Jonathan Hultén | Dreaming the dark

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 07/11/2018.

“Of bodies chang’d to various forms, I sing”
Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book I, lines 1-2

The last twelve months have been busy for Jonathan Hultén. The Swedish musician released his first EP as a solo artist, The Dark Night of the Soul, a couple of months later, the album Down Below with his band Tribulation, and toured extensively in the meantime. Chants from Another Place sounding as delicate and minimalistic than Tribulation sounds wide and heavy, Hultén proves that his talent is multifaceted and that his creativity knows no boundaries.

To get some kind of counterpoint to the interview I had with Adam Zaars, his fellow guitar player in Tribulation, I reached out to Jonathan to have his own approach to Down Below. It has also been the occasion to talk about Chants from Another Place, its common features and its contrasts with Tribulation’s ambitious death metal. At the roots of both of these projects, Jonathan Hultén turns out to be an artist that creates as he breathes, looking for exploration, transformation, and ultimately, metamorphosis. Thoughtful and generous, he talked about life and darkness, doubts and convictions, creation of course, and introspection.

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Jarboe | Truth and consequences

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 30/07/2018.

Jarboe doesn’t need to be introduced: core member of Swans along with Michael Gira until 1997, ever since then, she keeps on singing, creating, shape-shifting, and growing, working with artists as different as Neurosis, A Perfect Circle, Phil Anselmo, Justin Broadrick, and In Solitude, in the process. Ubiquitous and discreet, appealing and eerie, muse and mentor: she knows no boundaries and follows her path in the shadows, where experimental music, extreme metal, rock, and contemporary art meet.

Thanks to a lot of luck and a bit of nerve, I managed to meet her somewhat against all odds after her show with Father Murphy at Roadburn, a couple of months ago. The interview was short, but when Jarboe talks, sharp and generous, time stands still. It’s like a whole part of the history of contemporary music coming to life. Off the record, anecdotes abound: she recalls a visit of Budapest with Attila Csihar as a guide, gently mocks the members of some Swedish black metal bands, “charming when they’re alone, insufferable when they’re together…” Under the pretext of talking about her haunting collaboration with Italian occult psychedelic duo Father Murphy, she evoked seminal episodes from her childhood, her relationship to spirituality as a musician, and some memorable live performances, outlining her own approach to art, unique and visceral, humble and uncompromising, sensitive and quietly stubborn.

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Juho “Jun-His” Vanhanen | Enter the Void

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 30/11/2017.

Two weeks ago, Oranssi Pazuzu teamed with another band from Tampere, Dark Buddha Rising, for a unique performance named Waste of Space Orchestra at Roadburn. The Finns were playing at the festival for the third year in a row. In 2017, I caught Juho “Jun-His” Vanhanen, guitarist and vocalist of the band, a few hours after their set on the Mainstage of the festival, to know more about the inception of the psychedelic trip into the unknown that is Värähtelijä, their last record. Wild, daring, swirling together krautrock, black metal, and much more, the album left listeners terrified, bewildered, and more often than not, amazed.

Unwrapping the twists and turns of the music but never unveiling its mystery, Jun-His talked about the elaboration of Värähtelijä, his aims as an artist, his views on his own art. “Everything is there and still, you can’t figure the reason behind it, behind existence,” he explained: instead of looking for answers and not afraid to stare into the void, Oranssi Pazuzu chose to embrace the unknown.

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© Samuli Huttunen

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Adam Zaars | Down there

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/01/2018.

Down there (Là-Bas) is a novel written by French decadent author J.-K. Huysmans in 1891 culminating in one of the most striking black masses of the history of literature. Tribulation naming their last record Down Below might be a discreet, knowing nod more than a full-blown homage to the book, the record still shares its fascination for the Underworld, its esoteric obsessions, its threatening feminine figures, and a melancholic longing for something else—the Other. I got the chance to hear what guitar player Adam Zaars had to say about these topics at the end of last year, a few weeks before the release of Down Below.

The record picks up where The Children Of The Night, arguably the band’s breakthrough album, stopped, in a unique blend of proggy death metal and death rock. Since their thrashy death metal beginnings, the Swedes have come a long way, and yet the initial drive seems to remain the same: from the gruesome lyrics of The Horror to the gothic atmosphere of Down Below, they’re still exploring all the formulas of Death. Thoughtful and precise, Zaars expended on his way of working, his inspirations, and the band’s aspirations.

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Erik Danielsson | The fire within

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 24/12/2017.

It seems like nothing can stop Watain: since the beginnings of the band 20 years ago, the success of the diabolical trio grew bigger and bigger, reaching outside of the boundaries of black metal. Picking up where Dissection stopped, they developed their own sound, went on to experiment with the catchiest hooks of rock’n’roll—ruffling a few feathers in the process—, and stuck to their Chaos Gnostic guns all the while. For the release of the sixth full-length of the band, Trident Wolf Eclipse, I got the chance to speak with mastermind Erik Danielsson. Conceiving his art as transcendental, each album being the result of inspiration and circumstances, he remained elusive about his intentions but described carefully the conglomeration of energy that is Watain.

It was also the occasion to talk about the path followed by the band through the years, through success and fury, struggle and wrecked hopes. Indeed, after the triumphant, almost outrageous The Wild Hunt, Trident Wolf Eclipse sounds bilious, burning with anger. In the five years that separate the two albums, both The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude—two like-minded bands very close to Watain—vanished; Selim Lemouchi died. How do you cope with loss when you worship death? By doubling in fire and intensity, Trident Wolf Eclipse seems to prove, in order to carry the flame with renewed passion, for the present and the fallen.

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Mat “Kvohst” McNerney | Song of Kali

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/10/2017.

In only five years of career, Grave Pleasures, previously known as Beastmilk, had a fairly stormy history. Made of thundering debuts (Climax, 2013), line-up changes, infectious hooks, and new identities, it led to the divisive Dreamcrash, a record built on the ashes of Beastmilk, In Solitude and The Oath. It looks like the band, who sings about destruction and creation over infectious death rock melodies, doesn’t hesitate to put theories into practice, enticing both seasoned black metallers and 80s sounds lovers, somewhere between the cover of The Cure’s “A Forest” by Carpathian Forest and Perturbator. In that respect, Motherblood, the band’s new record, is crucial: it’s about strengthening Grave Pleasures in its new incarnation, and for leader Mat “Kvohst” McNerney, about expressing as clearly as possible his take on life.

For the release of this record under the patronage of the fearsome Kali, we talked about all these things with McNerney. A prolific musician whose work is as shape-shifting as it’s coherent, he explained the concepts hiding behind the intoxicating melodies of Motherblood, the rough times Grave Pleasures went through, the status of this project in his whole career, and his vision of music, whether it be in general, live, or his. An enlightening talk with an artist fascinated by humanity’s darkest sides.

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Mike Scheidt | Staying awake

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/02/2017.

For music lovers in general, and doom fans in particular, the release of Clearing The Path To Ascend by YOB in 2014 was one of the highlights of the last few years. Both crushing and elevating, it is also, and above all, an astoundingly beautiful record where the three musicians outdid themselves and took their own brand of carefully crafted, enlightened doom to new heights.  After seeing a  live performance of the band at Desertfest Antwerpen that turned out to be an incredible display of power and grace, I had to find out what kind of magic was at work there.

A few weeks later, I got the chance to talk about this and more with the headmaster of it all: Mike Scheidt, the vocalist, guitar player, and main writer of the band. Inspired and inspiring, he evokes in great details his creative process, his views on live performances, art, life, music, and reality. We also talked about his many other musical endeavors and projects, and if everything must have been put to a halt by the very serious health issues he had to face at the beginning of the year, we can only hope for the best, and to hear about it soon!

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Billy Corgan | Anti-Hero

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 12/12/2014.

I’ve hardly ever been as nervous as just before interviewing Billy Corgan. To many, more than a musician, Corgan is the embodiment of alt-rock, of an aesthetic, of a decade—some kind of hero. As he puts it, through the years, The Smashing Pumpkins became more than a rock band: an institution. Not that he’s making a fuss out of it: he’s lucid, high-spirited, and way more preoccupied with the future than the past.

On the occasion of the release of Monuments To An Elegy, the second album of the Teargarden By Kaleidyscope cycle, we talked about the present of The Smashing Pumpkins, its past, Corgan’s other endeavors, and the current state of rock music. Resting on the band’s laurels isn’t an option. Billy Corgan is too busy trying to prove that rock’n’roll isn’t dead, and that there are still boundaries to be pushed—that after all these years, he still would rather be an anti-hero than part of the status quo.

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Electric Wizard | Saturn’s children

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 29/10/2014.

“We believe in tradition over novelty”: when many bands deny trying to sound deliberately retro, Jus Oborn tells it loud and clear: with Time To Die, Electric Wizard sticks to its guns. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Black Masses, the band’s previous record—line-up changes, departure from long-time label Rise Above—but the core formed by Liz Buckingham (guitar) and Jus Oborn (guitar, vocals) appears stronger than ever: ending the other’s sentences and looking for the other’s agreement; their complicity is obvious.

Hearty, hiding neither enthusiasm nor disappointment, they answer our questions with the honesty they’re claiming and a pinch of self-deprecation. In between two puffs from a makeshift pipe made of a can of 1664, they talk DIY, solitude, disillusions, and plans for the future.

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© Ester Segarra

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Misþyrming | Sound and fury

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 07/07/2016.

Is Iceland the future of black metal? Considering the amount of fascinating records released by the local scene (Svartidauði, Wormlust, Sinmara…) these last few years and the enthusiasm it stirred, it may indeed be. And that’s what legendary Roadburn festival’s programmers must have been thinking as well: not only they added quite a few Icelandic bands to their prestigious line-up, but they even picked newcomers Misþyrming as the “artist in residence” of their 2016 edition, following nothing less than Enslaved or Neige from Alcest.

So it’s during Roadburn that I managed to catch three members of the band for an interview a few streets away from the agitation of the festival, despite their (very!) tight schedule: in three days, they would play up to six sets with different bands and musicians combinations, the highlight being the Úlfmessa (Icelandic for “wolves mass”), during which no less than ten musicians would appear on stage. We took advantage of this flurry of activity to talk about many aspects of the Icelandic black metal scene, from its functioning to its influences to its… consanguinity.

D.G., H.R.H. and, T.Í., who play in Naðra, Carpe Noctem, and NYIÞ on top of Misþyrming, display just as much enthusiasm as control, and just as much humility as ambition. One thing is certain: this is just the foretaste of all they have to give.

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