The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Ekdikēsis
There's the short version, we could do that. The short version is that Ekdikēsis' most recent release, Canvas of a New Dawn, is easily one of the best black metal release so far this year and, to me, a complete and utter surprise. Bringing together avant-garde and experimental influences together with toxic, eviscerating, noisy black metal, Ekdikēsis are true to their Icelandic black metal heritage – well at least the Wormlust/Skaphe, bizarro insanity part of that heritage – all whole bringing in a refreshing sense of humanity. Which isn't to say that I have an inkling what the fuck it is their doing, just that it's a thrilling, dark, and mesmerizing ride.
All of which are, naturally, abundant reasons for Ekdikēsis' inclusion in our The War Inside My Head series, which focuses on some of the most inspiring voices in contemporary extreme music and tries to seek out their various influences and musical touchstones. On a personal note, this has to be one of my personal favorite of these, just because I love every single choice. So there's that too.
Before we get the interview with Ekdikēsis this is just to say that you can check out our other interview series (Albums of the Decade, Pillars of the 90s) and, you haven't already, please follow follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify and support whatever it is that we do on Patreon, and check out our kinda-sorta podcast, MATEKHET (YouTube, Spotify and all that). On to Ekdikēsis.
What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
Must have been Eminem's Curtain Calls or a compilation CD by Iron Maiden titled Edward the Great. I must have been around 12-13 years old. I got them both at a similar time, don't remember which one was my first, but I know both propelled me into the music I enjoy today.
What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?
A lot of Iron Maiden, particularly the album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Man I played that one a lot on my Discman. The line "That as soon as you're born you're dying" struck my young mind, and it has kind of stuck with me ever since. A very simple line but effective. Just seemed so deep at the time, haha.
Another album I played a lot was Rust in Peace by Megadeth, to me it seemed so technical at the time, fun song structures and lots of creative ideas. Also Megadeth is the band that properly got me to pick up the guitar after a failed attempt at getting guitar lessons. Self-taught suited me better, I just had to learn the song "Devil's Island" and here we are now.
Finally there were of course several albums by other bands, a lot of the classics like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and such.
What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?
Glenn Branca – Ascension. This album absolutely floored me. No wave music was very new to me and I'd like to think Glenn Branca is even a bit different when it comes to that particular genre. The way the album is structured, almost like house music in the sense that it's layers that slowly get stacked onto each other. There are other factors that are endearing to me like the tension, alternate tuning and experiments with volume. It's sounds very simple but it's so striking. Four guitars, a bass and drums, what more do you need, haha. It was a nice introduction to his sonic world. His dissonant take on music had a huge impact on the way I structure and make music.
Another album would be Deathconsciousness by Have a Nice Life. It's a nice mix of all kinds of genres and styles. The album got me to think and approach music a bit differently. You can mix a lot of shit and get away with it, if the end product is a cohesive and fully immersing album. This album is pretty perfect for anyone who listens to shoegaze, industrial, post punk, ambient, drone and whatever… It's definitely it's own thing but with clear nods to other genres. This album taught me that you can have weird ambient songs followed immediately by a pile driving song and just lots of ups and downs and shit I can't really explain it.
There are no real albums that got me thinking about mixing or production. I've always approached everything by just doing it. But these two albums mostly formed an idea in my head of how you can structure songs and how you can structure and album. Everything else that I do just comes down to luck and intuition, which is probably very common for other artists. The best teacher is just to do it, just create. Life is fucking short, we are all dying and no one will remember any of this in the end.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World by The Caretaker. This album slayed me and has stayed with me ever since I heard it first some several years ago. It's the type of album that tucks at your heart, it's heavy in an entirely different way than for instance Heavy metal music. It's an ambient masterpiece, centered around a study on Alzheimer's patients, where the music the patients listened to when they were younger seems to be able to bring them back to a similar state as they were in at that age. They could recall where they were and how they felt when listening to it. That for sure adds to the experience, but the album is nonetheless striking on it's own but having read the concept before listening I can't be entirely sure.
Of course The Caretaker would expand on this concept with his one of his final release, “Everywhere at the End of Times”. It's 6 album and each album depicting the stages of Alzheimer disease. With each album gradually decaying, and the whole series is very defeating, listening to the whole 6 hours is an incredible experience. The whole thing actually became quite popular in 2020, and it deserves the recognition.
What album relaxes you or centers you the most?
Slint – Spiderland. It's my favorite record. Just an absolute masterpiece. It's the perfect album. I remember it so strongly, walking down a street and playing this album for the first time on my mp3 player. I had already heard the album that came before this one “Tweez” which similarly struck me hard, but there was something about this album. Not as wild, it's a more balanced record.
It's got a lot of what I love in music. I don't really know what to say about it. To me it's just a solid record that I'll never get tired of and even though it's been 11-12 years since I heard it first it still manages to surprise me every now and then. It brings me to a state of calm and appreciation. The ultimate stress reliever. I could go on and on jerking this album off, and it deserves it, but ultimately I think it's just a musical experience that I will never be able to put into words properly. It makes me feel young again and inspires me to keep doing what I do best.
What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?
Tyler the creator – Igor, I run that album frequently. Just such a well crafted album, exceptional production and solid the whole way through. I truly feel that this is Tyler's masterpiece.
I've been on a David Bowie binge lately, I'm listening to his album Station to Station right now as I write this. Not only that, but I mean the title track alone is astonishing. “Word on a wing”, “Golden Years” and “Stay” it doesn't get better than that. To me it feels like the perfect transitional album from his more rock driven stuff on albums like Aladdin Sane or Diamond Dogs towards the more experimental stuff that would follow up after Station to Station. We still have that soul element from Young Americans which is released only 9 or so months before Station to Station. That alone is crazy to me, cause the man released an album a year from 1969 to 1976 and changing his style with every release, heck he released two albums in 1973 and 1977. Just love how he isn't sitting on too much material for years, just get that shit done so you can go do something new. Life is too short, make your art and get it out there.
What album is grossly underrated?
Weighing Souls with Sand by the band The Angelic Process. An absolute juggernaut of an album, I rarely hear people talk about it or let alone that people know of it, maybe I'm not in the right circle of people. I return to this album every now and then. It's so heavy, a strange mix of ethereal music and doom. The singing and the whole mix is stunning. Like swimming through tar. Everything is so thick and drowned out. It's a tortured piece of art, yet it evokes a familiar feeling. Like listening to some epic doom metal music while still in the womb. I don't know it's a comfortable album but so utterly gut wrenching, but I suppose being in the womb and going through the process of getting born is a gut wrenching and violent experience, so is life. I strongly recommend this album to anybody, especially fans of drone and/or doom metal.
What album would you recommend from your local scene?
Man, putting me on the spot. So many good bands here but I already know what I'm picking. It's got to be Wormlust – The Feral Wisdom [check out our Albums of the Decade Interview with Wormlust here]. Shit blew me away when I first heard it. That album must be layered to the brim with guitars. So much going on, Jóhann Ingi who took care of the mixing/ and mastering really did a solid job of making it cohesive. It's a well crafted piece of art. Striking and powerful. I'm a big sucker for ambient passages and this album definitely ain't lacking in that camp. I guess it's also the album from the Icelandic metal scene that has most influenced me in terms of Black Metal. The song structures are fun and wild, erratic and fucking mental. What was Hafsteinn fucking thinking haha! Man it's a solid album. Everyone should check it out, it's definitely up there with the best Black Metal releases of the 2010s.