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Latest Journal Entry: Sick of hiding January 08, 2014, 05:47pm
Here's a long-ass bio about me and my musical history. Enjoy! (inb4 - too long, didn't read.)
I came from a very musical family. All my family plays some kind of instrument. Most of them (with the exception of my brother) listen to classical music and herald it as the best music out there. My mother desperately tried to get me into classical music as a child, and that was all I was exposed to for ages. It just didn't gel with me. I found it didn't repeat itself enough - I never remembered any of the tunes. There was nothing I could hum obsessively, or play over and over again. So, my mother's efforts only worked to isolate me from any other kind of music until I got a laptop and went online.
At that age, (around 11), I wasn't very interested in music, for the aforementioned reasons. However, my mum had started to teach me piano, and I could play some basic guitar chords, and my violin lessons had begun by that stage also.
The first metal song I heard, really got me. It was Nightwish's cover of "Walking in the Air." I didn't know it at the time, but "Walking in the Air" was in that magical key - d minor. I don't know why, but I love almost anything written in d minor. And it just so happens that symphonic metal is quite commonly written in that key.
Anyway, back to the first metal song I heard. I heard it because my brother was playing it over and over again (he tends to go through phases where he listens to certain songs over and over), and one time I overheard it and liked it. I looked it up on Youtube myself, listened, and was hooked. I saw that the band's name was Nightwish, and I wanted to find out more about them. I played the first link in the related videos. It was "The Poet and the Pendulum" by Nightwish.
The moment I heard that song, it was my favourite. It's still my favourite at the time of my writing this, and it's always been that way. With that song, I started actually LIKING music. I'd play it over and over again for hours. I memorised all the lyrics, and even learned to play parts of it (though at the time, I could only play rudimentary violin, some guitar chords, and I still had no idea what I was doing on the piano).
From them on, I became a Nightwish fan. I read everything you could find written about them on the internet, listened to all of their albums, and loved it. I fell in love with one song after another.
My mother, of course, never approved, and my family set-up was too matrifocal for my father to have a say in my musical tastes anyway. She always denounced metal as "rubbish" and "just noise". Though, I always found it funny that she'd say that about Nightwish. After all, the reason I got into them was because it sounded like classical music I was so familiar with already.
So, overall, Nightwish was pretty much my gateway-metal band.
I didn't listen to many other bands, or grow that much for about a year. For a year I listened obsessively to Nightwish, until it came to a point where I grew tired of listening to them (except "The Poet and the Pendulum"). And so, I tried the same trick that got me into some amazing new music last time - I played a song by another band in the related videos.
I tried two bands, Sirenia and Eluveitie. I forget the Sirenia song I listened to, just that it did all the same things Nightwish did, but somehow couldn't strike that same magical chord. The Eluveitie song I do remember, however. It was "Omnos". I think it was that acoustic version that got me hooked (my classical music background still balked at full-on metal at that point). I loved it. The music really pulled me into a fantasy world, a Medieval or Celtic world, where I could truly explore. Even at that age, I loved Medieval and Celtic stuff. I'd already read tonnes of books about the subject, and I was excelling in Latin as well, so I was already fairly interested in the Gaulish language Eluveitie sang in.
The next Eluveitie song I tried was "Tegernako". I think it was one of the heaviest songs I'd heard, but I loved it, and a repetition cycle similar to what had happened with Nightwish ensued. :P
From Eluveitie, a similar process brought me on to discover Korpiklaani, Turisas and Finntroll. In particular, the fact that there was a violin in Korpiklaanik, Turisas and Eluveitie really related to me (I was about 13-15 at the time), as the violin was pretty much the only instrument I could play. I used to sneak downstairs, to a room where I could get some privacy from my prying mother, and I'd play violin 'til my fingers got sore. Even then, I still sucked for the most part. I couldn't really read sheet music, and I had no idea what theory was. I just played and enjoyed it.
Oddly enough, even though I loved the key of d minor (even before I knew what it was), before I knew the theory, whenever I learned a piece by ear on the violin I'd always transpose it to the key of e minor. Never knew why...
My musical progression crawled on like that for about a year or so, until I was 15. Every now and then I'd discover a new symphonic or pagan metal band that I liked, but apart from that I stuck to those genres and what I knew and liked within them. I did get much better at the violin, though, and I do think I was at my prime at that point. I could play most pagan metal peices presented to me, and I liked that.
When I was 15, I found the notation programe, "Musescore". It allowed you to jot notes down onto a stave, and I liked fiddling around with it. And I tried to write a few pieces. Bear in mind, at that point I couldn't even read the bass clef properly, and my theory knowledge was still nill.
However, I wrote two pieces that stayed with me. Both of them, I released under Evolution, as they were more symphonic than anything I'd play as Gynophagia. The songs were Peasant Dance (originally called "Melodica in G Major", as at the time I thought I was a real theory whizz, writing a piece of music based on a scale. I thought I was using the melodic scale, when I was actually using the harmonic, so I named the piece accordingly) and the solo on "Emotional Drug".
When the playback sounded shit on those early compositions, I realised I'd need to learn some theory (at least how to read sheet music) before I could actually compose. I set about it, picking up a book of "100 English Folk Songs" and practising 'til I could sight-read some of them. I also set the circle of fifths as my wallpaper, and referred to it whenever I was writing a piece.
I kept writing songs on Musescore, and had enough to release an album. Unfortunately, I was making many basic songwriting blunders that beginners make. And the most devastating one was putting too much stock in MIDI and playback. What sounded halfway decent when a computer program played it, sounded uninspired and lifeless in the hands of a real person. So, even though it meant trading in counterpoint and complicated left hand patterns, I gave up Musescore and started writing songs on actual instruments.
This was also around the time I started wanting to learn piano. I'd seen how amazing a keyboard could be, and the appeal of it was amazing. It was an instrument that could give you everything for a live performance - you could sing and play piano, and the piano had enough range to deliver a really resounding performance, even if it was just form one guy.
Tuomas Holopainen also hugely inspired me to play keyboards, and to write songs. Even to this day, I aspire to write songs even half as good as he does, and to play keyboards to maybe a tenth of his ability. Without him as an inspiration, there's no way you'd see Gynophagia or Evolution or Taikatalvi today.
I pestered my mum all Christmas of 2011, until she reluctantly bought me a £20 keyboard, which arrived in January. It was then that I ACTUALLY started to learn piano. I'd basically given up until then, with my piano lessons in school and from mum. I found them boring and irritating. But now, with my renewed vigour, and with the aid of a few self-help courses, I vowed to teach myself.
I practised like crazy. Any time I could, for the first half of the year, until my exams, I practised.
With the ordeal of GCSE's, music was put on hold for a bit, and revived immediately after, with the joy of having a new, touch-sensitive keyboard as a present for doing well. The same keyboard features on the Evolution and Gynophagia demos. This new keyboard had an extended range of about 4 octaves, which allowed me to really expand my playing. I learned leaps, and jumps, crossing hands, etc.
By this point, music was my life. I had an MP3 player, and would listen to it in school, on the bog, all the time.
Around my GCSE's was also the time I started to fully come into my own as a multi-instrumentalist. I realized how easy playing the guitar is once you recognize the finger patterns are the same as on a violin, and how the bass is the same. When I first saw a bass guitar, I thought it was the most manly instrument ever, but when I first plugged it into an amp and played it, I was violently sick for weeks afterwards. I was convinced it was the bass that had done it, but I tried it again later, and clearly that wasn't the case.
I would skip lessons, skip registration, and spend all my lunchtimes teaching myself either piano, bass, or guitar. I even learned some basic drums. It took me six months to learn to use the pedals with my hands at the same time, but I'm glad I learned it!
As stated earlier, music was my life by this point, so naturally I wanted to take it for A-level. I got onto the course, and surprised everyone (including my mum, who has always viewed me as a musical failure) by my self-taught theory knowledge, despite not having done GCSE music.
The first black metal song I ever wrote was "At Varg", as part of that AS coursework. It was written basically the same time I discovered black metal. The first band I heard was Burzum, which is how I found out about the Norwegian scene and is why I chose to write "At Varg" about it as part of my AS music coursework.
The first black metal song I ever heard was "War" by Burzum, and it remains my favourite black metal song, with Burzum also being my favourite black metal artist.
A lot of aspects of the scene appealed to me - especially the lo-fi recording standards. I always had a similar, down-to-earth kind of attitude about most things in life, and my music was no different. Also, the isolation of a lot of these acts, as well at the kind of mythology that arose around the Norwegian scene really spoke to me on a personal level.
And, as crude as it may sound, another reason I got into black metal was because it was easier. A lot of the time, my mum would hide my instruments to try and stop me making the music she viewed as so disgusting and a waste of time. So, without the keyboard, I tried recordings my symphonic metal songs without a keyboard, but it sounded lacking and shite. By this point, I was driven to record all the songs I'd written, terrified of dying without a legacy. So, ironically enough, when she took my instruments away and I was left only with a guitar and bass, I set about recording music which was even more brutal and deafening than the symphonic metal I made previously - black metal.
Vocals were another issue. Try as I like, all my life I've never been able to sing. "Children of War" is about as good as I can do, and even that's not very good. I couldn't sing, so I screamed. It's as simple as that.
For a while, I searched for people to form a band with to play my music, but when I discovered the legacy of one-man metal bands, the history of it all, and also how few people were willing to do black metal in London, I decided to do it as a solo project (particularly as I had found bandmates for Evolution at that point).
By this point (late 2012) I had two projects in mind - Evolution (which would be symphonic metal, sounding similar to Nightwish, and with other members in), and Gynophagia, which I would do alone.
The name Evolution, I took from the third keyboard I ever got. I took a photo with it, and I thought Evolution would be an awesome band name. When I checked it out, no other band of any real size has the same name, so it was a steal.
Gynophagia has a different story. It was while indulging one of my darker fetishes (which shall remain undisclosed) that I came across the term. My knowledge of Latin and Greek allowed me to guess the meaning of the word from its roots ("gynos" meaning woman, and "phage" meaning eating).
When I was looking for logos, for Gynophagia, I combined the Greek letters gamma and phi together. I found they made quite a neat symbol which also formed an upside-down peace sign.
The Evolution logo came from the name of a cult I'd read about in Latin class - Viri Armatis (it means "Armed Men"). The logo is an A and a V placed over each other (or, two A's superimposed over each other, one of them being flipped, if you think I'm that egocentric).
So, between late 2012 and 2013, I set about recording demos for Gynophagia, playing all the instruments and vocals myself (obviously). The Gyophagia demo is now finished and is available on request.
And thus the story catches up to the present.
Sounds Like:Burzum, Mayhem, Immortal, The Berzerker.
Influences:Burzum, Nightwish, Tarot, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Eluveitie, Joanna Newsom.
Link 1: http://www.youtube.com/user/DeadeyedAuthor?feature
Link 2: https://soundcloud.com/gynophagia
Link 3: http://www.giggem.com/levitalvi