Music by Stijn Van Cauter
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Interview with Atmosfear autumn edition 2018 (interviewer : Yuri)


Hello! You were one of the first figures of the Belgian scene in the field of funeral doom. And although you participated in different bands, but for you it was more comfortable and productive to create music alone. And after releasing a lot of albums in different projects, you suddenly decided to quit music, but fortunately returned again. Where have you been all these five years?

In short, I took a break. It was needed as a lot of stuff came together and took away the enjoyment of creating music. I was spending too much time, effort and money on my music and the label, and the promotion of both, yet it didn't feel I was making much progress. At the same time I had to deal with more and more personal attacks and even threats by people who couldn't stand my music.
The plan was to have a short rest and then to start making music again, but to release it anonymously. At the time I was also working on a computer game, and it had some unexpected success, so I ended up spending time on that for a good while instead of my music. Those 4-5 years went by quickly. I did a few musical things in that period, which made me realize I actually missed working with sounds and music. I gradually began creating more music again and at one point I figured I might as well start making it available on the internet too.



At the beginning of your creativity several concept albums were released under different numbers. Are all these cycles complete?

I referred to my albums as symphonies because I wanted to emphasise the fact they were concept albums individually, but also part of a larger whole. I released 3, and before my break 2 others were as good as complete with another 2 in progress. Those 7 would complete the larger concept. The 4th one I wanted to release myself through crowd-funding, but I received so much negative feedback when presenting the idea that I abandonned it. Shortly after that I was contacted by Dusktone who wished to release my music, but then I started my break and those albums have never been released. Some of that material is lost, some of it has already been added to existing albums (Antemortem has the track ‘Before' which is a shorter version of the 4th symphony) and future albums will contain several other tracks from these unreleased symphonies.
So 3 out of the planned 7 were released in the way I had intended them to be released. The rest will be incorported in other concepts I might explore.



"Flow of Infinity" is your longest album, more than two hours and the first instrumental one. Why did you switch to instrumental music?

With older music I often started from texts that I wrote and then tried to build songs and albums around them. Back then, my music to a point served as a form of therapy, so writing those texts and putting music to them was important to me. The music I've released after my break is different. It's far more relaxed, less angry, less extreme, because I'm more relaxed too (thanks to taking a break). As a result I'm often making music that doesn't need texts and lyrics. It's just music for the sake of sounds or atmospheres.
I enjoy creating music more than compared to before my break, and experimentation is a part of it. Since I'm not trying to create concept albums all the time, there's more room for experiments. Personally, I feel that ‘Flow of Infinity' is some of my best material to date, but I'm still making music with vocals. There might be more instrumental albums in the future, there might not be. I don't have any plans in that regard.



The last track "Dawn of Aeons" is the longest in your work and completely ambient. That's really "Flow of Infinity", coming up to the album's title. Now it is divided into two parts. What led you to such a decision?

Even though it is a net-album, where length shouldn't matter I try to make sure that the stuff I release still fits on a CD in case there are people who want burn a CD for whatever purpose. So ‘Flow of Infinity' is treated as a double-CD with three tracks on one CD and one track on the other. Another matter is that ‘Dawn of Aeons' is treated as a bonus track, despite it being album-lenth by itself, so I set it a little apart from the other three tracks.



You had your own label Nulll Records, where you released as something from your projects, and other similar groups in spirit. Now the label is closed, do not you want to revive it?

I have almost no contacts anymore with people and artists in the doom and ambient scene, compared to before my break and I don't really mind that. One of the reasons I had to take that break was the amount of time and money I was putting into the label without seeing much worthwhile coming from all that spent effort, not leaving me much time for my projects. Now I prefer to focus on my own material first of all.
Nulll Records was an experiment, it worked out for a while, but simply couldn't last. I don't plan to activate it again, but I do have a new ultra-minimalist net-label of sorts for all my side projects. In the end it's just a single name I can use to bundle all the side projects under for promotional reasons. In other words, it only exists for the sake of convenience. I don't plan to start printing CDs again or inviting other artists. I don't have the time for that.



At the moment, you do not cooperate with labels, but put music on your page. Are not you interested in publishing on physical media now, like in the old days?

There's actually one more album ready to be released via Dusktone, it will be called ‘Missing'. It's not that I actively avoid physical media, but I can't afford to do it myself and my music is not popular enough for most labels to be willing to invest in it seeing how sales of physical releases keep dropping compared to digital formats.
Additionally, there's simply little advantage in it. When I finish a song, I put it on my website whenever I want - I don't wait until I have a full album before I make the music available. I've seen with ‘Antemortem' and with the upcoming album that releasing via a label is sometimes too slow to my liking, but it can't be helped as there's simply a lot move involved. But the promotional gains are minimal, and as can be expected in this genre, one doesn't do it for the money either. In the end I feel like I lose flexibility with a proper label release in how I get to release music, and at the same time lose control over how it gets promoted and where, and all that for no real benefits. It also depends on how much time and effort a label wants to invest and UDOM is simply a small and unknown project.



With the return to creative activity, you launched a completely new project INFRAMONOLITHIUM, which has already managed to release its debut album. Music refers to the best works of UNTIL DEATH OVERTAKES ME. Introduce this project.

I tend to experiment a lot with sound, during such experiments I often end up in situations where the music or sound becomes too different to still be a part of Until Death Overtakes Me. At that point I have two choices : I could adjust the music until it's more suitable for my main project, or I could continue working with the new sound and see what can be done with it. If the latter happens, it's usually in the form of a side-project. Some of these side-projects will inevitably be short-lived, others might give me more enjoyment so I might continue them.
Inframonolithium is closer to my old project ‘The Ethereal' which had a more raw sound. For UDOM I prefer a calmer, warmer sound, but sometimes I do miss the harsher stuff I used to make. At this time I've released two short albums with Inframonolithium, and since I still enjoy it, I expect I'll be further exploring this sound and see what else I can come up with.



The name UDOM is taken from the heritage of MDB. Finally you managed to pay tribute to this band. Tell us about your participation in the tribute "A Lake Of Ghosts: The Long Shadow Of My Dying Bride", where you took part with two projects at once.

The tribute was organised by the staff of the doom-metal.com site, and I've always had good contacts with them. So when they heard I had released some UDOM stuff again after a long silence, they told me about their project and invited me to take part.
Even though I haven't listened to MDB or other doom for many years now, I haven't forgotten the first encounters with MDB's music. Their music was some of my favorite when I was still in the process of discovering doom metal. I chose ‘Sear Me MCMXCIII' which I feel is one of the best tracks by MDB.
One of the artists taking part in the project had the idea of a kind of loose cooperation of musicians, where different participants would come and go, and as such the sound of the band would evolve continuously. He invited a number of people including myself. I liked the idea being part of such a novel concept. In the end I believe only three people were still active, and we created a cover of ‘She is the Dark'. It was a fun experience and the result was great.



You have a lot of projects. All of them to list very long, tell us about those that are active and what news in them?

Some of these projects might be short-lived, some are purely there for the sake of experimentation. I have no big plans or ideas for any of these (not even for UDOM). However there are a few projects that stand out.
Arcane Voidsplitter is a mix of funeral doom, ambient and drone. I personally feel this is the best material I've created so far. These are long, instrumental soundscapes - relaxing stuff. I have one album out and another is planned for around summer 2018.
I have no news for Inframonolithium. I have two albums so far, the most recent from january 2018, so it's too soon to say when or if there will be another. But I like the sound a lot, so it's likely I'll make more music for this project.
I've been experimenting with a softer, atmospheric black metal sound as well. I've created 4 long mid-tempo songs, and I expect to release them somewhere during summer 2018. Next to that I have several ambient things in the works and I've been experimenting with a noise/industrial sound as well.



How did you determine which song will be included in the album of a particular group?

I keep things apart almost purely based on sound (many projects are after all instrumental). Having so many sounds available to work with is actually a luxury. If I feel like making harsher material, I start from the Inframonolithium sound and see what I can come up. If I prefer to do something ambient, I can choose between several options.
There's also the matter of proximity in time. If I decide to make some material with a certain sound, I usually stick with it for a couple weeks and often end up with enough stuff for an album. Then there's no need to worry about which song goes on which album.
Sometimes it's just random - plenty accidental and unexpected things can happen when one is in a creative mood. I might have written something for UDOM, and while working on it I might decide to see how well it would work with the sound of another project, and often enough that produces interesting results.



Did you do any computer games and wrote science fiction books?

I've always had an interest in programming, but never made anything worthwhile. Leading up to my break I was working on a small computer game, and it's actually thanks to this break that I got to spend more time on that game. It ended up being well-received so I figured I'd explore the field of game development a bit more. I had some small success with one of my creations which also won a contest on a flash games website. That game eventually grew to larger version which is now available on Steam and can also be played on Android devices. It was fun to learn all that stuff - both hardware and software related, but I've come to the realization that I can't combine game development with creating music. So for the time being, I'm not working on anything new, though I still have some ideas. Who knows - perhaps one day I might start programming again.
I've been working on a science fiction story from before I started doing music, but I never succeeded in finding a suitable format for it. I tried 3D modelling and animation first, but had to give that up due to a persistent arm injury. Later on I attempted to write it down for the first time, but realized I'd be a horrid writer. Here and there I managed to put a few elements into my music, but I always felt music was too limited to tell the story in detail. The computer games I made however, were all based on elements out of this growing storyline. It's through working on these games that I came up with the idea that I should write down everything so that I don't forget it myself. I enjoyed that process a lot and it was very rewarding - even more than music at times - so I tried writing a proper novel again. I'm incapable of gauging how good or bad it is. Fact is that I enjoyed creating this first book a lot. That said, the book still needs work and I'm at this very moment working on that as well as on future books. Note, that while the bulk of the story is indeed science-fiction, the first book starts in a medieval setting with some fantasy elements.



Thanks for answers. Please leave a message for the readers.

After my break, upon releasing the first couple new UDOM tracks, I immediately received a couple emails from people who were glad to hear new music again after such a long silence. It felt great to see that despite the long absence, they hadn't forgotten about UDOM. I've since then received plenty of support and want to thank those people.
And for those interested in checking out my creative outputs, there's one address : http://nulll.net/ - as some may know, I have the habit of making all my stuff available for free.

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