Yours truly was (un)fortunate enough to receive a promo copy of Vestindien’s relentlessly bleak debut offering entitled NULL a few weeks ago, and I was completely blown away by what this Norwegian outfit has conjured up and unleashed. In simple terms, the record is rooted in black metal but at the same time it transcends many of the conventions and musical trademarks associated with said genre and is as strangely moving and mesmerizing as it is original and intense. With a flawless opus like that about to be released, we simply had to have a chat with the band and caught up with two of its members, namely Speed Queen and Slettsnok, to discuss all things Vestindien and the things that shape their unique sound and unsettling atmosphere. NULL will be out via Dark Essence Records in mid-February 2021 and believe me when I say that you need the ugly fucker in your collection.
Greetings, and thank you for taking the time to chat to us today. First of all, I must say that I find NULL absolutely stunning and that it is as flawless as it is morose. I am blown away by its thick, blackened atmosphere and evocative textures. What is currently happening in the vile camp of Vestindien these days? Could you briefly tell us how the group came to be and why?
S&S: Wow. Thank you for the kind words! We are a group of somewhat like-minded people who are fully synchronized with respect to how we want to make art. That was a good basis to start a band. Right now, we are focusing on recording new material and have used 2020 well in that sense.
Would it be fair to say that the menacing vibe and brooding feel of the record is partly a result of the rather dark year that was 2020? Did any of that stuff seep into the creation of NULL?
S&S: We finished writing the album in 2018, so the last year had nothing to do with the themes of the record. But some of it certainly got more relevant. For us, the last year has been quite a good and productive one. The world has been heading in a dark and unpleasant direction long before 2020, and we are tempted to feel that this pandemic was exactly what the world needed – in the sense of being forced to take a step back and cut one’s consumption and travelling to a bare minimum.
From a purely musical point of view, the compositions that constitute the album incorporate many different elements and display a mixture of styles and genres (although some are more subtle than others), but what impression of Vestindien do you hope people will take from NULL? Could you give us a hint as to what the tracks revolve around in terms of themes and topics?
S&S: We think we have made a relevant piece of art, one that is not only music for the sake of music, but something more. The topics for the lyrics are usually triggered by a need to process some kind of information that has been given by the world outside of myself.
With respect to musical influences, what bands and artists out there inspire you? What about other art forms and everyday encounters – do they serve as inspiration too? And is it often a case of a certain thought or feeling arising from a specific context or situation you find yourself in that gives birth to a melody or a riff?
S&S: We never sit down to write music without an omen of something arriving. It could be a line for a lyric, a melody or a drum beat. What inspires the writing could be anything from a trip into nature to occupying myself with a craft, or just taking a ride on the bus. I find it useful to be able to be present in my own mind, without disturbance.
The booklet is as minimalistic as they come (at least the promo copy that I received was) and I love and cherish the intriguing and somewhat obscure nature of it all; nothing is revealed or given away. No lyrics are contained within the booklet either. Was the whole idea of keeping things covert or vague a conscious decision on your part and was it your intention all along to have an aura of mystery and ambiguity to the whole cursed affair? Regardless, it worked because I was instantly drawn to it and the songs instantly sucked me in when I spun the disc the first time around – just right off the bat!
S&S: The visual art is made by the same people who make the music, so to us the visual aspect is a manifestation of the sonics. It comes from the same place, so to speak.
We have a common ground regarding what to do, and what is enough information. We don’t sit down and talk about anything like that. We create it and know when it’s done.
The title of the LP, NULL, does tend to connote something rather nihilistic, but is there any truth to that assertion or is that merely yours truly here conjuring up things that have no relation to the album as such? Either way, the title is relentlessly bleak and leaves room for interpretation.
S&S: I understand the interpretation, but I would say it is more of a fatalistic approach rather than a nihilistic one. Fatalistic in the way that our fate is not decided by our individual self, but by the way our systems are built. We are being told how to live and think by schools, media, religion and social media from such an early age that it is impossible for free will to exist. But this fatalistic approach must not be mistaken for existential nihilism, which is a very weak and lazy way of seeing things. Everything you think and do matters – it just does not make a difference as long as there are other people in charge.
What is next for you guys? Are you working on any projects either directly related to Vestindien or perhaps something outside of that fold? Given that planning tours and concerts is a bit tricky these days, have you by any chance discussed the idea of heading back into the studio later on this year to record an EP or perhaps a follow-up to NULL?
S&S: We are currently working on our next album, which will be recorded this spring.
What records are you currently immersing yourself in at home and does your taste in music vary greatly depending on your mood?
We figured this would be a nice place to just make an easy list of an album each that we are listening to right now.
Pølle: Viagra Boys Welfare Jazz
Slettsnok: Ivar Medaas Dar kjem Dampen
Speed Queen: Uriah Heep Demons & Wizards
Karlashnikov: Serpetie Wash
Thanks once again for your time and best of luck with your future musical endeavors.
S&S: Thank you for the great questions, it was a pleasure!