Playing with Nature and Words
With ‘Naturmystik’ Aethernaeum released their second album, and this albums is a again a very nice one. Multiple layered vocal and instrument tracks, acoustic passages, spoken word sections, it’s all in there. Someone with such a creative brain could tell us a lot we thought. So, Folk-metal.nl felt the urge to have a chat with Alexander Paul Blake, the mastermind behind Aethernaeum.
First I like to congratulate you with your second album.
Alexander Paul Blake: “Thanks a lot. Glad that you like it. It was a lot of effort making it so we appreciate if people take the time to listen to all the details.”
We see the name Alexander Paul Blake pop up in many places since 1995, can you tell us a bit about your past (in music).
“I indeed make music since the age of 15 and have played and sung in various bands over the years. Styles vary, I’m not limited to a certain kind of music, I always loved to experiment and explore new spheres. The first time I went into public with the pseudonym Alexander Paul Blake was in 2004, when I released the very first Eden Weint Im Grab album ‘Traumtrophäen Toter Trauertänzer’. I have recorded more than 15 albums with different bands now and am a kind of workaholic, who is always writing new songs, since I guess that’s my destination in this life.”
Since 2000 your active with Eden Weint im Grab, in this band you’re playing almost everything, just like in the soloprojects. Did you invent this project by yourself? And in addition to that, in these previous bands you were ‘only’ the singer how come, you’re playing this many instruments?
“Originally I started my career as being only the singer in a few local bands, but I wanted to realise my own visions, so I learnt to play all necessary instruments well enough and also started to learn things like songwriting, production, mix and mastering. This was a long process and I guess it will never end, because I always gain new experiences. So I was able to record the first Eden Weint Im Grab albums and also some other stuff like my Alexander Paul Blake solo album alone. But I came to the point now twice, where the solo projects merged into a real band. First with Eden Weint Im Grab around 2009 and now with Alexander Paul Blake, which has become Aethernaeum.
I like both things, working completely alone, but also in the context of a band, because there you have the creativity of many people and something bigger can be created together.”
In 2012 you started the side-project Alexander Paul Blake, what caused this decision?
“I loved Black Metal since my youth, but for some reason I never played this kind of music myself. It was a very spontaneous idea, to see, if I would be able to create such music. I just sat down for some weeks in my studio and tried to write and produce very rough and archaic songs. The result was ‘Die Rückkehr ins Goldene Zeitalter’, which has been released in 2012. Luckily some people even liked the album ;-)”
Are E.W.I.G. and this project equal activities, or is one more important then the other.
“Both have the same priority. Of course we can’t focus on both bands equally all the time, so when we write and produce for Eden Weint Im Grab, we do this with all our passion, love and energy at that moment – and the same goes for Aethernaeum. But I like to create albums within a certain period of time and like to focus only on one band in that time, and then afterwards to focus on another band one hundred percent.”
Playing with Words
*You’re quite ‘into’ names E.W.I.G. is a nice find, Alexander Paul Blake doesn’t seem an obvious choice to me. Do you like to ‘play’ with words and please tell us a bit more about your alias APB?
“Oh it’s a very obvious choice, because Alexander Paul Blake is a poetic form of my real name – I wanted it to sound like a romantic poet and give it something special, haha. And as you might know, Eden Weint Im Grab in its short form means ‘ewig’, which is German for ‘eternal’. So, definitely … I think a lot about names and song and album titles. Aethernaeum is a also a game of words, since the name is a new creation, which combines the word ‘Äther’ (english: ether) and ‘Athenäum’, which is the name of a literary magazine from the epoch of Romanticism. Thus the name combines our spiritual and our romantic side.”
What made you decide to change your project Alexander Paul Blake in a lot of ways. The name was changed, it became a band instead of a soloproject and the style
changed and folk was introduced.
“When the début ‘Die Rückkehr …’ was released I reflected about the future of the project and came to the conclusion that I wanted to make further albums in that style. And I thought it would be a good idea to gather a band and play live. But a Black Metal band named Alexander Paul Blake? Somehow that didn’t fit and also I didn’t want to be so much in the focus as person anymore, but wanted people to listen to the music first and foremost. So we did something quite radical and changed the name into Aethernaeum. Aethernaeum is the direct continuation of Alexander Paul Blake solo as a real band. I don’t think we changed the style so much, to be honest. For me both albums are rather equal. One thing is that we added a cello to the music, which enriched the sound a bit and then we tried to produce the songs much better and add more details. But the style between Black Metal, some Ambient part and Folklore is still the same, I’d say.”
Can you tell us a bit about this Nature Mystic thing. We find it hard to describe but it’s beautiful when you listen to it.
“Thanx, that’s great to hear. I always liked the kind of Black Metal, which has spiritual aura and is more than just misanthropic or satanic ‘noise’. I love sophisticated bands like In The Woods…, Agalloch, Dornenreich, Kvist, Negura Bunget, Emperor or Wolves In The Throne Room and likewise I tried to create an atmosphere, which puts you into the environment of unspoilt nature in your mind. When composing I try to imagine, how music could sound, that you would love to listen to, while walking through a dark forest or around some beautiful lakes or mountains. Music with a certain grandeur and strength and a lot of depth. I wanted to write songs, that build up big atmospheres and that doesn’t work in three minute songs, so our songs often need ten minutes or more.”
Are you playing a lot of shows with Aethernaeum or is it studio band mainly?
“No, it’s also a live band, even though we don’t tour all the time. We would like to play more but it’s a problem of competition, since there are many bands out there, that all want to play as much as possible and the clubs can only book a certain amount of bands. But luckily we got the possibility to tour with Dornenreich in March 2016, which is a great thing for us. I really hope that afterwards there will be some more shows.”
Aethernaeum’s music is not the obvious rock-like music, which you hear live a lot. Do you think it’s more difficult to play this kind of music live?
“Difficult? No, I don’t think so. Maybe it’s harder for the audience since we are not a party metal band. You definitely have to listen and to be focused on what happens. So you need a certain audience that is open minded enough. An Aethernaeum show is more about atmosphere and emotion, we’re not a bad having moshpits and stage divers luckily.”
Are there things you have changed with this second album?
“We haven’t changed anything consciously. It was just a natural progression and I think both albums are more or less in the same vein. Maybe the sound, arrangements and the compositions are a bit more mature, but it’s hard to judge that for me. I’d say we have some more folk influences on the album, for example ‘Der Baumperch’ is a pure folk acoustic song without any metal parts, or also the first parts of ‘Umarmung der Einsamkeit’. And with ‘Jenseits der Mauer des Schweigens’ we have an instrumental, which is close to Post Rock. But we didn’t have a masterplan. All in all I think it’s still a kind of atmospheric, melodic folk black metal with an epic approach.”
Now you have made two albums, are there things you like to explore with Aethernaeum in the future?
“I don’t know yet, to be honest. It’s too early to answer any questions about the future. I have some ideas in mind, how a third Aethernaeum album could sound, but in the end it might develop into a completely different direction – that’s impossible to plan, because the songs have their own life and in a way they tell us how they want to sound. At the moment we’re working on a new Eden Weint Im Grab album, so Aethernaeum will have to wait a while.”
Is there anything else you want to say to our reader’s.
Alexander Paul Blake: “We have created a beautiful videoclip for the song ‘Heimreise (Ein Requiem), iIf you like it, please check out our albums. And Michel, thanx to you for your support. Appreciate it!”