Interview: Siderean (2021) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Siderean

What exactly is the void’s horizon and who exactly is lost on it?

Jan: The story tells of a lost cosmonaut traveling through uncharted space and coming across the edge of knowing on his journey. As he treads the edge of this deep space horizon, the lines of perception and reality start to blur and he meets a creature beyond his understanding that doesn’t inhabit conventional time and space. This void that lies beyond the horizon takes many forms and meanings throughout the songs and gives a larger cosmic perspective to the cosmonaut’s journey. In fact, the backstory of the songs talks mostly about this creature and the void, whereas the traveller is left more as a vessel of humanity, as humanity itself feels this pull to venture beyond distant horizons. The meaning behind this pull toward what lies beyond even the furthest stars is talked about more concretely in the songs Sidereal Evolution and Eolith, for example, both of which take a grand view of humanity and the void throughout the ages, while the cosmonaut’s current journey is explored in the other songs ˗ but these two narratives fulfill each other as it’s actually the same journey and the same pull of the creature, only viewed from different viewpoints and stretches of time. These outward emanations of the same primordial cosmic story are an important part of the structure of the album’s story itself, so the answer to who’s lost on the horizon could also be the listener, who completes the two stories with his own perceptions of our pull toward the stars.

A keen eye would probably observe that the front cover of Lost On Void’s Horizon has a lot in common with the front cover of The Expansion EP. Apparently, the skull featured on the latter has been distorted on the former, as if being sucked in and swallowed by a black hole. Furthermore, there are those two intersecting lines resembling a cross on both images. Would you care to elaborate on those similarities? What are we looking at?

Matija: All of our recent artwork ˗ the Sidereal Evolution demo and Lost On Void’s Horizon, as well as the cover of The Expansion EP from when we were still called Teleport ˗ was made by the same artist, Fernando JFL aka Giotefeli Anti Arte. His art is, at least in our case, quite coherent, so this could be the reason why it looks similar, especially the skull and cross based composition. We instructed him each time to refer to the music and the lyrics, mostly of the title track, which played a big role in the artwork appearing cohesive. The Lost On Void’s Horizon artwork also depicts Abyssophora, a celestial jellyfish that wields abysses instead of siphons, combined with the elements of the title track.

Almost every interpretation of the word Siderean, and there are many, has something to do with the stars. The stars also seem to be an integral part of every single promotional band photo for this album, arguably as important as the band members themselves. Obviously, the space and the stars intrigue you greatly. What about them do you find so fascinating precisely? Is it the vastness, the incomprehensible endlessness of the space, the probability of life out there that we may never get in touch with, or are your inclinations perhaps more metaphorical than scientific?

Matija: We’re the tellurian brood looking to the stars and wondering what’s out there. What’s really fascinating about the universe is the emptiness and uncharted territory. While earth is mostly covered and researched, just thinking about what’s happening out there still gives us the chills. There are infinite possibilities of what’s going on and referring to the ancient mythos and numerous theories about our creation makes you question everything. Just consider the final scene of Space Odyssey, with the astronaut escaping and finding himself in a beautiful yet frightful environment. But looking back to the Teleport times, we were all quite into sci-fi themed content, everything from Star Wars to Lovecraft’s tales. Later we found the universe much more abstract. What made some of us think was Descartes’ Meditations and his thoughts that we’re hovering substances inhabiting a material body. Abyssophora, for example, is also about the death of the astronaut that’s wandering lost in space, and his death is a gateway to free the substance back into freedom.

Translating that vague, elusive feeling of otherworldly and celestial from the lyrics into the sound is what Siderean truly excels at. How difficult was to use your main lyrical point of interest and give it so adequate a sonic treatment? Was the correlation between the two something that happened effortlessly or did you need to work hard in order to establish it?

Matija: The lyrical concept was created almost at the very beginning of the songwriting process, but the actual lyrics were written by Jan after the structures of the songs had already been done.

Siderean Interview

The transition from Eolith to Traversing seems rather subtle and organic, without a moment of silence between them. Have you at any point considered using the latter as an outro to Eolith instead of making it a separate song?

Matija: That’s very good observing. It has evolved from what was initially planned to be a clean guitar outro of Eolith. When both Eolith and Lost On Void’s Horizon were still only in the process of formation, there was already an idea present of a section that would connect the two songs and make them a cohesive odyssey that rounds up side A of the album. The initial clean guitar part was somewhat cliché, a cold sounding minor key-based sequence transiting into the first riff of Lost On Void’s Horizon. David suggested turning this into a separate passage and he came up with this otherworldly track that floored the rest of us completely.

Considering that, as you said, the transition from Eolith to Lost On Void’s Horizon would probably be too abrupt and awkward without Traversing in the middle, would it be fair to say that the placement of that song on the album is the only meaningful one, and that it would feel out of place if put anywhere else?

Matija: It’s hard to imagine this album without Traversing or with it being put somewhere else. As said before, a cohesive sequence was planned from the start of shaping the album. Now we’re using Traversing as an intro for the live show and the two songs still fit together well without it in between, but for the full listening experience of the album, the placing of the track is mandatory. We had ideas for some more cohesive, lengthier tracks too, but we never realised them later. Maybe we’ll dive into that territory for the sophomore release.

Presuming that all the other songs on the album weren’t put in this particular order randomly but after some serious and thorough contemplation as well, would you subscribe to the notion that the album ends in a somewhat anticlimactic fashion, with its second half being arguably weaker compared to the first?

Matija: When we started writing the album, Abyssophora was the very first track we completed and we immediately decided to make it the closing song of the album, with its epic ending riff and the clean outro enchanted with the ethereal lead guitar work. We don’t really agree that it’s anticlimactic or weaker, the songs were indeed planned to stay exactly where they should be. All of the songs follow each other based on the lyrics too. They should also be looked at from the perspective of side A and side B dynamics. The entire A side is cohesive and epic, while the other side is melancholic and diverse ˗ both sides offering different qualities and perks, but of course those are also perceived and evaluated differently by the listeners. We can conceive that side B perhaps requires more focused listening to be appreciated in full.

In terms of reaching and maintaining a certain level of technical proficiency on your instrument, being eligible to play in a band like Siderean undoubtedly requires considerable sacrifices and a strong work ethic. That said, did you all gather your musical knowledge before joining the band, or was the band itself, and the complexity of its musical discourse, that demanded the additional development of your skills? Did you all become the musicians that you are because of Siderean or in spite of Siderean?

Matija: You’re right, our music does require some technical proficiency and knowledge. Speaking of sacrifices and work ethic, yes, we had to invest a lot of our time to write the album and then polish it to be able to record it and now perform it live. During the songwriting process and then later on during the recordings, we all grew as musicians and evolved our skills considerably. It was quite a journey to reach this point. Speaking of which, while we all have some technical background from various bands we have played in before and are still playing in now ˗ even Teleport music was always demanding to play ˗ writing Lost On Void’s Horizon was a huge step up for all of us. Of course we will keep setting ourselves new goals and make our second release even more challenging ˗ to push our boundaries and evolve our creativity, not just for the sake of it. Since you’ve mentioned complexity, it was brought out by the process of songwriting itself.

David: Despite having very different musical backgrounds, all of us were deeply invested in developing our craft individually way before Siderean. The band has now only spurred us on to become even better, so we would definitely not say that any improvements have come in spite of Siderean.

Siderean Interview

Many renowned musicians feel that the true mastery of playing in a band is the ability to conform to whatever a certain song asks for, to never play more notes than needed, and to never overshadow other band members and their contribution. In other words, one almost needs to be invisible as an individual in order to make the group effort more effective. Would you say that you, as relatively young musicians, have already learned those important lessons and does Siderean as a band obey these principles?

Matija: The complexity comes out of the necessity to bring those riffs and songs to life. It’s the way we see this music. It’s already demanding to play those songs, so making them more complex for the sake of technical approach and wankery would be a shot in the dark and self-sabotage. Boasting as a technical wizard in a band would not work for us either. We’re all trying to maintain a hard work ethic without too much ego, but to serve the songs and our love for music. All passages, solos, and riffs are there for compositional reasons, not to show off. It’s always welcome when a member is exceptional at something though, as it gives the others something to look up to and a bit of healthy competitiveness to reach new goals.

When you write songs, do you use riffs, leads, and other parts that have all been written upfront, separately, and then combine them because they seem to work well together, or do you come up with the main riff first, upon which you then build up slowly, bit by bit? Is there a template to the band’s songwriting process, some mandatory modus operandi that you always follow when writing?

Matija: We mostly stick to the sound that gives us our identity. There are certain chords and patterns we often look back to. Mostly we come up with the riffs separately, build the songs incrementally, sleep on them, and not rush them. Usually there is the main riff that charts the concept of a song, but to make it work requires much more material that combines with it into a final unit successfully. That is often with the help of older riffs that didn’t previously fit into any other song, and often the new spine of the song brings fresh air that inspires plenty of new material. The latter is much more fulfilling. When a composition is drafted, we advance the storytelling with the help of leads, synthesizers, and chords to create a cohesive piece. There’s of course the trap of becoming repetitive which we have to consider as well, and try to figure out new ways to blow our and our listeners’ minds with different approaches.

When a certain riff is the right one, is that something that you know or something that you feel? Or, to rephrase the question, is that decision a visceral or cerebral one in your case?

Matija: When someone comes up with the riff, and it is the right one that fits into our soundscape, we just feel it. Sometimes a riff doesn’t click immediately, but if we feel it’s the right one, we jam and polish it as long as it takes for it to feel right. Once we have the riff, we try to connect it with previously written material, or put it aside temporarily and return to it later with fresh ideas. But even after joining them into something resembling a composition, the songwriting is only at the beginning stage. The song in its creation sometimes solves itself naturally, sometimes some progressions are just logical. Other times an intense brainstorming is needed. It’s hard to explain and as your question suggests, it’s not universal, but rather on a case by case basis. Let’s say some of the material is done in a visceral and some in a cerebral way.

Siderean Interview

The band’s affinity for the celestial is also manifested through your appreciation for Voivod, another band that, inspiration-wise, has been forgotten in space for almost 40 years. Could you say something about how their music shaped your own and the role they had in your lives?

Matija: We have been fans of Voivod for quite a long time. It was one of the main influences which gave rise to Teleport and was always present as the band was evolving. It’s hard to say where to even begin when speaking of the ways the band influenced some of us, but let’s just say it’s one of the most unique bands that has ever existed in the metal and punk scene, and even some of their ’80s releases are still ahead of time.

What are your favourite Voivod albums, and would you subscribe to the notion that their last few releases made them highly relevant again, perhaps more than they have ever been?

Matija: Obviously Dimension Hatröss, Nothingface, and Killing Technology are the favorites. Angel Rat is also great, and the recent one, The Wake, is a monstrous album. Their best work up to date since… Angel Rat, or even Nothingface? It needs to be said here just how well Chewy fits the band. While Piggy left enormous shoes to fill, Chewy does that with ease.

To Voivod’s credit, bands that are heavily influenced by them, Siderean included, in most cases sound nothing like them. That said, do you believe that the only valid way to pay tribute to Voivod is precisely to do so without any obvious references to their sound? Would it be fair to say that the bands influenced by Voivod find more inspiration in their non-conservative mindset and eclectic approach than in the actual music?

Matija: Absolutely, the most important lesson to take from them is to discover methods of being unique in your own way and to learn how to incorporate very broad musical influences into something simple ˗ yet very complex ˗ and powerful as their music. To become a unique entity yourself. It’s also quite impossible to sound like Voivod, their influences come from such a broad spectrum that they can not be deciphered. An example is the video of Piggy incorporating a Stravinsky composition into a three-piece tune and making it as powerful as an entire orchestra playing it. It’s crazy. But this is the lesson to take from them, to accept ideas from a broad spectrum and incorporate them in a way that still fits your identity. Comparing the different ways music can influence you is quite hard. Looking up to Voivod can definitely result in many bonkers ideas, yes, but then there are bands that they looked up to as well, such as King Crimson, Magma, or Pink Floyd, which can ignite your sense for crazy ideas just the same. But of course, bands that cite Voivod as one of their main influences are usually extraordinary and very interesting.

Siderean Interview

Are you aware of any band that emulates Voivod’s sound with integrity? Are you perhaps familiar with the German band Khthoniik Cerviiks and, if so, would you consider putting them in that category?

Matija: Khthoniik Cerviiks is an awesome band! Especially their last output, one of the best albums from 2020 and, as Jan has once said, it’s death metal from the year 3000. We have been following them since their bestial beginnings. Serologiikal Scars was already quite a surprise when it came out, but Æquiizoiikum is on another level entirely. The band is obviously inspired by Voivod, which I believe has played some part in its realization, but if I remember correctly, the aesthetics have originated from other sources of inspiration.

Could you say something about your relationship with Morbus Chron and their swansong album Sweven? Did you have enough time to digest their frontman’s solo effort that came out last year?

Matija: Sweven by Morbus Chron is, at least for me, a great inspiration and one of my favorite albums. It is an example of great songwriting and of how conceptual albums should be done. Going for a walk in the forest and listening to the full album is a true journey. Literally every bit of the album is crafted to perfection, the warm soundscapes, the smooth progressions… Eternal Resonance by Sweven is an outstanding release too, one of the best releases of 2020 and a true journey in itself. It’s more sophisticated and not as strong as Morbus Chron’s Sweven, but delivers a similar experience nonetheless. Just as Morbus Chron’s Sweven does, it takes you to a dreamworld of unrealistic proportions. It’s necessary here to point out Temisto too, a band with which Rob Andersson released a self-titled album in 2016. It’s a brutal version of post-A Saunter Through The Shroud era. Quite fast and pummeling, but equipped with those Sweven-like moments and Rob’s vocals. I would consider Temisto as one of the stronger Siderean influences as well.

Have you ever gazed deep within yourself introspectively in order to find out what about the way you are wired mentally and emotionally spurred the urge to pick up an instrument and become a musician?

David: It’s reasonable to say that everyone has a different story of how, when, and why they began playing music. Depending on these circumstances, the reasons might have not always been the most profound, mature, or thought through. But there is no doubt that what guides us now is the love for these literal sound waves that make you lose your mind, cause goosebumps on your skin, and currently represent the only entity known to mankind that is capable of uniting masses of complete strangers in perfect harmony almost instantaneously.

When it comes to visual presentation, would you subscribe to the notion that the front covers of some of the most legendary metal albums have grown to be almost as important as the music itself? For example, would Punishment For Decadence, Killing Technology, or even Master Of Puppets carry the same weight in the collective unconscious of us who admire them if their covers or even the band logos were different?

Matija: Coroner, for example, would never be the same band without the logo, and the compositions of their artwork. I’d suggest that No More Colors is even more resembling the music and the atmosphere as Punishment For Decadence. Killing Technology, or pretty much the entire Voivod discography, wouldn’t be the same without that art. Away’s art 100% fits the music and I can’t even begin to imagine it being any other way. While just on the subject of Morbus Chron, I can’t imagine Sweven with different artwork, it’s just there, meant to be accompanied by the music.

 

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