Interview: Telemark (Catching up with Elliot Berlin)
Interview by: Lisa Lunney
In an era of growing disbelief in our own social structure Telemark tells its own story. Without neither nostalgic nor progressive ideas, no anger, no happiness.Telemark is an observation, sequenced with synthesized, acoustic and electrified sounds. Words mean nothing. And everything. We the first, the last, the one, a thousand. You know him from Aesthetic Perfection, but now let's catch with with Elliot Berlin also of Telemark.
Grave Concerns: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to chat with Grave Concerns.
Elliot Berlin: Thanks for allowing me to fill up your schedule !
Grave Concerns: Could you take a moment to introduce yourself to readers not familiar with the brilliance that is Elliott Berlin?
Elliot: I would´t know about brilliance, but let´s go with it!
I´m Elliott, Swedish musician and producer, probably most notorious for playing keyboards live with US industrial act Aesthetic Perfection where I dress up like a girl, put on too much make up and according to photos never close my mouth on stage.
It´s lots of fun.
I have my own band called Telemark, for which I write and produce our trashy electro pop.
I´m in Swedish electro-pop band Auto-auto and play drums for French chip tune - electro artist Dubmood and from time to time Aggrotech-outfit D-ToX.
My day job is being the in house sound-guy at a local venue in Gothenburg where I live, so as you see I like keeping busy.
Grave Concerns: What initially sparked your love for music?
Elliot: Music does two things to me that normally is hidden deep in my character;
It makes loud and happy.
Alcohol has the exact same effect, but I discovered music being a healthier alternative to drinking. Although the one kind of follows the other..
Any way, I loved music as long as I can remember. My mom, in her infinite wisdom, gave me an acoustic guitar when I was just a few years old which I preceded to destroy as I had seen Jimi Hendrix do on TV.
Not the brightest idea she ever had, but I guess something stuck..
I still like destroying gear.
Am I really going with "smashing a guitar" as what sparked my interest in music..?
I guess so..
Grave Concerns: With Aesthetic Perfection you have done an insane amount of touring, can you tell readers about some of the best experiences?
Elliot: We love touring.
There are just so many stories, BUT a funny story is the Goth Cruise in 2012.
I flew out to New York to meet up with the guys and get on the boat to Bermuda, along with VNV Nation and Icon of Coil, SIDT and a tremendous amount of the best people in the whole world.
As stated before my relationship with alcohol is something of a romance and on this ship drinks were free in unlimited supply.
Long story short; after the cruise we received a 9 point list of reasons why Aesthetic Perfection all of it´s members and their spouses (!!!) are banned for life from the Goth cruise due to our drunken shenanigans on this Atlantic cruise.
Not all of the points on that list belongs to us, but we do own a great percentage.
However, I just want to state here; no one in AP flashed any genitals nor had sex in public. We know who did, but were not telling.
Peeing over the railing might have occurred.. But come on, right ?
I guess the real benefit has been to get to know my friends Daniel and Tim and the many people who show up every time to get sucked into the spiral of chaos that is AP on tour.
Some times I wonder just how many people have woken up from being blacked out drunk after Vodka-races with us only to discover they now have lost their passports, credit cards, wedding-rings or bought a giant squid before they face planted.
We encourage this sort of behaviour.
Grave Concerns: Of course the worst experiences are also as intriguing, do tell!
Elliot: Playing Stockholm Sweden, Athens Greece and Sheffield UK over 3 days without sleep was most likely the worst thing we´ve ever done.
And with that been said the tour with Combichrist 2012 where I back lined for Combi AND played for AP everyday while waking up every morning with the AC-tank of the bus leaking into my bunk bed SUCKED pretty god damn much.
I think the worst thing with touring is the complete lack of sleep all the time.
It really does turn you into an animal, throwing a complete tantrum at the slightest problem.
But these are all luxury problems. I´m very happy for the opportunity to do this and what ever I have to endure to keep doing it is worth it.
And Vodka helps.
Grave Concerns: To date, what has been your favourite show?
Elliot: I think Amphi Festival 2012 must be it.
The audience was INSANE and the whole show went perfectly, apart from my riser the first few minutes..
It was one of those things on wheels and someone must have forgotten to lock the wheels. Mid into the first song I realised I was drifting over the stage on a gigantic skateboard! Luckily it didm´t end in catastrophy because the Amphi techs are awesome in fixed it.
Besides that little mishap the show was intense and we had a great connection with the audience the whole show through. Abbey and Greg from Combichrist and our friend Mandy Privenau were creeping around shooting epic pictures of us. Good times.
Grave Concerns: Which is your preference; recording, or live performances?
Elliot: Performing live !
Recording is also fun but can also be tedious and soul-consuming work.
There´s just nothing like coming off a stage after a show, good or bad. The amount of heart delivered and received is just the most awesome spiritual exchange there is.
…However, while on tour I constantly think about being at home in my studio working on songs. It´s just one of those things where you want to thing you can´t have, I guess.
Grave Concerns: What inspired you to branch out and create your own signature sound with Telemark?
Elliot: I always wanted to fuse electro and rock elements but I think I´ve been scared of being rejected as a songwriter or even laughed at.
The low-water mark was a few years a ago when I realised it was 2 or 3 years since my last completed song. I decided I had to make a change.
I basically sold all my gear and started working only in my laptop, procuring only the most vital things along the way. What came out was the embryo of what later became Telemark.
If we dig deeper into it I guess it´s a thing where I need the energy of a rock band on stage but am in love with the controlled sounds of synthesisers.
It´s a marriage between chaos and order, or something like that..
But then I end up running synths through Marshall-amps and guitars through synths.. I don´t know anymore what the hell I´m doing, to be honest. It´s all just a big hunt to find the sound I hear in my head.
Grave Concerns: What does the future have in store for Telemark?
Elliot: I have no idea! I´m trying to get a crowd of fans so that when we´re ready to take the show on the road we´ll have somebody to play for and I´m currently working on what will be our next release, a 4 song EP like the first one including one cover of some famous artist that means something to us.. No idea which one to do yet.
Probably some remix-work too and I know I´ll spend a lot of time on the road with AP this summer so I´m guessing I´ll want to shut myself in and work on new material from when I get home.
Take a listen to Telemark on Bandcamp:
Grave Concerns: What track are you most proud of?
Elliot: That´s hard to say.. I´m proud of many for different reasons.
I think "Over You" by Telemark is one of the most honest songs I´ve ever written, while nothing describes my life like "a Thousand".
Years ago I wrote a stupid little song called "Musikk per Automatikk" which is featured in a little indie game my friends made called Hotline Miami.
This game his now sold hundreds of thousands of copies which means many many people have heard my stupid song and that makes me very happy. And so I´m very proud of that stupid song too.
Grave Concerns: Is it easier doing a cover as opposed to introducing your own original lyrics into the world for judgment? Or, is performing a cover worse for the constant comparison to the original?
Elliot: Both. I chose to include covers into Telemark´s "Stream" ,if you will, of music because I like to try things within a pre-determined frame.
It´s easier if you want to try out a sound to just use something someone already made so you can focus on trying that idea you had.
It enables me to perfect my sound faster than I could in the try & fail-environment of composing and writing where other things occupy my mind, like harmonies and song-structure.
Releasing a cover track is dangerous in the sense that it might get more attention by the audience at first glance as they already know it, and therefor don´t really listen to my originals.
I wanted to do it anyway, basically because it´s fun.
And honestly, I stopped being afraid a while ago now.
If people don´t like what I do, it´s fine.
We´ll do the covers live if it seems like fun, but probably avoid it as much as possible and play our own material instead.
Grave Concerns: Outside of music, what is your life like? What are your hobbies?
Elliot: haha! Not much, to be honest. I like to watch series and movies, hang out with my friends, girlfriend Emi and of course my son Simon who´s awesome at Call of Duty and Battlefield.
I do some hobbyist image-editing when I´m bored I take the rats out every day and watch them wreck my apartment.
Playing with the rats are possibly my only REAL hobby unrelated to music. And getting tattoos..
Grave Concerns: If the world evolved into a dystopian sort of world, where no music, no creativity was allowed. What would you do with your time?
Elliot: I wanna say I´d be some kind of awesome character like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, all mysterious and cool.. But to honest I´d probably end up a complete loser and shoot myself in the head. I don´t have high survival-skills and art is most likely the only work I could do well.
But, since it is a complete hypothesis, I´d say I´d be a mutant bounty hunter with a cybernetic eye and the best aim in the new frontier. Id have this awesome spaceship where my girlfriend would be the space-captain and we´d probably have a giant mutant rat for a pet. I´d dress in robes and look like a satanic priest and wield some kind of laser Katana, like the one Scot Pilgrim has in VS. the world. Yeah.
Grave Concerns: In your eyes, what does success mean?
Elliot: It means being able to look back at your life and say "At least I tried as hard as I could to achieve my goals and enjoy life"
It´s leaving something behind other than garbage and a pile of bones.
It´s being honest with yourself, enough to leave everything behind and chase your dreams.
Grave Concerns: Do you have any words of advice to aspiring musicians?
Elliot: Don´t try to be famous. Work a hard as you can, always try to find something to do better. There is always something to do.
Make friends, not fans. That means; remember their names, shake their hands and give them hugs. They´re the ones who´ll buy your merch so you actually make money from touring, they´ll be in the first row and know all your songs by heart.
Unless you´re a dick to them, in which case they´ll quickly become neither.
Take your time and be honest. The result depends on it. Always.
Party when you´re done working, not before or during.
There´s nothing as pathetic as a drunk wanna be rockstar making a mess.
On stage AND off stage.
I could go on forever, but finally; what ever you learn - teach the next guy.
Somebody taught you so give them some respect back by teaching someone else.
Check out Aesthetic Perfection- Antibody (remix by Elliot Berlin)
Grave Concerns: Anything else you care to share with readers of Grave Concerns?
Elliot: Don´t let the Vodka spoil and always Hail Satan !
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