The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lidi Ramirez of Lucifer’s Children

Posted in Questionnaire on April 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Lidi Ramirez of Lucifer's Children

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lidi Ramirez of Lucifer’s Children

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I am currently singer of blues, rock n roll blues, heavy metal and doom metal styles, actually my style was always classic, especially with 70s rock n roll and I have an obsession with everything related with obscure and occult and I started to love music cause’ of my father, who plays the guitar and sing.

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At my school, when the waitress put heavy metal on the radio.

http://chemnitz-tourismus.de/?my-homework-now-online in UAE. Product/Service . Community See All. 86 people like this. 88 people follow this. About See All +971 56 596 3112 Describe your best musical memory to date.

When I saw Motörhead, Judas priest and Ozzy at the same time and when I saw Iron Maiden too.

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Oh, maybe when I was a teenager and I started to sing in bars and the people wanted to hear more.

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To do more and more.

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When you’re happy doing what you love and go perfecting what you like and makes you happy, also do more things.

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Wow, a lot of things haha but when I went to several concerts of musicians covering songs that they shouldn’t played.

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Many topics that I have in mind and maybe play the guitar and compose, can be?

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The transmission and everything you create, your feelings, your experiences, make other people feel it.

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Travel to go to concerts that I like, visit museums in many destinations cause’ I have an obsession with history, the truth, many more things.

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Lucifer’s Children, Devil Worship (2020)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Will Benoit of SOM

Posted in Questionnaire on April 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Will Benoit of SOM

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Will Benoit of SOM

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Heavy. Atmospheric. Doom Pop. Shoegaze. We’ve all been fans of dark music with heavy guitars for a long time, but as we’ve gotten older the tempo has slowed down and now it feels more distinct to our own voices. We all are arriving at the same place from different paths, and it seems to be a mixture of working really hard to achieve our own sound, and it just happening naturally over time and life experience.

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There isn’t one “aha” moment I can remember. But while I was growing up my father had an acoustic guitar that I would play around with. I do remember figuring out if I plugged a microphone into a tape deck that I could record my voice as being a big moment in childhood. And then a bandmate leaving his four-track tape machine in my parents’ basement. That along with buying my first Roland MS-1 sampler were all really standout memories that felt important to my development.

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The first thing that jumps into my head is my memory of the first time I went down to SXSW. It was really incredible to see so many hard-working bands converge on one city, and seeing so many friends from all over the world over the course of one week. I helped book a showcase, and we made trays of vegan food that fed a mob of drunk people. To be part of that was really satisfying, and something that continued for many years.

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I’ve always strived to allow my beliefs to be tested in order to strengthen them, so it doesn’t answer your question necessarily, but the thing I believe most is — let other people’s ideas in, try to understand their perspective, weigh that against what you think you know, and then either internalize it or reject it.

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To the highest mountains or the deepest caves, depending on whose hands it’s in.

How do you define success?

This is a tough one that I’d like to think even the smartest people still struggle with. It’s certainly not about financial success, or else we’d probably all be putting our time into something more lucrative, though there is of course some element of that baked into every young American’s head.

At this stage it’s more about trying to add value to my life, which is really difficult to define. But it seems like putting the time, energy and work into something that we can all be proud to put out into the world, and then follow that up with memorable and interesting experiences continuing to travel the world, seeing new places and meeting new people through playing music.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Coming 2 America.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

This EP was our first endeavor into narrative music videos. Our guitar player Mike was doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes acting as producer / creative director, and while we‘ve all had various experiences in the visual production world, it’s something that feels new and uniquely challenging that I’m sure we’ll be looking into different ways to pursue moving forward.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

This is another tough one because it’s so relative. In its simplest form, art should provoke further thought or entertain, even if it is just for the person creating it, but even that is entirely subjective. As I’ve spent more and more time in different circles with very different definitions of what art even is, I’ve come to accept that there’s no right way to make art, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge what does or doesn’t make someone else feel or not feel something.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Going back out in the world — seeing shows, seeing movies, having a beer with friends.

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SOM, Awake (2021)

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Video Interview: Christian Carlsson of The Quill on Earthrise & 30 Years as a Band

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on April 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the quill

On March 26, Sweden’s The Quill released Earthrise, their ninth studio album, through Metalville Records. If one counts their history as starting between 1991 and ’92, their history goes back at least 30 years, and it’s been 26 since their self-titled debut showed up in 1995. All four current members of the band — vocalist Magnus Ekwall, guitarist Christian Carlsson, bassist Roger Nilsson and drummer Jolle Atlagic (as well as organist Anders Haglund) — were in the group for that album, and while Ekwall and Nilsson both left for a time, the former returning on 2017’s Born From Fire (discussed here) and the latter on the prior record, 2013’s Tiger Blood, the band pressed on and awaited their respective homecomings.

And talking to Carlsson, that’s the impression one gets The Quill means to him. Of course I wanted to talk about Earthrise — its powerhouse heavy rock sensibilities from the outset of “Hallucinate,” the classic metal grandeur it weaves in and out of songs like “Evil Omen,” the sheer boogie of “21st Century Sky,” and so on through the 47-minute LP’s varied but engaging course — and how The Quill have always sought to foster a classic dynamic with a modern outward sound, but let’s be honest. 30 years is a lot ofthe quill earthrise history, and it’s bound to come up. Most bands are lucky if they put out three records, many just one, but The Quill have persisted through shifts in trend, the advent of the internet as a tool for media consumption, and — as Carlsson himself notes — Ekwall going from not having children to becoming a grandfather.

Yeah, family comes up, as it should, because one of the things I most wanted to know was how The Quill has been integrated into Carlsson‘s life. The band has toured, sure, and they’ve put out killer records and played festivals and done the whole thing, but he says it straight up when he talks about dayjobs and things of that sort. The answer, of course, is that the band becomes a family in itself, as The Quill seem to have done. And hearing Carlsson describe not only the instrumental dynamic between himself and Nilsson or Atlagic (who also did a stint in Hanoi Rocks, it’s worth noting), but the idea of writing songs with each other in mind, knowing what won’t piss someone else off, it becomes clear just how important these relationships are to The Quill as a group and as individuals.

I’ve interviewed Carlsson before — a decade ago, for the release of 2011’s Full Circle (review here) — but this was the first time face-to-face, such as videoconferencing allows. He was thoughtful and kind enough to indulge the fact that a little bit into the interview, my oven timer in the kitchen went off and I had to go take a pie out. I paused the recording, but you’ll see it in the video when I come back. Chicken pot pie, man. My wife’s dinner. Can’t burn that. So yeah, we talk about family a bit.

Please enjoy:

The Quill Interview with Christian Carlsson

Earthrise is available now on Metalville. More info at the links below.

The Quill, “Dwarf Planet” official video

The Quill on Thee Facebooks

The Quill on Twitter

The Quill website

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Metalville Records on Twitter

Metalville Records website

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

Posted in Questionnaire on April 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I think at some point I would have defined what I do as being a musician but nowadays I don’t really feel like that really covers it. The actual music part of what we do is in some time periods relatively small and there’s a lot of things to be done when you have a band like ours. Lots of jobs to be done and not a lot of budget to do it haha.

Lately I’ve been enjoying learning new skills that I think are useful for all of my musical and personal ventures and I love the idea of not just being one thing. Especially in terms of income it’s very useful to have something going on in all corners.

So best to just leave it somehow undefined but in the category of music!

How I/we got here. Me and the other guys have all been playing music with unrelenting passion and dedication since we were young and you could argue that there is some luck associated with where we are now. But I think the main thing is that we’ve all been working very hard at getting to where we are since our early teens which I feel like would have hopefully brought us to this lifestyle regardless of the small choices we make in our lives. If there is a will, there is a way!

Describe your first musical memory.

The first one I can think of is a weird one and I don’t think I’ve really told anybody this. On Christmas Eve when I was five years old I got as a present from someone a CD with a collection of Disney songs. I was very excited to put it on so later in the evening I went into my room, put it into the stereo and started going through the songs. Track number five was one of the songs from the Aladdin movie and something in this song made my body and mind just resonate in the wildest way. I then learned that the stereo had a repeat button.

The song kept playing again and again and I danced, alone, to the same song, for hours. Afterwards I couldn’t really put my finger on what had happened but this was really a moment that foreshadowed my obsession with music which I still have to this day.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

So many great moments and yet I draw almost a complete blank when asked this. One of the more powerful moments I have experienced was when we did a one-off tribute show for the album Lifun by Icelandic ’70s prog act Trúbrot with one of the original members. We assembled a seven- or eight-piece band and did a festival show. The album is universally loved in Iceland and lot of people in the crowd had grown up with this album. So many beautiful moments which brought members of the band and audience to tears even.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I’m not big on beliefs honestly! I think it’s important to not be stuck in a certain way of thinking and to be able to adapt when situations change. Too many times I’ve fallen on my ass when a thing I thought I “needed” to be part of my life was in all reality just killing me like. I prefer keeping an open mind and always be searching for ways to improve as a person.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

That’s the thing about artistic progression, it leads where it wants to lead. As soon you start to want it to lead somewhere it inhibits creativity. At least for me!

How do you define success?

By individual happiness. I consider a happy individual successful. If you want to think of success, in the music business especially, in terms of money or fame you could go crazy by always trying to compare yourself to the next bigger fish in the pond. Best thing to do is just to be happy for everyone else’s success and focus on what makes you tick!

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Too many disgusting online videos growing up!

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

More different kinds of music! Recently I’ve been writing music for another project which I’m excited about. Also every now and then I get to do a session with some big name pop/hip-hop artists in Iceland. That’s always a breath of fresh air when all you do is rock and roll haha!

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To invoke deep seated feelings in people and bring people together in celebration of life!

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I recently started studying electronics in school. A bit outside the box for me so looking forward to many hours of tinkering and soldering. Especially for audio equipment!

https://www.facebook.com/vintagecaravan
https://www.instagram.com/thevintagecaravan/
https://twitter.com/_vintagecaravan
http://www.thevintagecaravan.eu/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

The Vintage Caravan, “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” official video

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Hill of Machinist!

Posted in Questionnaire on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Jeff Hill of Machinist!

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Hill of Machinist!

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I guess when people ask me what I do I most commonly respond “I’m in a touring band.” Then they normally ask what we sound like and I say “metal” and they say “oh like skillet.” And inside I die and outside I say “yeah man.” But at its base I’d say I’ve come to be most comfortably saying I’m an artist that makes art with his friends. That’s really what it is. It’s gross, sweaty, loud art but it’s art.

I started writing poetry in middle school. I was in a couple of puddle-of-nickel-creed-back bands in high school but I became comfortable on stage through drama and debate. I was a drama kid and I had a wonderful teacher and mentor named Phillip Wertz who taught me so much about engaging the audience and telling stories. I went to college and joined a band. We went on the first and worst tour I’ve ever been on and I fell in love.

Describe your first musical memory.

Riding in my dad’s Buick listening to a Jim Croce tape that came out of this leather tape collection box that rode on the floorboards. I remember listening to “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and thinking dad’s giant Buick was the coolest. It was “19 feet 2 inches of American steel” and it had a 455 rocket under the hood.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Dang. I’d say probably The Fest a few years back. I mentioned I had to leave right after our set to go take my little girl trick or treating and the capacity crowd started chanting my little girl’s name. I still get chill bumps thinking about that.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Our van broke down in Lexington, Kentucky, once in a 9 degree winter. We and False Tongues (the band we were sharing the van with) were stuck in a house for three or four days with this guy named Nasty Nate and his family. 80 percent of the people on the tour and in the house smoked cigarettes inside because there was ice and snow outside. I’m from South Georgia. I’ve seen snow like four times in my life. It’s one of the few times I’ve wanted to quit being in a band. But I didn’t. And we made it.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

For me it leads to peace and balance. I couldn’t exist without writing words.

How do you define success?

These days it’s making stuff that I like with my friends.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I wish I hadn’t seen a lady in a Cat In The Hat hat shit in a Solo cup in the middle of the street in front of Churchill’s Pub in Miami, Florida.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I’d like to write a children’s book.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To remind us that we are more than cogs in a capitalist machine. It’s escapism but also it gives us a connection to other human beings.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

The federal legalization of Cannabis and the expungement of charges and release of our brothers and sisters who are trapped inside of a for profit prison system. I’m looking forward to the abolishment of the system that grinds people into a place of desperation so that rich bastards can watch unreal numbers increase on screens. I’m also looking forward to The Matrix 4.

https://machinistga.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/machinistga
https://www.instagram.com/machinistga
https://www.instagram.com/machinistga
https://twitter.com/machinistga

Machinist! & Dead Hand, Split (2021)

Machinist!, “Bask in the White Light” official video

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brendan Parrish of Horehound

Posted in Questionnaire on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

brendan parrish horehound (Photo by David Walker)

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brendan Parrish of Horehound

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?
I simply consider myself a guitarist, irrespective of genre or style. Before I knew what guitar really was, I was always drawn to the sound of the electric guitar in songs. I was fortunate to meet a good friend in high school who taught guitar, and he became my guitar teacher after I received my first acoustic for Christmas when I was 18. I took lessons with him consistently for about 5 years. He’s one of my closest friends still and I contact him when I need to learn something in particular, but it’s been a while since I’ve taken lessons regularly.

Describe your first musical memory.

It’s hard to describe the absolute first. I remember getting the self-titled Third Eye Blind album as my first ever CD when I was 10, and subsequently Collective Soul, and Garbage’s Version 2.0. My strongest early musical memory was sitting in the car on the way to my Grandpa’s funeral and listening to the guitar solo from “Hotel California” over and over again. Didn’t even really realize that it was electric guitar, just loved how it sounded.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

This is a tough one, but the memory I keep going back to was playing our song “L’appel Du Vide” live at Gooski’s for the very first time. We had struggled with nailing it consistently in practice, but really liked the song and wanted to see how it went over live. We ended up nailing it live for the first time, in front of a really solid crowd (can’t wait to get back to Gooski’s!), and it just felt great.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I think this one has evolved over time, regarding my opinion of talent and what being a good guitar player means. Historically, I tend to walk into a gig we’re playing, or go to see a local show, and just assume that I’m the least talented guitarist in the room. Now I definitely don’t feel like I’m a hot shot, but I’ve grown more comfortable identifying as a guitarist and feeling competent enough to hold my own.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Artistic progression really leads wherever the artist decides it should. We’ve had discussions about this as a band, regarding what genre we feel we fit into, and how we write. I think we’ve ultimately decided that we have figured out how we want to sound, and it’s more a reflection of our natural writing style, rather than trying to force the ideas into a genre or style. I guess artistic progression leads to being more comfortable and confident as an artist, and not feeling held back by expectations or limits that others might have put on you.

How do you define success?

I think success is more of a spectrum than it is one finite goal. Before starting Horehound, I think my goal of success would probably have been touring and opening for acts that I really respect. And that still is success to me. But now, the goalpost has moved. I’d like to reach a bigger audience, develop as a songwriter and guitarist, and eventually make music my full-time job. I don’t think I’d ever feel happier and more successful than if I could turn this passion into a career.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Oh, there are lots of things. I’ve seen bands be really disrespectful to the venue, sound guy, other bands on the bill, etc. Often by playing longer than they were allotted, or breaking down everything on stage, or just flat out being rude. I hate seeing those things, and when we can all get back out there and play again, I’m hopeful that the shared sense of purpose will minimize a lot of those things going forward.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I’d like to create something that balances heavy and pretty as well as “Marrow” or “Beauty in Falling Leaves” by Yob. Mike Scheidt’s guitar playing, songwriting, and vocal ability is just so incredibly impressive to me. If I could write something and someone said “That sounds like a Yob tune,” it would be such amazing praise. But I think I’ve got some work to do still.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

I think that’s different for everyone. For me, it’s an escape and a catharsis primarily. I struggle with anxiety pretty heavily, so I’m extremely grateful that of all the things I put off learning, guitar wasn’t one of them. Playing guitar and listening to music just really helps with the anxiety when everything else doesn’t.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to just being able to sit at a bar with friends again. I know the last year has been difficult for everyone, and I’m no exception to that. It’s difficult to overstate how much of our social lives have been put on hold, so I’m just really looking forward to having a drink with some friends at a bar and feeling a small sense of normalcy again.

https://www.facebook.com/horehoundband/
https://www.instagram.com/horehound420/
http://horehound.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Horehound, Weight (2019)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Êlea of NOÊTA

Posted in Questionnaire on April 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Êlea of NOÊTA

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Êlea of NOÊTA

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I’m a singer, musician and a visual artist. Musically, I define NOÊTA as a dynamic mixture between folk, black metal, and dark ambient, with my singing as a contrasting element. I never really chose to do music, but it’s been something I’ve needed to do to feel complete.

Describe your first musical memory.

Probably singing in the Church choir as a three-year old.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Very tough question, I’ve had so many great musical memories. I think it would be either times of writing my own music, in especially creative times, or one of the many great live concerts I’ve been to.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Constantly, I feel. I live a life of constant exploration and I think we should never stop challenging our beliefs.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

The obvious answer is to new creative expressions. But I think the neat thing about being an artist is that, at least for me, so much of the value of life is interconnected with music and creativity. So exploring and progressing in your artistic expression is in a way what gives some bigger purpose to life.

How do you define success?

Success is dangerous to define by any external values or opinions, or by things like financial gain or popularity. I believe that in the end, success is the constant work towards your goals. It’s not a place that you reach, and then you’re finished. Success to me is more a “state” and a mindset.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

The slow destruction of our natural surroundings at the hands of humanity.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Music in so many shapes and forms. I like and appreciate a lot of different expressions of music, and I hope to create something of another genre than that of my current project, NOÊTA. I’d like to sing a lot more during my everyday life. So, more so than what I want to create, my goals are about focusing more time and energy towards singing and music.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

There is no one answer to that question, as art affects people in very different ways, and in a multitude of ways at that. For me art is about experiencing, expressing or exploring different emotions, feelings, concepts or settings. Art that doesn’t prompt any emotional response whatsoever is quite useless, or serves the same purpose as a wall paper or a nice pair of pants.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Seeing how life unfolds.

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www.instagram.com/noetaofficial
http://lnk.spkr.media/noeta-elm
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
http://en.prophecy.de/

NOÊTA, Elm (2021)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brian Daniloski of Darsombra

Posted in Questionnaire on April 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Brian Daniloski darsombra

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brian Daniloski of Darsombra

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I define myself as Brian Daniloski, and life is what I do, all the time, until I die. If I had to give a bio to the world of what I would like to be remembered for, I would describe myself as an artist. My primary artistic practices are music composition, playing music, and performing music (which to me is different than, but also involves, playing music), among other artistic practices, like decorating my home, making breakfast, gardening, etc. Beyond that, I am also a yoga teacher and student, bicycle-riding, hiking, nature-loving, peace-loving, kind of a person, and I do a whole bunch of other not very exciting things too.

As to how I came to do the bio-to-the-world stuff, I dreamed of being a musician when I was about 9, soon after getting the (at that time) new KISS album, Rock and Roll Over. KISS changed my life. I started plunking around on a guitar shortly after that. My first guitar was a very shitty acoustic guitar that I picked up at a yard sale. I’m pretty sure it didn’t even have all six strings. It was the kind of guitar that would discourage most people from playing guitar, but I would pick out stuff like “Smoke on the Water” or the Twilight Zone theme by ear, and do pick slides and funny glissando runs up and down the strings all day to amuse myself and anyone nearby.

About a year or two after that, I got my first electric guitar and started taking guitar lessons from a music store in town. I learned several basic chords and some Beatles songs, but never learned to read music very efficiently. Although I could read a chord chart (if the chords weren’t too technically intense, and then eventually there was guitar tablature, which is much easier to read than traditional music notation), I pretty much taught myself to play music by ear, and sometimes, whenever I had the rare opportunity in those days, by watching another guitarist. At some point a neighborhood friend showed me how to play a barre chord, and that was a major revelation. I did the whole jam-by-myself-in-my-teenage-bedroom thing for many years before I felt confident enough in my abilities to play with others.

During the last years of high school, I started performing in some not-so-serious bands with friends, and did that sort of thing on and off for the next few years. We only ever played a couple of shows. I tried writing a tune here or there, but it wasn’t until I bought a four-track cassette recorder that I started really getting into composing.

Around that time, I also started going to underground shows. Before this, I was just going to a lot of arena rock shows, but those musicians were like untouchable gods to me. The chasm between playing in my bedroom or jamming with some friends in a garage, and actually playing a show on a stage to an audience seemed intimidatingly immense. It wasn’t until I saw the Butthole Surfers perform an awesome mind-bending show for a sold-out enthusiastic audience in this small shithole basement punk rock club in Baltimore, that I started to think that perhaps that chasm wasn’t as big as I’d imagined.

Soon after that, now in my early twenties, I started a band with my younger brother. That was in the late ’80s. Very quickly, we started getting serious with it. By serious, I mean we started writing songs, making and releasing recordings, and playing live shows. Within a few years, it went from just playing shows around Baltimore, Maryland, to playing shows that were within a 4-6 hour driving radius from Baltimore, to touring pretty regularly all over the US.

I haven’t stopped doing that sort of thing since. Only the cast of characters that I’ve done it with, and how far away we’ve been able to tour, has changed over the years. Over 30 years in, and I still spend a good chunk of every year as a wandering musician exploring the globe (2020 not so much — although we did get to perform our first show in Mexico before the pandemic shut everything down), and pretty much every day of my life I am involved in music, or some artistic creative process, and thankful of that.

I feel especially fortunate and grateful to have found a partner in crime to do this with. I’m not so sure that I would still be doing this the way I do it at this age, had the circumstances been different. Leaving behind significant others to go driving around in a van full of dudes for chunks of time, like I used to, doesn’t have as much appeal for me these days. I still do the same thing, driving around in a van to play shows, but the atmosphere is much more agreeable with my partner and bestest buddy along for the adventure.

Describe your first musical memory.

I remember deriving a great deal of joy from this enormous record-player-stereo-console-furniture-thing that my parents had. It must have been about the size of a refrigerator lying on its side. This would have been the early ’70s. They would play vinyl LP records on it like The Beatles Abbey Road, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, soundtracks to popular musicals of the time, Smothers Brothers comedy albums, and childrens records. There was a lot of music and dancing in the living room. I instantly loved music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

“Best” is a really hard word for me, but one of my favorite musical moments was playing music outside by the side of the highway in rural Wyoming during a total solar eclipse. The high from the performance was incredible even though there were only two people in attendance — two tourists from Germany just happened to show up to watch the eclipse right as we were getting ready to start playing, a father and his son. The dad seemed to dig it okay; the son, not so much, as he seemed more interested in whatever he was doing on his smartphone. We were so charged from playing the show that we drove four hours to the Badlands of South Dakota, set up our gear again at the top of a mesa, and played over the Badlands as the sun went down that same day. There aren’t a lot of days like that.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I feel like my beliefs are questioned and tested all the time, so I try not to hold them too firmly. I’m always questioning everything, even myself. I think it was .38 Special that said “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” I can go along with that sentiment, even if I’m not too crazy about the band or the song.

But seriously, reality is not real, or it is at least highly subjective, and therefore malleable. Once one accepts this, then it’s kind of hard to have too firm of a hold on a belief or idea. I think it’s good to have one’s beliefs tested. If your beliefs can’t withstand a test or two, maybe it’s time for a reassessment of that belief.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Down the rabbit hole, hopefully!

How do you define success?

My personal definition of success is being able to spend most of one’s time doing what one wants. I’ve always aimed at that, to varying degrees of success. ;)

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Well, it’s nothing horrible like being in a war, but on my way home from work one day, I saw two kittens run into a busy intersection and get run over by some cars right in front of me. That was something I wish I hadn’t seen. Other than that, I’m sure there’s a long list of bad movies that would fit the bill.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

We haven’t created the next Darsombra album yet, but we’re working on it, and having a blast! One day I’d like to create an all-synth album, but it’s really hard to put the guitar down, it’s like a third arm. Perhaps a time machine. That might be fun.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Self-expression. Then after that, I’d say inspiration and/or evocation.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I look forward to socializing like we used to before the pandemic, being able to hug family and friends (instead of acting under the assumption that we’re all lepers), and not having to wear a mask as much.

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Darsombra, Call the Doctor / Nightgarden (2021)

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