Ibyss is a German industrial/electro metal band formed in 2012 and consists by two members, Jens and Nihil, who aim to bring industrial metal to its roots. In January they self-released their newest EP ‘Hate Speech’ which according to the band has caused some reactions due to its title and content in the German media. Last Day Deaf found the opportunity to talk with the band about their new release and the reaction of the music press in general.
Can you tell us a few things about Ibyss, a mini bio of the band?
Nihil: Our band is the two of us: Jens sings, shouts and plays guitars. I take care of guitars, bass and drum programming as well. We had a traditional metal band until it broke up around 2011. After a short break we both started to exchange demos based on this stripped down heavy music. After years of stressful songwriting and clashes with five musicians, it was a breath of fresh air to us and it all took off from there. Due to the nature of this approach, everything in this band has to be functional for us and our audience.
I have a feeling that electro music in general is quite popular in Germany. What are your musical influences, and which ones draw you into industrial metal?
Jens: I must admit, I don´t listen that much to electronic music. I´m a full-blown fan of different types of extreme metal. I think, the reason I started listening to industrial metal as well, has been my mutual interest in dystopian literature. So I just started to search for music that had a similar feel.
Nihil: I grew tired of the label being used for nu-rock riffs over cheap techno beats for over a decade. At this point, I re-discovered Godflesh, Helmet and all the early Fear Factory demos. We spent the last years excessively rehearsing and songwriting in order to refine our own style and make it work live on stage.
To be honest, I am not an expert regarding industrial metal. I found ‘Hate Speech’ somehow minimalistic and raw. Can you explain a few things about the “roots of industrial metal” you claim your work is aiming to?
Jens: Everything is just so polished these days. Any roughness has to be polished with a million effects or samples. I can´t stand it anymore. Personally, I want a raw sound just like the good old times of Godflesh and Nailbomb.
Nihil: Basically, our ultimate goal is to produce heavy music, although we don´t play in the extreme metal range of let´s say 200 bpm with extremely low tuned instruments or very technical riffs and so on. We want our music to kick ass no matter what. And yes, we utilize every piece of tech and software in order to make our stuff sound as “industrial” as we want it to. We cannot afford to spend months in a studio anyway.
If I am correct, the cover artwork shows the bust of Aristotle and the album’s title ‘Hate Speech’ seems to close his mouth. Tell us about the idea behind the artwork.
Nihil: You´re right. It is Aristotle. The cover portays this Greek philosopher as an icon of rationality and reason being silenced with the present label of ‘Hate Speech’. That´s the main conflict our culture is currently dealing with: Hurt feelings versus reason. Every discussion about the “looming danger” of hate speech can be broken down to the premise that free and unregulated speech leads to terrible outcome and thus has to be regulated. Our civilization is an ongoing dialogue which led to free press, the separation of state and religion, civil laws or the abolition of slavery. Keep in mind: back then these topics were pretty offensive to the rulers in power. Freedom of speech is binary. It´s either free or it´s not. Today, there´s a tendency to reverse into a monologue and monopolize it by implementing laws and state regulations. Now, speaking of the industrial metal/dystopia connection, that´s pretty dystopian to me. I don´t trust any state of power anyway.
Jens: Everything anyone says today can be easily shut down by accusations of chauvinism, racism, or generally hate speech. Our new communication methods are silence and conformity. Just doing and saying what everybody does and says. Oh, by the way, we are for sure an absolute democracy. Without discourse there is no development. Oh by the way, I am a vegan.
You have said that the German press found this album provocative and consequently didn’t mention anything about its release. What is the lyrical theme of the album about and why do you think parts of the press decided not to mention your release?
Jens: I am not so sure if the lyrical content does have anything to do with a poor response. In Germany everything seems to be Pay-To-Play these days. If you pay, we will publish news regarding your record, if you pay, we will make a review and so on. So, everything has become really greedy down here. But maybe the term “hate speech” is such a strong trigger, no one wants to have anything related to that term. I don´t know. The lyrical content is just your everyday anger. Nothing special and definitely nothing ban-worthy.
Nihil: Our record explicitly deals with the mass hysteria around trigger warnings, toxic masculinity, safe spaces and so on. So far, our print media has done a rather disappointing job by refusing to review us because of the title. It´s some taboo they´d like to avoid thinking and discussing in detail. Anyway, fuck ´em. The online media is much more open minded anyway and here we are: having a regular dialogue with you.
This is a sensitive question, but I think I have to ask if you think that in Germany, and even the rest of the world, a kind of covered hate speech and conservatism is growing?
Jens: It definitely is growing and it is definitely scary. Everyone seems to get back in mindpieces, that we hoped were long lost forgotten in time and history. But I think this isn’t the worst thing about our current time. The worst thing is, everybody seems to choose a political or ethical system like you fucking choose a football team. I mean seriously, if you look at the Brexit and especially its aftermath. It frightens me a lot to know, my fate is based on poor decisions by an uninformed majority of morons. Guess I have to relocate to… the past.
After reading some reviews about ‘Hate Speech’, I realized that musically and lyrically there shouldn’t be a rejection of this work, and then Rammstein came to my mind. They are also German and they have been characterized as provocative. What is different in your case?
Jens: I love Rammstein, I really do. And as a German native speaker, I really do appreciate their clever lyrical approach. I personal don´t see any connection to them. I mean seriously, I don’t run around stage wielding a giant schlong hyperphrasing “Heil Hinkler”. But what I do, and I think we have that in common, is… I am going to say you are a fucking bitch IF you are a fucking bitch in my opinion. I am not going to ask for social approval about that. I am not going to ask some feminist-nazi-gay-opportunist if I can do that. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in freedom of expression. And I believe that everybody has a right to his “hate speech”.
Let’s change the mood and talk about live shows. What are your plans for this year?
Nihil: Kicking off a series of club gigs opening for Tommi Stumpff, who was the pioneer of EBM and plays his comback gigs using heavy guitars. It´s a blast to play for guys who, in terms of age, could be our fathers and it´s demanding as fuck to deliver a great performance as an opener for a legendary musician. We are also working on new songs and a music video. Of course!
With which bands would you like to share the stage with?
Jens: Godflesh or Fear Factory. And definitely Melissa Auf Der Maur, for reasons….
Nihil: Most of my favourite bands aren’t around anymore so….book us and we´ll perform and rock hard.
Thank you for your time! Feel free to close this interview.
Jens: I am no individual. Definitely. I am no individual.
Nihil: I’m low on coffee so I have to rely on the usual “visit our page and hit the subscribe button”. We have some interesting stories to tell through our songs. See ya and rock on!