Cyclic Law/ Sentient Ruin Artist Sutekh Hexen Interview up
Kevin Gan Yuen
1. 1st question i need to get out of the way for my reader is what does Sutekh Hexen mean and why was this name chosen?
That is a good question and one that is frequently asked: Like this projects marriage of multiple genre influences, the name similarly reflects this approach, acknowledging interests across cultural boundaries and the band serves as a unification platform for conceptual distillation.
2. Sutekh Hexen has world with many labels Cyclic Law, Sentient Ruin, Cold Spring, Aurora Borealis, Handmade Birds, Pesanta Urfolk, Flenser . Just to name a few is this do to output or just the releases being very different ?
Very honestly, the multitude of labels is the desire to connect with people and create something together in the world. The labels mentioned have many interesting projects presenting unique extremes.
3. Is Sutekh Hexen a Duo or Kevin your project people just help you in studio and live?
It was conceptualized in 2008 when I was living in a house in San Francisco and first manifested when I met this local guy Scott Miller, he played in a noise project called Al Qaeda, which I sat in with a few times. I had ideas and it basically began as a demo swapping collage. Various live and recording incarnations have existed throughout the years, with myself as the founding member and sole consistent member since inception. The foundation of Sutekh Hexen will always be about collaboration within a conceptual framework within the moment. And I have always been the one to initiate forward momentum. The writing process and time between for 'S/T' album began in 2013 and saw the largest influx of collaborators and line-up change, it was at times both beautiful and painful to experience.
As far as studio assistance, 'S/T' is our first proper full-length studio recording, meaning that everything was recorded and mixed in a professional studio environment. Since the beginning, this project had somehow managed to avoid "proper recording conditions" for various reasons, and remained devoted to our primitive (and laughable) methods of self-recording with barely functioning microphones into laptops, boom boxes onto old noise tapes, and even cell phones. Even once live and twice after hours at a local radio station out in the foothills. Whatever it took to capture the moment and atmosphere. All out of necessity. Despite the vastly improved and available technology that was made available to SH to complete this work: this entire record was completed without compromise whatsoever and I am very pleased with these results.
Ryan Jobes, who currently is on electronics and vocals for live, he actually played second guitar from 2013 to 2014. We had briefly lost contact, but reconnected in the winter of 2017 to revisit mixing sessions for a different black metal project that we both started around the time we met. During those session, I mentioned that I was ready to finish a project for Sutekh Hexen. Things aligned and he was fortunate enough to have access to a mutual friend of ours recording studio nearby in Berkeley, CA. It was really helpful to have someone who was (and now again) involved and familiar with the sound with a engineering background be involved. We had booked every Saturday and Sunday for a couple of months, so in a "traditional studio session" we would have been holed up for about a week and a half straight. It was an amazing learning experience.
For live, there was a brief period of a revolving door of collaborators, but now I feel like after the last few years, which was a fucking endurance of interpersonal variables, so in the present, having more people involved is less of a thing, as the calibre of musicianship and professionalism has been set.
4. How did you connect with Cyclic Law and Senitent Ruin for this new " S/T" release?
Frederic and his label Cyclic Law had been on my radar for years, because of my interest in the style of music that he has been releasing. I discovered Cyclic Law in record store called Aquarius Records in San Francisco around 2006. This place was such an amazing spot to discover new music and they were known for their newsletters and for having VERY detailed hand-written descriptions/reviews on the backs of the CD's in the store. It was fucking mind-blowing to me. Sadly they closed shop permanently in 2016. Frederic and I met at Apex Festival in 2015 at this extreme experimental and power electronics festival in Brooklyn NY, and we connected immediately.
I have known Mattia for a while through mutual friends and just sharing similar interests. At the time he was a fan of Sutekh Hexen and was really enthusiastic about what were doing. I found out later that he was running at the time an underground tape label, so we agreed to let him do the 'Become' tape. We live down the street from each other and both get along and kind of came from the same experiences growing up and getting into this kind of stuff, only he is from from a mountain village in Italy and I am from the suburbs at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Both of us had the desire to pursue these interests further as teenagers and ending up connecting here in the Bay Area as adults, it's wild.
About our new album: Frederic offered to release albums for SH, as did Mattia, so everything worked out. Their respective labels cover completely different territories in terms of sound and fan base interests, with the common ground of "darker sounding", so it was a great opportunity to reach multiple and willing listeners to share this material with.
They are both amazing people, I love them and their passion to do these things.
5. Whats your thoughts on being labels Ambeint Black Metal ? Do you feel its a strong place holder for what Sutekh Hexen creates?
It is a loaded reality. My thoughts are that not just Sutekh Hexen, but people will continue making and playing in experiments will court record labels and media that will by default feel pressured to carelessly categorize. Grand scheme: to feel the need to captivate an audience with words and narratives away from the actual music, is maybe is an easier task than taking the time and listening to the actual music itself and providing thoughtful insight. We have to realize that genre labeling applies successfully to a very limited scope of music if you want to be critical about it.
6. If you could work with any artist or musician on a full collab who would it be and why?
Diamanda Galás. A conduit of raw emotional power.
7. How does Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, You Tube and Digital Media play a role in how Sutekh Hexen is presented to the world? Do you feel the Story or Theme is watered down with all this in 2019?
I was conflicted with digital format from the start, but quickly realized the value it provided for everyone who cared about what we do. I think there are responsible and irresponsible ways to do everything, but the availability of technology from my experience has been generally positive. I am someone in a band that releases albums and also someone who still buys physical music locally or online. I love that.
8. Does limiting Vinyl and CD's make sense for a band to make them more in demand or should the pressing continue ? Is this truly a digital album world now?
It makes sense for practical pressings, rather than stockpiling inventory. Maybe for some genres of music that is the case, because digital albums are just another way for people to experience the music.
9. What is the Theme or story behind the new " S/T" album?
10. If you could make a proper video for any song of new album which would it be and why?
Probably 'Elemental Uproar' –it is was an interesting and really brutal track to record. It is a very detail-deliberate and discreet one for me, so it would be really interesting to see the various ways it could be interpreted by others in that form.
11. Oakland CA is a home to amazing Hardcore, Sludgy Metal and Punk.. What is the more noisy electronic or occult black metal scene like there?
Yeah, there is a lot going on here. The Bay Area in general has a long history of counterculture and result throughout various points in time.
There is still a large concentration of active bands or individuals in working bands, especially in Oakland.
12. Are there any bands that are impressing Sutekh Hexen and you would like to about ?
I just listened to the new L'Acéphale.
13. Outside of Sutekh Hexen are there other musical project you work on or no?
Various collaborations and some things that I do on my own.
14. You have many releases to they all tie together or are they just a snap shot of that time in Sutekh Hexen journey?
Both, actually. The new 'S/T' album is kind of a culmination of the journey thus far