Kriistal Ann from Rhodes, Greece, became one of the figureheads of synth music in Europe. Active in the darker kind of music since 2007, Ann has a discography of which others can only dream. This busy lady persuades not only her solo career, but part-takes of several other projects and collaborations, most notably Paradox Obscur. Let us hear what Ann has to tell us.
André Savetier: I am following your music career for some time now and I would consider myself a big fan. Even more I am honoured that we both contributed a song to the La Danse Macabre 2 Compilation by At Sea Compilations. Your song there, ‘Enigma’, was it published already before, wasn’t it? How do you find the compilation idea in general?
Kriistal Ann: Thank you for your kind words, André!
‘Enigma’ is a song that you find on my last album Cultural Bleeding, and I am delighted to have been asked to send this!
Overall I always supported such efforts on spreading independent music because, unfortunately, this circuit is quite narrow in supporting new artists in the scene.
André Savetier: I like the mix of already established musicians and new ones, as the known artists like yourself may attract the attention also to lesser known ones.
How did you actually start, I mean your first public appearance for the darker kind of music?
Kriistal Ann: I became involved with electronic music around 2007 when my current partner Toxic Razor (Paradox Obscur) asked me to participate in Resistance Of Independent Music.
Generally my influence was never too dark but I always had a tendency towards internal music.
André Savetier: This is interesting to hear, as you somewhat became an icon of this musical mood… I am now curious about your influences! And what is for you “internal music”?
Kriistal Ann: Oh! Ha ha, icon is a heavy word! Generally I never had such aspirations!
Overall my first influence was classical music, I started to play piano when I was 5 years old… much later anything touching my sensitive chords, for example Portishead or Dead Can Dance… some music for movies or music for meditation… anything that can create in me the connection with the universe.
André Savetier: But you have to admit that you became yourself an influence for others. How does that feel?
Kriistal Ann: This is very touching! The truth is that I feel uncomfortable in such definition but it is still charming the fact that there are people out there that through my music I can touch their soul or inspire them.
André Savetier: Do you get some reactions in this direction?
Kriistal Ann: It is the first time that someone says this to me so clearly. Generally, the people are not so expressive with me.
André Savetier: Let me tell you then at this point that I am surely inspired and influenced by Paradox Obscur and Kriistal Ann! During your music career you had quite some collaborations with artists as Stockhaussen or my friends from Schonwald. How do you do this? Do you meet live in a studio? Or do you do this over the Internet? I was for example quite surprised about the fact that Beta Evers and Jeff Gallea, who made already two EPs together under the Black Pond name, actually never met in real life!
Kriistal Ann: Thank you once again! Perhaps, the compliments that you have done today I have not heard in my entire life!
The truth is that under my belt I have many collaborations from artists who ask me to lend them my voice. Usually I accept after hearing the song, I was never interested to do collaborations with reputable artists, as most do in the scene or for money! For me every collab is under the mutual respect for art.
Most of them I have never met in person, the work was done via the Internet.
With Schonwald I had the luck to play live a couple of times in Belgium and one time in Athens, so I had a personal intimacy with them to ask them to join me in a song.
André Savetier: So there is some hope for a André Savetier/Kriistal Ann collaboration?
Kriistal Ann: For sure!
André Savetier: How connected are you actually with musicians in the same field of music across Europe, and in Greece?
Kriistal Ann: Mm… This question hurts a bit… Although I’m long enough in the scene and I’ve written so many albums and songs, very few artists from the field have contacted me. Most often, when there is an approach, I say a good word about their work, but the response is not mutual.
There is a tendency of conceit!
The Greek scene is quite limited and the truth is that I live somewhat away from the centre, as I live on Rhodes.
So it’s a little difficult to develop friendly contacts with Greek bands that stay in Athens. The paradox is that some of them we meet for the first time in joint concerts abroad!
André Savetier: Oh, this is quite a surprise to me!
Kriistal Ann: I think the truth should be told, so that people do not mistakenly believe that we are a loving family or that everything is perfect or easy in the underground music scene. Even the subject of concerts, laid out like a game behind the booking agencies. Proposals for concerts are also limited for me.
André Savetier: People are people, I guess… But what about concerts without any middle-(wo)man?
Kriistal Ann: Such concerts are very few because the organizers find it difficult to cover the costs of the band, but when making such proposals without intermediaries and there is a mutual understanding of the two sides, the results are excellent and are usually the most beautiful live evenings one could remember.
André Savetier: This is exactly our struggle when we are organising concerts. For now we always had the luck that enough people came to our events and the expenses were covered and as long as it is working out like that we will continue this way. And we also had really great evenings with the musicians!
What was the most memorable concert you have ever had?
Kriistal Ann: So it is…
So far the times I’ve played live can be counted on the fingers of one hand. What I remember is the live show in Vienna where we had the opportunity to stay two days more and the hospitality of the organizers – Robert and Sirius – was excellent!
As well as the recent concert in Berlin which cost us our passports, as someone deftly stole them and the stress made me ill to my stomach, but the ZwischenWelten Kollektiv‘s care was excellent and the public – even though it came from the field of techno music – seemed to be enthusiastic about the evolution of the evening.
André Savetier: Sorry to hear that with the passports… but on the other hand nice to hear that you were treated well.
Now about your different projects: It seems like Paradox Obscur is your main music focus right now, and Kriistal Ann for collaborations? I mean, your last solo album is from 2015 if I am not wrong…
Kriistal Ann: Yes, Paradox Obscur is my main band with which – when wished – we do concerts. On the other hand, Kriistal Ann is a solo project which I started because I wanted to express some of my own aesthetic needs. I had not intended to create this project to do concerts and never thought that it could have such great impact on people. The songwriting is quite complicated in terms of orchestration, so I can not cover an entire live show myself on stage.
But usually I combine both in concerts of Paradox Obscur, when I’m asked to play some songs. My solo Kriistal Ann includes three albums so far, and one EP.
André Savetier: I would love to see Paradox Obscur live! What are your next live appearances?
Kriistal Ann: It would be great to see you André…
The next live appearance is scheduled for 6th of May in Kassel, Germany, at a festival devoted to Greek bands.
André Savetier: Devoted to Greek bands in Germany? How come?
Kriistal Ann: Schwarts is a newly founded Kassel cultural association which has set itself the goal of promoting the arts and the culture of the dark scene. They want to offer the opportunity to unknown artists from Germany and partner countries to present their work. So as part of the cultural festival Documenta they chose Greece as a partner country.
André Savetier: How easy is it finally nowadays for a band to leave their mark on the music scene?
Kriistal Ann: The rates run, so even though there is the Internet, eventually it works like a double-edged sword for someone who has worked for a long time to create an album with ten songs. From behind there is much effort, so much money has been spent on music production, the various videos, photos, artworks, pressure to bring about the perfect inspiration. Things are guided, from the food you shop at the supermarket, to the music you hear… the minds end up intoxicated. Yes, for me it is not easy because all this is far from a ready PC program. The songs will be heard for a week and then it is the turn of another. There are times when you feel that there is no sense in all this trouble, on the other hand, it is this uncontrollable need to express what is inside you, getting a form, whether it be understood or appreciated by others.
André Savetier: I would like to ask you for the end if there is something you would like to tell to my readers that we did not cover yet?
Kriistal Ann: What I would like to say is that the new Paradox Obscur album is ready which will be released in the fall. It will include 10 songs that will touch the whole range from coldwave/darkwave, minimal, even disco. It is an album for all tastes!
André Savetier: Now that’s something to look forward to! Thank you very much, Anna!
Kriistal Ann: Thank you so much also for the opportunity to have such a thorough discussion with you!