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Maestitium's Elias Westrin: "I taught myself that not everything has to be perfect… I learned how to distance myself from my music and be able to say that “this is good enough”"

Interview with Elias Westrin from Maestitium
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 January 2021, 9:22 PM

Fighting a mental state that might lead a person to a downfall that one cannot comeback from could only be assumed as more than simply states as hard. Enduring and continue going forward in life is a strength beyond strength. To talk about it through music, channeling the emotional side is another way to deal with it. The creator of Maestitium, the Swedish Elias Westrin, has been composing about his feelings, creating an atmospheric mood that is grasping. Through the debut EP, "Tales Of the Endless", streams of thought are there to hold. Steinmetal had a talk with Elias about the concept, the newfound home, the created atmosphere of the record and more… 

Hello Elias, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Hi! I’ve been doing quite well. Considering the situation in the world, I can’t complain.

Just recently I was introduced to your new band, or perhaps a project, called Maestitium. I think it is rather demanding to understand the roots of this venture. What made you start this group? What were your sources that kicked that motivation in to begin this endeavor?

This project actually started as a school assignment while I was studying Music Production. I’ve always wanted to make melodic death metal in the Finnish vein with a Swedish touch, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity. My decision to make it a one man project simply came from the fact that I wanted an outlet where I could experiment with my songwriting and be as nitpicky with everything as I wanted. I wanted a project that was just me, my thoughts and creativity.

Signing with the local Black Lion Records led to the official release of your debut EP, “Tale Of The Endless”. How do you feel about this signing? What led you in particular to Black Lion Records?

The signing with Black Lion Records changed everything for me. The initial plan was to self-release it, and only digitally. I didn't really plan to even promote it that hard, as I at the beginning just treated it as something for myself. Luckily, I saw on Oliver’s (the owner of Black Lion Records) timeline that he had shared the Maestitium Facebook page featuring a teaser of a song, and I quickly reached out to him to see if there was a possibility of a signing. I had heard about Black Lion Records before, as I am a big fan of Hinayana and Meadows End, so there was no doubt in the signing for me. They have helped me immensely with the things that I frankly suck at, like PR.

Similar to the title, which is both frosty and mysterious in its own special way, so does the chosen title for the EP, “Tale Of The Endless”. From what I read the overall theme of the EP is actually a series of stories, each surrounding darkness from a different path. What was the inspiration for the combining theme of the EP?

Much of the lyrics and the atmosphere of the EP come from my own battles with mental illness. As I stated earlier, the whole idea behind Maestitium was for me to have a creative outlet for my thoughts. In a way, each story in the EP is related to thoughts and places I’ve been myself, just rewritten to be more metaphorical and fantastical. The name, Maestitium, is wordplay on the Latin word “Maestitia” meaning gloom/sorrow/grief, and that is and will continue to be the main theme of the songs.

Whether with a relation to the current pandemic going on, which has no doubt negative strings attached, or simply because out of fascination, how do you find yourself within this exploration of the negativity of a person’s mind, his darkest and deepest moments of frailty?

Mental illness and the exploration of the dark side of the human mind is something that has always interested me, and even more so during these times. The pandemic has undoubtedly birthed a lot of depression and anxiety in a lot of people over the world. My own psyche has not really changed during this pandemic, but how rapidly it has changed to others has been hurtful to see

Would you say that “Tale Of The Endless” may as well serve as a small part of a much larger picture that would be revealed later on? Is this EP a sort of a calling card?

"Tale of the endless" is in a way a concept EP. The stories featured on this EP will probably not be further developed on a full length, for example. I love doing concept albums, so a similar concept might happen; it is too early to say. The musical themes of this EP were also a lot of experimentation. The three songs + intro all have a fairly different feel, and that was consciously done to showcase the different musical and lyrical themes that you will expect to hear on later releases.

This EP unveils the mystifying sounds and echoes of Swedish Melodic Death Metal, adding a measure of progression and blackened features to entice the atmosphere, not too much to take in for a four song EP, yet enough to comprehend the effort. As a musician and a songwriter, how would you say that you were developed while working on this EP?

I taught myself that not everything has to be perfect. If I were to reach for my own view of perfection, the EP would probably not have been released for another 5 years. I learned how to distance myself from my music and be able to say that “this is good enough”.

If this EP wasn’t your first attempt upon being a songwriter, would you say that it changed your perception, and perspective, on how to write songs, laying down arrangements for the creation of something that could be outstanding?

It for sure isn’t my first attempt at being a songwriter. I probably have 5-10 full lengths just sitting on my hard drive, probably never to see the light of day. While writing this particular EP, I immensely developed as a lyrics writer and arranger. My whole perspective on arranging changed throughout the writing process. When I started out, the songs had a pretty standard metal arrangement, but the further on in the writing process I got I realized I had to think about my music as pieces. I wanted an A, B, C section, kind of like how you compose film and video game music. I wanted each song to have several moods, so that even the instrumentals themselves can take you on a journey. It’s hard to say if I succeeded, but it was the idea. This whole mindset probably came from my education in Video Game Composing.

With you handling most of the instrumentation of the album, you took on two individuals to handle the rhythm section, which became quite integral. Nils Fjellström, also known as Dominator, manning the skins, and Anton Flodin on bass. Were they for the ride only for the EP, or rather permanent band members? What can you tell about the experience working with them?

Nils and Anton both did a terrific job on this EP. They did so well, that even the stuff I am writing at this moment is written as if it was played by them, with their unique styles. Nils added flavors and textures that I myself would never have thought of, and had drum ideas that fit perfectly with my own vision. Anton has a way of playing that just screams aggression and precision. I can confirm that Anton will be a permanent studio musician, but it is not yet clear nor decided if Nils will join for the full length. It is a possibility, and I hope so myself. With Nils it will most likely be an “album by album” case.

The top song of the EP that I really liked, and found quite a varied pile of approaches, is “Song of the Freezing Wind”. Frosty indeed, harboring elements of Amorphis and Insomnium mostly, that fine Finnish touch. Adding to it the haunting atmosphere, made it quite an intriguing prospect. What is your appreciation of the track?

"Song of the freezing" wind is probably the most personal song on the album. It is the only song with a focus on clean singing, which I don’t normally do. I wrote the song around the time my cousin committed suicide, so the whole story and atmosphere is inspired by his journey and mind. I wanted to make a song as a tribute to him, with all the feelings that I felt after he died, and the thoughts that I assume were in his mind.

The final tune, “Tale Of The Endless”, captures with its epic proportions that so missed Swedish Blackened Death Metal melodies, yet with a modern touch. What can you tell about the creation of this rather diverse outcome?

The writing process of "Tale of the endless", the track, was a long one. This is probably why it is so diverse, my influences changed a bit during the writing process. I wanted to make a song with a strong "Winters Gate" (Insomnium) feeling, since that is my favourite song/album of all time. I wanted a song with fast and blasting drums, soft and beautiful synths and melodic yet aggressive guitars. A song with that melancholic cold feeling.

Robin Leijon, which was unknown to me, engineered the EP, made quite an astounding work, an impressive modern based sound that fits the cold natured reality of the record. How do you find his work on the EP? Would you say that the outcome was as you envisioned it?

Robin Leijon was a masterful mixing/mastering engineer for this record. He listened to what I had to say, and understood how I wanted it to sound. The drums were a vital point for me, and they turned out perfect to my ears. Although, the drum sound is partly a courtesy of Jonas Jönsson at Studio LV5. Together, they exceeded all my expectations on how the EP would sound. While my first idea of what the album was supposed to sound was very different, I am very pleased with the outcome

With the rather enough time due to the pandemic and the shutdown of culture, is there a full length album in the works?

The full-length was basically in the works even before the EP was completed. I have material for the full-length, but it will probably take another year until it's ready to be released

Have you thought of ways to promote the EP, other than with press releases that are handled by the label? Perhaps a live stream show?

I have thought about it. It has to do with time and resources. I have the time, but not the resources at the moment to do a livestream gig or similar. I am planning to make a guitar playthrough of one of the songs, so that is coming sometime in the near future. But overall, I leave almost all PR to Black Lion Records

Talking about shows, will Maestitium be an actual live band once it would be possible to conquer stages?

Maestitium MIGHT do live shows in the future. The deciding factor is finding the musicians for it. I am not saying that the songs are overly complicated, but finding a drummer and guitarist willing to do it is not super easy, sadly. I am working on making it a possibility!

Elias, I would like to thank you deeply for this interview, you opened up a new door that shall not be closed, you have quite the talent and the EP shows that. Cheers mate.

Thank you for the interview and the kind words! Skål!


 



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