Our staff member Filipe ‘ps’ Cruz got back in touch with Enough Records release artist Marcel Gherman, also known as Megatone. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Hello Marcel, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions! Your bio says you are a Musician, radio DJ, journalist and prose writer from Moldova. Most people haven’t even heard of Moldova. Can you tell us about your country and how you got involved with music?
Well, about Moldova, our history was a constant struggle for survival and this situation continues even now. As one medieval historian said, “we’re in the path of all evils”. One of the most essential aspects that you should know about Moldova is that there is no particular Moldovan ethnicity, nor Moldovan language. Throughout the history the territory of Moldova has been part of Romania, and we are actually Romanians , speaking Romanian language. From 1812 to 1918 we’ve been taken over by Russian Empire, and from 1940 to 1990, by Soviet Union. During these periods we have been imposed to call ourselves “Moldovans” and to claim that we speak “Moldovan language”, but that is already politics. I think we have many affinities with Portuguese people, especially thru our common Latin heritage, and we even have an equivalent for the precious Portuguese word Saudade, our equivalent is “Dor”, which is a special kind of nostalgia. In fact, we and the Portuguese people even look a bit the same.
I had a very strange path in music. My interest in it began when I was a child, when I entered music school to study piano. I remember how after watching an old film about vikings, with Kirk Douglas, I was so impressed that I composed a simple “March of the Vikings”. But soon my interest for music ended because I didn’t really see a sense in music, I didn’t think music has any power to change something, to have a real effect on a person. My interest for music returned at the beginning of the 90ies, when I discovered techno music. There was a real magic about it, a lot in common with African music and the power of archaic magic rituals that we, people of the modern age, feel so nostalgic about. Throughout the 90ies I was obsessed with techno music, and since I was 15 years old, for nine years, between 1994 and 2003, I hosted some weekly shows on electronic music on the National Radiostation of Moldova. It was fun. Also since 1994 I wrote a header about techno music in a popular magazine. I made my first techno track recorded in a professional studio in 1996. Afterwards, during the 2000ies, I discovered a lot of interesting music – early electroacoustic music – Xenakis, Stockhausen, Ligeti, industrial – Einsturzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Japanese noise scene – Merzbow, Ryoji Ikeda, Aube, Masonna. So my musical interests shifted to IDM and then to Drone. I think there is also a strong tribal vibe in Drone music. I believe that we have become too civilized, that an important part of our identity has been amputated by positivist materialist society, and that we feel the need to recover the contact with the spirits of nature and with the old gods, of course, if they really exist.
I also have a curious interest in a different kind of music. For several years I had taken some individual lessons of classical music composition from a professional composer and symphonic conductor, initially I took these lessons in order to develop my skills in electronic music, but later I discovered in me a real passion for orchestral film and game music, which can be observed in two albums of mine, Pure Land and Tales Of Knights And Magic.
I know you are also a radio DJ, active since the 90s. What can you tell us about the musical culture in your country especially regarding electronic music?
In Moldova there were traditionally a lot of music schools, both in the urban centers and in the territory, so there are many musicians here, who practice pop music, folk, classical, and even jazz. So we may say that Moldova is a very musical country. There are also some electronic music artists and since the middle of the 90ies we have regular electronic music parties organized. That is mostly drum’n’bass, uplifting trance and house styles. Ambient music is less developed here, but all our DJs and producers are well informed about all styles of electronic music. And there are also some artists who write ambient music, not many although.
What can you tell us of the netaudio scene is Moldova and the surrounding countries? Are there many active netlabels? Are they in contact with local event promoters?
In Moldova there is a good netlabel called Silent Flow, specialized in ambient and IDM. In Romania there were since the end of the 90ies some very good ambient and IDM projects and artists such as NSK, Outer Sanctum and Mythos Micleusanu, the latter is from Moldova. There are a few dark ambient and drone netlabels and artists in Ukraine, to mention just netlabel Clinical Archives. Unfortunately in Moldova there are no event organizers specialized on ambient, but instead the is the Black Makler Promo group, specialized on drum’n’bass, and Avalanche group, oriented on uplifting trance.
You released two albums through Enough Records under your artist name Megatone. First Space Voyage in November 2006 [link] and Imago Mundi Nova in September 2008 [link]. Both of them electronic ambient with a certain mysticism. Is that feeling a common trait across all your musical work? Can you share with us why you are interested in those type of sounds?
Yes, I always like music with idea. I like to think about how my music “functions” and act upon the listener. I think that this method can also be applied to my essays and prose. I always hope that my music and prose would be something more than a mere aesthetic pleasure, would bring some “revelation”, some knowledge. As I said before, I think there is a lot in common between electronic music and old spiritual traditions, like shamanism, Dyonisiac rituals, Roman Saturnalia, or the orgies of drinking the juice of Soma as described in the Vedas. Electronic artist is a modern shaman that leads people into an initiation journey.
In some countries, justified by the financial crisis, we been having heavy cuts on financial supports to culture. How is the situation in Moldova for financing arts and culture?
We have the same problem here in Moldova, although even in the past our cultural sector didn’t have much financial support. It’s a question of survival, but nevertheless, here in Moldova there are still many good professional writers – poets, novelists and essayists, several literary and culture magazines, musicians and painters, and several theatre companies, among them the Eugene Ionesco Theatre Company which for many years organizes an international theatre festival with guest companies even from Japan and India.
It is a problem for the authorities and the society in general to understand the importance of arts and culture, which develop the moral quality and the intelect of each individual, and by this have a key role in building the society.
With the proliferation of access to the internet there is a large access to diverse musical culture. But i can’t help feeling that people are overwhelmed with too much available content and have become passive consumers, waiting for things to come to them instead of feeling the need to search and discover something new. And what usually is being served is commercial marketing. Do you feel this is a problem in promoting culture nowdays?
Yes indeed. Internet has made available a treasure of music and culture, in fact the entire world heritage is available at each person s fingertips, yet not many dare to discover all that marvel. I think that all cultural actors have the mission to remind the public the true importance of arts, not just as an entertainment, but also as mean to make life more complete.
I read on your website you been awarded the writers union of Moldova award for debut for the year 2012 for book of prose “Cartea Viselor” (“The Book Of Dreams”) released in 2011. Can you tell us a little more about it?
My book is a collection of fantastic stories about dreams and visionary experiences. I think it has a lot in common with the music that I write. The stories take place in many exotic countries – India, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Peru. It’s a combination of many influences, from postcyberpunk to surrealism, from Borges and Lovecraft to Castaneda.
Thanks for your time! Any last words?
Throughout the years Enough Records has developed a marvellous catalogue of music. I wish to send my greetings to all Enough Records artists. Also recently I was reading about famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, and on this occasion I learned many things about Portugal, and am amazed how beautiful and unique Portuguese culture is. I wish you all the best. And a special thanks to you, Filipe, for this wonderful opportunity to answer to your interview.
I invite you all to visit my site: http://marcelgherman.blogspot.com