How came the idea of starting VLE? Can you reveal your name for us? If not, why hidding behind "The VLE" and what really means it?
~the VLE~: Basically a friend of mine heard a few of my pieces and encouraged me to let others hear it. It wasn't until many years later one night while feeling bored and curious that I decided to put a song up on MP3.com. After receiving a lot of positive feedback and requests for more music, VLE was finally realized. So, everything happened and continues to go along as I receive energy from the people. It wasn't really an idea to do this, but more a calling… I had no idea how far this would go, so I just take everything day by day… it could all end tomorrow. From the beginning I chose not to reveal my name because I just want the people to focus on the music. It is not important for me that I see my name in lights. I want the people to open their mind, body and soul to the music while formulating their own visualizations. It is my feeling that stripped of all defenses we are in essence no different from one another… we all have the same fears and desires so I decided to let the music (our universal language) speak. The letters VLE are taken from the phrase the eViL onE. Unfortunately, I have come across many frightened people that like to judge me. They see me as this evil dark individual... and for a while I started to beleive this myself. I began signing my letters with ~the eViL onE as a sort of sarcastic mocking. So when I first released this music I decided that I would just refer to myself as ~the VLE~... it was quite natural really. The music is just a reflection of this misinterpretation… the illusion as seen through eyes of the flesh. In the end, VLE is just a Virtual Listening Experience, nothing more.
Well, being a solo band, it is completely wierd to us to know how you record all the stuff. I mean, if i'm not wrong, it is improvization and experimentation what you do, so how you manage to give it a nice shape to the music? And also to record it?
~the VLE~: I know many people are quite surprised when I tell them this VLE is pure improvised experimental manipulations. I think this is mostly because as you say, there appears to be a shape to each song. But if you listen closely there is also a lot of repetition, noise and chaos too. I can tell you for certain this music was created without any preparation on my part… I think you can tell from the production quality that this was not something that I put a lot of effort in making things perfect. You must understand VLE is more about release of pure energy… like when you want to scream, cry, break the walls, run and hide, but you cannot... VLE is a result of many years of these pent up frustrations. I write and record with bands now and the process is very different as you consciously work towards a perceived goal... a song with structure, melody, harmony and rhythm, all with the desire for others to hear the results. VLE is the opposite of this. The music is created without a set pattern or prior thought of how the outcome of a piece should be. For instance, I sit down before the keyboard and place my hands on the keys and record the sounds as they happen. When I finish recording this initial release, I then add other sounds, phrases, and outside instrumentation to the initial progression until I feel that the piece is finished. This is determined by how I feel when I listen back to all the sounds together. I don't use any programming techniques (ie. Loops), because basically I don't know how to do it. All the music is created in real-time... even the drum sounds (except in the case of Kano). A piece may start with keyboard/synth, guitar or a simple vocal melody. Some songs were done within a few hours, some a few days or months and in a few cases years. Each time I create, it is because I have to express myself... I have to do something in order to regain some sense of calm. It is one of the few outlets available to me. It's just me recording sounds and working with those sounds until I feel I have nothing left to express. Some songs have started with just guitar and I don't re-do the tracks, so there is a lot of timing errors and notes that are played incorrectly as well. There is no technical aspect to it at all… it is only that I have a way that I do things and I don't try to really understand it or analyze it. I regard every musical experience as some sort of emotional exchange, so I suppose this ultimately affects how my music is created. Basically this music was meant for me as a way to release dark feelings within myself which were becoming quite stifling… nothing more. I didn't plan on anyone else hearing the music so I never paid attention to the details of proper recording techniques and such. The instruments I used are a shitty 4-track, which I suppose most wouldn't consider an instrument, but mine definitely added a nice bit of noise to some songs, so for this reason alone it warrants inclusion… Westone and PRS electric guitars, Ovation and Yamaha acoustics, Fender bass, E-mu and Korg syths, Tama drums(only on Kano) and my voice. For capturing and mixing the sounds I used a Tascam 4-track, Sony double cassette boom box, Computer, Sony DAT, Mackie mixer, Alesis effects unit and some other stuff I forget. Most of this equipment I borrowed or had access to for a short period of time.
You have just released "Book of Illusions Chapter I, II & III", a pretty ambious release and why not, unique production. How came that idea?
~the VLE~: Book of Illusions: Chapter I & II were released in 2001. Because of laziness and some really stressful life situations Book of Illusions: Chapter III has now been realized. Mind you, all this music is very old. What I mean is it is not music I just wrote in 2003 that you hear on Chapter III. For Chapter I & II I took the mixes straight from the cassette tapes and put them to CD, but on Chapter III I was able to take those crude cassette recordings into my computer and tweak the mixes using some sophisticated sound editing software that a friend gave me. I wish I had more knowledge and experience using this software, because I'm sure I could have made a better production, but I think there is a marked improvement nonetheless. I actually didn't plan on releasing any CDs or anything like that, but I got a lot of requests from people wanting to get hard copies of the music, so... like I said everything just developed over time. There is no plan, just as it is in life.
How can you describe every release from each other? There is any musical difference for you?
~the VLE~: Book of Illusions: Chapter I & II is 49 min. of VLE darkness and beauty. Book of Illusions: Chapter III is 55 min. of VLE chaos. But, like I tell everyone, the music on each CD is different and the same.
In the cover albums, there is a woman looking towards the eternity or something... What really means that woman? Is she a inspiration from a person you knew?
~the VLE~: The paintings that grace the albums were done by Disney artist Christophe Vacher (http://www.vacher.com). The title of the painting on Chapter I & II is called "The Legacy". It matters not that the individual is male or female as it is just a representation of a source of energy. So, it can also be seen as a non-human entity. In this regard, the figure could then represent a candle... the bright light that surrounds does not come from this candle, but from the knowledge contained in a book. But this knowledge or light is always surrounded by clouds/darkness and isn't easily read or understood. I am sure the artist had his own vision for this piece, but to me it possesses a very personal and surreal meaning. In this way, the visual art is directly related to the music. The cover painting on Chapter III is called "Expectations"... again, we see this figure represented as a "woman", but now she is more visible. As she stands alone along the cliffside she looks out towards the endless sea... is she waiting for the ship to come or is it leaving? The title of the painting would lead one to believe it is the former, but I don't know this for sure, so it is for this reason I chose it for the cover of Chapter III. For me it represents an unknown expectation. Besides all this, I just feel that Christophe Vacher creates beautiful expressive art. His works move me...
Which has been the reactions from the media? Have you ever got response from people that already have bought the CDs from your site?
~the VLE~: The feedback has been great thus far. A lot of people are shocked that it is only one person making the music, which I take as a great compliment. I always encourage feedback from everyone, so I have also heard back from people who have purchased CDs and they too are very pleased with the sounds. Some are impressed with the sound quality given the circumstances I had to work under and I also get a lot of people saying that the music is very soothing and helps them through their own mental horrors in life... this for me is the most beautiful thing. It is very special for me to know that my music could inspire, sooth, strengthen and just make others feel something... this is the whole point and purpose.
Have you ever felt the sensation you are making a difference from the entire music scene by releasing such as experimental compositions?
~the VLE~: No, not really... I'm not sure that is possible. And even if it were, I could not judge it as so.
There must be a wide espectrum of unknown musicians around the world who still have not been discovered by labels or so. What could you say them?
~the VLE~: Well, you know people don't understand that labels are usually only interested in making a profit. So if you are not fitting a certain criteria (sound like other successful bands, great production, skills and look), then you shouldn't waist your time looking for one. I say do what you do, be true to your nature and the rest will come. The most important thing is that you let the music come out and not try to make the music.
Are you planing to shop the CDs to any underground label for a re-release or maybe, better/bigger distribution? If so, which labels call your attention?
~the VLE~: The only reason why I would want to shop to a label is so that I will have greater opportunity to promote and distribute my music to the people. You will reach more people if you have a good label behind you. As it is, I do everything myself. So yes, I am thinking about shopping to labels, but I have had a few come to me already showing interest... we'll just have to see who is the bravest.
Which were your first musical steps in the music? Have you ever been involved in other band before it?
~the VLE~: I was very little when I started to play the recorder. Then my mother tried to send me to piano lessons. Unfortunately the teacher hit my hand a few times with a stick when I failed to play the notes correctly… after that I told my mother I would never go back. I think that experience has made me more interested in more laidback non-pressurized ways of creating. At some point I started to drum on the furniture, pots and pans with some sticks I bought (the only part of the set I could afford). So I was set to be a drummer as I saved up all my money to buy a set. While the years went by I also played the violin and trumpet the in the school and church bands. Then one day I heard the song "Crying" by Yngwie J. Malmsteen... that was the day I decided to play the guitar. So the guitar is my main instrument and I currently play in a metal band. In the past I have played guitar in other non-metal type bands.
Which are your expectatives regarding further albums?
~the VLE~: Expect the unexpected...
If you love improvization, I understand the future looks very interesting for you, right? I mean, do you think still you have so much to discover in the music?
~the VLE~: As long as there is suffering, rage, heartache and pain, the music will flow...
Lately I have been very much into Norgewian's Ulver. Their music have lots of improvization and stuff like that. Do you know them? Are you into other kind of bands too?
~the VLE~: Yes, I love most of Ulver's stuff. I think I have their first 5 albums, but I'm not too much into their electronic synth type stuff. However, Garm is probably one of my favorite singers… he's quite magical.
What can you say to our readers who maybe are into Black / Death metal bands. Do you think your music can be enjoyed by any person?
~the VLE~: I have received emails from people telling me they like the music and they don't even like metal and likewise the ones who are more into metal enjoy the keyboard selections as well. I guess because I am a fan of many different types of music, it's only natural that this is reflected throughout the music I create. So, I think it is safe to say that there is something in there for just about everyone... even if they don't find it.
Any final words to our readers? How can the people get that stuff from overseas?
~the VLE~: Well, I must say this was one of the more interesting interviews… Andres, I thank you and the rest of the Grinder crew for your support and interest in my work. For all those who've made it this far... Play it Loud. Hail and Kill!