Interview with Helge T. Kautz
The Space Opera continues
The Collector's Edition of X Rebirth features the "X the Space Opera – Per Musica ad Albion" a space metal opera by Helge T. Kautz, who amongst many X-fans is well known for his creative work within the X games and for his novels about the X-Universe. Our interviewer, Boro Pi, spoke with Helge about how he came to the space metal music genre, about his band project voXager, and his work on his newest novel "Plutarch Rising".
Hello Helge, it is a pleasure having you for this interview.
Good evening, Boro. Anytime.
Let us talk about music first. As many X-Fans already know, you are not only a writer but also an enthusiastic musician and composer. Recently, your album "Beyond the Frontier" was released, which you recorded and produced together with the project voXager. VoXager, however, is not that well known among the X-Community. Can you tell us more about this project?
Sure, I founded the project voXager about seven years ago. Back then, my band had just been disbanded, but I wanted to continue to make music. I love guitars, analog synthesizer, and Science Fiction. All that I wanted to bring together in voXager.
In addition, right from the start you set yourself a very ambitious goal. "Beyond the Frontier" was to tell the story of your first novel "Farnhams Legend" with music. What was it that inspired you for this idea? Are there any paragons who have told the story of a Sci-Fi novel in that way?
I have always been toying with the idea of putting a story from the X-Universe into a song. For a long time I was, however, unable to find a good starting point or which music style would fit best. Eventually, I found out about the album "Space Metal" of the Dutch project "Star One", and I knew immediately that this is the style, and the direction I want to take. Another example was Jeff Wayne's "War Of The Worlds", an outstanding rock musical from the late 70s revolving around a sci-fi theme.
How would you describe the music of voXager?
A colourful, enjoyable voyage with pop, electronic and heavy metal music.
The subheading of "Beyond the Frontier" is "Per musica ad astra", which refers to a Latin phrase, in which the travel to the stars is tied to hardships. Has this also been the case for voXager's way to "Beyond the Frontier"?
You bet. In those six years, I have had to learn from scratch how you produce an album. Composing and recording was the smallest part of it, the technique of mixing the music, on the other hand, a big one. The lion's share, however, was the organisation of all who participated in all those years. I am sure the next voXager album will be a breeze in comparison.
So are there going to be other voXager albums?
That's a given, I'm raring to continue! The next album's theme also revolves around the X-Universe and is going to cover the story of a very particular character.
A Teladi maybe?
A human with blue hair.
Very mysterious, but let's get back to your first album. Some of the voXager pieces were released in the X Rebirth Collector's Edition on BluRay, accompanying a movie from Richard Portley with music. What do you think about this particular use of your music?
I like it a lot; I've probably watched it over ten times now. It also makes me very happy that the BluRay version is set up as 5.1 surround sound; you literally hear the space noises all around you.
The BluRay, however, only contains a limited selection of your songs. How can I get my hands on the entire album?
Via Russian Warez pages and torrents... haha... Well, I would prefer if people who want to listen to my music would use the official channels and buy it via iTunes
, Google Play
or the many other music portals. Or by buying the CD version, which I hope is going to be ready by mid February. Touch wood!
How large is the CD batch?
1,250 CDs are planned. Less wouldn't justify the production costs, since it is a very elaborately-produced Digipack with a booklet and two CDs.
Well then, let us talk about your next book: Plutarch Rising. The X Rebirth Collector's Edition contains a draft, which you can also download via paninicomics.de (only German). You told me before the interview that this was taken from an old draft. How much of it is still in the novel?
That's right, the text in this draft coincides in about 85% with the most recent version. Unfortunately, I had to replace the main characters. Originally, I had planned to introduce Ren and Yisha in the novel, but it turned out that my vision of their characters did not harmonise with the game's plot. This is why there are two completely new characters now, who in turn should come across as a lot more independent. The story itself remains the same.
So the novel and the game do not tell the same story?
Right. Since "Nopileos", my X novels have always been telling side-stories. The storyline of the game continues in the background, while the main characters of the books live through their own adventures. That is not going to change with "Plutarch Rising"... and I hope that this is what my readers expect from me.
I am convinced that this is the case. Is there something that you can/want to tell us about the story without too many spoilers?
A man, a woman, a Teladi, a Paranid, a devastated sector, a seemingly almighty organisation, super-intelligent and super-evil AGI, an acquaintance of old days, a conspiracy, mysterious happenings. An "Assurance of Reason". More?
Heh, I knew it! Very well then: separated from the former "Community of Planets", the sector "Albion", which only harbours one planet, develops its own, bleak civilisation, which is dominated by the PMC, the "Plutarch Mining Corporation", and "Albion Courage ", a paramilitary organisation. There are remains of the old authorities who are barely able to keep up the public order; an official and elected government, however, is non-existent. Most humans and aliens are unhappy with this state of affairs. A message from the Alliance of the Word, the only connection with the outside world, suggests that the opening of the jumpgates is imminent. In the light of this silver lining on the horizon, a group of people forms up to fight against the oppression of the PMC. However, only after some haulers vanish without a trace so triggering an official investigation, does the real resistance form against PMC.
Many readers probably pricked up their ears after reading about the Paranid. There is a Paranid in your novel. Borons, too?
I am truly sorry, Boro, but Borons will never, ever and absolutely certainly not appear in the story; but a Paranid yes, who is about to cocoon himself in sleep for the next decazuras.
Ok, that means that I do not have to go to the casting for the movie of the book. In the draft, we meet again with Hatrak (a character from the book "Nopileos"). Will we also meet other old friends in the new version?
That is very likely. But tell me, you recognized Hatrak? A shame! (Laughs.)
I could write entire series about her; she is definitely my favourite secondary character.
What comes after "Plutarch Rising"?
From old acquaintances on to something new. The book plays in the X-Universe; how was it for you as author to work in this radically different setting? Does it make the setting up of a plot easier or harder?
Harder, because the continuity is disrupted. After five books with a more or less steady development, a considerable break happens after "Guardians of the Earth". The jumpgates are closed; there is no interstellar travel anymore (for the time being), no government and fewer aliens. Everything feels tighter and overwhelming. That is definitely making the work more challenging.
Why don't you ask me what comes BEFORE "Plutarch Rising"...
What happens before "Plutarch Rising"?
Ah, nice, you gave me the perfect cue, as if you had known what I wanted to talk about. Not before the release of "Plutarch Rising" but before it on the timeline of the X-Universe there will be a successor to "Nopileos". I have the feeling that the story of "Nopileos" has never really been finished and I am dying to finish that.
And other people surely are dying to read that. "Nopileos 2" and before that (or rather after?) "Plutarch Rising"? It's now quarter past ten in the evening, are you going to write a couple more pages?
Not today, that's for sure; but definitely in the next days.
In this case, I wish you all the best. Thank you a lot for talking to me.
You are welcome; it was a pleasure. More Boron should conduct interviews. Good night.
If you are interested in voXager and would like to know more about it then visit Helge's thread in the X-Universe forum for some exclusive tracks introducing the space opera. Also you can visit the official voXager website for further news and updates in English.