After his previous band, Charnel house, ended Adam Sommer started his solo career with a really good album called On waking and dreaming (That I reviewed HERE).He also runs an interesting label called Sygil records (check its website and its Bandcamp). After reviewing his solo album I wanted to know more about his music and his label so I sent him some questions by mail. Thanks to him for taking the time to do it. I think it makes a very interesting read. Read his answers below :
-On waking and dreaming is your first solo album, you did it after your previous band Charnel house ended, I suppose it is linked? or is it something you planned to do anyway? tell us more about the birth of this album.
For a moment I had considered continuing on as Charnel House. When it came down to it, I knew that the essence of Charnel House was the collaboration of Hellfire and myself. CH began to dissolve, the general feeling during writing and practices was cumbersome. I began writing compositions for solo performances using two 4-track cassette recorders. This led to more experimentation with incorporating guitar and voice and the songs for "On waking and Dreaming" began to emerge. There was a freedom and creativity I had not experienced before and I wound up locking myself in my small studio for several days at a time writing, forgetting to eat, and creating the album almost stream of conscious, or the automatic style, as described by A.O. Spare.
-I really like its title "On waking and dreaming" and think it goes well with the atmosphere created by the music. Can you tell us more about this choice of title?
I had been through alot in the previous year with personal relationships and the like, I found myself in a place totally liberated from my hang ups and my negativity. The album is a reflection of a new psychic space where the incredible and mysterious parts of life intertwine harmoniously. So many incredible things that I can't even describe were occurring, fortune had been smiling upon me.
-What about the making of the album, were some parts written originally for Charnel house? what were your guiding ideas for the album?
I knew Charnel House was ending months before it happened. We have an entire album of songs that will have to rest comfortably in the universe somewhere. When I was ok with letting go of those songs, I began thinking of my next move as far as writing was concerned. The aesthetic of On waking and Dreaming came over a period of several months. Reshaping and rethinking how I had approached music, the album came to be a celebration. I wanted it to have a good feel but just something sinister underneath, like the opening scene of Blue Velvet.
-how did you get into this kind (s) of music and which bands influenced you the most?
I have always been obsessed with music, I remember spending most of my pre-teen years in front of my dad's record player listening to Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Floyd, but what really made me realize that music could be an extension of myself and what I wanted to express was Jon Mueller's Metals, and Stephen O'Malley's projects: Sunn 0))) and KTL. After that, it felt like the whole world opened up.
-If I'm not mistaken it's your first album where you are the main singer, was i something difficult for you? what was your approach regarding the vocal part of the album?
Yes, I am very reluctant to sing, but am starting to get used to it and starting to enjoy it. I definitely wanted to have vocals so I just figured out how to present them in a way that I enjoyed. I love the languid approach to vocals that I hear in Pink Floyd's meddle, so I tried to do stuff like that, it just seems like such a cool delivery, so laid back.
-what about the lyrics?
I try to express the things that I enjoy about magick and other philosophy, but I also want to express myself simply. I love Syd Barret's lyrics, so simple and playful, but it just feels so genuine and great. While sometimes the subject matter can be a bit heavy in my music, I don't want it to seem like expressing this idea is the most important thing, I enjoy expressing the sentiments that tend to sit on my brain for a long time.
-can you choose a song you especially like in the album and comment on how it was written, its lyrics, etc. ?
The song "Wall of Reason", the lyrics especially. I like the idea that there is an infinite realm inside all of us and it is totally unique. The relationship between that infinite realm and this identity that makes us who we appear to be, is difficult; it's a journey to try and reconcile that relationship.
-Seems to me there's an experimental and psychedelic, in a way, element in your music, is that correct? Psychedelia is often associated with, metaphorically speaking, opening gates and discovering new paths and territories, and as a musical movement coincided with questionning the dominant values and experimentating new ways of living. How do you relates to that and what does psychedelia means to you personnaly
Definitely psychedelic and experimental. I like the way you express it... it seems that many look at the terms and consider them to be merely an aesthetic. Personally I have attempted to alter my own perception and understanding through psychedelics and challenging accepted concepts of my surroundings. I practice an exercise of magick every day where I subtly change any routine that I may have established. This may include anything from looking at how I drink my coffee to altering a usual route to work, or even changing a method on which I greet someone. I do this to exercise my will. By being conscious of my activities, even the mundane, I have an awareness of my actions and stave the insatiability of complacence. This translates into my music and into my approach to writing.
-If think your music could be a good movie soundtrack, what kind of movie would it be? Do you like the idea?
I love the idea! I'd be into Von Trier hearing my music and allowing me to do an entire soundtrack. I have also been enjoying Nicolas Winding Refn who did Drive
-Do you intend to play the album live (with other musicians), or have already done it?
I have played the album live with a full 5-piece band and it was really incredible. While I enjoyed the experience, the project will, for right now, be performed solo with cassette tape effects for rhythm and noise.
-You're releasing it on your own label, Sygil record. Is it a practical decision? would you contemplate having your music released by another label or do you prefer being in full control of it and handling yourself every aspects related to your albums?
I enjoy doing my label and I am open to working with other creative individuals. I think the opportunity to work with people who have anything to do with the music that I worship would be an incredible opportunity.
-I saw you did a painting going with one album on Sygil records, can you tell us more about this aspect of your creativity and how you relates it to music?
My paintings are perhaps ways for me to meditate while I am in between writing music. I can hit a dry spot and if I take a break and paint or even go for a long bike ride, I can come back and feel more engaged in the music writing process.
-Tell us more about Sygil records, how did you get to form it, and what is it's "concept"?
I was in a project called Os and we were Khanate worshipers. We ate a bunch of mushrooms one night and we put on the 220 gm s/t album and we all just kind of had a sudden realization of how we should make music together. We put out our record "12 Truths" and decided that putting out artifacts of this nature was fun. I named the label Sygil after being inspired by the incredibly archived book Dictionary of Occult Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils.
-Are you releasing only music from people you know or would you release the music of any band you like? What kind of band have a chance to collaborate with your label?
While the artists that I have put out are from around my area, I really came to know them from the experience of recording them. That is paramount to the Sygil records' ideology. There must be an intimacy established between the recording, playing and putting out of the work. If one is so inclined to come and work with us, and we dig what they are doing, then we will work together.
-On the website of the label you wrote that "Sygil records is dedicated to promoting artists who explore magick", can you elaborate on this aspect?
There are many ideas of magick and I am looking to learn and explore more ideas of it when I can. There are many forms that have nothing to do with the word as well. I am looking for those who follow some idea of esoteric philosophy, or have taken some journey that resolved in creating incredible sounds.
-What are the most recent releases and what can we expect in the coming months from Sygil records (and from yourself as a musician as well)?
Most recently we have Normanoak's "Ancient Friends" 12", then Bad Psychic's "Soon" 12" and right before that was the final Charnel House album, "6" We have a pretty slow release schedule as each release requires a time commitment. This summer I will be traveling with Sommer to promote the record then work on more music i when I return.
-Which evolution would you like to see for underground music in the future?
I hope it provides even more of a healing force for the coming age.
-Something to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my project and label, I really appreciate it!