The genre of post-black metal has often been mislabeled. This is the case where it can be used appropriatly. Incredibly composed music with an intelligent progression. This very statement is quite essential in order to define and understand Smohalla’s music, music that sinks deeper than anything in your head and drains your darkest emotions.
With this in mind, Subexistance.com caught up with the band’s mastermind Slo for an in-depth interview about not only the band but himself in generall. Check it out and you may as well reconsider many things in you.
-Greetings from Greece, we are extremely honoured to have you in our webzine. Commencing the interview please update us with who is Smohalla, is there a vision that you wanted to fullfil? Give us a brief biography.
Thanks a lot. Well it's hard to write a real biography about this project, cause it's almost a one-man-band. Smohalla started in 2006, as my darkest and deepest work, and I uploaded some demo songs on the web. In those times, I was upset with reality, because of serious shit. Death is everywhere, but sometimes it can be so unfair and so close from you that your perception of life is modified forever. I was in the need for something far beyond all these concrete considerations, life, death etc... It wasn't my first musical project, but maybe the first one where my heart, my guts and my brain were all completely involved in. Camille discovered the songs, and as I was searching for a bassist, he decided to join. Then A.l contributed with some electro/indus parts, and we released our first CD, Smolensk Combustion. Nothing to add about biography, Smohalla is like a creation entity living and evolving years after years, with the help of some collaborators. The vision we're sharing is just a version of what can be in my head, deformed by the boundaries of reality.
-Smohalla was a dream-prophet who led a very mysterious way of life that impelled his tribe with his visions as well. Was it only a symbolistic decision that made you choose this as your name, tell us a about the filosophy of the band?
First I have to say I got a lot of respect for every pacific civilizations, like native-american people was. Ok, some tribes were fighting each others, branches of evil can and have to be everywhere, but this was no genocides, no total extermination, and most of them was living in peace. I can't feel really a part of this white occidental shadow, progress, economy, enslavement or destruction of the other civilizations and different cultures, wars, monotheist religions based on fear and blackmail, lifestyle based on competition and the crushing of the weaks... I know it can sounds hippie, but I'm just not disturbed, and I don't want to play a role like 90% of these metalheads pretending to like concrete violence, war, and forces of evil. 90% of them are just liars, fakes, and only the teens can be cheated with that. Of course in this artistic context, you can say it's just second degree, well if they want to write about what they will never face and use images and symbols that will never define their life, neither their real state of mind or acts, why not... But in my opinion, that's just silly, and pointless.
About Smohalla, I think he was among the more evoluate human on earth, like the last state of a good evolution when you consider all our different shapes: flesh body but astral, mental and spiritual bodies too. You can be the greatest dreamer on earth, and still gather crowds around you, helping the wounds to be healed, showing and sharing the beauty you can find here, when you adopt the appropriate filters of perception and communication. Having respect for all that is living and all that is conscious, living oniric and psychic experiences... A part of me always lived a parallel existence in fictions and dreams. I hope our music will guide the dreams of some people, helping them to join the sentry where flowers can rape humans. I'm proud to use that name, cause beyond our music I sometimes considerate this project like a tribute and a continuation to what the prophet Smohalla was delivering.
-Your approach towards black metal is quite unique, you have a very different way of blending all those sounds and influences and turning it into something diverse. What is the guiding power behind your music?
The will to emancipate from the prison that can be material life. Sounds I try to create are like galleries to travel from the depth of Tellur to the highest clouds. Once, I really have been aspirated in a kind of invisible tunnel, I wasn't searching for anything else than a sleep, and I wasn't on drugs. In this tunnel, the speed was so intense , all I saw around me was so chaotic, fragmented and beautiful. I think if my will of conscience had not awaked me, my body would be dead now and I still will be floating somewhere. My heart almost stopped because of the speed sensation. With our sounds, I try to translate this kind of astral experiences. Magic, search for it on earth, and you'll find or even create it by yourself.
-What are the lyrical themes that you explored in present or previous releases? Is Occultism attractive for you as it is for most extreme metal bands?
Not really. I can use magical or mythological terms in my lyrics, but nothing really occult. Real occultism is for witches, and all the extreme bands you can see speaking about that are just reproducing stupid codes and schemas, thinking that will give their stupid bands a specific aura. But all is fake. I'm really interested into astral existence, I really think we humans are defined by several different shapes, we are not only flesh. When I was younger, in the Smolensk Combustion years, I thought all of it was fictive stuff. But since these times, I lived several experiences that proves me there's something inside me that can go outside, being a conscious me at the same time than my body is laying on a bed. I know too that unknown spirits and entitites can interact with me. I believe in conscience, subconscience but in surconscience too. I believe in different states but in different shapes too.
So I speak about what I lived, what I dreamed, what I experienced in past and future lifes. Anthems to the beauty of infinity, celebration of existence, concrete or not, path to follow and raven to flee.
-While listening to ‘Resilience’, one can distinguish numerous elements of different genres of music and art in generall incorporated into your music in a unique way. Of course the fact that you come from France obviously explains a lot but can you also shed some light on your influences, inside or outside the music world?
You're right about this link between my country and my music. Here in France, we got a lot of bands that mix different stuff, cause our history have always been based upon a mix of different cultures. My own blood is the result of a lot of different mixtures. In my family you can meet blonde hair and blue eyes people, as dark skin mediterranean people.
I always have been an open minded music listener, from the first days I discovered true power of music, I was listening extreme metal but psyche 70's rock or ambient and prog stuff too. And when you have to paint the unreal that can't be painted, you have to create new colors, mixing what's already existing. True creation, mixing what's in your brain with the physical way you can find to get the more close to your visions.
-You have stated in one of your websites that ‘The genre of post-black metal has often been mislabeled. ‘. According to you how (post-)black metal should sound like? Do you believe there’s still space for evolution?
This biography has been written by Alex from Abridged Pause rec. I personally don't really care about how people can define us. Fact is, in the mid 2000, this post black metal term was used to talk about all bizarre or particular black metal, like Ved Buens Ende, Solefald, Virus, Organ, and now it seems to be used for bands like Alcest, I mean bands who mix black metal influences with shoegaze or post-rock stuff. Two different waves, same genre name, like the different black metal waves in the 80/90's: Venom and Burzum doesn't sounds similar at all.
By the way you can define us as playing heavy post cabaret, dark psyche metal or whatever you want, this won't ever affect our songs. Evolution, for a band, a style, a man, an animal, a planet, will go on, forever, everywhere. Evolution is the twin sister of existence.
-Bands such as Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, and various black metal bands as well are quite unwilling to perform their music in a live situation, a wise decision in my opinion considering the kind of music they choose to serve. Such songs demand a certain stream of cosnciousness, atmosphere and of course the techincal aspects that can’t be reproduced in a live environment. Is Smohalla one those bands too?
Totally yes. And I would say it will be harder again to reproduce live for us, compared to the bands you mentioned, as we got so many different tracks on a same song. One day, maybe, but most probably, never. Even to think about associate concrete faces, concrete way of playing live with that project sounds paradoxal. As I was saying, I created this project to escape from all that mass of shitty matter, so I don't think we will try to tame it, except if you succeed finding a really particular way to reproduce it live.
-Do you follow that eclectic elements that characterise your music in your personal life as well? Or is it a need that you have to let out and then return in more convenient and simple surroundings? This question is being asked because there is some overwhelming quality and artistic expression that comes out of your music that you have to believe in it in order to creat it, please correct me if I’m wrong.
My life is simple, my spirit is not. I live simply, almost like a monk as someone said to me once. I don't care about money, fucking the prettiest whore of the evening, paying thousand of euros to get colored tattoos and hipster clothes, which both are fashion shitty waste of time. I like to play music, share time with friends, to laugh, being dumb, do some sports and discover interesting stuff. I think it answers to your question.
-What are the future plans for ‘Smohalla’? Is it early to talk about a possible follow-up to resilence or you are already working on new music?
We got this split to come with Omega Centauri, a really interesting band from UK, black metal with spacey ambiances, I'm working on the mix of our tracks these days. These 3 new songs sound more violent, epic and powerful. For the first time, I composed it all on drugs, finding all guitar parts first. I don't know if people will like it, but I'm very proud of the result. If everything's ok, it should be available soon on Les fleurs du Mal records, a spanish label.
-Do you ever plan on re-relasing your first couple albums ‘Smolensk Combustion' and'Nova Persei'?
Nova Persei will probably be re-release this year, with bonus and unreleased tracks.
-Last question, apart from music what draws your attention in art generally? It wouldn’t surprise me if it has anything to do with paintings as the cover for resilence portays a certain interest in that field but what about literature or cinematography?
To be honest, music is so importantin my life that all other art categories are like almost non-existent. I like to laugh, I like the sun, I hate so much all what can be sad so... No dramas movies, most of the time I never read any books, I like to meet interesting people, I like girls with big butt, I like to smoke pot and watch funny and grotesque tv shows like Superjail or Ugly Americans, I like to jam with friends... But of course I like a lot graphic arts too, painters from the past and modern stuff as well, Francis Bacon, De Chirico, Bosch, old engravings and woodcuts... So many names to gather.. Just today I was at a Franck Omer exposure, just few paintings but all amazing, you should check it.
-Thank you once again for taking the time aswering those questions. Are there any final words or thoughts you want to share before we wrap it up?
Thanks a lot for your time and support, thanks for these Interesting questions. Please all, listen to the voices inside, but not the one who wants to kill everyone. Don't forget to feed the wolf of creation and passion, try to forget all that is lame here. What is not in your head or in front of your eyes doesn't exist. The humanity will soon come to an end, I wish the next species who will live here will have a better existence. What we are living here is a great grotesque lie, history have been written by liars, media are liars or manipulated blind men, philosophers, politician and sociologists will still be more useless than the ugliest hen on earth. The only lesson they try to learn us is to hate what we don't know, for we stay in our cages of ignorance. Learn to think and live by yourself. Group, connect and share what you are with outside world.
And of course, many thanks to everyone suporting us.