by Thomas Bedward January 04, 2021
If 2020 taught us anything at all, it’s that this world is severely, perhaps irreparably broken. Torn apart by compulsion, subjugation, excessive social conformity, and soulless consumption, we’ve all be cast adrift and left for dust, and while most might be happy to lay still and let it all collapse around us, there are a few determined to revolt. One such force is MSHAA, a unique and divisive musical project who take inspiration from aesthetically controversial topics such as anti-Aestheticism, misanthropy, nihilism and the dark side of human personality.
A project that is widely considered to run against the grain for their anti-religious overtones, dark imagery and libertarian political views infused with their music, MSHAA and frontman Paul Cien Soulwhore have always stood firm in their artistic rebellion, sending a constant and driven message that it is important to be yourself, no matter what others think or say. Erratic, energetic, and completely irrepressible, MSHAA is one of the most unique and interesting forces in modern music, and after hearing their latest album ‘LOUDanum’, and learning that there’s another one the way, we couldn’t wait to sit down and find out more about them.
Great to get a chance to speak with you, your last album was arguably one of the most twisted highlights of a very strange year. How did it all come together? Where did you first start making music?
My first attempts at making music are dated to prehistoric times when I was a kid, but this project was created in 2011, and from the very beginning its tone was set to mock religious hypocrisy, that’s how the name was chosen – MSHAA – the abbreviation for “Mary should've had an abortion” or “Maybe some humans are aliens”. Mshaa also means Holy Mass in the Polish language.
This name pisses off many people till this day and this is what makes me happy. In Poland, devoted Christian institutions still have a powerful influence over the country. From not paying taxes to controlling the whole puppet government, from radicals to liberals. I respect someone's religious views if they are not imposed on others, but because of the situation in Poland, there is a need for someone like us.
Mshaa plays a huge role in this ecosystem, maybe their god created us to bring back the balance in this sick-devotional-denominational environment! Musically, the only person who understood my sound ideas in the very beginning times was David 13, before he left, we were under the inspiration of bands like Hate Dept., Nine Inch Nails Zeromancer, Orgy and all that American 90’s industrial rock era but with a little bit of rap. Since then, every new live member learns his parts from samples and compositions that I make on the computer with virtual synthesisers. It’s very flattering that many people think we record live drums, especially for the album ‘The Product’, but everything was always produced on my laptop.
Our live drummer - cEndy man - can be even faster than a beat machine, but that may be because he eats a lot of cabbage and inhales strange chemicals. Live members during concerts give more energy, but to hang out with us or even play everyone needs to pass a test, a survival test of 30 days drug-nun-orgy amalgamated with the blood sacrifice of a politician.
No, I’m just joking!
There’s a lot going on in ‘LOUDanum’, from dark industrial sounds to more synth-driven highlights. How would you describe your sound to those not yet acquainted with MSHAA?
Psycho-turpistic-industrial-metal-cemetery-death-(T)rap,[or] a private soundtrack to auto-destruction.
You mentioned before that American 90’s industrial rock helped shape your sound, but what influences most define your music?
I absorb many things from many genres, from industrial metal to hip-hop, but not only that. I'm inspired by poets, writers and other artists who were not afraid to be themselves and say what they wanted, mostly in the times they were oppressed. Even now religion, media and government try to portrait being rebellious as something bad, because they want to shape the society to become nothing more than a brainless crowd, who always agree with imposed narratives - which is safe for those in power.
Politicians are afraid of free thinkers and this is why art with a message was always dangerous for regimes, nevertheless "pen is mightier than a sword". Polish government helps priests cover their paedophilia scandals and in exchange priests tell their "sheep" who to vote for. Lately, we have witnessed a huge scandal on the anniversary of famous polish religious-radio-television ‘Radio Maryja’ (Radio Mary), where the host and the owner himself - Tadeusz Rydzyk – glorified raping of children by priests, calling it a simple "temptation" and he was applauded by Polish minster of Justice - Ziobro, who's an obligatory guest like the rest of the main conservative politicians.
If it were up to me, all those people should have their genitals cut off.
Poland is a confessional state - even at school when they teach religion, they teach only one religion. When the country buys military equipment or opens a municipal venue there's always a priest who sprinkles holy water, believing that those "spells" guarantee prosperity and luck, but simultaneously they have no respect for pagan symbols or deities, which is a powerful hypocrisy. Same with coronavirus restrictions, priests and politicians don’t apply to those regulations and think they are superior to ordinary people.
As an anticlerical and art-activist I wrote a lot of lyrics considered to be iconoclastic, seditious and profane, so let's say the current situation in Poland or in the world is my huge inspiration. I don’t make music only for fun, I want to sow “the seeds of revolution”. It's like fuel to our fans - smart individuals who understand the pain, depression and sense of alienation caused by being an independent spirit. Anything that gives you the energy to deal with everyday struggle can be powerfully inspirational or motivating not only for overcoming personal issues but also for creating art. The urge for rebelliousness is the only thing that can save this world from modern slavery and conformist "fascism of beauty" when it is easier to “consume” and repeat the habits of stupid masses than wonder about something deeper than trivial material things that our rulers want us to focus on.
You’ve famously said that “anti-Aestheticism, the dark side of human personality, horror, and ugliness are the philosophies” behind MSHAA. How have they shaped your new album?
The upcoming album ‘WORMWOOD’ is something I never did before. Half of the beats are composed and recorded by me, and the other half by different producers, offering a completely new perspective on sound and a fresh way to experiment with vocals (that often change from rapping parts to metal growls.)
Anti-Aestheticism is also present – because this is the way to reject the role of beauty in art, presenting it as a distraction from the truth and more serious issues. Anti-Aesthetic artists share a common disdain for the idea that art has an obligation to be visually pleasing in order to be appreciated.
Stanislaw Grochowiak (a Polish poet) said, “I prefer ugliness. It's closer to the bloodstream. "
In the past, you’ve had a lot of people trying to censor your songs and cancel your shows. How has this push back affected your creative process? Did that opposition factor into the new album in any way?
The more I piss off the people, the better. You can force someone to think and question everything only by being provocative and shocking. Sometimes you even need to jolt someone out of a stupor to force a reaction because people are dumbed down by the distractions of social media and news.
Big media news and propaganda corporations want everyone to be more focused on the new plastic surgery of Kardashians than on what politicians and banks do with our money. If we ever lose critical thinking and artistical independency, we will be doomed and fucked as humans. Additionally, the situations I struggled with only encouraged me to be even less politically correct in lyrics. Mostly I express it in the new song ‘Mam Dosc’ (I've had enough) which was instrumentally produced by the artist named Yung Vro.
Infamously, frontman Paul was prosecuted after a concert where he slit the throat of a plastic sex doll who had the face of a former Polish Prime Minister. Can you tell us a bit about that incident, and can we expect any similar theatrics with the new album?
Our whole crew had to give statements to the prosecutor in Warsaw after that happened. From the manager, drummer and groupies through to dealers, but no one got arrested. I was ready to fight for artistic freedom in court and become the new icon, unfortunately, there were no charges against us.
The cool fact is that the Polish Internet and press gave us a little boost of popularity, what was our intention from the very beginning, but not everyone took it that easy. Our ex-guitar player Michal S. aka Karmel was so terrified that his parents might see him on the news (he was around 30 that time) that he left the band. And I’m not speculating about anything, but the prosecutor had our addresses and phone numbers shortly after hearing our ex-guitarist Michal S. aka Karmel, so you know - if you play with us you need to have a rebellious spirit because cowards fall off first. Rapcore or industrial metal is not for limp dicks.
As for the theatrics of the new album... Well, I wish to kill some politicians for real now. I’m gonna target left and right-wingers because for me they are the same. No, I’m joking!
Thanks very much for speaking with us, we can’t wait to see what ‘Wormwood’ has in store for us!
Set for release next year, all eyes are fixed on MSHAA and the upcoming ‘Wormwood’, and so far, they haven’t disappointed, lashing out with new single ‘I Can’t Breathe’, which sees MSHAA embracing a far more aggressive, rapcore style than on the current record. You can stream it below via Spotify.
Plus, you can read all about the band’s latest album ‘LOUDanum’ in our official review where we called it “one of his decade’s most disturbed and intoxicating records”, and said, “not for the faint of heart or casual listener, ‘LOUDanum’ is a dark psychotic trip that keeps on rolling”.
Be sure to also keep an eye on MSHAA’s social media pages and website below for the release of upcoming album ‘Wormwood’, which is set to arrive in 2021.
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