Hello, how are you doing?

We’re both doing fine, thank you.

Could you provide a brief history of 1774? How would you describe your music?

We had the idea of creating a dark ambient project but didn’t really have a concept to work with, until the 19th of August 2008. We ended up creating music we usually refer to as dark ambient, inspired on a book by Goethe. We started out as a ‘concept band’, concentrating on that book, but we recently decided we’ll probably go to concept albums, one album per book. So subject, sound and imagery (and probably language as well) will shift in the future.

The music is hard to describe. Our initial plan was to create minimalistic dark ambient, but already during the writing of our first track, we knew that it would not bring us anywhere near our target. We ended up composing pretty complicated soundscapes with classical melodies on piano’s, violins etc. and a slow, ominous beat now and then. But, depending on one’s definition, ‘dark ambient’ is the best label.

What is the purpose of 1774 and how does its sound reflect your life, your thoughts… etc? 

The purpose of 1774 was, initially, to try to translate certain elements and story lines from the book “The Sorrows of Young Werther” from written words to music. Each song tells its own, developing story or symbolizes an event from the book. We’ve put a lot of time in deciding what instruments/sounds, song construction etc. would suit a specific subject best, so that the music itself reflects the book as much as possible and at times directly refers to it. Simply saying ‘the book is depressing, so the music should sound depressing’ was not an option.

The sound reflects us by revealing how we experience and feel the emotions that are described in the book, and to what states of mind they (can) lead us. We try to reflect the book, not ourselves, and the only personal element here is how we do that.

Why was the name “1774” chosen?

The name 1774 refers to the year in which Goethe’s work was published for the first time.

This band originally began after reading “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe. Why was this book the catalyst to 1774?

We both like to build our bands/projects around one, well-defined concept and work that out thoroughly. This book was, to us, a perfect subject for our (dark) ambient plans since it contains so much emotion and atmosphere in an enthralling story, told in a very captivating way. The archaic writing and the century in which it takes place also make this a book that stirs the mind immensely. It was actually one of the first best-sellers in the world and resulted in a wave of young men who took their own lives the way Werther does at the end of the book.

Inspiration can be a vague idea, but what are some other sources that currently act as a muse for you?

Other sources that act as a muse are just personal feelings, things we go through, but as was said earlier, they don't end up directly in the music itself.

Along with Goethe, what are some other authors that intrigue you?

H. Sr.: Many philosophers and literary authors, from a personal point of view, but in regards to 1774 we seek for intense emotion, preferably negative emotion, with a meaning and/or story behind it. Existentialistic, cynical works could also be found suitable. Examples could be, respectively, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque or “Notes from the Underground” by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

As.: I am, at the moment, especially into Polish philosophers, for example Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski, or the thoughts on human nature (“Dumania Pesymisty”) from Aleksandr Świętochowski.

What are your plans concerning album releases?

Well, we’re nearing the completion of our first album, which we do want to release in a qualitative way in CD format. We hope we’ll be able to do this properly and then move on to future releases concerning other books.

You used a poem written by Weltschmerz of Forgotten. How did you come into contact with the band and why did you choose these lyrics to use? If the lyrics were to be in your primary language of Dutch, instead German, how do you feel that would change the atmosphere of the songs?

H. Sr.: I came across the MySpace profile of Weltschmerz while I was browsing and was enthralled by his writing. I sent him a message and we now exchange thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. I suggested we, with 1774, might be able to compose a song in our usual style, as a musical interpretation of one of his poems entitled “The Narrow Stairs”. He would do the same thing, but then in the usual black metal style of his band Forgotten. The only problem is, for 1774, that his poem has got nothing to do with “The Sorrows…” We are thinking of adding it as a bonus track to a future release. 

Other than that exception, we don’t have any poems accompanying our songs. The book is our poem and any writings of our own would interfere with the idea of interpreting the book in a musical way.

As.: If we had any lyrics, they would be in German, like you said. We have done this with the song titles, and if either the titles or lyrics would have been in Dutch, this would loosen the connection with the original language and origin of the book.

Have you listened to any other bands that play in the same vein as 1774?

H. Sr.: Not much, musically speaking. We were familiar with a few regular ambient artists outside the metal scene and the usual black metal bands that incorporate dark ambient here and there, but that’s about it. I believe neither of us has come across anything so far that can be compared to us.

As.: Perhaps Kreuzweg Ost could be mentioned in some respects, but that still isn’t a band I often listen to.

How do you view religion in general?

H. Sr.: Tricky question. The definition of ‘religion’ is so vague, practically any (personal) view can be seen as religious; since there is no checklist of what is necessary for a system/view to be a religion. Any system with standard ‘rituals’ and writings can be seen as religion, including science, believing in Santa Claus or any given philosophical system. It is impossible to formulate an objective argument against someone who claims that his belief in Santa Claus is as important to him as God to a Christian. The only reason that Christianity, for example, is called a religion and something like astrology isn’t, is merely historical coincidence. 

From that point of view, every single human being is religious. Obviously, having anything against that concept is infinitely hypocritical. Though there are ways of being religious or religions that are often endorsed, that I do have something against. 

As.: My view on religion is somewhat similar to H. Sr.’s view. When it comes to the major monotheistic religions I can say I strongly dislike those overall, although I have read in the Bible out of curiosity. Polytheism has, in my opinion, more interesting religions, and I have read a lot on ancient Greek and Norse myths, for example.

When the term religion is interpreted more broadly, the way H. Sr. usually does, I agree it is idiotic to be fully against the principle of religion.

What is the music scene like where you live?

H. Sr.: Alive and kicking. Both regionally and nationally there are more gigs, fests, fairs and events than I could possibly visit, so I’ve got nothing to complain about. Most genres and styles are represented and entrance prices are usually low/acceptable.

As.: Apart from black and death metal etc., I also enjoy going to raves. There are plenty of them throughout the year in Utrecht (where we both live, by the way), both legal and illegal. To me, there’s a great music scene.

In what type of setting is playing your music most suited for?

As.: Preferably after dark, lights out and let yourself drift away in the world of Werther.

H. Sr.: Agreed, provided that you’re in the right mood. And know the book, haha. But I would reckon that most people haven’t (yet) read the book, but it still is great music to drown yourself in your thoughts and contemplate. It would be great if people would experience our music and “The Sorrows…” at the same time.  

Thanks for the interview… Are there any other words you would like to leave with Tanin’iver?

As.: Thank you for carrying an interest in us. Appreciated.

H. Sr.: Indeed. To those who read this; hear our music, read the book, enrich yourself.

---------- Interview by Suiisolation