1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Natalie Koskinen: Sometime early last summer (2022), Jesse sent me a demo of one of the songs he had composed, asking if I'd be interested in doing the vocals. A long-term love for this style of musical art actually forced me to answer yes. Especially when I no longer had to worry about our possible collaboration since we already knew each other more or less from The Abbey, another band founded by Jesse. Monachopsis Art was initially supposed to be just the two of us. We were supposed to record the album old school style, not to stress about the project but to let things move forward at their own pace. Eventually the songs started to sound so good that we decided to use a real drummer. And that's how Artte ended up in the band.
Jesse Heikkinen: Actually the first idea for this band came when me and Natalie were doing a photo session for The Abbey in Spring 2022. It was a night of heavy drinking and at some point I got the idea to form a black metal duo with her. A month later my first recordings were ready. I played all the instruments myself, the guitars and basses through an evil fuzz pedal made by my friend and drums with an old Casio keyboard. When the album was ready we both felt like it could use a real drummer, so I asked my old friend Artte to replace my crappy synth drums with real ones. And I'm glad I did.
2.You have your first full length coming out in March, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style that you went for on the recording?
N.K.: Jesse composed the entire album, so he can open up more about this topic. From my side, I can only tell that the music was raw and melodic at the same time, a bit punk style in places. Just the way I like it.
J.H.: I wanted the music to be simple, raw and melancholic, but also to include some dynamics since I knew how wide Natalie's vocal palette was. My musical compass was pointing in the direction of first and second wave black metal classics and I wanted the music to have that primal energy. When mixing and mastering, I also wanted to keep the sound raw and powerful, staying away from anything too "modern". Monachopsis Art is kind of a counter-current for my way more hectic and chaotic black metal based band, Henget.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band has explored so far with the music?
N.K.: Not so many months had passed since Russia invaded Ukraine when Jesse started composing the songs, so war has been quite a natural subject for two of our songs. "River Of Blood" is basically about the situation and the absurdity of what happens in Ukraine. I've been there three times transporting people to safety from the Ukrainian border and at some point these people wanted to talk - some more, some less. Based on those stories, I wrote "River of Blood" and added a slight poetry to it. ”Seeds” is based on a true story where Ukrainian women gave sunflower seeds to Russian soldiers to put in their pockets. And where a soldier dies, a sunflower grows. It's a really beautiful story in all its ugliness. Some of the songs are about depression, anxiety and longing for death. These are relatively personal things for me, things I've been dealing with. Then, of course, there is the never-ending topic of humanity's stupidity, worthlessness, and idle greed.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Monachopsis Art'?
N.K.: Monachopsis is a persistent feeling of being out of place, feeling that you don´t belong here. This name suits us perfectly.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
J.H.: The cover picture was taken by me when visiting an old dungeon in Turku Castle. The perspective is that of a prisoner, decaying in a dark cell with a distant small window reminding him of what he will never have. The picture resonates with the word "monachopsis" since there is a strong feeling of solitude and exclusion in it. There is also a strong contrast between light and darkness which reflects the dynamics of beauty and rawness in the music. On the back cover and booklet there are faded pictures that I took from a sunflower field last summer.
6.Has the band done any live shows or open to the idea?
N.K.: We haven't done any live shows yet because we're a new band after all. But we are very open to doing possible shows in the future.
J.H.: We haven't been actively seeking for live shows yet, but as Natalie said, we are open for it.
7.On the album you also had some session work from Spellgoth from 'Horna' and 'Trollheims Grot', can you tell us a little bit more about his contribution to the recording?
N.K.: It was Jesse's perversion to get Spellgoth as a guest on our record. We both had known him for many years and knew what he was capable of. I sent him the song "A Dark Place" with the lyrics and my vocals in the beginning of the song. He did his part even better than I expected! Very talented artist in so many ways. It was a pleasure.
J.H.: I don't know if "perversion" is the right word for it, but yeah, I wanted him to do some parts! It felt like his voice could suit these songs pretty well and the feeling was right. We are truly thankful for him to participate!
8.The album is going to be released on 'Forgotten Friends', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
J.H.: This is a self-published album and the first record ever published under the label "Forgotten Friends". Forgotten Friends is my own label and I may use it in the future for some other projects. Maybe. The name of the label comes from a song of my solo project, Iterum Nata. We got a lot of help from Silent Future Records / Nordvis Produktion so eternal hails unto them!
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
N.K.: Our first single will be released tomorrow (March 3), so not many people have heard our music yet. But we have received good feedback from those who have heard, which is great of course. If some people don't like our music, that's fine. And if someone likes it, that's a great bonus. We will continue in any case.
J.H.: As Natalie said, we haven't released anything when doing this interview so there hasn't been a lot of feedback yet. It will probably be the same as always with black metal folks, some hate it and some love it. In the end this music is done by us, for us, because we needed to express ourselves exactly this way. We have no commercial interest and we don't need to entertain anyone but ourselves.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
N.K.: We'll see that when we start working on the next album. Hopefully even more raw and bone crushing.
J.H.: We have no plans, no lust of result and no restrictions. We will take whatever may come and do whatever feels right.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
N.K.: Kvist, Ulver, Darkthrone, Burzum, Daath, Gehenna, Ved Buens Ende… Just to name a few.
J.H.: As I said before, the first and second wave black metal classics were a huge inspiration for me when I recorded "An Empty Existence", but you can also hear the influence of some modern atmospheric acts like ColdWorld or Lustre. Nowadays I mainly listen to 70's progressive rock, dark folk and black metal. When it comes to black metal, Thy Darkened Side, Jordfast and Häxkapell have been spinning on my plate quite a lot lately.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
N.K.: Thank you for the interview and hopefully we´ll see you at our future shows somewhere somehow!
J.H.: Remember to support your favorite artists by buying their merch and going to their shows. Support is vital.
Musician, composer, producer
Musician, composer, producer