at: 07th, January 2016
"I will never stop pushing myself physically and creatively to become a better musician and
Hello Steven, you have conceived SAMHAIN as a one-man
entity. Would you say it was intentional because you can
have a total control of everything?
Yes sir, it was highly intentional. Having my own one man band has actually been a dream of mine since before i picked up a guitar or written a song. Before becoming a musician, I remember listening to metal records my mother had bought me and imaging singing and playing guitar on stage. Over the next few years that manifested into having my own one man band. The clearest indicator that i was on the right path was a dream i had where i could hear the music I was going to create, which inexorably, led me here to where I am today.
SAMHAIN started activities in 2014. What are you most proud
of achieving as a band in this short period of existence?
With Samhain, I feel i am most proud of the fact that I had the drive to write, record, produce and release an album. The determination to see Spirit Realm through to the end despite any setbacks. To release something I am completely satisfied with and can stand behind completely, something I can't say about every project i've been apart of.
The band-name is something related to a kind of old celtic
celebration, could you explain this to those uninitiated
Basically, Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter months. This time of the year has always resonated deeply with me spiritually. Samhain has deep pagan roots and often would be a celebration of the lives lost throughout the year. In the west, it was transformed into what we now call Halloween and thus has been deemed the “first Satanic holiday”.
the band’s ideology? Is it connected with some philosophy
Despite what it may look like on the surface, I don’t use many Satanic symbols in my lyrics. I’m more in line with Wiccan and Pagan ideology. For instance, I feel that the world and it’s creatures lives are just as, if not more so, important than human lives. I would much rather see the world flourish and thrive without the virus known as humanity. Most people don’t understand how we so aggressively destroy our world, it’s sickening. That's why my lyrics focus on my own introspectionism and the collapse of humanity. I do believe and heavily practice Satanic principles and ideals but I would rather write about topics that affect this world, right now. Besides it is done to death and by now is beyond cliche. It’s fine to pay homage to Satan but when almost every song has the phrase “Hail Satan” in it, I think enough is enough.
Do you see some certain goals ahead of you which you’d
like to achieve with Samhain as a professional musician or
just as a person?
For Samhain. I’m setting feasible, realistic long and short term goals that I can strive for every single day. I will never stop pushing myself physically and creatively to become a better musician and songwriter. I won't stop until I can make Samhain my full time job and support. Even then I will continue because of my love and passion for music. Besides, I don’t think I’m allowed to stop. I’m still under contract ha.
had felt any ambitions of spreading your creative and
musical wings into another genre, I will say
"SUPPLICATION". Can you tell us more about this
Haha yes, Supplication is a Death Grind band I have been with since 2007. We have released three albums since i joined the band. I remember touring and still being in high school. At least once a month we would have what we called “mini tours” going from thursday to sunday. Coming in late monday morning and having my friends ask about my adventures was always a highlight. Unfortunately, I had a major back surgery in 2012 so we had to really slow down with playing shows. Over the next year we played out a few times a month but my back couldn't take it anymore. Even with people's help loading and unloading equipment I still could not do it. Now we are a studio band that only plays out on specials occasions and everyone is ok with that. Everyone is married with full time jobs but we still find time for Supplication. Due to this fact, I have the opportunity to work on Samhain full time.
2015 has seen the release of your full-length, Spirit Realm.
How has the album been received so far?
Spirit Realm's release has been quite positive overall. To be frank I haven't had any negative comments on the music or performance. The only real point of contention has been with the production. Looking back while by all means listenable, the overall sound may be considered "flat". Spirit Realm is the second full length I have mixed and mastered. I have learned much from this experience and since I have found different techniques on how to do my job better, as well as better equipment to get a more "professional" studio sound. I have grow much from this recording and I can say my next full length "Praise The Night" has a much bigger, punchier sound.
Could you tell me something about the process of making
these 9 songs? How long time it took to record it and what
kind of process did you go through? did
you have any problems in your home-studio?
I started writing "Spirit Realm" in April of 2014. By the end of December I had the entirety of the album recorded. I would write four or five songs, then start recording the first few I was most familiar with. Naturally, I started tracking drums first but I recorded all the drums for each track like you would in a normal five person band first before moving on to the other instruments. While recording my new album “Praise The Night” I found the process goes by much smoother and easier if you record the entire track before moving on. This was a learning curve I’m glad I caught up with, haha. Also, instead of having a scratch track of guitars to record drums to I opted to record the drums “free hand” to give a more natural feel. Of course this was a huge pain in the ass because I really had to memorize every fill and tempo of the different sections. I would take an entire day and record drums for one song about a dozen times so I could find the perfect take, to the best of my abilities. Due to my back injury, every time I hit the kick drum it would send shooting pain up my spine..so when I say blood, sweat and tears on the album credits, I mean real blood and real tears. Tracking guitars and bass on the other hand, was a piece of cake, them being my main instruments. For the vocals i was really able to let loose and try whatever crazy style or idea I could come up with and I think it shows on the album. Overall the entire process was a blast, besides almost losing “Blind Are The Ways Of Man” due to my computer fuckin up haha
I just love the way the overall production ended, very
darkly, simple and home-made. It
remind in the 80s how hard it was for smaller bands to get a
decent sound. What is your perspective about this?
Thank you for the complement. I feel bands back then sounded that way out of necessity. Either not enough money to afford good studio time or technological difficulties resulting in mediocre recordings. I can honestly say that although Spirit Realm may not sound like a business studio recording, it didn't cost me anything to make and I am proud of that fact. I do feel however, that there are black metal elitist out there who think that a new black metal record must sound the exact same way it did in the 80’s to be considered legitimate. To me this is foolish, I understand not wanting an over-produced, tightly edited recording. That takes most of the energy and raw power out of the sound but that also does not mean you have to replicate the sounds from decades past by recording through a potato on an old 8-track...but that’s just my opinion.
Do you feel an urge to develop Samhain’s sound and move
further with future records or do you think that you have
already found a proper sound for the band?
I feel Samhain’s sound will continue to evolve and develop with each subsequent album. For the new album “Praise The Night” every aspect of Samhain’s sound is turned up to 11. The faster parts are faster, the slower parts are slower. It’s more dynamic with more periods of clean sections that give life to music when it kicks back in. Everything really has been amplified to give you a big punchy kick in the teeth. I have laid the foundation with “Spirit Realm” now I plan on building and evolving Samhain’s sound brick by brick.
How much of a DIY scene is there still left around the world
that can support you if you want to tour or release an album
on your own?
I feel that releasing an independent album today is getting easier because of social media. It’s much easier to reach people to get your name and your music out there with sites like Facebook. Bandcamp, Reverbnation and Soundcloud. Touring is another matter entirely. If you are a big name with a good record label you can have stand in touring musicians but for a small black metal act that would be nearly impossible. The only one man band that is touring I can think of Putrid Pile. I would not be against being on stage solo I just don't feel it can be done realistically.
War graphics is responsible for the artwork of your album,
which fits so well as part of the overall package. Tell us
more about the art concepts and this gloomy character.
I think Luciferium War graphics did a great job with “Spirit Realm”. The company consists of just one guy named Riaj Gragoth. He does great work and should be highly supported. Very simple and easy to work with and I shall with each new subsequent release. Originally I gave him just the title and the main picture you see of me in the booklet. From that he came up with the gate idea, symbolizing the entrance to another realm of existence. The first draft was a day scene, with just the summoning circle in front of the gate. I asked to have it take place a night with a moon and some sort of central figure. Seeing as I am a one man band he agreed and basically took the photo of me and brought it to life. The second draft was the final product you see today. He also created the amazing Samhain logo. I have great respect for him and his vision and the fact that it was so easy to work with him means I will be coming back next time around.
is it about black metal that has to be anti-Christian? Where
does that come from and how do you take it one step further
for it to not be seen as a cliché?
I feel that christianity inspires and provokes people to hate. There is just so much garbage to try to digest that an artist can easily become inspired by looking at the pages of my favorite burning material. All the bloodshed it has caused does not outway the few weak insipid souls it saves. If there wasn’t Black Metal to take an open stand against the hypocrisies of this religion I’m not sure who would. In fact, I’m sure that’s one of the reasons this movement of music was created in the first place. So much so that it has become a cliche over time. I tend to stay away from this in my writing because I don’t like to give christian power by acknowledging it. I would rather point out all the damage it has caused rather than taking line from bible and giving that storybook power. The point is, people in general are shit enough without their minds being clouded by an overanalyzed fairytale. Just today I learned that Black Metal doesn’t have to be anti-christian. In fact, I found a band that calls themselves Christian Unblack Metal. My mind was blown from the absurdity. I don’t remember the band's name but just the fact that they exist was reason enough to take note. Please someone out there make a Satanic Gospel Choir...
With the change in people’s ways of consuming music how do
you go about maintaining a viable economical level to your
I have always felt, if someone loves your music enough they will pay for it. Sure some people are always going to steal music but the ones that really support you will want the real thing. It's for that reason that I put a "name your price" stipulation for my album on all the music streaming sites, and it seems to be working out just fine. less so however, for pop music. Having so many flash in the pan “artist” come and go, and since they don’t have a dedicated fan bases, people are much more likely to steal their music.
How do you perceive the advances of technology and the
internet changing the music industry in the future?
Now that the billboard charts factor in Youtube hits, that should show just how far it’s come. The internet is an undeniable force for indie and hit artist to get their name out there and make a living off of music. All the streaming sites and Facebook pages are a pain in the ass to keep up with, and post regularly on but they are essential for anyone in music. The internet will only become more prevalent for artist as time goes on.
Well, my pal, that´s all for now, thanks a lot for your
co-operation. I hope you enjoy this interview.. Some words
you like to add?
I would just like to say thank you to you and The Pain Fucktory Magazine for taking an interest in and chance with my band Samhain. Hopefully we can do this again in a year or so after I release “Praise The Night”. Again thank you it’s been an honour and privilege. Hail!