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Khandra's Dmitry Romanovsky: "Our existence is doomed to live through constant distress about the forthcoming, building social links to evade the inevitable physical dying and transformation, which is without any doubt is a huge nonsense"

Interview with Dmitry Romanovsky from Khandra
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 07 August 2021, 7:08 PM

The meaning of existence might as well drag with it the meaning of the end, dying, death and one might add even the afterlife, if it is part of the process of belief. Anyways, some would say that it would be best to make the best out of what one has, some others say that a person has to live in such a way that life would be enjoyable. Certainly, there are a lot of twists and turns to the meaning of from life to death. The Belarusian Black Metal band, Khandra, other than being an oddity within their tagging, the use plenty of methods in order to show their beliefs through “All Occupied by Sole Death”. Steinmetal had a good talk with Dmitry Romanovsky of the band that had quite an interesting insight to share

Hello Dmitry, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, what have you been up to lately?

Cheers! Thanks for the interest in us. Not everything I am up to is open for conversation (smiling). I can only tell that I’m doing what I think must be done, as always.

I have been interviewing quite a lot of artists throughout the world, in particular in Europe, yet it may as well be a first time for me with a Belarusian artist. Judging by the fact that this past year has been a rather mayhem for a lot of people around the globe, how has it been for you personally? What is the situation in Belarus at the moment?

I wouldn’t say this year was something ‘special’ compared to the past ones for me personally. Nothing from what I’ve done so far came easy. Thus, all this endless shit storm around is just a part of the equation. Belarus, for sure, is not the example or a place where everything comes out simple and effortless. But on the other hand, you gain immunity to many things and consequently learn to spin them on your cock. There are plenty of regions in the world like Belarus and I am well sure people who live there know what I mean.

Representing your band, Khandra, which is a fairly new act, that I believe would be slow and easy to make a name for itself soon enough, I must say that it appears to me that you have been undergoing quite a journey. What can you tell about the band’s image and its initial vision towards its direction of music?

Due to lack of desire to adapt to contemporary canons and transform in order to please the environment, Khandra shall not become the phenomenon that will have tremendous career and success. In our case, it’s some sort of selflessness where it would be irrelevant to feed ‘The Great Band Stories’ when it’s all about the obsession over black craft. There’s already plenty of careerists willing to state themselves any way possible, who bogged in a cosplay of “dark arts” hardly even reaching at least one of the parameters of super being. The image is just a visualisation which, alas, often times incoherent with those who put it on. A person is deprived of knowledge of death only in death, that is possessed by all living creatures. Our existence is doomed to live through constant distress about the forthcoming, building social links to evade the inevitable physical dying and transformation, which is without any doubt is a huge nonsense. These futile reflections shove to write the psalms for dissolution with the respective musical vessel.

It has been noticed that there were artists that knew how to use the time, due to the recent lockdowns, in order to develop themselves further, write new material etc. However, it was evident that some bands, some of them rather known, would simply evaporate from existence due to the circumstances. What has been keeping Khandra motivated all this time?

Well if they do evaporate, then fuck them. The fewer commercial shit in the infospace, the more chances people will have to hear something really worthy. Khandra does not have any material motivation or vector towards acknowledgement or understanding. It is a self-sufficient or, if you will, autonomous organism that exists to pay tribute of respect and adoration to the phenomena and subjects that are glorified in lyrics. So, we do have enough fuel. Lockdowns, isolation and other bullshit like that won’t bewilder or scare us.

Earlier on you presented two EPs, each containing your progress within the rather intriguing nature of Black Metal that you are bound by. How did you know that it was the right timing to start writing a full length album? Why not continue pursuing short EPs as you did earlier?

It’s rather prosaic. The amount of songs written by the time of the current release recording session was enough to make it a full length, and here’s the result. So it turned out that the path of short EPs didn’t suit us. Personally I like any kind of release whether it’s EP, split or else. To be honest, we always have new material ready to go, thus all 3 releases were pretty much outdated in our consciousness by the time of their releases.

Signing with Season Of Mist to carry on your music was surely quite an event, a kind of label that fits your music like a glove. What do you make of this signing? How did it feel to become one of a roster of a lot of prominent artists?

Working with SOM is a big pleasure for us in all this action. Having some background of working with some labels we had no doubt that it is SoM that will perfectly fit for releasing the first opus of Khandra. They are a team of people who display top notch professionalism that we just reached yet to count on. Sometimes circumstances just arrange in a favourable way.

You made me wonder and ponder of the title that you chose for your debut, the mysterious
“Occupied by Sole Death”. At first I thought about the reaper of souls, or rather the joint fate of every person on this planet, every mortal. Nonetheless, it was hard for me to pinpoint anything substantial. What can you tell about this title and its meaning?

The only essential thing is the native urge of any cell and element of the material world to disintegrate. Our whole existence is merely a continuous process of degeneracy. The album title characterizes it with maximum capacity and clarity.

To be honest, I tried to decipher the title also through the album’s artwork, made by the burning mind of Chris Kiesling. What was the initial vision of this piece of art?

The initial vision was exactly the way it is depicted on the art piece. The contents of the artwork are fundamentally primitive and accessible, it’ ‘another’ personification of death procession which has been adored since always. The work that Chris nailed perfectly. Chris is a fairly talented and diligent man who can tastefully represent even the most ‘trivial’ or ‘another’ topic. For its common now to state any work in that manner, right?

Other than being a songwriter on the album, when you listen to the songs, where do you find your connection to sounds and echoes on a spiritual basis?

I don’t tend to consider that there’s some sort of spiritual connection everywhere. Often times it’s not more than a set of fitted puzzle elements. Only a person who creates something can experience nostalgic vibes and fill them with meaning. Yet the others will turn everything upside down and perverse it according to their own interpretations any-fucking-way. Things like that are intimate. And thanks for that.

“All Occupied by Sole Death” can be rendered as a sort of new wave of Black Metal, entrusting yourselves in the atmospheric element of the subgenre, while not forgetting the roots of the second wave of the early 90s. The chilling cold of the Norwegian style is there, yet there are also additional attributes that cross beyond. How would you say that this record developed your musical efforts?

I’d like to start with stating that most people in Norway have no clue what the real freezing cold is. As far as I know the temperature in its most populated area rarely drops below 20C. I don’t identify this region with the frozen valley of death.

The things that inspire us are way more ancient than any of the waves of black metal. Or any wave at all. Speaking of music itself, nobody has a monopoly on harmonies, type of vocals or guitar distortion just the way like nobody can claim something that existed long before them. Such tags as ‘black metal’ can give a person a fairly modest chance to facilitate his search for music of their interest with peculiar ideological features. Though it guaranties absolutely nothing today.

We used other references and tags as well, but who cares after all (smiling). Today the whole world is playing ‘black metal’. Speaking of my efforts, they lay outside the musical dimension. I am convinced that for me music is not the path but a guide. So, I would like to see where it will take me rather than thinking of all sorts of petty things.

Since you had previous experience in songwriting, every person, no matter the experience, learns new things every day. What did “All Occupied by Sole Death” teach you in regards to your approach to a song? Would you say that you had brainstormed further on how to produce something that is uncanny?

The word ‘produce’ is too greasy to describe what I’ve been doing. All the elements were designed, written and recorded in the suitable balance from the start. This gave the opportunity to get the final result with the minimum amount of tweaks and changes. It is important to preserve the sound and vision that you had during creating and recording. Otherwise that would be a completely different track. To say that I brainstormed anything… no.

What do you think is the chief element of the music of “All Occupied by Sole Death” that you implemented that showed the special side of Khandra?

Khandra does not have ‘the special side’. It is a compilation of decisions and variants that stood a trial of time. I did not have the aim to sophisticate while writing music.

What were your greatest challenges while working on the album, whether throughout the writing sessions or recording phases? How were you able to confront those obstacles and triumph?

By great challenge I see something really rough. All the banal lack of possibility to do anything is merely a bullshit excuse. You can’t record your album in quality? Do it in the garage with a recorder? Have no electricity? Record acoustic. Have no guitar? Scream your stuff on the bus stop so that the pedestrians would hear it.

The self-titled track is where I found a sense of comfort, for an unknown reason to be honest, possibly due to its haunting atmosphere. The opening riff also reminded me of an old riff that I used to play more than a decade ago. In general, it shares the band’s diversity rather perfectly. What do you make of this tune and what can you tell in regards to its creation?

This track is a part of the album first of all. I don’t see it as a separate piece. The process of making wasn’t different from the other ones. Just sit and get it done.

Since you mainly have two guys in the band if I am not mistaken, or at least you started out like that, is Khandra also considered to be a live band?

Khandra is definitely a live band aiming to do live performances equipped with state-of-the-art appliances and full lineup. (smiling)

Once the entire world would open up, including your local area of course, what would be the first thing that you will do? What do you miss most?

Not sure that everything will be that simple. Will see. I miss the same things as most people who’re locked in this damn cage.

Dmitry, I wish to thank you for your time for this interview. Clearly you were able to attract my attention to the powerful influence of contemporary Black Metal and “All Occupied by Sole Death” is a great example to that. Cheers

Thank you for the attention to Khandra. And thank you for the great questions! It’s a pleasure when a person loves what he does so much.



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Edited 26 October 2021

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