I’ve just recently discovered a cool label called Robust Fellow Prod. And one of the cool bands on this label is ETHEREAL RIFFIAN. So to get to know them better I decided to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
When you formed the band with what intention did you do so? How easy was it to pick up a thread as to where your sound is going?
Val: At first it was all about just playing music, because that simple act was all we needed and gave us goosebumps. Later on, the ideological and philosophical element started to manifest stronger and stronger and now music is completely inseparable from the message of the band. It’s embodied in everything we do – music, books, artworks for our albums, music videos etc. As for the sound – there’s no finish line here, it’s an endless process. Otherwise, how can the music evolve?
As I haven’t recorded anything I have no idea what that is like but are you ever 100% satisfied? How pleased are you with your latest recording?
Val: We’re satisfied for the first year or so after the recording, and then the ideas of how we could make it better start to arise. As for our latest record, we’re satisfied with it, but I already see what could have been done better.
To me a band name is the first thing I notice. If it feels cool then I’ll check the band out. How do you explain the meaning of the band name?
Val: Intertwining of material (gross) and subtle worlds. “Ethereal” stands for subtle world, while “Riffian” stands for material world. Think of the Tree of Life symbol, where you can see the roots very clearly. These roots are the bases of that tree’s existence, yet they’re hidden in the ground. The Tree of Life also reflects this idea – whereas roots stand for subtle world and branches for the material one. Because of our ignorance we tend to notice only the gross reality, without paying attention to the subtler reality from which our life manifests. An example – we pay the outmost attention to our actions, while prior to the action there’s a lot of thinking. So if we want to make right actions that we desire, we should pay attention to our thoughts first.
How important is image to the band? What impression do you want the fans to get of the band?
Val: Image is rather important. As for impression, we strive for our listeners to stand in awe while listening to us. That’s a long way to go to reach that goal.
I am a huge fan of LP art work. How important is it to have the right art work for your album?
Val: Thanks! Be sure to check the artwork for other releases as well on our bandcamp page. The importance of having the right artwork is difficult to overestimate. This is the visualization of your music and ideas, so it should speak to your listeners very clearly. Another aspect is packing. I think that jewelboxes and digipacks are outdated. There’s no “heart” in such kind of packing. Only when you add that personal vibe to your releases, they start to breathe with life.
We live in a superficial world today where you don’t exist if you are not on Youtube and Facebook. Has social media been only beneficial in socializing with the fans or is there a down side to it too?
Val: I don’t see a downside. Social media and modern means of communication give great opportunities for those bands which know how to use them to their advantage.
Something I often wonder about is when you play in a band does it feel like you are a part of a massive community?
Val: It does when you’re participating in big festivals and other massive musical gatherings. And it doesn’t when you’re working on the new tunes in your frozen garage.
How important is it to be signed to label today? What can they do that you cannot do on your own?
Val: Depends on the size of the label and its sincerity. The disease of big labels is that they are very impersonal and treat bands like an asset, nothing more. On the other hand, they provide great opportunities for growth which are very difficult to get if you’re on your own. In my opinion, having a label is rather good than bad. You just have to know your direction perfectly and be very attentive in order not to sign deals which squeeze you like a lemon giving nothing in return.
How much of a touring band are you guys? How hard is it to get gigs outside of your borders?
Val: We don’t tour much, because making a tour takes a lot of efforts and most of the time, I’m the main person to make these efforts. In 6 years we’ve done 3 European tours (1 tour in two years). The first was with Stoned Jesus in 2012, the second was with Somali Yacht Club in 2014 and the last we did on our own in 2016. I find booking tours difficult, because I’m not a booker, but I have to act like one to get all these gigs. It drains a lot of energy which I would rather spend elsewhere. On the other hand, tours bring a staggering amount of experience and are very important in the life of a band.
What will the future bring?
Val: It depends on us.