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Abandoned Elysium
Interview with Abandoned Elysium!

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Draconic about past

On your site I found a couple of links to interviews you have done in the recent past, and it became obvious a lot of questions I would like to ask you have already been answered there. So instead of discussing your music and/or new album I have chosen to dive into your background. You were all born when Estonia was still part of the Soviet Union. How was it like to grow up in this period? How did it involve your social lives? Did you view the west as your enemies?

The enemies? On the contrary! I was born and lived my early youth when Estonia was still occupied by the Soviet Union and the west had a magical aura to it. We were able to see broadcasts from the Finnish TV, the news and all, so Estonians had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the world. The enemies for us were in the east and luckily enough we were able to regain our independence without any bloodshed. I am both happy and unhappy to have born in such interesting times, the bad side to it being the triple amount of work we now have to do, so that we could get our economical and social structure to the level where it belongs. I'm proud of the enormous achievements our people have done in the past decade!

A lot of influences in a person's life happen in their youth. Did you have a happy youth? Were your parents able to supply you with a stable environment in which you could evolve yourself? And what about the neighbourhood, school and your country?

I think I had a fairly happy youth, my parents being intelligent and caring. Sorry for destroying that image of a pissed off and frustrated all hating blackmetaller, hehe! The first twenty years we lived in a suburb of Tallinn, in a kind of blocks-and-flats type of house, in a pretty depressing neighbourhood, but you know – it all depends on a person, you can either be strong and above all the shit that comes from such environment, or you can just go with the flow, become a meaningless vegetable and perhaps a sort of a crook. Now we've moved to the other side of the city, which is in deep contrast with the apartment we lived in. No complaints ;). I got my education in an English-biased school, that's where the language comes from and hey, come to think of it, because of that I was even able to visit the States for a couple of weeks, back in 1990, when it was close to impossible. As for the country – times have been difficult and strange, but since I am now majoring in history, I have a kind of a professional cretinism in me and I can describe even the worst situations as "interesting".

Each artist has been under the influence of music from the outside world. How old were you when you started listening to metal? Was it easy to get into contact with this kind of music? What was the first metal record you bought?

My first metal LP was a local artist Gunnar Graps (who recently passed away - RIP) and it took a while until metal CD's got over here. But when they did, I bought Enslaved's "Vikingir Veldi", I still enjoy the album enormously! Contrary to what you may think, it was actually very easy to get into metal in my youth! Heavy metal was extremely popular here in mid-80s and it was around the age of 10, when all the "big guys" at my countryside were listening to Accept, Wasp, Slayer and all the rest. The first metal album I heard was WASP's "Inside The Electric Circus", and I was sold from the first notes, hehe! One of my relatives, 6 years older than me was into metal too, and he kept a steady supply of music coming my way!

To evolve into a musician, the next step is to learn to play an instrument; I comfortably add the human voice to this collection. What made you decide to play the instrument you play? Was it difficult to learn? How did you obtain your first instrument?

My father had an acoustic guitar and he showed me the first notes, I got my first electric at the age of 15, and then joined a school-band. I have had no musical education besides the basics we got at school, so I am basically self-taught. I used to play keyboards for Tharaphita, but at one point I got really sick of that lifeless instrument, so now I also play guitar-synthesizer there, which is like any synth except for the fact, that all the notes come from the strings. So yeah – guitar is definitely my instrument. Not that I can play it, but I like to mess around with it ;). I think guitar is a hard instrument to play, there is so much expression between fingers and strings, and perhaps that is why I have never learned to master the instrument properly. Blame me all you want, but lightning-fast solos is not my cup of tea!

To practise is to acquire the ability to play an instrument. What songs did you start to play? Did you play metal right away or did you grab the opportunity to broaden your horizon?

Hmm well, I am really lazy when it comes to practicing guitar and especially when it comes to learning songs from other bands. But I've done my share of Nirvana, Metallica, Slayer and Sepultura, so yes, it was mostly metal. Then again there are several rock and even more mellow bands that I enjoy and I think I've always liked to play these songs more, than some of the metal classics "everyone is supposed to master".

Forming a band and playing with others can add a lot to any band. Where did you find your band members? Are you friends in everyday life or just session musicians?

I remember putting up an ad when I was around 15, that I wanted to play death metal to the likes of Pestilence etc, and no-one responded, hehe. At one point I was invited to do vocals in a band called Carnifex (we're still together under the name Kantor Voy), that's when I started to know more and more people in the scene, but on the other hand, the idea to form my own band was put to halt. It wasn't until I heard a rehearsal demo of Tharaphita, when I seriously started putting my ideas into music, and that is how Manatark was born – as a solo project. Soon I was already in Tharaphita, and when the time was ripe to perform live with Manatark, I invited some friends to the band. So the members came from the metal scene and yes, we're friends in everyday life, I couldn't do a band with just a bunch of musicians, who can play their instrument but have nothing in common with me. Even if these friends are not the best musicians in the world, you will see that you have made the right choice, when you go on tour with them and live through various hardships. I know that the guys in Manatark are iron and stone, my blood for them!

The biggest step you took is probably the decision to play black metal. When and how did you decide this?

Black metal really is the style for me, although Manatark is not a classical example of the genre. I am into occult, speed, crazy and strange melodies, the Beastly carnation of Man in music. You are already aware of the point when I made a decision to perform that kind of music – the same rehearsal demo that made me to form my own band also directed my taste a bit. If I formed a band now, would I still play the same style? Most definitely!!! This is what I enjoy and this is where I am strongest!

I have always been fascinated by the way a song comes into existence. How is this process with you? Do you write the lyrics first or the music? What do you write about? Who or what is your muze? In what way do the other members influence this process?

First comes music, then the lyrics, but while making music, I always have some guiding sentences in the back of my head, some idea, some principle. Some of the riffs are born when I am messing around with my guitar, sometimes melodies just start haunting me and then I try to see how they sound in metal. The inspiration comes from everything – joy and frustration, various forms of music, movies, books, art… the list could be endless! Every little detail lights a spark under your scalp, more than often these sparks start burning bright, and that is when some idea is born. The main theme in Manatark's lyrics used to be paganism (and therefore in Estonian), now I am less self-centred and I enjoy writing about the Beast in Man and all the beauty and pain that comes with it. I make all the music and lyrics, but I always finalize my own riffs only – other members have their hands free to enhance the basic stuff that I have planned for them according to their own taste. I intend to use that method extensively for the next album as well, we'll see what happens ;)! And another thing – when making songs, I more than often like to "let go", to let the music create me, not the other way round. It is a kind of a mental orgasm to watch how ideas express themselves through you, once you try it, you cannot let go.

As we broaden our view we encounter different options. You have a very good CD out, you have been touring in a part of Europe with Mayhem; I think there is a lot of potential. What will be the next step for you? What does the near future of Manatark look like?

First of all thanks for the warm words! I think that with "Chaos Engine" and the tour we kind of paved the way for the "real thing", which would be the next album. I am sure that the next release will a kind of show, what we are capable of, and if we are able to do all that in the top-level that we are aiming for. The metal scene is so strong and saturated, that there is no room for mediocrity. Expect more demonical-technical riffs, haunting melodies and blasting drums! And when the album is out, it is definitely time for some more touring!

Coffee or tea? Coffee for sharpness, tea for the visions.

God or Satan? God is a shackle, Satan is learning.

Black or white? Black for passion, white for deception.

Day or night? Day for dreaming, night for burning.

Left or right? To the left is the Queen, to the right is the Counsellor.

Ham or cheese? Spam overall!.

Man or woman? As a sulphur lake, I welcome both.

Snakes or ladders? Ladders rhyme with black adders.

Young or old? Death never hesitates.

Flora or fauna? Both have my heart.

Optimist or pessimist? Optimistically about never having to pass the Pearly Gates.

Cart or horse? I'd never….

Up or down? All ups are downs for some.

Car or bike? I pass out before I see which takes me home.

Walk or run? No walking – time is running out!.

Knife or fork? Do both get the job done?.

Spider or fly? Those little marvels…

Author: Carl
Zine: Lords of Metal

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