Helium Vola
DNAsix Interview (Torsten Schäfer)

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Spells for coughing children

When Ernst Horn is not on tour with Alexander Veljanov as Deine Lakaien, the Munich electronics engineer and former conductor likes to go solo. At the end of April Liod will release the second album of his side project Helium Vola, which combines mainly medieval lyrics with modern electronic arrangements and the enchanting voice of Sabine Lutzenberger. As with the self-titled debut, a modern text by the French author Michel Houllebecq found its way onto the record this time as well. In an interview with DNAsix, Ernst Horn describes the concept of the new work, describes the difficulties of touring with Helium Vola, and lets us know why Jon Bon Jovi is a slimeball.

Please tell us something about the current album…

Ernst Horn: This time, the lyrics and vocals by Sabine Lutzenberger have brought a women’s theme to the fore. It’s about a young woman in the Middle Ages and her ordeal. In her spring crush, she surrenders to a man and is deflowered by him. He then leaves, she is pregnant, and the child is not healthy either. At the beginning of the CD, the child actually dies, but towards the end of the record, it lives, because there comes a little Merseburg magic spell. Everything will be fine, and a Mayan song comes to the end. (laughs)

The ending sounds really cheerful…

I don’t know when I’ve made a more cheerful record. (laughs) The first one ends with a Mayenlied, but that really goes down. And on most lackeys’ CDs we also have a melancholy song at the end.

Have you already gone to work with the intention of making a happier record?

I would say only partially, and if so, it is inspired by the lyrics. I didn’t answer consciously to say I had to make a happier CD right now. If you do that, you can’t control it that way as a musician. You sit there for days, months in the studio, and then everything becomes independent. Such an infatuation in the spring lyrics at the beginning, that might also bring a somewhat lighter, more friendly music. I think it’s getting pretty gloomy, the song Frauenklage, that’s a very tragic song, and the kid, he always coughs around like that. (laughs)

Do the instrumental tracks bind the pieces together?

That’s a bit of the red thread I’ve been using. Instead of the current samples, as I always had in other projects and also with the first helium vola record, I decided this time to take musical motifs. These are always the same things, La Fille by Houellebecq and this very dark chorus melody from Omnis Mundi Creatura. At the beginning I always moved them so rhythmically that you don’t recognize them, but it should symbolize this indecision, this floating of the child between life and death.

With the Houellebecq text and the melody fragments from the debut the two Helium Vola albums seem very closed…

I like to refer thematically to another album. I used to do this at hab´ with motifs that describe something, because you develop a kind of narrative thread that can spread over several albums. You weave on a carpet a little bit over the years. It’s a really nice thing for me to crosswise onto something else over and over again and to play around with the associations in this way.

Are there any topics for you to consider for future albums?

I originally wanted to do something with space for the album and already had some very nice stuff from NASA. The hab´ I then but all tilted in favor of these women’s songs. And actually I wanted to make such a small political corner.

You wrote the text of’Dormi’ yourself. Have you ever thought about singing yourself?

I used to have to sing in conducting class. That was extremely difficult for me. Alexander also has a pledge in his hand for later, possibly coming disputes, namely demo recordings of me, which I have sent him again and again. Not because I wanted to make a name for myself as a singer, but because I simply sang our songs, which I had already prepared a bit, to him. That really sounds like someone’s fixing a moped. (laughs) But even then I realized that I had no talent for singing, and I’d rather not do that.

In February there was the pre-release Veni Veni. What do you do when you produce a single?

While you’re doing the pieces and putting them together, it’s already clear that this could be a piece that you could hit on a single. I’m not such an insane fan of singles, I must say. I’m glad when there’s a club track with me, because it prepares the album. And the record company is also a bit pacified when you have a piece that also goes down well with the people. Then you can put the weird stuff back into the album again, so behind their backs.

You are one of the few artists who openly talk about the music industry…

Oh, so do the others, but many are not so honest. Musicians from the alternative think it’s a bit of a duty to blaspheme about the greedy record industry. In reality, they just want to suck up to the fans. It’s also not to be taken seriously that someone like Bon Jovi has now started to praise Napster, it’s a pure chumming up with the fans, he just wanted to be a bit underground again, because they always so ruffle him up in the press. (laughs)

Will there actually be a helium vola tour?

I’ve made up my mind. It is difficult because the others are so busy that we may have to fill them twice. Sabine of course not; if she has no time, you just can’t do a concert. I would also like to do this very elaborately from an optical point of view, and that will be very expensive. I’ll have to do some calculations so that it can work out reasonably well.

What are your next projects?

Serious: The lackeys are due. Next year is our 20th anniversary, of course we have to be at the start with something. We want to make concerts that are really big, as it should be for a 20-year-old, and a new album would certainly be very nice. I already finished some pieces at hab´ that are very electronic and dry, but maybe we’re not going in that direction after all. I still have to wash down some beers with Alexander, until we get on the way there, but we will see that.