Music Interview

Distorted Reality

by Jett Black

Hailing from two continents Martha Arce, formerly of Deep Red (Florida, USA), and Christian Kobusch (Bielefeld, Germany) inter-weave darkening synth-pop and goth-tronic harmonics with sumptuously impressive vocals and lyrically eloquent themes of heart-breaking romance. Rotating patterns in the darkness, Distorted Reality emerges to engulf music enthusiasts everywhere in alternative waves of passion and sorrow. The self-titled demo-debut by Distorted Reality offers layers of dark, dominating feminine vocals and hyper-electronic entirely danceable gothy synth-pop. Through the static of ethernet, Martha and Christian integrate responses to a handful of inquisitive Nocturnal transmissions...

Where and how did Distorted Reality find its beginnings?

M: Chris and I met at one of the shows while I was on tour in Germany with Pitchfork. It was at the Kick club in Herford not far from where he lives in Bielefeld. We talked after the show and exchanged emails. We kept in touch and one thing lead to another and we began working together.

Describe the music culture growing up around Miami, Florida.

M: Well, this is a complex question, because I think it's more then just growing up in Miami. Obviously, there is not much of a gothic/industrial darkwave, whatever you want to call it, scene in Miami. I grew up in a musical family and I've been singing for as long as I can remember. My mother also sings and plays guitar and my father is an excellent classical guitarist, although he's very modest about it. My aunt (dad's sister) is also a concert pianist. I grew up with various musical influences until I was old enough that I could actually seek out music on my own. I remember listening to a lot of classical and fifties music like Nat King Cole, The Platters, Elvis, etc. As I got older I always liked what some people considered to be weird music, mostly eighties synth-pop and new wave. But Miami is a city that has been influenced a lot by the Cuban culture, therefore I grew up with that style of music as well.

In what ways has performing in Europe differed from performing in the U.S?

M: Well, the most obvious thing for me are the size of the crowds. In the U.S., the crowds I have performed for, which are few, have been small, but in Europe they ranged from maybe 300 to 4000. It is difficult to compare the two because I've never toured in the U.S.

With Zillo festival approaching soon in Germany, do you plan on visiting for the annual festival?

C: I'm not sure yet. I might not be in Germany then.

M: I will not be attending. However I will be in Germany for a smaller festival held in Hameln on June 19th. It's called the Balou festival and De/Vision will be performing along with 3 other bands I think. Chris and I are going together along with some other friends.

From where have programming influences for Distorted Reality evolved?

C: The most I got inspired by 80's Electronic and Industrial Music and 90's Drum'n'Bass and Breakbeat Music, by innovative bands like Depeche Mode and The Prodigy. But also music from NIN and Massive Attack influenced me a lot.

When not completely focused upon Distorted Reality, how do you support your personal life?

M: I am the Product Development and Approvals Manager for a corporate licensing firm here in Miami; well actually it's Coral Gables. Chris is a student of business at the University of Bielefeld.

Your recordings with Deep Red cover a lot of musical territory. What aspirations have you been working toward for Distorted Reality?

M: I personally wanted to do something new and go in a different directions while still holding on to what inspired me lyrically and vocally. I wanted to work on songs that were more "danceable" without being just your typical monotonous dance music. I also wanted to expand my vocal style by working on songs that are more aggressive and not always slow to mid-tempo with long instrumental introductions. I think Chris is extremely talented and I love the way we can work on songs that have different influences while keeping the feel of our project.

Which geographic musical markets are most targeted by Distorted Reality at present?

C: Germany and USA.

Reflecting back upon the Deep Red tour in Europe with Project Pitchfork, what are some of the more memorable moments?

M: The entire tour was memorable for various reasons. It is difficult to pinpoint a few. There were some memorable "bad" moments which I try not to think about :-( but there were also many exciting and thrilling moments. I think the first show was definitely memorable for me. Although it was not our best show it was our first show in Europe! It is difficult to describe what it felt like to be back stage seconds before we were to go on and then to have such a warm reception from the crowd was amazing; it really left me breathless. I always felt like that when people were really into a song and were enjoying themselves. We played to a crowd of about 4000 people in Dresden. I remember looking out at the crowd and not being able to see where it ended. That was incredible! But being the only female on a tour bus with about 15 men was an experience. At first it was a bit intimidating, but the guys from PP and the crew were all so nice to me and treated me so graciously that I felt right at home. I have stayed friends with some of them and they are very dear to my heart.

Where has Distorted Reality been taking you so far?

M: Not too far, but far enough considering we're just beginning. Because of the way we work, especially in the beginning, it took a lot of time to get material together. We have only been at a stage where we can actually present material for a short time. We have a long way to go but we are optimistic that Distorted Reality will take us there.

What types of gear are used in the programming and electronic development of Distorted Reality compositions?

C: The basic instrument is the Sampling Workstation standing in the middle of a couple of periphery machines like synthesizers, a drum machine and effects. In the meanwhile, the computer became very important as well (sample editing and hard disc recording). I really like working with a sampler 'cause it allows us to use every sound that I like for our songs. It's a very intuitive and creative instrument.

Describe how Distorted Reality recordings evolve from raw compositions to completed tracks.

M: Chris composes an instrumental piece of a song while sending rough mixes to me for feedback and changes to the structure for the vocals. I work on lyrics while he is finishing up. When it's done Chris sends it to me on a DAT (or CD) and I go into the studio, record the vocals, mix and then master the material. We only work this way for demo purposes. We intend to come together either here in the States or in Europe to work on the actual album production.

What would you like to accomplish through Distorted Reality during remaining months of this millennium?

M: We would like to sign a deal with a record company that will put forth a strong effort and support us in every way. Does that exist? :-)

What imagery might best describe your conceptions of Distorted Reality?

M: Distorted Reality is a great name for what our concept is and it's actually pretty straightforward if you think about it. I love to challenge people to think and to explore their intellect as well as their emotional side. Don't believe everything you hear, nor accept things at face value. Make a conscious effort to examine and explore. I know from experience that it's easier to just make up a false reality in your mind simply to deal with the true reality of your situation.

C: I want to make music that reflects reality, although a lot of people might not see reality as I do. Reality is full of joy and happiness, but also fear and anger. I don't like naive people who only think positively trying to suppress reality.

More and more, dark and progressive electronic bands advance into film and video production. Where might Distorted Reality seek to entice existing and new audiences in the future?

M: We would love to work on music videos for our songs of course, but I also think Chris would be great for a film score. I wanted to be an actress for several years; maybe this can lead into that. However music is really my main focus and passion.

How many tracks can fans anticipate receiving on Distorted Reality's full-length recording? When and where will the new release become available?

M: Probably around 11 or 12, the usual. 'When' are 'where' are still in the works and yet to be determined. :-)

Open secret doors and reveal a few influences upon lyrical compositions for Distorted Reality.

M: It's funny because often I have an idea for a song rolling around in my head for a long time, but once I put it down on paper it never ends up as I envisioned it. This is not to say that I wasn't able to get my idea across. It's just that as you put words to your thoughts they seem to change and take on a life of their own. Similar to your thought patterns at times, you come up with an idea but when you recall how it actually evolved many times the original thought is very far apart from what you end up with. But to be honest most of the songs come from raw emotion, passion and conviction.

How can readers contact Distorted Reality for more information?

In general:
In America: Martha M. Arce
In Germany: Christian Kobusch