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Sophia (Sweden) - Oct.2001 « back to interview index

"Herbstwerk" sets the return of Sophia, the new child of Peter Pettersson, also known for his brilliant work with Arcana. Again, Peter sets out to explore dismal landscapes, where apocalyptic marches echo and thunder, yet this time he lets out a more orchestral side of his creation than what was found on "Sigillum Militum". We had a brief chat with Peter regarding this new passion of his and also about what's been happening with Arcana...
Greetings, Peter. How are things?
Everything is fine, just relaxing in front of the TV.

Could you start by telling me how Sophia first started?
It began back in 97 when I felt that it was quite hard to get people together for the recordings of the Arcana albums, so I decided to start a solo project... Sophia...

What is the current situation with Arcana? Has it been stopped permanently? It's been a while since you last did anything with it...
I'm actually working on the next album, so it's absolutely not permanently on ice. I just think I needed a little break to get some "fresh air". I also think that, since Arcana is more like a studio project, there will be a longer time between the albums from now on.

It's strange, because I remember that the first time you talked about Sophia it felt like it wasn't gonna be something very important, but now it has apparently become your main focus? Also, I had the feeling that Sophia was going to be a more softer/atmospheric type of Arcana, but it became just the opposite. Why the change of plans?
Well, I guess that like with any other band or project, you change, and as life influences you, the ideas change. Sophia is sort of my main project, as I work on it all the time and do not have to wait for other people to be ready for recordings. But to me this new constellation between Arcana and Sophia is just great, it'll keep me busy and inspired all the time.

Would you like people to see Sophia and Arcana as two different things or as a continuum of each other?
They are two different things. Just listen to the music. To me they are totally different, except for the fact that people might recognize my choice of melodies and notes. This I can't change.

Still, Sophia is heavily foccused on percussion and also a bit more ambient-driven. How do you feel about composing this sort of material, where you hardly use vocals at all?
It's really fun! With Sophia I can improvise and do what I feel like. With Arcana, I'm sort of captured between borders, which I really respect. Of course I miss using my voice in Sophia, but in the new songs I use my voice more than before.

I hear that your wife Cicci is also helping with the vocals for Sophia on live shows, correct? How is this?
She's not my wife... yet. Well, I thought it would be nice to have her with me on the tours and having her voice on stage is great! It gives the songs more diversity.

What's her voice like ? Because I don't think it's noticeable on the album...
It's not on the album, I only use her live so far. The whole idea began with me wanting her to play the sampler live. Then it evolved into sampler and voice.

Although Sophia is much darker, it still has a bit of the melancholic feeling of Arcana every now and then, I think, but the mood is very different. What inspires you for your creations with Sophia.
I guess that my Industrial vein had to show its face sooner or later. I've always been influenced by Classical music, and as my taste for more extreme music is strong I guess that a mix in between is inevitable.

Would you see yourself doing a more industrial album, though ? Without the Classical influences.
The new Sophia material is more orchestral-oriented but still with an Industrial sound. To me Sophia is not a medieval band or a project with a theme like that. Sophia is what I want it to be. I want it harsh, hateful and sometimes beautiful.

And what about the new Arcana, what can we expect of it?
I have only done two songs now, so I'm not sure exactly where it's gonna take me. I think it will be a little more calmer and ambient than the previous one. I have some really interesing ideas that I can't tell you about right now. What I can tell you is that I will use more people than Ida this time.

You mean there will be different singers involved?
Yes! I will try to have more people to work with so I can come closer to what that special song should sound, instead of compromising. I have some ideas of some people whom I really want to work with.

Can you tell us who at this time?
Well, that's the problem. I think I must wait until I get some answers. Otherwise there will be too much rumours and speculations. Time will tell what will happen, but if I get my ideas through it will be wonderful!!

Well, you have just released the new album from Sophia, "Herbstwerk". I think it's much more orchestrated and diverse than the debut. Do you agree? What would you say are the main differences?
I guess that me getting a new sampler was one of the influences. As I got an almost unlimited tool, I really wanted to try out a more orchestral thing. I based the first CD more on accustic drums.

The results for the percussion are really astonishing, by the way! How did you managed to get this sound?
I've really worked on my samples and having a great sampler is really important for me. The rhythms are just built in, it's the sounds that I have to process my own way.

You have been working as your own producer for a while, and it seems that you're starting to do some work for other people as well. Could you tell me a bit about this other occupation of yours?
Well, sort of. People asked me for my help and as I've built up a studio it's good for me to do a job here and there. I do mastering jobs and recording jobs, but I choose only to work with music I like, or sometimes help out a close friend.

Is "Herbstwerk" some sort of conceptual work? I know that "Sigillum..." was partially created for a live performance.
"Sigillum Militum" was written for a live performance, but for "Herbstwerk" I got (at least in my opinion) a better sound and better ideas so I sort of just forgot that idea. "Herbstwerk" was more like a feeling that I just had to do. I even had the title long before I had written the music. I think the same happened was for the sound on the album, I had it in my mind before I recorded it.

Is it always like this when you compose? I mean, do you have a set idea that you develope into an album like in these two cases?
Not always, but often. A lot of the times I have like the feel of a song, then I just have to get as close to it as possible.

How did the press and fans react to your material as Sophia, since most were used to something quite different from your work with Arcana?
I think they took it well, hehe. I heard a lot of positive thoughts about Sophia, but I'm sure some of the Arcana fans have a hard time accepting Sophia. But as Sophia is not as easy as Arcana I guess that I will have to accept a smaller audience.

Yes, the audience can be quite different, indeed. There have been political associations drawn to this sort of music before, so I suppose you may end up associated with this sort of thing too. Has it happened already and how do you feel about this?
Well, I know about this problem but as anyone who knows me or my music should know, I have never brought politics into my music. My political views are quite primal, I'm like a chaos democrat. haha.

And how did the people in this scene welcome Sophia? They tend to be a somewhat closed/elitist bunch.
I think that it's been really easy so far. As I've known a lot of the people before, they knew me and my ideas already. I don't think there will be any misunderstandings or anything. haha...
Here is a quote from Recycle Your Ears Webzine: "Finally, "Herbstwerk" is a recommended CD for the way it creates epic and lyrical atmospheres without falling into the militaristic / right wing mood of so many acts playing comparable music. No samples of dubious speeches on this one, but really a lot of effort put into writing a compact, coherent and energetic disc that combines strength and beautiful moments".

I guess that says it all, indeed. Don't you feel that it often happens that people into this genre care too little about the music and too much about the message?
Messages that often aren't there to begin with! And that is a bit boring, let's all enjoy and have a good time.

Back to more specific matters, you did the "Aus Der Welt" 10" on your own label, Erebus Odora. What can you tell me about this label?
I've always wanted my own label to release some small special things. This is not to compete with CMI or me trying to breake out of CMI, it's just my own label to release 7"s and special things that CMI don't have the time for. Erebus Odora is more like a concept covering all my activities (studio/mastering and label/distro).

Like you said, though, the albums are still on Cold Meat. How does Roger feel about Sophia? Was he upset that it would take your attention away from Arcana?
Oh, absolutely not. I think he really appreciates Sophia a lot. He knows that I wanted to do this for a long time. I think he would be upset if I put Arcana to sleep and started making disco...

Well, you've been playing live with Sophia quite often, it seems. How do things work out on stage?
Well, it's been working fine! Sometimes perhaps I've had a drink too much but it really works well. A lot better than with Arcana, it was really hard to do it live...

You were supposed to perform here in Portugal in a few months, but that has been cancelled, unfortunately. What happened?
They felt it was too expensive to take us to Portugal, at least that's what they said. A little strange as they wanted a lot more bands from the beginning...

To end the questionaire, when can we expect new outputs from you? Either from Arcana or Sophia?
I have some new Sophia songs done so I'm thinking about a little special release here soon.. I'll tell you more about this later. And the Arcana album will hopefully be ready around December/January.

Some final words?
Well, thanks for this interview. I truly hope to come over to Portugal soon! I'm pretty sure I will do it sometime.

interview by João Monteiro

"Sigillum Militum"

CD 2000, Cold Meat Industry

"Aus der Welt"
10" 2001, Erebus Odora


CD 2001, Cold Meat Industry


CD 2002, Cold Meat Industry

"The Seduction of Madness"
MCD 2002, Cold Meat Industry

"Deconstruction of the World"

LP 2003, Cyclic Law
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