Venturing into a fantastical world
BOLT RUIN, aka Brecht Linden, fuses the energy of hardcore punk with the delicacy of classical music. His bio leads us along destructive signal paths, collapsing sound sources, pillars of dense compositions, layers of grainy textures, deteriorated tape loops and warped vocals. BOLT RUIN’s self-titled debut will be released on 29 March through Consouling Sounds’ electronic imprint, Circuits. In April, he’s supporting Planningtorock at S.M.A.K. and that will be just the start…
Interview by Noor Al-Bender
Photos by Herlinde Raeman, shot in Ghent
I always try to put a lot of emotion in my music, it’s a sort of outlet, almost therapeutic. Usually, the darker my music is, the more positively I relate to life
How are you feeling about the release of your debut?
Both nervous and excited at the same time. It’s a strange feeling to let go of something you’ve intensively worked on for so long and put it out there for people to experience. But it also feels good to know that it’s done and that I can focus on writing new music. I also can’t wait to bring live adaptations of the record to the stage.
How would you describe the music you make?
I’d rather present the music as it is and let the listener decide how to label it. But if I have to give it a go, I’d say ‘dark electronic music that fuses the energy of hardcore punk with the delicacy of classical music’. Pulsating, atmospheric, textured, threatening, cinematic are descriptions that people often bring up.
What jump-started your interest in making music?
Although I’m from a small town in north-east Belgium (Hechtel-Eksel), there’s a rich history of local DIY collectives and bands that grabbed my attention early on. When I was ten, an older cousin handed me a bootlegged punk rock cassette and an aged guitar. I was immediately hooked. It was the high days of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Thrasher magazine. During my teens, I gradually shifted towards more experimental terrains of hardcore punk, instrumental rock and power electronics. When I went to study in Antwerp later on, the vivid underground of breakcore raves and squat noise shows opened a whole new sonic world for me again. All those distant echoes of influences blent into the sound of BOLT RUIN.
I often amplify unwanted artifacts like humming speakers, bleeding microphones, glitching circuits, generation loss and clipped audio
Where does your inspiration come from?
For a musician I’m very visually driven, I often take a physical place as inspiration. The stretched-out forests of my hometown or the abandoned warehouse I look out on from my studio window. If you try to imagine that small elements like the cracked bark or chipped paint are all particles of audio, how would this whole scenery translate into sound? How would that composition progress if people intervened and a narrative unfolded in these places? These sorts of thoughts drive the sound-designing phase and push it towards a song structure.
Besides those, I’m also fascinated by the failure of machines. In my music I often amplify unwanted artifacts like humming speakers, bleeding microphones, glitching circuits, generation loss and clipped audio. I have a lo-fi delay pedal that sometimes picks up French radio in certain spots of my room. I love it! Another personal favourite piece of gear is a tape recorder with a wobbling irregular speed that I got for two euros at a thrift store. The chewed up guitar lines on ‘Tshred’, the last track of my album, are all fabricated by that beautifully horrible device.
What music do you listen to?
It goes in waves. When I’m wrapping up my own tracks I tend to not listen to much else, as it distracts from my focus and raises doubts. Checking out the new Tim Hecker album when I was finishing my own was a terrible idea [laughs]. In the early stages of songwriting I’m more open to let myself be inspired by other music. Lately I’ve been discovering interesting stuff like Scandinavian Star, Astrid Sonne and Ausschuss. On heavy rotation right now are the latest by Yusuf and Ben Frost’s back catalogue.
Can you tell us more about the artwork for your album?
I collaborated with a photographer, Pieter-Jan Minnebo, and a tattoo artist, Bleck. We wanted to make an album cover that was very dark and harsh, but delicate at the same time. So we decided to tattoo the recurring symbol in my work, and display it in a very cinematic way. We took special lamps for movie sets, and used analogue photography that’s also used in films, to amplify the cinematic aspect of the music.
The recurring symbol in my projects is the inside of a cylinder lock. It symbolises a feeling of security, yet it’s still very fragile. A thin line between security and danger. It’s an everyday object, yet nobody recognises it.
How do you create your music?
My studio setup basically exists of an audio-mixer, boutique effect pedals, old tape-recorders, microphones and amplifiers all linked up with each other and my computer. Usually I start off by feeding audio sources such as instrument takes, field recordings or samples into these destructive signal chains. In a process I like to call ‘controlled unpredictability’ I search for the threshold where sounds break apart and crumble into new forms. Those lengthy recordings are cut up into samples, arranged and further processed inside Renoise. This practice is repeated over and over until a song structure arises; similar to creating a sculpture, cutting and molding of very raw materials until recognisable shapes start to appear.
You make all your music on your own. How did that come about?
I’ve always played in punk bands but I couldn’t find motivated musicians. Finding good drummers, a bassist, … it was always a problem. So after a while I thought I just start my own band, my own orchestra. That’s how I started making electronic music, out of sheer frustration [laughs]. Now I find it very liberating, in a band you always have to compromise, and when you’re on your own you can completely do what you want. Electronic music also allows for easy collaborations with other artists. For example, the UK-based artist Dialect that I sampled in one of my songs, just recorded a few takes and had them sent to me, and I could get to going with that.
BOLT RUIN plays Subbacultcha at S.M.A.K.
along with Planningtorock and Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe
on the 25th of April. Free for Subbacultcha members. Join us here.