Interview: Otto Van Kleist ( El Prêtro Maniaco, etc…)
One Sunday, listening to the radio program by Raffaele Pezzella (The unexplained), I was lucky enough to listen to the music of Otto van Kleist, with his project “El Prêtro Maniaco”, which left me shocked, as I remember the time I was listening Discs such as Lustmord’s “Heresy” or Coil’s “Astral disaster” and I said “wuaaaauuu” to this guy I have to interview him, contact me, being immediately a nice person, so I proposed to do this interview, To make known his work that for me is something extraordinary and that I hope is more valued throughout the world. Otto is originally from France and has several more music projects like: Sona Nyl or Cathuria. I leave you with this pleasant conversation I had with Otto.
By Manuel Knwell
I understand that your musical career comes from decades ago, you played in punk crust bands and other styles, what is the difference of the music scene that you lived in the 80 and 90 with relation to the current one?
I started music in the 90’s. But I wasn’t really involved in any scene. I played few concerts with few bands in noise-rock genre. I was pretty young & wasn’t searching for the same things as today. I don’t really have an opinion about musical scene as I don’t play live anymore…
The only crust genre band I played in was “Masochistic dunces” & we never played live. We just have released a track on a vinyl compilation sold out for long years…
And when the idea of creating the project “El prêtro Maniaco” was born, and where did you get the idea of the name?
The idea was to drastically separate my light side & my darkest one. My first album behind Sona Nyl balances between each one of them. I wanted to make a project dedicated to the light with Sona Nyl. And so, I created El Prêtro Maniaco for the dark one. The name comes from a joke. My real first name is Leprêtre wich means “the priest” in french. I Iove old horror European movies & particularly enjoy sadistic jokes. One of my best friends called me like that. It sounded good. So I kept it.
Have you ever thought about making music for movies? And what are your favorite movies and to what would you have made the dream soundtrack of your life?
Oh yes of course! I dream about it quite a lot ! My favorite movies… Hard question… My cult movie is definitely “Suspiria” from Dario Argento… Next would be “The Beyond” from Lucio Fulci… All the golden age of italian horror movies. More recently, I felt very impressed by the couple ov directors Cattet & Forzani. They combine perfectly old giallo gimmicks with a strong experimental feeling. The soundtrack I would have loved to create ? “Suspiria” by the Goblin. Or “The Omen” by Jerry Goldsmith…
What do you think about the Goblin leader is playing again and making metal versions of the “Suspiria”? Do you like metal and which are your favorite bands?
No. I don’t think remakes are a good thing. Neither for music or movies. Art is created to express the vision of its own creator. Copying or reactualise is a nonsense to me. Yes I like metal. I love Devin Townsend, Type O Negative, Evol, W.A.S.P., Deinonychus, Twisted Sister, Soulgrind, Crest of Darkness, Notre Dame, Gloomy Grim… And all atmospherique black metal.
At present it seems that Eastern European countries are more interested in listening to music more experimental and dark, I would say that Japan also has a great interest, why do you think that phenomenon happens in those places and not so much in countries like France, Germany, Norway, etc. ..?
Mmmmh… I don’t know… I think people of eastern Europe have a strong respect to spirituality & nature in general… As russian people do. For Japan, I don’t know… They explore extremism in every aspects… I think Germany and Norway are more in a “real” musical approach… France ? No comment.
There is an Argentine philosopher named Enrique Dussel who postulates that Europe usurped its culture to the Sumerians and then to the Egyptians and with the coming of colon to America to this continent that you think of what this philosopher says?
I’m not an historian nor philosopher… I haven’t the ability to answer to this question… Except in few words : everything we know is wrong.
Your vision of this life is rather nihilistic? Law that you consider more than a human being an alien, why do you say that?
I cannot say nihilistic… It was my way of thinking for long years. But not anymore. I consider myself as an alien as I don’t understand the world I live in. Especially people. Everything I do musically is based on this. I cannot explain it clearly here because it won’t be an interview anymore but a whole book…
And how do you create your music? What is the importance of dreams and what do you think of Carl Jung?
I create by letting my inner self go freely… The way I prefer is by night… Darkness surrounding myself… I light a candle while incense is burning… Then I try to go into another world… Create another world… Sometimes it takes daze to come… Sometimes few minutes… The key is to leave this world. Dreams I make had no place in my music. I don’t use them. I don’t dream. I make nightmares. But those ones are too close to reality. And my music is anti-reality. Carl Jung is my savior & my worst enemy.
I understand that you will make a collaboration with the artist Serena Toxicat, how did you know of her to have called her and to sing in your music and that we can get ahead of that work?
Yes… It’s on its way… I heard about her with Protea and Kasa de Orates. You gently introduced me to her and then we talked a little. I consider she has her own world & that it can fit with mine. She doesn’t need words. Her voice speaks naturally to the soul. For now, I sent one track to her and asked her what she sees. As her vision speaks to me, we decided to work on it. I don’t know yet if we will make more tracks together… I really hope but Let’s see what happens…
Picture Serena Toxicat
Could you recommend some books that have been important to you in your life?
Oh yes of course… First of all : “Ainsi parlait Zaratoustra” by Fredrich Nietzsche, “Les chants de Maldoror” by le comte de Lautréamont, “Bestialité” by Jean Rollin, “Cabal” by Clive Barker, “Le Horla” by Guy de Maupassant, “Confessions d’un mangeur d’opium” by Thomas De Quincey, “Carmilla” by Sheridan Le Fanu.
What is its relationship with nature and the esoteric?
I have a strong connection with nature. There’s nothing purest than it. Have a sit in the Woods… close your eyes… Fascinating how you can feel everything living around yourself and be part of it… Connected. I strongly believe that there’s a hidden side lying in everything. What you see & touch is unreal. You have to go further to reach the other side and discover the secret part of everything.
Tell us how is the way you get to your album covers, how do you get to the concept and have you worked with some artists? What has been your experience?
For Sona Nyl, I worked from a painting by Lysaliae. For El Prêtro Maniaco, I search for ancient occult or old movies (Jess Franco, Jean Rollin…) pictures. For the project Cathuria, I make everything by myself.I need to control every aspects of what I do. It’s a complete work. Not just music. Every single detail is important to me.
The visual aspect of a cover is very important, it is part of the music, do you like how the music market currently operates with platforms like bandcamp, where you can sell your music independently, and what are your favorite formats within these: Wav, Flac, mp3, cassettes, CD and vinyl?
No. I don’t. I don’t like the way music evolved. I regret those years when everything was real. I love music and the cult ov the object. Especially vinyl & CD special editions.
Do you have a label that you admire for its editions and which are the discs that you treasure most in your collection and why?
Without hesitation : Black Mara. Every release is a new discovering in every aspect. And I’m so close from their philosophy. Musically, my treasure is the album “Infinity” by Devin Townsend. To me, it’s the greatest album of all times. The artist is totally freak and free on this one. My masterpiece. But the album that really changes my conception of music, or instead, that showed me that there is more than music, is “Musick to play in the dark” by Coil. There is music. And there is Coil. I do what I do thanks to them.
Does it affect you in any way to compose your music the climate, and there are some archaeological places that you would like to record music there, as for example the pyramids in Egypt or Machupichu in Peru?
The environment where I compose is important yes. That’s why I try to create a specific atmosphere when I make my music. I would love to emerge myself in a haunted place. I think I surely do it one day. Choose a place like this, compose & record a whole concept album in it… Or few ones… I guess it would be very interesting.
What is your opinion about Crowley?
“Love is the law. Love under will.”
I truly believe in a ritualistic magick approach ov Love. Love is sacred. I mean the real Love. I don’t want to expose my life but Aleister Crowley gives me the will to consider Love & sexuality in a different way. All of this I can truly express now with my loved one. The first & last.
Somehow what you express to me has to do with individualism, does not feel that in some way the neoliberal system has made people more and more so, or do you think people are really individualistic and try to act Collective way only to take advantage of their interests?
I’m a very solitary man. It’s my choice or the way life guides me to. I think that people needs each other just to comfort them. They need to be part of a group in order to avoid realizing they’re all alone. Loneliness is considered as weakness for too many. I think it’s the other way. Standing in front of yourself, being able to not depend on others, or at least, the less you can, is evidence of strength & bravery.
In an interview that I read years ago the owner of Mute records, Daniel Miller explained how Depeche mode gave him enough money to be able to edit more underground groups like Laibach or Neubauten, and said that mainstream music is nourished by underground and under Depends on the mainstream, what do you think about this asseveration?
I truly love Depeche Mode. Especially their “Black celebration” – “Songs of faith & devotion” era. I don’t consider their music as a commercial. Ok, it’s pop. But, there’s also a strong research in sound textures, etc… And regardless of the fact that the masses loves them, they combine perfectly darkness with strong melodies & make music for the love of it, not for the money. I don’t think Daniel Miller would sign such things as Justin Bieber just to earn the money he needs to release a Boyd Rice album…
A few months ago I was given a program where you can listen to all the online radios in the world, I spent several days listening to hundreds of radios from all over the world and I conclude that almost everyone is listening to American pop only, considering that today In USA day is present in all the forms in the life of all that we live in this world, how you see the future of this world in a capitalist system that is led by the USA, where the different being has been lost, since Do the common people now all act in the same way?
Ooooooooh… USA is not responsible for all this… In every civilization, in every age, the different is guilty. But, yes, of course, we all eat the shit they are serving to us. The real problem is to make the choice of accepting or refusing it. A majority accept to conform while a minority doesn’t. And you know, the minority is always wrong. But, even in this minority, few people has differences… And so, the problem remains the same… Again & again… We’re all different. We are not equal. But accept all of this. Teach & learn from each others.
If I had to make an analogy of his music with an art painting, what would it be and why?
It would be “Ophélie” by John Everett Millais. Because, this masterpiece reminds me what I do. Dream… Nature… Water… Diving… Death… Beauty… Floating…
Do you like the silence, enjoy it ?, what do you think that some of the young people are afraid of this condition, some have told me that if they do not listen to music or some noise all day they go crazy.
I enjoy the silence… The only way to know if you’re good with someone, including your own self, is to enjoy the silence. I think those young people are afraid to listen to their own music… Their inner music… Their soul… They are afraid of themselves… That’s why they want non-stop noise around themselves… That’s why they need to be around people…
Label to buy CD-r from El Preto Maniaco