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PIG, Raymond Watts is back with songs that build the palace of pain | Interview

One of the people with his own part and great story, not only in the industrial scene, but in alternative music as well, is Raymond Watts and his project PIG. 

Raymond Watts aka PIG began his musical crusade in a Berlin basement in the shadow of the Wall back in the mid-1980’s. Perhaps it was the terror and turmoil that lends a certain sense of menace to the trademark decadence of his group’s sound. When the Wall fell, Raymond Watts set out into the desert on a journey that has spawned countless albums and projects, not only PIG, but some of KMFDM’s finest material and numerous other collaborations that have included scoring for Alexander McQueen shows, as well as installations and exhibitions.

Raymond and PIG has now delivered a new full-length album, "Pain is God", which is out since 20th November. "Pain Is God" is a collection of fourteen tracks of pure industrial rock, electronic tunes mixed with guitar riffs, giving a powerful rhythm into anger and rage, while Raymond uses even some jazz influences.

William Zimmerman talked with Raymond about PIG, music, pandemic, the past, the present and the future.

ES: The latest album is "Pain Is God" Does the record revolve around a central theme or do the tracks represent stories in and of themselves?

PIG: I think the title might give the game away on the overarching theme of the record if there is one. I don’t know if the songs are stories exactly, and as with all things PIG I wouldn’t like to even try and define what ‘it’ is. I’m often just as interested (or not) as the next person in trying to decipher or define what it is or means. When I’m working on a song it’s my complete focus and hopefully will stand in own right but I also see it as part of the wider body that is the album. In other words each song is another room in the palace of pain, that when put together make Pain is God.

ES: You have a very distinct, identifiable vocal approach without a lot of effects. Who influenced you as a singer?

PIG: That’s an interesting question … I’ve never really considered myself a singer or musician. I just use the tools at my fingertips in a way that can help sculpt and manifest the ideas in my head, be that guitar, synthesizer, visuals, video or voice. I don’t even think of PIG as a musical project although most people are aware of it through albums I’ve made. It lives in all the work I do. In terms of singers I really admire, Scott Walker is at the top of the pile. Just recently I’ve been listening to someone who gets high praise for musicianship and guitar playing but doesn’t often get a mention in the vocal department, and that’s Frank Zappa. I’m a fan.

ES: Could you speak for a bit, on a technical level some of the tools of your trade that were used in the new album? Indeed there are a unique variety of sounds. Were there things you had not tried previously?

PIG: My technical approach is incredibly simple. The days of using the studio to create weird soundscapes and new avenues to explore is not the sole cannonball in the creative arsenal now. The gear lives is in my head and my words drive and dictate the PIG vehicle … though chaos and a lack of control are often the magic ingredients, angst and the unexpected are the best fuels for my fire. Though I know what I’m doing in the studio, those elements are often best served by a human, though the machine can spin its return serve in a fantastically unpredictable way.

ES: How did the pandemic affect you on as an artist and personally? Some may say that it has brought out the best and the worst in people. How were you affected?

PIG: I was already buried in the studio, ploughing the furrow called Pain is God, when it all hit. So outwardly my life didn’t change that much … My trepidation is for the future and what the collateral damage will be in a wider context. And I agree with you that it’s brought out the best and worst aspects of human nature. But apart from the death, sickness and economic woes, it’s created fertile ground for some very dangerous and crazy ideas or ‘conspiracy theories’. It seems like the dawning of the new dark ages, where fear rules over fact and bullshit is the new belief.

ES: You've done a lot of remixing and had quite a few done for your songs. What I would like to know is this. What specific or abstract things make a good remix from the perspective of the remixer and that of the one being remixed?

PIG: I think the same thing is wanted from both perspectives, and that’s to find something else within the song and let that loose.

ES: Can you talk about the different approaches you take when it comes to writing for film or for an art installation as opposed to PIG?

PIG: Although I use the same tools for both trades, its a very simple difference. If I’m writing music for an installation, film, runway show or exhibition the tone and direction is set by what I’m thinking the person who created that thing is trying to evoke. I’m working with them to give birth to their vision. With PIG I’m both director and delivery boy.

ES: How important are accidents or glitches in your creative process? In other words, do you utilize them to your advantage or are you more concerned about the perfection?

PIG: This relates back to your third question. Of course the unexpected accident can often bring a fresh angle, attitude or open a different door when working on something, and I’ll happily walk through it if it’s interesting. And sometimes glitches are complete shit. I hope I can still tell the difference. Mostly I like to keep the rough edges and the grit. Sometimes I’m completely obsessed with creating it just as I hear it in my head and this can be as frustrating for me as when I’m trying to get the perfect performance out of someone I’m working with.

ES: What plans do you have for the forthcoming months?

PIG: I’m collecting some really interesting remixes/reinterpretations of the songs on Pain is God, and also looking at some of the PIG back catalogue and hopefully sorting that out.

ES: Situation: Many years in the future, a very distant relative locates a PIG album in a box in an old home. What would you like this person to know about your legacy simply from listening to the album?

PIG: It might be nice if they thought: “It looks like he got beaten up making this album, but it was worth it.” ; )

Thank you very much. I wish you all the best.










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