EMQ’s with ARX ATRATA
Hi Everyone. Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with UK based Atmospheric Black Metal Project Arx Atrata! Huge thanks to Ben for taking part!
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
I’m Ben from Arx Atrata, an atmospheric black metal project from the UK, playing music inspired by acts such as Coldworld, Winterfylleth, Sojourner, Lustre, Agalloch, and many others. Currently it’s a studio project that started almost a decade ago, with the third full-length release coming out last month.
How did you come up with your band name?
That has been long forgotten sadly! Choosing names is a difficult business and inventing something in Latin was one way of finding something that hasn’t already been taken. It roughly means “blackened citadel”.
What country are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
I am from the UK and as I’m sure you’re aware, it varies a lot depending on where you are and what particular music you’re into. It seems to me that festival attendances are doing well but smaller gigs are suffering and it’s tough for bands to get shows. There are so many great acts across the UK but almost all the bands I know struggle to book gigs. So, it’s a mixed bag.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single or Video)
The latest album came out last month, titled “The Path Untravelled”.
Who have been your greatest influences?
This is a hard one to answer as I’ve always tried to weave many different aspects into the music. My background is more from the UK doom scene so the distinctive leads and harmonies of acts like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride play a large part in how I approach composition, but from the black metal side I’m inspired by how bands like Winterfylleth, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, or The Great Old Ones can create furious-sounding music without compromising on memorable riffs and motifs. And there are bands that transcend the boundaries – Agalloch, Primordial, early Woods of Ypres, Empyrium, October Falls – these acts have always motivated me to blend different styles together in a cohesive way.
What first got you into music?
When I was a child I remember being interested in pop music, like many of my peers. I was given a keyboard by my grandparents which sparked some interest in composing my own works. As I approached my teens I started to develop more discerning taste, and at some point got the foolish idea that I could learn guitar and be in a metal band. Now, it’s a couple of decades later, and I’m still learning guitar! But with a handful of albums and EPs released across various projects I can at least say the process has been productive.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
I am in two other bands – Twilight’s Embrace (http://www.twilightsembrace.com) and Fjords (https://www.facebook.com/fjordsofficial/) – so it could be said that I’m already collaborating. But, while both those bands are just as important as Arx Atrata, there are things I can do with my own project that are not possible when you have to take other people into consideration. So for this, I prefer to work alone!
That said, I’d love to get to release split albums or CDs in future. I particularly like the idea of both acts writing with the other band’s music in mind to come up with a release that is a cohesive whole.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Arx Atrata is currently not a live act – but if it were to become one, I’d love to perform at some of the interesting European festivals. Prophecy Fest in Germany is held in a cave, which sounds like a unique experience. We could probably turn the reverb levels down for that show.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
I have never received a gift from a fan!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Not so much our fans, but I think the one thing I’d like metal fans in general to know is that bands really need your support. Musicians of today have more reach than ever before but see a lot less reward for it. Bands can have thousands of listeners on Spotify, but can’t get shows because only 10 people show up for local gigs. Buying merchandise is better than nothing, but I don’t think we really want a world where being a musician is mostly about buying and selling artwork and t-shirts, trying to fit in gigs and songwriting on the side. So I’d say – go to the shows, buy the records. If fans don’t support musicians, nobody will.
If you could bring one Metal/Rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
It would be a difficult choice between Pete Steele of Type O Negative and David Gold of Woods of Ypres. Either way, we’d get another morose album with a distinctive baritone vocal delivery and there aren’t enough of those.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
The best thing and the worst thing is playing live. When it goes well, it’s amazing. But there’s a lot of preparation and pressure too. And too many shows see you playing to tiny crowds for free, leaving you wondering whether it’s worthwhile.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I don’t think the music industry needs to change too much at all. What needs to change is the internet industry being able to get away with ripping musicians off. If you go on YouTube, there are hundreds of thousands of songs uploaded without permission, each with thousands or sometimes even millions of plays. On Blogspot there are tons of pages with links to illegal album downloads hosted on ad-supported cyberlockers. So all these companies selling ads are making money, the website hosts are making money, but the musicians who make all this entertainment just have to suck it up and become t-shirt salesmen. That’s what needs to change.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” by Iron Maiden! In hindsight that was probably the midpoint between their more radio-friendly earlier material and the ever longer and more progressive work that followed, and the balance was struck perfectly. The title track is a masterpiece, one I’d like to cover some day.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
There’s a big clamour for vinyl and cassettes in the black metal world these days and I find it fascinating, especially as someone old enough to have grown up with cassettes and who was grateful to make the move to the superior-sounding CD’s! I don’t think I even have a hexagonal pencil to hand if I needed to fix a cassette’s prolapsed innards today. Vinyl is a nice format for collectors, especially given the opportunity to really showcase the artwork, but from an audio engineering point of view it’s almost impossible to get a vinyl to sound as accurate to the original material as a CD or a download would. Downloads are pretty unexciting but at least they’re not unleashing more plastic on the world, so you can support bands that way and boost your environmental credentials at the same time.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Arx Atrata hasn’t played any shows yet, but with my other bands Twilight’s Embrace had a great outing at Bloodstock many moons ago, while Fjords made a lot of new fans at the Warhorns Festival in 2018.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
As with almost all musicians these days, I am already doing other things! If I tried to pay the bills with my music I would have starved or frozen to death, depending on whether I started in summer or winter respectively! My day job is as a computer game developer, so I’m lucky in that it’s a relatively creative field, and that I can afford to cover my costs as a musician.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
I hate dinner parties, so nobody!
What’s next for the band?
Not much, to be honest! The traditional thing is to release an album and then play some shows to support it, but with that not being an immediate option for Arx Atrata, the agenda is looking pretty bare. Maybe it’s time to find some live musicians to help me out!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
The music can be streamed and bought at the Bandcamp page: https://arxatrata.bandcamp.com/
Important updates appear on the homepage:
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Both, depending on the context!
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you Ever Metal for asking the questions, and thanks to the reader for getting this far! Please check out “The Path Untravelled” at our Bandcamp link above. And if perhaps you’re into more of the melodic doom/death/prog type of metal, keep an ear out for the new Fjords video and record which are coming out this month – you won’t be disappointed.
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