Last month Dark Entries released the complete discography of Belgian trio Vita Noctis across two vinyl albums. We decided to ask the band some questions about their past, present and future:
Dark Entries: What part of Belgium are you from? What was it like growing up there and what music inspired your teenage years?
Vita Noctis: Our roots are in Vilvoorde near Brussels. The twin brothers, Kris and Jos went to a boarding school. This was not fun and resembled a prison. Although we’ve never had personal problems during our childhood years, it was quickly clear that people do not live in paradise. Negative feelings about the society have always been present. We do not know if there is a relationship between the black and doom way thinking and the way of making music. Music was an outlet for many young people. Punk made it clear that anyone could make music without any musical education. It was an inspiration for a new kind of music that was less aggressive but still had that melancholic undertone.
DE: How did you form the band and choose the name “Vita Noctis”?
VN: Jos and Kris bought a few instruments on the second hand market. Martine was Kris’ girl friend and turned out to be a singer. The name “vita noctis” is Latin for “nightlife”. We thought that name sounded good, that’s it.
DE: When did you start writing music for the first two cassettes?
VN: We can not exactly remember when we started. We think in 1981.
DE: Do you remember the set up and equipment for recording your earliest songs?
VN: We were a very low budget group. All of our instruments were 2nd hand (Roland TR-808 drum machine, Casio, Ibanez bass guitar and a keyboard Korg MS-20). The first recordings were done with tape decks (two tracks).
DE: Did the evolution of the synthesizer in the 1980s have an effect on your sound?
VN: No, we have always used the same instruments. Only the recording of our final EP was done in a studio where other so-called “better” instruments were available. We were convinced then to use the “better” tools. The recording of the album was done in a few hours to reduce costs. In retrospect we regret this because our songs on the record do not sound the way we wanted them, too clean.
DE: What were some inspirations for your lyrics at the time?
VN: The texts were not pre-written or invented. While jamming on the instruments, we sung phrases or sounds that were feeling at that moment in the head. Therefore, some texts do not have any sense at all. We were more focused on the sound of the words rather than the meaning of them.
DE: The songs on “Against The Rule” are sung entirely in English, was there a reason for this?
VN: The sounds of the English language seemed to be the most appropriate for our music.
DE: Who were your musical contemporaries at the time in Belgium or around the world?
VN: In Belgium Front242, The Klinik, Neon Judgement and around the world Sisters of Mercy, Fad Gadget…
DE: So much creative and diverse music came out of Belgium in the 1980s, what do you think caused this rich and talented culture?
VN: We don’t have an explanation therefore..
DE: I first heard your song “Alone” at a friends house a few years ago and the combination of catchy vocals/lyrics/bass/synth got stuck in my head for days! How did you create your unique “sound”?
VN:The unique sound originates from a limited knowledge of music with limited possession of instruments each with its own sound. It had to be simple.
DE: The earlier versions of songs like “Hade,” “These Lies” and “Expose” sound quite different than the later version, what do you attribute this to?
VN: The songs on the album are partly made with other instruments and with a mixing by an outsider. The result was not always satisfactory.
DE: Did Vita Noctis ever tour? If so, describe your most memorable/favorite live gig?
VN: We have never really been on tour. We have done only a few gigs.
DE: The songs on “Against The Rule” span 2 years, yet you created so much music in that short time period! Did you ever take a break?
VN: The songs are often just a result of an inspiring jam session without any preparation. We played together, each one with an instrument, and when we found something that sounded well, we recorded it. Most of the songs have no fixed structure and arose simply from the feeling at that moment. When we had to search too long for a good sound the spirit and emotion of the song disappeared.
DE: How do you feel about the renewed interest in your music?
VN: We’re excited. It gives pleasure to see that bands from the ’80s seem to be hot again. As if we begin our second childhood.
DE: What have you been up to since the 80s and what are your future plans?
VN: We were still in school/college when we started making music. After the release of the cassette tapes, we released our vinyl EP but the success of the EP on the market was rather disappointing. With time, the enthusiasm faded. Jos left the band shortly thereafter. Although Martine and Kris didn’t compose new songs anymore, we’ve always been following the scene. With the idea to come back someday, we’ve kept our instruments from those days. Unfortunately most of the instruments are broken. We are therefore obliged to work in a different way now. Composing music with the computer, it all seems much easier to make a song but it isn’t. The idea is that next year we will do a gig . Who knows, if we get the taste once again, maybe more will follow …