One rarely get the chance to interview someone who has been making Industrial music for over 26 years especially, someone as busy as Claus Larsen. His one man project Leæther Strip is one of the busiest in the industry right now, and he is also one of the most loved. He always shows compassion for others and has a very kind and giving heart. I warn you not to wrong him though, if you agitate this loveable “Bear” you may feel the wrath of a nasty bite.
Claus took time from vacationing and preparing for his, and his husband Kurt’s kidney transplant to sit down and answer a few questions for me.
Carpe Nocturne: Since you have been creating music since 1982, where you got your first Synth, and 1988 when you formed Leæther Strip, you have seen a lot of changes in technology in the field. When you are creating music do you find it easier now? Or is it harder to create a sound no one has heard before?
Claus Larsen: Back then I didn’t have as many choices as musicians do now. I had my synths, my Atari midi sequencer and my four track tape recorder, but I can’t really say it is easier today. I’ve always had a clear idea on how the songs has to sound like when I start working on them, so the road there is just as long as it ever was, I got a good feeling on what my equipment is capable off and it’s sound so I know where to go if I need to create a certain sound. The good thing today is that I don’t have to save up for years to get something now that software has gotten so much cheaper. I still got my old faithful synths and they are heavily used today also, but about 50% is software synths at the moment. I’m not a gear snob at all, if I can create the sound I want, I don’t care if it comes from an old analogue synth or a soft-synth.
Carpe Nocturne: Do you prefer the older technology to make music?
CL: For some sounds, like Bass sounds I mainly use my old Moog Source or Korg Ms-20, It’s just my preference for these sounds cause that’s how I started out and old habits stick. Although, not having to record on tape anymore and have a huge old mixer to dust off and all that I don’t miss one bit. The good thing is that now everyone has a chance to get started on writing songs for a very limited amount of money.
Carpe Nocturne: I have read and heard that you have some new side projects. How many are you involved in and who are they with?
CL: Yes, Marco Defcode of Decoded Feedback and I formed a new old school EBM band, SEQUENTIAL ACCESS, last year and got signed to Metropolis Records worldwide. Our debut album was just released and it’s going very well. I also have my old Klutæ side project, and I plan to start work on a new album next year. We have also á
Carpe Nocturne: Which are you expecting upcoming releases to? When should we expect them?
CL: I will release a Digi EP November 13th (My birthday) titled ‘Decay’ + a video, directed by Roland Danielzig (Needle Sharing) it will only be released on my bandcamp site https://leaetherstrip.bandcamp.com/
And Mid December I will release the new Leæther Strip album “Æppreciation”, on emmo.biz records. It’s a 17 track cover album with covers of some of my favorite songs. There will also be a new Leæther Strip album out some time next year, I’m working on it right now.
Carpe Nocturne: Although Industrial and EBM music has always been underground, in some areas of the world attendance numbers have dropped drastically. What do you think can be done to increase sales and turnouts to shows?
CL: Better live shows would be a good place to start because the competition from other media is fierce and staying put in your old ways just doesn’t cut it anymore. Promoters needs to go back to the old school ways of promoting their shows, they need to be in the faces of people and not relay on social media so much, because it doesn’t work. Posters, flyers and being where it counts to talk to people. People still want to be entertained and bitching about it doesn’t help, taking action helps as with anything.
Being actively open about anything that is taboo in some cultures, always has some consequences to face. Unfortunately, some people just do not get that a lifestyle that may not be good for you, may be the one that someone else needs. If people would just let others be themselves and not force what they believe in on others, wars would end. This is something that Claus faces almost on a daily basis. Being an openly gay man who shares the stories of his life publically has only shown that he is just like any other human, who is in a happy healthy relationship. I had to touch on this briefly and ask his feelings about some the battles he has fought just to be himself. I wanted to check out some of the fun he has had as well.
Carpe Nocturne: Your tracks like ‘I want you Hard’ and ‘Strong Boys’ are very sexual in topic and video. I understand that this is part of a lifestyle, but has the shock factor worked as well to get your music out there?
CL: I’m not a big fan of “shock value” myself. There is a fine line between “cool” and “clown”. The ‘Strong Boys’ video was made as a fun reaction to all the scene videos with half naked girls in them to sell the songs. I don’t really see the songs you mention as having shock value, and isn’t sexual stuff part of anyone’s lifestyle.
Carpe Nocturne: Has your work ever been banned?
CL: Oh yeah many times. This scene has many homophobes. I really felt that when I came out and married Kurt. Especially in the USA. Many DJ’s would send promos back to the label saying that they “didn’t want to play queer music and don’t send me anymore from Leæther Strip”. It’s not a thing of the past either. I get threats of death and violence online weekly. But it just makes me yell louder, its fuel for me. I also had cover artwork banned from printers.
Carpe Nocturne: Have you ever been to The Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco?
CL: Sadly no, it’s a dream of mine to play at the Fair one day. It would just be so great if that happened. We have a smaller version of it in EU / Berlin but they only book the more Dance acts and not EBM/industrial, it is kind of funny because our genre just fits their scene totally.
Carpe Nocturne: Do you wear harnesses and restraints? If so do you have a favorite manufacturer for your Leather?
CL: Sometimes I do on stage if I’m “in the mood”, I love the whole fetish scene and leather clothes and chain harnesses are my favorite. When I shop I don’t really go for any special designer I just see what I like and order online. We don’t have any good stores around here so I have to do it online. Would love to get a sponsor ship thing going with a good designer because that shit is expensive, and it would mean good exposure in the scene for them.
Carpe Nocturne: How do you feel about people wanting to separate the Fetish Scene for the Gothic/Industrial Scene?
CL: Don’t see why, like I wrote we are a perfect match. Us underground people need to stick together. The scene is too small for all that drama. We go the whole “normal” masses to rebel against so we should use our “bite” in that direction instead.
Carpe Nocturne: Life inspires most artist to be creative, and most create their best work in dark times. When do you find you are the most creative?
CL: My songs are mainly emotional and very personal. I’m a very productive songwriter, and I have dealt with depression all my life. I refuse to eat pills for it, so my songs are my medicine. This past year has been both a great year for us with all the touring and successful releases, but it has also be a horrible year. I lost my Mother after 7-8 months of torture and Kurt and I have dealt with all the kidney transplant issues and insecurities concerning compatibility and a date for the operation. It’s been like being in a non-stop hurricane. So I have been very productive this past year, I just needed to get so much out of my system, and being creative works for me.
One of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life is on the verge of happening in the lives of Claus and Kurt. The odds of being a compatible physical match for your spouse are very slim. The fact that Claus’s husband Kurt can actually accept his organs, inspires hope, and actually makes one believe in fairy tales again.
Carpe Nocturne: What year was Kurt diagnosed with his condition?
CL: Kurt was diagnosed with Kidney Failure in both of his kidneys in 2001, and the only cure for this is a kidney transplant. Kurt will not have to go on dialysis because he is receiving a kidney from me. This is a good thing because the human body can only handle the treatment for a short time. There are so many living on borrowed time waiting for a donor, and sadly many will die waiting.
Carpe Nocturne: I can understand how excited you were that you are able to give your Husband Kurt ‘The Gift’ of one of your Kidneys to help him have a better quality of life. What went through your head when you found out that he was compatible and could accept a part of you?
CL: Yes, finally. Kurt isn’t the type of guy who explodes with emotion, he’s my anchor and I’m the emotional one. I was ecstatic and crying all day of joy and Kurt cried for five min’s and watched some telly. He’s having some conscience issues about “taking” my kidney which is perfectly normal. He could have both and I would go on the waiting list if it were up to me. I am him, he is me. So we cannot wait for January when the surgery will happen, unless someone cancels their transplant, then it will be in December. But January fits perfectly with our plans for next year.
Carpe Nocturne: Now that the surgery is coming closer, are you nervous? What are your feelings about it?
CL: “I can’t wait! I wish it was tomorrow so I can get my bubbly Kurt back and he’s not feeling so tired 24/7. Kurt is not a big fan of “knives” so it’s good that I’m the one who will be “knifed” a lot more than he is. A note to everyone reading this. If you didn’t yet, please go register if you want to be an organ donor or not. So many people die on the waiting list. We are lucky that we’re a match but too many aren’t. Today you can be a perfect match even if you aren’t related, and I tell you, being able to do this for one I love, is the most important thing I will ever get to do in my life.”
Carpe Nocturne: You have always been a humble artists that shows you care about your fans. I have you seen you reach out to those who are down and help brighten their day and lift their mood. With our community being such a dark one that can be malicious at times. How are you able to keep such a kind heart?
CL: Anyone who takes the time to listen to my music is a friend of mine. I was brought up being taught to care about people around me by my loving parents. We all deserve a chance, and who am I to not listen if someone needs it. I got too many scares from knives in my back both for my sexuality, and because this music business is filled to breaking point with the biggest egocentric assholes and liars you’ll ever get a chance to meet. It’s like a Mecca for evil people. So don’t worry, if someone steps on my toes I’m a bulldog and my bite is hard.
Carpe Nocturne: Speaking of animals, how many pets do you and Kurt have?
CL: At the moment we got. Alvin and Luffe, our two loving rescue dogs. Olfert the King Python and four gold fish. I used to have a lot more snakes but all this touring and too many animals doesn’t work.
Carpe Nocturne: What is the number one goal you are set out to achieve in this life? How do you plan on obtaining it?
CL: I’m 47 now almost, and I’ve never been happier. I get to see the world together with the one I love, I am still living the dream I dreamed of as a 14 year old with his first synth, and I want that to continue. I want to write my best songs, make love, goof around and get drunk on life and booze once in a while.
But my main goal is to see Kurt back to his old self again, then everything else is just bonus.
Giving a part of your body to give the person you love for them to have a better quality of life is the ultimate sacrifice. The romance and passion between these two men, puts even the Romeo and Juliet story to shame. The difference being the ending of this story is not love and death, this love story is about life.
Photo credit for the OneDrive files goes to : Roland-Picts