Witching Metal Webzine

Witching Metal Webzine

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Interview: Dan Nahum

WM: Hey Dan! Let’s start things off with a brief run-down of what you’ve been up to musically in recent times. What bands are you currently in? Do any of these projects have new material coming out, or has anything been released in the last year or so? Etc. etc.

DN: Ave. Fingers in lots of pies; probably best to answer in dot points!

• Bleakwood is my solo project - aggressive and forward-thinking black metal - and has a couple of split 7"s coming out in the next few months, one with Lampades (Aus) through Psychedelic Lotus Records (China) and one with Ekadzati (US) which my label, Tactical Solutions, and Milam Rex (US) are raising the money to press through Kickstarter. I have a live line-up for the project as well which I am honoured to announce will play at the next Evil Invaders. Full-length in 2013 as well I hope!

• The Veil is probably the most disciplined band I am in, we recently played Dublin Doom Days and are in the process of pulling together material for our second album of post-punk-infused dark rock/metal.

• Dead River Runs Dry recently released our first demo of blackened metal which is free online and has been getting some really good feedback. We played at Crowned's Sydney album launch on 30 November, and are pulling together new material for a full-length, which we will put out through The Path Less Traveled Records (US)...

• Azoth and Greed & Rapacity have fairly recent releases and are both gradually pulling together material for full-length albums.

• I've been playing session drums for Ekadzati, which has been really rewarding, and hope to continue my collaboration here.

• Earlier this year some dark ambient material a la Neptune Towers which I was involved with under the banner of Mistsorrow was released as a split with Ein Skopudhr Galdra through Aurora Australis Recordings.

There's some other projects in the pipeline too. So, as you can see, always busy... but never cutting corners on quality.

WM: When did you first start playing music? What influenced you to play metal, in particular, as well as dabble in a bit of dark ambient and dark rock? What musical and non-musical influences go in to each of your different projects?
DN: I've been playing drums for almost twenty years, and guitar (questionably!) for more than ten, and from the outset I was attracted to music that was tense or fast or challenging or dark or all of the above. So this created a general direction and template for my musical endeavours - within that, there's a whole lot of room within which I can express myself in an honest and satisfying way. There are so many influences out there, filtered through so many mental states... Bleakwood, for instance, began as a channel for conflict and discord, and the animism/ego tension, inspired by Blake and Spinoza; the intensity of those influences is why it sounds the way it does. Greed & Rapacity began with a very specific idea to examine the twisted wreckage of Jungian archetypes and the existential psychological notion of 'symbolic immortality' through the prism of the rapacious and war-torn contemporary world. And so on.
WM: What differences do you find in working on a solo project as opposed to playing in a band with other people contributing to the creative process? Do you have a preference for how you like to write music?
DN: Working on music on my own is challenging - especially deciding when a composition is complete - but really satisfying, in the sense that once you're done, you have a very direct and uncompromised personal expression. Having said that, in a collaboration, people are bouncing ideas off each other; you can get some very exciting and inspired results from filtering one person's composition through another person's perceptions, ideas, influences... So I'm not sure one is better than the other, although I imagine my bandmates are glad that I exorcise some of my control-freak tendencies working alone.
I tend to write music on guitar, particularly around the relationship/interplay between two guitar lines, which I feel continues to be a neglected cornucopia for writing interesting, intense music. In a lot of metal composition, the second guitar is basically redundant, resulting in dull, linear composition. Most of the Bleakwood music from *Blood & Faith* onwards is built harmonically and melodically around the 'limitless limit' of having two guitars that are simultaneously rhythm and lead. So, they wind around each other; one guitar might start a phrase which the other finishes, there's lots of movement between high and low registers in each guitar line... to demonstrate what I mean, if you listen to this material with one guitar muted, it really sounds very fragmented and incomplete, and then when you bring that guitar back in, it sounds coherent again.
WM: You mentioned above that the next Bleakwood split will be funded by a Kickstarter account. Would you mind telling us a bit about Kickstarter and why you chose to use this method of obtaining funds?
DN: Kickstarter is a website offering a pledge-based system of essentially micro-venture capital. You set up a project, with a minimum limit for pledges. Then people pledge whatever amount they wish, often (and in our case), in return for pre-ordered items. If the minimum limit is reached, the pledgers' credit cards get charged the amount that they pledged, and the money is funneled to the project initiator, minus a fee (which is how Kickstarter make their money).
Basically both myself and Zareen (of Ekadzati/Milam Records) were tired of being seriously out of pocket to put new releases appealing to a limited, though very dedicated, audience out, so this is a way of allowing interested parties to help share the cost of putting the release out at the outset - in return for exclusive items and the sense of having contributed to the manifestation of this release.
(NB: the release has been funded and is now on its way from the pressing plant.)
WM: Tell me a bit about your label, Tactical Solutions. When did you start the label up and what was behind your decision to form your own label? What has the label releases so far? Where can people purchase your releases? Etc. etc.
DN: Tactical Solutions brings two factors together.
The first is my interest in the cutting edge of elite and atmospheric underground music, so we are proud to stock releases by the likes of Famine, Flourishing, and so on.
The second is as a launch pad for recordings of close associates and myself. I promise that anything under the TacSol banner will be interesting material, executed and produced with grit and intelligence.
So far:
TSA001 - Azoth CD demo
TSA002 - Bleakwood/Azoth split 7"
TSA003 - Futility - The View From Here
The latter I am not musically involved with, but am a huge admirer of the emotional honesty and integrity of the band. Definitely see them live if you get the chance, they are demolishing.
TacSol is small and underground, and I plan to keep it small and underground. Your readers can check it out at tacsol.blogspot.com, which has an email address for correspondence and Paypal.
WM: I’ve noticed that you utilize a lot of internet promotion to reach your small but dedicated target audience. Why do you choose to use this method of promotion? What general opinion do you have of online promotion? Do you feel it helps underground labels and bands to find a voice and reach people who may otherwise not have had the opportunity to look in to what these bands and labels have to offer? Do you see any particular disadvantages to online promotion?
DN: Not to put too fine a point on it, it's the longest reach for the smallest outlay. The Nigerian scammer rationale! But you're right, perhaps people who wouldn't have otherwise have come across what we do might be exposed to it. On the other hand, it's easy to overlook internet promo because there is just so much chaff out there - and so much good stuff too, a lot of which is given away. Frankly the very best promotion is playing live and impressing someone that way; the second best is word of mouth.
WM: I’ve also noticed that your (non-CD) releases include a code for a free digital download, why do you choose to include this? Personally, I think it’s great, as it allows the convenience of being able to listen to a vinyl or tape only release on a portable format such as an iPod and as such, may motivate people to listen to it more often. What are your thoughts?
DN: Exactly, it means that the vinyl is for occasions - heck, you can even keep it mint - while enjoying the flexibility of a digital file. Music does, of course, sound best in analog... but we want to give people the best possible product.
WM: We’ve spoken about the projects that you are currently involved in, but I am also interested in what you have done previously. I am aware that you have been playing music for a long time; where did all this begin? What bands have you played with over the years and what varying styles of music did you present via these mediums?
DN: I've been playing extreme metal for well over a decade now. Like most maniacs, I just kept searching for the next thing that would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and my musical endeavours more or less followed a similar path - sometimes limiting me or marking time a bit, other times thrusting me into realms that surprised and intimidated me. Bands have come and gone, but the best collaborators I've ever worked with are the ones I'm working with right now.
WM: Could you elaborate a bit more on the ideologies and messages that you present via each of your current projects? You seem like a man who has plenty to say… so let’s hear it!
DN: Different seeds yield different fruit. This is the reason I am involved with, and indeed have initiated multiple concurrent projects - they each exist to express a different thematic and emotional palette.
For instance, Greed & Rapacity was born with a very specific vision of exploring Jungian archetypes as they are distorted and re-emerge in the late modern world; in an era of irregular warfare, environmental degradation, the corruption of godheads. The project only exists because this topic fascinates and inspires us.
Bleakwood is concerned with self-deification - as my solo project, its purpose is in some ways 'aggressive defense' against the entropy and pointlessness with which contemporary mankind is confronted, instead seeking (or discovering, or creating) a blackly animistic spirit that rejects white light duality.
I won't talk about Dead River Runs Dry, The Veil, or Azoth, as they 'belong' to other thematic architects. But there are clearly defined and honest artistic visions behind those projects too.
Ideology though? Not as such. Ideology is philosophy without pragmatism - it is brittle and breaks up upon contact with ambiguity, which is to say the real world. Another way of putting this is that ideology can exist only in fantastic or escapist spaces. But I want the music and lyrics I write to be as visceral and relevant as they can possibly be, and that means groping with the muck of everyday existence to try to extract someone worthy from that, and try to promulgate something worthy back into it.
WM: I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions (and having the patience to deal with the multiple delays involved in completion of this interview!). Have you any final words?
DN: Thanks very much Wayde for your insightful enquiries, and your patience - the delays were certainly not all on your side! And, congratulations on the new addition to your family.

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