Terra Relicta Dark Music Awards 2020
interview from. https://terrarelicta.com
SnakeSkin is the side project of Tilo Wolff, the mastermind of Lacrimosa, founder, owner and manager of Swiss record label Hall of Sermon. SnakeSkin was founded in 2004 and is featuring the opera singer Kerstin Doelle. SnakeSkin, which differs significantly from Lacrimosa, does not fit into any specific genre or production. It is playing emotional electronic music with influences from classic and rock. Contrary to the characteristic and usual electronic sounds in which the vocal arrangements take a narrative role, in SnakeSkin, the voice is part of a musical mix as an organic and emotional element. After three exceptional albums: Music For The Lost (2004), Canta'Tronic (2006) and Tunes For My Santiméa (2016), and a couple of shows, together with HannesB and Thomas Daverio, SnakeSkin released a new masterpiece Medusa's Spell in February 2020, which was also the winning album of Terra Relicta Dark Music Awards 2020. Therefore the interview with Tilo Wolff was Terra Relicta only logical next step.
Tomaz: First, congratulations on winning the Terra Relicta Dark Music Awards 2020. You have a devoted fan base that supports you everywhere. What does such a thing mean to an artist like you are?
Tilo Wolff: Thank you for the congrats! I am very thankful for this wonderful support of our audience! As a music lover and devoted fan of so many talented musicians whose music I had the pleasure to grow up with, I am amazed that it seems that nowadays there are so many people having the same pleasure with my music, and this makes me very humble and happy.
Tomaz: I was surprised by how many fan-clubs and fan-groups you have in South and Central America. It doesn't matter if it's a question of Lacrimosa or SnakeSkin. It seems like kind of a cult. I guess it must be great when you play live with Lacrimosa in that part of the world?
Tilo Wolff: It is always great to celebrate music with people from all kinds of nations and cultures. We are all living in our societies, speaking different languages, having different educations and following different rules, but strip all of this off, we are all the same: We feel! And this is wonderful to experience, whether we play in Buenos Aires or Berlin.
Tomaz: It's almost exactly one year since you've released the latest album Medusa's Spell. It's a mesmerizing work of dark electronic art that is hard to categorize. How do you look at it now, and what is different if compared to your previous albums?
Tilo Wolff: Thankfully, no record company or anyone is telling us what to do. We are completely free in our artistical expression, and fortunately, I never had to release anything with which I was not completely satisfied. Therefore, when I listen to Medusa's Spell or any other album, I can completely flow into the music and enjoy it. I love this particular album for its deep emotions combined with its straightness and yet complexity in it all. And it contains one of my favourite SnakeSkin songs, "Once"!
Tomaz: Between your second album, Canta'Tronic, and the next one, Tunes For My Santiméa, ten years passed. Many people thought that it's over with SnakeSkin. Now "only" four years passed, and I wonder if this means that we'll get from now on SnakeSkin more frequently?
Tilo Wolff: It depends on the time I have. As long as I am busy with Lacrimosa and the record label, it's hard to find spare time for SnakeSkin, which is why this project nowadays involves all these great artists. Together we can achieve more in terms of quality and quantity.
Tomaz: It's hard to put a genre label on SnakeSkin's music because there are so many elements intertwined: EBM electronics, industrial, symphonic, classical, operatic, gothic and much more, yet it sounds pretty avant-garde. How are you describing the music of SnakeSkin?
Tilo Wolff: I don't have a label or a name for it. When I compose, I don't want to be constrained by the borders of any genre. For some people, this is very confusing, but for the way I fell music, it fits.
Tilo Wolff: Actually, the music itself. The big difference between Lacrimosa and SnakeSkin is, apart from the fact that SnakeSkin is less guitar and more electronic orientated, that Lacrimosa could be described as music that expresses lyrics while SnakeSkin is words to express the music.
Tomaz: If I'm not mistaken, SnakeSkin played live only once, and this happened two years ago on the Lacrimosa tour in Russia. How come this happened only once in all these years, and do you plan to be on stage with SnakeSkin more often once the corona pandemic is over?
Tilo Wolff: We also made one short show in Dresden, and again, it's a question of time, which is, by the way, one of my favourite songs by Depeche Mode "A question of time", and Depeche Mode is one of the main influences of SnakeSkin, even though this is not to too obvious, because I don't want to copy other artists, but, ironically, SnakeSkin is always a question of time in my life, while this phrase is one of the songs inspiring the entire project.
Tomaz: SnakeSkin's visual appearance (photos, album artwork and videos) has a lot to do with eroticisms. How does this connect with music, or it's used only to attract more people, especially the male population? Who's responsible for your visual appearance?
Tilo Wolff: I have to admit that I am responsible for this implementation, and the nature of this artwork has various reasons. First, SnakeSkin is very emotional music, and emotionality and vulnerability can be best expressed in the exposed body. Besides, the name already relates to the snake's ability to shed its skin. Shedding the old skin and letting the new one unfold and proudly to present the new skin of the new self. And last, I always ask myself what I would like as a fan and discover that I find artworks with a sexy attitude better than without a sexy attitude.
Tomaz: I guess there must be quite a different approach in making the music for SnakeSkin than for Lacrimosa. Although SnakeSkin differs from Lacrimosa a lot, it seems that it satisfies Lacrimosa fans also, for example, the songs like "Once" and "Move On", to name some.
Tilo Wolff: Yes, the beginning of the song-writing-story is very different from the one for Lacrimosa, but when I'm in the process itself, I speak with my musical language where it sometimes comes together then. After all, it seems that I can't grow out of my skin sometimes, which is again pretty ironic.
Tomaz: Have you ever used songs that don't fit in the Lacrimosa opus for SnakeSkin instead?
Tilo Wolff: No, because of the beginning of the song-writing-story, which sets the path.
Tomaz: I believe that all fans of your music are eagerly awaiting some news about the new Lacrimosa album. Is there anything that you can reveal already?
Tilo Wolff: I am working on it, and I love what I hear so far!
Tomaz: And now a question that I can't avoid in these times. How has the pandemic affected the artist like you? I guess that it wasn't pleasant to cancel all the planned shows? And are there already any plans for future shows or a tour?
Tilo Wolff: Yes, it is sad and frustrating, but on the other hand, I am lucky enough that I don't define myself by being a musician. Music is my love, and I can't be without it, but I do not need to be recognized as a musician publicly. I can compose my music wherever and whenever I want, and of course, I prefer to share it with other people, but it doesn't make me a different person if I can't play concerts and don't get the attention of a musician.
Tomaz: You have collaborated a couple of times with Mono Inc recently... The latest fruit of this is the cover version of the Lacrimosa song "Lichtgestalt", in this case, named "Shining Light". How it came that you've chosen this very song? Can we expect some more collaborations like this in the future?
Tilo Wolff: Actually, Mono Inc. chose the song, which is great because they like it. So it was their idea, and I thankfully joined. And yes, there will come more collaborations if I like the project because I love to collaborate with talented artists! It is always an honour! Now in the Lacrimosa Anniversary Box, an entire album is called Cover Up, where all kinds of bands from all over the world play their cover versions of Lacrimosa titles. I find this very, very beautiful and exciting!
Tomaz: Thank you very much for your answers. Is there anything that you would like to add at the end of this interview?
Tilo Wolff: Thank you for nominating Medusa's Spell for this award and for having this fun conversation. And thanx to everyone voting for Medusa's Spell and for supporting SnakeSkin and Lacrimosa! Bless you!
Photos by: Alexander Palacios