Saturday, January 29, 2011
Interview - Spirit of The Forest's Ekinox & Phobetor
Around Christmas I started to make contact with Spirit of The Forest, a group that I found little actual information on. I was able to get into contact with Ekinox and asked to interview him about the band's latest release "Kingdom of Despair" and he accepted and passed along a few questions to Phobetor as well.
Ian: "Kingdom of Despair" has only been out for a little while, how are you feeling now that it's out?
Ekinox: We are totally happy with the results, the production is strong, the layout is great. I'm really proud of this album.
Phobetor: I'm very satisfied of this album.
Ian: I'm very curious how the name Spirit of the Forest came about, how did you come up with it?
Phobetor: The forest is one of the most powerful forces on our planet. The forest theme inspired me to do some bizarre riffs and I wrote songs based on it. Later when Ekinox joined his ideas we were looking for a project name and we've found spirit of the forest suits perfectly what our music is about.
Ian: I know that Spirit of The Forest started out as Phobetor's solo project, how did Ekinox, Lucyber, and Auster come into the band?
Ekinox: Phobetor was a friend of my younger brother, and I (Ekinox) had been into black metal making for quite some time. Phobetor made me listen to a couple of songs he had done, I enjoyed his songs so I decided to record bass on them, I sent the songs back to him. I proposed to help him make an album that would become "A Brew of Lightning and Terror", so we worked together on the writing process
and recorded a "pre-production" that I sent to Auster, who I worked with in my other band Superior Enlightenment, and just asked him if he would play on the album as a session musician. Finally Lucyber, who is also a friend of my younger brother, sent me some songs that he had made, on which he did vocals, so being all friends and knowing each other, it was a perfect atmosphere to create music.
Ian: I, personally, found the promotional photo of Phobetor back for the first album to really capture the band's sound in a unique image. Are there any plans to do a video or photo for this album?
Ekinox: This picture represents a lot what spirit of the forest is about, the forest.
In the layout of Kingdom of Despair, there are no actual member photos. We just gathered some beautiful pictures of the laurentian nature (Quebec, Canada).
The idea of a video is very interesting to us, but to make a video worth watching we would need a whole lot of cash probably. We're still on the looks for people who could help us in logistics.
Phobetor: I like this picture because it represents the feeling I have when I write a SOTF songs.
Ian: About how long did it take to write and record the new album?
Ekinox: The album was written in a couple of months, first we made a pre-production that we sent it to Auster so he could write his drum parts.
Then he sent back the drums to me and I started mixing it. Lucyber came in and did his vocals. After that I worked 3 months on the mixing and mastering, I tried many different approach before being 100% satisfied.
Ian: When you're writing songs is it more of a collaborative effort or does a single individual bring in completed songs to the group?
Ekinox: For the first 2 albums Phobetor had written some songs, he sent em to me, then I listen, and add some stuff (bass, acoustics guitars, leads, sometimes also entire parts.)
I also made some songs individually, if you look in the booklet of both our albums, all the credits are inside. For the lyrical parts we all work on it together while Phobetor creates most of the lyrics, I motivate Lucyber in the studio to get the best out of his performance, as a producer would do.
Phobetor: Yes it's collaborative in writing process but Ekinox work a lot alone on recording and mastering and I thanks him for that.
Ian: Would you call Spirit of The Forest a pagan metal band? How would you describe the band's sound?
Ekinox: Yes that's what I think of SOTF as a musical style, the base of our music is mostly Black metal, but in our lyrical concepts we do not approach satanism, so we can't fit into the black metal genre for this reason, our lyrics are very Pagan/mythological/misanthrope oriented. Man destroys nature, nature destroys man, from chaos nature moves on.
Ian: Your previous record "A Brew of Lightning and Terror" was well praised from what I've read, how do you feel about the record?
Ekinox: We had a blast making it. I like how it was repetitive which made it a little bit more atmospheric like Burzum or Summoning. In production terms it is also more raw and we kept all the guitar scratches and feedback. I think that the production department is an important factor in making a good album, the overall sound, mix, and mastering and details are a great part of the personality of an album that is why from an album to another, Sotf sound is in constant change, so each album we make will have a "soul" of it's own.
Phobetor: I like this album very much because it's feeling is totally different than "Kingdom of Despair" and Ekinox helped a lot on this album too. The guitar leads he did on my songs are really amazing!
Ian: Your debut has what I guess is considered a more "traditional" black metal sound comparable with groups like Burzum and other groups like that, but this new one doesn't feel as raw as that one, was this a conscious production decision?
Ekinox: I think the production has a lot to do with this, and also "Kingdom of Despair" as a whole lot more details and layers than "A Brew of Lightning and Terror". When in the studio for "Kingdom of Despair" we used
different amp settings, and instruments, and I worked a lot more on the mix and mastering, "A Brew of Lightning and Terror" was mixed and mastered in 2 days. While it took 3 months for KOD.
Ian: This new album is much more melodic and psychedelic sounding compared to your debut. Is there anything that you set out to do with this record that you didn't do on the debut, or was this more of a natural progression?
Ekinox: It was a natural progression, maybe the fact that I contributed more to the song writing process. On our first album I had written only 2songs and contributed a couple of riffs on the others. On KOD I contributed on every song and Phobetor asked me anyway to put on some details. Our goal was to make an album that we all like and are satisfied with.
Ian: I have to say that there are a lot of really great, catchy riffs that are on this album, my favorite would be Solitude, would you consider riffs to be a strong part in your songwriting? What do you try to achieve when writing new songs?
Ekinox: Personally, I think Solitude is the greatest song I have ever written, the feeling from it is wide. Yes we work with riffs a lot, use the same riff in different ways, sometime you can have 5 different versions of the same riff in a song, if you overlap them it all fits together, and I think it's an interesting way to make a song evolve. When we write, we try to capture a certain feeling some songs can be evil, or folkish, sad or even beautiful. So we try to make each song interesting based on the riffs, the evolution of those riffs, the mood you get from the riffs and also the production details and effects and the song structure. Our songs never have the same structure like Immortal or Satyricon for example riff 1 / pre chorus / chorus/ pre chorus/ chorus it gets boring and all songs are the same. Each song has it's own approach when we arrange it.
Phobetor: We want to do different types of songs and I think variety is one of our forces. Personally when I write I take care of everything in a song. The progression is important, the feeling is important.
Ian: I found the folk elements on this album to really stand out compared to a lot of other folk influenced groups. The interludes especially caught me off guard as to how "natural" sounding they were. How strong would you consider folk music to play a part in Spirit of The Forest's sound?
Ekinox: I wrote all the interludes while we were waiting to get the lyrics done for some songs. We thought it would be a great thing to get that pagan/medieval feel that we like in old black metal. It gives more "color" to the album in an artistic way and adds a mystical vibe to it.
Ian: Is there any sort of concept to "Kingdom of Despair"?
Ekinox: Yes there is in a certain way, all our songs from the first album and second are linked (except Solitude, Battles of The Northern Seas). It's all about nature taking over humanity, the chaotic way of nature, which we can't control because we are just a part of it. When nature rises, humanity will hide like rats, til there is no air to breathe, no food, nor light.
Phobetor: Yes the concept is chronological and the third album will have some special things in this way...
Ian: How much inspiration do you take from nature? What sort of role does it in your life?
Ekinox: Everything we do as humans is based around nature, when you put gas in your car, it comes from the land, so the role of nature in our lives is everything, it's the nature of things. The forest is very inspiring, first it's beautiful, wild and free. But it is also old and full of wisdom.
Ian: How do you see modern life/city life compared to nature, how do you believe they coexist right now? What are your personal thoughts on the struggle of man vs. nature?
Ekinox: They do not coexist. Natures purpose is to serve our addictions to consume in our human way of thinking. But in a certain way, nature will always win over man. When nature is gone, humanity will end and nature will rise back, and evolution will bring something new or different. It's everlasting chaos and uncertainty. It's a force we try to deal with but can't control.
Ian: Since it's the end of the year, what have been some of your favorite releases to come out, metal or otherwise?
Ekinox: I got a couple of albums lately wich are awesome, Burzum-Belus, 1349-Demonoir, Enslaved-Axioma Ethica Odini, Marduk-Wormwood, Borgne-Monarque, Chasse-Gallerie. I'm listening to black metal a lot still, and here in Quebec there is a pretty active scene right now compared to when I started in 97. A lot of quality releases in many different styles of black metal.
Ian: That's all the questions that I have, thank you for your time. The last words are yours.
Ekinox: Thanks for the interview, hope you can understand everything, I'm actually french. We are now working on our third album which we already have 8 songs for. We will record it at the end of winter or spring.
Phobetor: Thanks for the interview and for your interest on our music.