Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Batsheva Interview

1. For those who have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

Batsheva calls for vengeance against those who stand in the way of enlightenment in the name of that which they spuriously deem "holy" or "sacred," who seek to enforce upon society outdated, conformist attitudes beyond which the greatest of us have long since evolved. The project represents my own frustrations, dashed expectations, and, finally, desire to bring about change by exposing the lies and illusions we are too often fed. To wake even one Sleeper from his or her slumber is a victory.

This is what makes Batsheva "the Unholy, the Destroyer, and the Highest." Through this project, I seek to fight false truths, destroy illusions, and rouse those who Sleep into the Awakened State for which we all are destined. The experience Batsheva provides is ultimately an experience of growth rather than decay. The project is itself, in some respects, is the Dark Night of the Soul: that which purifies without benefit of -- indeed, in direct defiance of -- Pauline Christian tyranny.

2. In December you had released an album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

Melodic black metal seems most fitting in that the record, while by all means brutal, hard-hitting, and ultimately uncompromising, also seeks to temper these dark and ugly elements with that which is beautiful. The album incorporates elements from a number of other genres as well, particularly symphonic black and funeral doom, which I used to create a dark and epic atmosphere beyond what could be done with guitar, bass, and drums alone.

Worth noting about the self-titled is that the guitar parts were recorded with only an acoustic guitar, since, due to lack of funds, I was unable to procure an electric guitar for the recording. So far, listeners have assured me that they're unable to tell any difference.

3. Your lyrics cover some occult topics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this subject?

The occult has always been of interest to me. I believe that that which is mystical and obscure, when sought, may reveal to us a number of common truths and, ultimately, an all-encompassing reality that we tend to overlook in so-called "everyday" life. The average person living out his or her life day to day is most likely unaware of the truth beneath the illusion -- a truth that is beautiful, substantial, and wholly eternal, unlike the petty things with which people typically concern themselves. Even I am not above getting caught up in the fleeting concerns of daily life, which is why my reflections on mystical truths have become so important to me; they put me in touch with something far greater than mere flesh and blood.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Batsheva'?

In the Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament, Batsheva, or Bathsheba, was a woman who, while bathing one day, was spied by the supposedly godly King David from his palace rooftop and thereafter became an object of his lust. David had Batsheva brought to him, and he impregnated her, then arranged the death of her husband, Uriah, in order to take her for himself as his wife. My self-titled project envisions a new mythos in which Batsheva, through a demonic ritual involving the sacrifice of the child David sired on her, becomes a goddess of revenge enacting her righteous wrath upon such "godly" men as King David who, throughout history, have wrought suffering upon the innocent through their boundless arrogance and greed.

5. With this project you record everything by yourself, are you open to working with any other musicians or are you planning on keeping this musical project solo?

While I wouldn't wish to compromise my creative control over Batsheva, I am always interested in working with other musicians who are willing help me make my ideas concerning the project come to life, whether that's in the studio or on the stage. Regarding other potential projects, I do enjoy collaborating, depending on the specific project and available collaborators. I have worked with many musicians throughout my life, and I must say that not all of them have been capable of keeping up with me in terms of creativity and ambition. Those who were able proved to be extraordinary collaborators, and I am always interested in meeting and working with extraordinary people.

6. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

I have not yet contacted any labels, nor have any expressed interest thus far. That said, I would consider signing if it would be to Batsheva's benefit and if the label in question would respect my creative control. I have no interest in a label that would limit the project in any way, shape, or form.

I have aspirations to start a label of my own, for my music as well as releases by other bands and projects I respect. Currently, however, my financial resources are limited. So, until my circumstances change, Batsheva will remain an independent project.

7. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and doom metal?

As an unknown artist making his first foray into metal, I wasn't sure what kind of reaction to expect, but the reception has been almost entirely positive. I can't speak for black and/or doom metal fans in particular, but I would imagine that much of this positive feedback has come from such individuals.

8. Are you also involved with any other bands or musical projects these days?

Most of my other projects are on hiatus for the time being, primarily because, enjoyable and diverting as they were for me, they were imperfect avenues for what I wanted to express to the world. While everyone has darkness within, I am among the few who actively explore their inner shadows, and I wanted to create music that would adequately express this important aspect of myself. I do have some new musical projects in the works that pull from that same place, though the method I use to engage with my own darkness is slightly different in each of them.

Cult of Ecstasy is one of these projects. It's a sister project to Batsheva in that it also utilizes black metal elements, but, instead of being more straightforward with its influences like Batsheva, it takes the black metal elements and spins them on their head. It's deeply personal, perhaps to the point of excess. That's a common enough narrative these days with modern black metal, especially in the U.S., but I hope to dash expectations with that particular project. I've already tracked a few songs for it. So far, it's interesting.

I also plan on working on some dark and noisy electronic songs and perhaps even a few unconventional remixes under my own name, Nephandus. Despite my disillusionment with many aspects of modern life, one thing I in no way decry is the advent of electronic music, even considering the proliferation of mainstream bastardizations of once-original innovations such as house or dubstep. I think, with the right cultivation, electronic music can reflect upon inner darkness and the bleak nihilism of humanity in the same way metal often does. I have a history in electronic music production, so this project should prove exciting.

There are more projects I'd love to elaborate on, but I'm reluctant to talk about them too early. But you will certainly see more involvement on my part in metal and the darker side of music.

9. Where do you see this project heading into musically during the future?

Well, currently an EP for Batsheva is in the works, and I'm also looking at the possibility of a split release or two in 2015. I have thoughts about the next full-length record, but nothing is concrete as yet. I can say that what material I have written and recorded for the EP so far is a little grimier and dirtier, but it's still very much black metal and very much Batsheva. I don't have plans to drastically alter the sound of the project. Batsheva has a particular identity, and, while identities may change and grow over time, I don't see this project changing in a manner or to a degree that would be jarring or uncharacteristic of what it is.

10. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Early on in the writing and recording of Batsheva's debut record, I'm certain that Emperor was an influence, since their record In the Nightside Eclipse is, in my opinion, one of the seminal works of the black metal genre. Funeral doom band Ahab was also enjoying heavy rotation on my playlist at the time. Too, despite its reputation as one of the more overrated releases of 2014, I was really enjoying Behemoth's The Satanist while working on the self-titled. Of course I listened to many other artists during the month and a half I spent recording Batsheva, but those are a few that I believe stand out as influences.

Right now, I'm greatly enjoying raw black metal band Unrest's debut Isolation and have been for quite some time. Terra Deep and Hyperborean Skies put out a split last year that was phenomenal and has remained on my musical rotation. I've also been enjoying Napalm Raid, Oathbreaker, A Pregnant Light, The Secret, and Black Sabbath, as well as a variety of non-metal artists. I've also been listening to my own music quite a bit. After all, why would I create something that I wouldn't enjoy myself?

11. What are some of your non musical interests?

I'm interested in religious rituals, practices, and beliefs, even if much of it is hideously backwards or even outright hogwash. Having been raised Roman Catholic, I find Catholicism's somber aesthetic appealing, though I'm also often disgusted or bewildered by the church's views and practices. I think that mingled fascination and revulsion results in an obsession with Catholicism in particular. For example, their ideas of the afterlife are of course no more than myth, most of which is based in a very selective idea of who is "good" and who is "evil," but Catholic death rites and and how they treat the remains of their dead -- especially saints -- are endlessly fascinating to me. All the Saints You Should Know is a blog I commonly read. Elizabeth, the woman who runs the blog, has such a deep and legitimate interest in the subject; if there's anyone who can convince you of the beauty of the Catholic death, it's her.

Beyond that, I'm always interested in existential and ethical philosophy, leftist politics, fantasy and science fiction literature, postmodernism, shit films and good television, and role-playing games, both atop the table and on the console. I could go on to elaborate on my love of all things "cat," but that could turn into too much of a tangent.

12. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I'd like to thank those who have supported, listened to and enjoyed, or even given fleeting attention to Batsheva. I'd also like to thank the friends, family, and loved ones who encouraged me and dared me to challenge myself and challenge the world with my music. Black metal often places emphasis on the exaltation of the self, and rightly so in a world where we are perpetually put upon by sick institutions that demand that we conform and become yet another number in their filthy ranks. But it would be insincere of me to claim that I am spiteful toward all of humanity. While I am no stranger to my own darkness, neither am I a stranger to my own light and the light of those who make my journey possible. Thank you all.

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