Saturday, May 21, 2011
Interview - Dødkvlt's Lord Theynian (Part II)
That's right, I told Lord Theynian at the end of our last interview that I would be happy to interview him when "II" came out, and this is the result of the interview. This is focused a bit less on maybe traditional musical questions and hopefully focuses more on the creative process that Lord Theynian goes through. I hope you find it just as interesting as I do.
Ian: Looking back since Dødkvlt "I" first came out, how do you think that you've improved?
Lord Theynian: To my perspective I have evolved a lot since my debut. The debut was rushed and naïve. I admit that it had that spontaneous energy to it as it was made in such a short period of time and it was not a bad way to my career. There were things that I liked and it was a necessary step in my evolution, but when I look behind to that album I don’t see that many similarities to what Dødkvlt represents and is in the present time. "II" is the true manifest of Dødkvlt and I can stand behind it 100%. I’m not saying that I regret my debut or that I hate it, I just have a lot more to offer than that, as you have seen with my new releases.
Ian: So would you say that improvisation plays a part in your composition and song writing process, or is that more of an isolated occurrence?
Lord Theynian: To tell you the truth, it’s all about the improvisation. I write my music as I’m recording it. I never just sit down to write a song and memorize or write it on paper to work on it later. I just grab my guitar and record everything that comes out. Usually it all starts from one good riff and it just naturally evolves from that to a whole song. The spine of the song is always the guitars. When I have the whole structure done on guitars, then comes everything else. When you listen to my songs, what you hear is usually the first times I’m playing this stuff as I have not rehearsed any of the stuff due to the fact that I just wrote it. That way the riffs have that virgin feeling to them, that excitement and energy when I come up with something good and record it straight away.
Ian: That's actually really cool, not a lot of metal musicians are able to improvise, or do it well anyway. Was that also the case on the Goats of Doom split?
Lord Theynian: Yes. I have been making my music like that for several years now. I created Dusk in almost ritual like setting, alone in the middle of the night in just candlelight. Really inspiring setting. I improvised for 20 or so minutes filming the whole session and that became the spine of Dusk. Prophecy was originally intended for the third album, but as I was thinking of songs fit for a split with Goats of Doom that was the first one that felt right for it. The rest of the songs sprouted from its atmosphere and as I was making the lyrics I ended up making a single concept for all the songs. I intend to continue the Domini Ascensiönem-saga on my third album. I already have one long song done.
Ian: That's awesome! I'm glad to hear that, because songs from the split feel very flushed out and complete, even compared to "II' in my opinion. Dusk was my favorite song from the split, and I really enjoyed the more atmospheric sections, do you see yourself including some more elements like that in future songs?
Lord Theynian: Definitely. As you can probably tell, Dusk was inspired by French black metal and I’ve been listening to loads of French BM bands lately to inspire me to make my next album. I absorb a lot of my ideas from what I listen to at the time and by that I don’t meant that I copy anyone’s ideas, I just broaden my musical horizons by listening to a lot of different bands and get my inspiration from that.
Ian: Absolutely, I totally get that sort of vibe. I hear traces of Blut Aus Nord and Alcest, would you say those are influences, or you at least listen to them, for that track? Who else would you site as an influence on that split?
Lord Theynian: Blut Aus Nord is possibly my favorite act from France at the moment. I especially enjoyed their new album "777 – Sect(s)" a lot. Alcest naturally had inspired me on that track, but the band that really sparked my inspiration to make Dusk was Vlad Tepes.
The biggest influence for the split came from outside the genre of black metal. As you noticed, I utilized slow doomy parts on Prophecy and Dusk and the inspiration for that came from no other than the Brooklyn’s late and great drab four Type O Negative (R.I.P. Peter). They have always been a huge inspiration to me and I consider them one of the greatest and most original bands ever to walk on the face of the earth. If you listen closely to the slow doomy middle section of Prophecy, you hear those industrial machinery sounds that are a clear tribute to Type O along with the distorted Steele-ish bass sound I used on all of the slow sections.
Ian: That kind of brings up my next question actually, because compared with even Dusk and Prophecy, I found, no offence here, the basswork to be more intriguing than the guitar work on Doom Sower. Did Type O influence the bass work on that track? How do you approach bass playing in your music?
Lord Theynian: Actually no. The bass lines on that track have more of a classic black metal feel to them to me. The bass is usually the final thing that I add on the songs and I always try to bring the song to the next level with them and try to add something new to them instead of just doubling the guitar parts. As usual, there’s a lot of improvisation involved in that aspect too. I enjoy making the bass parts the most because I have a lot of space to experiment with them. The bass parts can make the whole song sound different when you can mess around with the chord progressions under the guitar riffs and that makes the whole process of recording the bass lines really interesting.
Ian: When you're writing a song, do you approach it as you're making a "metal" song, or does it just naturally come out metal? Are there songs that you've written that are totally separate from Dødkvlt or that sound nothing like it?
Lord Theynian: It just comes naturally. I began writing songs when I got into metal music, so that has always been my main genre when it comes to making music. However, I do make other types of music nowadays. It is always clear to me when I get an idea for Dødkvlt, most of them usually are due to the fact that it is my main project and the most important and personal one. There have been some cases when I have doubted if a song is right for Dødkvlt, but most of them have ended up as Dødkvlt songs regardless of my initial thoughts and have thus shaped the face of the project giving it more space to evolve in different musical directions. I enjoy that freedom to explore with different ideas without having the fear that it won’t fit “the musical frame” of Dødkvlt or black metal in general. I let the songs evolve to the direction that is natural and best for the songs, not just suffocate all the spontaneous ideas because they don’t fir the rulebook of the genre I represent.
Ian: You said that you have a background in progressive music, how much of an influence from that style do you try to include with Dødkvlt?
Lord Theynian: I’d say that it’s more of a subliminal influence nowadays. I’m not forcing any of it or really thinking about it. I made progressive metal for several years and obviously those influences can still be heard in my songs. The proggy song lengths and structures are still prominent in my songwriting. It’s just the way I’m used to write songs. I always have a flood of ideas that I want to include in one piece of music so the song lengths come naturally to me.
Ian: I couldn't help but notice that you, like me, share a fondness for Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton. How much of an influence do you think he, or the band's he's been in, has had on your music?
Lord Theynian: Mike Patton and his various projects have been a great source for inspiration over the years. I wouldn’t say that his music has influenced Dødkvlt that much, but I have had other projects that were much closer to his style of music. It’s really hard for me to dissect where all of the bits and pieces of my musical style come from because I draw ideas from everything that I listen and it’s such a wide and shattered image.
Ian: I guess, for a new topic now, how did you first discover Goats of Doom and how did you first get into contact with them for the split?
Lord Theynian: A mutual friend who recorded their third demo “Ikuinen pilkkalaulu” in his studio introduced me to Goats of Doom and I instantly knew that there was something about them, so I said to my friend that I would like to do a split with them (I had been looking for a band to make a split with for some time). They were more than happy to get something official out through a label (all of their demos were only available in the internet) so that was pretty much it. Also, after the successful split collaboration I asked the head of Ewiges Eis Records if he was interested in releasing their debut album and he liked the idea, so that’s coming in the near future.
Ian: I'm curious why you had an interest in doing a split, what made you more interested in releasing the Domini Ascensiönem Prima Pars trilogy on there as oppose to an EP or wait for another full-length?
Lord Theynian: The songs (except for an unfinished version of Prophecy) didn’t exist prior to the idea of releasing a split. The initial spark to make a split with Goats of Doom was really because I felt that they deserved to get a chance to release something through a proper label and to gain wider recognition. If it wasn’t for the split and I had made these songs, I would’ve surely included them on the third album, since Prophecy was originally intended for it. I had some other songs that I made with a split release in my mind, but since I didn’t find a band good enough to release a split with so those songs still remain to be released. When it came to choosing material for this split, those songs weren’t strong enough, so I made new ones (along with finishing Prophecy) for this split and I must say that I’m extremely satisfied with the end result.
Ian: In our first interview you had mentioned that you were moving into a doomier direction, would you say that the material on the split is a good representation of where you wanted to go, or do you intended to go into even slower and more atmospheric realms?
Lord Theynian: Yes, that’s exactly what I was talking about. My music is all about contrast and doom is a new weapon for my arsenal. Slower sections give so much more space to bombard the listener with layers and layers of stuff and to me they have so much more depth and feeling in them when compared to going as fast as you can. You also need the fast stuff to make the slow parts feel even slower. Like I said, it’s all about the contrast. Fast and slow, heavy and light, melancholic and hopeful. They all enhance and feed off each other and take the compositions to the next level.
Ian: So is it a similar reasoning behind having fast tracks like Blinding The Eyes of The Bastard Christ on the front end of "II" while tracks like Of Deep and Dark Waters are more atmospheric and doomier (or mid-paced) near the end?
Lord Theynian: The song order of “II” that I ended up with just felt natural to me. It starts off a bit slower with Children of A Failed God and picks up the pace to the fastest songs of the album. Of Deep and Dark Waters is a bit like the beginning of the second act and from that moment the album reveals its other side to the listener. I tried to keep things interesting throughout the whole length of the album and I think that this is the perfect order for these songs. There is this clear sense of drama in the progression of the album. I always want to think albums as a whole, not just a compilation of random songs.
Ian: I would agree, a lot of albums have great songs, but the flow kind of ruins the experience if you have only blasting all the time, or you totally load up the front end with catchy tracks and the end is very dull and boring. How much of an effort did you put into the order of "II" and would you say, looking back, that you did it on "I" as well?
Lord Theynian: I really didn’t think of the flow of the album when making the songs. There were various different incarnations of “II” throughout its whole creation process and many songs were left out and replaced by others. I really tried to find the perfect mixture of all of the different sides of Dødkvlt with the final tracklist with the songs I had without going too far of the roots that were built with my debut. “I” was made in really short period of time (in like a month or so) and the songs on the album are in the order they were created in, so that alone creates that effortless flow to it. It just felt right to have them in that order so that the listener can hear the project take its first few steps in its journey of musical evolution. The ending of “I” created a logical bridge to the next chapter.
Ian: Would you mind discussing the idea behind the cover art of "II"? It's a very striking image that really reflects the aggression in the album, but to me, the album has so many other sides to it, even beauty, like the closer Taival Vailla Valoa, what made you decide to have the image as the cover?
Lord Theynian: I always imagined the album cover art to be blood red, I just had no concept for it otherwise. This image was from the promo picture sessions. I had an alternate idea for the cover later on that I was going to execute but when I edited these pictures and this one became so striking and powerful that I just had to make it the front cover. There was no question about it. I wanted to leave the logo and the title out because the picture alone speaks for itself. Good cover art is always crucial because that’s the first thing that people see. A bad cover can even ruin a good album so it’s important to me to make the whole concept of the album coherent from music to the artwork.
Ian: I know with "I" you were tagged as being "depressive black metal", I've seen that you are at least a fan of some artists like Lifelover, Xasthur, and Silencer, but would ever say that you identify, musically or ideally, with any of those groups/artists and have you ever seen Dødkvlt as a depressive band?
Lord Theynian: Never. It’s a mislabeling that I don’t understand. Satan and suicidal angst don’t walk hand in hand and I think that it’s pretty clear what side of the line I stand on. It seems that if you mention the word “suicide” on your lyrics then that instantly makes the artist suicidal. When I rarely write about self-destructive behavior, it’s always from an outside perspective or writing as a character (like for example in Buried Beneath the Rust). The case may also be that my lyrics are misunderstood. What is similar is the musical melancholy, but lyrically and ideologically there’s no similarity between me and DSBM acts.
Ian: That kind of brings me to my next question, the lyrics, with a song like Buried Beneath The Rust, and even with the Domini Ascensiönem Tertia Pars trilogy (so far), it seems like your lyrics are more story based, are there songs where you are being more personal, lyrically anyway.
Lord Theynian: There are some personal ones lyric-wise. Taival Vailla Valoa, Mitt Epitaf, The Rain and Taste My Sweet Revenge to name a few. I just tend to write more of wider and universal subjects in my songs due to the religious aspect. I want to paint a picture, a story, with most of my lyrics to enhance and to support the music.
Ian: Is there any update as to the status of "III" at this point in time? Is it still your plan to continue in a more doomy style, and can we expect an even wider sonic pallete next time?
Lord Theynian: Well, the first song, that is already been written and recorded, continues on that same path. It’s a quite logical continuation to where Doom Sower left off. Other than that, I must say that I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure that there will be new elements planted in there as the musical direction is constantly evolving in some direction. Musical and lyrical themes from the first three parts will be revisited to create continuation.
Ian: For those that don't know, what is the concept of Domini Ascensiönem Prima Pars?
Lord Theynian: It is about the prophecy of Satan’s arrival to earth to aid his followers in the battle against heretics. First part is self-explanatory. The second part, Dusk, is about Satan testing the strength of the faith and loyalty of his disciples. The weak ones are weeded out and the strong remain and in the third part, Doom Sower, they are rewarded as the prophecy is fulfilled. Like I said earlier, this is a prologue for the third album and the story continues on from that.
Ian: Did you already have the concept for this before you started writing the songs that became Prophecy, Dusk, and Doom Sower? For a project like this, which to me is more of a concept album, do you plan on having the music fit the lyrics?
Lord Theynian: I always write the lyrics after I have created the music. The music paints a certain image in my mind that I use as a base for my lyrics. Also the song titles give a good frame for the lyrical content. I usually name my songs when the music has been written before creating the lyrics or sometimes I even come up with the title first and then get inspired to make the music to fit it (like in Kun Kuolema Meidät Korjaa... Saatana Meidät Ottaa). The title Prophecy was a clear guide when thinking of the lyrical concept for this split and it all sprouted from that. Doom Sower was actually the first song that I wrote lyrics on for the split even though it’s the last song. After that it was clear what direction the story was going when the end of this chapter was written.
Ian: What are you currently listening to, are there any albums that are really catching your ear at the moment? Is there any music that you find to inspire you right now?
Lord Theynian: In the last few days I have been listening to the new Shining ("VII – Född Förlorare") album quite a lot. I admire the fact that they had the courage to step further out of the world of black metal and metal in general by showing their lighter side even more than on their previous releases. As I mentioned before, I’ve also been listening to a lot of French black metal recently. Also, the whole Wyqm (American one man black metal band) discography has still been on heavy rotation and they just released a new EP with two cover songs that I was lucky to get my hands on since it was limited to only 10 copies (2 white and 8 clear). There are many more. So much good music and so little time.
Ian: Well, I think that's about all the questions I have right now. I have to say it's been a pleasure to interview you again, you are truely a gentleman and a highly tallented musician. The last words are once again yours.
Lord Theynian: "Please buy our product" -Peter Steele
If you've read the first interview, you already know to check out Dødkvlt, so I don't have to tell you again. Definitely check out "II" and "Deathcult ov Doomgoat", they're high quality stuff, Lord Theynian is really starting to find his own style and they're albums you won't want to miss out on.