Before I started to write for Vampire Magazine, I wrote for a small Dutch e-zine called Metallization. About 1,5 year ago I reviewed for that magazine the first 2 releases of the 'book of Illusions' trilogy of the one man project VLE. It where 2 very special releases; atmospheric (mostly depressive sounding) metal mixed with beautiful acoustic and ambient elements. I liked it and did an interview with ~the VLE~. About 2 months ago I received the third and last chapter of the 'Book of Illusions' trilogy. It's in my opinion the best chapter and most balanced chapter. And I did again an interview with ~the VLE~ because I think this project deserves more attention.
First question is a very cliche one; could you tell the readers something about the beginning and history of VLE?
~the VLE~: Basically a friend of mine heard a few of my songs and encouraged me to let others hear it. It wasn't until a few years later (July 2001) 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 move along as I receive energy from the people.
VLE exists for almost 3 years now, what's in your opinion the most important that happened with this project since the beginning of it?
~the VLE~: The most important thing that has happened is that people have heard the music and expressed to me that it has helped them get though some tough times in their lives or inspired them to create their own music...
I read that VLE stands for 'the eViL onE', can you describe this?
~the VLE~: 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 believe this myself. I began signing the end of 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~. The music is just a reflection of this misinterpretation… the illusion as seen through the eyes of the flesh. In the end, VLE is just a Virtual Listening Experience, nothing more.
Book Of Illusions
'Book of Illusions: Chapter I and Chapter II' where released in a very short time, why did we had to wait for the third part so long?
~the VLE~: All the music on Book of Illusions: Chapter I, II & III are old recordings I had stored on cassette tape. But before I released Chapter III I had a mind to try to improve on the production of the mixes by utilizing some music editing software a friend gave me. Not really knowing how to use the programs and just my sheer disdain for such technical work also slowed down the release... basically it took so long because of lack of motivation and laziness.
The cover art of 'Book of Illusions: Chapter III' is beautiful, it's made by Christophe Vacher; a Disney artist. How did you get in contact with him?
~the VLE~: All the VLE CD covers were painted by the Disney artist Christophe Vacher. I came across one of his works, "The Legacy" (the painting featured on Book of Illusions: Chapter I and II CD) by mere chance while surfing the internet some years ago. So, when I decided to release this music to the world I wanted very much to use his works. I contacted him through his web site (http://www.vacher.com) and he was very open to the idea as he also enjoyed the music. I am honored to have his art associated with my music.
Why is the cover art of the first and second chapter the same? And the art of the third part different?
~the VLE~: The art on Chapter III is different because none of this was planned out and I changed my mind about releasing it with the same artwork. I had a really strong feeling about the painting "Expectations" (Chapter III CD cover) while listening back to all the songs together. If I continue to release VLE music, I would like to use more of Christophe's work because I think his art adds to the overall atmosphere and vibe of the music.
In my opinion 'Book of Illusions: Chapter III' is the best part of the trilogy; It mixes the best elements of the First and Second Chapter so it looks like you have found the right balance between acoustic/ambient, atmospheric music and Chaotically and harsh metal elements. What's your opinion about this?
~the VLE~: Well, whatever you get from the sounds is valid, I suppose. I can't really say what my performance aims were because I never set out to do anything other than express and release some stifling emotions. For me, the music on Chapter I & II represents the darkness and the beauty set on opposite poles... Chapter III represents the Chaos. In any case, Book of Illusions: Chapter I, II & III should be listened together back to back with headphones to get the whole story. If there is a chance that I will release more music in the future, you can expect the unexpected because truthfully the music will not be in any certain direction as far as genre classification...
Why does all the releases contain the same intro-song; 'Kano'?
~the VLE~: Kano is the torch… the candle to light the way through the darkness. It is the way towards opening up the mind, body and soul to knowledge by the joining of opposite elements in the creation of new ideas.
The 3th song; called 'Crimson' of 'Book of Illusions: Chapter III' is in my opinion the most outside sounding song you've written; It's a black metal song with only guitars and screams (no drums), the song is very chaotic and raw. Yet I hear a beautiful harmony of light and hope in it. So the music of that song sounds the opposite of the feeling it gives. Do you have that same feeling during listening/making this song?
~the VLE~: Your description coincides with my feelings when I listen to Crimson, so I couldn't agree with you more. A few people have written to me expressing a dislike for this song because for them it is alien to the other VLE works but most others think of it as you described. For me the song expresses the two opposing themes in my mind... beauty and darkness. Crimson is the resulting chaos that ensues when the two forces go to battle in my head. There is a lot of stuff going on in that song that gets lost in the raw production, but I feel the atmosphere rings loud and clear.
Where do the (few) lyrics you use deal with?
~the VLE~: I wouldn't really call them lyrics as some are not actual words but only random phrases used to add to the atmosphere or give rhythm to a piece. However there are some verses that are taken from my own writings I have documented in a notebook over the years. Most of the vocals reflect upon the duality of existence, the illusions of the flesh and our natural instinct to dream... more simply put, it's just a glance inside my fucked up world. I write in a vague and somewhat poetic style so it is not too clear the meaning if you just read it straight... that is, without any imagination. I make use of metaphoric and symbolic references to express certain feelings and personal experiences.
What's the story behind the concept of the 'Book of Illusion' trilogy?
~the VLE~: There is no set concept only one theme… the ascension towards chaos.
You have finished the Book of Illusions trilogy; what are your plans for the future in musical way?
~the VLE~: I don't have any plans only hopes and dreams... I hope to release more music, I dream of the opening of the mind of the masses.
Is it important for you to reach lots of people with VLE?
~the VLE~: Well, the music speaks to my soul and if others can tap into this same feeling than it is important for me that they are given the chance to experience the sounds for themselves. So, I invite everyone... visit my domain and explore my Book of Illusions, but only if you want to expand your mind, blanket your body and tantalize your soul.
Do you only sell the VLE releases yourself; or are there also distro's that sell VLE releases?
~the VLE~: I sell all VLE releases through my web site on mp3.com. Book of Illusions: Chapter I & II- 49 min. of VLE darkness and beauty. $7 US/World pp. Book of Illusions: Chapter III - 55 min. of VLE chaos. $7 US/World pp. You can order copies via Pay Pal: email@example.com. Or arrange other payment methods through this email: firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a few small distributors that also carry VLE CDs... Christcrusher Productions (UK), Corvus Dist. (Chile) and I believe through Young K. Anarchist (Korea) pages. I would love to work with more distributors and record labels, so if anyone is interested out there, please get in contact with me.
Most of the songs of VLE sounds very melancholically, Are you a depressive person?
~the VLE~: I'd more like to think of myself as an optimistic realist who gets depressed sometimes ;).
Are you a very spiritual person? If so, please tell me something about it.
~the VLE~: Well, I don't have one set belief nor do I talk to or worship any deity. I just have some strong ideals and convictions I try to live by. I don't pretend to have the answers, but I am slowing becoming more and more aware of my own existence on this planet and how that awareness affects others around me. So, to know the whole world means nothing if you don't know yourself.
You want to express your moods into music, isn't that something that most of the musicians/bands try to do?
~the VLE~: I don't know what other musicians are trying to do. It's not my concern when I create. I can only do what is comfortable for me at that particular moment in time and hopefully in the end produce a sound that is pleasing to my ears. What others take away from that is beyond me.
Last year I did an interview with you (for Metallization Magazine) you said you don't think you would ever sign a record deal, do you still have the same opinion about that? And are there labels interested in VLE?
~the VLE~: Yes, and here we are almost 2 years later still without a record deal… hehehe. I said I didn't think I would sign a record deal because I honesty never thought anyone would be interested or brave enough to sign VLE. I'm interested in a record deal in as much as it will help me reach more people with my music. So, I am open to working with any label that is willing to work with my music as it is. I have heard from a couple of interested labels, but nothing has been presented to me by way of contract yet.
You play the Boom-box what is that, just a drum computer?
~the VLE~: Oh, a "boom-box" is just a slang term for a portable cassette radio/recorder. In this case it was a double cassette radio that I used to record some of the material before I got my shitty 4-track. For example, Trilogy of the I was recorded on a "boom-box"... basically I recorded one guitar part on one cassette tape (using an external radio shack microphone), then I moved that cassette tape to the other tape deck, played that back and added another guitar line on another cassette tape combining the 1st gtr track with the second one, etc, etc... the end result is 3 tracks of guitar on one cassette. It is a very crude way of doing things, but at the time that is all I had to use for capturing the sounds.
Burzum was one of the leading black metal bands from Norway, now Varg only makes Synthesizer orientated ambient music. Is Burzum (old and new) a big influence for VLE?
~the VLE~: No, Burzum is definitely not an influence for VLE. Most of my music was created before I even heard of Burzum. I believe I first heard one or two samples of his music on the Internet, but I didn't much appreciate it. It wasn't until after I received some reviews comparing my music to Burzum that I became really curious about his music. So, last year an acquaintance sent me some dubs of a couple of early Burzum CDs and I listened to them... I still wasn't too moved by his stuff, but I am flattered with the comparison because his work is respected throughout the underground. I can only assume that the comparisons come from the inherent atmosphere running throughout our releases, but what do I know.
Are you involved in other projects? If so, tell us more about it...
~the VLE~: Yes, I play guitar in a band right now but that's all I want to say about it.
You are putting all the songs of VLE online at mp3.com available for download, so the World Wide Web is very important for VLE. Do you think VLE could have exists ten years ago (a time only a few people got acces to the Internet)?
~the VLE~: Probably not, because I didn't even have my own computer then.
What do you think of the underground-scene? Are you following the scene? Are there some bands you would recommend to us?
~the VLE~: I think the scene is interesting… lots of experimental stuff is coming out and I try to follow it as much as I can. My favorite underground band right now is Greyswan (Italy)… they are not so much experimental as they are just an excellent band who create emotive doom/metal/gothic/rock or whatever you want to call it... they just move me.
Do you have something to add to this interview?
~the VLE~: Thanks again for your support and interest in my music. Play it Loud. Hail and Kill!