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Friday, June 23, 2017

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

Laibach

Laibach

Disappointing if they don’t disappoint

Laibach is the German name for Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, which was one of the six Yugoslav republics but is now an independent state. From Slovenia, this ensemble of sophisticated politico-cultural provocateurs is the most notorious group from the socialist world to make it to the West. Industrial, techno, humorous and incredibly inventive and unique, their new album, Anthems, combines some of their best along with the release of their first DVD of fab footage and vids.

ONLY: Do you all still live in Slovenia?

Ivan Novak: This is the best place to stay, really. Slovenia has a great geographic position; we are closer to Venice than most of Italy. We’ve got everything here, Alps, sea, Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Austria, Sarajevo.

ONLY: I’ve never had the chance to see you perform but I’ve heard of some incredible shows that caught my imagination such as the one you played at home with the Philharmonic Orchestra in front of many dignitaries (to open European Month Of Culture which happened in Ljubljana in 1997).

IN: That was a very interesting event. They probably believed we were going to play a kind of pops orchestra but we decided that they will have to play our industrial music of the early ‘80s, in a symphonic manner. The event was extremely avant garde-sounding and the audience [Laughs] were actually running out, they were quite shocked. But there were Presidents and Premiers and Mayors and they had to stay there and they had to clap. Actually the Bishop left, he said he’s not going to listen to something he doesn’t like. They also asked later on the Minister of Culture ‘Don’t you think that Laibach has disappointed?’ and he replied, very wisely, ‘Laibach would disappoint if they didn’t disappoint’ [Laughs].

ONLY: The other show I’m curious about was when you played in the middle of the forest for Slovenia’s premiere of Blair Witch Project.

IN: We found an excellent place, which was really in the middle of nowhere, a kind of natural amphitheatre. We took the people by bus to this secret location. They had to walk half an hour into the woods in the dark. And we performed without audience knowing we were going to perform. They couldn’t see us; we were much deeper in the woods. Suddenly through the trees they could hear us and see some lights. It was a short half-hour performance before the movie. There was a bonfire and singing and dancing. After the event the audience had to leave in the dark through the woods [Laughs].

ONLY: Jesus!

IN: It was a great event.

ONLY: Things have changed a lot since you first started Laibach, how does today’s political and global climate affect your work?

IN: You know I really believe that 20-25 years ago we were much better connected to the world. In fact when Yugoslavia still existed many things were happening in Yugoslavia all over the place and the information was valid. We’ve got more information now in terms of being connected, Internet and so on, gains of modern technology, but from the entire woods you don’t see the trees. It’s the classic problem. And the media keep on repeating the same selected visions, which are most popular, and it’s very banal and shallow.

ONLY: There is a lot of music mixing with politics lately, how do you feel about it?

IN: Yeah, it’s a dangerous game. If you step into the real politics then why are you not getting properly involved and become a real politician. Because after all politics is something one must do seriously. I think it would be stupid to say, for any musician that they have nothing to do with politics, because everything is political. But there is a difference if you are a political agitator, which we are not; we are not interested in daily politics. We are very much interested in politics; it is part of what we do. We discuss politics, we analyze politics but we are not an agitating group in terms of putting ourselves behind any political program. Otherwise we simply would have to go deeper into politics but then everything else has to be in service of politics. And now it is the opposite, politics is in service of what we do.

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