This is an interview of NKSV, the Australian man behind both Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard, though the latter project was the focus of this discussion. The interview was conducted through a long chain of back-and-forth e-mails that lasted for several weeks, ending only yesterday when I forced myself to stop asking question because we’re only a couple days away from Prosthetic Records’ release of Rebel Wizard‘s new album, Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response.
I ought to explain that I swore off doing interviews more than a year ago after I finally accepted the reality that they consume time I don’t have, because I agonize too much in an effort to come up with non-standard questions that won’t bore the shit out of both myself and the person on the other end of the conversation. I made an exception here because, based on previous communications with NKSV, and because I’m such a big fan of Rebel Wizard, I thought it would be fun. And man, it really was.
This interview is also very long. VERY LONG. And sometimes it turned into a meeting of a mutual admiration society, which in retrospect might prove a bit embarrassing to both of us (though I don’t take back anything I said). If for those reasons, or others, you lose patience with this, I don’t need to tell you how to escape, though I do believe that this will prove interesting, insightful, thought-provoking (and fun) to a lot of readers despite its length — because, man, NKSV is an unorthodox wizard of a talker/writer, too. So maybe don’t pull the plug too soon?
One last word of advice before we begin: I think this conversation will make a lot more sense if you listen to Rebel Wizard’s first album (The Triumph of Gloom) and/or the new one (which premiered through a full stream at DECIBEL yesterday) before you begin reading, or while reading, or maybe even afterward. I’d encourage you to listen to those albums whether you read any further or not… and I’ll have some thoughts about the new one tomorrow in case we don’t completely exhaust your reading faculties today (you can get the new record here).
I’m going to begin by buttering you up, but also suggesting that you may have sociopathic or at least anti-social tendencies. I thought I’d mention that in case you’d like to have second thoughts about this exercise. Shall we proceed, or shall we part friends? Yay, or nay?
A tremendous bukkake of ‘Yay’ upon thy self.
Very well then, you’ve picked your poison, and I’ve picked mine. You clearly have an amazing talent for braiding together the most hellaciously extravagant riffs, the most incandescent solos, and the most primally transfixing rhythms (that was the buttering-up part, in case you weren’t paying attention), but you’ve harnessed that up with a horse that some people might think should be put down. I’m talking about your vocals.
Devoted fans of ear-slaughtering black metal (for example) won’t be hindered by them or (like myself) will find them an added attraction. But it must have occurred to you that a wider range of metal listeners would have embraced the songs if the vocals had been less… challenging. Maybe changing them some way wasn’t within the realm of possibility — maybe there was simply no choice for you as the creator. Or did you make a conscious choice?
Firstly, that buttering up was unnecessary Islander! For what you have already done for myself and countless fucking other bands day in and day out goes far beyond what I think most other folk are doing, press-wise, within this realm of broken mystics. I am at your mercy utterly forever, unfortunately for you. Huzzah!
For both Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard it all comes out with no hope as to the results of others, yay or nay. My conditioning, really, is that with what I do musically it will be a polarizing thing as it’s all very personal and not a result of adhering to what will attract a large audience. The more personal one gets the stronger the work resonates to those who need something a little more special in their lives than some Disney metal and shopping center atmosphere in a culture that I grew up feeling was opposed to such things and offered a way out.
However, in saying that, the projects are not intentionally doing that but more so just something I need to do for me. I grew up making music and can’t really stop. The great thing, for me, with Rebel Wizard, is there is no conscious choice at all. It all comes out as natural as possible. There’s, of course, plenty of references here and there but no one sole direction of it being such and such a sound/ style or even idea. It’s to be free of all of those things and let it all bukkake itself out as it does, using a lifetime of things that had a great power over me during this time on this material earth, absurdity but freeing it from concept and intention.
I don’t understand this need to impress or edit to approve to a mass of people. When I see things like Everyone Loves Raymond and people getting up in arms about what someone like Roseanne Arnold says as being large discussion points in a large culture, I know this is not where I exist; but that was obvious a long time ago! Ha! And as the underground moves more into what is mainstream and related to these energies described above, the more I just shut off into my own thing and do what I do.
But that’s definitely not a new thing for me. I just do what I think sounds exciting to me, and yeah, vocally, that was all natural, unplanned, and perfectly fits with the sound, the music of Rebel Wizard for sure. Any other way wouldn’t work, and for those who don’t like it – well with both Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard I think there’s a subconscious thing there to draw a big fat line between those who will like or dislike, and I kind of enjoy when it irks and makes one uncomfortable or annoyed. There’s never been an in-between! Ha!
But it’s really not planned that way. I am so deep into the musical realm of it all, when it’s ‘out there’ it is out of my hands really. So when others resonate with it the way it does for me that’s quite a shock. A wonderful shock because I know how deeply it affects me. And for those who do not enjoy, there’s such a plethora of banal shit out there to bury their dull minds into! Oh, that was a bit rough, sorry.
Now, Triumph of Gloom was something whereby life had reached a point whereby I could only just shut completely off and ‘expose’ everything I had ever wanted to do as a ‘band’. Everything prior in Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard had at least some influence of another – with either close friends or certain peers – that I wanted to entertain in some way. Triumph was where I went, deep breath, I am going to do all things I want, knowing that I would sever relationships with those who were into Nekrasov and polarise those who needed familiarity. But in freeing myself not just musically but from the coercion of the trials of life I let it all go, without the teeniest bit of concern for anyone else at all. Not to be culty and indifferent at all, but to be super personal as fuck, y’all; goddamn it felt good! And, to my surprise, that’s what set this whole nonsense off and running. Haha.
In other words, to answer the question: no.
Or even more simply put, it’s the only way of singing I know how to do and have been doing for 20 years, but I tried to make it all sound like it had some kind of story around it. But really that’s just probably because it makes a better read? Or maybe everyone has left now?
First off, thank you for your very kind words about what we’re been trying to do here at NCS for almost nine years now. As for the rest of your answer, it’s very close to what I guessed you would answer, but I thought it needed to be said explicitly, most especially for listeners who seem to think artists are off on some kind of perverse bender when they don’t mold their music in a way that conforms it to more familiar tropes. And what I guessed was that much of what we hear in Rebel Wizard isn’t the result of conscious choices or certainly any conniving calculations, but simply the natural expression of a lifetime of experiences, influences that meant something to you, and certain conceptual inspirations (which I’ll poke at you about later).
But I do think it’s interesting to hear you say that you like drawing a big fat line between those who will like what you’re doing and those who will run for the hills when they listen to it. Maybe irking and annoying and discomfiting people, at least at a subconscious level, is part of the pleasure you get from making this kind of music?
Well let me quickly say the underground is way more exclusive than the inclusive realm I remember it to be; but this was a long time ago! So Thank fuck for avenues like NCS as you open your realm up to diversity, which is so rare. There’s so much fragmentation and conservatism these days, it’s really bizarre. One thing that I do find boring is the lack of excitement and the frequency of banality in metal, punk, and would you believe it, noise, etc these days. The same fucking bands appear, as always, forever.
Anyway, blah blah…point being that it should be known that there is appreciation to those more unknown bands. When I do stick my head in from time to time and see so-and-so from this ‘cult’ band is doing this, and it’s fucking dull and uninteresting, there is a slight ‘grrr’ and there is almost a sense of duty to go in and throw out some heavy negative wizard metal into that tepid bubble bath; and what a dramatically unknowing whimper of a splash that is!
However, the sheer magnitude of projects these days for all you blog/music-writer-type folks is now more a sadomasochistic endeavour!
Ok, I think I do – but subconsciously. It’s always been a part of me, unfortunately. Hence the fame and the unicorns and islands have not been at my disposal. But both projects are personal, as exhaustively explained previously, and within that personality is a provocation which has always been there; I do try to keep it out but it’s just coming out of its own accord! Ha! It’s a lonely life!
I was very much involved in ‘scenes’ in the early ‘90s until I saw it was all mostly bullshit, but I did enjoy calling out straight-edge folk who wore child enslaved made Nike shoes and questioning why their girlfriends were forced to hold their backpacks at the back of the shows whilst they preached unity, etc, and why some, well there were a lot, of ‘anarchists’ were so passionate about bands like Crass but were unable to grow a potato, etc. . . I was 14 then (it made an impression as I was the only kid, everyone else was way older then), just recalling a long time ago – don’t hold me to it as I am well aware my laptop was sourced by dying children deep in the mines in the Congo, but I can grow a potato. It made me very popular in a scathed manner to the point that I eventually went off to Costa Rica with only $50 and lived for a few years attempting to be Rimbaud, never to return to ‘scenes’ again. Haha. Anyway, I am giving too much away here.
Now as we can still see, the world is made predominately of an incredible amount of buffoonery, so there’s a sense of joy when your deep personal inner work comes across as offensive and downright unfuckingunlistenable! The only kind of disappointing thing is that it’s the really obvious shit; vocals, production, noise tracks, blah blah. But it’s not an intended joy; I hope most folk feel great when they listen to Rebel Wizard. It’s a fucking horribly unfun, serious, fragmented, self-righteous bullshit world currently, everything seems so ‘full on’ – so much division and intense stupidity, all entranced within complete and utter illusions.
So whereas, say, when I was a wee chap, I would have actively provoked, it’s now just some gravy when I am not really focusing on ‘issues’ but trying to work within the other realms of being which I guess are still fucking smart asses themselves!
I will say for myself, and I’ll guess it’s true of the people out there who have become big fans of Rebel Wizard since Triumph of Gloom, if not earlier, that a big part of the favorable reaction is precisely because it does make us feel great listening to it. It rekindles a lot of the exhilaration and explosive energy that many of us felt from our early exposures to heavy metal, and that has kept us hooked (or at least searching for that same thrill) so many years later. And to be honest, some of the appeal of Rebel Wizard comes from knowing that it will never be played on the radio, and that 99.99% of “popular music” listeners will never get it. To use a cliched phrase, there’s an “outlaw” quality to the music, which I guess is what attracted a lot of us in the first place (and not just to extreme metal, but to punk, hardcore, noise, etc.) and that still strikes a chord when it comes through again, at least when it’s not being faked (as you say, as time passes, banality tends to set in).
And that leads me to ask you about what influenced you musically in making the sounds of Rebel Wizard? You’ve said that it became a very personal vehicle for freeing yourself musically, of casting off the constraints of expectations, and exposing ideas you’ve always wanted to pursue as a “band”. So (if it’s not too personal a question), where did the music come from, in the sense of your memories, experiences, “influences” (to use another cliched term)?
Wow, this is all how the Rebel Wizard feels for me and why I kinda need to do it. Now, I really did not think others would resonate in this way, so reading that is a wonderful surprise. I feel very fortunate that the responses come out a little deeper than ‘farken broodal triplets on the trigz’ ‘epic mountains of bong crushing doom’ etc, not that there’s anything wrong with that! Wow/now. Huzzah. And it is kind of important to have that secret mystical metal realm that’s all yours, more so than ever! Ha!
But let’s not just have it one-dimensional here, let’s not restrict its magical majesty eh? Where are the fucking outlaws man? They’re all becoming dull conformists. I recall Bill Hicks pleading to those working in marketing to kill themselves, and now we live in an era where marketing is totes dope and well Jackson. Urgh.
So, influence-wise as far as ‘bands’ go, there’s too many to mention really. I have many many years of musical obsessions and philosophical nonsenses. My influence is more on the presence of certain bands that had major impacts. I was also really anal about what I considered really good bands — of course, would you believe it, in my opinion. I am very open in what I listen to but super-fascist about it. Ha! For example, I fucking couldn’t stand Spazz but my world was ruled by Man is the Bastard in the early ‘90s. At that time Spazz were the cool ones and not many folk liked MITB due to the ‘weirdness’ and noise aspect of it, at least in the realm I was in. It’s super different these days though. But I loved that.
But fuck man, really, MITB conquered so powerfully then. Nothing could touch that. Even bands like Capitalist Causalities, etc, for me, in my personal opinion, weren’t as awesome. First No Comment 7” though, woah. The first Discharge 7”s to this day give me goose bumps. Bolt Thrower. Crass and Penny Rimbaud – as well as the OG Rimbaud. Iron Maiden, of course. Mercyful Fate/ King Diamond — huge influence. Just those ‘energies’ that are unique and ‘next level’. Oh, Ride the Lightening – when you’re around when shit like that comes out it’s incredible. My Dying Bride were big ones for me back in the day. I’m jumping all over the place here, hard to answer, so much to go on about!
Just those forging their own paths and doing it so well. You can feel it all on so many levels. The inspiration is multidimensional. I hate naming bands as I feel like a nonse and I hate it when folk list all these bands as it’s bullshit for the reader. The reader will become enamored by what resonated strongly with them. But you are asking me, fuck, and I sound like a jerk if I do not give you the respect of a decent answer! Ha!
I was lucky in a way, even though I argue with myself about that! I grew up and although I was the only kid into metal in my area, amazing shit always came my way. Now I grew up in Australia, where so much shit was inaccessible and unknown really. I would always hang out at the video store and music shop after school when I was super tiny, every day. An older girl there had a boyfriend who was into metal and she’d get me tapes, for example, that had Napalm Death Scum on one side and Morbid Angel Altars of Madness on the other side – BOOM goes my world. I would have been about 9/10 at the time.
My first job was at a record shop and I was in charge of the metal shit but I was only like 11 or 12 years old. I was paid in dim sims. 3 dim sims. From that I found out that Modern Invasion music distro was actually close to where I lived, which was really weird as I thought there was fuck-all around me metal-wise. They were responsible for putting out those those black metal albums that were so huge back then. I went in there and would grab all the black metal that was blowing up at the time — Burzum, Darkthrone, Satyricon — and also all the Earache stuff, etc…but I’ll never forget being a kid and leaving on this metal radio show, 3 hours of power, falling asleep, then waking up in the middle of the night and hearing Nastassia in Eternal Sleep, and never hearing black metal before, that moment was huge. The feeling of that is a big influence. Also, MITB’s Our Earths Blood 7”. That kind of thing when you’ve never heard it before opens many doors in the inner realms. That’s definitely where I am coming from when I approach music and those kinds of experiences have been very influential.
Around that time I was introduced by a schoolmate’s older brother who had come back from Germany to all this punk hardcore stuff which I got way into; Discharge, Last Gasp, Born Against, and from there I discovered Man Is The Bastard, Econochrist, Infest, Rorschach – oh so much shit, blah blah. All that was pretty vital ideologically for me at that age as I found lots of metal ‘thought’ to be quite average and I never related to the macho side of things. I never got into Pantera and all that shit, for example. I skipped it completely.
Once the underground opens up, it devours! So all that ‘controversy’ about Metallica’s Black album, metal ‘being dead’, etc, never even entered my life as there was a fertile realm in the hardcore scene at the time that I was super-involved in it for quite a few years at a fairly crucial part of my human development. I had a label and distro at 14 and put out things like Mens Recovery Project; this is not to show off but to give you an idea of the sort of influence that realm had. I also found things like Praxis, Bill Laswell stuff, Merzbow, Bizarre Uproar, etc – again, no one was into it, it would come to me and I would be all over it. All that made an impact.
But also, in saying all that, there were huge fundamental brain crackings for me in grades 4 and 5 whereby on the way to and from school I would stand around this great guitar shop every day. Eventually I started guitar lessons there due to the teacher being ‘woah’. He would make tapes of things like Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth, Dixie Dregs, and all that kind of thing, which also exploded my little brain. I always had these fucking guardian angels around me introducing me to amazing shit. Although I was literally the only kid at school into all the music I was into, metal/ guitar wank, etc, I always had some ethereal being handing me down the holy scriptures of musical huzzahery.
Once I finished school I left home and played in bands for a few years and read like a brain-sick mental, so definitely certain writers were big influences; Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Rimbaud, etc, and philosophers — but I cringe at myself for discussing this area. But that was also an area that seemed to appear out of the blue for me.
I recall finding Thus Spake Zarathustra (let me meet you on cliques here, bro) in the school library; which is very odd as there was nothing at that school related in any shape or form to anything remotely interesting philosophically.
Anyway, I refrain from these topics mainly as that kind of thing I find difficult to relate to the outer world, as it was and still is that deeply internal sphere.
Back to post-school: I was very active in bands then and we would host bands like Drop Dead who, live, made a big impact on me, and as people; that’s important, as I did find lots of folk in ‘the scene’ to be complete and utter douches. It was probably around this time I went back into metal. I made friends with who I call the metal oracle and really the list of shit gets stupid there. I won’t even bother. Bruce Dickinson, Accident of Birth man. That’s when I knew this metal shit ain’t over. Haha.
There’s also a huge hip-hop component arena and massive experimental realms I explored and that made alterations to my being. There’s Shostakovich and Arvo. Oh god my brain can’t handle this question! Haha. Seeing Micheal Jackson on the Bad tour with Jennifer Batten on guitar and her lasers.
Now, going to the ‘constraints’ side of things, there was also a sort of close-mindedness to each of these musical realms even though they all had such heart-punching, mind-expanding effects on me. I started playing guitar when I was four and was heavily into it. However, good guitar playing was frowned up during the formative years I was in punk bands. That was fine for me as I was more into the ideological realms at the time. I eventually gave up the guitar for a long while and was doing vocals in bands and making noise. The noise stuff was mostly alone as it was very frowned upon then, making it even more important for me to immerse into.
So let’s dip into the cheese pool and say my closest comrades have been hugely influential. The Rebel Wizard demo was more of a thing that I did as a thing for a very close friend, as I knew he’d giggle and go ‘dude, that’s awesome’. Which he did. He then passed it onto his brother who wasn’t even into metal at all and apparently couldn’t stop listening to it. Haha. That cracked me up so I had to keep it going, obviously!
Please excuse the long, drawn-out explanation but Rebel Wizard really is influenced by a lifetime of these aforementioned experiences – there’s still way more I could go into, but that gives you a rough little idea. I am kind of using this interview as an opportunity to explore it all a bit! Ha!
I actually don’t think about any of this stuff but it’s kind of interesting to see that, fuck, I have this stupidly long and expansive relationship and the amount of synchronicity around it has been quite amazing. It’s something that’s never been encouraged though; it’s been a ‘rebel wizard’ path! Haha. I have a cliqued metal life man, and it won’t go away! Reason I say this, is I find it hard to come to grips with it. I also had so much at odds with certain people, scenes, etc, which really poisoned the love of it all and I fought with myself about being a ‘musician’ – trying to get out of it. That is also a big influence on the Rebel Wizard sound. There was a long period of ‘wandering’ without music and more to push life into bizarre realms; those times certainly shape what’s coming out. And don’t ask about that, it’s novel-worthy and I already feel like I am exhausting you! Haha.
Oh, I should also mention The Young Ones as being a big inspiration.
Gosh, I’m about to have a past-life meltdown!
I’m going to pivot now to a slightly different topic, and in doing so I may be trying to cram too many parts into a single question, but they do seem related to me. The first part concerns the label you’ve affixed to the music — “negative metal” or “negative wizard metal”. People first encountering those terms might think it means one thing, but I’ve read enough of your past comments that I think it means another… but let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth: Why is this metal “negative”?
And the second part, which might or might not be related to the answer to the first, or to the sounds of the music itself, is the nature of your lyrical focuses (focii?) and song titles. Your last EP seemed to borrow heavily from the words and philosophies of such teachers as Siddharameshwar Maharaj and Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj; I’ve seen phrases such as “anti-shamanic and pre-fetal” in the context of an earlier release; the name of the new album is “Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response”. Are the lyrics and song titles of Rebel Wizard’s releases connected? Is there a unifying theme, or a group of unifying themes, that run through them? Is it even possible to answer these questions meaningfully in the context of a mere interview?
Readers, let it be known directly to your eye face that I approached this human person to conduct the interview. He didn’t ask. As the album is coming out and I am reluctant to do interviews but I kind of should, I knew this one would be perfect and avoid the boring usual themes. When approached, he questioned me saying ‘I am a terrible interviewer’. I thought I had issues.
It’s precisely why I knew this interview would be a good read, as you’re an awesome interviewer. You have just revealed as such right now. Look, see! Great theme here!
And yes, it is a lot to cram in and I will do my best, but I won’t give you it all because that’s unfair to you and the reader. And yes, you’re correct they are related.
Firstly, Negative Wizard Metal is obviously an excellent theme for a metal genre. Again, I am entertaining me. I had someone at the Nuclear War Now! Productions forum call me a child or baby or some shit for ‘making up sub genres’ hahaha. Oh fuck. ‘You’re not allowed’. Fuck you, choke on some unicorn semen. The layering of heavy metal genres now is comical. It’s created itself so it allows itself to do such things ffs! I laughed.
The year is now 2018, it’s a different realm. A different world. Even Lemmy admitted to this fact. Now, it’s both jest but actually very related to what Rebel Wizard is all about. It’s related to the ‘theme’ but I am, fortunately!, still able to stick a spikey fist into the anus of the precious. So it’s a win/win! Ha! Rebel Wizard stands on its own, so it has to have its own fucking genre! FFS!
Negative is not negative as an opposite to positive; depressive, angry or whatever. With a ‘Rebel Wizard’ you have to be fully negative, meaning, you’re nothing. Which we are. Break all the atoms down that make us up and we’re nothing. We appear in nothing. Negative metal is just me saying it’s not this or that. Because it’s not angry music, nor is it happy dappy German power metal, nor is it ‘evil’ grim nonsense etc… it’s fucking all of that and it’s not that! All this ‘this is me/ what we represent’ nonsense, which isn’t correct. It’s not them or who they are; all that was created externally by others. School, parents, TV, music, blah blah. They’re not who they think themselves to be. Now, we are in an era where that type of illusion is the sole belief and existence of a person and also in bands, etc., blah blah
Now, that’s not wrong or right. I definitely am not saying things should be this or that. Never. Fuck that. It is a very difficult realm for me to explain but I will do my best. But things will happen according to how they do. Really. It’s beyond ‘us’. I just can’t connect with that side of myself and especially express it musically, as music, for me, exists so far away from that conditioning. Why I can handle living! Ha! I am having a negative wizard metal party in the nothingness! Everyone is invited!
I like all those things the most out of anything! Haha! Negative, in the philosophical sense, Wizards (obviously!), and Metal — put them together because, fuck, you just have to! Especially in this day and age. Fuck, I wanna be a kid into heavy negative wizard metal. Kalamazoo!
And I have to laugh and how amazed I am by you mentioning Siddharameshwar. Fuck you! What a legend you are. I am shocked at how amazing you actually are as an interviewer and listener of Rebel Wizard. Big focus on the word ‘listener’. Because there are a few things to listen out for in this project, but yeah, I am not going to give you much on that. Siddharameshwar, however, is not related to anything I do musically. You were oh-so close, in fact when I saw your review I had panicked that I had given too much away! Haha!
Now, don’t get me wrong here. It’s not supposed to be ‘hidden’ meanings, etc. They are there but you don’t have to ‘get it’. That shit is aimed elsewhere. I don’t want people to ‘get it’. Make of it what you will, for you. You can ponder or you can just ride in your golden Cadillac chariot down Venice beach and flex your muscles if you’d so desire.
But it’s all connected. Yep, titles, quotes, riffs, energies, blah blah. It’s the totality of all of it. But, as mentioned previously, to give too much away is not fair. Everyone is barking away their bullshit more than ever, so many fucking faces all over social murderer smiling or grimacing, raping our eye balls and sense of self, you need to have that cryptic finger directing you away from what you ‘think’ and go no more interesting realms with it.
I would love to be able to type it all out but I also am unable to. That’s why music is such an excellent alchemical source for such things and why metal is such an even more excellent alchemical source. With metal you can explore and riff out the mystical and alchemical and it’s totally cogent. It’s actually to be expected! So fuck, let’s take it all the way! Ha!
It’s ultimately all pretty simple though. Fist-pumping heavy negative wizard metal into the nothingness! Kalamazoo!
Well hell, I respect that answer, even though it didn’t completely satisfy my intellectual curiosity. One of my wife’s favorite refrains to me is, “You overthink things”, and I suppose I can’t help it. I don’t need to know every last permutation of thought that goes through an artist’s mind in mid-wifing a litter of musical children (beyond the howling pain and ecstasy), and I don’t wonder about such things when I’m in the throes of an exciting musical experience. The nosy curiosity comes later, if I like something enough.
But before I completely abandon this subject and move on to a further topic, it’s inescapable to me that you’re putting something of personal importance into the titles and lyrics, or at least subjects you’ve read and thought about with more than a surface-skimming interest, even if it might seem pretentious or needlessly distracting from the music to open up about them. Have you ever thought about publishing the lyrics without further comment, or including them with the album notes or downloads? (And if you’ve already done that, and it eluded me, please be gentle in your response.)
Ah, great, I am pleased you are intellectually unfulfilled! This is my biggest concern when doing interviews. One should never be satisfied by ‘the answer’! Huzzah!
That’s what makes for a stimulating interview, and most probably a laborious one for the poor readers who by now have long gone. Just you and me now darling, the foolish over-thinkers!
Again, you’re correct. In as much as I have invested a lifetime love of music, and the equal measure of abstract ‘ideas’ (the over-thinking) and philosophy. Very much personal importance. That which has resonated to me and I never shared it, again as I feel if it’s in your nature to explore this, it has to be solo. I don’t even like to discuss it. I cringe mostly when such things are opened up. I kind of just want to have fun and listen less to the human voice telling me this and that with conviction. Urgh! Human Convictions! So gross….ew.
The world is filled with words and so are heads, I don’t need to add to that. Enough has been said over and over. Work it out among yourselves. It’s better to leave those in the abyss.
I suppose, in certain circles at least, you are still best known for what you’ve created in Nekrasov, given that its life began many years before Rebel Wizard’s and the discography is a lengthier list. And of course, Nekrasov continues even as Rebel Wizard may be exposing your music to a different and perhaps even larger audience. I don’t see the music of the two projects as completely divorced from each other, but there are some strong differences. As the sole person behind each of these projects, what draws you to each of them? Does each appeal to a different aspect of your mind or your emotions? What leads you to turn your focus to one at a certain time, and to another at a different time? And do you tend to work on new releases for each of them at the same time, or put one completely aside while you become immersed in the other?
Yes sir! They are very different but also very similar; definitely not divorced. I have always been drawn to both things for always. When I was a kid I loved horror films but not only the film; the soundtracks/sounds awakened something in me. I would ponder how the music or sound would evoke and point to a certain sense when something wasn’t happening or was pointing to the invisible, just the anticipation of something; that connected me to senses within and beyond myself that were invisible but oh-so strongly present.
I would always try to replicate these ‘senses’ as well. I was always making those more ambient/noise type soundscapes without even thinking that it was even a thing. I wasn’t really into ‘experimental’ music as I was so young, so that world was really far away. It all came from horror soundtracks but also from the senses within and then playing around with my own nonsense. The differing senses of being.
Now, what draws me to Nekrasov is the ‘being’ of the project and just the need to do it. Obviously it’s not made for fame, even in any underground arenas, as it really started long before there was any idea of it even being a thing for anyone! That was a preposterous thought! So I am still in ‘that’ kind of place when creating Nekrasov but same for RW really. As mentioned, I give what I do ‘musically’ everything within and beyond ‘me’ as holistically as I can. With Nekrasov it’s a liberating but super-intense realm but I find comfort in it. It’s like an astral car wash. And it still works off that ‘that which is not there’ – it’s being and non being. It’s not ‘exploration’ for example. Ah, I find it very difficult to word out Nekrasov as I need that project to create the energies without words. Words and thoughts appear and Nekrasov lives oh-so far away from all that.
But that’s also the same for Rebel Wizard to some degree. Nekrasov is more intense and ‘deeper/denser’ and Rebel Wizard is great just to balance it all out. So I don’t select to work on one or the other at directed points in time, they just happen when they happen.
For me, in how I do things, I can’t, for example, ‘feel angry’ and need to do a super-dense ‘angry’ wall noisey Nekrasov piece. It’s far too one dimensional, for me. It’s just not done. Life is not linear and it’s in perpetual transformation. Music is wonderful in that it’s so much more vast than word or thought. We are being lived and whatever needs to happen will happen far beyond what we plan or hope, so it just happens as everything in life just really happens. And for both projects it’s things that entertain me or ‘transform’ etc…there’s no projects that really do it like this (for me), only as it’s purely coming from within. I love lots of music and I am very much obsessed by the musical voids but I also have the intense urge to do it. I fought with it so much in the past, but now I guess you see more of both things happening due to me finally giving in! haha!
In saying that, I do find that when I am ‘album’ focused, I do tend to really give the main attention to that. So currently I am almost done with the next Nekrasov beast, although that did start last year and bits and pieces are laid out during the Rebel Wizard album. That’s all more towards the end of the album though; the mixing, the laying it all out and putting it all together. Both projects are very much with me all the time though, so I don’t put any aside but definitely give each track its full attention when immersed, as there really is no other way.
Rebel Wizard is good for me, now getting older, to have fun more. Take lots of the Nekrasov ‘non-conceptualism’ and put them into party time heavy metal and wizards! Haha! Because why not? Now, upon discovering that I can do both is a wonderful thing. Wow, there’s so much to dig into and play around with. I think through all this time and life I have been able to set things up so I can really keep creating for as long as I would like to. I’ve always done both but it’s just weirder now and more monged due to living life the way it’s panned out. Neither project subscribes to one genre and I don’t mean to sound, like, way cool bro on genres, etc. It’s just how I do things. I didn’t think I would have to answer questions about it! Leave me alone FFS! Ha!
HA! I will leave you alone soon, but not just yet. You have a new 10-track album scheduled for release by Prosthetic Records on August 17 — Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response. Given the more or less spontaneous nature of Rebel Wizard’s music, did you consciously try to do anything different for this album than on Triumph of Gloom or the intervening EPs, either in your approach to the songwriting or in the production of the sounds?
Nope, not at all, but it is always changing naturally. I have fallen more into the ‘flow’ of it all these days and that’s why it’s much more effortless. I am, however, more conscious that ‘others’ now listen to all this nonsense, so there was some, slight, influence that trinkled its urination onto influence. A gentle sodomy of pressure occurred, but it was noticed as a reminder of how not to do things. I am trying to see it all as an allowance to proceed, as much as I still suffer epic self-deprecation and herculean doubts. But as mentioned, the feedback, the deeper personal feedback, from the audience was inspiring.
Obviously it’s a wonderful thing to be able to possess another with music, and it caused a sense of renewal, joy, or whatever; especially in an era where there is so much music but also so much coercion of doubt, misery, and suffering of the ‘self’. I don’t intend for it for it to be that way, as mentioned, as I don’t feel it’s my place to intervene with life and how it must proceed. It proceeds as it does with me but, really, there is no separation from any of us. Separation is conceptual, so if I am doing these things within that place of ‘non-separation’ that music allows so easily, it must be doing something nice. That’s good! Haha.
So, basically, I don’t approach it, it approaches me but I am more ‘tuned in’ to it as I have given up on fighting ‘it’ and also allowing ‘outer’ forces to taint it. That’s not saying people, reviewers, peers, etc, are all wrong and idiotic, etc. The resonation to the other is much stronger when it’s inner to outer, not outer to inner; if that makes sense? So it’s very much a disservice and a waste of time to ‘give the people what they want’. Sorry, that was all pretty cringy.
“Cringy” is not the word I’d use. I don’t think anyone should cringe when admitting they’ve come to a place where they feel inspired or joyful in what they’re doing, especially when self-doubt is a constant combatant, as it is for many. But a couple of points in your answer do make me curious. When you say that you noticed a light pressure, but more as “a reminder of how not to do things”, what do you mean by that? And when you speak of creating from within a place of non-separation, could you elaborate a bit on what that means?
Yeah, I would assume you would use ‘buffoonerous ruffles’ because you’re more of a poet than I. I cringe whenever I type words into an interview — the entire time I am in utter nervous-system meltdown! Ha! I am still not sure whether any of this information is useful; however, I am using this for me really, to delve a bit more into my own understandings, well, misunderstandings.
Ah ok, so the feeling of ’pressure’ or what one ‘should’ be doing to please another as a reminder how not to do things simply means that all outer influences should not poison the wells of the inner. That which makes it ‘work’ is complete annihilation of all intentional influences. So when there’s a tightness somewhere, or some review has crept in and poisoned the wonderful waterfall of heavy negative wizard metal, it’s just letting me know this is not the place to make music. That’s a common thing though, but I guess not so?
Metal, but also other underground realms, do really want to impress, but I don’t think that’s their fault. The world really emphasises this, even whatever remains of the ‘underground’. But I have blah blahed enough on all that. It should be the most natural thing, completely free of all ideas and what another will think. When that feeling of wanting to please comes in, you can just feel it, and it’s a horrid feeling. Ha! But I can feel it so strongly, being so very anal on myself, that now it’s more of a natural reminder than a self-deprecating nightmare of lava-soaked urination upon my heart and soul. In saying that, of the feeling of impressing another, say a friend, and knowing they will giggle at a certain change in riff or whatever, that’s not such a bad place — but not a good one to be in always.
That kind of vaguely answers the second question, in that the feeling is one of non-separation. I do not feel separate, as though I am doing this as an individual. But this is really something I find to difficult to pen down. So you have a body with concepts (mind) but beyond the body and the concepts there’s no separation between us, we are all powered by the same thing. My sense of I is the same as yours and everyone else’s. In the womb, ribs and legs and hearts are formed not by the conceptual ‘you’. But if I go on, I would be spoiling the miserable magic of Rebel Wizard!
I’ve really enjoyed this conversation (I hope others will too), and I’m grateful for how much time you’ve devoted to answering all my questions. Since we’re nearing the end, would it be too much of a cheat to ask you what you would ask yourself that I haven’t already asked you, if you were me and also yourself? If you don’t think that’s too much of a cheat, what would that question be?
I really don’t like to do these things, but in your case, I feel I must! Haha! I feel a great sense of duty to this after all the effort you’ve put into my nonsense! It’s been a pleasure for me to read your thoughtful reviews. That’s a really rare thing these days. But not only from my perspective, from all the other bands and projects you cover. Not many ‘online’ places cover projects as extensively as yours.
When you move into the supposed ‘higher’ realms of online musings, it’s really just the same fucking bands who all go through the same PR system, on the same top ten, and become also very tabloid about it all. It kind of takes guts, these days, to go out and say how you feel about certain bands that no-one else is covering. You should be proud of that. You’re doing great work here and that resonates.
I was really amazed that you took it upon yourself to write about Nekrasov and the Horn release and then the Rebel Wizard stuff when no-one would cover it. I would get emails from folk saying they dug it but would not give it space on their platforms. I sense there is a bit of fear of how others will think of them, but that’s fine with me. It’s a great way to know who’s who, etc, and put effort into what has integrity and ‘genuine’ support, etc. I’ve always had a hard time getting ‘press’ but I do, in some way, encourage that! Ha!
I am always more than happy to reciprocate all that but perhaps my extensive absurd ramblings could be more of a punishment!
Oh, what a cheat! Can’t come up with any more questions eh? Oh for fuck’s sake! What an anticlimactic waste of time! I don’t think there are any readers left!
(Readers, I say this as Islander really fucking thinks hard and puts A LOT of effort into this, so we need to have some fun with his inner critic, but let’s not tell him, ok? Between me and you, it’s actually a good question!)
What would I ask me? Oh, I have no interest in ‘me’ at all.