As a music reviewer I’m blessed with some wonderful contacts within the music industry, not only do I get to hear a wealth of music newly released and yet to be released music. Via de Mia Trix’s ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ was one of those albums, an immensely enjoyable experience which led to me sending off a few questions to the band, this is what they had to say.
1. Once Hidden From Sight is your debut album, three years in the making. How was the writing process, and did everything go as planned?
Serge: First songs were written as early as 2007 for a project named Eridan which never developed into a real band. Most of them had been forgotten for a few years, until Andrew and Alex heard them and convinced me to rework this material for VdMT. After numerous improvements these songs became the larger part of Once Hidden From Sight.
Andrew: Anything rarely goes as planned when it comes to VdMT’s attempts at studio work! Electricity failing, hard drives crashing, you name it, we’ve had it all – every time we were about to fully devote ourselves to recording or mixing, some force-majeure kept delaying us for days, if not weeks. So holding the actual CD in our hands after all these ordeals feels even more satisfying and amazing!
Serge: Another difficulty was parting ways with our second guitarist right before we started recording the album, so I had to quickly learn his parts as well. Sometimes we joke that we are really “doomed” in some way – we call this “The VdMT Effect”!
2. The sounds on the album are quite expansive, there’s a large scope of ideas and influences here, especially as the album progresses. Did the influences on ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ come from any specific sounds in music or did they come naturally?
Serge: It’s hard to describe the very process of songwriting. My head was full of riffs and melodies that over time formed into songs expressing certain emotions. Most often the songs I write are associated with some sadness, melancholy, even hysteria and aggression, but also hope. Of course, I listen to lots of Doom Metal, Drone, Ambient music, and it all contributed to the final versions of the tracks. At that time composing came easily to me. Now I can write one song for a few months, but the result is more mature, too.
Andrew: When we first thought about a direction we’d like to take, all of us admitted a certain fascination with the Doom of the mid-90’s – a dungeon that remains quite underexplored and underdeveloped, despite lots of bands claiming to be inspired by its treasures. One of our goals was to try recreating the feelwithout copying the sound.
Alex: Without considering them as a direct influence, I’d mention early My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia and Opeth, Evoken, Esoteric and Pink Floyd as bands that formed our musical Weltanschauung and remain an important source of inspiration. For my part, I’d also add here the classical music of the late 19th – early 20th century.
3. Your record is being released by not one, but two labels. How is your relations with Hypnotic Dirge Records and Solitude Productions and do you like the dual effort from these labels?
Andrew: We’ve been interested in both these labels even before the work on the album was finished. Solitude Prod. is one of the biggest labels devoted to Doom, and HDR has always had a fine selection of original and creative Metal of darkest sorts. So we consider it a great honor to be associated with them both.
4. Are there any immediate plans for a follow up record, are there any more ideas being formulated. Maybe a split with another band on the HDR label?
Andrew: In fact, a split with another band from HDR roster is quite possible indeed, although it’s far too early to mention any details. Our main focus and priority is to record a massive heap of new material we have written over the past two years. Done right, it has the potential to become a monolith of concentrated brilliance, but this will require a tremendous amount of work and time, so a split could come in handy to fill the long gap between releases.
5. 2013 has been quite a great year for new metal releases. Have you been keeping up with the year’s releases and are there any that have stood out as personal highlights? Maybe an album not yet released that you’re looking forward to?
Andrew: I gave up on trying to follow the immense amount of Metal releases coming out. Of things that have recently grabbed my ear I can mention Eibon’s “II”, our Solitude labelmates Station Dysthymia with their rather surprising for a Russian band take on Funeral Doom, and fellow Ukrainians Odradek Room (HDR) with a wonderful Progressive/Post-Rock/Death-Doom tapestry. But the main release of the year for me is Steven Wilson’s “The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories)”, which might easily be the best piece of music I’ve heard in a long while, regardless of the genre.
Alex: Obsidian Tongue’s “A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time” is an album I listen to on a daily basis ever since it was released. An incredibly powerful record! I also second what Andrew said about Odradek Room and Wilson’s latest. And the release I’m looking forward to is Kauan’s fifth album, which will be the first to feature myself on bass. Apart from my natural interest in it, I need to say that it opens a brand new chapter in band’s history, without losing all those components that made Kauan’s glory in the past.
6. The artwork for ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ has a yin and yang feel to it, the visual effect shows a definite contrast. Who was the mastermind behind the art and how well do you think it relates to the music behind the image?
Alex: The concept was developed by the band and brought to life by a Russian photographer Daniil Kontorovich (aka Tertius Alio), who has added a few nuances of his own to the image we had in mind. It shows a man who feels quite safe and relaxed, lying on a shore, but suddenly struck with terror, when surrounded by deep waters. What he is facing are the depths of his own self, inhabited by countless unknown creatures, once hidden from sight. What is on the bottom, on the other side of fear? Darkness or illumination? That’s one of our main lyrical themes on the album. It’s all about looking beyond the ordinary, leaving the comfort zone, so to say.
7. Have you ever thought of playing ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ in a live setting?
Andrew: Actually, most of the songs on the album were a part of one set-list for about a year, and “mātṛ” is still a centerpiece of our shows. Of course, I dream of the day when “Once Hidden From Sight” will become a cult classic and we’ll be asked to play it in its entirety at, say, Roadburn Festival!
8. The mixing on the album sounds exceptionally professional, who was the mix master in the studio?
Andrew: Our guitarist Serge was fully responsible for the sound engineering, mixing and mastering of the album, and I think the result is worth the time and effort he invested in it!
Serge: It’s a pleasure to hear such comments on the sound quality. This album was my first serious work in sound producing, and the responsibility was very high. Considering all the difficulties that haunted us, I’m pleased with this work. Although perfection has no limits, of course!
9. Your album is being released in a “name your price” format. Is there any reason for this ‘optional payment’ method, why not set a price on your release?
Alex: For us as a young band it’s much more important to reach as many people as possible with our music than earn a few instant bucks, and with a free download policy it’s much easier to do. We would also like to point out the fact that digital data has no inherent value except the one that listener attaches to it. We are extremely grateful to our labels that permitted us to put this philosophy into practice. And of course we incite people to buy our physical CDs which do have a value of their own.
10. How much has the internet helped promote and advertise your upcoming release? Do you enjoy the extra exposure, if any, the internet has been able to create especially in the lead up to your long-awaited debut?
Andrew: I think the Internet is the primary medium for any kind of music nowadays, and it’s simply unimaginable how would we end up without it – our band wouldn’t probably even exist, as we have all found each other through the means of local Doom forum! Internet is especially important for bands choosing the genre like ours, preferring to have a handful of devoted fans scattered all over the world to being popular in their city/country and nobodies outside it. We have started receiving very heartwarming messages from people from all continents months before the release, and this sort of feedback is what keeps us going!
Vin de Mia Trix