Infernal gloom, indeed. The intrepid executor of Cair Andros presently finds himself wandering the dingy, windswept fringe-culture of Australia's southernmost chunk of land. To the devout, to the contented, to the ignorant, Tasmania is nothing more than "The Apple Isle"; a place of quiet traditions and pious rural to semi-rural existence. But those who know quickly recognise that "Tasmania" is an anagram for "I Am Satan"; those who stroll through obscurity and all matters grimlistic on an everyday basis see the importance of such locations as Cape Grim, the Isle of the Dead and that evil lake the name of which I have forgotten. And of course, there's the history of imprisonment, cannibalism, genocide, weird animals and the misanthropic efforts of one Martin Bryant. There are indeed some dark, sinister currents coming out of the inconspicuous little pubic-hair-shaped state. Where better to start than the bizarre Hobart entity Striborg, the mastermind of which has been churning out the goods in one way or another since the late 1980s? Being something of a fan of this extremely obscure musician's productions, I eventually got around to sending him a question or two. All of which I assume were answered as the sun rose through the morning fog over Neika. First of all, with a little prompting, Sin-Nanna describes the history of his musical escapade:
"Striborg started from Kathaaria in '93. Kathaaria had finished the emotional, spiritually cathartic stuff and there was an obsession at the time to make darker music, hence Striborg, but now some time has passed, they sound the same anyway."
CA: How are you trying to affect the listener with your music?
S-N: "Spiritually, psychically and emotionally, in such a personal way. So that the listener understands exactly how I felt at the time: alone, depressed, and lost in a void that only I know of and no other, a dream-world that I made open to myself.
"A link to my spiritual world where equilibrium lies, that very much to earth, only I have a better understanding of this parallel world, that's where my music lies, and you will find it when listening to it.
"It lies in at times impenetrable darkness, that which we may find in our minds or naturally in life."
Your latest tape/LP (Misanthropic Isolation, for the uneducated reader) at times achieves a very intense and brutal sound (despite what I assume to be 4-track production), and at others is very distant and ethereal. Why and how did you create these tonal discrepancies and contrasts?
"This is how I always produce music, bright, fuzzy, cold and distant. I use whatever I can at the time, in the past a borrowed 4-track or Stereo. The new stuff is recorded mostly on my 4-track and a couple done in a studio. I want my sound to be fuzzy and distant, like an audio version of literally the mist you encounter in everyday life.
"I think my new stuff is very mellow, occasionally sporadically explosive, but still ethereal to keep the Atmosphere. The first and third Kathaaria is quite brutal though. I've heard so many bands go for the fast job and result in little atmosphere."
Songs like "The long dark path" and "House covered in thorns" have a particularly monotonous, trance-like quality. Would you view Striborg, at least partially, as atmospheric music?
"Yes. Striborg is a black-metal version of Veil Of Darkness, and Veil Of Darkness is like a black-ambient version of Striborg (You might have gathered that Veil Of Darkness is S-N's other project. -SL) . I like the trance monotonous sound, so that you fall mesmerised into the music."
State the three chief musical, spiritual and philosophical influences on Striborg.
"On a musical level, it is influenced by me and nature. I use myself to channel outer forces. Other bands' influences on Striborg, say Darkthrone, Ildjarn, Gehenna, Bathory and Graveland. Veil Of Darkness-Tombstone, Darkness Enshroud/Valefor, Tangerine Dream, Aghast and The Semblance Of Shadowy Forests.
"Spiritually and philosophically at one with nature, animals, and at times people, as well as the influence of hating people. I look very much into life and my dreams. I love being in a dream state, having the sixth sense open (Telepathy). But I find it is still hard to rely on Intuition, Fate, Magic and Time. I've always worshipped the god that I am and indeed ever-so-clearly see that in other people and want them to shine.
I'm obsessed with darkness and love Autumn/Winter as most black-metallers do.
"I believe in Karma, Equilibrium. I understand my own rights and wrongs, and live for justice under my own moral banner." A brief interjection: "It is terrible to be alone with the judge and avenger of one's own law. It is to be like a star thrown forth into empty space and into the icy breath of solitude."-F. W. Nietzsche (Sin-Nanna continues:) "I understand life too well, and it keeps on hurting me. I do love life, because I understand why there is so much misery and bad omenship. In a way being depressed is the most beautiful experience, because it can only get better. Having everything all 'la de da' will only result in downfall. I have a nice balance between optimism and pessimism, ying and yang-everything with opposition, that is what life is, so it's about time people understand it and get along with life instead of blaming a black god, for god is ominous-he created love and hate and everything you could list down with an opposed side. It's quite simple really. (It's all about swastikas. -SL)
"I don't think I answered your question. If I were to do so, it would take Telepathy or mean writing a novel and spending years of research for the perfect answer."
Do you have any interest in Satanic or Pagan belief? What is your opinion of religion in general?
"Yes, I do, but not as much as most people in this scene. I have an interest and would like to expand this in the future; maybe it would be a better way of expressing myself.
"Religion in general is way too closed-minded, too many rules and guidelines that don't apply to everyone. I don't wish to elaborate, as I have talked about it too many times, and, well, religion in gathered "Mass" form generally sucks shit. (!) You will only find religion in yourself and other people, or other people may bring an aspect of your godly self out. Falling in love is probably the best example. Or the worst."
Going by the titles of many of your songs, you are obviously influenced greatly by the natural world. How do you express the beauty and terror of PAN/GAEA in your music?
"The way I express is with the deepest insight to my very own existence. I see too much and I am always getting too hurt. I express this in music for, 'tis the best way I know of communicating; I find personal interaction too limited or having too high an awareness level that radiates on that person making them feel uncomfortable. Most people label this paranoia; this is only when you can't differentiate between reality and your own thoughts. Heightened awareness utilised can be the best way of predicting the future, if void of delusion."
Misanthropy is a term that is often (over)used in the lyrical concepts of numerous black-metal bands. How would you describe "misanthropic isolation"?
"Misanthropic Isolation: hating people, with a passion to exclude them from your life. After all, everybody lies, cheats hurts, rips you off, backstabs, hates. I hate being me and I hate everybody as a whole. But I have enough love for myself and others to keep on going, because I only hate stupid people-"SHEEP" for life, religion, attitude and moralistic values, music, whatever.
"They have no respect for people and animals, and people's feelings. I hate so many people, and love so many, so my wheel of balance will keep my Journey ongoing. (Swastikas, again...)
"As far as try-hard misanthropists go, I would like to meet them in real life and see how introverted they really are, and what their views are."
What do you believe will occur once you have 'shuffled off this mortal coil'?
"That I will finally become one with myself and hopefully another, the world, and ultimately others. I am finding that I'm getting along with people who hate each other because of an attitude. I stand neutral, but would I be of any other way? I only hate when there is a true reason."
What do you think of politics, nationalism and racialism in the 'black-metal scene'?
"Those aspects don't belong there. It is a style that needs personal ideals, values and religion 'etc'. I do like some of these bands that hold those beliefs (from Poland), but as for myself, I am not an Aryan white supremacist. I do not care for politics in black-metal, although it is utilised well, say, in grindcore."
On an entirely different note: what bands have you been listening to of late? Anything worthy of the readers' attention?
"Yes, local (Tasmanian) acts such as: Matt Niedra, The Semblance of Shadowy Forests, Tom Salvador Egg, Flying Phallus and Death Bed Conversion are all supreme. Also, Diable Amoreux, Kind Winds and heaps more Hobartian alternative bands.
"As for the black-metal scene, Graveland, Darkthrone, Maanes, Crimson Moon, Judas Iscariot, Vlad Tepes, Gehenna, Black Funeral.
"Electronic: Tangerine Dream, Throbbing Gristle, B.O.N, Amon, Caul, Raison D'Ętre, Darkness Enshroud...
"Rock: Bauhaus, Siouxie And The Banshees, Tubeway Army, Visage, The Cure...
"60s: Audience, Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett, CAN, The Third Ear Band...
"Death-metal: M.S.I, Magus, Mortician, G.B.N., Warsore, Disseminate (r.i.p.), Psycroptic, Cheese Grater Of Chastity…"
Please talk about the following musicians...
What are your hopes for the dark future of Striborg?
"To finally one day release my music in a bulkish form of some sort-tapes, CD-Rs, flyers. I am working on a Veil t-shirt limited to 20, in silver... Also to play a few gigs; that's about it, and when at that status, I could say "and the rest is history…" "
Thanks for the interview, Sin-Nanna. I hope you enjoyed it... please make any closing remarks to the readers of this esteemed tome, and all the best for Striborg, Veil Of Darkness, M.S.I., etc.
"Thank you very much Sam for the interview and keen interest in Striborg. James [McLachlan] has a copy of your band's works; I'm just about to go and ask to borrow it!"
Lovely. Heilige Tod.