Thursday, June 13, 2019

an interview with Acathexis

Call Acathexis an atmospheric black metal supergroup, and you wouldn't be wrong; the project brings together the solo artists responsible for Mare Cognitum, Downfall of Nur and Cult of Erinyes. The fact that their self-titled debut was one of the last albums released by the late Fallen Empire Records is enough to make it noteworthy. Jacob Buczarski and Dany Tee were kind enough to answer my questions about how this remarkable project got together.

Dreams of Consciousness: Please introduce your band - who are you, where are you from, and how would you describe the music you make? 

We are Déhà (Belgium)  - Guitar/Bass; Jacob Buczarski (USA) - Guitar, Drums, lyrics; and Dany Tee (Argentina) - Lyrics and Vocals.

Jacob: Come to think of it, I actually haven’t tried to describe the music before. I suppose it’s atmospheric black metal, extremely emotive in style and fast in pace, centered in theme around the human psyche.

DoC: What was the genesis of Acathexis - what led to the three of you deciding to make music together? 

Dany: Déhà wrote the demo and he sent it to Fallen Empire - it was FE who talked to Jake, and Jake talked to me about making an album out of that demo; the tracks was killer, so it was awesome to start working on this. 
I think the mutual respect and admiration we have for this project leads us to work together - each of us has a background in the scene and without knowing one another, were all fans of each other's work, so… to work together was great.

Jacob: Yes, it all started when FE sent me some demos that Déhà had made and they instantly impressed me. There was obviously already enough groundwork laid to make an amazing album before I even touched it, these demos were fairly close to what you hear on the record. FE said Déhà was having difficulty bringing it to completion in a way he was satisfied with and thought I was the right guy to perform the final push. So I worked on the drum production and lyrical themes and sought a proper vocalist (FE thought I would do this, but I didn’t feel I was the right person for the job), and Dany came to mind first and foremost as he was already my friend, and I was extremely impressed with his vocal range and overall style.

DoC: The members from Acathexis are each known for their solo projects (among them: Mare Cognitum, Downfall of Nur, and Maladie). Do you - either individually or collectively - feel a need to collaborate, but have trouble finding musicians to work with in your respective countries/areas; or is the coming together of Acathexis purely out of respect the three of you have for each other's musical endeavors? What would you say the three of you have in common? 

Dany: I think the answer is very personal, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that we could build local projects, (in fact Déhà has several projects in which he plays live and toured Europe frequently) but here I think the challenge was to achieve something together, since as you mentioned before, the respect for the work and the trajectory of each one is what brings us together in this project. About what we have in common, perhaps I could answer that the passion for music and specifically for this genre, added to the fact that the three of us have a background as well as musicians and producers, which makes us able to enhance what the other contributes, and get the best out of each one in what we do.

Jacob: I am extremely selective in who I work with, and prefer working alone. I don’t think I would have sought to work in a collaborative project like this had it not been brought to my attention by FE. So that being said, it’s an extreme rarity for me to hear some tracks and instantly think “yes, I want to be involved in this” as I did when I first heard the demos for Acathexis. I think the reason this project works so well together is that there is an extremely great collective level of experience between us, and we are able to elevate each other’s strengths as well as support each others weaknesses. In other words, it’s an extremely well-rounded crew.

DoC: With three members living in three different countries, what is your songwriting process like? 

Dany: Internet is the key factor in all of this, the ideas come and go and everyone respects the artistic and compositional time of the other, in this album the fundamental stone was given by Déhà who sent the tracks that were later worked by Jake, while we added the lyrics and together we did the vocal production. Ideas come and go but we never move forward if we do not all agree on the direction to take.

Jacob: This band is certainly the product of the internet. We basically passed versions of the tracks around via email, adding our pieces and critiquing one another’s work and building upon it in quick succession. It was quite a bit of back and forth which developed over a long period of time. We spent months and months doing this, but none of it felt difficult. It was all very natural and I think our musical maturity and experience shone greatly during this process. Although we never worked on things in the same room, things flowed naturally as if we were.

DoC: Tell me about your self-titled debut. How long had you been working on it? How and where did you record it? 

Dany: It took approximately 2 years, Déhà recorded the guitars and the bass in his studio in Belgium, Jake took care of the drums and some guitar arrangements and I recorded the vocals in Argentina; finally Déhà was in charge of the mixing and mastering in his studio. It was a slow process but we didn't have the need to hurry the logical times for a project made such a distance.

Jake: Much of it was recorded separately at our own studios and at different times as the pieces came together. My guitar and drum parts were produced in Lake Forest, CA where I no longer live (now in Portland, OR). Much of the base guitars were tracked long before the final drums and vocals, etc. It was a series of laying down a baseline, creating additions, and revising every single element until it finally felt complete. A bit of a patchwork I guess.

DoC: One of my favourite aspects of Acathexis is the atmosphere, which sometimes goes into psychedelic/shoegazing territory. How important is atmosphere to you, and what do you want the listener to experience?

Jake: Atmosphere is the most important element for me when approaching the creation of this kind of music. While the origins of this sound truly lie in Déhà’s brain, I understood quickly that this music was meant to be both suffocating and cathartic at once – a sort of victorious feeling inexplicably blended with misery. When we had a full grasp of the sort of atmosphere and the direction we wanted to go in, I definitely felt like it was different than a typical black metal album’s sound, so in shaping the listening experience thematically, I wanted to go in an unusual direction as well. I felt that the extremely pummeling and suffocating nature of the sound blended with its emotiveness seemed linked with the depths of human despair and the lowest possible breakdown of the human psyche. It became important to me to stress this theme but not fall into typical depressive black metal tropes. So the angle we took lyrically was from a very psychological perspective, very introspective, and exploring the thoughts and feelings of the kind of bleak existence that can result from the breakdown of civility, normalcy, and safety. It also demonstrates a sort of curious resolution at times – a feeling of release or being at peace with these horrors.

Dany: I think that an artistic work should not influence the viewer in any sense; although the album has all those elements that you mention, it is also full of small details that are there but that can be discovered only with a careful listening. We tried to make an album that does not run out in a simple [listen], but that works as its interpretation is in charge of the listener, if they have the interest in getting into the album.

DoC: Lyrically, Acathexis deals with isolation and despair. Does depression play a role in inspiring 
your music? If so, is Acathexis a form of catharsis for you?

Jake: Certainly, but I don’t consider myself a person drenched in depression or sadness. Perhaps I am fortunate in this area as I do not suffer from chronic depression as many artists do. But I view sad or depressing lyrics as an exploration of a real, normal human condition which I myself and everyone experiences. Frankly, it shouldn’t be so abnormal in culture at large to approach these types of dark themes. It helps to deal with shit when you can write freely about it.

Dany: Definitely, those moods are very powerful and authentic, I consider them a genuine source of inspiration that, put at the service of creative composition, adds a very visceral force to the work. And yes, it is a catharsis, the best one.

DoC: The album was co-released Fallen Empire Records, which became my favourite label due to its roster of forward thinking and unorthodox bands. How did you get involved with  llen Empire, and how do you relate to the other bands they have released?

Jake: I met the FE labelhead years ago in Los Angeles and we became good friends before I released anything on the label. His opinions on black metal differ from my own in quite a few ways, and there are plenty of bands on the label that are so different from my own and offer extremely different viewpoints as well. But I think what struck me about the label that really appealed to my own artistic sensibilities was their approach to releasing music in a way that trims all the fat and removes the bullshit, and focuses purely on the musical merits of what is released and nothing more. No PR campaigns, very little advertising or begging for attention… This artistic purity is something I appreciate so much. I will miss this label greatly as it closes up shop.

DoC: Will Acathexis ever tour or play live?

Dany: It is a possibility - we have spoken a couple of times and, although it is not a plan in the near future, we do not rule it out. We are lucky to count on awesome musicians that have offered to complete the lineup to play live, in case it was necesary. It would be a great challenge, so ... who knows.

Jake: It is already extremely difficult for me to complete and release the music that I currently do, so live performance seems out of reach for now, for this project and otherwise. But I do not like to say for certain that it would never happen – that’s definitely not a true statement at all.

DoC: What does the future hold for Acathexis?

Dany: A few months ago we released our album on vinyl, soon we will release it in CD format and surely in a few months we will begin to work on the composition of the new material.

Jake: We have an unused song that was cut from the debut for being much more experimental than the others. We have also talked at length about a followup album. Although we have not begun work on this, we are all excited to do another and will certainly be releasing more in the future. I am hoping to be more involved in the guitar / songwriting side of things this time around. There is still much for us to explore in this style.

Acathexis on Facebook

Acathexis on Bandcamp (including physical formats)

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