Interviews: Fate Razor
- Post-Industrial Darkwave Coldwave music.

Fate Razor Perth Australia Australian Dark Electronica Cold Wave Music Band Group Musicians Photo Images Photos Pictures

In this episode we chat with Vince Valentini of Fate Razor - a project that took shape in the 1990s in Melbourne as a successor to Crimson Boy [2017 interview]. This discussion covers the new EP and the process of resurrecting music made and lost in the past and polishing it for the present. To hear the sounds while you read here's the link on bandcamp for Fate Razor's 2018 release - "Retrospective E​.​P​.​#1"

Interview by DJ Robot Citizen:

In our late 2017 chat regards Crimson Boy we briefly discussed your solo project - Fate Razor - what's the background story to its formation?

Vince of Fate Razor:
The tracks on the new Retrospective EP#1 are a selection of some of the Fate Razor songs written between 1993 and 1998. All these songs were released on obscure compilation CDs at some point, mainly during a very productive period in Melbourne between 94-96, and then following on in Perth. At that stage Crimson Boy (Part One) had come to a demise. Andy and I had moved off onto our own particular trajectories, and I had fallen in love with a much darker and heavier sound and disposition; this had been going on since the late 80’s and was part of the reason for the split with Andy. That move into darker terrains ran parallel to my personal experiences at the time, coupled with some disturbing realisations I was having as I looked hard at the world and the influences worming their way behind the mask of its appearance.

Robot Citizen: Where can the Fate Razor music be heard and obtained from?

Vince of Fate Razor:
Its just gone live on most digital stores and streaming - i.e. iTunes, Spotify, etc. But I recommend Bandcamp for the best audio quality and there’s bonus artwork included with the download. Two pages on Fate Razor and the E.P have just been updated on the Lightarmour Editions website for those interested in more info.

Robot Citizen: Can you recall some of the specific major musical influences on you at the time?

Fate Razor Perth Western Australia Post-Industrial Darkwave Coldwave Dark Electronica Music Band Group Musician Photo Images Photos Pictures

Vince of Fate Razor: As a backdrop to this early material, I can point to three ground-breaking albums released in 1986 that had a profound influence on me and resonated strongly with how I felt and the ideas forming in my mind - Coil’s “Horse Rotorvator”, Skinny Puppy’s “Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse”, and Test Department’s “The Unacceptable Face of Freedom”. In my opinion these albums are not just ‘music’ experiences, but milestone events that get very deep inside of you.
Horse Rotorvator was a particularly strong, disturbing experience but the scope of its imagination and the irreverence of its vision really appealed to me. I’ve been listening to it again after many many years’ absence and its like revisiting a strong nightmare, but a nightmare that in its course reveals many powerful truths; that’s what really enthralled me in these recordings.
I could name a couple of other pivotal influences at that time, including songs by some great Australian artists like Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel’s “I’ll Meet You in Poland Baby” (from 1984’s “Hole” album), and Ollie Olsen’s “Are You Experienced” from his ‘No’ project. Clock DVA’s material e.g. “Man Amplified” and “Signs” was also a significant influence, as was the Michael Gira (Swans) project with Jarboe - Skin - and the album “Blood, Women, Roses”; early 4AD aesthetics and industrial sensibilities in perfect union.
Having been formed as a musician and lyricist during the post-punk era, amongst the better-known bands I thought Joy Division a good measure of raw existential exorcism, and then I heard “Blood from the Air” (Coil) and “Gods’ Gift Maggot” (Skinny Puppy) and Joy Division suddenly sounded like pop music. I think that the great mendacium that oversees this world and its perpetual sufferings is aptly umasked and exposed in the greatest instances of any artform, whether it be cinema, literature, or music.

Robot Citizen: I'm likewise a big fan of all the aforementioned; really enjoyed seeing the "Dogs in Space" movie again recently with Ollie's appearances - reliving the late 70s post-punk Melbourne music scene. It's a shame his "NO" project has been hard for people to find online for so long. Now what about some other non-musical influences upon Fate Razor?

Vince of Fate Razor:
A book released in 1989 called “Lipstick traces”, by Greil Marcus, was a bit of a soul partner for me at the time. And as I had considered myself a keen student of Dadaism for many years it was inevitable that I also came across the Situationist manifesto; had a limited-edition copy of it (bound in sandpaper) that I purchased at a bookshop on Brunswick St Fitzroy.

Fate Razor Perth Western Australian Dark Electronica Darkwave Coldwave Music Band Group Artist Musician Photos Images Pictures

Robot Citizen: Ah yes I do recall I first heard of situationism through you; and was similarly inspired domino-style! Now to the songs on the EP. I vividly recall first hearing "ColdComfort Logic" on the 1996 "Reload" compilation CD; was a stand out track for me in those years. Please give us some context about the songs - the when and why of how they came about and so on.

Vince of Fate Razor:
Of all the founding Fate Razor songs “ColdComfort Logic” (and its predecessor “Angelignite”) captures that nihilistic drive and angst the most, and it was also one of the first songs that used the new songwriting techniques and technology I had started to get my head around. Along with the “Love Gone Wrong” songs - which are not remixes by the way, but two different musical angles on one common theme - ColdComfort captures the ambience of that first wave of Fate Razor and my exciting and wayward time in Melbourne’s music/club scene, having relocated there from Perth in 1994 as the sense of isolation was driving me wild.
In stark contrast to my efforts in Perth, Melbourne responded very enthusiastically to what I was producing and songs quickly began to be included on a series of compilation albums - I remember the momentum started with the “Re-evolution” CD and the tracks “Angelignite” and “Dead Dreams Bloom”. Both these songs will appear on the upcoming Retrospective EP#2.

Robot Citizen: Oh good I was wondering about those!

Vince of Fate Razor:
I think “Love Gone Wrong Song 3am” was conceived during a late night heart-broken stumble in the rain; trying the words out as I walked alongside some tram lines in East St Kilda, listening to the sound of the power lines buzzing in the rain (which can be heard reproduced in the track via a movie sample); I got home inspired and sat up until morning, composing the track on a pair of headphones, the trusty Atari 1040STe, a couple of Akai samplers, and a Roland JV880 synth module which I still have in the studio. I think I recorded the vocals during that same session as I was completely in sync with the mood of the track.
Fate Razor is definitely night-time music and most of the early songs were written in those hours where the neighbourhood is quiet and the imagination loud.

Citizen: I recall there was quite a bit of momentum built - radio airplay and releases on compilation CDs here and overseas - was there any stage of taking it to "the next level" so-to-speak?

Vince of Fate Razor:
During that Melbourne phase I received a letter of interest from Chicago’s Wax Trax Records for a cassette demo I had sent out, asking for more material. It was unexpected and very exciting of course, it was one of my favourite labels at the time and I listened to almost everything they released (used to love hearing 1000 Homo Dj’s “Supernaut” at the alternative clubs in Melbourne). I began to feverishly put together an album of newer material to follow up, and on cue a shit-storm of disasters rained down immediately upon the whole venture and put it to bed.

Citizen :( ... a sadly common tale of artists making great progress, building a launching pad from which to go to the next level but then life's shocks or great responsibilities come along and press the pause button ... Were you able to channel some of it in to the music?

Vince of Fate Razor:
The song “BlackGuard Wolfpack” was written around an ultra-vivid ‘dream’ I had at this time that made it very clear I should get myself back to Perth in a hurry; a pack of horse-sized wolves had been summoned from a forest patch at the roundabout near the terrace house I was renting at in North Carlton, the ‘god’ creature perched atop the clouds had disdainfully uttered a number representing fate which fluttered down through the trees as a playing card and landed amidst the wolves as a sign, they rose to their feet and, held in check on reins by a distressed and very reluctant Jesus figure, made their way down the street, sniffing at every door for the ‘numbered’ individual. In the dream they first came to my door and the sound of their breathing was so vivid I screamed, but they moved on to the next property, made their way in to the house, and dragged a cowering man by the throat out to the verge and encircled him under the watchful eye of a cold solitary streetlight. The experience ended as the circle tightened and they moved in for the kill. A few months later I was back in Perth watching my father die of liver cancer, and the album was bye-byes.
Some of those tracks are being remastered for the next retrospective EP and include a Franc Tetaz (Shinjuku Thief, Snog) dub-style remix of “Blackguard Wolfpack”.

Citizen: Such a difficult situation to endure; knocks people off their tracks ... I can recall the period where you viewed music as something you did in the past. When did you start to get back on track with the music?

Vince of Fate Razor:
There was a long withdrawal from music altogether. Then, following the re-animation of Crimson Boy, I starting looking over unfinished material I had been writing for the Fate Razor project since 2012. This led on to the early tracks and while listening to them I thought that it was a pity they had been released with such bad sound quality and in dribs and drabs. I think they’re strong songs and so decided to clean them up and have them mastered professionally; with artwork suited to their feel and sound, and a proper release. Retrospective EP#1 is mainly a snapshot of a time and a place, a headspace - and a clearing and backstory for the new material written in recent years and due for release at the beginning of 2019. I think the retrospective songs are still relevant today.

Fate Razor Perth Western Australia Dark Electronica Cold Wave Music Band Group Musicians Photo Images Photos Pictures

Robot Citizen: Agreed; very glad you found the time and motivation to resurrect them. That must have been quite a process - please share some details about that.

Vince of Fate Razor:
I got hold of the only remaining copy of a disc with the original stereo wave files and spent a couple of months editing and producing the Premasters in the Lightarmour Editions studio, then handed over these premasters to Sage Audio Mastering in Nashville for the final processing. I was very happy to hear the disparate tracks finally glued together, with enough clarity to hear a lot of the buried elements in the music. The out-of-control abrasiveness and bass chaos was also tamed. Some of the vocals are too low in the mix and badly recorded, and there was only so much that could be done about that, but overall I feel that the EP has honoured the songs and the effort it took to survive them.

I came across a DJ acquaintance from the bygone Perth alternative club scene who had the only copy of the original renders of early FR tracks on a CD. He posted the files to me on a usb. The digital files were in bad condition - somewhere along the way something had been done to the stereo image and the centre audio was very low and muffled; this is where vocals and key basslines are usually placed, so it sucked significantly. Each song was loaded into Presonus Studio One on my MacBook, and I then spent some time using every technique acquired in my time producing and engineering audio, to bring the tracks up to a good level.

I use the Universal Audio Apollo system, and some surgical EQ and multiband compression was needed as well as a lot of editing of glitches and fixes to the stereo field. The songs were all so different to each other in tone, and a lot of the work was to create a constant overall sound without undermining their particular traits.

For some of the tracks I added some expensive reverb, and layered in new instrumentation (using analogue hardware) or percussion hits to enhance the parts of the mixes that were most buried or out of balance. This was done subtly enough so as to not audibly alter the song from its original form. To give my ears a break and to deal with the final refinements, I handed the Premasters over to Sage Audio - it was inspiring to hear the great work they did to balance out the 5 tracks and tighten the bass end, especially on ColdComfort Logic which has a helluva lot going on in the bass. In my experience, the sequence or order of tracks is critical to the overall effect of a release, and the storytelling atmosphere of it, so some time was spent on setting that order before sending it to the Mastering Engineer so he could adjust the songs in context.

Fate Razor Perth Australia Australian Dark Electronica Cold Wave Music Band Group Musicians Photo Images Photos Pictures

Citizen: The tracks sound great together. It must feel good to reclaim all that time and effort from the past and see it through to a completed product. What was it like though to revisit and deeply immerse yourself in the intense music?

Vince of Fate Razor:
Honestly, if you’re feeling very down and you’re not particularly strong then I would not recommend listening to the “Love Gone Wrong” songs, or even “Three of Swords” - its definitely not going to make it easier for you. ‘Three of Swords’ is a tarot card archetype that embodies emotional betrayal, and the song captures that well enough. “Three of Swords” also recounts my experience of a very disturbing entity encountered one night on the seedy King Street club strip (Melbourne) sometime in 1996 - in an ‘altered’ state of mind shall we say. That same entity, I noted afterwards, is mentioned also in a Beatles song, which helped confirm for me the existence of it beyond my ‘subjective’ experience. When I returned to Perth I took up meditation and through it took a couple of years to make sense of what that experience and entity was and why it had affected me so much. I’m recounting these things so that the listener is aware of what’s beating inside these songs.

Personally I’ve never been scared to look into the darkness, and from an early age I intuited that to get real answers it would be necessary; it is a world of veils after all. But I’m well aware that most of the people I’ve known can’t do it without been affected too much, and therefore for them its not a wise move. The most beautiful people I’ve known in my life have that certain fragile disposition, and it would be like putting a fine glass sculpture on a battlefield. I have had in mind for some years now an apparently famous quote by Nietzsche along the lines of “if you stare into the abyss long enough, it will eventually stare back into you” or something like that. I think that one of the cruellest gags related to all this religious-esoteric-occult nonsense and trap is that really there is no abyss ‘below’ us - it’s right here, where we are, and to find its source is pretty straightforward; just throw away anything that points the finger of blame at this much-maligned humanity in order to create systems of pain and punishment/control, drop the yoke of indoctrination, and simply look around you with your sense of reason (and love of life) intact - the rest will coalesce step by step.

To answer your question, during some of the late night production work of the EP, I found that the ambience of the songs mentioned above took me back to that period far too vividly, with all the harrowing details that impelled them. By resonance I could feel those same emotions being invoked, but managed to keep my distance. It was definitely a travelogue, a re-reading of a dark novel. On the flipside, I found listening to "ColdComfort Logic" loud on good monitors in the studio a thrilling experience, and heard it almost as if I were not the author but rather someone from the public listening; that was interesting. I also really enjoyed the beauty inside the darkness of "Three of Swords", especially the piano and string arrangement, as I hadn’t gone there for a long time. And finally, the drum programming of “King Circuit” still gets my interest - there are so many genres of electronic music to be found in it; and the lyrics are very ‘future-renaissance-man’ which reminded me of some of the key ideas that are core to the Fate Razor identity.

DJ Robot Citizen: Thank-you for taking the time to elaborate on this project and process. In closing, what are your music website addresses?

Vince of Fate Razor:

+ For the record label - Lightarmour Editions:
+ Fate Razor on Bandcamp:
+ Fate Razor on Facebook, via the Crimson Boy page:
+ Fate Razor on Youtube

[ to top-of-page ]