MEET THE ARTIST: EWIAN ABOUT "OF THOSE WHO DROWN TO LIVE"
Hello Ewian. "Of Those Who Drown To Live" - a very sonorous, poetic title. Who are these people you are singing about?
To answer your question I have to go into detail a bit. I already mentioned in a former interview for another magazine that the story of 'Of Those Who Drown to Live' is based on a book of mine. It is a modern fairy tale that I wrote a long time ago and it is still unfinished. The book has strong autobiographical parts and the album is shaped in the same way. At this moment I assume that my book will never be released, so I can reveal the contents here. ‘Of Ewian who drowned’ is told from the perspective of a young adult (Mateusz), whose friend Elias falls into a kind of vegetative coma. All attempts to free him of this state keep failing. Both Mateusz and the doctors have no idea that Elias is not in an ordinary coma. People all over the world are affected by the same phenomenon and are entering a kind of virtual ether in which they are connected. There they create their own cosmos with physical laws that differ from those known to us. The creative possibilities seem almost infinite. Leaving this ether is only possible through one thing alone: knowledge – the knowledge that both worlds are mere virtual constructs. In the midst of this cosmos lies a city that is split by a river. Only drowning in this river opens a pathway for return – and thus awakening form the coma. Elias finally arrives at this knowledge and takes action. Back to the question - the album title ‘Of Those Who Drown to Live’ tells of those who drown with the power of knowledge, cross the ‘Nexus’ and thus return to life.
It is the fourth Ewian album and compared to its predecessors it seems a little calmer, more thoughtful and musically more experimental. Was it a conscious decision to do something more ‘demanding’ after the more catchy ‘Heart Crash Boom Bang’?
I always try to give every work a distinct touch. So yes, it was a conscious decision. While developing the concept, the high level of ambition regarding the album took shape more and more. The idea was in the air long before the release of "Heart Crash Boom Bang". In fact this is a defining feature of the album’s creation. I shot the videos for the songs 'The Sweet Ones, the Evil Ones' and VAST in 2016 already. Right after the release of "Heart Crash Boom Bang" I started fine-tuning the concept. At this point it was clear that the subject matter would be complex and multi-layered. Especially the coherent combination of all elements proved to be challenging - accordingly the music is a reflection of this circumstance. During the recording phase I was always looking for a solution that combined the two components album story and homogeneity - but I failed. The combination would have been the icing on the cake, but seemed impossible from the very beginning. Regardless of the aspect of homogeneity, I deliberately used certain stylistic devices to emphasize the ‘album coloring’. These include minimalistic vocals without effects to enhance intimacy and closeness due to the biographical focus, the use of 3D-sounds to condense the atmosphere, as well as give more weight to accoustic sounds to the detriment of distorted ones. Not chaos or destructivity, but constructivity (reflected in the flair of a modern fairy tale) is the focus.
A fairytale that is very personal though...
Yes, that's true. I decided to give my own biography more prominence this time, which runs through all the songs. The most personal tracks are 'The Sweet Ones the Evil Ones', VAST, 'Box of Pandora', 'Paradise Lost' and 'Drown to Live' - all of which are interwoven. A central theme is my unusual development of the way how I perceive the world: at the very beginning hypersensitive, chaotic and abstract. As a formative consequence of this kind of perception I experience a certain hardship in dealing with everyday life. This had quite an impact on me. I struggled to carry out smaller everyday activities as well as longer conversations due to a diminished ability in filtering sensory stimuli. I still remember well my education as a media designer - instead of completing tasks, I secretly wrote poems. This was my anchor in the sea of sensory overload, so to speak. The ‘wrongly’ calibrated stimulus filter can cause the brain to be flooded with information, which appears to come from the outside, whereby in reality it is constructed by oneself. The movie ‘Das weiße Rauschen’ with Daniel Brühl in the lead illustrates this quite well. An example would be natural sources of noise sounding like voices all of a sudden. In addition there were wild episodes of dissociation. I had to struggle with all that. Over time I developed techniques to give structure to perception, which I improved and practiced more and more. Today I think I am able to switch back and forth between both forms of perception. The abstract-chaotic one helps me with art and the understanding of philosophical concepts, the structured one makes my everyday life easier.
"See You In Heaven" at the end of the album seems like the artistic processing of a personal stroke of fate...
No. It's a hopeful prospect for what might come after death.
The album comes together with an elaborate video essay: For each song exists a clip that tells a complete story. What gave you this idea?
Quite simply: I always wanted to produce an album with a music video for each song. At some point during the development of the concept of ‘Of Those Who Drown to Live’ it became clear to me, that this album will have to serve this purpose. It literally screams for a video story.
Generally asked: How important are optics and acoustics in combination?
This is a double-edged sword. It is possible to enhance the emo-cognitive effect of a song with visual accompaniment as long as coherence of optics and acoustics is achieved. If this does not succeed, the effect of the song can be destroyed. In addition a music video always anticipates the song, which also can have a negative effect. Suppose a listener has empathized with a song over a long period of time and associates certain feelings and images with it. Then one day he watches the music video and realizes that it has nothing in common with his ideas. This can be disappointing, I guess. That's why I try (from now on more vigorously) to be balanced and careful with music videos - apart from the current video story book of course, because here the visual presentation is the core concept.
Four albums in less than four years sounds very time-consuming, of course, but also shows that your creative streak is pulsating. Can you simply decide for yourself to invest less time?
Starting with the release of 'Of Those Who Drown to Live' I won’t produce any album for at least 3 years. That’ll be June 2021. I don't know if other artists can just decide to be less active, but I have defined a working mode for myself: I dictate every pop-up idea that is valuable onto my mobile phone to archive it - nothing more. I won't go to the studio until the end of 2019. That's how I will do it.
Is there something you might want to do in your Ewian-free time? Quasi a heart's desire or even lifelong dream that you want to fulfill for yourself?
Buy an old VW bus to drive around aimlessly. Let's see if this works out!
|| INTERVIEW: DANIEL DRESSLER | DATE: 04/16/19 | CONTACT | READ IN GERMAN ||
PHOTOGRAPHY © NATALY ZIBERT
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