Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-Perhaps it’s a bit early to break out the champagne and start writing panegyric speeches: after all, “Downcast Twilight” was formed in late 2015 and it is only recently that our debut album, “Under the wings of the Aquila”, has been released through Stygian Crypt Records as well as on CDbaby.com. However, all of our initials goals have been achieved: we put together a dream-team of very talented professional musicians, we worked hard and fast, without compromising the quality of our vision, and the initial reception of our work by the public has been, to say the least, moving – a fact for which we are grateful to all the amazing people out there who support us and share in our enthusiasm for folk / Viking metal!
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-We can honestly say that we are most pleased with the final outcome; yes. In fact, that’s one of the pros of having the sound engineer (OG, in our case) being also a member of the band: this meant we had complete creative control over the whole process and did not have to rely on the whims and preferences of third parties. Of course, ultimately it is up to the listener to decide whether or not we did a good job on “Under the wings of the Aquila” album, but I can assure you, it was a labor of meticulous work and true, dedicated love to what we do – and it is our hope that these qualities shine through our music.
Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it ?
-Indeed! OG, the man behind the sound engineering of “Downcast Twilight”, has had many years of professional experience in weaving unique “sound identities”, if you will, and he has put all of his expertise and talent into forging the sound best-suited for this project. Of course, “Downcast Twilight” will roll with the times, always improving our recording approach and utilizing new technologies as they evolve in order to deliver a modern, cutting-edge sound.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Well, in “Downcast Twilight” we do not strive to pass any message per se, but it is very important to us that the lyrics are meaningful and offer food for thought to the listener. In our album, “Under the wings of the Aquila”, all lyrics deal with themes drawn from ancient Roman history and culture. As a result, one may consider the whole album as an “anthology” of topics that he or she can later look up and research. In a way, we create “badass history books set to metal music”. Each “Downcast Twilight” album will deal exclusively with stories (historical and mythological alike) from a different culture and era of this world.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-The sad truth of the matter is that cover art for music albums is a rapidly fading form of art. We now live in the age of downloading individual songs on our cell phones or music-player gadgets, rather than taking the time to delve into an entire album and appreciating its visual and esthetic aspects such as the cover art or the layout of the booklet. Still, I believe that the metal genre holds fast to this notion that beautiful music should be accompanied by beautiful visual stimuli as well. Back in the day I used to buy CDs of bands I hadn’t even heard of just because the cover art intrigued me. Therefore, yes, cover art is indeed an important factor in completing the “package” of good album.
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-Of course! Who wouldn’t want to be successful and live the “rock n’ roll” dream? At the same time, we are realists and have been around the metal music scene long enough so that we do not harbor any such adolescent delusions of grandeur. We believe in putting our best into our work, investing more in quality than in “façade shenanigans” and madly chasing the opiate dream of a quick ascend to the “top”. Trendy bands come and go at the whim of promoters and the fabricated music tastes of the times. We are here for the long run. Just as you said there are certain countries who are famous for “exporting” metal superstars into the worldwide gig circuit: in my opinion, this has to do with the industriousness of promoters and record labels, rather than with the actual musical merit of the bands. Not that big bands are not awesome and well-deserving of their fame! It’s just that for every great band out there, in the spotlight, there’s at least two more languishing in relative obscurity which are equally great. It has to do with supply and demand of the market, timing, PR connections and the such. Because, let’s face it: the metal music scene unarguably works under the same laws that govern every other market in the entertainment industry.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-We do not see so much as a competition as a chance to participate in an era where creativity is booming. Yes, there are countless individual artists and bands out there displaying their talent on a multitude of platforms: so many, in fact, that a listener can never claim that he has heard it all, even when talking about a particular genre, such as folk metal. After all, we live in the age of the “informational deluge” and music is no exception to this. Our purpose, as “Downcast Twilight”, is not to “crush our rival bands, see them driven before us and hear the lamentations of their women” but rather to stand out as a shining patch in the vast mosaic of extreme metal bands. We are confident that we have something unique and inspiring to bring to the metal scene and we fully trust in the love and appreciation of the discerning listener to vindicate our efforts in that respect.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-Actually, I don’t think that such a thing as a national scene exists anymore. At least not for a “studio project” band, like “Downcast Twilight”. Since we are not a live-gig band, due to the fact that our lineup is dispersed throughout the globe, the happenings of our national scene do not affect us that much. After all, this is the age of the internet and metal fans are constantly discovering and enjoying new bands from every corner of the world – be it via YouTube, social medial platforms or e-zines. Gone are the days when one’s local record store held the entirety of the music to which he or she had access to. Now a vast treasure trove of good music is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and half a mind to look for it. Sure, making a name for yourself locally (and then nationally) is a first stepping stone to international success. Yet, there are many examples of bands celebrated internationally who are barely known in their own country and vice versa. In music, just like in every form of art, it’s all about “taste” and finding one’s “niche”. Today we can do that past the restrains of physical borders and that is an amazing (as well as challenging) thing!
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-Well, to be truthful, I believe that rock and metal are no longer “popular” genres amongst the younger people. At least in the UK or in Greece. Metal fans are usually above the age of 30 nowadays. Yes, there is always a younger crowd but we can no longer say that metal (or rock for that matter) is as “trendy” as it used to be in the 70s or 80s. I suppose it’s a cultural thing: people always tend to listen to what the majority approves and what is readily available out there, i.e. being advertised on a grand scale. If, for instance, extreme black metal was promoted as a fun and acceptable style of music by major mainstream TV stations in Greece, or in the UK, then you would have legions of teenagers identifying as black metalers and no one would make a big deal out of it. I believe that in the more (hypocritically) conservative countries rock and metal still bear the stigma of past decades and are thought of as “antisocial” forms of artistic expression. Mind you, no one cares enough to bash them or wage a campaign against them. This is just not the way modern Western societies work. Instead, what is not fully acceptable is cast in a sort of limbo where the mainstream press and media refrain from talking about it and thus make it “go away”.
What does the future hold for you?
-More albums, undoubtedly! Even better than the first! We are already well into the process of recording our second album and progress is rapid. Of course, we do not want to rush things and we know that the devil is in the details, so those “little finishing touches” are being planned and implemented even as we speak. At this point I can only say for certain that we’re coming back with a vengeance in the very near future and that we’ll keep producing albums, each dedicated to a specific culture and historical period, thus creating the first multi-volume heavy metal encyclopedia of history and mythology.