Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Complete R&A Interview is on the Blog

Thanks very much to Corentin for the complete translation.


At first glance, there are some very surprising opinions by CV in this interview, opinions which are new to me. I will read it over a few more times, and perhaps I will give some of my own opinions on this blog.

One thing that has NOT surprised me is the amount of viciousness I have received from the ardent supporters of Magma and Christian Vander. Nevertheless, this blog shall continue. It is the only blog that is left that covers Magma and related music. If there is interesting news about Magma, it will appear here. I am thankful to the French fans who sent me the notice about the interview in R&A. Without them, the interview might have remained virtually unknown. Not even Stella Vander knew about this.

I am grateful for the people who contributed thoughtful and considered opinion in reaction to this interview, both supporting and opposing the interview and some of its content. As several people have pointed out, it's not so much what Vander said ... it's where he said it.


  1. Thanks Marc for continuing with this blog. It can't be easy or pleasant having to break stories of this kind, let alone take the flak for doing so!

    I'm thinking that whatever anyone says, our words can be nothing more than justification for our personal instincts and prejudices. Myself, I'm not going to be burning any records but neither shall I be singing the praises of CV as a human being. It's aggravating to love something that may originate in hatred... but I get the feeling that 'that's life' - a cosmic joke with no punchline! ;-P

  2. "If there is interesting news about Magma, it will appear here", says Marc.
    Like, the release of a new studio album, maybe ? :-)

  3. Hah! Err ... ummm ... well ... I *did* post a picture of the the new album cover here a few weeks ago :-)

  4. You're welcome ! As for me I'd also have a few pieces of opinion to give as a reaction to the interview and the controversy it raised...

    I didn't know this magazine before seeing the interview, and I've read nothing else but the interview and the titles of the other articles in this particular issue.

    Sure, it might be right-wing, even extreme right-wing. At least the list of their articles from what I saw seems to confirm that their are from the opposition, and they are using a very controversial tone.

    Now in the interview in itself, I saw nothing remotely racist/nazistic. Sure the tone is somewhat aggressive sometimes, I was also surprised reading what Vander had to say about Jannick Top, especially after seeing both of them play De Futura together in 2009. I'd like to say that it is highly possible the interviewer chose the sharpest parts of Vander's responses so as to fit the highly controversial tone of the magazine. That being said, I don't think he modified anything, I take it Vander indeed said those things.

    Now as Stella said it in a previous interview that I could access from this blog (thanks again Marc for giving us access to those links) , as long as Vander doesn't go preaching political opinions in public...

    I must say I'm also doubtful about the "Borghi incident". From what I understood, it all spurred from a chat conversation between E. Borghi and a fan. You know, in a chat, the tone in which you say some things can be quickly misunderstood. Some things are indeed troubling, some other things I find highly doubtful such as the lyrics from MDK in fact meaning "Für mein Führer Adolf Hitler" ...

    Anyway I didn't want to review the whole controversy, I just wanted to talk about this interview. My point is, if you had to classify musicians as you would politicians, Vander might indeed be a "right-wing musician" (the inverted comas are there for a reason) . We've seen in a number of occasions that Magma was, among other reasons, created as a response to the hegemony of American (or americanized) music. Vander said it numerous times, he wanted to create a music that would be truely European and that could challenge, if not overthrow the dominion of Brit/American rock music, thus his opposition against the "hippie" movement. As such, it is no wonder to me that Vander has so strong opinions about Pink Floyd, that he in the past clashed with Deep Purple... It is the same reason that makes him spit on our french variety singers monopolizing the french airwaves when they don't have anything but empty smelly shit to propose.

    I think Vander has always been somewhat revolted by the musical situation in our continent, and sure in my opinion, one of his aim as a musician has always been to restore a sort of lost pride, thus his strong resentment towards Paganotti and even Top playing the music they use to fight against. You could say there is a "nationalist" aspect in Magma's music, in that sense that one of its aim was to create a cultural & local opposition to the american(-ized) "invaders" and the shit-puking variety singers.

    To me, that aspect of Magma's music is clearly there, and that might lead him to side with kind of borderline magazines such as R&A. Now I haven't read each and every interview, but I don't remember having seen Vander making political statements. If his music indeed has that aspect, Vander's career in music, his generosity, and the various and diverse musicians he collaborated with are to me proof enough that he has no racist/nazistic opinions.

    Anyway that's just my view, I'm not THE expert at all, I guess I'm younger than the majority of the community and I've just met Vander once, so I didn't have the chance to be a long-time follower as some of you all. I may not have all the information. That's just my opinion based on what little info I have.

  5. Corentin: I have followed Magma for almost 40 years now and I have been a major fan for all that time. But I have a different take than you do over what I have read in the interview- and I understand that I am reading a translation and may be missing the nuances of what CV says. But here are my thoughts: (1) I find it troubling that he would give this interview to this magazine. You are known by the company you keep, and selecting a right-wing publication to espouse your thoughts solely because they asked and it allows you to market your music seems to me to be at the least thoughtless; at the most, dangerously unthinking since many people could take offense- as many have- and decide that you are no longer worth following. (2) I was astonished that CV attacked both Top and Paganotti. The fact that both have decided to make a living making music by whatever means is hardly a character flaw. They need to put food on the table, too, and I doubt any of the musicians playing for Magma are making enough from that alone to really pay all their bills. As a counterpart, I remember putting on a set of shows with the master avante-garde jazz musician Roscoe Mitchell many years ago. His keyboardist at the time was a fellow named Gary Shunk. When I was married we hired a band to play our wedding, and the band played typical standards for the time- and the keyboard player for that band was the same Gary Shunk. Musicians play music for a living. I am shocked Vander would take issue with the lives other decides to live. It speaks ill of him. (3) As do his comments about rap, which is, to be sure, far more popular than Magma will ever be, and makes no claim to be "dangerous." (4) It is easy to "spit upon" popular music, but that is what people listen to and enjoy. I would say CV has failed spectacularly at making a new European music- and this is coming from someone who loves his music. There is no such think as "shit puking" musicians; there are only musicians you like and musicians you do not like. I am the only person in my immediate circle of friends who even knows of Magma, let alone likes them and I can guarantee you that none of my friends would come close to liking them. They would probably describe the music as "shit puking." (4) In the end, CV just seems churlish and small minded. And his attitudes may lean toward the far right, but he refuses to weigh in (which I suppose is really the best thing to do). I am disappointed, to be sure. I fail tosee how this helps him in any possible way; it reignites a controversey he would do well to let die. It is possible he simply does not recognize this.

  6. There are some things I feel need to be said, and because I've been highly irked by what I personally can only refer to as some people's incessant need to sensationalize and create fear and doubt, it will more than likely have a tone of—if not extreme irritation—then
    at least a somewhat condescending tinge.

    It seems the «recent controversy» (of 2009 among other years) refuses to die down to this day. As coincidence would have it, I belong to the extreme right and I find that Vander and I would be in agreement over many things. However, when it comes to the music, I disagree strongly—not only with everyone's accusations towards Vander, but occasionally also Vander himself (I despise jazz) although that is irrelevant. When it comes to the accusations, however, I am perpetually baffled by how people seem to be easily swayed by rumours and conjecture; it takes on an almost religious dimension at certain points, where people—in extreme cases—end up destroying their music collections or—more generally—cease liking the music they loved for so long merely over someone's allegations. Would you cease eating a delicious dinner just because some random person (likely spuriously) claimed it contained nasal mucus?

    I've yet to hear a single political message in Vander's music. I've heard a few lines in French once in a while, but that's hardly political unless people find it some sort of agenda designed to spread French culture and pave the way for a French conquest of the world...or something equally ridiculous. I am a composer also, and a strong misanthrope as well. To boot, as mentioned prior, I have views that may be seen as consistent with far-right ideologies. I compose music, but I am yet to insert any sort of message into it that is meant to recruit someone to my cause. I see music as something that tells stories or creates images in the mind—for a composer, to put persuasive messages into it is not only incredibly low and cowardly but also strongly devalues the music and degrades it from being a work of art to being a vessel for empty words. And I'll add that it is equally low and cowardly for the audience of the music to do these same things.

    Sure, we have the good ol' MDK with its thunderous tirades against mankind—however, we have to remember that this is all a fictional story of a certain Nebehr Gudahtt and—most likely—seen from his perspective. Would «Conan the Barbarian», for instance, send you rushing out the door yelling how you are going to «crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women»? Or, controversially, would «Der Untergang» suddenly cause you to turn Nazi? It features plenty of gratuitous Hitler, after all.

    In closing, I have a few words for Marc: You're doing a great job. It's a joy to read (I tend to go for the more heated subjects, but I enjoy the rest no less). As they say around the Internet: «Haters gonna hate!» There will always be detractors to everything, and there's little that can be done about it. Just keep doing your thing... Although I—like a certain «unclemeat»—hereby criticize you for not having mentioned the [quite good] Félicité Thösz after its release ;)