Door Xavier Kruth

14 maart 2024
We never insisted on being an all-female band.

On Saturday, March 23, we will hold a Dark Entries Night with the Dutch-speaking night orchestra De Delvers, and with the German post-punk group Tvashtar. The latter are probably still unknown to most of you, and so we thought it would be good to listen to singer and bassist Sabine.

First of all, tell me how you came to form Tvashtar. How did you meet and how did you decide to make music together?

Juliane and I have been friends for quite some time. We consider ourselves “late bloomers”, learning our instruments at a point when we already had jobs and families. We met up with Daniela Goll, our first drummer, and played cover versions of songs we liked. It was mostly art punk and indie rock like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio.

We were annoyed that we couldn’t rent a rehearsal room for more than a couple of hours, so we decided to get one of our own. I think that was the point when we thought that it was about time to try and make our own music. Just like that! To our own surprise we were very soft and slow at the beginning. ‘Drop my Gaze’ was one of our first songs.

If I understand it well, Tvashtar is known as the vedic artisan god in Hinduism. Why did you choose this name for your project?

Funnily enough we only learned about the origin of the name after we chose it. We were thinking of Tvashtar, the volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io. We liked the idea of a massive eruption in outer space in complete silence. That’s why our demo tape is called ‘io’, by the way.

Tvashtar comes from Hamburg, the same town that saw the birth of Xmal Deutschland in the eighties, a band that is famous for its post-punk music. Is there something special about Hamburg that this form of music gets created there?

Honestly I have absolutely no idea if Hamburg is a special place for post-punk. I believe that post-punk music in all its facets is becoming more popular at the moment. A lot of stuff sounds like the eighties, but there are also some new approaches. I personally think that there is amazing new music coming from France, Britain and yes, Belgium! Like Structures, Glitch, Ghum, Dry Cleaning and Whispering Sons.

Tvashtar is an all-girls band. I once interviewed Bettina Köster from Malaria!, and she explained to me that they thought it was an important aspect, as male musicians always wanted to sound too loud during rehearsals, but also because women had another feeling for rhythm. Is it important for you to be an all-girls band, and if so, what are the reasons?

Oh, we never insisted on being an all-female band! At one point we had an additional male guitarist – Marco Argento, who is also on the recording of ‘Drop my Gaze’ – and I think Juliane’s sound is way harder than his! In fact we have a male drummer since last summer: Martin Engelbach. There might be some truth in what Bettina Köster said about the different feeling for rhythm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all women groove with each other. The Slits and The Raincoats said something similar but then The Slits also had Budgie on drums, right? The main thing is commitment I think … and lots of humour! Our songs are sad enough.

You will play in the Kinky Star in Ghent on February 23 with the Flemish band De Delvers. De Delvers sing in their own mother tongue Dutch. There is some discussion going on between bands who choose to sing in their mother tongue and bands who choose to sing in English. How do you look at this distinction?

I would not hesitate to write a song in German if the right lyrics came to my mind. I get a lot of inspiration from books. The novels I read are mostly written in English, I play around with some expressions and phrases and develop them further. So I am already brainstorming in that language. On the other hand when I start with a bass riff for instance and try to find a vocal line I sometimes just sing gibberish and that is – at least in my case – usually closer to English. That’s how the chant in ‘Batty’ originated for example.

The first release from Tvashtar dates from 2018. It was a single song: ‘Drop My Gaze’. It is an enchanting song. Am I mistaken if I say that there was some long period of silence after that? What was the reason you only released this song in the period from 2018 until 2021?

No, you are absolutely right. There was a long time of silence. An inconsistent line up and life in general prevented us from being an efficient band. Juliane gave birth to her daughter Caro, which of course is wonderful. Sabine Zöllner – the singer and guitarist of the Hamburg punk band Bullshit Boy – joined us on drums at the end of 2019. That was like a breath of fresh air and changed our sound a lot. We began to play more forcefully.

You released your first ep ‘io’ in 2021, so in the middle of the pandemic with its lockdowns and limitations of concerts. Did you have the feeling that the pandemic has hindered you in your progress as a band?

As I said, Sabine Zöllner joined us in December 2019 and soon after came Covid and several lockdowns as everybody knows. But we were super excited and keen on making music together and creating our sound, so we didn’t mind the restrictions at all. At times we met in sets of two in the rehearsal room and then recorded our 5 song EP all by ourselves. We only had one gig that year, which was in open air, but otherwise it was a very productive time despite the odds.

2023 saw two new releases by Tvashtar: the single digital song ‘Raw’, and the double single on vinyl ‘Dear Sappho/Batty’. How do you look back at these releases and the response of the public?

We had some good reviews though we did not promote the releases as much as we probably should have. We are not on Spotify or any other platform apart from Bandcamp. We pressed a rather small batch of 7” singles and saw that our audience is really into physical products. Vinyl but also cassette tapes.

What are your plans for the future?

As we were often asked when there will be an album, I think we should start to put some money aside. But mostly we want to play live!

Tvashtar: website / bandcamp / Facebook

Dark Entries Night with Tvashtar and De Delvers, Saturday March 23, Kinky Star, Ghent

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Over Xavier Kruth

Xavier Kruth bekeerde zich al op jonge leeftijd tot het gothicdom. Toen hij begon te puberen, moest hij lang zagen om een zwarte broek te mogen hebben. Toen hij tegenover zijn moeder argumenteerde dat hij gewoon om een zwarte broek vroeg, niet om zijn haar omhoog te doen in alle richtingen, repliceerde ze dat als hij nu een zwarte broek zou krijgen, hij daarna toch zijn haar torenhoog omhoog zou doen. Xavier was versteld over de telepathische vermogens van zijn moeder. Hij leerde destijds ook gitaar spelen, en sinds 2006 speelt hij in donkere kroegen met zijn melancholische kleinkunstliedjes in verschillende talen. In 2011 vervoegde Xavier het team van Dark Entries. In Dark Entries las hij ook dat The Marchesa Casati (gothic rock) een gitarist zocht, en zo kon hij een paar keer met de groep optreden. Later speelde hij bij Kinderen van Moeder Aarde (sjamanische folk) en werkte samen met Gert (kleinpunk). En het belangrijkste van al: in 2020 bracht hij samen met Dark Entries-collega Gerry Croon de plaat ‘Puin van dromen’ uit onder de naam Winterstille.

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