Sacerdos Vigilia: audio intrigues me!

Sacerdos vigilia appears to be a new name on the scene, but we can assure you we’re dealing with a veteran in audio mutilation. And a distortion lover at that! He recently dropped his first album on the third movement, deemed by many a surge in industrial hardcore. About time we check in with Dennis, to see how much distortion actually matters.

Sacerdos portrait
Sacerdos Vigilia

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m just a 40 years old nerd that happens to like distortion a lot. In my daily life I work as a technical application manager. Music fascinates me. There are so many ways to create it. I use Cubase as my main DAW. But I love to work with VCV Rack too. It’s such a different approach! Hardware is really my thing as well. My home is full with it, literally up to under my bed. There are synths, drumcomputers, mixers, all kinds of FX units and of course my modular. I have a Eurorack and since this year also a case with AE modular. This is a really cheap but very awesome format with tiny patch wires rather than cables. I regularly re-arrange my set-ups for more creative impulses. For DJ’ing I have a Denon DJ Prime 4. It is easily he most advanced dj console available and Denon keeps adding features for free. I also still have a pair of Technics SL-1200LTD’s and a load of vinyl. Nowadays I do also mixing and mastering for some producers and labels.

Sacerdos Vigilia at work
Sacerdos Vigilia behind the decks

Where does your artist’s name come from?

Vigilia means nightwatch and it refers to the fact that I’m always making music deep in the night. Back in the day I performed on gigs with my buddy Theo. He is Vecordia, which means insanity.

How did you end up at TTM?

I’ve been following TTM from the beginning. I was a big fan right away of the earlier industrial releases from artists like Rude Awakening, Void Settler, Armageddon Project and Peaky Pounder. Around that time I was already producing but never considered it good enough to release. At some point Ophidian heard some of my tracks which he actually liked, so I sent a demo for Meta4 Recordings. I’ve now done 4 releases on it, including my first album The Art of the Meta4. My second album was Lurid Lullabies on Traumatic, where I also did multiple releases on. I did a vinyl on Industrial Propaganda too, as well as digital releases on Dark.Descent., Karnage, Industrial Strength and Hard Electronic. At some point, Igneon System posted my track About Clipping on his Facebook page. We got in touch and eventually I did the release Ritual Oak Databank on Heresy Disciples. I’ve spoken with Promo before on parties. When The Alternative started a year ago, they asked me to join and obviously, I gladly said yes! I’m very grateful that I joined TTM and hope to release a lot of music on it.

Tell us something about the album ‘Distortion Matters’

It was very much an evolving project. At first there was this idea to submit some tracks for Heresy. At some point we agreed to make it a mini album. Around a year ago, Sebastian proposed to actually make it a full album for The Third Movement. I liked the idea and now it’s finally here. I worked about 2 years on it. The theme is obvious enough, I think 🙂 There are a lot of intentional imperfections because I was mostly searching for a less clean sound. Masterbus Massacre has binaural parts in it btw, I recommend to listen to this track with headphones. The artwork is done again by Bo from URRU design. She also did the artwork of my album on Meta4 Recordings and I liked it a lot. So I asked her to do it for this album as well, and I’m again really impressed of what she created! A lot of elements from the artwork are actually from photo’s of my own gear.

Cover Distortion Matters

Does distortion matter?

Does a frog come down when he jumps up?

You single handedly created the longest title of a track in like, ever. How did Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung come about?

Well, the initiative for this title actually comes very much from Embrionyc. I chat with him on an almost daily base about music. He just wants to discover everything and he’s easily the most genius producer I’ve ever known. We often do just weird stuff with audio, like weird and interesting challenges like making a track of only 1 sample or VST instrument or something. We often do crazy stuff with each other’s voicemessages too. At some point Enrico sent me the word Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung and asked me to pronounce it. I sent him some voicemessages and he started messing around with them. Just for fun, as usual. It actually sounded pretty funny, so I made some more sounds that I sent to him. Some percussion is made with a beer can by the way. I also asked a German girlfriend to pronounce Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung and we put those vocals in the track too. It actually turned out to fit the track really well. As Enrico and I
already made the track Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz a few years ago, at this point Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung seemed just a logical sequel to it. I started post processing it and improve the audio a bit where possible, because there were a lot of flaws in it. As it was never intended to become a serious track, we didn’t exactly consider important best practices in audio engineering. Enrico’s internet connection is extremely slow and we sent the audio back and forth as mp3 a lot of times. We also even didn’t use any eq until this point. It pretty much sounded like it was played from a well. Luckily the audio could be improved to a point where it doesn’t sound too bad anymore.

Lots of collabs on there; what’s your stance on collabs on general? And how does your workflow look when it comes to collabs.

It is very interesting to work with fellow producers. Often it leads to results that one of the two would never think of. The way of working is totally different every time which makes it even more interesting.

I asked Kilbourne to send me half a track and I would finish it. I find this concept interesting, because there are so many ways to interpret ‘half a track’. It could be the first half of a finished song, but also half the tracks of it in full length, or a foundation where the other can build further upon. The result is the track Slam, and I believe both our styles merged very well together. Then there is Sonic Asylum. I once sent Nanostorm a foundation of a techno’ish track and he just went ahead and added a lot of cool and atmospheric stuff. Then he came over to work on it further together. We made a patch on my modular, recorded some audio of it and put it in the track. The track almost seemed to write itself at that point. Our styles really blended well together.

Signing albums
Signing the album

Like discussed above, Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung with Embrionyc aka Alt-F4 was just a joke really. I do like the end result and I’m very glad to have it on the album. The Relic and I know each other for quite some years now and I really wanted Maurice to be part of the album as well. I first sent him some unfinished snippets of mine. He used parts from this, and he added a bunch of other sounds and percussion. He sent it back as separate audio parts, I tweaked it a bit further while he kept giving me feedback about it. We repeated this a few times and at some point, Technosapien was born. Rude Awakening visited me before to make our first collab Red Led Redemption, which was
on my first album in 2020. Obviously I was very excited to hear he was into another collab for my new album. That Tone is a story about nasty sounds. The endbit in this track is actually him saying “how much noise can I make? How much can I turn it into the red where people are really not digging it anymore?” in an interview, describing the Rude Awakening project. This quote perfectly describes the album too!

Penumbra with Strange Arrival was fun to work on as well. It once started with Thomas coming by with a contact microphone. We sampled a music box with it and processed it in many ways. Then the Cubase project was collecting dust for a while. At some point I just picked it up again and added more elements. I sent it to Thomas and he liked it. He came by again to tweak on it further and well, after a few years it was finally done. I asked Daniela Haverbeck to remix my track The Industrial Noise Situation and she said
yes right away. We’ve met for the first time on a party last year and had a click from the first moment. And she creates just really insane schranz and industrial! This remix is no exception, I can see it destroy some dancefloors for sure. I’m very proud to have her on my album and we are actually working on more stuff together as well. The original track is actually not released yet. It will be on Heresy so keep an eye on that. Finally, there is Embrionyc’s remix of the album’s title track. What can I say? He basically took
my track Distortion Matters and mangled it a lot further. It really is a bunch of distortion with a topping of clipping. No single waveform was left unclipped in this remix. He would describe it himself as operating on the boundaries of noise, which makes sense. Well, ok. Maybe this one is quite across the boundaries.

How important is audio design to you?

The science behind audio intrigues me a lot. There are so many myths in audio that can easily be debunked when you approach things scientifically. For instance, there are no sonic differences between a cheap cable or an “audiophile grade” one. A power conditioner doesn’t provide a better soundstage, better dynamic range or “more separation between the instruments”. Loudspeaker isolation products have been proven to provide next to no sonic improvement in a speaker’s performance. Yet people swear by it. Often, those things can be traced back to observation bias and placebo. I highly recommend Ethan Winer’s book “The Audio Expert (Second Edition)”, and actually every article that Ethan ever wrote. I’ve learned a lot from him, not in the last place about acoustics by the way. This is often a heavily underestimated subject and shouldn’t be considered an after thought when full-range audio is a priority. Often I see people swapping loudspeakers or buying expensive converters to improve their sound, while where they would really benefit from is adding basstraps. Just hanging some cheap foam on the wall and calling it a day is not the best way for more resolution. The spectrum below the Schroeder frequency should always be addressed first, this is where the room modes dominate.

Live set up Sacerdos Vigilia

Humor seems to play a big part in your work. How so?

Humor is a good way to put things in perspective. If you take things seriously, it makes sense to just have some fun at times too. I have noticed that having a less serious approach can enhance creativity insome situations. It makes you think out of the box more. “It took me four years to clip like Raphael, but a lifetime to clip like a child”, said Pablo Clipaso. And I agree. It can always lead to something useful. Aufmerksamkeitsdefizithyperaktivitätsstörung is obviously an example of something that started just for fun.

You’ve been around for a while. How do productions stack up against those of – let’s say – 10 years ago?

That’s a good question. I think I refined my workflow at some points and of course embraced more nowadays technologies.

What’s a typical Sacerdos track?

One with an insane dosage of distortion and a topping of clipping, usually.

What else do you listen to?

To my mother.

Favorite hardcore tracks ever?

Ophidian – Pegasus

Armageddon Project – Spawn of Misanthropy

Catscan – Demonic Speed

But ask me tomorrow though and it is likely a very different list.

You’re popping up on a few line-ups here and there, and live no less. Is this a focus of yours?

Beside producing music, performing is something that I really enjoy. Usually I do dj sets. Doing livesets is a very different approach and also very nice to do. I did it a few times on private parties and it was really fun to do. So, I thought it might be nice to do a liveset on Club r_AW. I asked Dirk (Nanostorm) if he wanted do one together and he liked the idea. I try to make it as live as possible. I’ve loaded tracks and samples from songs of my album in my stone-aged but still amazing Yamaha RS7000, and sliced them (this takes a very long time on this machine). I also involve my modular for mostly drumloops, effects and risers. I also use a laptop with VCV Rack, connected to a Behringer BCR2000 for hands-on control.

How is hardcore as a genre evolving?

That’s difficult to predict. The role of technology in creating art will grow even further over the next decade. It will probably completely change the way we’re consuming music. Ask me again in 10 years. You’ll probably get the same answer by the way.

Any last words?

Yes, that’s pretty much unavoidable. We’d have to remove the entire interview to reach a point where there wouldn’t be any last words anymore. Thanks for this interview!

Distortion Matters on Spotify:

Check here for Distortion matters on all digital platforms and here for the CD. There is also a limited edition T-shirt available.