Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Interview: Ana and Justin of Astral Path

An Oath To The Void (2016, Avantgarde Music)
This is the first ever interview published on Le Mot du Melomaniaque and it is with a band that we were very excited about its debut album; An Oath To The Void. This Canadian two piece were kind enough to actually answer all of the questions we asked them. 

LMDM: Astral Path is relatively a new face in the crowd. Can you introduce the band for those who don’t know about you?

Ana: I'm Ana and I play bass, synth, and also help write lyrics.

Justin: I'm Justin. I play guitar and handle vocals on the album.

Ana: The band's genre is mostly in the atmospheric/ambient black metal realm of music. We are influenced by nature, science, space exploration and the cosmos. We strive to make that apparent to some degree in our music and its mood and feel. We are from Canada and only consist of two members.

LMDM: What is the idea behind the band’s concept and what is your vision of this particular musical project?
Justin and Ana

Ana: The idea behind the band was to create ambient/atmospheric black metal (with some depressive black metal influences too) and make a sound that was spacey and moody, yet still fast with blast beats and tremolo riffing. The lyrics are often about nature and space exploration, while also incorporating the rejection of religious indoctrination and support of scientific research to expand human knowledge.

Justin: Our goal was to create something that evokes the same feelings of awe and wonder that we feel when we look up at the stars at night. To do that, we had to focus on emotion and vibes more than anything during the writing process. Atmospheric Black Metal is an amazing genre because it allows you to strip down your compositions and focus purely on the specific emotion you wish to evoke in the listener. It's a very personal connection between the composer and the listener. The genre is so broad because of this connection. Many people connect with the depressive vibes that some bands choose to evoke; others don't. Some people connect with folklore and nature while others choose occult stylings. This is what is great about black metal. Anything goes. There is a niche for everyone. We felt that the cosmic niche was most natural for us - an honest representation of our interests - so we started creating music inspired by the cosmos.

LMDM: Can you talk about your influences and how they inspired you for /An Oath To The Void/?

Ana: My personal influences for this project were bands such as Basarabian Hills, Midnight Odyssey, Spectral Lore, Chaos Moon, Mare Cognitum, Eternal Valley, etc.

Justin: Yeah, we both have a very wide range of influences. We don't exclusively listen to metal. Progressive Jazz/New-Age composer Vangelis is hugely inspirational for me. He created many tracks that appeared on the original ''Cosmos'' series on PBS in the 80's. His soundtrack for Cosmos is iconic and sets the bar very high for people wishing to create atmospheric music. The third track on our album is called 'Between Appalachia and The Shield'; that song was directly influenced by Vangelis' song 'Alpha'. I love Vangelis' ability to craft simple ideas into grandiose compositions so I tried to channel his composition style on that track. Wolves in the Throne Room were a very significant discovery for me. I was just getting into black metal when I heard their vastly different approach (compared to first/second wave of black metal groups) on Two Hunters. The lingering riffs and interplay between the two guitars creates a wonderful vibe. You can hear WITTR influence spread out across the tracks on the album. There are many artists that have influenced our writing, some are obvious and some are a little more difficult to pick out.

LMDM: Speaking of influences, what are you listening to at the moment?

Ana: I have been listening to the new Obscura album lately. I am a big fan of technical/progressive death metal and it inspired me to begin playing fretless bass to begin with. As for black metal (which I am always listening to), I've been listening to a band called Skyforest for the past week.

Justin: I'm on a massive Taake kick as of late. Hordalands Doedskvad is one of my favorite albums of all time. I keep coming back to it when I don't know what to listen to. I haven't heard the new Obscura album yet. I'll probably be looking into that one soon. Sivyj Yar's Burial Shrouds is getting lots of play time. Fuath, Mare Cognitum and Drudkh are regulars too. New Vektor has me excited. The Zenith Passage's new album was interesting, but the production was way too clean, so clean it was distracting. Belenos' Chemins de Souffrance is always on in my car. Always. I've been revisiting Emperor's discography this week. I didn't appreciate Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk for a long time but this week's listening has changed my mind a bit.

LMDM: Do you intend to take Astral Path on the stage to support the new album?

Ana: Probably not for now, although possibly not ever, haha. It would depend a lot on the amount of time Justin and I have to incorporate new band members and practice on a regular basis while also balancing work, school, social life, etc. We also live far apart. I live in Halifax and he lives in Ottawa. I've considered moving there after I'm finished my studies, so it's always a possibility. For now, we collaborate and write/record everything on our own and send the music files back and forth to each other, which eventually get mixed and blended together nicely thanks to technology. It is pretty cool actually that it has worked out this well.

LMDM: How was the writing process for the first album?

Ana: Usually, Justin and I would talk about an idea for the sound or mood of a song and each begin writing some ideas. Justin might send me some guitar riffs and drums while I send him some synth intros or melodies, etc. We would draw a lot of inspiration on our own but also from each other. Thus, if it sounded good, it usually became a song in the end.

Justin: A lot of the riffs on the album came flowing out very quickly. I'd say 65-70% of the album was written in the first few weeks. The remainder took significantly longer. We were both just really feeling it when we started writing.

LMDM: With the record (digitally) out since April 15th, how are you satisfied with the final product and your work with Avantgarde Music?

Ana: We are happy with it and we think we did a good job for our first album. We tried to really do our best to bring about our vision into a musical form and get the artwork to represent that. We also felt we did a good job with making a high quality BM recording, rather than sticking to a raw sound. Roberto of Avantegarde has been great and really supportive! He's been excellent to work with and his label has a great reputation (and it lives up to it).

Justin: Just knowing that there are people out there that appreciate our work is more than enough reward for the work we put into it. Roberto is very down to earth and chill. It is a pleasure working with him. Tryfar's design work for the CD package is simply awesome. He made a killer physical disc design. Our experience so far has been very relaxed and positive. We hope they will work with us again on a future release.

LMDM: We are huge vinyl fans here on Le Mot du Melomaniaque, are there any talks about releasing An Oath To The Void on this format anytime?

Ana: For now, we are just working on getting the digital sales and CD out, but vinyl is definitely a possibility. Perhaps after the CDs arrive, we can begin looking at some more options for more physical releases (tape and vinyl).

LMDM: We would like to thank you for your time and offer you to thank anyone or say any final word!

Ana: We want to say thank you for the interview, for the excellent review of our band, and we are thrilled to be named your band of the month for April 2016. The band appreciates your support greatly, so you have our genuine thanks!

Justin: Yes, thank you very much for your kind words and the exposure you are providing us with by featuring us on your website. We are very grateful! Thanks to Roberto at Avantgarde and Tryfar for his awesome work. Also, a big thanks goes out to everyone that has listened to our album. Your support means the world to us. Thanks!

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