Insight Interview: Otto Van Kleist

We caught up with experimental producer Otto Van Kleist to talk through his music and upcoming projects. Check out his story here…

Hey Otto, thanks so much for agreeing to an interview. Where are you based? Do you tend to travel a lot, or are you firmly rooted at home?

I live in France, in countryside next to Bordeaux.

I don’t travel a lot… I’ve been to Spain, Greece, Tunis, Italy, Belgium, Macedonia… My last trip was to the Garramurdi caves in Spain. I prefer staying home. Making or listening to music, watching movies, reading.

Can you recall your first real exposure to music?

Yes of course. It was for my seventh birthday when my parents offered me the “Teases & dares” LP by Kim Wilde. It was my first album & I was listening to it in loop mode. Still today I love it the most out of Kim Wilde’s stuff.

How and when did you first begin writing and creating music?

My first composition was a song called « Sad ». I was 16. It’s a song written for my lost dog. My dog was my best friend when I was growing up. We lived together from the beginning of my life until the day he passed away. Simple lyrics. A tape recorder. 2 guitars & my voice. The sound is horrible! But I love it for what it represents for me.

Can you describe your music for us?

It depends on the project… I make electronic music which I guess people think of as ambient, dark ambient, experimental, avant-garde, post-music, industrial. I started with Sona Nyl & released a CD on the witch-house label HEXX9 RECORDS. The album strikes a balance between sweet sadness & more aggressive/depressive stuff. After that, I created another project called EL PRETRO MANIACO. To me, it’s the most darkest & frightening music I’ve done. The album was released on CD by the label VIBRIO CHOLERAE RECORDS. I also made a split album with FILMY GHOST under the name of OVK – it’s called “Abandoned Places”, released on KALPAMANTRA RECORDS. Recently I made a track for The Games We Play‘s compilation “THE WATCHER” with the voice of SERENA TOXICAT & an apparition on the BLACK MARA CD compilation “GORGON’S TALE” under the name CATHURIA.

What I can say about my music is that it reflects my inner beings in the moment I create it. Rapture… Fear… But always strongly emotional.

Have you played live recently? Would you like to do more shows or tours in future? Anything coming up soon you’d like to tell us about?

No. I don’t play live. I’m afraid about the idea of being alone in front of an audience. I don’t search for live acts… Maybe I’ll change my mind one day…

What have been your biggest influences?

For the music I produce, COIL comes first. I also love the first era of KIRLIAN CAMERA, ORDO EQUILIBRIO… But my musical spectra is large… I love new-wave, metal, pop… A lot of things so shitty you won’t believe it. Cinema has a lot of influence on my work too. Especially old Italian movies or 70’s, 80’s cinema in general.

Do you think producing electronic music requires technical or creative skill? Or both?

In my opinion, it depends of what you wanna produce. Some music styles requires more technical technics than others. But, even if I consider that both is better, the most important thing is to be true. Produce the music you love for your own self at first. The rest is optional.

Do you tend to find the creative process a cathartic or therapeutic experience? Has creating music helped you cope with difficult times in your life?

To me it’s both. The music I produce reflects what I can’t do or say. It expresses what lies inside me. Whatever it’s peaceful or violent, it’s always my truth.

Yes, creating music saved me of course. Without it, I don’t know what I would have become…

Any collabs or new joint projects on the horizon?

SERENA TOXICAT has sung two tracks for me. We’ll see if the magic appears again in the future… We talked about a split album with Ruairi O’Baoighill a few weeks ago… I love his work… We’ll see…

Any new genres or musical styles you’d like to explore in future?

I want to reach a more melodic aspect ov music with SONA NYL… More futuristic… More positive… & also work on my retro project ORPHEUS… Old sounds & old production… Minimal-wave…

Do you have any thoughts on the future of underground musical styles? Do you think the scene will evolve further?

Underground music styles… Well… I don’t consider my music as underground. My music is not appreciated by a lot of people… That’s all. I don’t really do promo & prefer the idea that if you were meant to listen to what I do, you will come to it one day. But, to answer to your question, I don’t know & I don’t care. A musician, a band, an artist, can be underground today & become mainstream tomorrow… Just like fashion!

Any new releases coming our way?

Coming up soon there’s the release of the first two EL PRETRO MANIACO EPs on CD in a DVD box format on the label REQUIRED RATE OF RETURN RECORDS. Maybe it’ll come in special editions with poster or tshirt… Also scheduled, a track under the name OVK on a compilation by NOSTALGIE DE LA BOUE with the voice of SERENA TOXICAT again.

Any artists or other individuals / collectives you’ve not worked with yet that you’d like to work with in future?

… I love the voice of Dorian E. (DEAR STRANGE)…

Also, I’d love to make a soundtrack for a short or a long movie.

Do you have a favourite track / song of all time? Favourite artist?

Favorite artist : DEVIN TOWNSEND.

But favorite track… Hard question… « Out of the blue comes Green by A-HA.

It’s been said that a life in music can be a hard one. Would you agree with that?

It depends… There are many different lifes you can live in music… I think that if you have the passion, you’ll find some hard aspects. But you’ll love it. If you ask to leave everything & go touring all around the world, even for music, I’d refuse. I don’t want to live music this way. But if you ask me to wake up every morning at 5am & work till 10pm in a studio, it won’t be hard for me cos I love this way of life.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring young producers?

Do what you really love & don’t wait for anything.

Any other projects on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?

No . Nothing more for now.

And finally – are there any tracks / artists that are relatively unknown that you’d like people to know about?

Me !! (laughing)

Try this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5_lfBbYC_w&list=PL_Q0pdmz5GxDydvvAbaONZblCbopcvQ09

Thanks so much Otto!

Fangs a lot!!

Otto’s music is available here.