Following my review of Aenaon‘s most recent album Hypnosophy, released as double LP via code666 / Aural Music, I had an opportunity to talk with guitarist Achilleas about the creative process behind the album, its visual side, influeces and more.
Read the interview after the break.
Describe the musical vision propelling your recent album Hypnosophy.
Our vision was to create a boundless and surrealistic world full of emotions, colors and sounds. A spiritual journey that would lead us and the listener to catharsis.
What made this the right time to pursue that vision?
Since the beginning of the band we wanted to break free from our strict black metal influences. We wanted to use black metal as a tool and not as a border of our creativity and imagination. More than 10 years have past since we formed Aenaon and I believe we have reached to the end of a second era with Hypnosophy. What comes next should be very interesting.
Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover. The vinyl edition of the album showcases the album art in all its glory. Who stands behind the artwork?
The magnificent man behind all of our full length album covers and illustrations is the Polish painter Lukasz Wodynski. There’s a great bond among Aenaon and Lukasz and you can really see the parallel evolution of our music and his painting as a mirror to each other. We consider him as a member of the band since he is part of our aesthetic vision. He was involved in the conversations and demos of the album since the beginning. We were feeding Lukasz with sound and lyrics and he was responding to this dialogue with sketches, colors and visions. In the end, 5 full size paintings of mixed media based on oil on canvas were created to accompany our music. The cover artwork is a dream open to interpretations but its hard to miss the basic symbolisms. A naked woman unveiling the child with a red fabric and bones surrounds them. Mothership, blood, life, death. It’s an existential dream. Now you can also understand the title of the album. Hypnosophy = Sophia (wisdom) through Hypnos (sleep).
How do you think the music interacts or reflects on the themes you’re touching on in this album?
Of course they do. Not only interacting but music and lyrics are telling the story as one. At least that’s what we feel about it.
What was the creative process for Hypnosophy like?
It felt like a great journey. We started working on Hypnosophy soon after the release of Extance. Astrous and I have been talking on the phone for so many hours trying to build a plan and structure of this album. I remember working on “Oneirodynia” while I was diagnosed with cancer and doing chemo and Astrous dealing with his very sick father and later his death (he has dedicated this album to him). He went to the studio and just exported all of his pain and stress out with his voice as what a true artist is supposed to do. We didn’t let anything to stop us, we used the struggles and the pain as power and passion. A creative escape and extraction of emotions into the music.
Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it. How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
It was all work. Recording demos, talking a lot about ideas, the music, the lyrics and the artwork, more demos, meditation, more talking and a little bit of fighting as always! The usual stuff! I am not sure I completely understand your question.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Everything is carefully architected and well thought! We rely on taking decisions and control. Nothing is random when it comes to Aenaon.
Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?
Yes, of course, mostly in a more personal level as I mentioned in your previous question. If you ask about political or financial environment I wouldn’t say so.
How does Hypnosophy album compare to Cendres Et Sang and Extance, do you think?
Well, Cendres et Sang was a first experiment and at that time we didn’t have the experience to do exactly what we wanted to do. It was more than doing a metal album. Riffs and ideas. Nothing as complicated or well thought as Extance or Hypnosophy. Nevertheless, first creations have always their own unique romantic and raw charm.
Tell me about the gear you used for creating Hypnosophy. How did you achieve all these tones?
We didn’t use any special or too expensive gear. We just like playing around with whatever instrument, software or hardware we have available. We are also lucky to have Orestis on the saxophone and Nycriz on all kinds of traditional instuments and percussions, they really help with the “magic”.
Speaking of gear, what is your view on technology in music?
I am very happy that I am living in an era that we can all afford buying some decent equipment and even have computers around to record easily and fast our music. There is indeed a great music tech industry that supplies us (the artists) with limitless options and solutions to our problems.
What is your favourite piece of gear or the one that makes your life easier?
I guess the Kemper amp would be one of the most useful gear I own. Made my life quite easier and I consider it a great breakthrough in the industry since it was released.
How do you usually go about creating a new song? Is there something like “usual” when it comes to writing new music or, to paraphrase Hans Zimmer, do you have to break rules in order to move forward?
The way I usually compose in Aenaon is based on plan and structure. First I imagine the emotion and the atmosphere, the beginning, the journey and how this journey should end. Later I translate this structure to melodies, soundscapes and rhythms. We don’t usually really feel like breaking any rules but “breaking rules” is by definition the way to do something different than what everybody else is doing. It’s funny how people like to see or make rules about everything though.
Which bands or artists influence your work?
We are all music lovers and most of us -not all of us- really like black metal since we were kids. I am not sure I can talk about specific artists right now but when we started the band back in 2006 we were really inspired by black metal bands that tried to do anything different than most of the other bands in their genre. We loved the genre as it was, but we had also the curiosity to see it evolving. A little bit later we started making connections with entirely different forms of arts. Everything dark and weird became an inspiration. If I really had to mention a specific band that inspired me personally, I’d say Bohren and der Club of Gore during Extance and Dolorian during Hypnosophy.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Interesting question. Music itself is good for the soul of man. Art in general is good for his soul, for both the artist and the ones are enjoying it. I have no fucking idea if we’re really serving any other purpose higher than that. Well, you could also say that we’re serving Satan and that’s a pretty good purpose!!
How do you see your music evolving in the future?
I have no idea and that’s the best thing about it! Wherever the road takes us.
What advice might you have for other musicians, whether from a creative or business perspective?
I don’t have any advice. I am sure most of the people can do better than me in the business perspective. From a creative point of view I believe that nobody needs advice, it is a spiritual thing and everybody should find their own path on their own.
With the album out, what else do you have in the pipeline?
At the moment we have no plans so we are focusing in our other bands and projects like Varathron, Katavasia and Agos. It is good to take a small break and be prepared for something special.
Thank you Nikola and Vinyl Sphere for your interest and support. We salute you!