Season of Mist Artist- Obsidian Kingdom interview is up
Obsidian Kingdom interview
1. So you are rather new to my readers and myself; tell us a bit about the band.
We are Obsidian Kingdom, a young and determined music project from Barcelona that is noted for its bravery, talent and ambition. We play hard-to-classify heavy music with plenty of contrast, falling somewhere between Progressive Rock, Post Metal and Avant-garde. Our main features are the use of multiple sonic resources that portray a wide range of emotions, a deep interest in aesthetics and the mise-en-scène, and the sombre and cryptic quality of our lyrical topics.
We have just released 'A Year With No Summer', our second album, via Season of Mist. It is a spiked cocktail of city spleen, conspiranoia and personal trauma; blue like the stagnant water in the pool of a marooned holiday resort and heavy like the silence after the next radiant apocalypse.
It's a pleasure to meet you.
2. I hear elements of Ulver, Katatonia , Ihsahn, Anathema and Manes .. I even hear bands like Quicksand and Shudder to think in your music. Where did this Post metal meets Post industrial soundscape come from?
Yes, we're familiar (and sometimes more than familiar!) with most of those acts, and it's no wonder you can sense traces of them in our music, since we actually grew up listening to them.
But if you listen close, you'll hear echoes from other bands, too; most of which are not even Metal-related (such as Genesis or Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd or Vangelis), that also have a huge impact on our music. There is a certain Grunge/Alternative 90's Rock in the mix as well: the influence of Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins or Deftones can be heard throughout the whole album. And there's the electronic part, as well! You can hear reminiscences of krautrock and drone; beats, samples and loops.
Rather than just creating a senseless melting pot, the secret of our identity and true character lies behind the criteria used in the mix and proportion of the ingredients. I guess that's just the way we work: we're constantly consuming and processing new forms of expression that we will later adapt to our own language. We're like a perverted cultural recycling machine.
3. How did you come to partner with Season of Mist?
They kind of came across us, really. Someone handed the label's CEO a copy of our first self-released album, 'Mantiis', and he then did what they always do with those: play it in the car and give it a 30 seconds chance. Our debut not only made it past that mark, but it was also played twice in a row. Two months later we had been signed, and one year later the album was re-released.
Despite being one of the big names in the Extreme Metal industry - as shown by the presence in their roster of bands like Morbid Angel, Mayhem or Abbath -, Season of Mist also has a reputation for new talent discovery and investment in fresh approaches - Sólstafir, KEN Mode, Cynic, etc. -, and that's where we definitely fit in.
So far, so good!
4. Is there a theme or story behind " A Year With No Summer"?
Indeed. 'A Year With No Summer' suggests a shift in the paradigm, a grey area whereupon loom large the shadows of trauma and despair, and a panorama of wonder a terror, full of intensity and opportunities. The symbols at play are deep and hard-striking, and they demand an emotional response from their beholder. They speak about moods, the future of civilization and the mysteries behind reality, but they will have a different and unique meaning for each person that comes under their spell.
The conceptual framework displayed in 'A Year With No Summer' has been built upon the themes that currently matter to us most as artist: the technological revolution and its impact on the human psyche; self-development and growth in the civilization of entertainment; the decay of social and political structures and its reflection on human interaction; and the way in which the landscape of our cities is shaping the collective unconscious.
5. The album cover is very post modern; how does it relate to the music?
We wanted for the artwork to be dreary and asphyxiating like the loss of intimacy produced by the communications of modern life, and also glitchy and hermetic like the information we receive from our environment; elegant like the decay of western civilization and colorful like the explosions that signal the start of a new dawn.
The album cover is the perfect condensation of these ideas: the violent red creeping up from the bottom of a calm blue landscape; the menacing glitches eating at the over-sized channels information; the sense of tense calmness provided by the stacking of different stratifications and the stimulation overload delivered by the multiple layers at play, however portraying a drab and monotonous scene. And don't forget the interesting figures, prone to interpretation: the fleeting ghost against the fog-washed white, forever in transit to an unattainable horizon; the grey clouds promising water over a desert of salt; and the flash of an inappropriate but very elegant attire.
The album actually features three different covers, one for each format (vinyl, digipak and digital). All of them different and exclusively produced by our Spanish design star-combo Ritxi Ostáriz and Elena Gallén - both of whom also took care of the artwork of 'Mantiis' -, based on an original picture from the French photographer Mathieu Bernard-Reymond. The whole artwork design is just jaw-dropping-
6. Do image and visuals play a major role is the overall feeling of the band's presence?
Definitely. We work in a way that lets us develop all of the aspects of an album in parallel, from the music to the marketing and including the artwork, music videos, live visuals and overall aesthetic, etc. Hence, the artwork design has affected the sound of the music and vice versa, and both are a deep reflection of the other - they can be enjoyed separate but, when combined, produce the most intense effect.
Our whole project depends on the creation of sensations and a certain atmosphere, and in order to do that we rely on all the arms at our disposal: we take good care of our brand image and regard it as an extension of our art, rather than a necessary evil.
7. If you were asked to describe the band in only four words, what words would you use?
Dark Elegant Music Experience
8. Let's say a major label came and offered you a release. Would you do it or are indie labels a much better home for your music?
It would naturally depend on the deal.
Right now Season of Mist is right in between both categories and we feel comfortable about it in the sense that they are a multi-national company with the muscle we need to push our project, but at the same time they are independent and do not disregard anything that's doesn't follow the standards of radio formula.
Anyhow, lately we're learning that there's no need to attach yourself to a single label: since we are such a multi-faceted band, one record company could be great better than other to promote a certain album or release, depending on the music's vibe and the label's market.
9. How does live differ from recorded music?
In many ways: first off, the dynamics in a live experience are very different from listening to an album at home, so you need to plan in advance if you want to keep the attention of the audience, and of course the resources at hand are very different in these two environments.
Secondly, you get us playing, which means that you are going to get a translated and more intense - because of its fleeting nature - delivery of everything you're hearing on the record. However, we strive to perform a version that's as similar as possible to the original recording, but that's just the way we like to do it.
The light show that accompanies the show has been designed and built by ourselves to make sure that it matches the mood of the music at all times; and, whenever possible, we have our own live VJ that creates a different movie every time, based on a cinematography that we ourselves have produced as an extension of the album's aesthetics. All in all it's a very stimulating and overwhelming show.
And last but not least, there's the thrill of deep communication happening right in the present in the context of an emotionally charged group of people. That's practically the reason of it all.
10. Spain is not somewhere I get a lot of releases from. What is the underground / extreme music scene like there? Any stand out artists we should know about from your area of Barcelona?
Spain is sadly a poor land for artistic ambition and creativity. Of course, the lack of infrastructures for the music industry to flourish and the rampant corruption in the institutions doesn't help much; but that's hardly an excuse for not having anything to export except for a bunch of copycats trying to imitate their idols from thirty years ago.
There are a few honorable exceptions, though: Wormed are making quite a statement through their hi-tech sci-fi brutal death metal (and they're also on our label); and you should definitely check out Foscor - they remind us of the best days of Ved Buens Ende with a pinch of Catalan modernism. Also keep an eye on Trono de Sangre and Maud the Moth.
11. Do the members of Obsidian Kingdom have other musical outlets or is this band the focus of all musical ideals?
Right now the only member in the band with a side project is Irene - she plays guitar and sings in a folk duo called Kinsale, which she had long before joining the band.
The rest of us have had previous or side projects in the past, but are currently working only in Obsidian Kingdom right now.
12. If the members were not making music what other passions do you have?
We all have plenty of other occupations (and emergency plans), of course: Jaime is a computer engineer, a bank consultant and a natural manager and team-builder, whereas Irene is a designer and a local folk starlet. I myself am an architect, a professional translator, a music journalist and an art dilettante, but the real question here is: is there a chance that we would not be making music?
It's very unlikely.
13. Are you fans of social media and digital age or is music lost in its electronic grasp?
We are big fans of communication by whichever means, and social media is great for that. It means an unlimited field for creativity, expression and emotional display, and we're very keen on new technologies. We manage all of our online profiles with the utmost care, since they are yet another token of the bands existence and essence. There's nothing banal in the way you project yourself onto others because it is an integral part of your identity, and the Internet is the ultimate means to introduce yourself to the World.
Music will never be lost and the digital age is upon us, whether we like it or not.
14. Where do you see underground music heading in this modern age?
Where it has always been: some of it will make it through and some of it will stall; some will be kept in golden records and some will be lost like tears in rain; some will land on the covers of magazines and some will be remembered as a minority cult; some will remain a copy and some will lay the foundations for things to come.
And some of it is being written and read right here, right now.
15. What bands or musical projects are impressing Obsidian Kingdom members right now?
We post a quarterly playlist for anyone precisely interested in that matter.
In them you will find artists as diverse as Andy Stott, Death Grips, Lana del Rey, Swans, Kendrick Lamar, David Bowie, The Drones, Venetian Snares, Chelsea Wolfe or Shining (NOR).
16. If there was one song you could rework and release what would it be any why?
We actually rework or own songs all the time. For instance, we had Necro Deathmort produce a remix of one of the tracks in 'Mantiis' ('Awake Until Dawn'), and we ended up liking it so much that we started playing the remix in our shows, instead of the original song. We even made a video of that!
17. Thank you for the time and any closing thoughts here.
We're sorry to be the ones to break it to you, but this year there will be no summer.