On the back of his brilliant new dense drone release Balance Beam, Björn Granzow aka The End of the World Championship took the time to answer some questions for Swirls of Noise:
Hi Björn and thank you for talking to SoN about The End of the World Championship. First off that’s a great name for the brand of harsh minimal drone you create, how did you come up with it?
Hi John, thank you. I came up with the name when I was watching the documentary „Senna“ about Ayrton Senna. I watched it with English subtitles. I believe it was during the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix when the race had to be discontinued because of poor weather conditions. It was raining like crazy and someone crashed into something or someone, I don’t remember it exactly anymore. The reporter said something about the end of the world championship and the subtitles were displayed in two lines. “The End of the World“ in the first, „Championship“ in the second line. I liked the ambiguity and imminence of the phrase, so I wrote it down and stuck with it. I don’t care about motor sports by the way. The documentary was great though.
How did TEOTWC come about, what got you started playing this kind of music?
It really just came about. I didn’t know what to do with my guitars anymore but also didn’t want to stop making music. So I started playing around with various synthesizers but couldn’t come up with the sound I wanted. Then I got a polyphonic analog synth, the DSI Mopho x4. It was exactly the instrument I wanted to play, it still is. It’s a very versatile and compact synth and it’s perfect for composing. That was when I began recording the first demos for „In Slow Motion“. I don’t have any kind of theoretical approach to my music, to be honest. I just play and record what sounds good to my ears. I refuse to abide by song structures.
Your first two albums In Slow Motion and For Dear Life are albums of heavy oppressive synth drone, and very minimal music. Given that it’s not that a very accessible genre how pleased were you with some of the good reception they’ve gotten?
I was overwhelmed by the reception. I honestly thought I was recording „In Slow Motion“ for myself and myself only. My music is not easy to listen to, you know. And it’s even more difficult to try and explain it. So when I got an email from Daniel of Umor Rex Records saying it „sounds amazing“ and him offering to release it on cassette, it took me by surprise. Pleasantly of course, I almost fainted. Then Steve Dewhurst wrote and asked if I want to release „For Dear Life“ on Jehu & Chinaman. I was steamrolled. The reception I got for „In Slow Motion“ and „For Dear Life“ was fantastic. I mean suddenly there are people like you and Justin Snow and Brad Rose writing nice things about my music. Makes me happy.
Your new album Balance Beam will be released imminently on Sacred Phrases. Though once again focusing on heavy synth drones it sounds a lot brighter than the first two. Did you approach it differently and how pleased are you with the outcome?
„Balance Beam“ is indeed different. Not only because I used a Moog synth as main instrument. „In Slow Motion“ was heavy and ominous, „For Dear Life“ was sad and depressing. The new album tries to maintain the balance between the heaviness and the sadness of the first two albums while at the same time introducing a flicker of hope to the music. But as always, it just came about. No strategy. I guess it was just the way I felt when I made it. I’m very happy with the way it sounds and looks. Major props to Adam Meyer of Sacred Phrases for the beautiful artwork. I’ve learned so much about the do’s and don’ts of recording and mixing synthesizers in the last two years. So yeah, I guess „Balance Beam“ also sounds a bit better. That’s mostly Lawrence English’s achievement though, I guess. He’s a true sonic artist and he did the mastering for all of my albums. He has been very nice and patient with me.
Despite a resurgence in the format recently, cassette is still nowhere near as popular as CD or vinyl – why do you choose to release on the format?
I don’t care about CDs anymore. To me they’re mostly just a waste of plastic. You might as well release an album as digital download, it’s exactly the same to me. Cassette and vinyl on the other hand are both formats with their own sonic character, which adds to the music. The tape hiss for example accompanies my music nicely. I love cassettes and I hope I will be able to continue releasing my music on tape. But of course I’d love to do vinyl some day, who doesn’t?
Is there any chance TEOTWC could become a live project in the future?
Yes, definitely. I’ve been working on it for a while now. Had to turn down many great opportunities because I felt like I wasn’t ready. I need to feel very comfortable with my setup before I play live, you know. I think 2015 might be the year for me to actually do it. Adding visuals would be nice too, but I’m gonna need some help with that.
Now that Balance Beam is released where does TEOTWC go next?
Steve Fors of Aeronaut and I have joined forces for a long distance project. We have started working on a collaboration album and we’re very excited about it. I am also working on a split with Malte Cornelius Jantzen a.k.a. RVNES and a split with Duenn for SicSic Tapes. And my next album of course. I have a great deal to do and I’m looking forward to it.
Finally do you have anything else you want to add?
Thanks very much for your support, John. Keep it up!