There are records and discographies that mark personal stages, taking you back to them every time you listen to that music. For who is writting, AARA has been the most recurrent thing in 2021′ s soundtrack. Their latest work, released this year, has opened the doors to a very interesting world that these Swiss band creates with its music. And, in addition to sharing it with anyone reading these lines, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask them some questions. Continue reading.
Subterráneo Webzine: Welcome to Subterráneo Webzine, AARA. It is a pleasure to be able to have a chat with you. It is Berg who is answering the questions, right? Any music on while you are doing so?
AARA: No, we will answer the questions together. At the moment I’m listening to A FOREST OF STARS again, very impressive music.
Subterráneo Webzine: AARA is a project formed by Fluss, voice and lyrics, and Berg, who writes and plays all the instruments. But, for En Ergô Einai a third musician was added: J. He plays the drums on both your second and newest album, Triade I: Eos. Will he become a permanent member of the band? Do you want AARA’s core to just be the initial duo and get specific collaborations, or would you consider adding more members?
AARA: J. is already a permanent member of the band and not only takes care of the drums but also the whole sound. He has much more musical experience than we do, which I think you can hear in the releases since his participation in AARA. At the moment it’s not up for debate, it works well the way it is.
Subterráneo Webzine: Once J. is on board, does Berg continue to write the drum parts or do they both build them together? Were previous drums programmed?
AARA: On the first album there is a drummer’s computer. I do the drums in the demo recordings and J. roughly follows it, but brings in a lot of things himself. Everyone in the project has their own creative freedom. You can’t really prescribe such detailed drumming as J. is playing it.
Subterráneo Webzine: J. is not only the person performing AARA’s drums now, but he also is Chäuer Studios, where the band has recorded their last two records. However, I read they were previously mixed and mastered by Berg. So, you have basically created and seen the whole process until the very last touch up, correct? Did the drum collaboration take you to decide to also record with J.?
AARA: Everyone does what he/she does best in the project. As already mentioned, J. has a much greater knowledge of music production, so it was clear that he has to take over if we want to improve. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to work together all the time, so we usually meet for the most important decisions.
Subterráneo Webzine: You take inspiration from classical music choosing different Eras for each album as they change their theme. Far from being poorly or improperly recorded -the opposite- your records do sound different from one another. Does that whole new vision for every new work also extend to the production side?
AARA: We try to improve step by step. With every album you learn new things and realize what you have to change next time. However, especially now with the current trilogy Triade, it is also important that the albums do not differ too much from each other musically and sound-wise, otherwise the connection between them is lost.
Subterráneo Webzine: From a not-musician’s point of view, your music seems thought out to the millimetre. The guitar work is just mind blowing. And I wonder, what is your musical background? Have you studied music at a conservatory, self-taught…?
AARA: Thank you for the kind words. Actually, nothing about the guitars is planned or thought out. The whole process is very spontaneous. I wouldn’t call myself a good musician either, because I have no idea about music theory or notation. But maybe that’s what ultimately makes the music and distinguishes us from other bands that approach everything very technically.
Subterráneo Webzine: Jonny Warren (KUYASHII) has also been part of Triade I: Eos playing bass. Was it for just for a particular section, as you had Vindsval (BLUT AUS NORD, YERUSELEM…) do on En Ergô Einai first song’s intro, or was it for the whole record? Are you planning on having different collaborations on each one? Were there other participants on previous works?
AARA: Jonny did not play bass on the album, but wrote the intro. He will also be heard in the intros on the other two parts. He is a master when it comes to creating guitar and bass sounds. So far, there was another guest singer «Wald» on the first album So fallen alle Tempel.
Subterráneo Webzine: Berg and Jonny Warren have ended up working together on MODERN RITES as well, which… Is it a new project with only the two of you? Quoting Debemur morti, both bands’ label, it is “industrial-rooted melodic black metal” and there is a first effort coming out soon. Isn’t it? Before we focus back on AARA, are any of you involved in other musical activities?
AARA: Yes, MODERN RITES is a project of Jonny and me. We released our first album Monuments in August and are working on some new stuff already. It’s definitely different from AARA, but it’s a lot of fun. J. takes on the role of a guest musician for a lot of different bands and recordings. He is also a permanent member of the band MALPHAS.
Subterráneo Webzine: If I am not wrong, up until now the band has just worked as a studio project. And to be honest, I can only picture AARA in a very good venue or ritualistic scenery like WIEGEDOOD at Broelkapel Kortrijk, KATATONIA at Union Chapel Church… I am sure that will imply adding quite a few members at least on the guitar side, but… Will we ever be able to see AARA live?
AARA: I don’t think so. Time is one factor and feeling like it is another. With some effort you could certainly create a suitable setting for a gig. And there would also be enough people who would be there as guest musicians. But, for us, the creative work on albums is important.
Subterráneo Webzine: AARA feels more like an art project in general than just a musical one. Which is one of the reasons it would be amazing to see what you come up with for a live show. What do you want to achieve and transmit with your music? Bring culture, a certain message, just create and play what you like…?
AARA: The term “art” in connection with AARA is difficult. None of us really see themselves as a artists. The same goes for spreading a message. Today’s media landscape is so filled with opinions that we don’t really need to take part in it. AARAis the desire to give your own interests a kind of soundtrack and see what comes out of it. Sometimes the idea comes while reading a book, on a trip or it’s just a certain moment, mood or place. It helps to convey that certain feeling in special moments. But, in the end, I think every listener gets something different out of the music.
Subterráneo Webzine: Going back to Triade I: Eos. It is your first submission of a trilogy based on the Gothic-terror novel Melmoth the wanderer (Charles Maturin). A book which, partly and broadly speaking, explores the limits and excesses of humans. Did you, maybe, mean to analyze that specific aspect of the book? Is it a behavioural approach or something more spiritual?
AARA: For us, it was interesting to deal with an older piece of literature and to weave its atmosphere dramaturgically into our music. Whereby we were mainly interested in diving into the zeitgeist of the 19th century in Maturin’s book. His book deals with the great questions of humanity, but also shows in a certain way his one-sided world view, which was influenced by the Anglican religion. We do not want to represent this, criticize or analyze the book.
Subterráneo Webzine: The book is divided into different stories that net through the whole narrative. How have you allocated them in three albums? Have you focused more on concepts rather than literally the arrangement of the stories?
AARA: Basically, the musical and lyrical structure of the individual songs and albums follows the narrative structure in the book. However, we do not want to retell or simply reproduce the story. Each song picks out a particular moment within the story and tries to elaborate musically and lyrically the atmosphere and its core theme. The albums are divided into prehistory, Eos the morning, the middle part, Hemera the noon, and the last part forms the finale in which the narrative strands come together and find a conclusion.
Subterráneo Webzine: The concept also embraces the art of the album. Michael Handt is the painter behind Triade I: Eos and En Ergô Einai’s covers. They are both paintings, right? What about So fallen alle Tempel’s? It makes a lot of sense to have AARA’s music represented by oil colours on canvas.
AARA: That’s right, these are oil paintings on canvas. We are very lucky to be able to work with such a talented artist as Michael. So the painting that you can see on the cover of Triad I was created especially for this album. The cover of Triade II is also specially created by Michael, which we are very happy about. The cover of So fallen alle Tempel is from the time when we didn’t work together with Michael and is from an artist to whom we have no other connection. We hope to continue working with Michael in the future.
Subterráneo Webzine: Fluss means river in German and Berg means mountain, what does AARA mean? There definitely is a link between the band and nature. Which is it? A celebration of Gaia, pointing out its importance…?
AARA: AARA contains the name of a river in Switzerland, the Aare is the longest river flowing entirely in the country. It connects the different places where we have lived and have a personal connection to. Finally, the first name idea for the project was Ara, which is Latin for altar, but is already present in the music scene. So a second A was added, which can now be freely interpreted as «altar of nature». I would say it is less about the worship of nature in the form of Mother Earth than about the aspect of the nothingness and finiteness of man in his living space and universe in the larger context. This topic appears in my texts from time to time, interestingly also in Maturin’s Melmoth.
Subterráneo Webzine: You recently announced that you are already working on the second part of the trilogy. Given the fact that you have released an album per year since your creation, should we expect it for 2022? Is there any advance that you can drop us?
AARA: Actually, we wanted to release the album in 2021, but some things got delayed and so it will probably be in the beginning of 2022. It will be a stylistic continuation of the first part, but more progressive. Info will be announced when its time.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your discography also contains an EP that was released in 2019: Anthropozän. Was it initially released with Debemur morti or were you still signed with Naturmacht? Either way, both labels and AARA have worked together to get this EP on 7’ vinyl and it is already available. Was it the first time the three parties have teamed up?
AARA: The EP was created for Debemur Morti as a kind of “welcome release”. We are still working with both labels for different vinyl versions. Naturmacht is a friend of mine and therefore it was clear from the beginning that a label change was agreed upon and that we would continue to work together. Naturmacht is also still responsible for the creation of the booklet, etc. of AARA.
Subterráneo Webzine: AARA wasn´t born prematurely and it is growing fast. You are polishing the project to make it as good and professional as it can be. Is there anything still missing? Which should your next step be?
AARA: I think we are currently where we want to be. We would like to keep the underground character and we are not aiming for anything specific. A next step could be to break away from the Black Metal elements more clearly, but we’ll see how it develops.
Subterráneo Webzine: I believe this has been enough of a torture already so, I am just going to leave the last words to you. Thanks so much for your time and answers!
AARA: Thanks for the interview.