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Impurfekt - Interview

Interview with: Aaron Russell

Conducted by: T.V.

Impurfekt, one man band from Seattle (USA) was founded in 2008 and since then released three albums, couple of EP's, split EP, plus two videos. Aaron Russell, the mind behind Impurfekt, is on the musical journey of discovering dark electronic industrial sounds, but not only, as the human nature, thoughts and everything that surrounds him has a big impact on what he creates. This fall another masterpiece is to be expected and all fans of dark industrial music should eagerly wait for this one. Meanwhile if you haven't heard Impurfekt yet, try it's past releases as they bring a lot of freshness to the genre, with tons of interesting and almost till perfection made compositions. Here's the chat we had with Aaron and he explained us a lot of background regarding Impurfekt.

T.R.: Impurfekts last release is the reissue of 2009 released Human album. What was the reason for this rerelease and what are the differencies regarding the original version?
Aaron: Human holds a place in my heart and remains relevant to me personally.  As the years passed I could not help but feel the sound quality deserved to be addressed.  The new version represents my effort to bring out the best in the original compositions.  I remixed and mastered every track.  Early on I experimented with replacing drums and instruments with higher quality sounds but the soul of the original compositions were lost in the process.  So instead I chose to maintain the original instruments and audio, flaws and all.  Still, I was able to greatly improve the overall sound quality of the release.  Only the art was entirely redone.  I feel that I can now call this album finished.
T.R.: Can you tell me more about the story behind the Human album? And why did you use the same title for this album as Death used for their album released back in 1991... any connections?
Aaron: I am not at all familiar with the band Death or their 1991 release.  If there are any similarities they are coincidental. It's hard to recall exactly how I arrived at the title Human.  I believe I made the decision while thinking about the subject matter of the tracks I had in progress.  That is also when my vision as an artist solidified. Impurfekt is about the human experience; coping with being human in an inhumane world.  Nearly every track on that album is based on experiences from my own life so Human seemed to me the most appropriate title.  There are many intense, personal events woven into the music. 
T.R.: Regarding that you don't know anything about one of the most important metal bands, Death, I believe that you are not a fan of metal music?
Aaron: I listened to some Static X and Rammstein growing up.  I had a friend who was a Powerman 5000 fan.  I haven't bought a metal CD in ten years though.  I rarely feel the need to listen to angry, loud music anymore.  I went to a Gwar concert a couple years ago.  It felt more like a behavioral experiment than a concert.  Some guy cracked his head open as a result of the "human wall."  That was exciting...
T.R.: Why did you changed the artwork for this album and who's responsible for the Impurfekt's art?
Aaron: I wanted to create new artwork to reflect the remixing and mastering I did for the re-release.  Also, I felt the artwork could be improved to better reflect the nature of the album; less noise, more focus. I have always done the art design for Impurfekt.  I use a combination of original and stock photography.  To me the art design and the music are one.  I can't imagine having anyone else do it.
T.R.: Earlier this year you released EP In Loving Memory which is quite different regarding everything you released before. Is this a new aproach that you are going to use in the future?
Aaron: In Loving Memory is very much a concept EP.  I released it as a means of self expression foremost.  It will always be available for free (download it HERE).  It does not represent the overall direction of Impurfekt but does represent the subject matter that inspired it.  It felt good to work on something truly unique and it was a necessary step for me emotionally.  In the process I also became more familiar with the new tools I am using to create my upcoming album.
T.R.: In Loving Memory is almost entirely an instrumental work, why haven't you used any vocal parts on this one?
Aaron: I created In Loving Memory to honor the memory of a dog that was very important to me.  As he could not speak I felt vocals weren't appropriate.  I chose instead to write the poem which accompanied the release.  I did however ask Karra to sing a few notes on "Slipping".  I felt her voice added a necessary human element and emotion to the EP.
T.R.: Is the dog on the frontcover actually the dog for whom is this EP dedicated?
Aaron: Yes. That is one of my favorite photos of him.
T.R.: What's your relation with Karra Russell? She is quite a lot involved in Impurfekt, either as a guest vocalist, video producer and so on…
Aaron: Karra is my kid sister.  She and I are very similar and the best of friends.  She has been supportive of Impurfekt since the very beginning.  She provides feedback and vocals regularly.  She also handles the majority of video production for me.
T.R.: Your video for "Suicide Lover" is something very special, but also very disturbing at the same time... What's the message of this video or the song?
Aaron: I was inspired to write "Suicide Lover" after a coworker killed himself.  I did not know him well but he always said "hello" to me and seemed to be very happy.  His death brought back a lot of memories and feelings as I have struggled with depression since adolescence.  I wanted the song to both honor him (and anyone else who has passed in the same way) and convey the sense of chaos that pervades the thoughts of one who is genuinely suicidal. The "Suicide Lover" video that Karra produced took those ideas to the next level.  A suicidal person is trapped in a funhouse nightmare.  Their world is backwards.  Everything they see, hear and do is altered by their sickness.  In time, death becomes their only hope for relief.  I believe the video conveys these aspects very, very well. Real depression, the kind that results in suicide, is foreign to many people.  It is not emo or goth.  It is not about attention and glamour.  It is a cancer of the heart and mind.  We want to pretend it doesn't exist.  We are afraid to talk about it; to acknowledge it.  It pains me how much stigma and ignorance still surrounds it in our society.
T.R.: On the other side, the video for "Growing" is a completely different story. What can you tell about this one?
Aaron: The song "Growing" is about sharing moments and making memories with someone you love and care for; seeing them discover life and sharing in that happiness and innocence. In shooting the video I thought about things my dog and I may be doing if he were still here.  I also thought about what it might be like for a dog that has passed away.  Would his spirit still follow his master and sleep at his side?
T.R.: Now I can see this video from another perspective. Are you prepairing something new on the visual side?
Aaron: I currently have no specific plans for another music video.  Though, it will certainly happen again.  Karra handles most of the video side.  When we have an idea that inspires her, a video will happen.
T.R.: From some post on your facebook site I can sense that you are prepairing new songs or even a new album, or am I wrong?
Aaron: I am currently working on three projects.  One of them is a new album.  I have made a lot of progress, however I feel most of what I've done does not reflect my original intent for the album.  I am making adjustments to bring things in focus.  My hope was to have the album ready by October but I will be amazed if that happens.
T.R.: Can you already reveal some facts about the upcoming album of yours?
Aaron: My next album, Crawling will be about a very difficult period in my life that happened recently.  The music will describe what took place in my head.  I am creating darker, subtler compositions; with more focus on rhythm and mood.  I want the listener to get a glimpse of what it feels like to become numb, to lose yourself; to feel weighed down, disconnected, disoriented.  Rather than epic, the music will be claustrophobic.
T.R.: Then this upcoming album will be more similar to Saviour or Human than to In Loving Memory?
Aaron: Certainly.  The song "Fade Away" from Savior is very similar to what I am producing for my next album.
T.R.: Saviour must be the darkest album you ever created and at the same time the most atmospheric one. What can you tell me about that one?
Aaron: In the beginning it was about the desire to protect loved ones.  I wanted to capture the feeling in a hero's heart when they choose to put themselves in danger.  But as production dragged on the focus began to change.  It eventually encompassed everything I was feeling as I produced the album (sadness, depression, unrequited love, etc.).  However, I still made an effort to tie things back to the original theme.  In the end the album is not just about the desire to save others in a physical sense, but in a spiritual and psychological sense. I feel the album is my best work from a composition and production standpoint.  The majority of my favorite Impurfekt tracks are on this album.  But I also feel that is was not as cohesive as I would have liked.  I believe the time it took to produce the album as well as my mental state played a role in that.  Also, I tended to address each song separately, with no regard to the greater whole.
T.R.: Songs like "Moon" and "The Day The Earth Stood Still" are among the favourites of mine and have a strong gothic feeling in them. Please share some words about those two songs…
Aaron: "Moon" is a song about unrequited love.  I wanted to describe the feeling of having your heart pulled around day after day; collapsing with despair and exhaustion, only to pick yourself up and do it all again, not knowing why.  The overall sound was inspired very much by In Strict Confidence.  I wanted to try my hand at an industrial pop song and I felt the subject matter made that style appropriate.  I like the song.  I feel I succeeded in many respects. "The Day The Earth Stood Still" is a retelling of what happened when I went to visit someone who was in the midst of psychosis.  It was a very powerful moment for me.  With the music I wanted to recapture that moment, but in as beautiful a way as possible.  I always try to end my albums with something beautiful; to leave the listener with a sense of hope.  Originally, I had intended to sing the lyrics myself but I could not get results I felt happy with.  Karra agreed to help and did an excellent job.  On a side note: the intro to the track was inspired by the movies of the same name.  I thought it would be fun to allude to something ominous and then transition to something beautiful.
T.R.: I believe that most of the inspirations for your lyrics and sole music must come from the things that sorrounds you?
Aaron: Absolutely. The majority of what I create comes from what I have experienced or what those close to me have experienced.  On occasion I'll base something on an original story or dream, but even then I interweave my own experiences to give the music heart.  My music is a reflection of myself, pure and simple.  When I stray from that focus, the music suffers.
T.R.: And what are the other two projects that you working on them?
Aaron: In addition to working on the new album, I am composing music for an independent film my brother-in-law is doing (a tragic love story).  I am also producing music with Karra that will hopefully develop into a new side project.  It is in the very early stages so I can't reveal more.
T.R.: There are a lot of musical styles in your songs, from industrial, ambient, trip hop,... what are your main influences?
Aaron: My three main influences are Massive Attack, Enigma (1990-2000) and Velvet Acid Christ.  I should also mention The Future Sound Of LondonMassive Attack's Mezzanine album is probably the single greatest influence for what I am producing right now.
T.R.: You use such a strong words for the titles of your albums (Human, Saviour, Purgatory,...). The only one title with a different approach is In Loving Memory. Anything special behind this?
Aaron: I always choose titles that I feel reflect the heart of the album best.  In the case of the In Loving Memory EP; it is meant as a dedication.  Each song is also based on specific memories.
T.R.: There was a Rebirth EP released in 2009 that has something to do with Nintendo game Secret Of Mana…
Aaron: Rebirth was a split EP I did with two other artists: Verney 1826 and Spunx.  I thought it would be fun to recreate music from a game I grew up with and they were happy to join me.  I make a point to experiment with different ideas and styles between albums.  It gives me a chance to learn new techniques and recharge emotionally.  I actually have another release in the works based on Chrono Trigger, but it will be some time before it is finished.
T.R.: Have you ever or do you plan to play on stage?
Aaron: This is a good question and one I often think about.  Currently, I simply don't have the desire or resources to perform live.  I don't believe standing beside a laptop on stage with a microphone is adequate.  I would want an actual band with keyboardists and a drummer.  Perhaps if I somehow produce a well received album and gain popularity it would become financially viable.  People may say an artist needs to perform live to be successful.  That may be so.  Honestly, I'm more concerned with making music than putting on a show.  I'm an artist, not a showman.
T.R.: Have you ever considered to bring other members into Impurfekt?
Aaron: Impurfekt will always be a solo project; unless I marry a musician.  I believe the best way to maintain quality and substance is to keep it a solo project; no politics, drama or misdirection.  I am always open to guest vocalists though and hope to feature more in the future.
T.R.: If there would be a vast possibility of guest vocalists, who'll be the first that you would ask to take part in?
Aaron: That is a very difficult question.  I certainly prefer a subtle, smooth voice.  However I am not familiar with enough vocalists to name names.  For now I am happy to work with Karra.  Her style is improving constantly and she is usually willing to work at getting the sound I want.  I am always listening to fellow musicians and keeping an open mind though.  I hope to gain more connections and respect in the future so I can work with a wider range of vocal talent.
T.R.: All of your works have been self released,... do you intend to continue in this way also on next works?
Aaron: I will self release until I find a home with a strong, well established label.  I send out demos every year and will continue to do so until that happens.  I could perhaps join some smaller label but I would rather find a home on a label that will be around for another twenty years.  Of course, with the current state of the industry that may be wishful thinking.
T.R.: Almost every band and musical artist without a bigger label is using Bandcamp for promotion, distribution and sale of music... Impurfekt is not an exception…
Aaron: I like Bandcamp very much.  They have great features and they are always improving things.  They give me complete control over the entire process as well. The main reason I embraced Bandcamp is because they allow for the sale of lossless audio.  I am not aware of an alternate to Bandcamp with that same feature.  It was key in my shift from CD only to digital sales as well.
T.R.: What kind of machines do you use to create your music?
Aaron: Ideally I would have racks of synths, effects processors and drum machines.  But for now I am completely software based.  It's mostly a matter of cost and space.  I don't even have a keyboard. I use Logic and like it very, very much.  Every year or so I demo other DAWs to see if there is something better for me out there.  I still have not found anything that can match the efficiency and capabilities of Logic for what I am doing.  I am to the point where Logic is transparent in my creative process.  I can do whatever I want without having to think about it.  That is an ideal place to be for a creative artist. Very few of my sounds actually originate from Logic though.  Currently my main tools are the Vienna Symphonic Library, MOTU BPM and the Arturia V Collection.  I did a lot of research before purchasing these tools and have been extremely pleased with them.  I may never have to purchase another software instrument again, ever.  I already have more than I know what to do with. In addition I use a number of sample libraries.  I use creative commons samples or purchase royalty free samples (as a rule I do not pirate samples for the music I release).  Recently I acquired Symphony of Voices by Spectrasonics.  This library is mind blowing and has been making its way into the majority of my work.  I also have a number of libraries which come from very old films; films which no longer fall under copyright.  These samples sound fantastic and fit really well into my music. Aside from all the software I have a Mac, a set of Yamaha HS80M monitors, a Focusrite interface (I just recently sold my Duet), an SM58 mic and a pair of Marshall headphones. 
T.R.: Are you on your own regarding the management and promotion for Impurfekt?
Aaron: Impurfekt is a one man operation.  In the past I have paid others for promotion but it accomplished very little.  Promotion seems very difficult and time consuming, with very little return on investment.  For now I am focused on making the best music I can.  I send out demos every year to labels.  I also contact radio stations and reviewers whenever I release an album.
T.R.: Althought Impurfekt has a lot of musical styles hidden in it's music, there's always present a special dark vibe which attracts people from different dark genres like gothic, metal, dark ambient, industrial, etc.... Who do you think is your main audience?
Aaron: I believe my main audience is industrial music fans.  The roots of my sound are mainly industrial and my music seems to sit best among them.  I make no effort to cater to a specific genre though.  It's mostly a matter of purging my demons.  I also happen to like a raw, dark texture.  My style is certainly shifting though (as I have fewer demons to purge) and I am hoping my music will begin to appeal to a wider audience.  Still, I always hope to satisfy fans of dark electronic music.
T.R.: Regarding the fact that you are coming from Seattle, I must ask you if it's there still present that "grunge" vibe that made this city so popular in 90's?
Aaron: I can't say that I have seen it; though I don't follow grunge music.  I tend to ignore trends as a policy.  As far as I can tell, indie rock has replaced the grunge scene.
T.R.: Thank you Aaron for those answers. Is there anything that you would like to say at the end of this interview?
Aaron: Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me and prepare this interview.  It has been an honor and a pleasure. I can say without hesitation that the journey for Impurfekt has only just begun.  For every album I am working on I am planning two more in my head.  I am always learning, experiencing, creating and improving.  As long as I am alive I will share the results with my listeners. I would also like to thank the friends, colleagues and musicians I have met over the years.  Your support, suggestions and kindness have been invaluable to me.  It is not easy being a musician; especially when anything you create can be stolen, distributed or outright ripped off with the click of a button.  Having a strong community makes the journey worthwhile.  As long as we exist as a community, our music will have a future.

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