An atmosphere of something unreal, almost metaphysical…
Recently changing their name after five years as Deafknife, Siberian post-black metal act Ultar released their debut full-length album Kadath in late October (reviewed here). Here, the band talks to MR’s Jason Guest about the name change, the album, H.P. Lovecraft as inspiration, and the meaning of music…
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Kadath, a fantastic piece of work!
Hello, Jason! Greetings from cold Siberia! Thank you for kind words, glad that you liked that!
The band recently changed its name from Deafknife to Ultar. Why choose to change the name?
I think the time has come. Overall, the band isn’t the same as 5 years ago when we started to play together, and our approach towards the music we play has been changed drastically, just as the music itself. It was an important step for us: changing name is always a lottery, as you never know how your old fans will consider this move, and will the new name attract people as the old one did. However, we don’t regret about the name change, and believe that that was for the best.
What kind of progression does Kadath mark for the band since the Deafknife material?
During Deafknife our music was darker and more primitive, less shoegaze and more straightforward. Kadath is more complex and at the same time well-balanced. We were searching for ourselves, trying different sound with every release, and essentially, Kadath is the highest point of Deafknife’s development. This album maintained a certain line, where it’s time for us to move forward. That’s why our next release will sound different from Kadath.
Did you have an idea of how you wanted the album to sound, or did each of the tracks and the whole thing take shape as it was being developed?
There was no particular idea for its sound, as we were growing as musicians with the album production. What was primarily important for us is to create an album that wouldn’t sound like a simple song compilation, but rather a complete musical story, that would involve the listener. After all, I think we succeed in making a kind of a dreamy sound that pretty suits to the album’s idea. However, we understand that there’s always a space for development, and the experience that we obtained during working on Kadath will definitely help us with our future releases.
The lyrics are based on H.P. Lovecraft’s mythology. What drew you to his works for inspiration?
I think the roots are laying in a fact that we’re bunch of geeks that love all this kind of stuff. Definitely, Lovecraft was the main source of our inspiration for the whole time of the band’s existence; we share his passion about creating an atmosphere of something unreal, almost metaphysical. However, there are many more stories and books that we are interested in, so our next stuff will probably not be based on Lovecraft anymore, but there will be something different instead. Nevertheless, we love the concept of storytelling, and there will be more conceptual music from us, maybe based on some other source, or we will even create our own story. After all, Kadath is not a repetition of any of Lovecraft’s stories, but an another journey in a search of the Unknown Kadath, if you want.
I take it the album is named after Lovecraft’s “The Dream Quest of the Unknown Kadath”, yes? Why this story?
No, it doesn’t relate to The Dream Quest much, although it exists in the same universe. We wanted to tell about our own journey, through the contact with the ancient gods, through the sleeping seas, towards Kadath. We left some hints in our lyrics that should explain the basic concept of the story that we thought of, but we also wanted this journey to be different and personal for every listener, that’s why our lyrics sound so abstract sometimes.
The artwork for the digipack is phenomenal! Can you tell us about it, what it represents and how it relates to the album themes?
Thanks, we really like the artworks too. It’s been all created under the influence of Lovecraft’s stories. Each picture represents a specific album song through the creatures or landscapes. The face from the cover looks kind of like one of mountains near our city that is called “the grandfather”. It also looks like a Lovecraftian Ngranek mountain, where according to the elder gods depict themselves in stone. So it’s like a symbiosis of these two inspirations.
How does the band approach composition? Is there a main writer, do you jam ideas out…?
Usually, one of us was coming to rehearsal with some idea in his mind, and we were starting to jam around it. There were two of us working on the “body” of the songs, and then the rest of the band being brining some new elements into it.
What does the act of making music mean to Ultar?
It is essentially what we love the most about being a band. It is being a part of something bigger than yourself, where everybody brings something original and new to the music. I think that Ultar exists for writing the music first, and only then all the other related stuff. We all have jobs and lots of that everyday stuff, but doing music is definitely the thing, that we like most of all in our lives.
Well, we couldn’t find a record company that would release Kadath on its premises for a while, we almost gave up, but then our friends from the band Below the Sun recommended us to try ToT. So we did, and that’s how our partnership with ToT has been started,
Any plans for shows in support of the album? And if so, will we be seeing you in the UK anytime soon?
We will be having a big Russian tour in 2017. It would be definitely great to have a European tour as well, as we receive requests from people from abroad to play shows in their countries more and more. We hope that it will eventually happen; at least we would be very down for it. Unfortunately, we can’t say anything about the shows in UK in near future, but we really hope to get there one day and we are working hard on it.
What would be the ideal setting for an Ultar performance?
Well, almost every place in the world, because we always try to get listeners deep into the music, so they pay no attention to surrounding, just us and them. But playing in a wild forest would be cool, yeah. We love nature and the beauty of its power, and it probably can mix perfectly with our music.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Thank you for your attention! It was a really interesting talk. We’d also like to give huge thanks to all the people who support us in every way, no matter if they write kind words, buy our music or just listen to it and spread the word about us. See you on the shows!