Spektor Baal / Ancient Serpents : Interview and Giveaway
There's an EP thats been getting a hell of a lot of airplay on my car stereo lately. And by hell, i mean a murky, gloomy, analogue driven, '80s kind of hell. The warm nostalgic kind, and isn't that the best kind?
Let me introduce you to New York's dweller of the night, Spektor Baal. His recently released EP "Ancient Serpents" is a wonderful trip down the dark laneways of 1980s synth rock and metal. The minimal construction of the tracks is a pleasure to behold, and honestly it's gone straight into my 2018 playlists. Each time I listen to it i discover more and more. You can grab a copy of "Ancient Serpents" at Spektor's Bandcamp or iTunes and catch up with his YouTube channel.
Spektor Baal, thanks for joining me for a chat about your latest release. I hear you are from Latvia. So when I think of Latvia, it conjures images of dark, gloomy landscapes and nightmarish scenes. Now not having travelled their, this is most likely totally incorrect. Tell me about your childhood and early days in Latvia, and what led to your departure?
I came to the United States as a baby, so I don’t remember much about Latvia during that time. My parents left because the KGB was after my father.
Then your journeys continued through the Us, Russia and Jamaica. What prompted this world tour, and how do you think it affected your musical influences.
I was a bit out of control as a teen, so my mother thought I should go live with my father. My father had a strip club in Jamaica, and he ran off to Moscow, but I’m not sure why. As far as my musical influences, I had a prog band in Moscow that played regularly on Russian MTV. I felt out of place in Moscow, so I decided to go back to America.
Ive heard you consider Mercyful Fate and King Diamond as musical influences. Having met Kim in 1998 we discovered a shared love of Uriah heep, in particular David Byron’s performances and vocal style. In fact Kim (King) cites him as one of his biggest influences. Would you say that Uriah Heep has played much of an influence on your own work. And seeing many of your own influences are in fact guitar based metal bands (Judas Priest, Dokken, etc), how does this translate in your own styles?
First of all, I think Uriah Heep is a great band, but I don’t listen to them regularly and they don’t influence my work. As a kid, practically all I listened to was Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, Venom, and the Eurythmics. Rob Halford from Judas Priest is a big influence on my work and vocal style. Lyrically, a lot of metal bands have influenced my work since most of it is based on the occult.
I also notice a strong influence of the rock and metal styles of soaring vocals, and harmonies. And yet, Ancient Serpents gives me more a feel of dark minimal synth music. Does this mean that there is an 80’s metal album in the works.
We’ve spoken before about audio technology, and like myself you are passionate about your studio environment. Give me a rundown of your setup, and in particular your writing and production process.
My setup consists of a Mac; my DAW choice is Logic Pro X; my monitoring system is Hedd type 20 and a pair of Auritones. I love working in a hybrid fashion, both analog and digital. My converters are Mytek, and my analog summing device is a Great River Mix Master 20. I write by mood: the music comes first, then the vocal melody, and then the lyrics.
You mention your fascination with the occult. Where does this stem from, and what in particular do you mean by this. Are we talking Christian ideas of Good and Evil, or earlier pre-Christian pagan symbolism?
The middle path of mysticism and pre-Abrahamic religions.
The track Ancient Serpents reminds me of early Rush. Does this progressive metal style appeal to you, and if so, what other progressive rock bands do you listen to.
I never thought of it that way, but I appreciate the thought. No, not really. I don’t listen to prog rock bands.
What are you working on next, and when can we expect a new release.
My work is going in a more introspective direction, with more horror soundscapes and late ‘70s and ‘80s horror-movie influences with more catchy melodies. I would expect to see a new release within the year.
So a big thanks to Spektor Baal for giving #echosynthetic this interview. He's also generously offered up some bandcamp download codes as a giveaway. All you need to do is retweet the article, with the answer to a question thats contained within this very article. Quote your retweet with the answer and add the tags @SpektorBaal @Echosynthetic @JamieChristie2 #Echosynthetic #SpektorBaalComp
The question is. "Name the Danish metal band from the 1980s named in this article"
Apart from being an Audio Engineer and TV Producer for 30 years, Jamie Christie writes and produces progressive synthwave under the moniker "JJ.Christie" and manages a small electronica label "Filtersweep Collective" - If you want to connect you can hear his stuff on Spotify, Bandcamp, Itunes and all other stores and streaming services, or just send him a tweet @JamieChristie2