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  • Stay Frightened

interviewed by Black (Das Alternative Music Magazine)


This interview was conducted by thomas wacker and daniela lehman for black:das alternative music magazine

The first time i knew about the project stay frightened was several years ago...in 1994 ,when projekt published its black tape for a blue girl-tribute compilation "of these reminders" (with 2 tracks of stay frightened,"of these reminders" and "could i stay the honest one?"),my attention was called on conrad l.dickey.then for a long time i had no notice on this american artist who,nevertheless,continued to be active. Only in 1996 did we know about a new sampler-contribution "touched in the place where trust simply aches"),this time with palace of worms,the italian label that some weeks ago published stay frightened's debut-album "still" on cd.with "still", we recognize for the first time the musical expressiveness of conrad and for everyone who has the time to listen this disc will be fascinated by the intensity. May this is because conrad is a sensitive and emotional person whose feelings may be rather expressed in words. I am very happy that i had the opportunity to contact stay frightened before the release of the cd and to direct some questions to conrad before he moved to another place;he responded me detailed answers.

Black:as introduction to this interview i would like to ask you, as i usually do,for some informations about your musical background.just indicate when you began to make music and what were the reasons to do so?

Conrad: all my life i have made music.when i was four years old,my parents let me have piano lessons.i had nearly 20 years of training in classic music,theoretic and composition studies included,on the piano,the keyboard and orchestral percussion (especially kettle drum).when i was 11 years old i began to compose my own music (my first ispiration being a piece of eyless in gaza).during the time on highschool and at the academy of arts.i partecipated on several rather silly,music projects.for example as a drummer in a black metal band or as a keyboard-player or as a singer in a new wave band,just for fun and to kill time.stay frightened truly began only in 1989.i wasn't satisfied anymore being in a real band (not on a serious level).i just wanted to see where i could go with my creativeness.

Black:why did you choose the name of stay frightened for the project?has this name got a particular meaning?

Conrad:stay frightened is a title and as music a way for me to fight with the fears i have to live with.i am not a person who gets much from life.if there are moments (that have become very rare already) that provocate real feelings in me and that are overwhelming, then i become anxious that this magic moment many end and the feelings may die and all may become the same old unsupportable story,that i turn all into a negative sense and that i destroy the moment by myself.therefore stay frightened is a way to use this fear of destroying perfect moments and turn it to my account.this fear gives me the opportunity to capture life and to breathe and to keep these moments alive forever.these are the characteristics of my music. I hope that i can explain the meaning of stay frightened,i just try to capture the spirits of my life before they are destroyed by the life just as life destroys me.

Black:what can you say about your musical influences and ispirations?do you like some composers of classic music?

Conrad:i listen too a lot contemporary istrumental music and pieces of dark-ambient.i also like avant-garde and experimental music, but it has to be very melodic for me to like it. I listen black metal, progressive rock and new wave bands of the seventies and eighties and then, yes i like classic music as well. I think i listen to this kind of music when it is very melodious and atmospheric and i feel touched in some way. It is very difficult to stress certain influences and ispirations, without looking at the detail... A proposal that i surely will follow in the future.

Black:in the past you were present only with single pieces in two compilations...."of these reminders" of projeckt and in the "palace of worms" compilation. Did you publish other pieces in the united states... For example on tape or vynil?

Conrad:just a lot of tapes. I don't only send to the labels but also to those persons who have already heard some of my sample-contributes and than write and ask for more pieces and why i haven't signed a contract jet.

Black:how did you first come in contact with guido of palace of worms in italy?do you think that this label is a good medium for your music and for selling your album in europa and overseas?

Conrad:guido contacted me in summer 1995 as he wanted to include one of my tracks on the palace of worms compilation. All the rest ,my album included, happened in some way later on.and yes,i think that pow is a good forum for the publication of my first cd.it is still a young label that can continue to grow... Without the burden of publishing only a certain kind of music. I also like the significance of the name "palace of worms",something that is charming and troublemose, bright and gloomy;splendid and sad; divine and subterrean:simply difficult to forget.

Black:how is your relation with projekt records and sam rosenthal? For "of these reminders" you gave the cover-version of black tape for a blue girl song,wasn't he interested in your music?

Conrad:i don't think so,but maybe you better ask him yourself.

Black:do you know other projeckt-bands and would you like to give me your personal opinion on sam's work?

Conrad:i'm familiar with the music of all the artists of the projeckt-label,but sam is the only one i know personally. The importance of his music for me? I think that he prepared the ground for many american "introspective-atmospheric" artist( like me),as he presented this style to a larger public. When you ask me now if i am a fan of black tape.....,i can say that i listened to the album "mesmerized by the sirens" a lot of times. I think it is one of the more unique publications of the projeckt label.

Black:do you have contacts with curt and holly emmer of bleeding like mine and do you know their first album "in the eyes of lovelost" ,which has also been published by pow?

Conrad:i have already phoned several times to curt.it seem to be an excellent person. The piece "in the eyes..."i have not listened. But i will do so,i am sure that somewhere and in some way i will have the opportunity.

Black:when i listen to the music of stay frightened ,it always has the effect of a dark whirlpool that is drawing me to the depths. What i like to say,is that your music provokes many emotions in me. Therefore i assume that you sing about things that are part of your own experience and life?!?

Conrad:yes my life,my dreams and my fears.and thanks for your marvellous words about the way my music maker you feel.

Black:what is the best place or the best time to listen your album"still"?

Conrad:in a quiet and cozy environment. A strong wind outsie and some candlelights on the window may be
good.at night or in a day with dim light or chains of lights, this is always successful for me.just let the fog enter ....

Black:can you give me some information about the background of the songs "and there one wish will die","one small thought terrified" or "bled the candlelight"? What do you wish to say with this songs?

Conrad:these pieces and all the other istrumental pieces of this cd are (as good as possible) the literary realizations of moments,i hoped to preserve for ever ,and of feelings tied with this moments.therefore all pieces are without words and in some cases they are very short.this songs are my dedire to give a form, a substance to a moment or an event and i think to an existance outside of myself. I hope that i succeded in this endeavour without loosing the exacteness of the moment, the event or the memory of it.of course the songs with vocal music also reproduce the significante of stay frightened.....they just express it in another way.

Black:my personal, favourite of the album is the track "still".....

Conrad:in "still"it is a question of feeling insignificant,if you find yourself in a very certain reliable and solicitous relation.believe or not, in this song,as in all my songs, it's a question of hope. Hope is for me destructive and at the same time saving.the tragedy in this is that i can't explain why. It's simply so.

Black:what kind of instruments do you use to compose your music? I suppose your personal favourite is the piano!

Conrad:yes, you're right! I love the piano. Actually i love all the instruments with a keyboard. I hate things that have to do with electronics and synthesizers (as sampling, sequencig and midi for example). Therefore i don't use anyt of them in my music.don't misunderstande me! I love synthesizers very much.and i like creating my songs with them. I prefer to pile up all the instruments and the notes and rhytmic (though they're so seldom) very intuitive when i'm recording. I think this method helps to make the atmosphere thick. What instruments did i use for my first cd?all the sound,the music and all the instruments (except my voice) result from an only one synthesizer,the roland jv 90.this is the best one that i ever had.the piano soundmaster are actually unbelievable!.

Black:there are also some relations between you and michael plaster of "soul whirling somewhere",i appreciate his music,then you can find among the very bitter and melancholy moments so many wonderfull aspects...i forget listening to my sadness. This some feeling strikes me when i'm to listening stay frightened.at first i couldn't believe,but today i consider "still"one of my favourite albums that i listened to best alone at home.how sad should you be, to compose such a music?perhaps can you tell me how important as"truth","trust","love"and "sexy" are for you and how much they influence your own life?

Conrad:hmmmmm....the best way to answer is this one :i was in love up to the eyes with a wonderful young woman of the name of mandy.we're now togheter since two years and half and we'll marry in about a year.she's very merry,willing to help,very clever,sincere,solitary,responsible,hypersensitive, very sexy, loving, strong, respectable, outspoken, curious, demanding, she loves animals, hates people, admires me, she's my best friend.there would be a million of other things that i could tell about her.all these things are very important for me,thus i'm part of her.mandy and stay frightened are my life.i'd like to know to explain what my private life means for me.it's not so important to know who it's me,but what and how i create.

Black:in booklet-your cd-you greet martyn bates of eyeless in gaza too.i know him from his work with anne clarck.do you love his music so much...or why do you greet him?

Conrad:i mean that eyeless in gaza is the most inspiring music that i ever heard (this includes martin's solo works).if you don't have yet heard eyeless in gaza,you must have to do that.we've written each other sometimes.i told him how much his music meant for me and i sent him my music and he loves it.it seemed to me,that it was a great opportunity to thank him very much (up to now i heard only the cd "psycometry" from anne clarck.martyn was incredible as usual.oh,i'd like to greet peter becker too.he is the other half of eyeless in gaza).

Black:if you should paraphrase yourself with a few words,which ones would you choose?

Conrad: you could best present conrad l.dickey with the word "dreamer"

black:how old are you and where do you live in usa?what about your job?it's good?

Conrad:i'll be 28 in july,mandy and me are living at the moment in the pacific northwest.we'll move in summer to the eastcoast,maybe in pennsylvania.we'll only be sure after yetthere .a little while ago i worked in a club as soundtechnician.where i mixed,among other things,the sound of several live tapes.

Black:can you list for me your personal top 10 albums?

Conrad:it's very difficult question, there are so many that i love.best i list 10 bands and artists whom i admire very much:they actually influenced me mostly....i'd like mention the album "in the nightside eclipse"of emperor too, one of the best black-metal album and martyn bates soloalbum: "mystery seas:letters written 2"is a masterpiece.there's still a quantity of other music outside. This was only a little summary that explains what i love in the music.a little while ago i bought the debut cd of a band named that summer with the title "drowsiness of ancient gardens".you must listen to it.it's fucking brilliant!

Black:i've never thought that stay frightened would appear with vocals ,as all the previous pieces were only istrumental.were you dissatisfied with your voice or how you explain this fact?

Conrad:it depended on the piece.actually there are songs in more then in the half of my pieces of my album. The people loves my voice or hate it.i mean that my voice is good for my music:it fits simply.i personally think music has a little rough and calm majestic quality.what do you think about?i like simply to contribute to compilations. This is just a peculiarity of mine.

Black:did you see the film "the english patient" with juliet binoche in america?the film won in 1997 a lot of oscars!i saw it all together twice and i'm still fascinated by the impressions and feeling that the actors represent.it was wonderfull and tragic at the same time....

Conrad:i'm sorry,but i didn't see it.it seem as though you have been touched by the film as i had by the chinese film "raise the red lantern" with gong li. Words like excellent and overwhelming can't nearly describe the emotional power and beauty of this film.

Black:if you had the possibility to be trasformed in other lifeforms or in a object,which form would you choose and why?

Conrad:a gosth or a spirit of a wind or perhaps a glow-worm.or best a combination of all these. Or something else would be come out. Why? I don't know.gosts are a passion of mine.the spirits of the wind personify calm and the chaos of the atmosphere with every breath.and glow-worms are living candles.it sounds fantastic.thank you for your marvellous question.

Black:finally i'm interested in the projects you have for musical future of stay frightened.

Conrad:i wish only "still"could touch those people who get down with this.and all that happens,simply happens,i'm now so immensely greateful that palace of worms has so believed in my music that i could launch my first cd;even if i'd never launch a cd.i'd forever have the feeling to have done something right and very important in my modest life.i hope "still"is only the beginning.i'll keep my fingers crossed.

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