well.
HH: How was your creative process affected by your mood? Feelings seem to be an integral part of creating music at all.
ES: Difficult question! I first thought that I would create harder and darker songs when I am frustrated or angry, but sometimes it can be the opposite as well: that I feel stoked and create a rock-solid song just because. Maybe the music becomes more brittle and soft if I am sad or apathetic. I’ve noticed that I have a hard time writing words and talking about emotions—maybe that’s why the music feels like such a good channel for them.
HH: Everything else you’ve released yourself: Has it been a self-conscious choice or have you not been able to find a label that was willing to release it?
ES: I haven’t asked any labels, but there have been releases anyway. Weltklang released my music on their excellent Exil-System in 2006, then came Inside on Dödsdans Rekords. In addition to that, a couple of compilations, among others was the Doppelherz double-LP. I mostly create music for my own sake, so I haven’t cared about asking any label or clubs about releases or gigs. But if anyone has offered to release my music, I’ve seldomly turned it down!
HH: You have a couple of other projects underway too. How’s the total discography right now? It’s quite interesting that you’ve managed to keep yourself within so many electronic genres at the same time.
ES: It depends on if one is to count collaborations and bands, my own CD-R releases, etc. As Kinder aus Asbest, I did three CD-Rs around 2004, the 12″ on Exil-System in 2006, the Inside LP in 2011, System Fail 7¨ in 2012, and now the Electro Magnetic Tape cassette this year.
In addition, there was one LP with Black Chair in 2012, one 7¨, and a couple of twelve-inch records and a ten-inch records on the Original Formula label (roots/digital dub) as EKSS. There have also been a couple of netlabel releases with Kinder aus Asbest, EKSS, Akash Quant, Laser Flash, and Fuzzy Logic.
I don’t know if I may have forgotten anything. I think most of it is on Discogs anyway. Now I am underway with a new dark acid / psytech project. There will be a twelve-inch this spring and also a couple of gigs. I can’t say much more about that as of now, though. I also have a couple of vinyl releases under the name of EKSS underway, and another new band together with two of my friends.
HH: Since you’ve got so much going for you at the same time and always new things in the pipeline, why won’t you spend more time on your music in the shape of gigs and such? Is it more like a hobby for you?
ES: Yeah, music is something I do because it’s fun. As EKSS, I’ve done mastering and mixing on commission, and then it quickly turns from passion to work. Then it doesn’t feel as free and comfortable anymore. I like when there’s no prestige; it becomes what it becomes, and then it’s always fun if someone likes it afterwards.
I think that if I were to go for music as a source of income, it would lose some of that nice, fun feeling. But the fact that I haven’t been hunting gigs is probably mostly because I’ve suffered of extreme stage fright, but it has softened a bit each time I’ve played a gig and noticed that it went well and that it had been appreciated.
HH: Which one of your releases are you most proud of, artistically? Which ones have become the best?
ES: That’s hard to say. I oftentimes feel that, in retrospect, it could have been better in different ways because I’ve progressed and moved forward to the next thing. Maybe I’m a bit prouder of the System Fail 7¨ and the Electro Magnetic Tape cassette where I have made the cover and taken care of press and copying on my own.
HH: How is it that you have such an easy time for something that is as difficult as this musically? It seems like you’ve always got something underway.
ES: I’ve been playing music in one way or another for almost twenty-five years now—for the better part of my life—and it’s just been an easy way to get an outlet for creativity. Then there’s always different aspects of difficulty. The technical part, how you get what you’re looking for, is hardest in the beginning—before you’ve gotten to know your software, at least. After that comes the artistic and musical aspect; there, it becomes trickier to sort out what is hard, easy, bad, or good.
HH: How do you think you’ve developed as a musician during these years, especially in relation to Kinder aus Asbest?
ES: I’ve learned a lot about synthesis, mixing, mastering, and everything technical. I’ve also read up on some theory. It feels like the biggest change from when I started with Kinder aus Asbest is that I now know my software and that more of the focus can be on the musical aspect. I’ve also gotten a more relaxed approach to music overall.
HH: Have you ever felt limited in your creative process, or that you haven’t been able to perform optimally?
ES: Yeah, several times. For periods of time, I make no music at all. I tend to let it be that way. I also do a lot of illustrations as well, so I tend to dedicate more time for image-creation until the thirst of music returns.
HH: How does the situation look for you in the near future?
ES: I’m preparing for pressing what seems to be three seven-inch EPs and one collaborative LP with my dub project, another project where we are to compile songs and make them ready for release, and planning for some live gigs. But mostly, I’m rehearsing and working on new songs for a new acid-inspired project. Kinder aus Asbest will have to rest, for now.