Aetherius Obscuritas (Hungary) 17/12/2020
No need for introduction. A great band with a great person behind it. Great composer, great musician but most importantly, open, friendly, very interesting personality and I believe that if we were living in the same city, we would be really good friends. Thank you for the interview. This is Viktor from Aetherius Obscuritas. Enjoy.
1. Hails Viktor, I am glad that you accepted this interview. First of all, please tell me how are you during the covid-19 pandemic? Has Hungary taken measures to confront the pandemic? Has this affected your job, your work with the band and generally your everyday life?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: It does have an effect on my life, but I do everything to continue living my everyday, normal life. I still do as many sports as possible and go out as much as I can, following the rules. As for the band, covid would not change a thing it was not this special year. Because normally I work on my own, compose music, write lyrics, and would send ideas to Zson (drums). But this year I decided to bring Aetherius back on stage, and I started rehearsing with a band in January. Then came the lockdown and with that, a setback in learning the program. It is extremely hard to keep rehearsing and continue polishing the songs we choose these days. All our shows were cancelled, of course, with the exception of one – I am still optimistic we can keep that in 2021 January. AO has not been on stage since 2010 – it was my plan to organize this comeback after round 10 years… but we have all been screwed.
2. I have to tell you that I was really impressed by your latest release “Mártír”. I have to admit that I didn’t know Aetherius Obscuritas before this release and I have been wondering, why this great band with so many releases, has not been promoted and become known. What is your opinion about that?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I am glad that you liked Mártír! What you are mentioning, wondering why AO is not more popular, is a question I frequently get. Well, even though black metal is a sub-genre, it has an industry built on that, too. And from business point of view, Aetherius may not be the best pick, merely because AO is not working with a complete line-up to go on tours globally or even regionally. The industry needs bands who are not only dedicated, and produce good quality music, but are mobile and ready to anything. On the other hand, I learn that a lot of bands with similar circumstances are better promoted and supported – maybe it is due to the musical taste of the labels. Black metal is a genre of extremes, both in practical- and figurative sense. There are tons of chaotic, shitty productions, with poor compositions and without even a tint of musical taste or knowledge, distorted screams, meaningless lyrics, unbearable sound and production. And we call it black metal. And there are talented musicians who make true music. We call it black metal, too. In my experience, there is a tremendously high demand for the shitty end of this scale, and we need to accept this. The good news is that everyone will find the music of their own taste. The bad news is you may need some time to fumble in the thrash before you find a gem.
3. Would you like to tell me the history of Aetherius Obscuritas since the beginning of the band?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I started it as an experiment in 2002, and the first two demos were not really meant for an audience. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the music could be spread really fast via the direct-connect file sharing network (eg. DC++) in that era, and AO became a popular download content on these Hubs. I was gradually improving the style of the band, and I also realized I should not make shit, I realized that the music I was making did not reach the level of the bands I was listening to, and if I would like to take it seriously I should improve the quality. It was still a hobby in 2005-2006, but I was deliberately working in improving things. “Layae’s Cradle”, the first CD release in 2006 can be taken as example of this evolution, but the true milestone was “Víziók” in 2007. That is the first album I am still proud of. And if I could turn back the wheel of time, “Víziók” would be the introductory release. I see it as an evolution, but the audience may not. I know that we put labels on everything and categorize everything. People who listened to the first few demos might found AO a low quality band, and may not return to it whatever we do. It takes much time to change such conceptions and to turn a previous experience and label that comes with it into a new conception, a new perspective. Such previous experiences can influence a new experience in a bad way, too. I have been working with session musicians to bring the band to the stage time to time. We had gigs in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010, also playing on a couple of summer festivals. This helped a lot in promoting the band and reaching our audience.
4. “Mártír” was released in April. After six months of the release, are you still satisfied with the result? If you had the chance, would you do anything in a different way?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: Well, I changed what I found worth changing. I sent the first version of the material to the labels late last year, but then I re-worked a bunch of things, like some parts of the guitar, and I completely re-recorded the vocals, and also asked Zson to re-record certain parts of the drums. For me, it takes a lot of time to make an album. I usually have only ideas at the beginning, and I record a few demos, just so that I can hear how things sound put together. Working alone, I do not hear my music as “complete” until I record everything, opposed to bands with a normal line-up. This is a disadvantage from one point of view, however, working on my own gives me more opportunity to polish certain parts before a composition gets its final form.
5. The first thing that caught my attention was the cover. Generally, the concept of the photography I came across inside the booklet, is very interesting and unique. Could you please give me more information about it?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I was making that goat mask for the stage, preparing for our comeback in 2020. In parallel, I was also experimenting with a solid, re-usable latex mask, also for live performance. Let’s not forget that I did not have new photos, the last ones were taken on our tour in 2010, and I wanted to make some fresh photos which could be used primarily for promoting the new album. Hence, I mixed these things, and I brought these stuff to the photo studio. I had a clear vision how I wanted to display these on photo, and all came out good! The original artwork for the album had already been ready by the time of the photoshoot, but I decided to change it, because I found the photos more catchy. So, it was merely a ‘sales’ decision.
6. This is the first time that you work with GrimmDistribution for a release. Are you satisfied by the support and promotion they are doing for the band?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: Absolutely! Aleksey is doing a really good job with online marketing! While Paragon Records, the other label behind the release, has a long history with trades, and selling in the traditional way.
7. You are the one responsible for the music of the band. Would you like to give me more information about the process of writing music? What inspires you to compose music?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: Some of the songs are originally born on classical guitar, while others are through an amp. The overall process varies – some songs are born in hours, end-to-end, and some take a year to complete, and in case of the previous album, “MMXV”, I used a lot of ideas that were 8-10 years old! Sometimes I get inspired by others’ music, sometimes it comes intrinsically. I only need to be in that particular mood, which is usually around winter.
8. You are also responsible for writing the lyrics of the project, the majority of which are written in Hungarian, while there are some songs written in English. Would you like to give me more information about the subjects and the style of your lyrics?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: The lyrics are usually about things that surround us, everyday matters, but in the style of black metal. Losing a friend, losing and finding motivation, our prime motives, humanly matters. Sometimes I use symbolism in many cases, but sometimes I write in a direct way. E.g. the opening song of the new album, ‘Ilyen a vér’ or ‘Blood is like this’ in English, is about the extremes we experience in terms of mood and motivation.
9. I guess every artist thinks that his best work is his last one. Do you think that “Mártír” is the best album of Aetherius Obscuritas? Does any of your previous releases hold a special place in your heart maybe for different reasons?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I do believe that “Mártír” is one of the best albums of Aetherius, and “MMXV” is a material I am proud for, too. It is always fun to listen to older releases of AO, I love every album since “Víziók”. I do not listen to my own work very often, especially the new albums. I keep listening the actual one for quite a while, in the making and after that, so I easily fed up with it… for some time. After you forget all the sweat and long hours spent in the studio, it is delighting to listen to it, again.
10. I noticed that you have gathered some musicians and you have performed in live shows. The situation at the moment, is quite weird with the gigs and I don’t know if they are prohibited in Hungary, but have you planned to play in a live show in the near future?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: Like I mentioned, all shows were cancelled, unfortunately, with the exception of one. But even though we get green light to organize this gig, we may not be able to make it anyway, because we cannot rehearse at the moment, partially due to the restrictions and partially because the members are trying to minimize physical contact as much as possible, merely because they decided to do so. I don’t agree with that, but this is something I need to understand and respect right now. Maybe the whole plan to get back on stage after 10 years is fucked, it is hard to tell at the moment. I have lot of energy which I feel I could turn into stage performance right now, and I feel like these energies slowly rot in me. I have already started working on a new material, and I have already written some of the lyrics – not hard to guess there will be one about covid, it is entitled “Murderers”. If we are kept in cage for long, it will be a generation of living dead. Disease can be cured, wounds can be healed, but a scarred soul may be wasted forever…
11. Have you ever played outside of Hungary and if yes, where? Which live performance has been so unique for you that you will never forget?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: We were playing only in the neighboring countries so far. Given that we play rarely, all shows are unique and unforgettable!
12. What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you practice any other form of art?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I do cycling and I work out regularly. I used to ride motorbike, but I find it too dangerous lately, because of the so many unexperienced and awful drivers in Hungary. I believe that the driving examiners are killers, and the majority of these animals should be rot in prison. The driving examiner system is deeply corrupt in Hungary, almost anyone can get a license, which I find extremely dangerous. If you give some money in their pocket, you pass, regardless you cannot even handle the vehicle. This is a job with a lot of responsibility, and these animals are so blind they do not see they are privy in murder eventually. I cannot fight this imbecility nor the corruption, hence I decided to be on the safe side and I do not ride anymore. I also like being in the nature, I like touring and hiking a lot. I remember these moments the most from my holidays, too!
13. What kind of music do you like to listen? Which bands, musicians or musical movements, do you think, have influenced you as a person and as an artist?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I primary listen to black metal. Apart from that, I listen to jazz, jazz-fusion, occasionally heavy- or power metal, especially European style. I have never listened to the mainstream, not even the big old classics, I found those boring and lifeless. Being a pioneer in a genre does not mean being the best. I am not interested in musical movements on ideas… as if one cooked the meal for me and also ate it instead of me. Music, like many other matters in life is about perception. The artist can tell what the music and the lyrics is about for him, and what message it is meant to convey, but is useless… both the music and the lyrics are perceived in an individual way, the same music and lyrics may mean totally different for you and me. Some expressions are self-explanatory, and work for a wide range of the audience, while others are very different and unique person to person. I was never influenced by an artist directly. I was, of course, inspired by music indirectly, and I have certain music for certain moods, just like anyone else. Apart from music, itself, I truly admire our ‘veterans’ who have been on the scene for 3-4 decades, and still find joy and passion in this form of art!
14. Have you begun writing material for your next release? Do you want to give me more information? Have you planed about when you will release your next one? Will it be another full length?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: I was planning a 7” vinyl, with two songs. I recorded both titles in April 2020. After finishing ‘Mártír’, I didn’t have any ideas left, but all of the sudden, I wrote two complete songs on one day in April. The lyrics came very fast, too! The first track is entitled ‘The Cloak of Wolves’, which is about how the younger and stronger generation beats the older one, and how ingrate, thankless we can be, pushing ourselves forward. It is so natural and instinctive… the lyrics is not judging, I took rather an observative point of view. I guess working on the future shows, and preparing for the gigs made me live more in the world of black metal, hence further new songs came, one after another. Now I have a new, complete material of 8 songs, 7 new, and 1 re-recording. It is way too early to come out with a new material, especially with a full-length album. Most probably I will further polish it, as always. 5 years passed between the last two albums, ‘MMXV’ and ‘Mártír’. Given the facts, apparently, it will not take another 5 years to release the album! So get your ears prepared!!
15. Thanks for the interview. Would you like to sum up your near future plans and add anything for a conclusion?
Viktor Vágvölgyi: Apart from a future album, I am planning to come out with a new beer. I had a dark, strong stout brewed, which came along with the album release – this was exclusively for Hungary, but I sent a few bottles abroad to a few of the core fans. I am planning to have a similar beer brewed, but with an even more special label, and larger quantity. Beer lovers, beware!