An Interview With Teo Chiral of Chiral + Il Vuoto
By: His Kvltness
Since ‘Not Dungeon Synth, But…’ is essentially accepted as a genre at this point, is ‘Not Black Metal, But…’ one as well?
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to declare that it is because even though Il Vuoto‘s music technically falls under the ‘atmospheric doom’ heading, it has enough stylistic similarities to Teo Chiral’s black metal project Chiral that in some ways it sounds like a more depressing side of the same coin. If you enjoy the lush, emotional, neo-Romantic qualities of Chiral’s music, you will certainly enjoy Il Vuoto’s Vastness as well.
Vastness is currently available both digitally and on a limited 4-panel Digipack CD from Hypnotic Dirge Records. Pick up a copy after checking out my conversation with Teo below.
Clandestine Sounds: Hey, Teo – so first off, thanks for the interview. Since I’ve done a couple of things with Chiral, I thought for sure that we’d talked before. However, it turns out we actually haven’t, so I’m glad we’re doing so now. How is everything? Between Chiral dropping a new EP called Fire//Heritage at the end of 2018 and Il Vuoto’s Vastness, it would seem you’re keeping busy.
Teo Chiral: Hey there, everything’s been pretty good lately and I’m glad we’ve finally come to have a little chat here! That Chiral EP is something I recorded to let everyone that the project is still alive. I guess that my fans are used to seeing a Chiral release every other month or so, but in the last year I haven’t actualy been very prolific…so I wanted to give a heads-up and let everyone know that Chiral’s not dead yet, and they should expect more in the foreseeable future.
And this new Il Vuoto…yeah, it’s something that has kept me busy for a while. I’ve also just quit my old job and I’m starting a new one on my own. So I’m keeping busy.
CS: How did you end up doing two separate projects? There are a lot of common stylistic elements between the two. “I, Essence of Nothingness:” from Weakness wouldn’t have sounded out of place musically on Gazing Light Eternity, and there are parts of “Everblack Fields of Nightside” that would fit perfectly in an Il Vuoto song. I know you’re an admirer of Opeth – why not take the Opeth approach and combine everything into one?
TC: Well, the reason I like to keep them as two separate projects is that they really are separate! I mean, they are two different “creatures.” I wanted Il Vuoto to be a “slow” animal, noisy and full of sorrow, while with Chiral I try and let myself experiment a little more with my feelings and musical tastes. It’s not just a matter of Black or Doom metal, but it’s more about the “experience” I want to deliver with them.
CS: The first Il Vuoto full-length Weakness came out in 2015, less than a month before Chrial’s debut full-length Night Sky. Since then, you’ve been much more prolific with Chiral – another full-length, three EPs and a split, as opposed to just one split with Il Vuoto prior to Vastness. Since they’re both solo projects and you tend to favor long-form compositions in both, is there a reason you’ve released more music with Chiral? Do you consider yourself more of a black metal musician, or a doom musician?
TC: As I said earlier, with Chiral I feel more free to experiment and that probably makes it a lot easier when it comes to writing new music. Plus, when writing and playing music for Il Vuoto, I really need to feel like shit, and lucky for me that doesn’t happen every other day.
CS: As a follow-up to that, I did notice in the notes on Bandcamp that Vastness was recorded between 2015-2017. Why did it take another year-plus for it to see release?
TC: I think, if I remember correctly that most of the Vastness material had been recorded right after the release of the album Weakness. And if I’m being completely honest, the track “V: The Fifth Nail” was originally composed for Il Vuoto’s first album. But I eventually changed my mind.
After I recorded all the tracks, I put them aside and let them linger for a while. I was working on something else those days and didn’t have the time nor the right motivation to complete Vastness. It was last year, after I moved into a new house, that I decided to finally try and finish what I started. Also, I needed a lot of time to refine the album and work on every single detail. That’s why it took so long.
CS: Okay…let’s talk a bit more specifically about Vastness. The Il Vuoto Bandcamp describes it as “a painting of sorrow as experienced by four different states of mind.” Are you willing to expand on that at all? For starters, there are five songs on the album.
TC: The fifth track, “As The Whole World Failed Me,” must be just seen as an epilogue. It’s not less important than the other tracks, but it does not narrate the sorrow as the other does.
Starting from the top, “Vastness” talks about sorrow in an “universal” kind of way; how man approach nature and how helpless one might feel before the greatness and vastness that surrounds us. “Weakness” is intimacy, its depression, and it deals with addiction and how it relates to mental health diseases. “Her Fragile Limbs” is about suicide, and “V: The Fifth Nail” is about madness and mental illness. And to reinforce this, the title is inspired by Joseph Edwards Duncan III’s blog. If you don’t know who he is, I won’t really be suggesting you to dig further.
[ed. note: Duncan is a convicted serial killer and child molester currently on death row in Idaho. He started the blog “The Fifth Nail” after being released from prison in 2000 after serving 18 years for an earlier crime. We share Teo’s suggestion that readers not dig futher.]
CS: You made a video for “Her Fragile Limbs,” and I don’t mind admitting that I had tears running down my cheeks for the final couple of minutes. It’s realy moving. I won’t ask you to explain it, partly because I think it’s fairly self-explanatory what happens, and partly because I want the parts that aren’t as self-explanatory to retain their mystery. Who directed the video? How closely did you work with the director on the treatment for it?
TC: The video was directed and produced by Erik at Wikked Twist Media. I shouldn’t be saying this, but I must admit that I didn’t do a thing for its realization, and it has probably been for the best! Haha. No seriously, I was floored the first time I’ve watched it, and that was an early cut! I can’t imagine how this could have been better, honestly. Erik did capture the intent and meaning of the song, and kinda elevated it with a visual dimension.
CS: Since the majority of your releases were done at WeakLight Studio, I’m going to guess that’s your home studio? What’s your setup like there? Do you do everything on computers with a DAW, or do you have a more ‘professional’ setup? Also, since there’s a huge difference in terms of the production between Weakness and Vastness, has that setup changed much over the last few years?
TC: You guessed it right! It was my home studio. Since I moved into a new house, I’m now setting up a new studio as well. Back then, where basically all my music has been recorded thus far, I worked mainly on the Studio One DAW. Everything was recorded through a Focusrite sound card, paired (most of the time) with an analog pre-amp, the Golden Age Pre-73, and damn I love how that little red box sounds! I had no other outboards or anything like that. Everything was controlled by the DAW. The only “real” thing I wanted to invest some money in (besides guitars and mics of course) were my studio monitors. More spedifically, I chose a couple of Presonus Eris, which I love!
Oh, I’m not sponsored by any of those brands (since I named some) but of course, if they’d be interested I wouldn’t say no! Hahaha.
Anyway, back to being serious: I chose to go with an all-digital approach because I always felt that it was high enough quality for what I needed to achieve. Of course, if you book a thousand Euros a day studio it’ll be way better, but I want to produce in my own studio, and the way I’m seeing it now I can get the sound that I want with my current set-up, with nothing added. It goes without saying that if I’d get better at mixing, mastering and recording, my music would sound way better…but I’ll get to that as well one day.
CS: I find the cover of Weakness really intriguing: it’s relatively simple in its design, but I have no idea what to make of it. Who did the cover? Is there any symbolism behind it, or am I just overthinking things?
TC: Glad you mentioned it. I made the cover, as I do with the great majority of my own work. The picture was taken in Trakai, a small village near Vilnius, in Lithuania – which is an amazing place to visit. I took the picture during a trip I took back in 2017, and it’s not the only one I used in the booklet for the album. The picture itself gave me a feeling of vastness, and I think that the use of the Droste effect -which I already used for the first Il Vuoto demo cover – magnified that feeling and possibly added a sense of confusion and perdition to it all.
If you’re not familiar with the Droste effect, it is when a picture recursively appears within itself. It has been used amongst others, for example, by Pink Floyd for their Ummagumma front cover. Now you just have to decide who did it better: me or them! Hahaha
CS: So what’s on the horizon for you? I have noticed that you have a third project called |||, but I’ve been unable to find any information about it. Is there any music on the way from that?
TC: No, I’m not working on anything new for |||. I don’t know whether there will be a new release or not for this project. At the moment, I’m more focused on finishing the new Chiral album, which was recorded quite a long time ago. But I really haven’t had the chance to refine it yet, or not in the way I’d like to, at least. So yeah, there’s definitely gonna be a new Chiral album, and if I can give out a little spoiler here, it’s gonna be the darkest yet most romantic Chiral album ever…
CS: Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final words to the artist – anything else you want to add?
TC: .Well, I’d love to say a huge, huge thank you to all who those supported me and my project during these last months. Even though I haven’t been active on my social media, nor have I released much new music – and I’m talking about the time span between my latest Chiral release and Il Vuoto’s Vastness– the support of those folks out there never stopped. I mean, there have been people buying music repeatedly and constantly even if I was doing nothing to promote it. That does mean something to me!
That being said, thanks for having me and let me ramble on for a while. Cheers!
Posted by Nick Skog. Posted In : Interviews