Interview with Myk Jung by Philippe Desjardins

Thanks to Van Richter's web site, I listened to your albums a few times lately, and I must say, they are VERY aggressive. A little bit too hard for me, but still, they are very good. It has been 8 years since your first release. How do you feel about what Testify has accomplished as a metal/industrial band?

Myk: We have created numerous pieces of Industrial Guitar Noise that I am very proud of. Some of them even make me happy, for a fleeting moment. These would not be in the world but for us (I guess). They will not vanish too fast; people might be able to listen to them in - say one hundred years (perhaps to that time Industrial Metal will have its peak-era).

Do you think that a band can contribute to a scene's evolution? Do you feel like Testify has brought any?

Myk: Indeed it is my opinion that a single band is able to initiate a kind of evolution. There are even bands that influenced a whole scene for a period of several years. But I must admit that Testify so far does not belong to that upper class of influential bands, with even the chance of never becoming that kind of band.

Metal music was very popular at the beginning of the 90's, and somehow faded over the years, to come back blended with punk and hip-hop (to become what is known as rapcore). This evolution (or regression for some) has put a lot of metal oriented bands on hold. Do you think that this had any effects on Testify?

Myk: Testify ever kinda sticked to their original genre and never waded the fields of rapcore or so (for they would not be good in this). We do what we can do best and, to be honest, we refuse to think about evolutions within the history of Rockmusic as being our guide on the way to success, or something like this. Let's take the time machine....

Could you give me an idea about what TFS was all about?

Myk: TFS which means The Fair Sex is our ancient EBM-band and was the mother ship of most of our activities, like Testify and Nice Gods Bleed and 1 AM and Warm: all these projects are the offspring of The Fair Sex. In the late 80's/ early 90's The Fair Sex was quite successful, as a matter of fact more successful than any of their successors. In Germany at least. What was it all about? About our visions in those days. Visions of the black anger, visions of the pain that noone knew, visions of the helpless fall in which we all sometimes seem to be caught.

Testify started as a side project of TFS, and it is obvious that at some point, it became the main project. Could you tell me how the change happened?

Myk: There is some truth in your words. After starting Testify in 1993 we never really returned to The Fair Sex as band. With the exception of the year 1995 when we released the work "Labyrinth" - but in those days only me and Rascal were left of our original line-up. To the same time Testify grew stronger. The classic "MMMYAOOOO" was created, in my eyes one of the real big albums in my life, a real milestone. And the new live-crew of Testify was the best ever.

Since Testify's albums are filled with anger and dissatisfaction, could you tell me what inspires you to compose such aggressive songs? Is it a need to release yourselves from something, to make your life more liveable? Or is it just a matter of taste?

Myk: You have found a very fitting expression. Thinking about the matter, it will seem to me that doing this scream/wrath-thing is due to the necessity to release myself from an inward pressure. Obviously there are people in this world who are able to live with peace of mind. And sometimes I think that it is not so difficult to achieve this. I think in my childhood and early youth I was able to feel that, as well. But then again: I lost the ability, somehow. It is not my personal life alone that sometimes fill me with disgust, it is the way people treat each other on this planet of punishment, to find a very short formulation for now.

Do you think that electronic music has the capability to support aggressiveness and violence (as guitars in metal music would)?

Myk: I think that this is one of the great errors of a kind of helpless, un-knowing, reactionary, pyeudo-psychological social scientist ideology: That aggressive music makes people (especially young people) even more aggressive and persuades them to violance. I really think that it somehow helps you to get rid of the gnawing bite of anger within you.

Technically, you have evolved a lot, mainly in the guitar parts process. Are you satisfied with your work? Or there is more to do/learn before composing the "perfect" album?

Myk: Soon we will release our newest work "Triviality Beyond Acceptance". Indeed when finishing it (already ten months back) I thought we were quite close to the perfect album. Yet, with the passing of these months, I feel there are even more things to learn and to do. But this might be the the most normal way: That the eagerness which comes along with not being totally satisfied drives you forward.

Throughout Testify's history, there has been a few line up changes. How did this affect the band's dynamic?

Myk: This seems to be one of the most characteristic features of Testify, this ever changing line-up-thing. To the time being we are again in a phase of change. So far it has always been a positive initiator of dynamic.

Could you tell me about Terry Pratchett? Are there any kinds of literature that are used as references in the composing process?

Myk: Aah, this your question is a hint to the line "MMMYAOOOO" which is an exclamation to be found in one of Terry Pratchett's books. Moses read it while we were in the process of creating the MMMYAOOOO-album. This author is one of the modern masters of Slapstick Fantasy. But I fear besides this one expression he had no influence on our lyrics. If you wish for one example of literature that inspired me thru-out the recent years might mention the Sandman, Morpheus, created by Neil Gaiman.

What is the link between Testify, Nice Gods Bleed and 1AM?

Myk: As mentioned before: They all are offsprings of The Fair Sex. Nice Gods Bleed is more my personal side-project, together with Ramon Creutzer, the Phil Specor of Aaachen. This might be characterized as Noise Industrial, sometimes supported by the ability of Testify-guitar-players. 1 AM is Rascal's personal project: a more dance-oriented thing.

It has been 3 years since the release of Crack the Mind. Triviality Beyond Acceptance will be released in August. What can we expect of this new release?

Myk: I will only say this for the moment being: We have gathered the strongest material ever to be found in Testify's archives. The best Testify album ever. (This statement of course has one disadvantage: Every artist in the whole world uses it to describe)

In a musical business point of view, what do you think about Germany, compared to North America?

Myk: It will seem to me that on the sector of electronic Underground music Germany has a special, strong status. It is amazing to learn how many German bands are "imported" into the USA. Obviously the North Americans think this kind of music to be European tradition, or something like this.

Does Testify still stands for a metal/industrial combination? Or will it change its direction to reach new fans? (like rapcore for instance....arrr!)

Myk: As I hinted before: I know that if we would try to make rapcore, for example, we would not be as good as those that already do it now. That is not our region of creativity. It would be poor to try something that others have already done, and even better than we would, if we tried. You should make the music that is already vibrating within your innermost center.

For the final question, you may use it as a part of a therapy (if you think you need any...) Do you think that any of you are really insane? If so, what causes it? Could we say that almost every human being has some kind of insanity in them? And that this insanity is the result of us trying to fight it?

Myk: Especially the last sentence/question of yours is quite interesting. Is this part of a famous therapeutical theory, or did you make it up on your own? I will think about this thru-out the next days, you can be sure of that. And because it is such a heavy and interesting hypothesis I fear I will not find an answer right now. To your other questions: I often mentioned that Testify is a bundle of mentally-deranged guys. But I ever hoped that this statement of mine was an exaggeration. However I'm not too sure... And what triggers us? This is a great mystery - but I never seem to have the time to explore these dark regions of mine...

I'll let you finish this interview in any way that you want. And off the record, I'd like to tell you that I appreciate and respect the work you do. As I said, it's a bit too hard for me (maybe because I have an easy life), but still, I think that a band like Testify is important in this profit oriented business. Fortunately, you are there, and Van Richter Records is also there to bring your music to me, and me to bring it to others....Thanks again for this interview, and I wish you good luck for Triviality Beyond Acceptance. Ciao! Philippe

Thank you very much, Phillipe. I enjoyed talking to you. It took some time, though, to answer these questions, sorry. And I think I need not invent a clever final phrase for today...
with warm regards
Myk Jung