About NSK NY US NSK State Passport Registry NSK NY Events NSK NY Media & Archives NSK NY on Facebook
NSK State Reserve Bank of New York NSKNY Representatives
Laibach Interview - 1994

Conducted via telephone by Ken Holewczynski (November, 1994) with Ivan Novak and published in Arc Magazine in February of 1995,

Ken/Arc Magazine: What events led up to the decision by Laibach to create the NSK State and the offering of NSK citizenship around the world?

Ivan: Well, NSK was, well, I'm not sure how familiar you are with NSK, but in 1990, after the breakup of Eastern Europe and of Yugoslavia, we decided to that we should form our own state as well because we do not feel comfortable within any other existing system - any territorial shell that is based on national principles. And although we were working only here in Slovenia, that didn't actually mean we belonged to the state of Slovenia, or the state of whatever. So we decided that we were going to form the NSK State, which was going to be based on the principles of no borders, no nationality and so on.

Ken/Arc Magazine: What does Laibach hope to accomplish with the NSK State?

Ivan: Well, you have to treat it as a sort-of living social structure and we basically have certain systems built up, which is actually helping us promote ourselves with a different point of view than we previously would have done otherwise. That we would be forced to do otherwise. Everyone can go around and, whatever - Laibach, the group from Slovenia, Irwin, the group from Slovenia. If we have a certain, let's say, clear, certain ideas about the relation of art to theology, then we have to invent a system where we are going to feel fine ourselves, a system we believe can offer the people an alternative, yes?

Ken/Arc Magazine: I see.

Ivan: I mean, people having the passports, traveling with them and so on, actually using it - the validity of the passports pretty much depends on every single person who owns one. And, some people are heavily using them. We gave them to a group from Bosnia, and from other places around the world and some have been able to actually use them. If you have about four to five thousand people who actually belong to a certain state, then you create yourself.

Ken/Arc Magazine: This is very interesting. Does citizenship in the NSK State interfere at all with someone's citizenship with another country?

Ivan: It is a personal decision. If someone wants to keep two citizenships, it's really up to him. Obviously, as long as the NSK State is not going to offer the same, how you say, safety as the other citizenship, then I believe most people will keep their other citizenship. The NSK State is offering an adventure, and your second state is offering you security.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Your past energies were devoted to the creation of an independent Slovene nation. As your work has been deeply rooted in Slovene culture, how will that apply to the NSK State?

Ivan: Well, that is one interesting fact. It is true that we were connected with the riots of the Slovenia state, the Slovenian nation. And that we were maybe among the loudest ones who were bringing the change, whatever. But, the fact is that on the other side, we were pretty much well treated here, anyway. We were dealing with the Slovenian market, but not really just the Slovenian markets, that is pretty much a misunderstanding, but the markets used all over the world, except that it was specialized in Slovenia, because it did not exist at that time. It was a utopian state. And now it (Slovenia) has become a realistic state. We do not feel that we are in the realistic state. We only feel comfortable in the utopian states that we can create ourselves.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Will the emphasis on cultural heritage still be there and if it does, how will the different cultures fit into Laibach and the NSK State?

Ivan: The NSK State will fit in everywhere as a kind of paradox, a virus, another identity. The cultural heritage is not an issue at all. If you are an Eskimo, or you are from South Africa, South America, somewhere, well, we all finally live in a global village. Everyone has the right to deal with their own obsessions and cultural heritage, and so on, but there is a certain common thing which will bring people together. We are also interested in opposite things, things that conflict with each other.

Ken/Arc Magazine: How will a person benefit from becoming an NSK citizen?

Ivan: Again, this is one of those questions. A person will benefit as much as they want to. The NSK State is a state of mind and you don't get really any material benefit out of it.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Will there be any official NSK communiques to its citizens, such as an State newspaper to keep the citizens informed of NSK activities?

Ivan: Well at the moment, there is, well actually you are asking the wrong person. The NSK State is just a shell, it does not present any big question to Laibach. We are members of the NSK, and we have chosen to become members of the NSK State. But there is a bulletin produced by the NSK Information Center which is kind of a mixture of say, state news, information about NSK, groups and activities. At the moment it is still a fusion of, not exactly a fan newspaper, but hopefully it will develop into a proper magazine. But all of the passport holders are catalogued and if we want to, we can easily inform them about any matter concerning the state.

Ken/Arc Magazine: What is the primary difference between being an NSK citizen and an NSK member?

Ivan: Well the members of the NSK are basically just the founding groups, members of Laibach, members of Irwin and so on.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Will there ever be a way for a citizen to become a member of NSK?

Ivan: Well, there is a way, but it is really not too easy. The members are of a certain generation of people who were growing up together, working together and not very many of those people have actually changed. We have many collaborators, many people working with us, but the members of NSK are pretty much the same as it was ten years ago. We've tried several times to get new members, but it's always very difficult, and I'm not saying that the rules are so strict, but it is very difficult because we have entirely devoted ourselves to what we are doing, and hardly anybody can do that 24 hours a day.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Once you have gained a sizable citizenship, what will be your next move?

Ivan: Well, at the moment we are working on NSK currency, NSK stamps, and there will soon be an exhibition, ah, action in the central Post Office of Slovenia, which will last a week and we will present NSK Post. All letters that travel from the post to all over the world during that week will also bear the stamp of NSK State. This is one of the principles on how the NSK State works. It takes the image of another body. It's a kind-of virus, which can actually function within another body.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Talking on a musical level now, the Mute press release talks about enjoying the NATO album on different levels, first of which being a purely musical level. In picking the songs for NATO, does Laibach choose first from a musical level, or a political one?

Ivan: We actually picked those songs for different options, and certain importance those songs have, or had. You know, a certain message we originally had from them and the way this message transferred into a different context. That is the basic rule. Also, there is one rule that we like to apply, which is making, how you say, gold out of shit. People are accusing us of choosing songs that intellectuals despise. Hit songs, European songs, you know. But we believe people should not act on their prejudice all the time.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Were there any songs on NATO chosen simply for the appropriate message that in their original form, fall outside of Laibach's own taste in music.

Ivan: The songs that we are choosing have nothing to do with our musical taste. They are only the songs that we are aware of, as part of the history. Our musical taste is very wide, very broad. Basically it (Laibach's musical taste) is somewhere else.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Seeing how you hold in contempt many western characteristics, including music, how does the reworking of western music further NSK ideals?

Ivan: Well, it is very easy. One of the principal ideas of the NSK is that the originals do not exist and therefore no "copies" exist. We are allowed to use all of the existing materials and put it in a different context and recycling it a bit basically, and producing new content with it. It is a new work and you have to value that work through what you see. You can value it from what is was before only if you are objective, if you are able to do both. This album has eight songs, but it also has nine completely new songs.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Is it a matter of reaching the most people by using widely-known songs, or do the songs have meaning for Laibach before you reinterpret them?

Ivan: Well, yes, of course, that is what I said. If people know these songs they suddenly have nine new songs from the eight and they double their pleasure.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Do you plan on returning to the U.S. in the future?

Ivan: We would very much like to come next year. It is not very easy to make a tour in the states. There is a huge cost and so on.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Do you think it is worth your efforts to present your views in the U.S.?

Ivan: Well yes, of course, Why not? Why shouldn't it be?

Ken/Arc Magazine: Well, you know, many people have felt like there is a certain stereotype that American people are ignorant, not caring and would not want to understand your views.

Ivan: We were in the states twice, and we did tours already. We did quite a lot of concerts, actually. We did sixty all together and the audiences who came to the shows were interested.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Some Laibach fans seem to have been disappointed by Kapital and we've already seen some grumbling about NATO, in terms of the dance beats. As Laibach and NSK look to the past and incorporate it into the present and future, will we ever see a return the Laibach's past musical styles?

Ivan: Well, Laibach works in concentric circles. We are interested in experiments on one side and also in pop culture. And we believe some of the most experimental things are actually done inside of popular culture. You cannot deny that Kraftwerk are not a popular group on one side and on the other side they actually belong to a classical field. And some of the most industrial groups have been invented inside of the dance scene. So these things collide. They go from one into another. We have no prejudice against any styles. And I think that people who expect us to sound like we did ten years ago are not living in the right time. We were interested in dance music, techno music from the very beginning. If you read carefully our text, in 1982, you will find the ten items of the convent, and it is clearly written that we are working through certain industrial logic. Our inspirations are Brutism, techno, disco and so on.

Ken/Arc Magazine: Well, I guess our alloted time is up. Thank you, Ivan, and we hope to see you here in the states soon.

Ivan: Thank you.