Vin de Mia Trix Interview with Doom-metal.com
Published: October 15, 2013
Vin de Mia Trix from Ukraine have finally released their first full-length ‘Once Hidden from Sight’, presenting us with their unique vision of Atmospheric Death Doom. We had a detailed chat with the band members to learn more about the ideas and background of this rising band.
1. Hello everyone! First of all, the usual introductory question: for those readers who don’t know Vin de Mia Trix yet, could you please say who you are and what style of music you play?
Andrew: Greetings! We’re a Doom Metal band from Kyiv, Ukraine. Our music is based on Death/Doom Metal, but we add all sorts of Doom, as well as bits of Prog, Black Metal and a lot more, into the mix.
2. What made you start a band in the first place, and how did your line-up develop over the years? It must have been a huge step forward to finally have a complete line-up again after finding a permanent drummer this year…
Serge: I’ve been dreaming about starting a band even before I’ve learned to play guitar. In 2006 I decided to follow my dream and play Doom. I composed 6 tracks, 4 of which made their way to ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ and one to the debut EP. Live rehearsals started in 2007, but the initial line-up was unstable, and the changes went on until Andrew and Alex joined the band in the winter of 2008-2009. In the beginning I was aiming to play very sombre Funeral Doom in the vein of Urna and Until Death Overtakes Me, but, as you can see, the final result turned out to be quite different!
Andrew: We had to rely on the programmed drums for last year, but we took this time as a chance to work on our technical skills and precision, as well as composing and editing some new material. But sure, a live drummer adds lots of drive and passion to the sound, so finding Igor was a relief indeed.
Serge: Igor is a great guy! He became a part of our collective really fast and now is actively involved with the band, not only as a drummer – he helps us in lots of other matters. We were lucky to find him, and I hope he’ll stay with VdMT for as long as it exists.
3. I understand that the material on your debut album Once Hidden from Sight has been with you for quite some time. It must be a very gratifying experience to finally have it released and hold a proper product in your hands…
Alex: This album is a fruit of a very long and daunting process, it was born from blood, sweat and tears! There was a moment when something happened to the hard drive on which we had like half of the recorded material. For a few days all these ones and zeros were somewhere between existence and non-being... What a creepy feeling it was! Happily, Serge managed to recover the data. But not only did it take a while to record and mix the album, but finding a label afterwards was an endless quest as well. So, words cannot describe our joy when seeing HDR’s official announcement.
4. Would you consider the release of this album to be the greatest moment and achievement of your career so far, or was there another point which had an even greater impact?
Alex: For me personally it is the greatest achievement so far, even if I don’t consider music as a main career.
Andrew: It’s more than an achievement – I feel like it’s something that validates our existence as a musical unit. I was always secretly afraid to end up as one of those musicians that never manage to release a complete album…
Serge: For me it is really the great achievement. It’s as if my own child had finally learned to walk by himself, now striding across the whole planet.
5. Once Hidden from Sight is released jointly by Solitude Productions and Hypnotic Dirge, a rather unusual way of releasing a record. Would you mind to explain? And does this have any actual consequences for the album’s distribution etc.?
Alex: Nick Skog of HDR liked our stuff and contacted Solitude Prod., with whom he already had well established relations (HDR is SP’s main distributor in America), suggesting they released this album together. The guys from SP had known us previously, so they agreed: the deal cost less for both parties (it’s cheaper to print CDs in Russia than in Canada). And for us now there’s a big advantage as well: the album is easily available both in Europe/Asia and Americas/Australia, let alone the fact we’re associated with two amazing labels instead of one!
6. The album artwork looks pretty unusual and original. What’s the story behind it? I remember that you originally had a very different (but no less intriguing) artwork concept in mind, a sketch of which was used for last year’s promo…
Andrew: The artwork, as well as the title, was intended to express the idea of something that was obscured for a long time finally surfacing, a hint of something both ominous and intriguing going on deep below the line of sight. The initial drawing was a great piece of art, but we felt it was focusing on secondary details rather than on the initial idea. Then we turned to a concept of something emerging from the depth of the sea, and shared our thoughts with a photographer, a friend from Russia visiting Kyiv at the time. He added his own vision to our idea, and the final result, rising from the crystal clear waters of Baikal Lake, surprised us all. But we soon agreed that this picture indeed captured the essence and the spirit behind the music.
7. Was there any particular reason to re-release The Sleep of Reason which was already featured on your first EP?
Alex: There were in fact several reasons. First, we weren’t happy with the sound quality of the original version. Second, we knew that the availability of the album would be much greater than that of the EP, so we wanted to have The Sleep of Reason featured on the full-length, as it was one of our central tracks at the time. Remember when Therion made a slightly different version of “Clavicula Nox” on Crowning of Atlantis that was released next year after Vovin? Chris Johnsson said he just felt he had to make another take. And I think each version proved to be good in its own right. Similarly, we sometimes aren’t satisfied with how the thing sounds on a recording, so it’s only natural for us to start it all over from scratch.
8. To dwell a bit more on that EP: its title (as well as the short English version “The Sleep of Reason” used for the above mentioned track) refers to an etching by Francisco de Goya which was also used for the cover. Could you tell us more about these Goya references? In what way has his work been significant to you?
Andrew: When I began writing lyrics to that song, I found the words “The sleep of reason produces monsters” from Goya’s etching revolving in my head. The rest of the lyrics was based on that famous line, and I still find it perfectly formulating one of the main ideas and concepts of Doom Metal as a whole – an endless dungeon of horrors and wonders that every human mind is, thinly veiled by conscious thought. Coming to think of it, the etching itself, like many of Goya’s other works, is something akin to Doom Metal – a dark, disturbing, yet without any doubt magnificent piece of art that explores numerous flaws of human nature.
9. How do you feel about that EP from today’s perspective, having made such considerable progress with the band?
Serge: It was our first step, and it’s the only chance for the audience to hear some of our songs, as we don’t plan to play them live anymore or include them in other releases.
Alex: Putting aside all the technical blunders, I still find it worth checking out.
Andrew: It was a declaration of our existence, and it will always be important to me as that. Musically, I find that some of the ideas we’ve put in the two instrumental tracks from that EP are still waiting for further exploration.
10. Your style doesn’t really sound like any other band. How did you arrive at this particular brand of atmospheric Death Doom? Did it just come naturally or was it a conscious decision, perhaps stemming from the intention to convey a particular feeling?
Alex: I think it’s a natural consequence of the democracy reigning in the band. Each of us has a particular way of approaching music, yet we all contribute to the songs. At the same time, we all have certain self-imposed requirements as to the material we bring in: it must be really good and it should be mostly doom (and not post-rock, drone, black metal, jazz or whatever else each of us may come up with). The latter requirement is somewhat tricky, as we love to incorporate elements of other genres into our music, but I think for all of us doom is a certain reference that we stick to in the first place, simply because we find doom the best genre there is.
Andrew: I think that the evolution of our sound happened naturally, without any of us having a clear vision of what exactly we should become – we are just trying to fuse our inspirations into something that works and feels real. Serge: You can’t push the creativity into boundaries, otherwise it becomes mechanical and lifeless.
11. Tell us about the songwriting process: do you have any particular method to go about it, and is everyone equally involved in it?
Alex: Each member’s involvement in the writing process has been changing over time. In the beginning, VdMT was Serge’s thing, he wrote 80% of the material for the first album. But now I started contributing more, and our next album will feature two lengthy songs composed by myself. I also help Andrew with writing vocal parts (especially when it comes to choirs). To me Serge remains our key composer, and I view VdMT’s music as his ideas + our arrangements.
Andrew: When Serge or Alex come up with a song idea, it’s usually a nearly finished track, so we can start rehearsing it right away. We add the vocal parts (cleans and choirs are usually composed by Alex and me sitting near a computer and numerous cups of tea), then keep polishing the arrangements until the song feels complete.
12. Where does your inspiration come from, both musically and personally?
Serge: I’m inspired by what I see and hear around me. For instance, some ideas from my solo project come from the sounds I hear in the subway or during work in the observatory, from events and emotions in my life… And of course, I’m influenced by various kinds of music. Something you can use in Doom Metal can often be found in completely different genres.
Alex: Nature/city and works of art (cinema, poetry, music: classical, jazz, prog rock as well as metal), personal emotional experience.
Andrew: City, architecture, personal thoughts, music – mostly Metal, but in any genre I prefer something that combines intelligence and education with raw emotion and feeling. However clichéd it may sound, I’ve often found that being psychologically exhausted during the day helps me connect to the music in the subsequent rehearsals, but I fail to draw any conclusions from this…
13. How would you describe the direction of the as yet unrecorded new material, and do you already have plans regarding the recording of the next album?
Alex: As it took us a bit too long to have ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ released, we had time to prepare a lot of new material meanwhile. Today all the songs for the second album are almost ready, and that’s over 90 minutes of brand new stuff! We already began recording a demo tape to hear how it all sounds in the mix. The project is pretty ambitious in scale, so it’s really hard to predict when it will be done. For now it’s clear that the follow-up won’t see the day earlier than 2015. But we have plans releasing a split some time before the full-length.
Andrew: I think that these new songs contain elements that you’d never expect to work well together, but in the end they feel more natural and complete than our previous stuff. There will be an unexpected twist to every song, I promise you that. But you’ll still find plenty of bonecrushing Doom and breathtaking melodies in them!
14. It seems like you’ve been playing live quite a lot this year, including a performance at the Moscow Doom Festival. Perhaps you’d like to share some impressions from your live experiences with us?
Andrew: In fact we now only play two or three shows a year, but every time make sure they’re worth waiting for. Moscow Doom Festival this year, along with Doom Over Kiev back in 2011, are the highest peaks of our stage career so far. There’s nothing like playing for 300–400 devoted Doom fans, sharing the stage with the bands you’ve never dreamed of meeting in person! But, needless to say, it’s as exhausting as it is exciting, and the first minutes after leaving the stage you aren’t even sure if you’re still alive...
15. Andrew has been a guest vocalist for Autumnia, another Ukrainian Death Doom act with a solid following. How did this collaboration come about, and what was the experience like?
Andrew: Shortly after Autumnia’s appearance at the Doom Over Kiev festival was announced, Alexander Glavniy has parted ways with Vlad Shahin, the project’s co-founder and vocalist. So I worked up the courage to offer my services. I must say that all other musicians invited by Alexander were real professionals, and we’ve managed to prepare a solid and powerful show in just a couple of months. Of course, I was very doubtful that I can live up to the expectations of Autumnia fans – Vlad’s brilliant studio performance remains unchallenged by any other Ukrainian Metal vocalist. But everything turned out far better than I expected, and that show still remains one of my highest personal achievements in music and in life.
16. Are any members of the band involved in other side projects or have you been part of other bands in the past?
Serge: I’ve started my project Nightspirit at the same time as VdMT. It’s guitar-oriented Ambient Drone Doom. I’ve been searching for the right sound for a long time, but it all came together after listening to Maeror Tri and Nadja – suddenly I realized how I wanted it to be. My biggest achievement with this project is a live performance in support for Nadja.
Alex: I play bass and do some backing vocals in the band called Kauan. This autumn we are releasing the first album featuring our new viola player and myself. This will be the fifth full-length in the band’s discography and I absolutely recommend it! It’s a new step in Kauan’s evolution, still it has all the key elements that made this band what it’s praised for.
Andrew: This year I was recruited as an additional vocalist for a Ukrainian Technical Death Metal project. It was a wonderful experience and a fantastic chance to work with a very skilled and talented sound engineer in his sudio in Sweden. Hopefully the album will see the light of day soon. Currently I’m involved in a Melodic Doom project from Russia, but after recording an album with them I plan to stop participating in any other bands or projects – my soul belongs to Vin de Mia Trix, and anything else just doesn’t feel quite right.
Igor: I played in some bands of different directions, as a drummer and a keyboardist. At the moment, all my thoughts are connected solely with Vin de Mia Trix.
17. In recent years, there has been quite an explosion of Doom in Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe in general. What are your thoughts about that scene? Do you perceive yourselves as part of a greater movement?
Alex: It so happens that the countries of the former Eastern Bloc generally followed the world trends in music with a delay of 5–10 years, which is why doom began to bloom here only in the 2000s. In recent years with Internet the delay has been shortened to merely one–two years, but we still tend to mimic someone else rather than create original stuff. To put it less radically (as many would disagree with me), we are more conservative and prefer traditions to transient fashion. And being conservative, in my opinion, is not such a bad thing, if it means being discerning, filtering the superficial and trendy while keeping the essence. This, I believe, is the East’s great potential, which has not yet been fully explored. Our main weakness is still a lack of innovation. But that will come, I’m sure. By the way, all this being said, I wouldn’t regard the Eastern European scene as something homogeneous, if we can talk about a ‘scene’ at all. Even Ukrainian and Russian bands are quite different.
Andrew: I agree – although lots of bands are emerging from this part of the world, I can’t say they are really united as a scene. Don’t forget that Russia and Ukraine are huge countries, both geographically and demographically, so connections between the bands are often less tight than in Europe. Speaking of tendencies, I have a feeling that Russian bands tend to lean towards Melodic Death/Doom and Atmospheric Funeral, while Ukrainians experiment with combinations of Doom with Black Metal or Progressive Metal. But these are just common tendencies, and I don’t think these similarities can serve as a unifying force. As for VdMT, it has always been something isolated and ‘outside’ in my eyes, but that can be a result of me having an introverted and quiet personality.
18. How important is it for you to be actively involved in music, and how important a role does the band play in your lives?
Serge: Music is something that’s always with me. I can’t imagine my life without the band and the music. I have many interests in life, but music will always come first!
Alex: Music is my favourite hobby. While working normally with language and literature, I find music to be quite a different world, obeying different laws, and I need it constantly, especially when my brain’s overflowed. To me our band is a living organism, or a garden, that needs your attention in order to persist. As long as you feed it, giving it your time and energy, it blooms and brings fruits, to yourself as to others.
Andrew: The band gives me a chance to define myself, as well as a chance to leave something for eternity. It’s the second most important thing in my everyday life after my ‘day’ job. Besides the satisfaction and pleasure from creating music, it also helps me organize my time and gives a healthy sense of responsibility.
Igor: After a hard day's work – there is nothing better than to knock sticks with all the dope :) In addition, Doom is also a state of mind in which aggression gets on with sadness and human vulnerability, to a certain extent clearing you from the husk of everyday life.
19. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. As usual, the last words are yours. If you feel that there are any important aspects that haven’t been covered by the interview so far, now is the time to address them.
Alex: I’d like to say two things about our album that we’d like you to keep in mind when listening to it: primo, it is our debut, meaning it has all the weaknesses but also all the charms of a first effort; secundo, it’s a hail to the Northern metal of the 1990s, with its atmosphere, its creativity and vigour. Hope you’ll feel it on ‘Once Hidden From Sight’!
Andrew: Thanks for the interesting questions and a chance to express ourselves! I’ll take this opportunity to thank the doom-metal.com crew for maintaining a guiding light in the vast sea of Doom.
Posted by Nick Skog. Posted In : Interviews