Best selling author Wayne Dyer once stated: “Transformation literally means going beyond your form”. This expression undoubtedly speaks a great deal of truth to the point of being blatantly obvious – but upon closer inspection, its message can have multiple interpretations for different avenues.
For Swedish musician Thomas Ekelund, this quotation is in fact his proclamation; his art-noise-industrial-metal (simply described as “death industrial”) project Trepaneringsritualen exceeds a name that identifies his music, it is in effect, another being. To create his sound as Trepaneringsritualen, Thomas actually accesses another persona and undergoes a transformation of sorts. Not too dissimilar to the notion of shapeshifting, for each performance or inventive artistic venture, Thomas becomes a separate entity to a degree and generates a fascinatingly disturbing and engaging musical act that is completely transfixing for his observers. As he explains from his home in Germany:
“I think I have gotten pretty good at accessing that state of mind I need with Trepaneringsritualen, I try to disconnect from myself and my own sense or reason and my own will. I don’t think T x R x P is that much about me, I’m channeling something that is a lot bigger than Thomas Ekelund. So I try to make a conscious decision in that realm and just interpret the impulses on where I should go and I think I am getting better at that. There are still obviously parts of me involved, because it isn’t an entire disconnect from myself but I try to be as open as possible and do what is required.”
While comparisons to “method acting” could be associated with this metamorphosis and would not be entirely incorrect, it is a much higher power than that. It is actually more of a spiritual awakening, one Thomas compares to the idea of “The Third Eye” that leads to spaces of higher consciousness resulting in a variety of both negative and positive outcomes.
“I would say that T x R x P is very rewarding. It actually changed a lot for me on a metaphysical level; it’s a very difficult project to make because it is extremely heavy in many ways and I am confronted with a lot of things that I don’t necessarily want to be confronted with but on the other hand, I need to be confronted with.” He continues: “It’s made me a better person I think, more attune to what’s going on and more able to deal with real life as well. No I should say ‘everyday life’ not ‘real life’ as it is wrong, it is kind of fascinating how it is a path to improvement for myself.”
Does it become tiresome or frightening undertaking the role of two characters though, with one being vulnerable to this illustrious creative power?
“It is and does, I get less and less scared but it has been really rough at times. I have times where I really struggle to shut it off which can become problematic, but the thing is you need to approach things openly and being scared is very natural. Just because you are scared it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something; just deal with it as best you can (laughs) – try to work out what things mean and how you can use them when you write.”
Do you become lost when Trepaneringsritualen has taken over? How long can you be fixed in the T x R x P entrapment for?
“Definitely, it can be extremely difficult. When I succeed in the transition it becomes very difficult to let go of it and return to normalcy or becoming me. Sometimes it can be days before I can fully escape that other self.”
Upon one minuscule encounter with T x R x P, whether listening to any of his numerous releases or watching his live show, it becomes very apparent that there is another “realm of being” presented with his art. A one man show that is directed at capturing, disquieting and hypnotising the audience, it borders on grotesque; indecipherable vocals and obscene antics terrorise those who witness Mr. Ekelund, but it is why he is in high demand worldwide
“I think usually a large section of the audience I perform to just don’t understand it at all (laughs). There’s always enough people that approach me afterwards and say that they have never experienced anything like it before. The majority of the time they are really blown away by the performance so it is really pleasing hearing those expressions of praise. Any audience I get, I do take on.”
Have you had any peculiar audience reactions?
“Oh God yes. It varies, I get the standard moshing outbursts to people actually telling me that I have ‘raped their third eye’.”
Is it that devastating?
“If you interpret it the right way it is actually a pretty positive thing, but it isn’t the best reputation to have maybe: ‘I rape people’s eyes’? (Laughing) I believe it is positive though, I mean I have enabled someone to see something they perhaps didn’t want to or were not able to – but that is how you transcend reality, when you are forced to see things.”
Australia will be able to experience T x R x P with a tour beginning in Perth this coming Friday, including shows in Sydney and rounding out in Melbourne on Tuesday the 16th of July. Considering how intense Thomas Ekelund’s shows have been (rotting animal blood has been an integral part of his show) and the versatility of the venues he has performed in, including a grave pit; It plagues this writer to ask, what was the most memorable show he has performed at?
“The most special place I remember playing was at Stella Natura Festival in 2013 I think it was, well it took place in Tahoe National Forest in the mountains in Northern California; it is outdoors in the middle of nowhere in a forest that is apparently thousands of metres above sea level so it was unbelievably gorgeous.” He pauses dramatically, but then continues knowing that even with his pleasant demeanour, there was a sinister element to be revealed – “Anyways we managed to anger the Weather Gods somehow and as we were playing the skies turned black and it began raining and it actually did not stop. It was realistically a flood and it was declared a ‘state of emergency’ and the entire festival had to be evacuated. It was pretty overwhelming for everyone. They called it the storm of the century.”
It would seem Australia will soon experience a very different “Eye Of The Storm.”
Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill
Trepaneringsritualen – Australian Tour 2019
12th July @ The Den, Perth
13th July @ Crowbar, Sydney
14th July @ The Tote, Melbourne
16th July @ The Old Bar, Melbourne