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Midnight Odyssey - Interview

Interview with: Dis Pater
Conducted by: T.V.

It's not that often that an album gets a perfect score 10 out of 10 points here at Terra Relicta, but Midnight Odyssey's recently released masterpiece Shards Of Silver Fade (read a review over HERE), also Terra Relicta's album of the month June 2015, actually a double album with more than 140 minutes of extremely seductive, adventurous, cold and epic atmospheric ambient black/doom metal is worth all of the possible praise from lovers of such music and sounds. Midniht Odyssey is an one-man band coming from Brisbane (Australia), formed in 2007 by the mastermind Dis Pater who is known as well from now defunct acts, the funeral doom band Tempestuous Fall and dark wave outfit The Crevices Below. Midnight Odyssey's debut album named Funerals From The Astral Sphere, which was released in 2011, has already become a cult release and is today cherished as one of the finest examples of atmospheric/ambient black metal, but with the new offering, Shards Of Silver Fade, which saw the light of the world this June through I, Voidhanger Records, Dis Pater is certainly going to break new grounds and impose the Australian act on a wider audience, independently from metal sub-genres and styles. After listening to the magnificient work of art such is Shards Of Silver Fade I knew that I had to know more things about this phenomena named Midnight Odyssey and Dis Pater was willing to answer to my questions and explained a lot of things behind his creations, yet he gave us an insight into his observations about the world, society and musical scene.

T.V.: First of all congratulations for making such a great album like it is Shards Of Silver Fade! I wonder how do you feel about it now few weeks after it's officially released?
Dis Pater
: Thank you. I feel relieved. When working on an album, I hear it so many times that it becomes old and I want to move on from it, so by the time it actually comes out, I don't know how people will react to it. In the end, I think it something I am extremely proud of, but mainly, it is just a weight off my shoulders to have it out there for people to listen to!
T.V.: As well Midnight Odyssey's previous album, Funerals From The Astral Sphere, was a fantastic album, and I'm interested where are the major differencies in your opinion?
Dis Pater: I think the major differences lies in how I constructed the songs. Funerals From The Astral Sphere was more about a journey as a whole, thus there were shorter songs and longer songs. This album I treated each song as a separate journey, almost like a chapter of a story. I wanted to expand the ambient or keyboard only bits to be a little more dominant in this album.
T.V.: Even if the album got mainly really excellent and very positive reviews, I found out that it's difficult for releases like this to find the right audience. Most of those who listen to black metal say it's too much emotional, based on synths and lush atmospheres, on the other hand those who are into dark wave, ambient and atmospheric music say it's too extreme. Do you have in your head kind of a picture who are the true lovers and devoted fans of such artistic work?
Dis Pater: Yes the reviews have mostly been pretty incredible. I don’t take reviews too seriously, but when a few people begin to give you really good remarks about the album it does make you feel that people understand what you are trying to do. I only try to write music that is honest to myself and reflects how I feel at the time. I love both aspects of raging black metal and more dreamy dark wave or ambient types, and to me that represents who I am. I have no interest in just releasing an album that totally resembles Darkthrone, or an album that totally resembles something else, as my personalities don’t seem to allow me to feel the same way for very long. I guess everyone is different, but I don’t really have much of a break down of who these people are or what they do, and it really doesn’t matter to me what they do or who they are, if they like the music, and it resonates with them, then that is all that matters.
T.V.: Can you tell us more about the concept and meaning behind the album? From where did the inspiration came?
Dis Pater: It was so long ago it is hard to remember correctly! I had an image in my head of a frozen wasteland in space. Something where life once dwelt, but now is cold and dead. The album is primarily based around this concept. The great astral plain is a vessel in which life and death are tied to one another. One does not exist without the other. I wanted to tie this in together, the songs are melancholic, but not despairingly hopeless, in the sense that death is just a natural progression for everything. Inspiration is something that comes to me in many different forms. Usually, it comes as a reaction to something that offends me, and luckily for me nearly everything in today's world offends me. There is very little hope in my eyes, I see war around the corner, I see a fight for dwindling food supplies and fresh water. Is it unusual, but I find the idea of cold and dead world far more soothing for my mind and soul than in the realm of where living things dwell.
T.V.: Those are the themes that I find pretty intriguing as well. Do you think that the way the world and society turns today is the natural movement of things or is this kind of a consequence because of a greed of so called "privileged" ones?
Dis Pater: I believe humanity has always existed on the whims of those in power, and the struggles of those who aren’t. I don’t think it’s a consequence, I just think it is human nature. The powerful want power, the poor just want to live and be happy. Power corrupts man, but only so far as the corruption that is already present in the human psyche. I think it is a natural movement, a continuation, survival takes over. When times become desperate, we see this natural instinct resurface. I think it would be smarter for people to understand that the more you have, the more you set to lose. Nothing is forever.
T.V.: Shards Of Silver Fade was released through I, Voidhanger Records. How did you get in touch with them? And was there at that time no interest from any of major or bigger labels to sign Midnight Odyssey?
Dis Pater: I, Voidhanger Records has been my main label since 2010 when they re-released the demo Firmament. The label contacted me through e-mail, I don't know how exactly they found my music, so it is something I consider extremely fortunate. Other labels have contacted me, but no bigger labels. To be honest, I would most likely turn them all down as I, Voidhanger is such a great label. The music and bands they release are exciting and groundbreaking, and they are honest and hard working. It's wonderful to have a label who cares deeply for your own music and pushes you to do bigger and better things.
T.V.: That's good to hear! You say that they push you "to do bigger and better things" and I want to dig a bit deeper, so I'm asking you how this looks like in reality? On the other side many bands are complaining today that most of the labels are nothing but kind of exploiters. So, you must be really pretty lucky…
Dis Pater: I think I am extremely lucky. I have always thought it fortunate that someone on the other side of the world found my music out of the thousands of bands and chose me. There’s no need to be high and mighty about it, it was really just down to luck. Digging deeper? Well, the song you hear on the album is not the first take. It is usually re-worked, re-recorded, over and over again. This is the advantage of being a one man band. I usually send a song to them and let them know where the writing is at. They respond saying they either love it or that they think it could be better. Apart from myself, there is no one else that means more to please. So I usually go back, sometimes ditch a song completely. I wish a lot of one man bands didn’t just stick everything they ever record onto a demo tape or Bandcamp or whatever.
T.V.:  There's so much going on musically on this album and the recording process effort must have been a real chalenge, wasn't it?
Dis Pater: It's not so much a challenge, it just takes a long time. Each song has a ridiculous amount of tracks and layers to it, all with effects. I know what I want out of each track and so I spend time getting the most out of it. I know how I want it to sound, so until I find the perfect mix I am never happy and still changing tracks days before the album is due to be sent to press. I don't push myself to work on a time frame, when it happens, it just ends up happening. If I try to force it it never works. I have to be absolutely one hundred percent invested in the music before I will even try to record or change things. I rid myself of distractions, which also includes eating and sleeping at times. I've learnt over the years to wait until I am in this trance like state, or maybe more correctly, an obsessive state where the music is all that matters.

T.V.: Were you in any way afraid if 140 minutes of music on this album can become in some way too monotone for some listeners? I think that you managed to make one of the most adventurous epic metal albums ever released.
Dis Pater: I remember the time when Funerals From The Astral Sphere came out and everyone was saying that it was too long, they couldn't listen to the whole album so they would quickly reject it. Four years later I heard so many people who have told me how important this album is to them. I learnt a long time ago just to trust in yourself and not listen to other's reactions, and not to be guided by what is currently the trend in music or culture. Shards Of Silver Fade was always going to be a double album. The songs are longer and the album itself is longer. It is important to me, because everyone wants shorter and quicker fixes of entertainment. No one wants to sit down and do nothing for an hour or two and take in their surrounds. Everyone is staring at their mobile screens, going home watching television or jumping on their computer. This is my way of trying to slow things down and make people hopefully realise that everything around them, the stars, the trees, the rocks and mountains, the oceans and rivers, are far older and more important than they ever will be.
T.V.: What can you tell me about the front cover artwork, a pretty interesting space themed thing...
Dis Pater: It is important for me to do my own artwork. I'm not a trained artist, but I can't stand looking at album covers and seeing bands with almost exactly the same logo, with the same black and white print or pen etching, or even worse, some photoshopped monstrosity that looks atmospheric but definitely fake. I'm not as talented as many artists, but there is one thing I've noticed and that is everybody is a critic these days. If you don't have a professional artist do your art, it is criticised. If you don't have a certain graphic designer do your logo, then it won't be good. If you don't use this brand guitar or that brand amp, etc, etc. I remember when people just made the most of what they had. I love the artwork of old science fiction films, books and even space artists. Some are completely naive and that is what I am. The painting itself is actually made up of eight portions, each portion is a reference to one of the eight songs. This is clearer maybe in the lyric book, but that was my idea, to have one painting that had everything in it, rather than do eight paintings.
T.V.: You are absolutely right about that. Now, as you in some way exposed that, I wonder what kind of instruments and programs you use to create and record your music?
Dis Pater: Well I like to keep most of that secret, not because I think I am the only person in the world who uses this or that, but because I don’t want people to read this, download the program and write a Midnight Odyssey song. I use a lot of equipment and programs. I usually don’t wish to read what bands use, I like to use my ears and be my own judge. It’s personal and so it should be for everyone else! People should experiment! Try different brands out until they find what they like. But okay, I see people’s point in wanting to know. I mean, I use an old Jackson electric guitar and I was influenced in buying a Jackson because I saw a lot of Norwegian black metal bands use them. But everyone told me to buy an Ibanez as that is what the popular nu-metal bands used back at the time. I still use the same guitar, it’s the only one I have and most of the time it has only five strings because the high e string constantly breaks. But I’ve learnt to write with only five strings.
T.V.: When I'm so hooked by an album I often wonder who are the authors main musical influences. Can you name me the bands that were yours?
Dis Pater: I have been influenced by so many bands really. I guess to pin it down to a few I would say Dead Can Dance, Emperor, Burzum, Arcana, Katatonia, Lycia, The Cure, Bathory, Swans, but there are so many many others.
T.V.: There's one band that you never mention but I think that there are some similarities and must be your influence... the bands name is Summoning?
Dis Pater: Yes, I am a long time fan. In fact, I remember them being one of the earlier bands I saw in magazines, but could never find their music. I had their CDs imported in for me and they are undoubtedly one of my greatest influences. But at the same time, I try very hard not to sound like a Summoning clone. There are many of those around. But their use of programmed drums has always been a vital piece of proof that if you are good enough they can work. I know drummers will hate that, but there is an element of synthetic tone which adds to the fantasy element of it. It is no different to using keys instead of an orchestra. It almost is from a deeper subconscious of the soundtracks to films in the 70s and 80s. But the other element of their music is of course the melodies. The somewhat baroque or medieval sounding melodies that are constantly sweeping through the song. That is where I have learned a lot too.
T.V.: Do you ever intend to bring Midnight Odyssey on the stage?
Dis Pater: Bringing Midnight Odyssey to the stage would be rather difficult. It would have to be stripped right back, most of it relying on synthesizers and computers, which to be honest isn't what I would think people would want to see on a stage. I have been thinking of doing an album that could be performed live, but it is something that would require a bit of a rework to the sound of Midnight Odyssey and I'm not sure that's something I really want to do.
T.V.: I often find out many interesting atmospheric/dark/black metal and rock bands coming from Australia. It seems that the scene there must be quite strong. Some years ago music like this was mostly reserved for North European bands, but now you Australians served with some really mesmerizing albums? From where all this coldness come from?
Dis Pater: Maybe the music scene here has matured a little over the years? It could be the fact that we are on the other side of the world to where most of the great stuff happens. Most Australian bands/musicians, and I’m not even talking metal exclusive here, don’t become big here until they are big overseas. I think that makes a lot of people give up pretty easy, but for those that don’t and keep persevering, it can usually mean they are actually pretty amazing bands. It must raise the standards of music, but I’m only theorising, I don’t really know why.
T.V.: What are now the future plans for Midnight Odyssey?
Dis Pater: To take a break really. I’m quite drained of ideas and inspiration at the moment. Usually at the end of an album I have a few things left over to start on the next album, but not this time. I will actually be almost starting completely from scratch and this is something in which I need to be careful of. I have other stylistic ideas I would like to explore, but whether they become entwined in Midnight Odyssey, I can’t answer right at this moment.
T.V.: Do you intend to bring back to life your past projects Tempestuous Fall and The Crevices Below at some point?
Dis Pater: It isn’t likely. These were expressions that were really limited in their time frame and stylistically were just different enough to try. I’m not ruling out more side projects at some time, but for now these two are definitely dead and buried. Their songwriting has found a place within Midnight Odyssey now and that is likely where they will stay.
T.V.: I think that would be all for now. I must thank you for all your very interesting answers, but is there still something that you would like to say at the end of this interview?
Dis Pater: Thank you for your interesting questions! It’s nice to see a bit of variety and also have questions which actually make me think about my own progression. I hope your readers find Shards Of Silver Fade entrancing and hopefully something different to what they have heard before. I think the most important thing is, to really make people know that they should support underground labels by purchasing the music they like. Whether digital or physical, it doesn’t matter, these smaller labels work so incredibly hard to do what they love and even if it is only one album it honestly makes them feel like it’s all been worth it.

I hear of ancient people
Whose whispers have grown
But no one shall listen
They remain unknown
Their words speak of anger
And the end of our time
No one will heed them
They rashly decline

Midnight Odyssey links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp