Released back in September, Angelspit's new album "Bang Operative" is a theory in human and societal decay all in the name of glorious technology and internet stardom. The cyberpunk album rooted in real world problems via the cult-like celebrity Hollywood status paired with homelessness, Zoog took inspiration from his hometown and personal experiences to create "Bang Operative". A work of fiction blended in reality - check out our full interview with Zoog directly below.
Hello Zoog and welcome back to Brutal Resonance! You’ve just launched your most recent album “Bang Operative”! In general, how did that go over? Was the reception for it so far more than you anticipated or was it something that you were expecting?
Zoog: So far so good! It has been received much better then anticipated. I am trying something different with "Bang Operative", I put a spectrum of tracks on the album - from typically harder Angelspit tracks to more synth orientated tracks. It’s interesting that many people have gravitated to the synth tracks.
I’ve read that “Bang Operative” was influenced by the synthwave / cyberpunk sound of 1978-1981. What specific works from that time period do you reference as influences?
Zoog: John Fox, Numan, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre. I used much of the same gear those artists used at the time - modular synths, vintage analogue synths, super lo-fi samples and old effects units. I also used several old guitar pedals - distortion, chorus, delay and phase. Those classic albums get their warm, fat sound from amount of noise in the tracks - so I was open to letting lo-fi noise creep onto the tracks.
I have also read that the album was inspired by Los Angeles’ sprawling dystopia; could you expand upon that idea? What exactly about Los Angeles lent its personality to “Bang Operative”?
Zoog: LA is a lonely city. It’s very difficult to forge a genuine relationship here - it’s all about professional networking and less about hanging out. The sprawl of the city also makes it difficult to get around. At first I thought it was me, but I found many others had the same alienating experience. "Bang Operative" draws on this. Lyrically and musically. The cityscape is very futuristic - the lights, the smog, the bustle. It’s always November 2019. It suggests equally emotive music. (Cue deep thud, koto strum and massive souring synths).
The lyrical content has been stated to be dark and personal blending mental health issues such as isolation and loneliness. Tell me, did writing out the lyrics in this album provide an emotional release? Was it at times hard to express yourself on “Bang Operative”?
Zoog: Definitely. The lyrical content touches subjects like suicide, domestic violence, crime, homelessness, mental health, and feeling like a slave. My wife and I live in the middle of Hollywood, so we see waves of tourists, opulence, extreme fame and devastating homelessness. Many of the lyrics were inspired by events on the boulevard.
Now, you also have Cherry Bligh on duel vocal duties with yourself. Who is Cherry Bligh, is she involved in any other projects, and how did you guys meet?
Zoog: Cherry is an English vocalist with a background in electroclash and punk rock. We met at a therapy group for Alien abduction survivors. She has a great voice - we only scratched the surface for what she can do. I hope she is on more tracks in future.
A lot of your previous material has been on the industrial rock and electrorock side of things but always had a futuristic vibe to it. That being said, was it hard to blend in cyberpunk and synthwave influences into your mix or was it natural to do so?
Zoog: It felt natural. The songs all started with a futuristic idea. The lyrics grew from that and suggested music. The instrumentation was fun - programming synths to be more flowing...although each song has a vicious element. I have tried to make these songs more “playable”, as I want to play them live - either on tour or streamed live from the studio.
A question out of nowhere but an important one nonetheless: What are your top five cyberpunk medias, whether books, movies, albums, or comics?
Zoog: This is a great question, but my cyberpunk influences are not actually media - they are the world around me. When I talk to people and they tell me their concerns it reflects the classic dystopian books. When I walk down Hollywood Blvd with the drug abuse, homelessness coexisting with hoards of tourists worshiping the myth of stardom and it’s affluence, it’s like walking through a comic book. When I drive home with my wife through the desperation of Skid Row, it’s like a video game. I stand on my rooftop and overlook LA’s skyline shrouded in lights and smog, and it’s a movie. Cyber crimes everywhere. My life and social interaction are experienced though a tiny screen. There is no stop button, no pause button. The play button seems to increasingly speed up the movie. The ride has started. You are stitched into the cart. Keep your hands inside. All you can do is scream.
You’ve had eight studio albums in your career thus far including “Bang Operative”. Where does “Bang Operative” lay in terms of favorites? In your opinion is it now your favorite album out of the rest, or does it lie somewhere else?
Zoog: I am proud of this album. I enjoy listening to it and playing it live. Some people will get it, some won’t - but it will hopefully open the door to a new audience. Different approach, different cast, different angle, same underlying chaos.
Walk us through your favorite track on “Bang Operative”. What makes it stick out and why?
Zoog: 'Art of War'. It’s gentle, dark, soothing and angry - very angry, although the sweet vocals hide that. The track is about domestic abuse. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a close friend on the topic. The soothing music wares you down, then it has an violent outburst, then smooths it over...just like domestic violence. The lyrics end with “you won’t be the death of me”. The synths and drums are very early 80s - I needed to make something that could be created in 1983. Another track is 'Promise of Gold'. It’s about a thief who must scale a tower in order to break into a maximum security vault, but when he reaches the top he contemplates jumping instead of robbing the vault - perhaps he realizes that money, just like society, is worthless.
And what else have your planned for the rest of 2019 or the near future? Have you any upcoming gigs, shows, or tours? Any other singles, EPs, or remixes on the horizon?
Zoog: I am hoping to tour next year! I am experimenting with “live from the studio” performances. I am playing stripped back versions of the new tracks. Just me and the synths. I’d love to tour this - we’ll see what happens! The next album is in the works. I hope to release it in 2020.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you for your time. We wish you the best of luck with “Bang Operative” and we leave the space below for any final words. Cheers!
Zoog: Thank you! I encourage everyone to keep going. It’s a very difficult time - it kinda feels like the world is falling apart...but it’s not, it’s just swimming in drama - as usual. Use the negativity to create something frighteningly beautiful!
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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