Eri Isaka aka Vivian Slaughter aka Viviankrist – and we’ll be relying on this last artistic pseudonym in the following interview – known from such projects as the female-fronted black metal crust punk Gallhammer, then Gallkrist or Sehnsucht, which also included Sven Erik Kristiansen aka Maniac (Mayhem) and Andrew Liles.
She currently resides in Oslo, Norway, where she continues her work as Viviankrist and has released numerous collaborations and splits with K2, Risaripa, Heilige! and the French Non Serviam, among others.
The labels that can be ascribed to her difficult work are certainly noise, electronica, combined with rage and love for analog synthesizers or improvisation. Out of all this emerge almost abstract sound forms, which are difficult to enter, if only because of their intensity and the storm with which they manifest themselves. However, after getting deep into them, it’s hard to leave, they overpower with a specific form of meditation and purification – and as it usually happens with various kinds of extremes, it’s addictive.
The following interview with Viviankrist, who is modest in her statements, I hope will encourage you to enter her forest and listen to many interesting stories about the search for the sound chamber, in which she feels like a fish in water.
As a curiosity I recommend to get acquainted with the album Cross Modulation – Bootleg Remixes, where among the invited guests we have, among others: JK Flesh (aka Justin Broadrick), Robert Hampson, Andrew Liles, Adam Richardson… See for yourself and enjoy the sonic orgy.
Artur Mieczkowski: Hi Vivian… actually, how would you like to be called? Eri Isaka, Vivian or maybe you prefer something else?
VIVIAN: Hi. Thanks for doing the interview. Vivian is fine.
AM: What made you start making music?
V: I don’t really remember, but in my early teens I liked metal and wanted to play guitar, when I turned 16 I bought a guitar but it was too hard to play so I gave up. Around that time I started playing the saxophone, inspired by John Zorn. That’s probably my starting point.
AM: What exactly inspired you in Zorn’s music?
V: I can’t remember if it was Naked City or Painkiller that I heard for the first time, but up until then I had heard death metal and other music that I thought was intense, and when I first heard that saxophone I was very shocked. It was a sound I had never heard before.
AM: What made you move from Japan to Norway?
V: I met my current husband on tour with Gallhammer and moved to Norway to get married.
AM: You have created many musical projects and one of the better known is for sure Gallhammer. How do you recollect that time?
V: I was with Gallhammer from 2003 to 2013 and it was the center of my life. I had a lot of fun, but at the same time I went through some of my most mentally unstable times with the band. But I feel like the band helped me get through it.
AM: Gallhammer is a peculiar hybrid of black metal and crust. Influences from Hellhammer, an early black metal is for sure definitely noticeable. What else inspired you?
V: My favourites at the time were the original metallic crust like Amebix, Dirt and Antisect, and then I also listened to black metal, but I preferred Beherit and Von to Norwegian black metal. Of course there were Norwegian bands I liked, but I didn’t know much about them.
I was also influenced by goth or new wave punk like Joy Division and Bauhaus, although people don’t really notice it.
I was also influenced by Japanese bands like Corrupted, Coffins and Anatomia, who I played with, and they were very inspiring.
AM: You also create under the name of Gallkrist which is your solo project. Why do you find a need to work under different names?
V: Before Gallkrist there was Viviankrist, but I wanted to do something like a one-man band, so I changed the name because it was a different direction from Viviankrist.
AM: One of your projects, SEHNSUCHT involved cooperation with Andrew Liles. How did you end up collaborating with each other?
V: Sehnsucht was originally a project of Maniac, formerly of Mayhem, and I got involved in it. Maniac and Andrew are friends, and that’s how we ended up making the album together.
AM: VIVIANKRIST is now your main project. Recently you have been releasing new albums quite often. This year, if I’m not mistaken, new recordings appear every month on your Bandcamp page.
V: I’m probably uploading every month. Viviankrist originally started as a home recording project in 2017, with the initial goal of uploading one album or one ep every month.
I don’t always upload them every month now, but I update them rather frequently.
Recording sounds is important to me in terms of recording my own growth and change.
AM: What is electronic / noise to you? Because VIVIANKRIST seems to oscillate around those genres. Is it some sort of autotherapy / self healing or exoneration?
V: I don’t think too much about genres or musical styles.
I chose electronic music because from the first time I touched a synthesizer I was captivated by its charms. And Yes, there is a large aspect of playing for myself.
AM: You live in Oslo. How does the Norwegian alternative scene look like in regards to experimental music?
V: I don’t really know much to be honest. Basically because I don’t go out much. But sometimes when I go to concerts, there are a lot of people who come to see them, and there don’t seem to be many artists in Oslo, so I feel that experimental music is loved by some people.
I recently met ZŁE OKO, a Polish artist living in Oslo, so I went to see her concert and it was a very good concert.
AM: Do you follow Japanese scene? It would be difficult not to notice that it is very strong and prolific. Do you stay in touch or collaborate with people from Japan?
V: I follow the Japanese underground scene to a certain extent through social networking and other means.
I still correspond with Risaripa from Gallhammer quite often, and we have done some splits and collaborations, and we have performed together live when I visit Japan.
I’ve also done collaborations and splits with other Japanese artists like K2, Conciert de la Familia, Takafumi Matsubara etc.
AM: In your opinion, is there a difference in approach to the Noise genre between Japan and other parts of the world? I get the impression that Japanese Noise is way more radical and influential.
V: I’m not a noise expert, so I can’t answer exactly what the differences are, but I can say that the Japanese scene is very interesting, with young people actively performing live, and parts of the noise and industrial scene mixing with extreme metal.
AM: Could you recommend artists from Japan that you consider interesting?
V: In noise industrial, there are many impressive artists such as Linekraft, Controlled Death, Black Phone666, Likeweeds, Wolf Creek and Yuko Araki, while the extreme metal scene is also very active with bands like Coffins and Anatomia and others are still very active, as well as many bands from the generation below us.
AM: What instruments contribute to your sound? Do you use field recordings in your work?
V: I use a lot of analogue synths. I do use digital ones though – I started using a Eurorack in 2019 and that’s what I mainly use now.Simple, basic modules make up the majority of the set-up and not many high-performance digital modules are used.
Field recordings are only occasionally used, for example through samplers.
AM: Disregarding the pandemic period, did you often play live and when you did, did you focus on improvisation or rather tried to recreate material from your albums?
V: I used to do live shows only about 2-3 times a year. This was originally a home recording project, and now I value the time I spend with my family, so I don’t think much about touring or doing live shows as my main activity. And I don’t like being in front of people as much as I used to. I know it would be fun to travel, though.
AM: You have released a split EP with French Non Serviam. In your opinion, which of your collabs were the most exciting and challenging?
V: I like that split between Gallkrist and Non Serviam a lot.
Split works and collaborations are strange things, and I think it’s always challenging and exciting because the difficulty, etc., changes depending on who you’re working with.
There are a few projects that did not work well and unfortunately failed to take shape and were abandoned.
AM: Does the fact that you live in Norway have an influence on your music?
V: This is a question I get asked a lot, probably yes.
I feel that nature and the long winters give me inspirations and influences that I didn’t have in Japan.
AM: What makes you decide to release your material on a physical medium?
V: I thought it would be nice to have something to keep on hand. In a world where anyone can listen to it anywhere digitally, there may be no necessity for it, but some people still prefer physical media.
AM: Besides music, are you involved in other forms of art?
V: It’s not art, but I usually knit a lot. I spend more time knitting than making music these days, but I find knitting calms me down and when I’m knitting, I sometimes get a lot of ideas.
AM: What are your nearest plans for music making? Which project are you focused on the most?
V: I’m going to Japan soon for a holiday for the first time in three years and I’m planning to play a live show as Viviankrist in Japan.
AM: Is there any chance you will ever play in Poland?
V: I have never been to Poland and would like to visit in the future if I get the chance.
AM: Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you good luck in achieving all your artistic goals.
V: Thank you so much.
I would be happy if people reading this are interested in my music.