With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to ELITEFITREA. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
You have one of these names that do not really tell what kind of metal you play ELITEFITREA. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-When I was younger my friends and I were blown away by Deftones’ White Pony. Prior to its release, I was obsessed with bands like Metallica and Pantera. After listening to White Pony and figuring out the guitar parts, I was struck by how simple they were, and it shifted my thinking about guitar and music overall.
Literally, the band name means something like, “supreme exotic girl.” “Elite” is a reference to the White Pony track of the same name, and “Fitrea” is an Indonesian girl’s name which reminded me of Feiticeira, the first track (and my favorite on the album). Put together, they give this dream-like feeling. So, elitefitrea is an homage to the exotic pull I felt while listening to White Pony. It signifies that you are about to listen to a dream.
How do you introduce the band to people that are new to your music?
-The easiest thing is to just let people hear the music directly. elitefitrea as a “brand,” is such an otherworldly thing that it doesn’t really trigger any memories or associations for people. This was a deliberate choice; I wasn’t a huge fan of names like “Blink182” or “Disturbed” when I was younger because I thought they were too on the nose. What I did not anticipate was that people today have become so saturated with media that they are weary of novelty by this point. In fact they’re a little frightened by it.
But when they hear the music they instantly become energized. People have told me they listened to nothing but The Dedication Single (which is only two songs) for 2 years straight. They are hungry for the sound. A few years ago I performed a single song at an open mic night and someone ran up to me and handed me a $20 bill. He was just some middle-aged farmer who wasn’t even there for the performers. I’ve never seen that happen to anyone else at an open mic night.
We all carry baggage with us that affects us in one way or another but what would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-My greatest influence has been the depression I experienced from age 12 to age 32. Depression completely destroyed my life and my soul. It eventually became a full-on psychosis with shamanic delusions and hallucinations, and I committed a few crimes which got me a 10 year prison sentence. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in…2010, I think. I was incarcerated for around 4 years by the time I discovered how to cure it.
I also reflected a lot on my life and on society while I was locked up. The music comes out of my old moods, tempered by my thoughts and observations since. Of course, there have been artists and composers that I connect with emotionally and they have inspired my writing style, as well.
What is the scene like in your area? Is it important that there is some sort of local scene for a band to develop or can a band still exist in a vacuum of no scene/no bands?
-The scene where I live is pretty bad. Back-biting, lying, cancel-culture lunatics have turned against everything artists have ever cared about throughout history. I have never seen such intolerance in my entire life, except maybe when I was incarcerated. In prison there is a lot of racism but I still saw lots of genuine human connection and friendship between people of all different races and backgrounds. For instance, I played in an all-black R&B prison band for almost 3 years. I enjoyed the music, my bandmates were very cool, and as a bonus it also irritated the prison skinheads. But now that I’m on the streets, the people who call themselves radical activists are actually just as bad as the worst prisoners as far as hardheadedness and ignorance goes. They shut down everything that isn’t in bed with them. I’m a fairly liberal person myself, and also an anarchist. But I do not believe in patriarchy-theory for instance, because I’ve seen firsthand how prisoners are treated, and of course 95% of inmates are male. So I have spoken up about that, about mental illness, and about how it could relate to crime prevention, and these people have put me on blacklists as a consequence. So, political polarization is turning everyday society into a prison. Fortunately for me, I survived prison rather easily. But I’m not sure most people will like it. I feel there will be profound ugliness in the future because of this tendency in contemporary politics (although it appears to be on the wane).
But to answer your question more directly, I think a band can exist in a vacuum. Obviously it would be easier if cancel-culture was not a phenomenon. But every generation has its demons to conquer. This is a necessary transition phase for humanity. Still, it sucks to see so many people struggling through basic concepts and ideas. Even so, I can relate to them. When I had mental illness, I was incapable of seeing my life’s problems for what they were. I hope they can find peace in their lives.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-All musicians feel this on some level. Music profoundly affects the emotions. Churches refined music over hundreds of years, and governments fund music projects for similar reasons, namely, to advance their agendas via emotional manipulation. Concerts today still follow the basic pattern of a mass. Musicians, especially the more corruptible ones, get swept up in the power of it all and become spokespeople for nonsense which historically has only led to larger and more concentrated governments.
As for myself, I am artistically invested in freedom, especially personal freedom. Much of my depression was based on the friction that came from a profound lack of freedom in every dimension of my life, due to my being subverted against myself by the social norms of the day. But I don’t write about freedom literally, in the same way that I didn’t choose a simple band name like “Disturbed.” My art is a dream-like, recursive satire. I write about religion as a metaphor for the machinations of atheists, because they are so dogmatically religious in their own way, and perhaps more harmful than their counterparts in the long run. You could say I write humanist art from a long-view, because my art is just as much about the past as it is the present.
When I write, it feels like I’m “manipulating the dream-state from within the dream-state” while having an effect on the real world. Like a Murakami novel or something. When I write lyics, for instance, I sometimes cough up these horrible phrases from my gut that have this terrifying portent to them. Dedication was that way. I was writing words on sticky-notes and pasting them to the walls of my house. One day I was pacing, and it felt like I was about to vomit words. I wrote them down: “We dedicate this fell remembrance in glory to blind emperors, our daring, and courage, to purge the sin, purge the whore.”
But I don’t feel like I’m part of a “movement.” I am expressing my own humanity, from the bottom to the top. Human consciousness has evolved to contain heaven and hell within itself — the lizard brain, the mammal brain, the primate brain, and an abstraction logic center at the very top. And all of these, divided into many sections.
“Establishment-thinking” wants to discard the totality of human evolution and focus only on the top few tiers. But the body is like a pet animal that you own. This was a major revelation for me in prison. If you ignore those parts of you, you are essentially committing animal abuse against your lower selves. Imagine if you never walked your dog, never acknowledged it, that it could only scavenge for scraps from your garbage, and every time it tried to walk towards you, you kicked it away. The animal parts of you can see and hear everything you’re doing. And if you abuse them they will hate you. Since they are attached to you, it results in your hating yourself. Most establishment people hate themselves in this manner.
So I write from this dream state that ecompasses the parts of me which can’t really speak, even though they are conscious beings in a sense. Establishment artists are connected to the dream-state as well. For whatever reason, they saw or felt me in “the dream” and felt a profound fear. They hate me the way they hate themselves. Establishment artists today are bad faith actors who desire power. I believe this is part of why they were so quick to try and blacklist me.
When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-I’m not really sure what a great album cover looks like. This may sound crazy, (like the rest of this interview, probably) but I often have deja vu dreams, and when I see an image that I’ve dreamt of before, that is an image I will tend to gravitate towards. It’s as if I know the image because I saw it from the future. Of course I interpret the images in an after-the-fact kind of way. And it’s a simple thing, really. The cover to the Dedication Single is a low contrast, dark image of a ram’s skull. Sort of like Metallica’s black album. You’d almost think it was just a black square – but as you look an image appears. It’s a version of that phrase about peering into the darkness as the darkness peers back. Simple, right? I made variants of the cover for different tracks but if it were a physical CD it would be the dark cover.
In some ways, a good album cover communicates an idea, or multiple ideas, without any words being exchanged. But I choose mine based on that strange gut sensation I mentioned before. A chilling, deja vu feeling.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-In some ways, digital is killing music. In other ways, it allows music to flourish by means that would have never been possible before.
When I was younger I always thought music would become like webcomics: Labors of love with enough supporters to pay the bills, and usually far better and more relatable than the newspaper funnies I read as a child. And with this strange barrier between the two mediums. For instance, newspapers never, ever signed or developed any of the web comic people. I literally thought this would be the same for musicians someday. I think it’s kind of true now.
One thing I’m learning is, I used to think of music, or other popular things, as being more grass-roots. But now I’m beginning to suspect that there is no such thing. Looking back through history it looks more and more like nothing ever happened without tons of money and support going into it from the top down, and it’s kind of a sad realization. But this is why technology is making everything so chaotic. Sometimes, tiny grass-roots things–perhaps it would be more accurate to call them weeds–pop up and the gardeners of society fucking hate them. But who can say whether it is good or bad.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-I have always been attracted to outcasts, and to the idea of a road less traveled. For instance, when people were panicking in the 2008 housing crash, I bought the junkiest, cheapest, smallest house I could find. Actually, the frustration of trying to buy a house while rich people were grabbing them up for pennies on the dollar was the biggest part of what pushed my sanity over the edge back in the day, because I was quite poor and it was a risky thing to try and buy a house. But I held onto that property the whole time I was locked up and I sold it after I got out, which is part of how I have managed to fund my music projects so far.
Lately I’ve been developing an idea for a “road less traveled” concert series. Since the cancel-culture lunatics tend to live in cities, and because of that farmer who gave me $20 at that open mic night a few years back, I’ve been thinking about traveling the dusty back-roads of the US, especially in the areas that have been ravaged by opiates, economic depression, and general cultural malaise & devastation. My music is for people who desperately need energy, catharsis, and a “hope in hell,” so to speak. If I came out of hell intact, maybe I can pull some other people out behind me. Sort of a “big-ferry Buddhism” kind of idea. I would also like to perform for prisoners once that becomes possible.
A few tours have reached out to me. With the Covid situation, the crypto bear market, and a family health situation I’m taking things slow with regard to shows and tours.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-The few times we’ve played live, people tend to stare as if dumbfounded. It’s a little jarring, because on the surface it looks like they’re not into it. But every time, they come up afterwards with all kinds of positive praise and they’re just blown away. I write from a hypnotic space and so that effect is probably firing in their mirror-neurons. It’s a shame that I’ve not been able to reach out to more people, because I think I could inspire and change minds with my story. I could get people to accept themselves the way I accept myself and that could profoundly benefit their lives, in my opinion. But these things happen in their own time. I’m not the kind of person who obsesses over what is or isn’t possible. I’m not like a fly that constantly butts against a closed window. I am habit driven. Ultimately, I’m living my dream, which is to write and record the exact music that I am making.
What would you like to see the future bring?
-I have planned my life in multiple stages. Right now, I am in the music stage. I have 2 or 3 more albums in me, and probably a few more will spin off out of those. Each time, I am learning more about composition and production. It’s a very rewarding process. The next stage of my life, phasing in over the next a decade or so, is to develop a few projects. One is a prison-outreach project and the other is a cryptocurrency project, a particular idea which I think has huge potential for pulling people out of poverty. But it’s a matter of resources. The latter stages of my life will include several book ideas, too. Suffice it to say, I am very fascinated by my ideas and I enjoy living them out. We live in a very fascinating world.