Interview Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul)

“Lunatic Soul gives me the opportunity to do experimental things”

(December 2010, text by Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen. Pictures by Arthur Haggenburg)

When I got the opportunity to do an interview with Mariusz Duda, one of my modern prog rock heroes, I felt no hesitation at all. Nowadays, he's one of the most creative minds in music with his band Riverside and his fantastic solo project Lunatic Soul. Now after the release of the second album of Lunatic Soul (see review), it was the right time to ask him some questions. I was honoured to talk to him.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you with the great new album of Lunatic Soul that already has been chosen as album of the month by the German magazine Eclipsed.

Mariusz Duda: “Well, thank you...”

Did you have the feeling during the process of writing that this album was going to be that good?

“The writing process is not always easy. This time the album lacks surprising elements, because it will be a sort of second part of a story people already know. However, it's more or less written in the same musical style. During the process of writing I wanted to avoid a number of things and now I think that the second album contains more Lunatic Soul than the music on the debut album. This is a good thing, I think.”

Did you write both albums at the same time or did you start from zero for the second one?

“Yes, I started from zero. I only had a concept in my head but not the music, except for Wanderings. I had saved this track in a fifteen years old draft version.”

After the very dark and moody 'black album', I expected 'the white album' to refer to a brighter kind of music. However, the atmosphere on the new album is even darker than the first one. What's your opinion?

“The new album changes while listening to it. The beginning is brighter, softer and more acoustic than the first one, but later on it becomes darker, more psychedelic, in fact even more than on the debut. I agree, but in general the sound is different, more ehh... white I would say, and that's not because of the white cover. A lot of musical passages are played in higher octaves.”

There are no electric guitars on this album. Did you ever think of using them or would you define a new sound for Lunatic Soul away from the Riverside-sound?

“I didn't want to use electric guitars on the first two Lunatic Soul-albums, because I assumed that the final result would be more interesting. Lunatic Soul gives me the opportunity to do experimental things. And yes, I wanted to create a sound different from Riverside. If I had used an electric guitar it would have been harder to achieve an original musical style. Now it seems this style is more or less defined but who knows, maybe I'll use the electric guitar in the future.”

The two chapters of Lunatic Soul have finished now. Is it the end of Lunatic Soul or are you going to release more solo albums in the future?

“I hope so, but then for sure with a different cover, a different subject and with an album title.”

The theme of the Lunatic Soul-albums is a journey through the afterworld. Where did you get the inspiration from and would you please tell us something about the story?

“It's about someone who dies and finds himself on the other side of life in the afterworld. He sees his own dead body while floating above it and later on he sees his own funeral. Then he leaves and disappears in the darkness. He's now in a strange and undefined place and he's heading towards the light. This is what the first album the 'black' one is about. The main question is: what do we leave behind after we've died. The second 'white' album begins there where the first album ends. So, this character has reached the light all the while and this time he finds himself surrounded with white light and he leaves again, but everything seems to be lighter, different, and more innocent. He has become somebody or rather something different. Slowly he loses the images and the memories of his previous life. At last he realizes that he's no longer the person he was before. He then decides to stop and return to the place where he still had all those images and memories. Because of this act he now is condemned to eternal oblivion in the world of the living and he's banished from the everlasting wanderings on the other side of life. The second album deals with the searching for one's inner self, trying to find a place where we can say: this is my home, this is my destiny.”

Has it been an option to use this concept for a Riverside-album?

“Well, I always wanted to create that kind of alternative, oriental and progressive mixture. In a way it's similar to tracks like After or Schizophrenic Prayer that I did with Riverside, but I didn't want to record a whole album with this concept with Riverside, because than it wouldn't be Riverside any longer. Besides, the concept is just too personal.”

Are you going to play the music of Lunatic Soul on a live stage or do you see it purely as a solo project?

“I don't know yet what the future will bring. For now this is a solo project, but I'm not saying that this situation will last forever.”

I have listened to many Polish progressive rock bands lately. What's in your opinion the reason that many are influenced by Riverside or better: influenced by your way of singing? 

“I really don't know (laughs). Maybe this is some kind of Polish style. I just don't know, I'm just finding out about this.”

Talking about influences: which bands or musicians has been an inspiration for you as a musician?

“In the past I was influenced by a lot of electronic and ambient music. I grew up with that kind of music, but later on I was inspired by rock and metal. What have been my biggest influences? Well, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, The Beatles, Dead Can Dance, Rush, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Massive Attack, and a lot more. Nowadays the main influences come from books, movies and video games.”

Your music is released by the same label as Steven Wilson's. Does this mean that future releases of Riverside are being released on Kscope either?

“I'm not sure if Riverside's music fits to the Kscope profile now. We're no longer playing the same music as on the first album. Lunatic Soul is better for Kscope I think. Well, I'm happy to have a deal with them and that's not only because the music of Lunatic Soul is pretty much connected with Steven Wilson's music. They're simply great guys who trust you and let you be yourself as an artist.”

I wish you all the best with Lunatic Soul and Riverside. I hope to see you soon somewhere on a stage in The Netherlands. Thank you.

“Well, thank yóu. I'm looking forward to see you in May 2011 during Riverside's short anniversary tour!”

More info about Mariusz Duda, Lunatic Soul & Riverside on the Internet:
       Lunatic Soul Website
       Lunatic Soul samples
       Review Lunatic Soul album 'Lunatic Soul II'

       Riverside Website
       Riverside samples
       Review Riverside album 'Anno Domini High Definition'

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