Interview - Carpe Noctem - "In the land of Nod"

Carpe Noctem is an icelandic band, whos debut album "In Terra Profugus" made a really overwhelming impression on me. You can read what I think about it here, and now let the members of the band to introduce you their music as well as their views on several different topics.

1. Greetings. First of all I'd like to know how the underground reacted on your debut album - "In Terra Profugus". Are you generally pleased with the feedback that you had received?
Overall the feedback we have received has been positive. When you work on creating something for years, it is of course better to receive positive feedback rather than negative. But it’s important to remember not to get too occupied with how the audience will react and not to go chasing after that. You have to trust yourself and your vision first and foremost.

2. I don't want to ask you a boring question about band's history, because it can be easily found by the fans on the internet. So here's a shorter one - how in a few words would you describe your music to the person who has never heard about Carpe Noctem?
For me it feels like a fever dream, a constricting nightmare both disturbing and profound. Ritualistic in its channeling of forces that speak of creation through destruction. At its core it is a conflict of opposites – structured chaos, lawless order.

3. To be honest I haven't heard many of your previous material, so can you tell me how much had your music changed on your latest full-length album comparing to the previous materials?
This is hard to properly describe, as for us the evolution has felt very natural as well as chaotic. We always strive to push ourselves further, to not get stagnant.

4. And about changes - do you more like bands which are seeking for something fresh on their every single release, or do you prefer when a band doesn't change their style too much? The first category seems to be more controversial in the conservative metal underground, I may add. Why, in your opinion?
I think this is more related to a basic human instinct of fearing change, and the tendency of some to seek conformity. This is no different with black metal listeners. They don’t want new things because they make them uncomfortable. They want to seem trve and kvlt because they want to conform, so they make up rules as to what falls under that and what doesn’t. It’s both ridiculous and stifling to the very nature of black metal – it must be always changing, never comfortable.

5. OK, but back to your camp. "In Terra..." is a fresh combination of your own ideas and some different influences. The sound is very massive, yet here and there I can hear that you like to listen to old Gorgoroth, Darkthrone, Mayhem or even ancient gods from Celtic Frost. Am I correct, haha? How would you describe your current musical influences by yourself, and how much had they changed since the moment of band's foundation?
Of course we’ve listened to those bands and some of them have definitely influenced us. Naturally we all listen to black metal and we clearly work within that tradition of music, however, all of us have very different musical tastes and as such we draw from various inspirations. Some of which are categorized as being drone, doom, death metal, ambient, classical and contemporary music. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg and our influences are ever changing. 

6. Your music is also highly (in my opinion) touched by some kind of psychedelia. Why did you decide to choose this path? You know, I am asking because many bands from Iceland have some psychedelic relish in their creativeness - or at least the bands I know. Do you think that can be some kind of distinctive character for the scene from your homeland?
It might be, but that’s really something for critics and listeners to analyze. Overly analyzing one’s own work can be an exercise in futility. Yes, you must be conscious of what you are doing, you must have vision, inspiration, intent. But when it comes to the aftermath, to the analyzing, you simply stand too close to the heart of the matter. There is much in our work that comes from personal experience as well as the unconscious. That is part of what we are trying to explore in the music, lyrics, overall concept: the Id, and the gods and untold dimensions that lie within there.

7. Your debut album is full of distressing sounds hidden in the background, and this atmosphere doesn't change no matter if the tempo is slow or is it extremely fast. How much and in what way is this horrific, monumental element bounded with the concept of your art? I mean not only music, but also the lyrics.
In this we look at everything as one: Music, lyrics, artwork. The same nightmarish sense of dread, of the monumental terror when facing the abyss, of the enlightening and transformational elements found there within, can be found just as much in the music as in the artwork and lyrics.

8. What I have noticed from the descriptions on your label's site and from some other sources you loosely put many elements into your lyrical concept. We have here biblical Cain, Norse mythology and some occult texts. Can you tell me why did you decide to use ideas from so many sources? And can you name those mentioned occult writings?
The quotes or references found in In Terra Profugus are not picked because of some reverence to the original material, in fact it is with a healthy dose of disrespect that I approach these writings. It is not because of some reverence to Odin or the viking ways of old that we quote the Prose Edda, for example. The references are picked because of certain elements and ideas in them that can be used in the lyrics. As a thematic example, the album clearly references Kain’s exile, but it is no way a literal retelling of that myth. Instead it is rather used as a tool to express some core ideas in the album, the concept of denying god, of seeking exile and through that, learning difficult truths. The quotes have more often than not been altered, warped from its original state, sometimes to the opposite of their original meaning.

9. I have translated for myself the titles of each track. It seems that tracks numbered IIs are more or less about dying, IIIs are about hatred towards humanity/life, and I is the core of everything, a transformation of some kind. However the main title is bounded with biblical Nod - a place of wandering, where people are walking different than the God's path. I don't want to share my interpretations here, as I know you don't like explaining everything straight in the face. But let me ask you this - is individualism in your opinion better than following by crowd's way of thinking? Do you think that it's completely possible to follow your own morality and at the same time living in our modern society?
This is all dependent on how far you are willing to take your individualism – and where it goes against the morals of society. There are certain points of morality that are really beyond the acceptance of society and therefore won’t work within it. But to grow into your individuality and express it you need to put aside society’s limits and find what works best for you. Taboos are only temporary and society keeps changing so just because the masses think something is right doesn’t mean you should. To live in modern society you do need to be aware of its conventions but you don’t necessarily need to follow them.

10. While all the titles are written in Latin, lyrics are written in your native Icelandic tongue. I find it a bit ironic, because when Latin appeared on your island with Christian monks it was one of the symbols of freedom that you had lost since the heathen times. But from the other side - thanks to the same Latin we can read now Norse sagas and other valuable texts. Ironic, isn't it? What's your opinion about that subject?
Modern Icelandic hasn’t changed much from Old Norse so Icelandic speaking people can actually understand most of the old sagas and other texts in their original language. Therefore, Latin is no savior when it comes to old scripts. Danish and Latin were sometimes used in certain situations. Latin was mostly used for medical and religious writings so it’s very relevant as a reference to old writings and Iceland’s communication with the rest of the world. There is definitely a bond between Latin and the Christianization of Iceland in 1000 AD, but that is only one example of its usage. 

11. "In Terra..." is not only a great music and deliberate lyrics, but also an amazing artwork. I am sure that you're completely pleased with it, but can you tell me where did you get the idea of using a talent of Antti Salminen? How big is his contribution into this graphic concept?

We spoke with a few artists whose work showed a connection to our concept and we soon realized that Antti Salminen was our man. His illustrations for Gullveigarbók convinced us of his skills and when we shared our concept with him and the details of what we wanted he proved to be very helpful in portraying them. It was great working with him and we were happy with his dedication to the album and the concept.

12. You released a debut album via Code666 - a label known from supporting everything what is original, dark or weird. No offence, but you fit there perfectly ;]. But seriously - are you generally happy with them, or were your expectations bigger?

When we contacted Code666, the label immediately showed interest in our work and the people there have been very helpful. We are happy to be working with them.

13. Next question is simple: what are your current plans for the future? Do you think about some live gigs?
Currently we are writing new material and planning live performances in Iceland, as well as considering playing abroad.

14. OK, and at the end I would like to ask you few non-musical questions. Whether we like it or not, Iceland is often associated with Norse mythology. It is also a home of modern Neo-pagan Asatru movement. How do you see this? Do you think there is a point in reconstructing those old beliefs in our modern days?
Almost everything of ancient heathen practice is completely lost to us. It can never be reconstructed in its original form. However, the modern approach and practice of what we have remaining has a right to exist as a protector of old traditions and a way for people to express their heritage.

15. As I am writing these words, tomorrow is coming Day of the Deads (as we called polish version of Halloween). Do this holiday means any special to you?
Nothing more than a reminder of certain aspects of life and death. We don’t need a specific day for that as they are a part of our daily lives.

16. And at the end I'd like to ask you something nice and easy. Name last album that you have been listening to, and last alcohol that you have been drinking.
Alexander: In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson, and Asahi beer.
Andri: I’ve been listening to Windhand’s new album, Soma, and drinking Tyskie beer from Poland along with liqourice flavoured vodka shots from Iceland called Tópas.

17. OK, that was my last question. Thank you very much for your time and patience in waiting for this interview. If you have anything more to add, feel free to do it. Cheer
Thank you for a very well constructed and contemplative interview. It was a very refreshing change to the borderline spam some others feel is acceptable.

Watch a single on Youtube here.

Photos: band's archieve.
Interview by Vladyka 2013. Please do not copy this interview without HA'Z permission. Respect the copyrights!

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