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INFO magazin, July 2, 2002, vol. 54-55
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The Hyperboreans are coming!

An interview with Senad Hadžimusic – Teno, SCH

(By: Vladimir Lepušina i Mirza Gazibegovic)

On the occasion of the release of their new album, Vril, we exchanged a few digital words with the leader of SCH, Senad Hadžimusic, popularly known as Teno.

1. Seven years have lapsed since The Gentle Art of Firing, released in the thick of the Bosnian war. In the interim you've spent a few years in Prague, returning to Sarajevo three years ago. How much did this seven-year exile from the music scene impact on the sound of Vril? Have you used this time to develop your musical pursuits, towards creating a new, improved sound?

Well, life in Prague has certainly left its mark, although I didn't really spend my time there thinking about music, seeing as I had other more pressing things to deal with. I mainly consumed music there, and there was a lot to consume, a lot to get acquainted with.  Things are immeasurably more developed than over here, there is plenty of information about what's going on in the world. From this perspective, we here only get minimal information, which explains why things are so dire here, that's a clear handicap. Now, as in the past, people here are denied the opportunity to become acquainted with new trends, not just in the area of electronic music, but music in general. It appears to me that folk here are into completely different things to people in the rest of Europe.  That surprised me somewhat on my return but I've since come to realize that basically our inspirations are different, principally, again, due to lack of information. People are into whatever is served by the media, and the media here are godawful. So it wouldn't surprise me if Vril is not understood and accepted here, my "inspirations" are simply different.

2. The sound of your new record is electronic, although the recognisable noise sound of SCH is also still there. What brought about this drastic change? What led you to leave the guitars behind and turn to this electronic computerised machine and industrial sounds?

The guitars are still there, although granted they're somewhat in the background on this record. But the important thing is not how things are made or played, what matters is the final result.

This change is not so drastic. We've always used synths and artificial noise, both on our records and live. During the war period we were unable to do so simply because our fourth member was missing, so we had to play as a trio with classic instruments. In certain periods, our music was made up of a good 40-50% of synthetic, "artificial" sound, and had we had access to better gear, I'm sure the percentage would've been greater.  If today's cheap computers had existed in the eighties many things would've been different. I simply have no prejudices towards the use of any technology, I'm not into traditionalism. I don't wish to be restricted in any way, and I certainly don't wish to be limited to rock in the narrower sense of the word. I like different kinds of music, regardless of the means used to make it. I must stress that I've always been a fan of electronic music. A case in point is my love for seventies bands like Tangerine Dream and other Kraut rock bands, and on to Kraftwerka and DAF in the late seventies and early eighties, Frontline Assembly, Front 242 and others, all the way to techno, house and the like in the nineties. I've never been limited to one style, that's just stupid.

3. I understand you are now using computers. Could you tell us what software are you utilising and generally how do you view all this gear that's now replaced guitars, drums etc?

Cubase, Nuendo, Reason, Fruity Loops, Cool Edit, various Steinberg FX programmes etc. I've mastered it all and there are no more secrets.

A computer can serve as a studio. It's just technique. A classic studio is also technology., there's no difference. If you don't like technology, well use classical instruments. Rock is electricity. It's a small step from electricity to electronics.

You can use a computer to record in analogue too. If your gear is good enough, you can do punk or any other "rock" style of music. A computer is just a bin, everything else depends on how creative you are. It's a piece of equipment which represents a great substitute for those enormous studios. I'm sick of those old studios, we've always shunned those. Engineers there would always fuck up our sound, recording as they did in their conventional way. I'm glad computers exist. They could (although not necessarily so) evolve or even humanise the process of making music. Now, more than ever before, every person can make and promote their music. That's the greatest thing. Computers and the Internet are democratising music. There's no more fucking monopoly. I'm for as many people as possible doing their own thing, releasing their CDs. This could move things forward. My vote goes to the computer.

But computers should not be exclusively linked to electronic music. Perhaps my next record won't be electronic, but I'll still be recording my classical instruments using a computer.

4. The latest CD is released on the Magaza label, or rather their Post War Sound sub-label. How did this co-operation come about and how much did Adi Lukovac contribute to the electronic sound of Vril?

All contacts and discussions with Magaza were conducted by the main force behind Vril, Dževad Mujan. I personally only discussed things with him, he is the man who helped revive SCH through this new album. As far as I'm concerned, the CD could've been released by anyone. But seeing as the whole idea of releasing it on Magaza was conceived by Mujke, I had no objection. The whole thing was his concept, and a fine job he did too. For which I'm grateful. As for this Post War Sound tag, that was pasted on the record, I had nothing to do with it.

Adi Lukovac is a friend I respect. His contribution was to handle the initial talks with Mujke in Magza's name. But he had no hand in Vril, we've never even held a serious discussion about electronic music. I got into the sound while in Prague, sank into it. Electronic music was coursing my veins by the time I returned to Sarajevo. I particularly liked the harder stuff, none of that plink plonk for me. But then I don't really differentiate between electronic and other styles of music. It's all the same to me what style something is in, what matters is whether I like it or not.  What matters is the essence, right? One could use various means, but the result is the same. It matters not whether it's electronic or not.

5. During Wartime was a sort of warning of what was to come in Bosnia. Was that record a true prophesy or just a co-incidence? Was it a well-thought out view of reality?

Of course it's no co-incidence. Nothing about SCH is co-incidence, right from the early days of 1985. We were among the first conscious beings here, our friends know this. But it's no prophesy, it's rather a clear vision and warning. When we were making that record, in the spring of 1988, very few people understood what was going on around us.

That said, I wish I had the chance to prophesise peace, not war. I wish we'd never had war.

And one more thing: the primary duty of an artist in times of crisis is to be first to view the reality of things and react, and we did this on that record. Perhaps we could have done more had we enjoyed media support. As it is, we got what we got.

6. Is Vril a similar warning?

Vril is more distanced. Indeed, from our vantage point, the record deals with things that one would be hard pressed to bring in touch with our reality, although a certain connection exists. I would need a great deal more space to explain this point. Only the most refined, creative, intelligent minds can get what this is about. That's the target audience for this album. As such, it's an elitist record, a unique one.

7. How much linkage can a secret German society have with our reality, or with what we might come to expect?

This secret German society no longer exists, at least not in its original form. Other secret societies, or better still variations of this society are certainly out there, more active and numerous than ever, foremost in the US. They are involved in our lives more than we can conceive. But, as I said, there's no space here to go into all that in greater detail. Any which way, occultism was the main inspiration for this record.

8. The songs on this album are sung in Bosnian, whereas you previously mostly used German?

Actually we've mostly used English

9. Could you explain this connection, this constant inspiration you obviously derive from the mighty German state.

Germany is the MODEL, Germany means ORGANISATION. It means less "shoddiness" of any kind. It means many things.

Germany is a substitute for some ideal state of being. Obviously, we know things aren't perfect there either, but they're still a million light years ahead of us. I like the way the German mind functions, I like that MODEL.

One more thing – the things I go for in music have their roots in Germanic music tradition. Not American. The American influence for me is far more minor than the German. Germany today is of course just another huge McDonalds. An American spiritual colony. But this will change, sooner or later.

10. Who are the Hyperboreans?

Hyperboreans are the inhabitants of the polar land of Hyperborea, believed to be the direct descendents of the people of Atlantis, themselves the direct descendents of extra terrestrials. Their capital city is Ultima Thule.

11. You are one of the many Sarajevo bands who produced music and played live during the war. Why do you think Sarajevo never matched the period's alternative music scene, before or since the war? Why was it necessary for a war to happen for the kids to take up guitars and produce something that wasn't commercial pop or pap?

There's a number of possible explanations. One could be the following fact: up until the autumn of 1992, most people here believed the war would soon be over. However, once it got through to all in 1993 that the war would go on for a while, everyone began seeking ways of survival, probably overwhelmed by the immensity of the moment, they looked for ways how to not crack up, for ways of binding time while a political solution is found for resolving the conflict. Besides, there was hardly anything being produced in the first 2 years, it only happened in 1994, and by then already some sort of resolution was on the cards.

It was also some sort of reaction against the state of affairs. It was an attempt to show the world that we are not just some Balkanite cretins here, which was a misconception, but that we too know about culture and the latest cultural developments. The message was that we are a civilization that we did not deserve such a fate. There was a great enthusiasm as a response to the frustration and inability to cope with the conditions. People were lost and music helped them get it together. They still believed that their loud hard guitar riffs would awaken the slumbering world to events here and prompt a reaction.

The moment they realized this was a delusion they all stopped playing and most have since left Bosnia. I just think it was a valve.
The specific sound of the bands of the time was no accident either. The early 90s saw the rise of bands who were into alternative sounds, or hard ripping rocking. Things were improving slowly. We had bands like Big Daddy and Lezi Majmune (Down, Monkey – a truly stupid band name), and Sikter, and had it not been for the fucking war, everything would have been much better, including the music scene in Sarajevo.

After the war, when it finally dawned on everyone how much we'd lost, people simply lost the will to work. They saw that it was senseless to produce this "different" music in such "economic" conditions. They simply flagged. Of the ones I mentioned, Sikter are still at it and I value that. At least they are serious enough.

12. Why is it you think that Sarajevo (and Bosnia as a whole) never managed to develop an alternative subculture?

Maybe it's because people here are genetically programmed to go for pap. Sarajevo is an isolated isle and there's nothing or little one can do about that. To believe that these people are capable of any great endeavours in any field is a lie. In more normal circumstances it is possible that people could do more and better in most fields, but it could never be anything exceptional. This is our curse. I only respect exceptional things, with all due respect to certain individuals.

There are numerous factors that contribute to this but best I stop waffling. Culture on the whole is at a very low level here. And it's a mistake to attribute this to the war and the crisis we've just survived. Pedestrian pap ruled before the war too, it's just that most of us didn't note this. We all moved around in small confined group, urban folk. 
We were isolated from our environment, and this is especially true of Bosnia. In doing so, we never acquired a realistic view of the situation.

13. Does SCH still exist as a band and how do you intend to promote the new record? Any live gigs planned?

So long as I'm around and so long as I want it, this band will exist. There's no dilemma about this. But I don't particularly wish to have a "cumbersome" band any more, not like the line up before the war. There's no need for it. People like LIVE music, but that's just a circus. I no longer wish to be part of this circus, and not paid well for it. I don't want us to have to preen on stage just so that someone in the audience can wank over it. Fuck that, that's medieval.

I've got two great guys for live action and video work, namely Zlatko Poljo and Armin, AKA Džarma. We're plotting live appearances here, but also in Slovenia and Croatia, possibly Hungary. We'll have to work out a concept for live gigs. In principle, I'd like us to project what's in our heads, not what we have in our digits. Although our fingers are mighty strong too, make no mistake. 

14. You only contributed one lyric on this record. The rest are penned by Sasha Skenderija - what was the reason for this? A lack of inspiration or something else?

Silly question. I've got enough inspiration to last me a lifetime, I've never been lacking there. It was basically a desire to get others involved in this, to have some vibes other than mine.

15. Whom are you targeting in terms of audience, who is actually able and needing to hear this stuff?

Well, intelligent people irrespective of age. I don't know whether anything more than five people out there can stomach this but that changes nothing anyway. I have to follow my genes and hormones, even if no one else wants to hear it. I will simply NEVER contribute to the universal stultification and dumbing down of people. I love human beings far too much to do that. As for those who do do it, may they rot in hell.

16. A certain pessimism permeates your music.

I'm not sure I'd agree.

17. Are you really a pessimist?

Well, I don't know. As far I'm concerned, VRIL awakens optimism. And I believe it should inspire optimism in all who get it. If nothing then for the mere fact that a project as serious as SCH and VRIL exist here chez nous.

It's the pop we're surrounded with that generates pessimism and gets me down. It's all just a veneer to cover a realistically grotesque world. It's an expression of the collective pessimism. That's the way things are, just foul. It's not merely a question of pessimism and optimism, and that some see it this way and others that way. Things really are bad. That's not pessimism, that's reality. Let someone try and convince me otherwise.

Actually, SCH is one of the few optimistic things around, if we must use these categories. I personally believe that the essence of things exists outside these two categories. People are craving fun, but it's no time for that. We in Bosnia have a lot of work to do if we just want to survive, never mind live a life worthy of humans. Don't you think?

18. So are we really getting a dose of "history accelerating", to quote you from your track "Far too long this has been going on"?

To paraphrase Hegel: "History is dynamic spirit at play". We're basically talking cycles.

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