Photo: Lone Wolf Productions
I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Kakophonix of the Cellistic Black Metal project Hvile I Kaos. He was gracious enough to provide me with some insight on his music and other subjects. Deathwave Nexion a small label specializing in the occult is set to release the debut album entitled Agios O Fotiá on October 13th 2017. Some more information on the album can be found HERE. So please sit down and enjoy..
Rather than pushing a dogma or clearly defined agenda, I’m much more in favor of allowing those views, shaped in turn by those experiences, translate into the listener’s mind via the music.
1. Explain the concept behind the new album and how it came about:
Agios O Fotiá translates from “Oh Holy Fire” in Greek. The term “Agios O [insert deity here]” is used in a variety of spiritual traditions to denote reverence or praise. As there is no one specific archetype that the album as a whole corresponds to, it seemed only fitting to dedicate it to Fire.
Consider the manifold nature of Fire. The blaze of the sun is essential for sustaining all life on earth. The harnessing of Fire was also a key step in our early human ancestors’ ascent along the path to dominance. By the same token, that life-giving source is also capable of destruction on a massive scale. Anyone who’s lived in Southern California for any prolonged period of time knows this all too well. And the sun that gives us so much will inevitably consume the earth it sustains. So it can be said that Fire is the ultimate token of the Gods, both of their generosity and their wrath. Awakening that within the Self opens the door to so much.
All the previous Hvile I Kaos releases have been these little EPs and splits dropped intermittently throughout the years. As this is the first full-length release, I wanted the album to serve as a sonic imprint of my own Becoming. As such, every piece corresponds to a direct experience of mine. Experiences the listener can partake in as well, if they so choose.
2. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
That has evolved a bit throughout the years. Prior releases corresponded to more general concepts. Death. The Flesh. The Abyss. As Hvile I Kaos has evolved, the experiences I’ve had have become much more tangible. Let’s just say my inspiration today isn’t necessarily 100% mine anymore. Despite the fact that I still do write everything from scratch and my ideas are still very much mine, the substance comes from, well, somewhere else. I’m kind of just transcribing what I’m given in a way.
3. You have been signed to Deathwave Nexion, elaborate on how you were approached
I’ve been in touch with some pretty shadowy figures in some deep and elusive circles. So much so that I’m not really comfortable naming names. That said, one such individual recommended I get in touch with the fine folks at Deathwave Nexion as an appropriate outlet for releasing future Hvile I Kaos workings, particularly in regards to the direction things are taking.
I’ve so far had a great working relationship with the label. It’s not this business conglomerate that just wants to churn out releases to meet popular demand. Rather, the concern is primarily with maintaining the integrity of the creations and the message they carry. They treat their artists with the utmost respect.
4. Can you touch on your line up for Hvile I Kaos?
The current live lineup for Hvile I Kaos comprises of some of my best friends and artistic colleagues, whose contribution has made the experience that much more rewarding. My conservatory friends Emerson Sinclair and Sam Hernandez have taken up the duties of violin and cello, respectively, to round out the string section. On guitar we have my old bandmate Martin Stacey. He and I both honed our writing chops on a very ambitious album for an older project of ours.
All of these musicians are extremely creative individuals in their own right, and each have their own working catalog of original music. The chemistry in the band is the best it’s ever been, which does wonders when we perform live. The bassist situation right now is a bit up in the air, but we do have someone lined up to perform at our album release show in October.
5. If you could choose one instrument to master besides the cello what would it be and why?
That’s an interesting question, particularly given the fact that I started really taking the cello seriously as a teenager when I realized my abilities on the guitar were kind of lukewarm by comparison. I suppose something a bit more exotic or obscure, like the Nycelharpa or the Sitar, could be cool. Anything to conjure up weird and wonderful sounds modern listeners may not be super familiar with. I’d definitely stick with a string instrument of sorts.
6. What are your current views on today’s metal scene?
The metal scene as a whole is kind of a broad topic, so I’m going to focus specifically on the Black Metal scene as I’ve experienced it. I’m pretty optimistic about the rise of Orthodox Black Metal in recent years. To me that is the most accurate representation of what the genre exists to achieve. True belief. True experience. True expression. It all goes back to honesty in the end.
By that same token I’m a bit disheartened by how many current bands I’ve seen claim to be Black Metal that have no legitimate right to that claim. They seem to be under the assumption that creating an image and a “mystique” is the ticket to the cool kids’ table of the “elite”. Trying to seem dark without living the Darkness. And while such bands may have some audiences fooled, they’re certainly not fooling the very real Darkness they pay lip service to. That which does not suffer fools gladly.
7. What is your perspective on the internets impact on today’s music scene?
That’s really a double-edged sword. The benefits seem to have been that artists can get their music heard without needing the approval of industry bigwigs, something that wouldn’t have really been possible in previous decades. On the flip side, I’m going to be that guy and openly admit that I see illegal downloading as a huge problem. Musicians pour everything they’ve got into their works. If you like an album enough that you just have to own it, you can pay $10 or whatever for it. Rest assured the artist spent way more to make it a reality.
8. Are there any specific bands that you are listening to currently that are worth mentioning?
I’ve been pretty impressed with the most recent Sinmara EP. I spin Uada’s EP a lot, as well as Tribulation’s discography. Also of note is this French band VI, which is a side project of a couple of the guys from Aosoth. Their album really sticks out because of the way they use chords. They have these super grandiose major and generally diatonic harmonies, and then they blindside you with these really gnarly dissonances. The end result is a contorted atmosphere that’s both sacred and profane simultaneously. I can’t think of a better sonic representation of sanctity defiled. It’s absolutely magnificent. And of course, you can never go wrong with the classics like Dissection or Deathspell Omega.
9. Do you have a creative process, or any rituals you abide by?
That too has evolved quite a bit. Traditionally I’m the most creative at night. Sometimes I’ve been known to record and compose with the lights off, to really connect with the Source uninhibited. Often times I’ll come up with an initial riff or motif and get down some basic ideas, and then let the character of the music determine the conceptual direction of what I’m trying to say and proceed accordingly. Other times the subject matter comes first and I’ll mess around with musical ideas to match that. By the time I record the final product, the message I’m trying to get across is always at the forefront of my mind. During the recording of Agios O Fotiá, that really took over. The ritual aspect of the recording and composing is that inevitable communing with those abstract ideas and phenomena.
Live, of course, our performances are very visibly rituals. The use of the evocation triangle and the arrangement of candles give us a focal point to channel our energy towards. The great thing about Hvile I Kaos today is that the people in the band are all artists I can gel with on a personal level. We all play off one another with a mutual understanding of what we’re trying to put together, and if we’re lucky the audience responds and participates with their own focus and presence. Our last live ritual in Lakewood with Valkyrium was very special in that regard.
10. What kind of ideologies or emotions do you try to convey through your music?
My views are my own, as are my experiences. Rather than pushing a dogma or clearly defined agenda, I’m much more in favor of allowing those views, shaped in turn by those experiences, translate into the listener’s mind via the music. Everything in there is beyond words anyway, so it’s best to experience it directly.
11. For someone just getting into your music what song would you recommend?
For a while I kind of considered “The Dying Gasps of a Once-Proud Eagle” off the 2013 self-titled EP to be the quintessential Hvile I Kaos track. In many ways I still do, at least for the band’s earliest period. As far as the more recent stuff goes, I’d say to listen to the entirety of “Beholden: Thy Olde Birch Gibbet”. That EP really flows together as one continuous piece. I think it really represents the best in Hvile I Kaos prior to Agios O Fotiá. Once the album is out, I’ll likely give a different answer.
12. How did you form Hvile I Kaos?
Hvile I Kaos came about much like many Black Metal projects. One day in summer 2011 a 19-year-old kid pissed at everything and everyone decided to put his sulking to good use and record nasty, evil music out of his room. Of course, the fact that I play the cello made the end result a bit unorthodox to say the least. And when I went back to Ohio that fall to continue my conservatory studies, Hvile I Kaos was actually an immediate cause for my decision to add a Music Composition major to my Cello Performance program. As a result, it kind of became not only a direct extension of my artistic and personal growth, but also of my education.
For a while I kind of put Hvile I Kaos on hold to focus on other bands and projects. A decision I now understand to have been a profound mistake. Today I see Hvile I Kaos as the central pillar of who I am as a musician. I have session work and gigs and school and teaching and all sorts of other involvements that come with the territory of being a freelance professional musician. But Hvile I Kaos is the one outlet I consider to be truly mine. That’s never changing.
13. Typical question but what does your band name translate to how did you come up with it?
Hvile I Kaos translates to “Rest in Chaos” from Norwegian. It’s actually a low-key salute to Jon Nodtveidt from Dissection, one of my main inspirations to form and continue the project (I know he was Swedish, but I just thought it sounded cooler in Norwegian). I’ve always found Jon’s life and music pretty inspiring, primarily because he was one of those exceptional artists who really put his money where his mouth was and lived the Darkness he preached. That influence, as well as that of Selim Lemouchi from the Devil’s Blood, has been something I come back to a lot to maintain the purity of what Hvile I Kaos is all about.
14. What do you do in your spare time to unwind after recording and or practicing?
Deep down I’m a complete nerd, so I’ll often put on a documentary to chill out. I like learning about pretty weird stuff. Serial Killers. Dictators. Revolution. Genocide. Torture techniques. Ancient cultures like the Maya or the Ukrainian Cossacks. I’ve had this strange fascination with Paleoanthropology and human evolution since I was a kid. I also like reading about religion and spirituality, particularly of the more fringe variety. I have a pretty extensive collection of books on those subjects.
15. You do session work, describe some of the projects or bands you have worked with.
As a session cellist, I’ve had the distinct privilege of playing on some very special upcoming releases. Namely, my friends in Imperialist, Wolvhammer, A Hill to Die Upon, Curse the Gods, Martin Stacey, and Osi and the Jupiter are putting out some fantastic new music soon. All of these projects are visceral and honest reflections of the beliefs and experiences of the individuals behind them. Keep watch for what is to come.
16. What are your plans for the future?
I’m going back to school this fall to finish my Master’s program in Cello Performance, so that’s going to be largely taking center stage. Hvile I Kaos is going to stay pretty active. I’m going to continue to work on new music, and we’ll be taking the shows that make sense for us. Of course, the Will of the individual and the progression of Wyrd play off each other in ways I can’t predict, but I’m going to stay open and keep my gaze fixed.