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Headless Horseman

Enigmatic yet bold, astonishing yet persistent - one of the foremost techno live acts of the recent years in an arguably the most in-depth interview out there.

Feature photo by Mino Kodama.

Eliza Aboltina sat down with the mysterious Headless Horseman in his Berlin studio to uncover some of the riddles behind the project. Earlier this year Erica Synths collaborated with the producer on the promotion of Fusion System II and June 2020 saw the release of his latest record - the full length album Inhabited Shadows which marks a new territory of sound in the already abundant discography. In the Erica Synths Garage special Headless Horseman opens up about the past, present and future.

You’ve been around for a while, the first Headless Horseman record release dates back to 2013 and yet you have consistently kept the mystery alive...

HH - The way it started out… I was involved in lots of music related activities for many years prior to Headless Horseman. I put out my first record when I was seventeen - a long time ago. Around 2004/2005 I went through a divorce, couple years after that my father passed away and I was working at a job that at the time was a dead-end for me. I lost my will to make music, to make art, for a while I became a slave to normal society - unhappy relationship, a job I didn’t like. I always wanted to study music and learn instruments. I went to university to study production - though I still consider myself predominantly self taught. But yeah all this shit happened in my life and I reached an ultimate low. I didn't want to make music anymore and felt that something was very wrong with me since essentially music making was all I do, the only thing that brings me joy. I was suffering from depression and heavy anxiety so I gave therapy a shot but made little progress in this attempt.

And I started to make music again in hopes that this would cure me. I started to use different machines, different VSTs, different gear - just to try and create something poles apart from what I normally do. My father was a painter and a sculptor and I figured if I use new paint and brushes maybe something new will come. I started experimenting with all these new sounds and devices and a sound came to light. But simultaneously I had so much blockage both in my mind and creative energy that I thought if I can change the way I think and become a different person then I can create without boundaries. Similar to those who play sports - once they put their uniforms on they go in game mode, right? Or when a ballet dancer puts the tricot on. It’s separating the second reality from your normal reality.

I thought that turning into this Headless Horseman character would allow me to be free from all my ailments. I could use this disguise to blanket all that troubled me and simply make records. That was the initial intention.

After I released my first records - just a stamped white label good offers started to come in. Even up to now I have not done any paid promotion. My first gig with Headless Horseman was at Berghain.

I doubt many can say that.

HH - In my whole career I had never played there and that was a good timing - the project was fresh and no one had heard it live. A few months after I got offered to do Boiler Room. I didn’t really want to be seen on camera, all I wanted was to just sit in my studio and make music. I didn’t know if I was ready for it. So I said to a friend of mine (artist Viron Erol Vert. - ed.) - I want to hide my face, I want to be invisible. A shadowy figure. People will focus on the music not the character - you know. The reasons I did it for me were a total purist thing.

I can put pieces of my childhood into this project and rebuild myself emotionally. I grew up outside NYC near Sleepy Hollow of New York so the legend of Sleepy Hollow - the story by Washington Irving has always been in the forefront since I was a kid. Every Halloween was all about Headless Horseman and tales of mystery so it just brought me back to being a kid - running out and doing mischievous things. Living in this dark, eerie world. The only difference was that now I was an adult. It felt natural.

My first intention was to play underneath a table or something like that, I was never too big of a fan for the DJ putting hands in the air. Not for my kind of music - for the darker sound you can close your eyes and observe all these sonic artefacts in the three dimensional zone. I love all the elements in music that you can close your eyes and grasp on to - a drone or an effect, but you also have the beats driving it. That's the beauty of techno, right? Everyone interprets it in their own life. Someone just feels the beat and the bass, some other people just stand there staring into space waiting to capture this one little flutter of a sound that comes in and out sporadically or randomly. I didn’t want to be seen. And not for some bad reason, it was a therapeutic thing for me. Even spiritual, it’s meditation - doing an hour live show is a completely meditational thing - not to sound like an old hippie, but I lock into it and generally just feel something. You could put yourself in a dark room and can feel when something else comes into the room. It’s the human instinct.

I was never too big of a fan for the DJ putting hands in the air. Not for my kind of music - for the darker sound you can close your eyes and observe all these sonic artefacts in the three dimensional zone. That's the beauty of techno, right? Everyone interprets it in their own life.

Do you think that having the mask on helps you separate the persona you have as human being from the one that performs? I believe rituals like this - even the tiniest things - can have the biggest impact.

HH - I didn’t think about doing shows before the first three releases were out. But from the beginning when I named the project Headless Horseman I knew I want to hide out and be the mysterious character in the background. So I could go around the world, change my mindset and make this kind of music as opposed to the stuff I made before. I had no influences, it was a new starting point. Building something fresh from the very beginning. I wanted to separate the physical body from the image.

It’s a good question because putting yourself in this other world allows to do other things without inhibition.

I am still me and without turning into someone else I still change my reality. When I sit down to produce music I can feel I am the Horseman, a different character and I can create in a certain way.

If I am not feeling that way then I just can’t do it. I get inspired to do something and I instantly know if it’s going to be a Headless Horseman thing - musically or concerning the idea. It has a distinct sound to me, I know what certain elements will make it sound that way. It changes - different set of sounds, a different tempo, different arrangement, different set of chords, but there is always a certain consistency while still - hopefully - pushing the sound forward.

To prepare for our meeting I studied your discography as Headless Horseman in a more structured, chronological way. I feel like it has a quality that is fairly rare - to deliver a constant change but also an unmistaken signature sound through out all the records without exception. Which makes me want to ask whether you’ve ever felt tired of this character and everything it comes with?

HH - No, never. The more I do it, the more excited I get about trying to push the sound in new territories. That’s the thing with the album now (HH's latest album Inhabited Shadows was released on June 19th 2020 - ed.), it’s so much different. I judge music and music making by how I feel at a certain time in life - to express myself at that given moment. If I make a track and it’s a year old I can not release it because I don’t feel the same way I felt then. I can’t always pinpoint what the meaning behind it is, sometimes it’s a note to yourself. Whatever it is, if I look at it months later, I have no idea what that particular moment has been about. It’s a lost moment. I think art is relevant to the specific time - at least for me. It’s a time stamp for a certain moment so it has to be fresh. So to answer your question - I have moments when I feel that what I am making is stale and that is why it takes me so long to release even an EP. It took me a year to release the last EP, not an actual year in minutes of course, but it takes time to decide which three pieces of work truly capture my life at that moment. And in the end the best parts get done just before the deadline is met. It’s a tricky thing.

The album I am doing now is 9 tracks from approximately 50 ideas that I stripped down to 9 that tell a story. I always try to tell a story, even with EPs I write down a lot of stuff. It has to be coherent, not solely from the arrangement of tracks but it has a narrative of certain characters and beings as I create this little film in my head - with a beginning, a climax and an end. Often certain pieces of music that I like and that could potentially work within the album do not end up fitting into the grand scheme of things. Once I change one thing the whole thing flip flops and I have to create new passages to fill in the gaps.

If every track you make captures a very particular emotion and time, does that mean that you have a lot of unreleased material perhaps only because you’ve taken too much time to release it?

HH - Sure. But a lot of it is not up to the quality that I like it to be. I don’t have anything laying around that I feel is in a state of being good enough to be released. The new album has taken so long because I wanted it to be a really special listening experience, to tell the story. It’s not a banging techno, industrial album. It has movements. Some of the stuff is pretty beat-less, some of it is very melodic. To add to the previous question of whether I get bored - for example now I am using more chords, more inversions, more harmonics and trying to make it more beautiful musically - pushing each aspect to extremes and learning a ton in the process.

Do you think the fact that you are right now learning to play viola has influenced that?

HH - Absolutely.

For how long have you been doing that?

HH - When I was younger I wanted to study classical guitar and did just that. I love classical music. Especially Baroque music - Bach, Mozart. It’s probably my favourite music. So between doing that my love of guitar branched out into hardcore and death metal in which I played in a few local bands. I learned to play violin for about a year. I also learned clarinet for a half a year in school though I didn’t really enjoy it as much. Back then learning an instrument was a school requirement but the decision to take up violin was my own initiative. I wanted to be able to express myself for purely personal satisfaction - that was it, I never had the desire to play in orchestra.

Now since I’ve been making music for so long, on e.g. keyboards - I can move my fingers and play. Then last year I found a teacher in Berlin who is a concert violist - so she teaches violin, viola and piano and I do piano and viola lessons simultaneously. The piano is great because there are so many things I want to play when I hear them and now I can slowly figure out how to do that by using my ear.

But I want to be able to read and write music like I could in the past. Step by step sitting in front of sheet music and practicing an instrument really balances out sitting by computers and machines the whole time.

It really helps with anxiety and puts me in a good mind space, especially after weekend of gigging. Now I get quicker to the point where I want to get musically with my own productions - that is only one of the benefits.

Joi Bix

Do you think you might come to a point where you would record viola or piano for your own productions?

HH - Oh, absolutely! That is the plan. I have only been doing it a few months now - we started with the Bach’s cello minuets. I practice a little every day - I wish I had more time to practice. It will take some time though - I want to record only when I play well enough. Right now I am more at a point where I can play cavernous slurs or atonal noises to use for sound design efforts. Im still a beginner and have an extremely long way to go but the challenge is enjoyable.

I used to play violin and I think the longest part of the process - especially when it comes to string instruments - is to develop your own tone.

HH - Pretty much all classical musicians play sheet music, people do not improvise… When I was playing guitar in bands we just jammed around and improvised the whole time. But when you got someone who’s an amazing classical musician - most of the time - they need music in front of them. Which they would play perfectly. But that’s a skill…

Exactly, and that is not really about the creativity.

HH - It doesn’t mean they don’t feel the music and that in itself correlates to creativity. Someone who plays virtuously - would play the music so perfectly that it brings on all the emotions - tears to your eyes in an instant. But if you ask them to just play something their response would be you have to give me a key, give me something. I would like to include more real instruments in future productions when I feel ready and confident to do them justice. So for now i’m sticking with what I know best and that being sound design and layering - for example the first track on the album ended up being loads of layers and in the end around 80 stems of synthesizers that replicate instruments to some extent but I was trying to go for something in between, something that sounds artificial and real at the same time.

Playing an instrument is a great skill and I want to be able to do that to continue to musically advance. I feel like this album is a stepping stone for me breaking into being more musical. Not that I wouldn’t call electronic music musical. I could show someone how to make a generic techno track in a week, basic principles maybe in a day, but to learn an instrument takes years. The simple use of plugins is the great thing about electronic music these days as anyone can create and that is wonderful! There is no seniority in techno. While with instrument players just by hearing them play you can tell for how long has someone been playing and how much work they have put into it.

I feel like this album is a stepping stone for me breaking into being more musical. Not that I wouldn’t call electronic music musical.

I think often with music technology becoming more and more affordable and accessible - the concept of mastering one particular instrument has been forgotten - especially within the realms of electronic music. Once in an interview Jean Michel Jarre advised to spend at least half a year or even a year with one synth - to truly master it and understand the capabilities of the particular machine.

HH - You as someone classically trained and having learnt violin can also hear someone’s musical background in an instant. I hear it too. Let’s say I hear some melodic techno tracks, with a great melodic lead and a simplistic bass-line that works and I keep waiting for the second movement of the track and it never happens. There are two sides of that, one - if it gets too musical and too involved in some cases it loses all the energy from being a dance track, the other time - if it goes all musically involved - there is the second movement or it’s modulated to another key the rest has to pick up its weight too. It doesn’t work to just have the same kick drum behind all this beautiful music - otherwise you don’t even need all the percussive elements. There is a fine line. I feel like I am also between that and the sound design effort fills in all the blank spaces. If it’s going to modulate and evolve sonically from all these extra sounds track can either enter a new territory or remain simple or hypnotic. If it gets too busy it becomes too cluttered.

The thing you said about Jean Michel Jarre - it’s interesting he said that. There are two schools of approach with synthesizers. He’s musically trained so he wants to learn and know exactly what things do - to achieve the motor memory, same with playing a violin - you know where to put your fingers, what note will be played, what sound is going to come out. With synths you can also just noodle around and all of a sudden you make something that sounds really amazing, you trust your ear and are like Oh, that sounds bizarre! But if you know too well how to use it you may have never gotten to that sound.

In this context GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrom - ed.) also comes into play. It still surprises me how many people are out there with disposable income to constantly be spent on new machines and instruments, while often not nearly reaching the full potential of the instruments they already own.

HH - In this room there is lots of stuff (our meeting takes place in a shared studio space - ed.) - it’s all of our gear put together. It’s not over the top and it’s usable, but these days I do make a lot of music on a computer. Because I can. I see a lot of people collecting expensive gear and many of these tools require a good amount of knowledge to operate otherwise it just becomes studio furniture. If you buy a 10k worth compressor and you don’t know how to use it there is no point - you might as well buy a plugin for 50 bucks and get similar results. When it comes to machines there are few things I always use and the rest is pretty basic. Bottom line - you can achieve a lot out of anything.

I promote the school of you do not need a lot of gear to do something, you need some knowledge, trial and error and time. To invest time is really important.
HH by Vaiva Hawkins1.jpg

Vaiva Hawkins

Can you describe the studio process and how your mind works when it comes to producing? Do you have particular sounds already in mind attached to an abstract idea or perhaps it’s more of a method of experimentation to get somewhere?

HH - 75 - 80% of the time I have a basic idea to start off. Either it’s a melodic element, a sound, or an approach.

And this is something that usually just comes to mind out of the blue?

HH - Out of the blue. I could be vacuuming a rug and hear a certain set of notes and sounds. I turn to the piano and go like okay, I can build something off of these couple notes then I hear a bass-line and then from there I have something basic to start off. It doesn’t have to necessarily be melodic, sometimes it can be just a weird sound, like a zipper of jacket. I love movies and cinematic sounds - I often try to recreate those, then I start adding beats, filling the gaps… Once the concrete idea - the meat and potato of the track is there - I experiment around a lot. Sometimes it’s way too much stuff and I start to take things away. I enjoy this tedious hand-work.

Both your answers and music communicate a certain approach to production that’s related to sound design. Do you think your education in music production is behind that?

HH - No, not entirely. I went to a four year university in New York - a great state university - an art school with music conservatory, classical conservatory, ballet, modern dance & acting conservatory and visual arts, and film too. I guess I was fortunate - from day one I met a handful of about 10 people I went to school with and we spent every day together - pretty much for the 4 years I was there. We all did different things, we traded off of our ideas and constantly shared the progress in our attempts. Back then I would always carry around a cassette with my latest beats that were made on what you would consider now to be pre-historic gear… Techno really wasn’t commonplace back then, it’s a long time ago - end of 90s. I was already going to parties and experiencing music but I didn’t have any friends who made techno. A good friend of mine - a keyboard player - was making progressive rock - like Dream Theater or Rush kind of stuff. He was awesome at playing, and he also had some sequencer software for his computer- MOTU performer before it was Digital Performer. He showed me how to make a track, record MIDI notes - everything was MIDI back then. It was way before the Ableton Live days. He showed me a few bits but the rest of the stuff - I was just trying to mimic what I heard when going to rave parties, I had one synthesizer - E-mu Morpheus and Akai Sampler. So I was trying to get something similar just by hand and then put in the sampler and be like that sounds kinda like what I heard last week even though the mind doesn’t really remember what exactly you did hear last week. The memory at that point is very distorted.

Yeah, I guess it’s rather abstract.

HH - It it is abstract, like when the same thing is whispered into an ear for 30 times it becomes a whole another sentence. Once you make an interpretation - it kind of ends up being your own. Because something inspired you to actually do it. But in my school I didn’t spend a lot of time learning rudimentary and fundamental things about recording music and mixing music. I did do composition classes and we had production classes, and sound design classes. But I had a pretty bad ADD so I spaced out a lot, but I really enjoyed making my own stuff and I had a wonderful professor who loved what I was doing. And where I was going. He told me - If you miss a class, you do two things - you tell me and then you show me what you made, because if you miss a class you better have made something. I had good support and I already started releasing records back then too. More experimental, breakbeat and ambient things - my first record release was in 1996. That’s when I thought maybe I can do something with this because I wanted to make music and tour the world. In 2001 I was offered to come to Berlin and I started gigging and continued to make music.

And here you are in 2020...

HH - Yeah, it’s a long time ago - 19 years since I’ve been in the city.

But I think when you start out - the less you know the better. If you have a drive, a little bit of focus and ideas - that can materialize into something that is unique. As simple as that.

When I did my first stuff during the college - I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. I learned by doing and talking to friends, but I had no network of people who were doing the same thing as me. Instead I had a network of people who were equally as inspired and driven to do their arts as I was. We would sit down, I would work on a beat, someone would be painting, writing their short stories and we could all do our arts together but separately. And then share ideas. Having this constant flow of inspiration and ability to share and critique on the spot was super valuable.

That is something that has changed these days because now I know a lot more than I did back then and when you meet someone who does something similar to you - working in the same domain - you end up talking about more obvious topics to start than digging deeper into things. Back then we would learn our disciplines on our own. We were young and naive - you heard or saw something and you gave the most honest opinion about it, because you just didn’t know the trickery behind it. Like with techno - you didn’t know how this sound was made, like the 303 behind all the acid records - Wow, that’s crazy, what is that? - but when you are younger you don’t care - you think about how to utilize this for your own ideas and how to make it different.

I think it gets harder and harder these days to make something really unique. That’s something I have been fighting with over time.

It’s interesting how you come from an academic background, having actual music education that you left behind and took on the path of exploring the dance music by self taught means. And now you return to learning to play instruments.

HH - Had I continued with classical training…

Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to reach certain mind-space that allowed you to create that what you have?

HH - Most likely not. The mind does work that way - you have routines and then you get stuck in those routines. Breaking these patterns is the hardest thing to do. I had to unlearn many things. Everything I did before Headless Horseman was valuable - approaches and the technical side. Before Headless Horseman, at the time when I was going through depression and wasn’t able to make music for a year - I was stuck. I had no ideas. I tried to recycle the same idea over and over again and everything I made sounded the same. But in fact you are never out of ideas, one just needs a reset switch. Many things happened in my life that weren’t really positive and that was my reset switch. I needed to escape to heal myself - at the very least mentally. Using a new set of tools helped greatly, as simple as using a new synth or a plugin and recording the first thing that comes out of it.

HH by KURØ.jpg

KURØ

What were your first experiences with techno & the rave scene? When and where did you get exposed to it?

HH - When I played in hardcore and death metal bands, we’d always play on Sundays - that was a common thing in the punk scene - late Sunday afternoons, a release before you go back to work or school on Monday. We often played at a youth centre an hour outside of the city. Alcohol free, mostly just teenagers. A lot of times 4 or 5 bands would play and that would be it but a few years later they started to have DJs to come and play. Techno, electro, rave stuff and electronic music in general got more popular - of course it was happening way before I found it… So at that time we would have shows early in the afternoons and afterwards the DJs would take over. play. We would pack up our gear and the next kids would come up with glow sticks and baggy pants - the ravers. And I would stick around to watch these people mix. Once I heard the music, I was like what the fuck is this? This sounds bizarre! There were so many cool elements within the sound. It reminded me of heavy metal, disco, jazz, classical - everything in this weird mixed up swirly form.

I think anyone who hears something for the first time - not knowing what it is, and are then blown away by something, start to pick out parts of it and realize this moves me, but I don’t know why. I didn’t know how it’s technically done, I had no idea - I hardly knew what a keyboard was. I knew what a drum machine was because of listening to old school rap. And I thought that DJ mixer is a device that makes the sounds - they can’t come from these records, because they are just… records! And this music is not on a record. This music is from outer space. Sitting there and watching DJs I learned what a mixer does, hearing the transitions made me realize that it's endless. From that moment I knew - I want to do that. Literally a month later the band I was in would split up. We were in high-school, it was hard to get people together, everyone just wanted to smoke weed and drink beer and not focus on making music. Which is something I wanted - to focus on music. I was dedicated from the start.

I worked a couple jobs back then which allowed me to buy a sampler, a synthesizer. And then I started to go to NYC every weekend - to religiously attend rave parties. Dancing a bit, zoning out on the music, listening and enjoying the intensity. We didn’t have internet back then, so I would take mental notes on what I was hearing, go home and instantly start producing ideas. Sometimes I got so I excited I tried to replicate as soon as possible. That’s how it started, then I bought turntables, records - a lot of white labels too, I never payed attention to who made what. I just listened and bought what I liked. I wasn’t really interested or didn’t know who made it and how, I just knew I want to listen to that.

Do you remember any artists or labels that were particularly influential to you?

One that stands out a lot is Rephlex Records - Bogdan Raczynski, Plaid, all the weird IDM bands. I love IDM - really intense, nerdily programmed music is some of my favourite stuff. Early Surgeon, Scorn, Regis, good techno - stuff that was dark and heavy, nerdy and intelligent. Those were things I had on constant rotation. I wanted to make something that is danceable but also weird - I never really cared if it fits in the DJ format.

My earlier stuff is a bit of a mess but it was me expressing myself naturally - how I felt. And with Headless Horseman I feel now like I felt then - I just have a little bit more knowledge than back then. It’s easier to grasp on an idea more quickly. I used to record long loops and all my tracks were a minute long, I had no idea where to go from there.

I recorded on cassette and I would go to techno parties in New York, Connecticut and around, always bringing them with me. Then I would find people I like - friends, DJs and ask yo, do you have a car? And they usually did as a lot of these parties were in the woods - so we would go and listen to the tapes in the car. Sometimes DJs would play my tapes in the parties off a Walkman or a tape recorder and mess with the speed control and in order to mix the tracks in.

So for you it has always been important that the music you create doesn’t stay locked up in a studio but is heard by people. To have the feedback loop.

HH - Yes, that has always been the case. I love to go to a club and hear one of my tracks being played by a DJ I don’t know. It’s nice to get recognition. And that is enough for me. When I put out my first record I felt like that’s it! I made it! I did something that exists in the world as a physical thing, something that has been heard by more than one person. That's already a special thing. Back then - since there was no internet, you had to go places and play stuff on the spot.

Right now you are playing a lot of shows. What do you take from being on the stage rather than producing in a studio?

HH -If there are too many shows I feel burned out from traveling and I want each show to be great. I like to go to the parties, be the first one to come and the last one to leave. Being a part of the community. Meeting people - the promoters, audience, fans is an important part of the process for me. I rarely show up and just play and go - then I do not feel any connection.

While on the stage - are you aware of the audience and how they react to the music? Does that impact the way you perform?

HH - Absolutely. That is another part of arriving early. To see how’s it going, what’s the feeling. Where am I going to drive this performance to? Will I start soft and beautiful in the beginning or will I go right into the beats? I like to do things in a lot of different ways. Always getting my own message out but also being versatile. I never go on the stage with a pre-made set and a mindset of this is what you get, take it or leave it.

What is your current setup for live shows?

HH - It varies from show to show but basically it’s Elektron Octatrack, a drum machine - Digitakt or Analog Ritm, sometimes Machine Drum, it’s a lot of Elektron stuff. It’s portable and powerful. I also use a modular system, a few effect pedals that vary too - a Boss Delay, Eventide Harmonizer, some of the TC Electronic pedals. It’s important that it’s compact because I do not want to check everything in while flying as it just gets lost or destroyed. It has got to be compact, reliable and powerful. I want to add more hands on stuff which is the idea of using Erica Synths instruments. A drum machine, a sampler and one synth is the bread and butter of techno. Now I want to add more of a controlled randomness to the setup which comes with the modular synths.

Do you have a favourite place to perform?

HH - This may sound cheesy but for me the best venues are where the sound is good, the promoters are nice and the audience want me there for my music rather than just being a checklist act - I try to avoid playing shows where you are wanted just because you have a name.

Do you like to play in Berlin?

HH - I do, yes. I always really enjoy playing Berghain, a lot friends are there and it’s local, the sound is nice and warm and I do like to hang out there too. Same goes for Tresor. Sadly Griessmuehle is closing down - I’ve had great parties there too.

What’s the story behind Inhabited Shadows? The impulses, inspirations, the intention?

HH - I always write a story. This album is the second part of the story which starts with the previous one, the one released in 2015. For the first album I wrote a short script that I want to make into a short film, it’s very Shakespearean. There are all of the classical emotions - love, hate, jealousy, defeat, death.

HH by Vaiva Hawkins 2.jpg

Vaiva Hawkins

Headless Horseman reads me a few excerpts out of his notebook that stores the original story behind the two albums.

Imagine a dying red rose dripping with condensation. It’s raining in a forest. There’s a fire and trees, an endless path and birds flying in formation. A picture perfect solitude. I resist the temptation to go into the arms of the black angel, I go towards the white angel. The rose petals fall to the ground and her white gown starts to drip with blood. She suffers and we lose her. The black angel smirks before vanishing into the darkness and I ride away.

The Horseman has struggled for all eternity to find sanctuary, a safe place in which to have a peace of mind and sanity. He never wanted to love as the fear of being hurt, for losing his counterpart would ruin his soul and damage his mentality until the end of existence. At one point in his journey he crosses path with angels - a dark one and light one, but he sees only the silhouettes of their bodies.

He could see the pale white, almost see through gown the light angel is wearing. It was obvious to the Horseman that she was angelic but she refused to recognize him. And he was scared of any other living creature. She slowly graced past his vision from a distance, down through a dirt path leading him in a deep and hollow forest. She then appeared on many occasions, each time getting closer and closer and with every occurrence the Horseman could see more of her. The Horseman continuously avoided her till one day she magically appeared in point black range and slowly and cautiously removed the gown to reveal her face…

It’s a lot of symbolism and I write the stuff just as it comes to mind. But those are issues I have in my personal life - not getting too close to people in the fear of getting hurt, maybe because of past relationships and the fear of losing someone as I lost my father.

Writing music just puts me in a headspace where I feel like I’m okay. It gives a moment of mindfulness. I imagine the forest and the path and I feel comfortable even though I am sitting here - in a studio in the city or a bus stop.

In my personal life I am always trying to find something that is better for me than what has been there in the past. Always trying to find the next best thing for yourself. But that doesn’t work - I’ve tried it out for so many years. Always trying to chase a dream and a fantasy that doesn’t really exist. So I let myself to just plant my feet in the ground and feel what’s there for me in the particular moment, one that will bring me to the next step. Trying to embrace the moments in which I feel good and accept that no one can ever predict when that next moment will be.

To stay connected with Headless Horseman head to his webpage

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Martin Gore