PROCESS OF GUILT is a very dark entity. Compressed darkness if you like. If you like stuff like Godflesh you will love this. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-Let me start by saying that we never had a master plan for Process of Guilt. In the early days we only wanted to write music that was good and captivating enough for us and we just kept persisting on that feeling. There wasn’t a personal goal we wanted to achieve or something more we’d like to demonstrate through our music. In those early days, our existence as a band relied only in our aim to make music that was suited, in first and last stance, to our own ears. In that sense we still have the same goal, but only in that sense. Everything else that surrounds Process of Guilt demands a level of commitment that wasn’t present in the first rehearsals. We changed, our lives changed, our music changed, our goals changed but the fact that we’re still pursuing something based in our own taste and effort is something that we carry within ourselves since the first rehearsal.
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-We’re very pleased with the way «Black Earth» turned out. It’s a fair portrait of where we are both musically and as individuals. It demanded a lot more from us specially if we compare this process with our previous efforts, but in the end, everything turned out really great. Since the first pre production, through the mixing stages (by Andrew Schneider) and the final master (by Collin Jordan), sound wise everything ended up surpassing our best expectations for this release. Even our cooperation with Pedro Almeida for the promo-shoot and the cover layout sessions ended in the best way possible with one of our strongest visual designs ever.
Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it?
-We do feel that somehow we achieved a sound that is unmistakably identifiable with us. We started that conscious process around the time of «Erosion», our second full-length, and by the time we recorded «Fæmin» we were comfortable enough with a sonority that we felt it was definitely our own. «Black Earth» is yet another step on our journey, where we feel we have consolidated our own musical vision and developed it further. By now, after all the time and the experience invested with Process of Guilt, it couldn’t be in any other way. Otherwise we would feel that our initial goal wasn’t being fulfilled anymore. Nevertheless, even if by now we are happy enough with the way we sound, we don’t like to think about our music as static or definite. We’ll build upon what we have right now, for sure, and if we find it to be worth of further exploration we’ll do it without thinking twice.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-I sincerely think that the message should be merged as a whole with the music in order to be perceived as only one “entity”, therefore the message is completely related with the musical content and its meaning but also its “sonority” should fit the music. In «Black Earth», in particular, the topics are based in a personal approach in some parts and, on other occasions, I just tried to write down a particular feeling or line of thought that suited a particular instrumental section. In that sense, usually I do not follow a major concept (like a conceptual album regarding a particular theme), instead, «Black Earth» and its diverse meanings, acts as a sort of recurring topic that permeates all the tracks in this record. Its main urge is to follow the music and complement its atmosphere. I objectively try to adequate the “power” of a given word to the right placement in the instrumental section until we think it really “feels” and sounds “right”. My lyrical approach is based around some inner thoughts that I believe are the root of the disorder we see everyday. Right now, it seems that our main form of living is to judge everything as quickly as we can, in order to make a statement to reaffirm each one’s ego, again and again, like a never ending cycle. Behind every decision that we make today, at a personal, professional or political level, there’s a wrong assumption of our role in here, based upon our unconscious guilt and its consequent fear. Most of the times, we just choose to look the other way to avoid the problem, which, basically, resides in us. This way «Black Earth» works as personal reminder, a personal way of looking into a mirror that reflects something that we do not recognize as us. However, on a deeper level, «Black Earth» embodies the “adversary”. It acts simultaneously as a reminder of our inevitable end and as a metaphor for the duality present in all of us. A duality reaffirmed by our everyday perception and by all the struggles and separation that we find in our lives in this earth. In each song I tried to highlight a particular aspect regarding our presence in earth and to explore the way in which we reflect our distinct interpretations into our actions. Mainly, I guess I tried to explore the struggle of a single individual and its everlasting mistakes, probably in a (feeble) attempt to understand or try to make some sense of the world we live in. We ended up further exploring this subject with the artwork, where we made an abstract sculpture resembling a sort of human form made of some materials found in its natural environment. We just tried to embodied in an abstract shape the atmosphere that resonates from «Black Earth» and reflect that in the artwork.
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?
-Like mentioned about the lyrical content, the cover artwork should also be deeply intertwined with the music in order to showcase the atmosphere of the album, even at only a glimpse. I come from a background where every album that influenced me, in one way or another, had a distinct cover, and my first reaction, even before listening to the music, came from looking at that particular image. At least for me, in the digital era, specially within the underground scene the cover art still plays a very important role in spreading your music. In Process of Guilt we invest plenty of time searching for a particular theme or ambient that can start the design production for a new album and it’s really important to have a match between music and layout, but I sincerely don’t know if you’re still able of buying a record only by looking at its cover. I surely remember doing that in the past, because most of the times, specially before the appearance of file sharing software, there wasn’t any other way to listen to a new record prior to its release, and sometimes you would be wrong to judge a possible buy only by its cover. Right now, I’m not sure if you can sell an album based only in a cover image, and it’s a really great thing that you can stream an album prior to its release, but it sure helps if you could also convey the atmosphere of an album through an image or design that really reflects the music.
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?
-I’m sure music industry’s history and economy alone can explain this matter better than myself. In sum, in one side you have the strong economies you just mentioned, that, in some cases, were able to promote musical education while providing an incentive to young population sectors who had an interest in music to start writing their own tunes. On the other side, specially with UK and US, it has a lot to do with the same facts that led to the appearance of the first bands within the rock scene and it’s logical that the cultural and rock traditions in these countries are way more established that on other places, like Portugal, for instance, where, for more than forty years until the early seventies, throughout the dictatorship, culture were basically stagnated. However, with the globalization of the late nineties/early two-thousands there should have been a turning point at some place (and there are still many examples of great and successful bands coming from other places than the ones you mentioned), but music’s industry has a sort of blindfold that neglects its own adventurous origins and it’s one that don’t like to bet on a dark horse. Even if, right now, the main underground labels aren’t limited to those countries, the majority of bands are still coming from there and, in fact, over the last ten or more years you don’t see new successful bands popping up anymore. The ones that you see, almost in a monthly basis touring endlessly, are the ones who were propelled by the labels before the “digital era” because the industry, even within extreme music, enjoys to milk the same cow over and over again. However, it’s our own choice to follow what they want us to consume or to take advantage of this era and search for whatever you want to listen to over the internet or in any other place. If musical success is having your music spread in the main media directed to an audience who would like to listen to it, I’d like to have that, but if you’re asking me about the rock and roll way of life or these sort of stories affiliated with commercial success, sincerely, I don’t have a particular craving for it. After all these years involved with the underground and with extreme music we just want to keep writing honest music that don’t loose its relevance.
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?
-I guess the only option would be to pursue your own vision and try to write the most honest and relevant music as you possibly can while having some pleasure expressing your art. Other than that is so context dependent that it’d be a wild guess to find out what makes your music pops to someone’s ears among a permanent info bombing across every social media.
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?
-The Portuguese scene is a very active one that spreads out through a lot of different genres. From hardcore to black metal you have very valid examples of bands having their work showcased through wider audiences. Of course, always within the realm of the underground and never achieving the heights of bands like, for instance, Moonspell, but it’s a hardworking scene that grows a little bit every year with every festival and with every new release. The national scene is always important for a band to grow, to search for its own identity and audience, but I can’t find a direct connection between the support a band gets within its own country and the break out in the international scene. There are examples of bands that nobody knew before that only break out within doors after international recognition and there are other bands that already had some attention in a local context and reached wider audiences outside. Both factors can, of course, be related but I don’t consider them to be strictly dependent from one another.
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?
-Over the last years metal is accepted as a genre of its own, but mostly at an underground level. There’s no big difference if you consider other European countries like Spain or France. You don’t see any discrimination regarding metal fans in the street or in any other place. That cultural shock happened with far greater impact throughout the late eighties and the nineties. However its always considered to be a sort of subculture, far away from the State and media support that is given to other musical genres, like traditional or pop music.
What does the future hold for you?
-Right now we’re completely focused in promoting «Black Earth» and we’re going to spend our next months playing it live. Besides that, we’re constantly working in writing new music so, somewhere in the future, I believe we’ll be writing a new album. To guess more than that would be a wild gamble. I just hope that we can do more than we did with our previous releases and take our music to more venues and more countries than we did before.