Thursday, December 5, 2013

... Interview with Vin de Mia Trix

Vin De Mia Trix (Kiev, Ukraine) openly labels their music as death/doom metal, saturated with a number of  different influences from adjacent genres. Until recently the band had only demos and an Ep, and the guys were probably more known for their live performances, but combined efforts of Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge and our Solitude Prod. have finally led to release the first full-length Vin De Mia Trix album "Once Hidden From Sight". There are a lot of successful experiments with "weight, gloom, melodic and atmospheric sound" on this record, let’s talk directly with members of Vin de Mia Trix. Andrew Tkachenko (vocals), Serge Pokhvala (guitars), Alex Vynogradoff (bass, vocals) are on-line right now.

Hey there! Could you introduce yourselves? Who are the people behind Vin de Mia Trix?
Serge: Hails! We are Vin de Mia Trix from Kiev, Ukraine. The band’s line-up consists of Andrew Tkachenko (vocals), Serge Pokhvala (guitars), Alex Vynogradoff (bass, vocals) and Igor Babayev (drums). I would also like to mention our technician and fifth member Vadim Hedyuk, who helps us in every aspect, from stage sound engineering to creating video backgrounds for the shows.

You have released your first EP titled “El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos” (quite a lengthy title!) on Satanarsa Records in 2010. How mature was this work, and how important was it for you to have it released?
Alex: Of course, judging from today’s perspective this EP feels quite raw, although that’s exactly what makes it interesting. I think it will be worth listening to even in 10 years. At the time, obviously, it was an extremely important step for us. Many Ukrainian bands play lots of live shows, but don’t record anything. We, on the other hand, have always wanted to be known for our releases.

I don’t know much about Ukrainian doom bands. Whom do you consider worth checking out?
Andrew: You surely know the heavyweights, such as Autumnia. Among younger bands I’d like to mention our label-mates Odradek Room, also fond of mixing genres and creating very interesting and multi-faceted music; and our friends Suffer Yourself, who are one of the heaviest and darkest bands on Ukrainian scene.
Serge: I think that Embrace of Silence and Torrens Coscientium also deserve mentioning.

Satanarsa Records is a totally underground label with little relation to outside world and scene. Can you say it helped Vin de Mia Trix in any way to become better known?
Alex: Despite Satanarsa being a very underground label, a couple dozens of people from all over the world learned about our existence thanks to this EP., particularly, published a favorable review, attracting certain amount of attention to that release.
Serge: When we played at Moscow Doom Festival this spring, one of the listeners from Saint Petersburg told us he owns a copy of our EP. It was a pleasant surprise.
Andrew: We were also quite amazed when we met an American who was highly interested in all releases specifically from Satanarsa’s catalogue. This shows that bands and labels even from the deepest underground have their audience.

Judging by festivals like Doom Over Kiev or Moscow Doom Festival, can one draw conclusions about popularity of doom metal in Post-Soviet countries?
Andrew: I was somewhat surprised when I learned that many bands from this part of the world are quite favored by the western audience. There are certain people who think that Russia and Ukraine are something of a Promised Land for doom fans. And they dream of seeing our bands live. But it’s usually too expensive for promoters to bring a Ukrainian or Russian doom band to play in Europe.
Serge: I can’t really say that any kind of metal (especially doom) is really popular in our country. Doom really is a kind of genre that was never intended to be popular.

This year saw a release of Vin de Mia Trix’s first full-length, “Once Hidden From Sight”. I know that it was released simultaneously by two labels – Solitude Productions from Russia and Hypnotic Dirge Records from Canada. Is that right?
Andrew: That’s right, our album has become a first co-release between these two labels. We have spent a long time looking for a label to publish our first album. HDR has attracted our attention from the very beginning, so it was one of the first labels to which we’ve sent promos. We had to wait a few excruciating months, but when Nick, the guy behind HDR, has finally sorted everything out and offered to release the album, it felt just fantastic. A co-release with Solitude Prod. was also his idea – HDR has been an official Solitude’s distributor in both Americas for a few years now, so a co-release was a logical step for them. In the end we have gained support of two well-known and respected labels, so we are very pleased by this arrangement.
The album is quite diverse. For instance, I find that the intro to “Silent World” reminds me of Empyrium. Have you ever considered stepping beyond the boundaries of doom towards something, well… less popular?
Alex: In our case it’s impossible to move to something less popular - we’re already at the very edge! But if you mean deviating from death/doom canons, you can already hear this on Once Hidden From Sight - there are bits of black metal, progressive, blues, and some other styles scattered all over the record. And we plan to incorporate more such elements into our music in the future - it’s boring to play the same stuff all the time.
Serge: We were never forcing ourselves into any genre boundaries. But I don’t think our sound will change radically - a smooth evolution is more likely. We listen to lots of different music, and it influences and inspires us.
Andrew: I’ve noticed that we rarely get compared to a same band twice. Thank you for mentioning Empyrium, it is an unusual, but a flattering association. Our new material, which we plan to start recording next year, will be even more diverse and contain more elements and influences from non-doom styles - although the doom foundation will also become more crushing and powerful.

Aren’t you afraid that by adding more variety to your music you will make it less coherent?
Andrew: We were never adding more elements just for the sake of it. Each of these new songs was either written during a sudden outburst of inspiration, or carefully composed and polished over the years, even before the band itself was formed. So I am sure that every element of these tracks is in its own place.

Which song on Once Hidden From Sight stands out among the others, in your opinion?
Alex: I think that it’s best to listen to the album as a whole, experiencing its whole range of feeling and emotions. It’s not a good idea to tear particular songs out of the context. But my personal favorites are Nowhere is Here and matr.
Serge: I agree that matr is probably our most emotionally overwhelming track.

This last song’s title is in Sanskrit, if I’m not mistaken. What does it mean and what’s this song about?
Alex: You are right, it’s Sanskrit. This word translates as “mother”. It is the most enigmatic of our songs, both musically and lyrically, and we can’t be completely sure about its meaning ourselves. It is a submersion into pre-conscious state, the source of all poetry. Sanskrit was chosen to stress the age of this word and the eternity of a concept it describes. There’s no use in searching for definite meanings here, because in the mother’s womb the world is not yet divided into object and subject, black and white.

Can you describe a listener who could be potentially interested in Vin de Mia Trix’ music? Is it correct to talk about “educating” the listeners through complex music, lyrics, concepts? Or is it enough to just embrace the well-established genre boundaries and play metal like the founding fathers did?
Alex: Our listener is a music lover who doesn’t hold any genre prejudices or stereotypes, who appreciates the complexity of emotions expressed by the music and, therefore, the complexity of music itself. We have already noticed that our most devoted listeners are the people who are interested, in all senses of the word. I doubt that we could really “educate” someone (this certainly is not our goal), but it’s true that our music is directed at the prepared listeners.
And I don’t agree that the great bands just played metal. They’ve reached this status exactly because they created their own genres, not hesitating to experiment and push the boundaries. Be it Black Sabbath, My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost - they all started as brave and bold novators, and only then the waves of copycat followers formed the genre’s stereotypes and templates. Every time I listen to the classic bands’ iconic albums I feel that they’re still several feet ahead of most contemporary bands.

What do you think about genre boundaries? Are there some necessary doom metal attributes without which Vin de Mia Trix would be unimaginable?
Alex: I think we all like doom for its slow tempo, specific emotions and incredible flexibility of the genre which easily incorporates the outside elements. Doom metal has always been comprised of several quite different styles. So those vague boundaries that do exist in this genre have always been acceptable for us and nothing stopped us from adding whatever we want to our music. In other words, we play music first, doom metal second.

Who could you name your “teachers” in doom metal? And are there any Ukrainian or Russian names in this list?
Serge: Probably it’s My Dying Bride, Anathema, Esoteric, Evoken, Ahab, Urna, Ataraxie. These bands have formed my taste in doom. Unfortunately, there are very few good bands in Russia and Ukraine. I was very impressed by live performance of Comatose Vigil. As of Ukrainian bands, Autumnia is the most successful and interesting one.
Alex: I could add Mournful Congregation and early Katatonia and Opeth to this list. All these bands have melancholic mood and acoustic interludes in their songs, which we really appreciate, and they have been using non-standard song structures (unlike 90% of doom songs that consist of 3-4 riffs played over and over again). We always aimed at being independent from Ukrainian or Russian scene - a good band in any genre, especially doom, is a rare treasure, and you have to search all over the world to find it.
Igor: For me it’s definitely Evoken and Skepticism. But on the other hand, as the guys already said, doom can be a mix of various styles and genres of music. Even classical music or funk can suggest you some interesting moves that can be useful in doom.

Well said! I wish you good luck in your further creative efforts. See you! And… hey, what does the name Vin de Mia Trix mean?
Serge: Let it remain a sort of secret to your readers! ;-)

Interview by Aleksey Evdokimov

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