Interviews are such a lottery. Even if you set yourself high qualitative limits, no one guarantees that the interviewee will be on his best day, or with the will to respond properly. However, the interviewee on this occasion, Void, had a differentiating factor. Not only did he have a one-man project called FEED THEM DEATH that we have dealt with previously, but he is also the co-owner of an independent label, Brucia Records, dedicated to experimental extreme metal. All of this tipped the balance for an interview on both occupations. And this time the lottery ended in our favor, with exhaustive and fully descriptive answers. Long as this interview is, rarely does a musician explain in such detail every intricacy of his band, his creative process or how he manages his label.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s start with your main band, FEED THEM DEATH. To be honest, had FTD been a plain grind/death band, it wouldn’t have caught my attention at all, but since you introduce industrial and noise elements, which it is not as usual (you know how narrow-minded metal scene can be) it makes it way more interesting. Did you conceive the band with this death grind and industrial mixture idea in mind?
Void: First off, thanks for your words and for having me here as a guest. FEED THEM DEATH was born to allow space for me to experiment, and move away from the canons of the genre. It is my personal outlet to express myself, and since it is a perennial work in progress I cannot say that I had always been 100% successful with communicating the vast range of things I wanted to convey, but for sure I can say that I remained loyal to my initial proposition, albeit varying the results.
FEED THEM DEATH wanted to be different right from the outset, and so I have also chosen this name which derives from a BAD RELIGION’ song as opposed to the usual metal vocabulary; reclaiming a similarity, at least philosophically if not behaviourally or thematically, to punk and hardcore rather than death metal per se.
Subterráneo Webzine: What is your musical background? How did you get into industrial and noise and which bands, or artists inspired you to create FTD?
Void: I am a subversive type of listener, appreciating extreme music of course but also finding somewhat annoying and unfulfilling the fact that experimentalism in general is sometimes either forced and disingenuous, or lacking entirely.
I started listening to death metal in the golden age of extreme music (think the first record I picked up from the shop was Pierced from Within when it came out), after a brief but important phase of listening to thrash metal and punk. Through the years my tastes became more varied and started to embrace ambient and noise.
There are many bands I love, some of which cannot be identified within the compositional style I use, whereas others are more of a natural fit. As far as mixing death-grind with weird things goes, I think that BRUTAL TRUTH is to be considered my main inspiration in a way.
Subterráneo Webzine: Since FTD has always been everything but orthodox, I suspect that working as a one-man band was the only viable choice. Did you ever consider (besides some guests on your records, and techs, like producers) to share this project with other people, to add more official members?
Void: FTD is a one man band precisely for the fact I have a very defined vision of how I want things to sound and I don’t really tend to get on with many people, musically speaking.
That being said, I also want that people collaborating with me have the creative freedom and trust to intervene in whichever way they see fit: I never give strict parameters to my collaborators, and the reason is that if I want them to be part of the project than I need to implicitly trust that they know what they are doing. I never over edit anything that someone might have contributed with and tend to leave things as they are; I like to be surprised and value anything coming from someone I trust and admire contributing to a different take on how I thought a song should sound.
Before lockdown I had also made plans to collaborate with a session drummer and guitarist to take the project live: we rehearsed a few times, but I think that urge has faded now, also due to having intensified my efforts with running Brucia Records.
Subterráneo Webzine: While your first album was purely straight to the point, with Panopticism you started to steer away. The inclusion of a pure ambient industrial track like “Prescience/Evokism III” was a total breakthrough in comparison with the debut. Do you consider that album as where FTD started to have its own identity? Because experimentation kept going on the next EP and on Negative.
Void: Experimental parts were present also in the first recordings, but treated as a plus rather than something structural and vital to the main composition, whereas over time drone, harsh noise, doom and other subgenres have found a more organic space within the albums. I think it’s somewhat worth noticing that I am always a couple of years ahead with writing music compared to what is being released: I started writing Panopticicm before the first album was released, and both For Our Culpable Dead and Negative (both intended as one album and recorded at the same time, actually) were composed during the months before the release of Panopticism.
I think this works well for me because it allows me to focus on the music without caring about any formal feedback relating to my recent music.
Subterráneo Webzine: Was 2020’s confinement a good moment to create? You’ve released your second full length, plus For our culpable death EP through Brucia Records, it must have kept you quite busy.
Void: As said, I dropped a couple of albums but they were all ready and composed during the year prior to lockdown. In reality I do think that 2020 was a decent year for me: Challenging on an emotional level, but rewarding in regards to music, since it was the year when I joined Brucia Records as co-owner and since my arrival we have managed to release 15 albums in just over a year, and have many more already planned for the rest of 2021 and well into next year.
Subterráneo Webzine: Digging into Negative, it feels like the album is split into two parts; before the interlude it has a more straightforward approach, but after that the songs tend to be more experimental. Was this your intention or am I just overthinking it?
Void: No such thing as overthinking things – especially in a day and age where people tend to consume art ever so superficially, I am immensely appreciative of in depth analysis and critical thinking.
I think you are right and it is definitely something planned: I wanted to create a fracture and tell a story using an increasingly experimental language.
I always treat each release as a bridge connecting the past to the future, and wanted to have something clearly marking a transition between FTD death-grind “upbringings” and what I envision for the future of the project.
I think that the real turning point of Negative is however half way through “Eulogic” rather than on “Our cruelty to reality”.
Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s look into «Eulogic« if you don’t mind. The songs start quite normal, nothing special. But around the first minute you start do “deconstruct” the song. I mean, it goes slower, there are some piano notes, a buzz, there also is a cello… To simplify it, everything gets weird. But this “weirdness” goes further with “The underground unveiled” or “The idiotic yearning for more”, and we can’t tell if we are hearing the same song as we were listening to a minute ago. Do you enjoy throwing away people’s expectations?
Void: Again, very astute analysis, thank you. And yes, I do enjoy misleading people, especially myself. I always try to keep as flexible as possible when writing music, and although I have clear the general direction I want to take I also like to leave plenty of room for things to get weird.
I must admit I struggled a bit with realising «Eulogic’s» full potential on my own there, and therefore asked DERHEAD (avantgarde depressive BM project) [he refers to the man behind DERHEAD, Giorgio Barrocu .en] and Davide Destro from LaColpa (Blacked Sludge / Noise project) to intervene and collaborate on delivering all the weird twists and turns.
Subterráneo Webzine: There is another intriguing aspect about Negative. On “Superficialibi” or “Minima Moralia” I can hear what seem like random notes that have nothing to do with the rest of the instruments. The drums are blasting, while those notes appear and disappear out of nowhere. Is every weird element on Negative designed to make us feel anxious/uncomfortable?
Void: I must say it is incredibly gratifying for a musician to talk to someone who had the curiosity to delve so deep into an album, so thank you!
Yes, absolutely, my mission with FTD has always been that of making fast music more dramatic.
In a way, I feel that fast music often lacks depth and drama, which tend to be expressed better in slower, colder or heavier subgenres. Fast music is very dynamic by definition, which makes for a great listening entertainment but I find it struggles with Pathos and memorability [Pathos is a term contrived by Aristoteles which pretend to create an emphatic connection with audience .en].
As said I do leave room for creative freedom when it comes to the structure of my compositions, but it is once the “demos” are locked that my favourite thing happens, and that is adding dissonances and more elements designed and architected to create alienation and a sense of displacement. Everything you hear in Negative is intentional.
Subterráneo Webzine: What is the deal with “Evokism”? On Panopticism we had the second and third parts of the song. In Negative there is a fourth act. Talking purely about music, I find no connection between them all, so I would love it if you could throw some light on the matter. Also, where is the first part of this “saga”?
Void: So fulfilling to have left bread crumbs along the way and seeing someone picked them up!
Musically I think that they are all relatable as they all feature harsh noise walls and drone-type elements: to put it plain, “Evokism” represents a noise sibling to FTD, in a way, or the dark noise side of a fast rotating grind moon.
The saga began with a double 7” I did in 2017 under the moniker of Rising Bear Flottilla, together with a few other people.
That was essentially a re-editing job of old demos we did back in 2003, but we also decided to intervene with new layers and vocals. One song in particular was called “Evokism”. If I went down the route of explaining how and why that song is so important to me we would need a separate interview and a lot of time, suffices to say that that was the first song I had worked on after a hiatus from the music world that lasted a number of years.
Subterráneo Webzine: Since FTD’s evolution has become more experimental after each release, are there any other barriers you would want to break down after Negative? Stepping further in that road of industrial, noise or whatever will come to your mind.
Void: I think that barriers in music belong to the listener in us. Even when someone is both a musician and a listener, it is the receiving end of the spectrum setting boundaries which usually depends on instances such as identification and need to fit in. Music itself, art itself – should flow free. Usually when I compose music for FTD I stop listening to music altogether and only focus and listen to what I am doing, to avoid being influenced by the listener in me.
Also, my main reason to write music is to listen to it; I want to create something that satisfies my need to listen to something that has not been done yet: which by definition means that FTD will not repeat itself.
Subterráneo Webzine: I don’t usually talk much about art covers, but the Negative’s has really intrigued me. What is behind that hand? At first sight it seems simple, but I guess that there is more than meets the eye.
Void: The art cover is deeply symbiotic with the narrative apparatus of the album: “negative” is a simple title (especially compared to my previous long titles) and the aim was to come up with something iconic, sacrificing my proverbial verbosity for something incisive and straightforward, but of course with a twist and a hidden meaning, and more bread crumbs.
The image is an artwork by Australian photographer Sophie Gabrielle, and was photographed a manifold of times and sunk in polluted water to allow microbes to form and eat at the negatives.
I found the process extremely symbiotic with what I intended to do with my music, both in terms of composition and execution.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your first two records were launched on different labels: I voidhanger, Satanath… But from For our culpable death on, you have released FTD’s material through your own label: Brucia Records. So, you went further and created a music label that isn´t only a platform for your own music, but you have room for other artists. What pushed you to create Brucia? Maybe the idea of doing things your own way, having total creative freedom, give voice to some genres that perhaps aren’t promoted as much…?
Void: All of the above, and a bit more. Brucia existed already when I joined, although it was primarily an outlet for Giorgio (my label partner) to release his own music plus a few things here and there. We found ourselves visualising a brighter and bigger future for Brucia and so we decided to join forces and work on creating something different from a traditional label. We are both musicians and producers with many years of combined experience, and we wanted to intend our endeavours as creative partnerships with our bands, rejecting the notion that music should be a commodity and fall under the dynamics of production and consumption.
For us music is art, and so we wanted to create a place where creative minds could join us and fulfill our mutual need to create something more than just a CD.
Subterráneo Webzine: There is a lot to be said about Brucia. Your label explicitly avoids anything that has to do with “mainstream”. But which meaning does Brucia Records give to this term? Perhaps the “current” extreme metal which could represent bands under labels like Debemur Morti or Nuclear Blast? And, on the other hand, what does avant-garde mean to you? Is it about breaking boundaries and sound different from everything else? Because since the true avant-garde pioneers, the use of it in metal has turned into a style by itself, like thrash or power.
Void: I absolutely agree with you. Everything becomes a canon after things get pigeonholed and codified, and I believe that most of the time the term “avant-garde” stands for exactly the opposite of what it should represent.
Think about jazz, which is identified by many as the apex of experimentation in music, when instead it is formulaic in execution as much as any other type of music.
With Brucia we want to stay clear of certain dynamics that we see around us: nowadays people have a reduced attention span and really only listen and buy what was marketed and put on their plate, which more often than not is uninventive if not entirely derivative. On the other hand, some elitists may feel the need to rebel against this, delivering their notion of experimentation as if it was completely instinctive and glorifying the imaginary figure of “mad geniuses” stirring heterogenous influences in a pot with however an equal attempt to greatness, which is a contradiction in terms: I believe that underground music should stay underground, and often when things get hyped is because they are already palatable to more mainstream audiences.
Subterráneo Webzine: How do you operate? Do artists contact with you to promote their work, do you dig into the scene to find some artists worth being promoted? As I read on your social media, Brucia works as a “creative partership”. Could you extend on this?
Void: We are very proactive and regularly scan the underground scene looking for acts we like. With that being said, we also receive a conspicuous amount of submissions, and we really do pride ourselves with listening to everything and always replying with feedback. Sometimes it takes longer, may be worth noting that Brucia is not our main job, but something that we do out of love in our free time, and we don’t have a huge appetite for profits, for as long as we manage to about break even.
We talked about my idea of experimentation, and to answer your question I can add that I personally like, admire and enjoy having creative partnership with people who experiment honestly and methodically, with a genuine approach to art and respect for the process of creating art and collaborating with others in order to achieve something together.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your releases usually come on CD, vinyl, and tape. I can get the reason behind the first two. While nowadays CD has more detractors, it still is hugely popular (I am a collector myself). Vinyl is the trendy format, but cassette… Although I am aware that is also reviving, it has always had a bad reputation regarding sound and preservation qualities. Do you only release on cassette certain albums that might fit better with the sound? Is it something bands require? Or is it more like a customer demand?
Void: Tapes fascinate me, because they remind me of my youth and the golden age of mix-tapes! Sound quality is maybe deficient if compared to CDs and LPs, but (and I’d hate being too negative), there are literally thousands of new albums being released every month, and even those who can offer a lot of replayability will be unlikely to be listened to so much that sound loss would become problematic.
Tapes traditionally allow for more flexibility in terms of pressing smaller batches which also by definition makes them a good object to collect. Of course, we try to think about a lot of factors before deciding quantities and formats.
Subterráneo Webzine: In fact, do you guys have some kind of releases policy as to what to edit on which format? For example: a death industrial artist must only be released on tape. An experimental death metal could be done on any of them, etc.
Void: We do not have set standards but we try to read and interpret the market with the tools we have at hand. Certain types of extreme music can do better on tape than CD, and viceversa, but there are also other elements at play ranging from quantities to the overall graphic narrative and concept.
Subterráneo Webzine: All your editions are limited, so, once they are gone, are they gone forever? Or could they be repressed if there was enough demand?
Void: The idea of repressing is in contradiction with the concept of limited edition, I think if things that were once limited got repressed constantly it would maybe suggest that the word “limited” was just adopted as a marketing ploy to trick buyers creating a false scarcity.
We have run out of a number of items, but we are not considering re-pressing at this stage. If that will ever happen it will be in a different format, making sure that if something was marketed as limited stays limited.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your roster is plagued with industrial, noise, black, death or post metal. None of them “family friendly”. Let me be blunt: shit that is hard to listen to at first. Was the presence of these kind of sounds something that you aimed for, or was it something unintentional? Is there any “no-go zone” regarding artists you should or should not collaborate with? You know, genres that do not fit your roster, bands with far-right background…
Void: Let’s say that when we said that we wanted to release extreme, experimental and excruciating music, we meant it. We often go back to our mission statement to make sure that we are being truthful.
We are genre-agnostic and appreciate diversity. We are also deep into a very steep learning curve with everything we do and so we are refining things daily, shaping Brucia into what we envision it to be.
Brucia is the work of two individuals with different tastes in music, but we are both so involved and therefore a fundamental condition for us is that we want to release only things that both of us would listen to.
Personally I draw a line with anything showing a dogmatic approach to religious subjects (yes, satanism too), politcs in general; with an obvious aversion for anything promoting racial hate, animal cruelty and porn-gore bullshit.
Subterráneo Webzine: I have noticed that you are a “fan”, “follower” or whatever adjective you want to use of T. Adorno. I think he invented the “culture industry” term, or at least he popularized it (correct me if I am wrong). But, he, for sure, nailed it. We witness it every day. Each time a small group of bands creates something new, labels immediately start milking the cow and releasing thousands of clones until the tendency dies of exhaustion. As a co-founder, is it one of your goals that Brucia fights against this habit? You know, trying to have a small but unique roster, prioritizing quality over quantity…
Void: There are many ways people and labels can milk the cow, especially when there are so many cows to be milked. As said, Brucia is not our main job and therefore we are in the privileged position of having the chance to stay true to ourselves and do exactly what we want and what we believe in.
I actively oppose commoditization in art, and I am appalled by how even something that by definition should be fiercely counter-cultural like extreme music has started to show adherence to the production/consumption rules dominating the mainstream markets.
Brucia will therefore not go down the route of dishing out 10 albums a month of bands that all sound and look the same, but we prefer to work creatively with our bands so that we can hopefully propose something genuinely different, albeit less frequently.
Subterráneo Webzine: Since it seems like you try to be as underground as possible, perhaps this question is out of place, but I would like to know your opinion on the subject. In order to try to avoid the oversaturation of daily releases, some bands are publishing singles instead of LPs. They consider that the Internet and social media have reduced people’s attention span significantly. So, they do not spend time listening to a whole record, but they jump from one song to another checking out different bands. Would you agree with the thought of the public being less willing to hear an album from the beginning until the end?
Void: Yeah, I think it’s very possible that people have reset their attention span around the rules of social media. On one hand the so-called swipe (or even scroll) culture has clearly made most people bulimic with how they handle information and at the same time hesitant to delve deep into something they might even like: On the other hand the reality is that we trade in time nowadays and therefore the stakes are too high for someone to invest time in listening to something which they might not like at all.
I would say however that releasing 10 singles – all suitably short enough to be easily counted as streams, instead of an album does not fight oversaturation, but produces it and exacerbates it.
Subterráneo Webzine: You have another project called PSEUDODOXIA together with Davide Destro, who, by the way, was a guest on Negative. It is drastically different from FTD. There are only a couple of songs available so far. I am far from being an eminence on this kind of music, but as far as I can tell from those songs, it sounds like a mix something released by Cold meat industry and some score from an experimental horror film. To that effect, which artist have inspired you to create this project with Davide?
Void: Similar to my approach with FTD, Davide and I started off PSEUDODOXIA with the intention of creating something that we knew we would want to listen to and could not find elsewhere.
We made the point of specifically avoiding looking up to other bands for inspiration, however some of the early references for the project can be found in books, particularly the work of Sebald.
Our idea was to create a metaphysical collage of various inputs placed out of context, with the intent of coining a new language with a unique semantic substrate.
We wanted to investigate the untrustworthiness of memory and how tragically transient our notions of our own past and recollections are.
Subterráneo Webzine: Besides FTD and PSEUDODOXIA, do you have any other musical project in the vault? If so, what can you tell us about it?
Void: I am collaborating as a vocalist in a grindcore band here in London with a bunch of local musicians – the project is called NGANGA, and we should be releasing our first demo soon and have a number of gigs already lined up.
I have also recently collaborated as a guest bassist on the new upcoming EP by CONTINUUM OF XUL together with other esteemed musicians already active in bands such as AD NAUSEAM, HIDEOUS DIVINITY, HELLISH GOD and more.
Subterráneo Webzine: I always ask bands and artist for some musical recommendations, whether they are heavy metal or not, if the love it. So, now it is the time to spam!
Void: I really really love everything we have released so far with Brucia, again for the reason that we only publish things we sincerely love, but won’t mention any name from my roster here.
I am a little too involved with the label and the many bands we deal with so I struggle a lot to come up with albums to recommend. There are a lot of bands out there making great music below the radar, and a lot of labels releasing quality stuff that does not get the recognition it deserves.
I’d wholeheartedly wish people were curious and gave smaller bands and independent labels the chance they deserve.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thank you for your time. Anything else you would like to say to the readers?
Void: Thank you for having me, it was a great pleasure! To the readers I would just like to say to stay curious, don’t be cruel to animals and question absolutely everything in life.