A self devouring serpent
Aiiiiieeeeeeeee! The world might be running out of oil, polar ice caps, and compassion, but frosty bedroom black metal is never in short supply. Speaking to us about his new album 'Ouroboros' and his abode in the heart of Florida is Aetas, the misanthropic persona behind WinterRealm, which this writer believes is among the more interesting underground solo projects going on right now.
AM: Hello Aetas. How is life treating you in sunny Florida?
Aetas: Life is alright at the moment.
AM: Yeah, sunny Florida. It's where you live, but you call yourself WinterRealm. You ever wanna move to a frostier place?
Aetas: Yes, I hate the sun, and if I had the means I would have moved a long time ago. It has recently been moderately cold down here though. Somewhere around the 40's or 50's. I've been enjoying that very much.
As for the name; WinterRealm is more of a state of mind. It has less do to with my surroundings and more to do with the need for isolation. Winter can be a very harsh place, and it's known to represent change or death, but it can also represent a bleak sense of solitude and truth. My mind is a dark place, and over the years I've come to prefer it over the company of others.
AM: When we first met it was around the release of your first album 'Twilight'. Barely a year later you come up with 'Ouroboros'. I'm guessing you're writing new material right now, am I correct?
Aetas: Yes. Believe it or not, 'Ouroboros' is nearly a year old now, and I had it finished only about 5 months after I finished (2009) 'Twilight'. Actually, the 'Twilight' album had only been available for about a week when I finished 'Ouroboros'. I am always writing new music. I suppose I am somewhat prolific musically.
AM: "Ouroboros" is a pretty cool name. What the hell does it mean?
Aetas: Traditionally Ouroboros is deplicted as a self devouring serpent. Following its death, it is immediately born anew, similar to a phoenix. It represents the infinite. The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol that has been around for centuries. In fact, many cultures have their own version of the Ouroboros, just with a different name. In Norse mythology it is called Jörmungandr, Tiamat is it's name in the Enûma Eli, it is also sometime known to be called Leviathan. It is often considered a very powerful magickal symbol and has been used as such for centuries.
To me, the symbol holds endless inspiration and it was excellent representation of what this album stands for. The album represents nearly the same concepts theoretically. The songs are based around the four seasons, life and death, creation and destruction, and the four major steps to ritual magick, among other things... They both represent a continuous cycle, repeating itself infinitely. When you take into consideration all of the possible meanings held within the symbol, and the meaning of the album in it entirety, it would have been absurd to choose any other name.
AM: Some parts of 'Ouroboros' are pretty ferocious. Do you actually enjoy composing?
Aetas: Thanks, that was a part of the overall goal... Yes, I do enjoy composing, although I find it incredibly stressful at times. It consumes me in a sense, and I generally think about little else than composing and recording music these days. Aside from time spent with my girlfriend and trying to pay the bills, music is really all I care about and all I do. I really can't be satisfied without it, and simultaneously, I can't even relax half of the time because I know I have unfinished songs to work on. It will eventually result in ulcers, I'm sure. It can be a vicious fucking cycle, let me tell you!
AM: Is the pre-production stage still a challenge for you or is it all natural? Do you have any idea at what point your skills as a musician will reach its peak?
Aetas: It's pretty natural, and I've become quite accustomed to it now. I have no idea when I will reach my peak as a musician. I'd like to say that there is no peak and that I'll continue to become a better musician as time goes by, but honestly, how can I possibly know? I'm just as human as the next person.
AM: What software do you use to record? How did you tweak your skills as a DIY producer?
Aetas: I demo my songs on a four track tape deck, but for the albums I mainly use FLStudio. It works, and that's all that matters to me. Experience, I guess. To be honest, I'm no guru producer. I just do what I know.
AM: Did you have any mentors or references who guided you through the process of learning to record music?
Aetas: No, I am 100% completely self-taught. I am happy with this and wouldn't change it.
AM: How did you forge a partnership with the guys at Azermedoth records?
Aetas: At the time they were releasing Moloch, a band I listen to. I decided to see if they were interested, and they were.
AM: What kind of distribution did you set up for your new album? Any positive reviews so far?
Aetas: The album isn't available yet, it is planned to be released sometime this spring. It will be available on CD in 500 copies and on tape in somewhere around 300 copies. The few people that I have let listen to it so far have enjoyed it, and I am very anxious for the release. There are some tracks available for listening at Myspace.
AM: Can I call you a multi-instrumentalist?
AM: When did you develop a keen taste for the extreme divine? I mean, at what point in your life did you fall under black metal's shadow?
Aetas: I've been listening to extreme metal since I was about 11. A guy my father used to work with introduced me to At The Gates, some older In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity. I enjoyed them, so a few weeks later he brought me a mix CD with some black metal bands on it. I believe it went something like; Zyklon-B, Abigor, Marduk, Dissection, Emperor, etc. There were others too that I can't remember. After that I started looking for more bands on my own, and I've enjoyed the music ever since.
AM: Can you trace your musical lineage? Call it a pedigree or a chain of influence, but who are the artists who helped shape your work through their own music?
Aetas: Too many to count. Sometimes the influence comes from the music directly, other times it comes from the idea behind the music. I would say the bands that have influenced me the most are bands that no one would have expected.Examples; Fields Of The Nephilim, Tiamat, Ulver, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, Fugazi, Samhain, Infected Mushroom, Dark Tranquillity, Alice In Chains, Skinny Puppy, etc.
Then there are the more obvious ones; Thy Serpent, Nokturnal Mortuum, Burzum, Beherit, Void, Abyssic Hate, Gorgoroth, Zyklon-B, Rotting Christ, Horrified, Shining, etc...
Then there are outside influences. William Blake, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, John Tito.
AM: What else keeps you busy aside from recording?
Aetas: Collecting and listening to obscure music. Reading, writing, nature, and my girlfriend. That's really about it.
AM: When life gets too hectic, how do you relax?
Aetas: I don't.
AM: Are you a download person or do you still go out of your way to buy albums?
Aetas: I buy physical copies of music. I DON'T buy digital downloads. Fuck iTunes and the bunch of them, they're a fucking ripoff if you ask me. I have a huge collection of CDs, tapes and vinyl. I do download some music, but usually only to see if I like it or not. As far as illegal downloads go, the general rule is that download only serve as a tester. I own nearly every album I have ever downloaded and enjoyed. All the rest were a waste of space and get deleted, usually after the first few songs. Also, after I have purchased an album I always delete the downloaded copy and rip my own one.
AM: Even if you aren't part of anyone's scene, do you still go out and watch concerts?
Aetas: Occasionally. I don't really enjoy concerts that much anymore. Too many shitheads go to concerts and generally ruin the experience. If it's a band I really like I'll go, but I usually don't stay after they're done, unless I really find myself enjoying the next band.
AM: Since the metal scene in your neck of the woods is a nonevent, aren't you glad you don't belong to a scene in the first place?
Aetas: Yes. I've never really been interested in the idea of "the scene". Call me elitist, but I really fucking hate trends and people who follow them, and that is all a scene really is anyway. We do have a scene down here, but it's filled with a bunch of middle aged alcoholics that go to smokey bars and listen to their co-workers "metal" bands, who really are nothing more than poor radio-rock. Fuck that shit! I wouldn't fit in anyway since I don't have enough wrinkles on my forehead!
AM: How would you describe the quality of life in your hometown? How's the weather and the people? Got any gripes you'd like to air?
Aetas: I used to hate it when I was younger but I've grown to enjoy it here. Except for the heat in the summer and the vacuum-headed people, it's really not so bad, especially now that I've distanced myself from most everyone here. My only real gripe is that there is not enough natural land around here and that I have to go a decent ways from my home to actually be in nature. I've got a large nature preserve a few miles away, which is nice, but they make you pay to get in and since I'm a vegetarian and I'm not going to fish or hunt, I'm basically paying to walk. I find that somewhat ridiculous to be honest, but that's how it is.
AM: What is it like inside your head? What goes through your mind on an average day?
Aetas: I think a lot about music, and what I'm going to do next. Aside from that, my mind is pretty bleak. I tend to dwell on mostly negative (or positive, depending on your view) philosophies. I think a lot about things that most common people would be disturbed by. I think a lot about general misanthropy, and nihilism, and how little life and existence really means to me. I feel that it is very important to suppress your ego, that way you can accurately portrait yourself as you really are. Just another human that will eventually die. Life can mean so much more this way. It is also important to indulge in your desires and the things that satisfy you, and ideally you should be able to do this without ego. You know, use what you need and nothing more. If that were the case for all humans, it would almost make them worth the air they waste. But that's not how it is unfortunately. I also think about the useless social taboos and how natural human behavior like murder and suicide, are generally considered wrong by society and the vast majority of "normal people". I think about the Human condition, Human nature, and man's attempt at suppressing his own primal instincts. I think about how ludicrous it all is. I ask myself why I even bother sometimes. Why I even bother to think at all. Why I even care to continue living, and why anyone does. I think about whether or not I should even try making sense to anyone. I wonder if anything or anyone is even worth my time. Sometimes I wonder if I'm insane.
My mind is a big paradox, and I don't even care if the pieces fit anymore. Don't mistake me for an unhappy person though. I've said this before, and I'll repeat it here. If I'm unhappy with anything, it's probably you (humans).
AM: Isn't Leona Lewis pretty?
AM: Too bad it ends here, WinterRealm. Do you get cranky when you're hungry?
Aetas: No, not usually. Sometimes I even forget to eat. Look out for 'Ouroboros' this spring. You can find WinterRealm news and updates online at www.winterrealm.tk and also on Myspace at www.myspace.com/winterrealm. Thanks for the interview, and thanks to anyone who read this all of the way through. I appreciate it.
Interview by Miguel Miranda