Interview with Fredrik Croona (Cynical Existence)

shot taken by Martin Tzr Niklasson- — with Iva Insane and Psylocke.

Already well respected from his work with Menschdefekt and with his band Project Rotten let alone numerous other collaborations and projects, Fredrik Croona brought another absorbing, impactful, and stirring release to incite our hearts from his new project Cynical Existence  in the shape of its debut album A Familiar Kind of Pain. A release of harsh EBM and dark electro might and infection the new album continues the impressive contribution and creativity of Fredrik that has installed him as one of the more inspirational and notable people in the genres and subgenres his projects easily envelope. We had the pleasure of Fredrik agreeing to answer our questions so we could find out more about him and his music.

Hi Fredrik, many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

Firstly tell us not about the musician but about the man Fredrik Croona.

Well, what can I say? I am a normal guy who has a day time job trying to earn enough to make a living. When I don’t do that I prefer to play video games and go to the gym and pretend to be a strong muscular dude. I am pretty much a nerd.

The first introduction to you for many of us was when you joined Menschdefekt in 2009, is there a musical history before that point for you?

I started out as a vocalist in a heavy metal/new metal band back in 2003 and after that I was a vocalist in a death metal band and some minor short lived dark electro/darkwave projects. I doubt that anyone heard about these bands besides my close friends, cause we never got past the demo stages and only performed live in my home town of Gothenburg.

How did your union with Dominik R. in the band come about?

I think those who know me well enough know that I have a passion to start side projects or collaborations with other artists and I was actually surfing around Myspace and found Menschdefekt and Dominik was holding some kind of competition for a vocalist who wanted to try to write lyrics and do vocals for a track (I forgot the name of it). I wasn’t into it at first but I thought hell why not? And Dominik loved my vocals and lyrics and wanted me to join as full time vocalist.

Next you formed Project Rotten alongside Menschdefekt for your solo work, what did you want to experiment with and create that was different to Menschdefekt?

First off I wanted to make something myself, or at least try but I failed. I made two tracks myself which were pretty terrible in all aspects of both music and vocals and so I got a guy called Jan to join me, cause I needed help. And after that Kettil joined and helped improve the music drastically. In the end I wanted something more raw and sinister than Menschdefekt.

I would say that everything but the vocals is different. In CE everything is created and produced by me and this in return makes me create anything I want to create. I have total control and nobody can tell me what to do and not to do (not saying that is the case with Project Rotten). But still there is more freedom this way.

You are no longer involved with Menschdefekt, was this because of the demands of working two bands or that Project Rotten was naturally pulling in all your creative energy into itself to leave less than you wished for Menschdefekt?

My biggest problem with Menschdefekt was that it was stealing too much attention from Project Rotten and the sound didn’t evolve too much in my ears. I always strive to evolve and so does Kettil and we want the same things. It’s easier to work this way and I still make the final mixes in Project Rotten so I can make it sound the way I want it to. Dominik is a great musician and I had lots of fun in Menschdefekt but it got to a point where I couldn’t evolve with it anymore so I had to cut it off.

What have and do the three bands differ in and offer distinctly differently to your creative ideas and craft

Menschdefekt was focused on catchy hook lines and themes about war, corruption and human decay.

Project Rotten was based on fiction and horror with heavy beats and dark aggressive music (which has evolved into a more club oriented sound).

Cynical Existence is a personal project with a lot of feelings and lyrics about past experiences etc and it’s whatever I want it to be. One track can be a bit future pop-ish and one can be really dark and aggressive. I have no boundaries to what I create.

With Project Rotten and Cynical Existence is there sometimes a battle within you over which gets priority over a new idea you have?

Nah, Kettil is the musical drive behind PR so if there would be a battle it would be for the lyrics. Both bands are equal for me and I don’t see a problem or a battle amongst them. If there comes a time when I have to choose *I would probably merge both bands into one instead.

How do you create your music generally?

I boot up cubase and start a VST and just write and move around and try different things. I never know what to do until I do it.

How many times have you thought of something that you think will work in a track but not been near anything to record it and then for it ultimately to disappear from memory by the time you are haha?

Oh shit, well that is a hard question. I would probably say one too many ;). Worst part is when you are at work and you think of something and when you get home it’s just gone.

With Cynical Existence the band bio states the goal for the band was to create a form of ‘old school’ harsh EBM and industrial “ with a more personal touch and emotions infused into it.” Could you expand on the personal and emotional elements and how these differs from what you have brought through with Project Rotten?

Like I stated before, Project Rotten was mostly about fiction and horror and the new songs are more sarcastic and with a lot of dark humour. Cynical Existence is more personal because I write things that are close to me and the music probably reflects that also. I hate the terms Cyber and Hellectro. I call it harsh ebm or dark electro cause that is what it is. It has nothing to do with cyberspace or dystopia or hell, this is what makes it special to me.

A Familiar Kind Of Pain is the debut Cynical Existence album and one we loved. How long was it in the making and has the sounds and idea behind it been around longer than the project?

Should I really spill my beans about this ;)? The EP is actually a mini CD. But it took me about 3 months to make, maybe even less. When I have my creative drive I can write A LOT. Mind you a lot has been thrown away.

Did A Familiar Kind Of Pain change and evolve by the finished album much from your original ideas and vision?

I didn’t really have an idea. I just wanted to try and create music. As I stated before I did two songs back in 2009 but they were just arpeggios and sequencers so they don’t count. This time around I just wanted to create and see what I could do. I want to create varied tracks with different feelings for the EP and I think I managed to do it.

Is there a theme or continuing essence behind the EP, or is this the personal part of you that we feel linking the songs?

Hmm not really, I just wanted every track to sound a bit different to see what I could make; I wanted variation and see how far I could go without going too far.

Is Cynical Existence something you see becoming an active live band like Project Rotten or remain a recording vehicle for your dark electro and harsh EBM ideas?

Hell yes! I already played live once and will be standing on stage again in about 2 months. So I will be playing live for sure.

In a genre where it seems that fans and some artists are almost intolerant of certain sounds, and sub styles within the vast industrial world, what were you expecting response wise from your fans to something  openly different to Project Rotten?

I wasn’t expecting anything to be honest. I mean I didn’t even think I could make a album and release it but I did. I create music for myself and if people like it that is awesome but in the end as long as I like it it’s ok. This is for me in the end. It might sound egoistic but if not for me, then who else?

How do you view industrial right now, it almost seems a volatile environment to be making music within?

A lot of people are whiny bitches to be honest, both artists and people alike. I don’t really listen to industrial music myself and don’t keep up with the scene. But I still love the scene who likes and appreciates what you do, why waste energy on the others?

What inspires your music and ideas, and does it differ from the different bands you have been and are involved in?

Everyday life and my personal feelings. I think it does because this is on a very personal level and I am there from start to finish.

What are the biggest influences that have crossed into all your work?

I have no idea, there are some bands I really got influenced by in my early electro years, but before that it was metal. Now I don’t really know. It’s a very hard question.

Apart from the bands we have mentioned what else are you involved with? We know you also collaborate with other artists like one of our favourites Scream Machine.

Well as of right now I am working on the vocals for the Mexican dark electro band Anamadim, besides that it’s kind of quiet. I don’t really have time or energy to waste on other things at the moment because of PR and CE. Got two album in the works to finish this year.

With the internet collaborations are much easier to engineer and do, but do you think it also from the fact that people do not even need to be in the same country to create music together that it can lose the naturally instinctive essences one finds from all being together side by side working?

I don’t think it’s matter if you are there or not. As long as you have a connection with the other part and you both have the same drive and passion I don’t see a reason why it should differ from working next to each other in real life. Internet creates huge possibilities that we couldn’t even dream about 15 years ago.

What is next for you?

To get my albums ready and prepare to release them onto the world so stay tuned!

A big thank you for taking time to talk with us, it is very much appreciated.

Would you like to end with any last thoughts about anything?

Even if it seems that I don’t have much love for the industrial scene I actually do. The fans and people who support us bands those are the people I give my love to. The others can fuck off and die! Thank you!

Read the A Familiar Kind Of Pain review @

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The Given Motion: Human Dictionary

It is obvious to say with any debut a band wants to make a strong impression, offer a quality and originality that has people intrigued in the very least, and set in motion an anticipation for and a promise of much more impressive things to come. US indie rock band The Given Motion do just that with their album Human Dictionary, a release that brings vibrancy, dynamic songwriting, and compulsive sounds directly to the ear whilst feeding thoughts the assumption that from this excellent introduction there is even greater things ahead.

Formed in 2008, The Given Motion to use their words “was a distant concept preceded by an undeniable energy and creative force,” something listening to Human Dictionary is very apparent. The release bristles with a creative energy that pours from every note and syllable of the seven tracks within. Through a diverse release the band infuse a power and passion which whether in the more intense songs or the melodically charming ones is an ever present. The songs on the whole are also very catchy without resorting to obvious lures and hooks, showing the strength of composition and ease with which they strike up a rapport with the emotions of its listeners.

The release opens with Sing To Me and instantly has the ear eager to know more. The song has a gentle sway to its start which draws one into its infectious chorus and spreading arms of sound and energy.  The track never explodes into a lustful proposition though one feels it wants to at times, but holds a fine restraint which adds to the emotion it engages with. The vocals of frontman C.J. Schiatta are excellent, fresh, emotive, and bursting with an enthused endeavour lined with a knowing control which is captivating. Backed by the voice of guitarist Frank Mitaritonna there is a sure and appealing combination which flows perfectly with the guitar melodies and the mesmeric rhythms from bassist Tim Dillon and drummer Ryan Colichio.

The strong start is continued by Don’t Blink (There Was A Time). Opening with a jangly guitar reminding of Orange Juice the song offers a thoughtful pop pleasuring which leaves on energised and equally relaxed. Its warmth carries an eighties indie sense that flowed through bands like The Farmers Boys, The Bluebells and Lightning Seeds and by the end it is impossible not to be joining in with the hypnotic chorus.

The best two tracks on the release come in the shape of the title track and The Feeling. Both bring a more aggressive nature that sees them set in a post punk/rock footing which is inspiring. Human Dictionary struts and flexes its muscles with an attitude and intent which lifts the intensity into a disdainful slightly venomous attack. It is easily the best song on the album, a mighty well structured and very effective pulse racing inciter. It is closely matched by the immediately following The Feeling, another rock veined song which blends in melodies and harmonies that simmer with emotion and again a sense of spite. For all the great songs on the release these two are where one hopes the band concentrates most of all, with their craft and songwriting abilities they could set rock music truly alight.

The remaining songs are all again great examples of the diversity and creative skills of the band. Find Me, Watching You Drown, and One Jumps In, all merge with the ear with a slower melodic intent which pours more of the passion and emotive power the band has onto the senses. The trio all lie on a ballad bed but raise and twist the feelings and intensity back and forth with accomplished and inspired skill. From a personal perspective the more aggressive rock side of the band wins out but it is impossible to deny the expertise and instinctive quality that swarms within each and every song.

It is safe to say The Given Motion is destined to be a major player in the future playlist of the world with Human Dictionary their first very impressive entry.

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Black Hats: Austerity for the Hoi Polloi

To be honest when the songs from the outstanding debut album from UK indie rock band Black Hats graced the ear there was an instant thought it was a new release from Young Knives even though the CD said differently. As Austerity for the Hoi Polloi unveiled its full might and collection of infectious and striking tracks there was obvious that there was much more going on within the songs but there is no mistaking that the band which came to mind first is a big influence to Black Hats, which can only be a good thing.

From Oxford, Black Hats consists of Ian Budd (bass, vocals), Nick Breakspear (guitar, vocals) and Mark Franklin (drums, vocals). Eighteen months or so as a band has seen them consistently and increasingly grab attention as they unveiled new songs, grabbed radio play including a live session for BBC Introducing (Oxford), and released their first EP Magnets. With the release of their debut album Austerity for the Hoi Polloi, one can only see bigger and more urgent things coming to hound and throw acclaim at their door.

As the opening guitars shower the ear with crystalline melodies, first track You Make Us What We Are immediately has the ear offering full attention. With a slight ska lilt to the riffs the song pokes and insists the senses take notice as a delicious dark bass line meanders wonderfully through the centre. It is very Young Knives which made the double take at first but as the song plays and captivates more and more the distinct and different qualities of Black Hats is easily apparent. The song never ignites into a full out frenzied party but borders it closely to make a song which is deeply engaging and openly infectious.

     Death By Record bounces in next with a punk urgency and inspired melodic mesmeric teasing. Checking into the band before writing the review there were quite often comparisons with Gang of Four mentioned which the first song never suggested at all which had one wondering where they were coming from. Here there is a definite feel of that band which spices the flavoursome song, to which you can add essences of Maximo Park and Baddies too. By this point an affair with the inspired basslines of Budd has been nurtured, his reggae grooves and punk moodiness an easy and impressive meld.

Already the album is destined to only acclaim which Blood And Space with its jazzed bass invention and thoughtful structure only enforces and the following and amazing Impossible View ensures is an even greater affection. The best song on the album it is instant addiction. The rhythms of Franklin cage the sirenesque melodic conjurations which light up the ear and beyond. Breakspear and Budd dazzle with inventive play and the sax that strikes ingeniously is glorious. With its ska lined riffs and rhythms alongside its indie pop heart the song is a full pleasure.

Impending single Fall Out and current one Kick In The Doors complete the album just as impressively as up to this point. The first is another ska riffed, dub beat spined feast of post punk power pop. A mouthful but it brings it all into its excellent vibrant body. The closing Kick In The Doors with its acidic striking keys clasping and squeezing the consistently striking guitar and bass invention leaves one as the release ends simply breathless and with no option but to dive right back inside Austerity for the Hoi Polloi again. To be honest any song would be the perfect entry point into Black Hats but this track certainly scoops one up welcomingly in its irresistible arms of intelligent and articulate pop-punk.

Normally when a band reminds of another as closely as Black Hats did initially there is a doubt about them but this trio soon put all those thoughts firmly away with their skilled, inventive, and completely absorbing impressive sounds. There is a new energy for indie music starting and it is in the shape of so pick up Black Hats and their simply wonderful EP Austerity for the Hoi Polloi.

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Days Of Our Decay: Electric Twilight

Days Of Our Decay is a Canadian goth/black/industrial metal band which carries many more additional flavours to its music. Theirs is a distinct and imposing sound which is sure to lure a reaction whether in the positive or negative, a band one cannot ignore or easily pass by without their incisive tentacles of inventive sound instilling itself in at least some part of you.

The Ontario band was formed in 2002 by Darvius Noctem and is a keyboard and synthesizer led dark and imposing musical project. Though originally meant as a full band the project remained as a solo entity for Noctem though alongside him there are the hypnotic talents of Demonika Demise who brings backing vocals and choir voices to the compositions. The music Noctem brings forth is a deep and expansive mix which carries the rich spices of the likes of Rammstein, Deathstars, Dimmu Borgir, and Cradle Of Filth as well as the even darker gothic flavours of Type O Negative, Sisters Of Mercy, and Fields Of The Nephilim. With an additional symphonic metal atmosphere the music wraps around the senses to chill and instigate a mesmeric rapture with its darkened poetic intrusions.

Electric Twilight is the latest album from the band and It is fair to say that though it may not find a welcoming canvas to spread out upon with everyone if imaginative and expressive blackened sounds find a place at your table this album is a full and satisfying meal for consumption. Given time and allowed to unveil its musical glory and for the initially slow to warm to vocals of Noctem to state their case as to why they should find room in your ear, the rewards are very strong and pleasing.

The title track opens up the album with a glorious deep rumbling bass sound as the keys swoop and prey upon the ear with grace and instant appeal. The vocals of Noctem stalk in almost at once, his deep resonance bouncing off the walls within the ear to be nicely balance by the warmth of the melodies and the golden backing of Demise. The music is all gothic frills, ruffles and grandeur and with the continuing predatory bass line adding a menace it all easily absorbs attention.

As the equally enjoyable Aristocratic Blood and Let’s Grow Cold Together with another hypnotic bass beckoning, spread their wings and flourishes across the ear the album begins to take a firm grip though it does offer up one element that you can see putting some off. The vocals of Noctem are great, deep and wickedly imposing like an old hypnotic evil waiting to corrupt and consume, they also are relatively singular in their delivery, though rich and dramatic they are often an overpowering distraction to the fine composing and engaging sounds surrounding them. Given time to allow they and the music to show how they combine and it is a working pleasure but one can imagine others with less endeavour to explore his creations looking for an early exit, though it is their loss admittedly. The combination and contrast of the vocals from Noctem and Demise works impressively throughout with songs like Hopeless In This Hopeless World with its emotive key work and Shallow Diving showing their enterprising and successful mix. The vocals of Demise are not just backing sounds but an instrument and essence of the music which is powerful and as expansive as the synth soars alongside her.

The best songs on the album are Only In A Place Like This with its distinct Gary Numan like melodic manipulations which sound like they were inspired by his Tubeway Army album Replicas, and the excellent Anemia. This track is easily the standout one, its vibrant and pulsating heart leading one by the hand into the wealth of inventive and impactful creativity. The song teases and invites thoughts into making their own images and visions, the atmospheric and dark shadows with the song the lead characters.

Electric Twilight is a great album which deserves a slice of attention from all with a dark and expressive heart to their music choices. If you have an emotion for any of the artists mentioned above than take some time and effort to go and introduce yourselves to Days Of Our Decay. They may not become your new favourites but certainly they and the album will become firm friends.

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