Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Vouna Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

Vouna is a project binding the atmospheric subgenres of metal together along with other atmospheric styles of music.  In the studio I am the sole member but the live incarnation is comprised of five musicians--two guitars, vocals, bass, synth and drums.

2.Recently you have released an album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on this recording?

I didn’t really go for a musical style, it developed organically while I was writing the record.  Black metal was the style I had been playing for a long time, but I had a revival in my entrancement of funeral doom and death/doom.  It does need to be said that because I was so enamored with my new synth I ended up taking a synth-centric approach on this record, whereas guitar is typically my songwriting instrument. 

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explore with your music?

We identify as being separate from nature but we are not.  Nature has no mercy and it will kill you without mercy.  Perhaps one day it will kill all of us, or maybe there will be just one person left.  I believe it would be an otherworldly experience, and something that drew me to metal was the fantastical exploration of other worlds.  Having always lived in the Pacific Northwest the destruction of nature has been consistently rooted in my everyday life, our public schools are funded by timber sales for example.  Sometimes I have a difficult time coping with the potential downfall of the global ecosystem at the hands of humans, and I have been wondering for a long time where I would go during collapse and after collapse.  The collapse of our civilization and especially capitalism is something I almost look forward to, but I completely dread widespread ecological collapse.  There will tragically be a massive die off of people in any collapse scenario and it will be terrifying.  I started writing songs with this in mind, and thus the album’s theme is the experience of a person believing that they are becoming the last person on earth.       

4.You also show an interest in Greek culture, can you tell us a little bit more about it?

My father and family are from Greece, so it’s my culture.  The experience I had of growing up between two cultures has deeply imprinted me and my music. The music is subtly Greek. 

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Vouna'?

Vouna means “mountains” in modern Greek.  Mountains are crushing and powerful.  The mighty volcano Tahoma has been a prominent feature in the entirety of my existence.  Tahoma’s absolute power looms over the Puget Sound area at all times, and we would be destroyed in the event of an eruption.  Furthermore, the westside of the Cascades is the way it is because we have a mountain range that runs north-south along a coast that runs north-south.  The winds come in from the Pacific to the west and bring storms and rains that nurse our beautiful conifer forests.  I wanted to honor the power of the mountains with the name of the project.

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the album cover?

The artwork is supposed to embody the place of my ancestors, the place of my home, and a subgenre that I believe is one of the pinnacles of the heavy metal genre as an artform.  The album cover is an overlay of lichens native to the Pacific Northwest with an ancient Greek relief of the sea nymph Doris riding a hippocamp.  It is in homage to Evoken’s album Quietus.  Even though my record has not been directly influenced by Evoken I wanted to have some connection in the artwork to funeral doom and death/doom from the 90s and early 2000s.

7.On the album you record everything by yourself, but have a line up for shows, would you be open to having other musicians on the recording or do you prefer to work solo?

My original intentions with this project were for it to be strictly a recording project that I composed and recorded solo.  I believe I will always work solo composing the material, and also recording the instruments I am proficient at.  When I record another album I will bring in some friends so I can expand on the instrumentation.       

8.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

In terms of vibe our best show would probably be at the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture in Weed, California.  We played in a boxcar in the open air to about 15 people.  The smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire cloaked the landscape.  Very fitting for this music.  It was the first show we ever played together as a band on tour, and on tour with another project I wrote part of “You Took Me” on the out of tune piano in that boxcar. 

9.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?

We already toured to Arizona and back, in the Spring we will tour to Denver and to the Southwest.  We were just asked to play a fest in Europe so we might do a Euro tour in late Summer if we can figure it out! 

10.You also have a connection with 'Wolves In The Throne Room' being signed to their label and recording your album at their studio, can you tell us a little bit more about it?

They are my fellow Olympia hessians!!  A couple years ago I became more serious about this bedroom project of mine.  I told Nathan Weaver (of WITTR) about it and sent him a demo song, and eventually he and his brother Aaron offered to help me record the album.  When I recorded it there was no talk at all of them putting out the record on their label.  I wanted to just make a tape I released myself, because that’s just what I’ve done with my bands in the past.  I had already submitted the tape order when Nathan asked me if I would be interested in Artemisia releasing the album on vinyl.

11.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black and funeral doom metal?

Overall it’s been a positive reaction.  A lot of people have told me the record sounds like a band they had been wanting to hear for a long time but hadn’t found yet.  Which is how I feel about the record myself! 

12.On the album you also do all your vocals in a clean style, do you feel this makes this music stand out a lot more from other bands in the same genre?

It’s not really a genre convention that’s for sure.  I made this decision because I’ve always been a fan of clean vocal parts in funeral doom and death/doom, and I have been wanting to hear a band that did only clean vocals in this style, in particular “female” vocals.  My goal was to add another layer of melodicism and intimacy with the vocals.  And I didn’t want to distract from the melodies--sometimes harsh vocals can do that.   

13.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?

I will play music until I die and this particular project is something I would like to do long-term.  I’ve always been a multi-instrumentalist but have been limited as a member of a band by only playing one instrument.  Being able to play all of the instruments is nothing short of awesome.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can do, I feel an intense welling up of inspiration. 

14.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Finnish funeral doom, My Dying Bride, 2nd wave black metal, Greek music. 

15.What are some of your non musical interests?

My one true hobby is cooking.  My passions are music and science.  I am especially fascinated by the natural sciences and currently work conducting research on the effects of climate change on the phenology of trees and shrubs native to this region. 

16.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

Thank you so much for the interview!


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