Duncan Ritchie (FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS): «I’m inspired by the dark thoughts that run through people’s minds»

Flowers for Bodysnatchers
Flowers for Bodysnatchers

— Names of both your musical projects – FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS and THE ROSENSHOUL – are quite enigmatic. Can you tell us a bit about their origin?

— THE ROSENSHOUL was formed back in 2002 by myself and good friend Shiro Takehiko. The Rosenshoul roughly translates to Rose Water or Blood Water. It’s a made up word but it does conjure up images of red water.

FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS is an amalgam of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and a RADIOHEAD song title. I was listening to a lot of RADIOHEAD at the time and clearly, the film rubbed off on me also.

— The names of the albums also seem to have a serious thought background: on your site, there is some explanation as to «Fall the Night», «Aokigahara» and other album titles. Would it be fair to say that you’re inspired by the dark and frightening things?

— I’m inspired by the dark thoughts that run through people’s minds. The feelings of loneliness and guilt. People can go to very dark places in their mind. We all think things that would shock others.

— How do mass media and critics describe your music? Do you agree with them?

— The majority of critics are very positive about my work. There is, of course, a few haters but, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Critics seem to universally agree though that I’ve managed to find the perfect balance between Neoclassical and Dark Ambient.

— Have you ever been criticized for exploring the topics like suicide?

— No. In this genre, there seem to be no taboo subjects. I guess it wouldn’t be Dark Ambient if you didn’t explore the darker subject matters.

— How did you come to ambient music? What was before that? What do you think, might be the next step?

— I’ve always been musically inclined since I was a kid. We had a piano at home and I use to sing in a band when I was younger. Over time I slowly found myself being drawn to ambient music. Listening to the likes of Brian Eno and others. As for the future, I’m currently working on finishing up a new album from THE ROSENSHOUL and have begun looking into starting work on a new full-length FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS album.

— Who can you call a musician close to you, someone who works on the same field and topics, someone you’d like to have collaboration with? Is there such a thing as competition between dark ambient artists?

— I have been collaborating with English poet Nathan Hassall to incorporate spoken would into my work. But only time will tell with that idea. I’d work with almost anyone on the Cryo Chamber Label. Four of us worked on the Locus Arcadia album and, almost everyone worked on Nyarlathotep.

— Speaking of collaborations, can you tell us a bit about those you’ve already had? Which were your favourite?

— Locus Arcadia was fun and it was a good experience working with others on the label. It was great opportunity to become immersed in the world of Sci-fi Horror we’d created. And the guys personally are hysterically funny!

— In many of your compositions a piano can be heard. Why have you chosen that instrument? Do you plan to add some other?

— Piano and cello feature prominently in many tracks of mine. The piano has so much character. You can paint such a vivid emotive picture with it and it balances so well with field recording and synth work. And I’m looking at adding more string instruments like viola and violin into the work.

— You listed Ryuichi Sakamoto among those who influenced you. Which of his albums are the most important to you and why?

— I couldn’t really pick an album of his as a favourite. He’s always been there since I was younger and his music over the years has been of great influence. For those unfamiliar with his work, The Revenant soundtrack is a great place to start.

— Do you think of yourself as a musician – or a photographer? Or there is some other professional identity?

— More a musician. Photography is something I do on the side as a break from the music. But both are equally enjoyable.

— What are your plans for the nearest future? What are you working on right now?

— Finishing up an album from THE ROSENSHOUL with Shiro Takehiko at the moment. It’s been in the works for almost two years now. So hopefully something soon from us there.

— Have you ever considered teaching music production, composition? Would you like to try?

— It’s something I’ve never really thought about. I honestly don’t know where I’d find the time to do it. There’s not enough time in the day as it is!