From the Editor: Author & Punisher is a powerful one man act. Period. Full stop. We were first introduced to Tristan’s body of work through our friends at Housecore and through the Kid. When I last spoke to Tristan it was at Housecore Horror Festival 2014, and very easily Tristan was one of my favourite people to speak to – No pretensions, kind enough to speak to me even though he was nursing a hangover, and at the festival he put on a fucking intensely powerful performance. Our lovely international correspondent Sarah was intrepid enough to undertake photographing and attending the Author & Punisher show in Cologne. While I could go on at length about how important I feel Tristan’s music is, I will let this piece speak for itself.
I must admit I had never heard of Author & Punisher before the wonderful boss lady Robin asked me if I wanted to go to the concert in Cologne and write about it. Naturally I was interested but not without being a bit skeptical after reading that I would be diving into a world of industrial/drone/dub/metal which in combination is something that I didn’t really have the best of experiences with.
In Europe the word “industrial” on its own can make you remember all the traumatic teenage moments when you were at crowded gothic festival after show parties and too many gasmasked faces are coming way too close with their glowing fingers while brutal looking guys in wife-beaters stomp on the ground like a herd of elephants.
But I forced myself to push that shit aside. (Editor’s note – and we thank you)
My research began and the more I read, the more intrigued I got..
I found out Author & Punisher was a single guy who works as a mechanical engineer and has an arts degree and builds machines to produce the most massive sound I have heard in forever.
I started to run around the city I live in, which is part of a more industrial area of Germany and the sounds this man (Tristan Shone), created kind of became my special running soundtrack. (Editor’s note – Sarah is hard as fuck. Do not fuck with women who work out to Author and Punisher)
So I was getting quite excited to meet the man and ask him all the questions and listen to this blast of sounds and noises and live.
The concert took place at a very small venue that is known to be one of the last living clubs that have a lot of underground and punk artists to play there – The Sonic Ballroom. In the past I have passed out drunk in front of their doors one time too many and sitting there waiting brought back all those memories.
Well I had a beer or two and Tristan was a little late because of the horrible German traffic situation, so first I just introduced myself quickly and helped him to get all his stuff from the van. Which was kind of a perfect way to start my first interview in years… The person I got to meet was very laid back and calm and I was starting to really look forward to our talk… especially because I thought I had the most perfect questions prepared. I felt like a super smart ass for googling the shit out of the guy… well.
I sat down with Tristan when the audience was already getting together and since german winter sucks and is way too warm this year we grabbed a beer to talk outside. With us was a student from university who had some questions for a paper he was writing about the ghost inside of machines. I felt even more smart assed after that because I actually had a lot of similar questions.
DIAG: What kind of relationship do you have to your machines?
Tristan: I build them from scratch. I design them I come up with the ideas of a certain sound but they are definitely an instrument. Many people think that it is some sort of other device but really it is not. I just use my machines to do electronic music live.
I don’t think I am becoming part of my machines. I try not to do things automatically. I program them so they only work when I operate them. It is a very manual process and actually less machine like.
DIAG: That is quite interesting because when you start reading about Author & Punisher online everyone seems to have their theories about the ghost inside the machine and how you become part with it… quite frankly that was my first thought as well… how can these devices be a soulless machine, as stated in your press release, when there is so much life going through it?
Tristan: Oh yes, I think they have actually taken on a lot of personality. There is so much life and death going thruogh them. They are constantly on the road. I keep having to fix them and soldering stuff back on and re-program shit. But it is still an instrument. The theories about the ghost inside the machine are really romantic and I can appreciate that people want to romanticize it, but I don’t buy it. I worked in machine shops and my stuff is like industrial revolution technology. Nothing about my music is perfect. When electronic music comes alive it is more compelling.
DIAG: You are coming from a background of being a mechanical engineer and then you went to art school… it kind of seems like within your music everything fits together.
Tristan: I am a mechanical engineer and still I went back to art school and I was around a lot of creative people. It gave me the opportunity to not sit in cubicle for 9 hours straight. I couldn’t do this and still be a weekend warrior and go on tour. I realized when I was 24 how depressing it was…
DIAG: So how much of your work now is you experimenting? Are you some kind of a musical scientist?
Tristan: When I write music now I get very frustrated when I am stuck trying to find the ideal sound so I try to experiment by playing. I would rather just be a musician than to get stuck on trying to find the right oscillator.
Actually at the end of this Tour I am going to Sweden for a bit to do just this… being a musician.
DIAG: So aside from the musical part. When we go into the vision behind it and look at your vocals, do you think that we are actually playing the end game right now? That mankind is dying?
Tristan: I guess it is just an opinion of mine. I find it kind of amusing that everyone is running and running and in the end there will be not much that we can do to save ourselves. I don’t get myself worked up in fear and hatred although there is a lot of very weird right wing crab happening at the moment even in places like Holland that are kind of built on a liberal base.
DIAG: Speaking of Holland, your newest album is called “Melk & Honing” which is obviously a dutch title which means Milk and Honey… and made me think of the Paradise context of your work. What would you say “Melk & Honing” is about?“
Tristan: I have a lot of friends in Holland. And I did one of my first tours there. I kind of strapped all my cases together and had a backpack and I travelled by train and it turned out to be very bad. I played good shows but everything was extremely difficult… it was kind of a coming of age and this is was “Melk & Honing” is about.
A lot of my lyrics are more about feelings and vibes and not to be taken super literal. A lot of it feels really abstract to me. The same goes for that paradise… it is an abstract feeling.
DIAG: So in the end what you are trying to do beside all the electronics and machinery is to still be an emotion provoking musician?
Tristan: Yes. A lot of what I am trying to do is making more organic sounding electronic music. And that is what it is… my music is more human and more alive. It is just like playing a guitar just a more modern version of it. I am creating a new way to interact with the sound.
So I have to thank Robin for introducing me to this really genuine and powerful music. And for the chance to talk to Tristan and get to know a little more about his vision.
The show I saw after that talk was absolutely intense and wonderful. I can’t say much about it that wasn’t worded perfectly within the interview so what is left is a little interviewer that learned something and has nothing but good things to say about Author & Punisher.
Go see the shows when you are anywhere near one of the venues. You will see a musician with heart and soul and a damn powerful machine to support this…
Editor’s note: We would like to thank Tristan for being kind enough to sit down for some words with us, and thank you so much for keeping our Eliphas Barfomet sticker on your case, that was touching to hear. We would also like to thank Liz at Earsplit PR for putting the whole thing together and always answering my oddball emails with cheer and kindness. We would also like to thank Housecore Records for bringing this all together for us.