| Band: Pysche|
Interviewer: Matthew Johnson
Originally formed over twenty years ago by brothers Darrin and Stephen Huss, Psyche has been around in one form or another since 1982, with vocalist and lyricist Darrin being the only constant. With eleven albums ranging from high-energy club tracks to moody electronic pop, Psyche has developed a cult following throughout the world. In 2004, Psyche signed to Metropolis Records to release “Legacy,” a collection of greatest hits, which was soon followed by the full-length album “The 11th Hour.” Grave Concerns’ Matthew J. recently caught up with Darrin to discuss his career and his latest album.
GRAVE CONCERNS: How are you?
DARRIN HUSS: Pretty good at the moment.
GC: Tell us about your new album, The 11th Hour. What have you done differently this time around?
DH: Well, first thing is different musicians. Remi Szyszka, who was part of Psyche for four years, decided to leave after we made “Babylon Deluxe,” and so only one song is on "The 11th Hour" from him, called “The Belonging Kind.” The rest of the album I wrote with Per-Anders Kurenbach, who actually was the Psyche keyboarder throughout the late ‘90s. But the main difference is in fact the overall sound. I decided once and for all to bring Psyche back to the darker electro-goth sound that we originally were, and didn't care about club hits or whatever's trendy right now. I wrote the songs as if this could be the last album, and that gave me the freedom to care more about the music as an artistic statement. Not that I don't always do this, but I'd say the new album is much more intense and serious than the last two with Remi. “15 Minutes” has turned out to sort of be a club hit on its own merits, and that is particularly satisfying when it's not forced. I also purposely reevaluated the way I sing, and I think I have come up with a slight variation to what people who only knew Psyche since “Sanctuary” have come to expect. I wanted to sound more like my heroes of the old days: Joy Division, the Cure and that somber style.
GC: You use a lot of piano melodies, which gives your music an emotional warmth that a lot of modern electronic music just doesn’t have.
DH: Thank you.
Can you tell us a little about how you go about writing your songs?
DH: On the albums “Strange Romance” and of course “Goodbye Horses” this was the style that I enjoyed. At that time, not so many were into it as they are now. I just love the sound of piano and also acoustic drums mixed with electronics. I wrote “Yearning” after seeing the movie “The Hole,” and the main theme for this film was a track by Recoil (Alan Wilder). I literally played this instrumental for Per and said, “I have to make a song like this.” Recently I've gone back to preferring film soundtracks of this kind and the ones from Clint Mansell who did “Requiem For A Dream.” That whole atmosphere kind of burned into me, and I put all the feelings I've had floating around in my head into this album. Per has had musical training, but he is able to put personality in his playing. You can really feel a person behind the notes and not some program. He had already sent me the instrumental of what became “September Moon” at least a year before I decided to make it a Psyche song. For “Bloodcurse” I also wanted a very dark opening track and pretty much directed the song like a film; I sang only to a drum track and the one piano tone. I wanted an ominous banging piano. It sounds to me like a funeral theme. The idea of calling the album “The 11th Hour” basically set the mood for the whole album, and that helped me to collect the various statements I wanted to make. Often we built a whole song out of a drum loop, like “Justice And Damnation” and “Until.” I don't always like songs to have a chorus and the standard structures of pop. I decided to let that only happen accidentally if a song needed a chorus, or not.
GC: Psyche has been around in one form or another for twenty years. How have the different incarnations and various lineup changes affected your perspective on the creative process?
DH: Psyche wasn't meant to have another lineup other than my brother and I, but since it ended up that way, my original intention was to keep the sound true to my brother's initial style. Then when I made “The Influence” in 1989 with David Kristian, the “classic” Psyche sound shifted into much darker territory. With Per-Anders I first tried to get back to a simple synthpop sound for awhile, and with Remi the club sound, but now I'm back to somewhere between “The Influence” with David and perhaps “Intimacy” from 1994; that was the last album with my brother. Basically, I write the lyrics and am the vocalist, so that has remained intact the whole twenty years. I also kind of decide what I feel represents Psyche or not. I have made some dumb songs along the way or a few musical compromises, but I always decide the final product and choose what to perform.
GC: In addition to Psyche, you’ve sung for a number of other bands. Who have been some of your favorites to work with?
DH: I've just been a guest vocal occasionally. My favorite remixer of Psyche is Negative Format, but I feel I didn't really do his Parallel Project any justice. Overall, that was way too techno for me. My favorite collaboration so far is “Time” with Fading Colors from Poland. “Nightmare” with Haujobb was also pretty cool.
GC: Psyche has a large audience in Europe and Canada. Has signing with Metropolis Records helped build your fan base in the US? Any chance of a US tour any time soon?
DH: We have played a few US dates actually (including twice at Motorpop!) before signing with Metropolis. We are hoping it will build us up now to have “Legacy” and “The 11th Hour” getting wider circulation, though, and we'll attempt to arrange a cross-country tour for 2006. Psyche always had a dedicated fan base from the ‘80s in the US (even an album release of “Unveiling The Secret,” plus Razormaid remixes), but it's the new generation that's yet to catch on. It's ironic that we finally had a breakthrough with the 21st century audience with “Sanctuary,” but now we're less of a club hit wonder, so people will have to be open to that.
GC: What’s next on the agenda for Psyche?
DH: Getting the “Psyche – History” DVD on the market. I'm still working on it. I have videos from 1983-1989 already transferred, but have to decide what else will go on it, and get the menu and booklet finished. No new songs this year; instead I have a side project called Jetlag, which is a minimal old-school electro-pop sound and is coming out later this year on 12" vinyl. http://www.myspace.com/jetlags has the previews. Psyche will be playing in Australia in December, and before that a handful of European gigs. I had intended to do a few dates in Canada and the US this year, but now I think it's better to wait until more people get into the last album. Perhaps there will be a new album in 2006, but I'm actually taking a bit of a break from planning. We have some remixes that will be showing up on various compilations for now.
GC: Do you have any final comments for our readers?
DH: Our whole scene needs to stop separating the sub-genres from each other and stick together as a complete subculture. Psyche has never been one or the other; we incorporate EBM, gothic, synthpop and even a touch of industrial on all our albums. Wherever this is accepted we will continue to play and have an audience. We thank those who've been with us all the way, but newcomers are always welcome; you don't have to know our whole history to appreciate what we sound like now. I would like to think that Psyche has proven that you can be creative and achieve longevity in the alternative electronic genre without repeating yourselves or becoming some boring commercial rock band after just three albums.
Visit Darrin Huss and Psyche online at www.pscyhe-hq.de for more information, and check out Darrin’s Jetlag side project at www.myspace.com/jetlags.
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