Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Stellar Descent Interview
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the project for those that have never heard of you before?
Stellar Descent is an atmospheric black metal project that I started sometime around 2010.
2. How would you describe your musical sound?
My material is typically atmospheric black metal with acoustic guitar. While the feel of each release is different, atmospheric evolution is common to most.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the project explores with the music?
Stellar Descent is lyrically inspired by the the vastness of space and time, the delicate condition of humanity and its only known home, Earth, and the understanding and appreciation that we are all simply temporary expressions of the universe. To this end, releases have focused on biogeochemical cycles, human-caused global warming, geological mountain building, the shared experience of the human condition in the face of the vastness of space and time, etc.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the projects name?
Stellar Descent is actually meant to be taken literally. "Stellar" means "of or relating to the stars" and "descent" is referring to its ancestral definition-- for example, "Descent through modification"-- so "Stellar Descent" is a way of describing our common cosmic origin. As Carl Sagan famously said, "We're made of Star Stuff."
5. Currently there is only 1 member in the band, are you planning on expanding the line up in the future or do you choose to remain solo?
Some folks may help in future releases, especially with vocals. But I plan to continue writing and recording by myself. I don't think there's any real chance of ever forming a full band to play live shows.
6. Currently you are signed to Eternal Warfare Records, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?
I recorded Accretion after a hiking/camping trip in the Sierra Nevada. I returned inspired and started recording. But I hadn't been involved with the "scene" for years. I didn't know any local labels or bands. I contacted Ash, with whom I recorded years ago under Twilight Falls. We go way back. He's been a close friend for nearly a couple decades now. He told me that he released Boreal through Eternal Warfare. And so I sent an email, and eventually Accretion was released. I've been very happy with Eternal Warfare. I generally dig the label's atmosphere and direction. And I'm amazingly impressed with the musical output of its founder.
7.Recently you put out a split album from Awlyin, what are your thoughts on the other band that participated?
Aylwin is great. It was a pleasure working with them, and it was a real kick meeting up at the Eternal Warfare Fest. I've been able to hear some of their upcoming material-- it's fantastic. I'm very excited to watch them evolve.
8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
So far, so good. Some folks have contacted me with positive feedback, which is something that I really appreciate. Music is an entirely personal and selfish passion for me, but it always excites me when I can share a musical connection with others.
9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
I don't know. I think it will always be atmospheric. But there's so many directions. I never really know what I'm going to record before I start recording. I typically sit down with one progression. And then I just let things happen.
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
There's so much music that inspires me. I could never list it all. Instead, I'll mention two releases that have inspired me so much that my music would not exist would them:
1. Boreal's "The Abyss" - This hasn't been released yet, but I am lucky enough to have a digital copy. It is just about the most amazing atmospheric/ambient piece of black metal I've ever heard. Stellar Descent's material-- especially the recent unreleased material-- has become increasingly atmospheric with every release. This evolution is almost entirely due to "The Abyss."
2. Alda's ":Tahoma:" - It wasn't just the Sierra Nevada that inspired "Accretion"-- it was also ":Tahoma:", which is a perfect soundtrack to any Sierran hiking or camping trip. Alda completely captures the feeling of being enveloped by nature. This album fundamentally changed my approach to writing music.
I've recently been listening to Novemthree's "Renewing," Aylwin's upcoming split release, and the most recent Fauna and Echtra releases. And an awful lot of other stuff.
11. Outside of music what are some of your interests? I spend quite a bit of time reading about science, environment, and policy. And I love hiking and camping.
12. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
My music always concerns the complexity and fragility of nature and humanity. It's a topic worthy enough for music, so it's a topic worthy enough to expand upon a bit. And so I will.
Humans are a part of nature. Some people therefore wrongly believe that anything humans do is natural and justifiable. But, as Stephen Jay Gould so perfectly summed it, "Nature doesn't care." There is no known cosmic justice against which our actions as a species will be judged. There is no natural destiny from which we should not diverge. Our experience with and impact on nature are entirely our choices. So we need to carefully think about those choices.
We are all tied to nature. Our species evolved from natural ecosystems. All great questions about our existence are ultimately answerable only through nature. When we destroy nature, we destroy a part of ourselves-- we destroy our only opportunity to ultimately understand what it means to be human.
Our ties to nature don't just concern our shared intrest in our common origin. Almost everyone can feel a powerful connection to nature. We enjoy nature. We find meaning in nature. We find peace in nature. We flock to nature as an escape from our daily lives. The importance of nature in human pleasure is clearly indicated by its role in human destinations. Here in the US: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, Glacier National Part, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains, etc. And its undeniable role in human art speaks to this connection. When we destroy nature, we destroy something to which we deeply and profoundly connect-- we destroy an important source of human pleasure and inspiration.
Moreover, the more we learn, the more difficult it is to escape the conclusion that at least some non-human animals are self aware. It appears obvious to me that many are. So when we destroy nature, we are causing other self-aware beings to die.
But, perhaps most importantly, we all rely on nature. Nearly every product that we consume is a product of ecosystems, from the food we eat to the wood we harvest to the oil we burn. From the dawn of complex life during the Cambrian Explosion about a billion years ago, ecosystems have processed and re-arranged Earth. And our ancestors evolved to rely on these processed materials every step of the way. That's a billion years of dependence coded in our genes.
We rely on an atmospheric composition that was fixed by algae even before the Cambrian Explosion. We rely on healthy soil and stable climates to grow vegetables and raise animals. We rely on healthy ecosystems to slow water on its journey back to the ocean long enough to recharge ground water. We rely on glaciers and snow pack for fresh water. We rely on healthy river systems and wetlands to keep fresh water safe and drinkable. We rely on healthy oceans for fisheries. We rely on healthy forests for building materials. Everywhere you look, we rely on nature. We rely on nature to survive. Without nature, we die.
So that's our choice. We either chose to carefully examine nature and base decisions on a proper understanding of our dependence so that we can make sustainable choices, or we chose to allow the continued destruction of our common origin, our source of inspiration, and countless self-aware creatures while condemning future generations to increasing hardship and risking ultimate extinction.
Thanks for the interview, Anthony