The Argentinean music & art recipient Morganna Soleilk had an intensive conversation with Michael Haas, the head of Angizia. They talked about the power of KOKON, Angizia’s 6th album.
Michael, first of all, thank you very much for taking some of your time to give this interview based on KOKON, Angizia’s sixth album. How are you personally? How is Angizia in regards to the expectations for the release of KOKON?
Sweet Morganna, I am really fine. I think - in the first instance - we could meet our own expectations for KOKON more than well, and that’s the most important thing in my opinion. I am convinced, that our audience will appreciate our uncompromising and so much passionate work of the last two years. We had a very satisfactory production and fulfilled one of the best and most intensive Angizia albums so far. We have experienced well-directed studio recordings and a throughout wonderful time during the formation and development of KOKON.
II) Tell us about how you came up with the idea and the story of KOKON, its name and what was the inspiration for it.
There was no certain and well defined inspiration for the plot. One day I had the idea to write on a theatrical ambience for KOKON. Well, I decided soon to entitle the play itself with just one simple word: KOKON. The title KOKON paraphrases the main essence of the plot and contemporaneously it’s an allegory of one of this play’s messages: Being put in prison in his own body, in a very small and reduced world. The idea behind KOKON was to make a play, which acts in a common box. Very elementary. Just a box without fixtures and colours. Just a monochrome box. This gave me the possibility to concentrate on very strong theatrical figures and characters. My main intention was to underline the gloomy drama of the story. Thus we had neglected all kind of comical and ambiguous elements, which for example had been part in some former Angizia plays. I didn’t want to make something consciously “unfunny”. No, every moment in KOKON is full of drama and all we did, all we wished to do and all we have played, spoken, elegized and shouted in the microphones was a drama, nothing else.
III) When composing, what do you start with, libretto or music? Are both composed by you?
This time there was a basic idea, a starting scene and thus the box scenario at the beginning of KOKON. We wished to have an important interplay between plot/libretto and music all the time, right from the start of the composition phase. So the libretto developed itself with the power of the compositions and in the same dimension the music composed for KOKON developed with the formation of the plot. That was the precondition to have such an intensive consolidation of plot, music and illustrations. I’ve written the plot and the libretto and have advanced the musical conception of KOKON. Main parts of the melody bows have been composed by Emmerich Haimer, a few by me. Some compositions we’ve created together. I think KOKON is result of a perfect teamwork.
IV) Regarding this new project, how would you label it? Is it tragic, dramatic, sweet, morbid, sarcastic love, irony?
As mentioned before I wished to have an intensive & gloomy drama, a dramatic plot, dramatic scenes and a dramatic final scenario. Every step we did was done with the intention to work on a drama. Of course in Angizia’s works a listener will always find sweet and morbid scenes, some irony, sarcastic love, sympathetic antiheros and many bizarre elements. But KOKON is a grim and gloomy drama.
V) How many characters are there in it? Who are the main characters?
The plot is based on three important characters. The main protagonist, which most probably I represented as mature “anti hero”, is the HOMUNCULUS and thus a creature, which is caged in an arcane cocoon, dangling and moaning on the box’ ceiling. The Homunculus is drugged up to the eyeballs with poison, knob and pain. He is the creation of FRAU JANSEN, a grotesque spinstress and her cruel husband (HERR JANSEN), a curious captain with an awe-inspiring pistol. All the JANSENS wished to have is their own magnum opus, which should be their permanent fixture in this common box. A work of pain, agony, love, hate and passion, which they adore day for day. It was the perfect scaffolding for our musical ideas.
The remaining characters (in supporting roles) are:
HERR EISMANN, minion of HERR JANSEN and narrator of the story
A BOHEMIAN with contra guitar and a drake
A CELLIST in a side room
Janós Flier, a blind piano player…
and…an enchanting VIOLIST
VI) Who are the vocal guests? Why were they selected? What was their contribution beyond their voices and what characters do they play?
There are not really vocal guests on KOKON, just vocalists which are part of Angizia since a long time. IRENE DENNER has mimed FRAU JANSEN. I have interpreted main parts of HOMUNCULUS, the NARRATOR and the CAPTAIN (HERR JANSEN). Jochen Stock has chanted some parts of the figures of HOMUNCULUS and the NARRATOR and RAINER GUGGENBERGER recorded a choir part of “Maß für Maß”, which is a chapter in the final scenario.
VII) How is KOKON different from your previous albums? Are there new instruments? New forms of interpretation? A different character regarding the performance?
For KOKON we have neglected any sort of comic and comical moments. We have forced the pure drama instead of comic, irony and cheerful sounds and for example have disclaimed klezmer or in general jewish elements and some instruments which have shaped former Angizia albums such as accordion and clarinet. Of course we will make music again with these instruments, but not currently on KOKON. I wished to power KOKON with a warm & melancholic cello, a crazy viola, a virtuoso and present grand piano, intensive spoken word passages and special instruments such as a “singing saw” and a “contra guitar”. I think, KOKON is more dark and gloomy than previous Angizia albums, very emotional and immediate.
Regarding to the performance itself we consciously recorded some special parts, voices and instruments of KOKON “live”, together on a stunning stage in a modern music hall. We wished to have the perfect entity of grand piano, cello and theatrical voices for certain chapters of KOKON. In this way we have put very expressive theatrical moments on record. Furthermore we made some “live”-recordings of contra guitar, viola and my voice in our main studio. The mix of these different “live”-recordings (on the stage of a music hall, in the intimate studio ambience…) and classical step-by-step recorded songs with Angizia’s typical perfection of details is kind of exciting. So we have created varying sounds and can offer very authentic moods. That was my and our current imagination of music and theatre.
VIII) We know that the sound of Angizia is for refined and sensitive ears and not for every taste. Is KOKON in this same kind of sound or is it a wider sound that would appeal to more ears, allowing the listeners know new angizia facets?
On the one hand KOKON has a typical Angizia sound (dramatic, bizarre, grotesque, emotional, theatrical, virtuoso…). On the other hand it’s really different to former albums such as “Ein Toter fährt gern Ringelspiel” and “39 Jahre für den Leierkastenmann”, more coming to a certain point, upholding a very curious ambience and pointing out what “music” and “theatre” for Angizia is right now. We have focussed to demonstrate how to keep our very own style while growing and battening in certain directions and new dimensions. That’s our aim, when making music. Of course Angizia is still not music for shallow masses, casual listeners, for a background amusement or for special moments of distraction and callousness. It’s passionate music for passionate people.
IX) Michael, Angizia has never given any concerts to introduce or release an album. Is there any possibility that you could give a concert for this album?
Yes, Angizia has never given any concerts so far (because of different reasons). In the main we love to work in an intimate studio atmosphere, developing our plays step by step to put really intensive (theatrical) moments on record. Otherwise we are kind of “in love” for “live”-recordings on beautiful stages such as we did in the music hall of Vöcklabruck for KOKON. The “live”-rehearsals and recordings of grand piano, cello & voices brought us the power of a possible “live”-performance to mind. Angizia on stage is a very interesting thing. No doubt.
Well, we have an enlarged collective consisting of many professional musicians, who are also engaged in other projects; thus complementary it’s not that easy to unite several Angizia musicians on one stage, concert for concert. But these days we discuss possible Angizia concerts in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, which both are intended in a very reduced and intimate scope, based on grand piano, viola, acoustic guitars, contrabass and voices. The realization of these concerts in impressive locations depends on the financing solutions of the organizers. We really appreciate the enthusiastic Angizia fans in South- and Middle America, that’s the reason for having serious conversations in this regard.
X) Every project has its message. Which is the one behind KOKON? What is it that it wants to transmit? We know that the listener can discover it for himself or find his own interpretation, but there are some who don’t. That’s why we would like to hear some words from its creator so that his followers can have a better appreciation and understanding about it.
A main message of KOKON is the power of vengeance. In the main we have set the gradual development of ones creature’s pure vengeance to music. The tormented and agonized creature strikes back. He – the Homunculus - was afflicted and embittered. His flesh was burnt up and disgraced. But the Homunculus is an underestimated genius, a master of staging; he arranges his own plot with himself as cruel protagonist. The perfect vengeance, planned in small steps. All the Jansens have perpetrated on the Homunculus’ body and soul, he gives them back in pure violence and massive resolution.
What KOKON has in common with nearly all Angizia albums is the exposure of the protagonist’s dramatic “break-up”, his dramatic decay. The “death” is a basic theme in all Angizia plots. More than that KOKON is a very symbolical play.
XI) Finally, how would you describe KOKON in a few words? How would you describe it in one word?
To say it with more words: KOKON is passionate music for passionate people!
To describe it with just one word: KOKON is PASSION.
Michael, big thanks to you and Angizia to take your time in this short but intensive interview, which answered a lot of questions about KOKON.
…though I’m sure that there’s still a whole world and a lot more to discover in it…
KOKON – Ein schaurig-schönes Schachtelstück
Rosario – Santa Fé
Morganna, big thanks for our sincere conversation.
Michael Haas, Angizia