I love having a closer look at the name a band chooses for itself. Unlike the names given to us by our parents, a band’s name is a personal and conscious choice on which a group of people usually has to agree on. Knowing the story behind may sometimes sound like useless trivia but if you have a closer look you might be surprised on how much it tells you.
Miel Noir is one of those names that just clicks. Sweet & dark, with a menacing twist. And I would probably leave it at this, if I hadn’t met Marcel P. and listened to the Dark Europa Compilation (already presented by Global Music Club & which can be read here).
Much as the so often under rated healing qualities of Honey, Marcel uses music to sweetly explore the darkness that so many people choose to ignore. And, like Honey, he drops from the spoon and sweetens other mugs.
Actually, the way I met Marcel P. was quite funny. And yes, Honey was involved… I was having a bad cold, restrained to my couch and grumpily trying to forget about how bad I was feeling… So I decided to take a stroll on the friends’ suggestion list… added a few, got accepted. Marcel was the one I chatted up first. Turned out he was recovering from a complicated tongue surgery at the time & following a strict liquid diet.
At the end of the chat two things were agreed upon: an interview when he was feeling better & the utter need for jelly steaks.
Crow Xp: Welcome, Marcel. I know post-op has been going as expected and we will literally hear from you soon. Tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Marcel P.: I am a musician, vocalist, producer and DJ from Cologne, Germany. And I started just liked many other musicians have; namely by taking piano lessons as a child and later (at around 12 years of age) I switched to string bass and joined first a youth orchestra and a little later the city’s orchestra where my mother played the cello. I played classical music for years before adding the bass guitar and at first rock and then metal music to my repertoire (although I had been a rock and metal fan for many years at that point).
Over years of my life I just kept adding new musical experiences, new bands or projects, new genres (like electro/EBM and neoclassic/neofolk) and – over time – new instruments and abilities such as singing and producing. Most of the time I was asked to “join” some project and in most of those cases there were live performances scheduled on relatively short notice. It even went so far as “playing along without any rehearsal”.
Even “joining Miel Noir“ is one of those stories. It started out as my partner’s solo- or side-project when we were both playing in Allerseelen and Svarrogh. Both of those bands were on the line-up for a festival in Madrid when another bands had to cancel with only 2 or 3 weeks left. Dimo offered the organizer an additional live performance by/as Miel Noir and asked me to join in.
The performance was so well received (despite the fact that we didn’t even get a sound check, much less a “rehearsal”) that we decided to turn this project into a full-blown band right then and there.
Crow Xp: Miel Noir is your main project…
Marcel: It has become our main project over the last couple of years. Not just because of all the feedback we received but also because of the artistic freedom the project brought with its (more or less) unlimited amount of different (dark) styles we incorporate.
There are other things we do, like our occult ambient project Fahl and the continued involvement in Allerseelen. But Miel Noir is our main focus. Since we’re both multi-instrumentalists and vocalists who can record and produce their own material it’s natural that the standard musician – line “we have to do something together” is going to create more results with us over time.
But the guest-credits we’ve amassed over the years have never taken anything away from Miel Noir. On the contrary: Our experiences with other musicians from different countries have added influences and abilities that would otherwise maybe not be part of the project.
Crow Xp: So how did you go from that to the Dark Europa Compilation? What was the idea behind it?
Marcel: Dark Europa was the next logical step after all the other collaborative efforts that came before. We did guest-appearances (as live- and studio-musicians), tracks for compilations, split-releases, remixes and side-projects. But we had not done a full CD with just collaboration tracks.
I came up with the idea after we had recorded two tracks together with the Croatian musician Jurica Jelić. The concept was inspired by the compilation series “The remix wars” from the late 90’s. This series had two artists pit against one another and even the titles were “project a versus project b”. But instead of making it about competition I wanted to make it about collaboration… “project a featuring project b”.
The label Panicmachine liked the idea right away. I chose the label because we had positive experiences with them already including two “collaborative” ones: A split-CD involving our side-project Fahl as well as the release of a Miel Noir remix for our friends from TONTTU.
Crow Xp: It did come through & with 18 tracks! How did collaborators interact? Did they just send a song & that was it?
Marcel: Not at all! There was a lot of back and forth. New contacts were developed and some of the “pairings” were initiated by other musicians on the same release. I think the best indicator for the intensity and fruitfulness of these interactions would be the fact that they have continued after the release of the CD.
TONTTU and Phobos Reactor have already uploaded a video with a preview of their upcoming collaboration CD, a new Miel Noir song with guitars by Extreme Chromo has been recorded, I have confirmed my participation in upcoming Laguz Rune – recordings, Winterhart/Darkness on Demand will create another remix for Miel Noir…
It’s fair to say that we’ve started something. We’ve brought people together from all over the European continent. And these newly formed partnerships and friendships will continue.
Crow Xp: How has the reception been?
Marcel: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Radio-, club- and podcast-DJs, reviewers, colleagues and listeners all found something to enjoy on the CD. Given the diversity of the material it could very well be said that it contains “something for everybody”.
Another aspect that has led to the release being spread all over the world really fast was the decision to give the digital version away for free. That decision was made by the label in conjunction with the… well I suppose you could call it the “core” of the participants; Miel Noir, TONTTU and Extreme Chromo… which are the three projects with the most collaborations on the release.
I don’t have an overview regarding the sales directly from the label but our physical copies of Dark Europa are almost gone. There are only 3 CDs left.
Crow Xp: I had a look at your Discogs profile… Tell me, why is collaboration such a defining and important part of your work?
Marcel: Many musicians like to work alone. A lot of the people in my circle of friends work like that. I know I can create music (or even entire releases) by myself. But I actually enjoy working with other people. Maybe it’s due to my musical upbringing; you are a part of a bigger whole in an orchestra. And of course my main instruments (string bass and bass guitar) are quintessential “accompanying instruments”. I came relatively late to the “center stage” position as a lead vocalist and I’ve never had any problems with “being the guy behind or next to the main guy” in one project or another. I suppose I am and always have been more goal-oriented: “Let’s create something cool! It doesn’t matter who gets to be the center of attention.”
Crow Xp: Who do you most enjoy working with?
Marcel: That’s a tough question. Obviously I have to name the people involved in Miel Noir first… Dimo, Gerhard and the four female vocalists. Oliver of Insect Plasma and Phobos Reactor has been my friend for many years and taught me a lot about electronic music. Hannu of TONTTU has an incredible creative energy and loves bringing people together. I’ve recently contributed vocals to the project Arditi and we’ve had great exchanges even though we’ve never met in person.
There are too many friends and colleagues to name them all, but there’s someone who has to receive a special mention: I enjoyed working with and learning from my friend who made great occult electronic music under the name Shava Sadhana. He has sadly died in 2016 just after we had planned further collaborations. The most recent Miel Noir album “Honey-Beat” is dedicated to his memory. If you or any of your readers like highly expressive, atmospheric and danceable electronic music and are also interested in the occult in general then the music of Shava Sadhana is for you. His online presences are still up and the (optional) proceeds from the download benefit his family. I can never thank him or recommend his music enough!
Crow Xp: Can we expect a Dark Europa Vol. II?
Marcel: There are ideas for it. Let’s wait and see. The concept is solid and we discussed that option (i.e. turning the project into a series) with the label from the start.
The whole project went through several stages and what you know as Dark Europa actually does contain material which originally was intended for two (shorter) volumes. But we decided to make it one really long CD instead of two short CDs. Keep in mind that the maximum length of a regular audio CD is 80 minutes and Dark Europa is over 79 minutes long.
Crow Xp: And what about Miel Noir? What’s in the Honey pot?
Marcel: About half of a new album has been recorded (7 tracks) and a couple more are in various stages of “almost ready”. It’s safe to announce a new album for the year 2019 because I am not saying when exactly during the year the album will be out.
The styles are all there already: Martial neoclassic, a piano ballad, an industrial rock song, dark ambient, pure electronics, gothic rock and a bit of dark pop.
There is a bit of a delay due to the health issues you’ve alluded to in your introduction: I basically had a huge chunk of superfluous material cut out of my tongue and that needs time to heal. I’m over most of it already… back on solid foods, speaking isn’t a problem anymore… but I need some more time to get back to proper singing.
Crow Xp: There are also some solo projects scattered over the years. What’s your plan for those?
Marcel: My solo-project is called Tyr-Kreis and thus far there are only three songs available on three different compilations over a time of almost seven years. But a fourth song has been recorded for another compilation and there may be more to come.
There are no concrete plans yet for a complete Tyr-Kreis release. The only plan I’ve actually made would be that I’ve already said I am going to create a proper Facebook-page for the project when the fourth song gets released.
If you’d like to give Tyr-Kreis a try you should check out my cover-version of a track by Shava Sadhana. It would serve as a great introduction to both projects at once.
Crow Xp: Where can our readers catch live performances of Miel Noir? And friends?
Marcel: The most recent Miel Noir gig was in the Netherlands a year ago. As of right now we can’t plan live gigs because of my tongue which now bears a really symmetric scar right down the middle. And I was just thinking: I don’t have piercings or anything of that nature but maybe now my newly surgically altered tongue counts as “body modification”…
I suppose the chance of some guest-appearance as a live-musician could be higher because it would not involve vocals. So let’s say it may be possible to see me perform with some of my friends sooner than seeing a full Miel Noir gig. In any case we will keep our listeners posted about such developments through social media.
Crow Xp: Thanks for the chat, Marcel. Looking forward to your future projects & launches.
Marcel: Thank you very much for your interest and your support!
Miel Noir on the web: