“It’s a Good Mental Exercise to Try to Experience Art.” Interview with Ashenspire

“Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary” is a harrowing, yet distinctly human odyssey through the absurdities and tragedies of British imperialism, voiced in an appropriately deranged sprechgesang by the band’s creative director, Alasdair Dunn. The band takes influence from the original approach to black metal found in bands such as A Forest of Stars, Dødheimsgard, Vulture Industries and Pensées Nocturnes, along with a strong taste for theatrics in the vein of Devil Doll and Diamanda Galas.

Baldo, Cultartes: Hello! “Speak Not of The Laudanum Quandary” emits a strong poetic feeling and this thing is evidenced by the most of the reviews. I believe, though, that is just a characteristic of avant-garde/black metal you have taken carefully into attention. A connection still exists between the lyricism and black metal, it’s pretty clear. Where do you think this point of connection appears?

Alasdair, Ashenspire: I think that black metal has tried since its inception to tap into the fundamental discontent in people, that emotional state of frustration with one thing or another. In the same way, poeticism is all about indulging that journey through the human experience. How that applies to our own work, of course, is to do with trying to generate empathy in the listener for the characters and events of the pieces. It must be admitted though that I am naturally quite a verbose person, and get really too excited over wordiness to the point of excess.

Speaking of a theatrical and romantic music – theatre blended with romance can inspire an antiquated art- can this approach be present in our current topics?

There’s something so wonderfully absurd about the whole thing, isn’t there? When dealing with something as ridiculous and pompous as British imperialism, jingoism, colonialism, it seems only appropriate to reflect it in a mirror of theatricality, the almost backwards approach to conveying ideas not dissimilar to attitudes surrounding the subject matter. It’s a case of “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”, and of course, there’s room for both.

Considering there are many bands identified with this style, were you ever afraid the world would judge you about a lack of originality? Were there some sort of comparison?

I don’t think it’s any secret that this album was inspired greatly by our friends in A Forest of Stars, and bands like Dødheimsgard, Vulture Industries etc., although a surprisingly low number have picked up on influence from bands like Primordial, who played a big role in a lot of the initial writing, back in 2013-14. Honestly, we have always just created the music we wanted to hear, letting it flow naturally, and using it as a vehicle for the ideas contained within, while having enormous fun into the bargain.

Why should people listen to vanguardist music more than they usually do? How would you promote this style in an advertisement?

It benefits people to challenge themselves. Of course, there’s always room for comfort music, music that hits a particular spot, but it’s a good mental exercise to try to experience art that comes from the fringes, art that pushes boundaries, one way or another. Opens your mind up. Any advert for such music would almost certainly have to involve hallucinogens, and the phrase „If you hate it, have another!”

Is there any ultimate goal for a novice artist? I wonder if there’s room for dreams like: concerts on the biggest stages, the best-selling album…

These days, the ultimate goal of artists great and small is fairly humble – just that their art will be viable as a way of living. Of course, everybody wants to play the big stages and release the number one album, but so long as the art touches enough people such that the artist can support themselves and keep creating, I think that that is an admirable goal, if an increasingly unrealistic one…

Besides many others I am a huge fan of the British football. How does a derby feel like in your band? Celtic or Rangers?

While none of us are particular fans of the old foot-the-ball, we in the band are dedicated supporters of any team holding large cheques made out to Messrs Dunn, Gordon, Johnson and Simonen.

Do you have planned any concerts in order to promote your album?

We don’t have a great deal of opportunity to get on the road, per se. We keep ourselves very busy. Of course, we’d love to, and make special effort to perform at events that pique our interest – we have the great privilege of playing with Ash Borer in April – but as of yet, no plans are set in stone.

What would be the most “exotic” destination for a concert?

We’d give at least two of our left legs to play in Japan with Vampillia, or even Sigh, I think we’d all agree. The original over-the-top weirdos in extreme metal!

If you’ll visit Romania, for one reason or another, what would you like to “taste”?

I hear you have some particularly potent plum brandies? We’ll take four. Oh, and we’d absolutely love to visit the Dark Bombastic Evening, while we’re on the subject of fine Romanian institutions.

If we’ll have to live without technology, how do you think your world would look like?

Well… probably unpleasantly cold in the less pleasant Scottish seasons. So, Autumn, Spring, Winter, Summer… ah, that’s right, just unpleasantly cold in general.

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