Thursday, October 24, 2013

Moonknight Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the musical project these days?
I have recently released a new 5-song EP titled "Senmorta", it was released first as a free digital download on my Bandcamp page, and a cassette edition is in the works now. After the last full-length "Ligeia" I was exhausted from the process of mixing the album as it took a very long time for me to complete. So before I committed to doing the next full-length I wanted to do some smaller-scale releases, like EPs and splits, as I can be more prolific and have more releases without taking as long. This is my reasoning behind doing the recent split 7" with MOLOCH and the EP "Senmorta", and there will likely be a couple more splits or EPs before another full-length comes out.

2.How would you describe the musical sound of the recent material?
For "Senmorta" I deviated quite a bit from the atmospheric black metal style of "Ligeia", as I was listening to a lot of Teutonic thrash at the time it was written (KREATOR, SODOM, etc.) and I tend to be influenced by whatever I am currently listening to. So "Senmorta" has a dirty, evil thrash sound, but to me it still sounds like MOONKNIGHT. I am not trying to emulate a particular style necessarily, as I said I am influenced by whatever I am listening to and I don't want to place any restrictions on MOONKNIGHT and what it should sound like. Looking ahead I intend to continue with this attitude and approach.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new material explores and how would you describe your progress as a songwriter over the years?
Lyrics are always one of my biggest challenges and they don't come easily to me. But, lyrics are important to me and to MOONKNIGHT, it adds so much to the music in my opinion, so I am determined to write lyrics for most of my songs. Usually I just begin with a few cool sounding words and as the verses and choruses flow out a theme or story starts to emerge. If I had to summarize what I write about in general it tends to be ideas of defeat or losing everything, being abandoned, being lost, existential despair, and not finding solace even in death. But on "Senmorta" I even explored post-apocalyptic themes, like a zombie invasion for the song "Street Rot City" and the horrors of nuclear energy gone wrong in "A.R.S." (on a side note, "A.R.S. stands for "Acute Radiation Syndrome", the technical term for radiation sickness, and it was inspired by the Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster in Japan). I think my songwriting has improved over the years but honestly I've never had much formal training, I just rely on my own instincts and what sounds good to me.

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name Moonknight?
Comic book fans may recognize the name, as there is a character in the Marvel comics universe called Moon Knight (I've been reading comics my entire life). But I also like the name because the Moon represents our dark side, our subconscious, perhaps our animal side, and MOONKNIGHT is that aspect unleashed. Plus as a band name it just sounds cool.

5.With this musical project you work solo, what are some of the things you can do myself with this project that you are not able to do with the other bands?
There is a good side and a bad side to doing it solo. The good side is that I have total creative freedom, and I can do whatever I want. That is precious to me, the ability to express myself in a pure way. The bad side is sometimes you can lost in the freedom, as there can sometimes be too many possibilities to narrow down, that's when it's good to have other people involved and get their opinion. There can also be a pressure to deliver great material, as you are the sole responsible party and if the songs don't work there's no one else to blame but you. I guess that's why I like working both solo and with an ensemble (such as my main band HARASSOR).

6.Recently you have put out a split with Moloch, what are your thoughts on the other band that participated?
First off, I love 7"'s. I have been an avid collector of 7"'s since the late 80's and it's a format that I am very fond of. I wanted to do a MOONKNIGHT 7" and it occurred to me, why don't I do a split with another band that might be a little more established or known, and that way MOONKNIGHT could possibly reach new some new fans? I was contemplating this when Sergiy from MOLOCH approached me about doing a release on my label Rising Beast Recordings, and it seemed like the match up I was looking for. I was well aware of MOLOCH for some time before doing the split, as I had several of his releases. His style is a bit different from mine but I think tonally there is a parallel, as we both tend to gravitate towards depressive, melancholic styles. He was great to work with, a total pro, and he actually did the entire layout for the 7" for me and did a great job. He's a really cool guy with a true underground spirit and attitude. A cassette edition is also on the way from Sergiy's label Depressive Illusions.

7.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
I am always humbled by the positive responses I receive. The idea that someone, whether it's a friend or a stranger, is taking an interest in my work is very rewarding and makes all the effort worthwhile. I am always pleased to see my releases getting posted on blogs and people sharing my music, in that way it seems to take on a life of its own. The vast majority of feedback has been positive, and I think the people who respond otherwise don't understand what they are listening to, which is fine with me.

8.What is going on with your record label and other musical projects these days?
Besides the upcoming "Senmorta" cassette release, I am co-releasing a GLASS COFFIN / HARASSOR split LP with Husk Records and Universal Consciousness. That record is at the pressing plant now and should be out sometime in November. After that I have a couple more outside bands I'm releasing that I will be announcing soon. Honestly running a label and distro is a huge amount of work and a lot for me to juggle between my day job and various band activities, so I'm actually planning to scale down the label and distro and focus more on my own music. I'm not going to stop, just scale it down. As for my other music projects, HARASSOR also has a new full-length LP titled "Into Unknown Depths" that will be released by Dais Records early next year and we plan to tour in support of that. DARGAR is my side project with Pete from HARASSOR and we have a split LP with DEMONOLOGISTS that will be released by Whispering Eye, as well as another full-length that is about 85% recorded.

9.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
First off, there is a new MOONKNIGHT split in the works with ALMA NEGRA from Mexico that will be released by the label Bajo de Sepulcro. I'm also recording another new EP right now. This new material is looser and more raw, and also darker in tone. I've kind of returned to a more traditional black metal style that is very fast and intense. It's a bit of a counter-reaction to "Senmorta", which I labored over for 2 years and I was really exhausted by the end of it. Once it was finished I just wanted to blow off some steam and write some loose, spontaneous songs on the fly and not think or worry about it as much. But beyond that there is indeed another full-length I've been slowly working on titled "Valinor", and it's the spiritual successor to "Ligeia" as it continues in a similar atmospheric style. It's also the last batch of drum machine songs for me to complete and it's been in the works for about 3 years now. I basically record songs constantly and I have a massive archive of material, and gradually I select songs that seem to fit together and that's how my releases are assembled. There are about 10 times as many songs recorded as there are ones that I've released, I'm just really slow about releasing them!

10.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I have been listening to underground metal for nearly 25 years now so there is a vast number of influences that feed into my music, but I am also constantly inspired by new bands as well. Some of my all-time favorites in no particular order are: VOIVOD, SLAYER, INQUISITION, DARKTHRONE, MORTUALIA, PORTAL, ALCEST, ANHEDONIST, ANTEDILUVIAN, BEHERIT, VELVET CACOON, COLD BODY RADIATION, CRUCIAMENTUM, ENCOFFINATION, HORSEBACK, JESU, ILDJARN, KREATOR, LURKER OF CHALICE, MEFITIC, REPUGNANT, XASTHUR, and many, many more. Lately I've been really enjoying the new GRAVE UPHEAVAL album on Nuclear War Now!, it's the darkest and murkiest death metal I've ever heard, seriously they make INCANTATION sound like a power metal band. I'm also in awe of BOLZER from Switzerland, they have some of the most unique riffs I've ever heard and to me sound like old NEUROSIS playing death metal. Amazing stuff.

11.How would you describe your views on Satanism and Occultism?
I don't consider myself a practicing Satanist or Occultist but I have studied and explored a number of belief systems and practices...Taoism, Aleister Crowley, astrology, tarot, kabbalah, psychedelics, and brain-changing metaphysics. I basically think each person should find their own way with whatever works for them. Each one of us is an individual and thus must form our own unique response to the human dilemma - the dilemma of existence, of being alive. There are no rights or wrongs and what may work for one person may not work for someone else. Do What Thou Wilt...

12.Outside of music what are some of your interests?
I am a big comic book fan and have been reading and collecting comics my entire life. I am also really into tattoos and I like old horror and sci-fi films.
 13.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Thanks so much for the interview Erik, and thanks to everyone for their support!

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