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Interview - Orion (Vesania)

Interview with Orion from Vesania
by Daniel Fox at 13 November 2014, 2:04 PM

A new album in 7 years; that's a big deal for VESANIA, whose new album "Deus Ex Machina" stands as the new peak of the band's studio career; their biggest and most adventurous piece to date. Daniel Fox sat down with guitarist, vocalist and co-founder Orion to talk about the inner workings of the band, the evolution of their music, the theatrics and how he approaches writing.

 Greetings and warm hails from New Zealand. How’s life treating you right now?

Well, it has been great recently, I just came back from one VESANIA tour which was three weeks ago, and right after that we’ll have done a two-week long Behemoth tour in Poland. So, yeah I’m having a little break right now, and everything’s good man, thanks.

Well, it must be well-deserved. It must be a nice change to talk about VESANIA instead of Behemoth. If people unaware of VESANIA were to hear, “Hey, Orion from BEHEMOTH has his own band?” How would you describe VESANIA to them?

Ha-ha. Um, well I totally understand people’s perspective and saying that VESANIA is some kind of side project, but in fact that’s the band that I started with, and I was 17 when we started this one, and we still continue doing this, and actually from this band I joined behemoth and all my bandmates joined all the other bands. So, yeah, we started back then and our first album, in 2003, was called “Firefrost Arcanum”. We were heavily inspired by the Norwegian Black Metal scene at first, and now it’s just evolving, and I think we’re going in some weird direction, but yeah, this last album, “Deus Ex Machina” we’ve released after 7 years break, that’s what’s happening right now; new deal with Metal Blade, we’re working with VESANIA again.

 Right, well, 2014 sure seems to be shaping up to be a good year for the band, I imagine. First album in 7 years, does it feel like a kind of reunion?

Well, after the third album was called, so after this one we’ve done some touring, I think we’ve done 3 tours, and all 3 of them were somehow unlucky to us, and this third one was a European one and we had to cancel half of it and we came back home. Really unhappy with what was happening, it’s not really a time to speak about the tales of this tour, but it was just a bad experience, and we decided to put the band aside for some time, we didn’t really know how long we were going to have a break, besides we had other commitments with other bands back then, so we just decided it’s time to put this one aside for some time. And, well, we’ve known each other… Whoa, that sounds scary, about, almost 30 years, ‘cause at least me, Daray the drummer and Heinrich the bass player, we got to know each other when we were 6 or 7, so, since we were kids, and we actually still live nearby and we’re still the closest friends. Well, reunion, yes, but we didn’t lose the contact with each other for this entire time and we have been gathering ideas for the new album throughout whole break we had, so it just feels like doing something very enthusiastically, back again; I’m not sure if it’s a reunion.

Okay, fair enough. A few details on the new album. Was it a joint compositional effort, or do you and Daray generally write the music yourselves?

Well, each of us writes down the ideas all the time, either records them or just writes them down, and as soon as we decide we have enough material to work with, that’s in fact me and Daray taking all the ideas of everyone and making them into song structures, and it usually takes about a month or two, just straight rehearsing, me and him, and we record a demo after that, and then comes the most important part for this band at least, which is arranging the songs, ‘cause VESANIA’S music is really multi-layered and kinda complex at least for us, so then it’s all the other guys taking their part, and that’s the time where we’re changing  most of the songs and structures and parts of them, so everyone’s taking sort in it, even if it’s just me and the drummer writing the very first structures. Then, when we start recording, the songs have really not too much in common with what we started first, so it’s a long and complex process and everyone takes part in it.

 The album title means “God from the machine”, if I’m not mistaken? Which comes from Greek tragedy and the music itself, to me, sounds quite theatrical.  How does the music in the album make reference to this theme?

Well VESANIA has always been very theatrical, at least in the images and the stage look and everything happening within the lyrics, and well I used to hear a lot of comparisons about VESANIA’S music and it used to be usually DIMMU BORGIR or something like this, because whenever someone hears the sort of black metal playing with lots of keyboards and orchestrations it usually reminds them of DIMMU BORGIR and when I’m reading the comments for the singles we’ve released for, people usually say it reminds them more of ARCTURUS than DIMMU BORGIR, and it just speaks for itself that this theatrical part in the music is just more and more present. We decided to use this album title, even if it’s a very overused term in art in general. It does refer to the ancient Greek tragedy, and this god from the machine, well in ancient tragedies when the author had no idea how to solve the plot, how to make the things better, he was just sending a god to the stage to make some kind of intervention, and on stage it was just some kind of machine, a crane, used for that, so it was lowering an actor on stage, an actor playing god, and this trick was called “Deus Ex Machina”, and in our case it’s rather like calling for help, for any kind of intervention, maybe divine or whatever, because, you know, the human condition in the lyrics if you read through it is rather helpless  and powerless, and I would say pointless, so yeah, it’s like calling for help.

I see, yeah, that makes complete sense.

I’m not sure if it makes sense, but hopefully it does (laughs)

Well, that’s how it makes sense to me if it makes you feel better. You said the album felt a lot more theatrical than previous ones; I keep going back to the track “Dismay”, it feels very.. Well it feels strange, and that’s probably why it was my favourite track. How do you think this album compares to previous albums aside from the whole theatrical aspect?

Well, first of all, we’re growing older, we’re evolving, and this whole, let’s say, Symphonic Black Metal genre has just nothing really new to offer these days, at least in our opinion, so we were trying to make some sort of way out of it, or turn a little sideways from it, and we didn’t really want to record another strictly metal sounding album, and production wise we didn’t want this kick drum straight in your face and super high gain guitars so we just started doing something which would sound more Rocky I guess, than Metal, and if you wanna hear what the drummers playing you have to listen carefully, and you can actually hear when he’s hitting harder and when he’s hitting softer, and the guitars are not so high gain, they’re rather rock sounding guitars, and that’s the biggest difference I guess, that’s the sound of the album. Just speaking about the compositions overall, there’s more air in them, way more atmospheric than just focussed on whatever brutality anyhow. So we just have a different point of view on music today, we’ve been working with music for our lifetimes actually, and the more we do the more we’re looking backwards and listening to the classics more, than to what’s happening too in music ‘cause it’s not really entertaining anymore, so that’s why this song sounds a little different from the previous ones.

 Bands maybe quite often say that their latest album, in their opinion, is their best. What about you? Has the new album met or surpassed your personal expectations?

Well that’s understandable because the recent one, I mean what you recently do is just closest to you, and if you’re saying this one’s worse than the previous one, it wouldn’t make any sense to you if it’s crappy, right? So yeah I do like this one the most, and I just think there’s maturity in this music, finally, and it’s becoming unique, it’s becoming way more original than everything that we’ve done before.

 Recently the band released a lyric video for “Innocence”, is there talks for maybe a music video from the album as well for the same track or maybe a different track?

Well we’ve never done a music video, the band existing for more than 15 years and having 4 albums now, and we’ve never done a music video, because, well, I just don’t think I have the kind of visual imagination that allows us to do a video, and I’m not a fan of shitty videos at all, and I’m afraid we don’t have a budget to do a high quality video, and that’s the trap that we’re at, because the older we get, the more we do, the higher should be the level of whatever we do at the moment, and now doing a video is just a very hard step for us to overcome, but we’re actually talking about this and it’s most likely gonna be the video for “Innocence” and we already have a screenplay for it, we ‘re just trying to set up the whole shooting and everything, and probably it’s gonna happen finally soon for the very first time for us, I’m just, for some reason, afraid of shooting the video for this band ‘cause I want it to be great and perfect, and that’s just not the way I should think and I’m aware of it, but it’s probably gonna happen.

 You play guitar and perform vocals in VESANIA, but in BEHEMOTH you play bass. You said that VESANIA came first; what about the instruments you play? Did you sort of evolve them all at the same time or did
you sort of pick up bass when you were asked to play bass for BEHEMOTH?

Well I started with guitar and I picked up bass for BEHEMOTH actually, I mean when I joined behemoth back in 2003 it was during the tours for “Zos Kia Kultus” and we started writing demigod right after I joined, and back then I was playing guitar, at least during the rehearsals for behemoth, then we just got another guitarist, who was a very good guitarist, and we decided he should play the guitar and I just take the bass. And well these are very different instruments, and I don’t feel like a guitar shredder or a bass shredder or whatever, and that has never been away for me to look at the instruments playing, you know, there’s thousands of kids on YouTube who are better instrumentalists than I am, and who are better instrumentalists than a lot of my idols, and that’s just not what it is. For me, what matters, is the way of arranging the songs and the ideas you have, and the heart you put into what you’re doing, and it’s not about the speed of your fingers on a fretboard. So I don’t really feel better as a guitarist than a bassist or the other way, you know, it’s just, I try to accommodate to the situation and change my way of thinking when I’m playing this instrument or the other one, and it’s always been this way, and that also matters at the studio ‘cause sometimes whenever I have some time, and it doesn’t really occur very often, but I also work in the studio and work with the music production and whenever I’m working on some record or something, I play whatever instrument, you know, it’s just even if I don’t really feel good at it, if I have an idea I can do it in the studio, I just do it. It’s not really the matter of what you can do it, it’s the matter of your imagination, I guess.

Right, so basically they’re just there to serve at your behest whenever you need them?

Yeah, that’s how it is.

 Do you feel there are any, say, philosophical similarities between the art of VESANIA and BEHEMOTH?

I don’t really think there’s any, at least lyrically, even if people in these two bands share a lot of opinions and views on things, and a lot of beliefs or whatever, BEHEMOTH lyrically is a completely separate thing, and it speaks a lot about religions, and about, I mean BEHEMOTH’s lyrics are very direct, and VESANIA’s stuff is way more psychological or philosophical and it never really speaks about any sort of belief and it never says any names of religions or any gods, so they’re just completely different stories. I don’t really see any layer of lyrics here and there to compare.

Alright; we’ll be wrapping up here soon. Can you reveal where VESANIA might be touring to promote the new album in the near future?

Well we’ve just done a Polish tour here, and now we need to have a break, because I’m doing some tours with BEHEMOTH, but we’re currently working on the European tour early Spring next year, the news should be coming pretty soon within the next weeks, about that, and we’re also booking some festivals for the summer of 2015, so even if it’s hard for us to find the time between our other commitments, we’re gonna do some touring for VESANIA for this album, certainly.

 The two bands keep you quite busy. Do you personally happen to be involved in any other projects?

Not at the moment. I used to do some other things but now it’s just impossible to me. Just speaking about this year only, I had the month break from behemoth touring, and that was my vacation this year, and I decided to do a 3 week VESANIA tour within this time, so I don’t really have time for anything else, and I actually like it this way.

 Okay, very good. Well that’s it from me. Thank you very much for your time; as a side, another, belated thank you, actually, to you and BEHEMOTH for playing in New Zealand last year.  I was there, and it was fucking phenomenal.

Oh yeah, that’s a beautiful place. Whenever we go there, we’re just smiling all the time.

Any last words?

That’s always the hard part for me, haha. Thanks man, for this interview, thanks for your time, glad we could talk.

Alrighty, I hope to see either band on tour at some point. Have a good one.

Alright, thanks man. Cheers.


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Edited 05 June 2023

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