Irezumi Interview

Early in 2008 a new label called Snowblood released a CD by a one-man ambient group called Irezumi."Endurance" immediately set the musical community on its ear,as the music and emotion found within were every bit as dark and somber as anything coming out of the drone or black metal worlds.Shorly thereafter,I contacted Irezumi about an interview.After many months,many communications back and forth,and with a lot of help from the wonderful folks at Snowblood,it is an honor to bring to you this here interview with the man behind Irezumi.

interview with MANUEL MESDAG / IREZUMI
translation/correction by Snooky and Niiko

HSJ:Irezumi is a form of Japanese tattooing. Is there a particular reason you chose this name?

Irezumi:The name "Irezumi" was suggested by Niiko (Snowblood manager / Asmorod) and I liked it because to me music is more about a creative process,something that leaves a mark on the skin or deeper. I almost feel as if the emotion behind the music is engraved into me.

HSJ:Your myspace page says you are a Techno/House artist who now makes Ambient music.Did you ever record or release any of your techno/house music?

Irezumi:Yes I appear on various house music v/a compilation, I released various EPs on some house digital labels. But this is not all I do. I like diversity and I can produce many different types of electronic music besides house music or ambient.

HSJ:The information on the digipak of Endurance is very minimal.Did you perform and record everything on the CD?How long did it take to make Endurance?

Irezumi:Yes it was Snowblood's idea to keep the information minimal & mysterious. Endurance was recorded over a period of 3 years, in different locations Lille, Bruxelles and my native place St Quentin.I used Ableton Live & Reason, various midi controllers and most importantly lot of personal sentiments.

HSJ:The story of Ernest Shackleton's failed expedition seems perfect for your music.Tell us a bit about it.What originally drew you to the stay? Was the music built around the story,or did that come later?

Irezumi:The concept and the design behind the Irezumi you know today came years after the project birth. This was developed with Snowblood.We were thinking about the music, how it was deep and cold but also quite luminous deep inside, so we thought it would be interesting to
develop something around an arctic expedition.

I started to search for documents and read many things about various expeditions in both the North and South Pole. Finally I was really seduced by the Shackelton story. It's a real human adventure, about how to survive in extreme conditions. So with the label we just decided to re-build the whole album around this concept and I recorded some new material inspired by the
Shackelton expedition.

HSJ:Irezumi's first release is also the first release for your label, Snowblood.How did you hook up with them?Did you ever release any Irezumi demos?

Irezumi:I met Niiko a few times before he released his brilliant classic "Hysope" (Asmorod). He always supported me and I always sent him my material to have some feedback from him. He saw me evolve over the years.

At the same moment that he & Hana created Snowblood I was also promoting my demo. Initially they had intended to release a new Asmorod CD. But because I was not really happy with the various deal offers I had received, he decided it could be a good thing to release "Endurance"
on Snowblood, as a first release.

I was very interested by the professional approach of the label and how they are involved in the creative process. They really want to get out of the "average underground quality" and to release some "special" things, both musically and aesthetically. They took a great care of the
packaging and the "physical object" is a part of the music experience. That's also why they refused to go in the direction of iTunes, if you download a Snowblood release, you can't fully understand it.

HSJ:You've mentioned that you'd rather not use the Arctic theme again.Any other concepts/stories you'd like to work with?

Irezumi:If I begin another Irezumi release again, I will think about a different concept. I'm only interested in the emotional side of the music. I want to keep away from the "cold ambient" clich├ęs, because I'm not a dark ambient or black metal artist at all.

HSJ:Do you plan on going back to house music at some point?

Irezumi:Why "going back"? I never stopped making house and techno. I am not one of those guys who records ambient music everyday of their life,Irezumi is just a side of me. I doubt your music can be very "fresh" after many years if you always do the same kind of things. I would find it hard to only make ambient music because the Irezumi creative process is quite exhausting, full of strong emotions. There are a lot of things from my personal life that are pulling out of the music. I need to keep making lighter music, to be able to make music also for fun.

HSJ:Your first release has been getting many rave reviews,and the ambient music community seems to have really taken notice. Do you feel any pressure concerning future Irezumi releases?

Irezumi:I was surprised about the success of "Endurance". I believe Snowblood & Irezumi have reached a lot of different people, not only ambient fans,that's a rather positive thing.

Yes I do feel a pressure, because a next Irezumi release would need a totally different approach. Making another "Endurance" would be senseless to me, and I don't think Snowblood would produce it. I hope I will not disappoint the fans and that they will like my next music.

HSJ:What are your future plans for Irezumi?Will you be working on a second full-length any time soon?

Irezumi:No. I have been really disappointed by the massive piracy of "Endurance". Seeing so many people who claim to enjoy your music stealing 3 years of your life in "one single click" is very heartbreaking.

I think that the ones who downloaded but most of all shared my album have not been respectful of all the hard and passionate work behind it.

For example the graphic design work made by Skyhigh was long hard-work and manufacturing the digipak was so expensive. When you handle the original CD in your hand, the immersion is totally different, it's like body and soul. I also cannot understand what is cool about listening to bad quality mp3's.

I am also quite annoyed by people who send me emails about how they feel filesharing was a good thing for me. I wonder how they would feel if they put all their time, energy and money into a professional release that thousands of people downloaded without ever giving any credit, or anything in return. If it was them would they start the whole experience again?

For the moment I'm not making anymore music with IREZUMI. I'm sorry if I am disappointing the fans. I need a break, it was too much stress for both the label and I. I need to concentrate on MANUEL-M now and Snowblood needs to concentrate on another artist. Thank you for your
support and all the best to HammerSmashedJazz.


AK said...

what's really heartbreaking is having this interview turn into a tear jerker about mp3's and filesharing. i think it's a safe bet that the people who read this blog are interested in more than 0's and 1's that represent music.

beau, i appreciate the interview but manuel really turned me off on wanting to check out his work.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand.

He has actually exhausted his label as well.Seems to be a difficult person to deal with.

This interview took 8 months,and it was only the label that ever seemed interested in spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

really interesting anyways.

Jason said...

I have seen his album on over +60 blogs and forums. No wonder he is so pissed off. I really though it was a net-label free release. But last week I finally managed to buy the CD from Snowblood. They said they will not release a new album of Irezumi ; "high risk investments because of filesharing". But I also heard Manuel Mesdag was a difficult person to deal with. I am very sad. I love this music. I wanted another Endurance.

Manuel-M said...

I'll be back...One day...