Hide Tepes speaks with ReGen about the creative processes that drive his latest creations as a solo artist and as the founder of Carrion.
An InterView with Hide Tepes of Carrion
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Within a few months of releasing Testament ov the Exiled, Carrion signed with the fledgling Brutal Resonance Records imprint for a revised edition of the album. Now, the trio of Hide Tepes, Sam Dusk, and Joe Crow have crafted the third full-length record, taking their collective blend of blackened electronic atmospheres with scathing extreme metal textures to a new level. Releasing on November 26, Evangelium Haeresis further showcases Carrion’s distinct sound, bridging themes of alchemical science with esoteric spirituality – no mere exercise in irreverent blasphemy, but rather an exploration of creative viewpoints outside the norms of a society addicted to shallow religions and modern pursuits lacking in substance. Furthermore, Tepes extrapolates these ideas in the wistful and droning ambience of his solo output with his latest Chrysopoeia album released this past October. ReGen Magazine had the opportunity to speak with the Carrion founder and front man about his writing process and the evolution of the band’s sound, as well as his love for metal, his perceptions of “dark” and “blasphemous” music, and the connections between alchemy and modern transhumanism.
You first signed with Brutal Resonance for the reissue of Testament ov the Exiled. With the forthcoming Evangelium Haeresis acting as the first ‘new’ Carrion release with the label, would you tell us about your experience working with Brutal Resonance? How pleased are you with this association?
Tepes: So far, so good. We’re free to do as we wish and choose whether or not to involve the label in whatever endeavor we may want to embark on. The release of the reissue proved quite fruitful as it furthered our reach and brought in some new faces to the audience who seem to have quickly become steadfast in their support.
There are numerous smaller labels in this scene now, many of them run by artists, with Brutal Resonance stemming from a publication initially. What are your thoughts on how Brutal Resonance and labels like Distortion Productions, COP International, etc. are representing a shift in the way the ‘music business’ conducts itself?
Tepes: I draw parallels between this and the ’70s/’80s when you had bands like Crass, Throbbing Gristle, and many others starting their own labels, signing bands, and releasing albums on their own. As my roots are in the punk/metal scene, this is obviously something that strongly resonates with me and my own ideals. When you work with other artistically minded people, they’ll automatically get you and understand your point of view, whereas someone in a suit and tie who’s merely concerned with numbers might not be as willing or able to see it from that perspective. I’ve heard stories of label executives from friends in bigger bands who don’t even listen to the music they release. Something about that just doesn’t sit that well with me.
The current band lineup now includes Sam Dusk and Joe Crow. Would you tell us about their involvement in the writing and recording of Evangelium Haeresis? In what ways do you feel their contributions have helped to elevate Carrion’s music since the last album?
Tepes: Each song begins with me. For this album, I wanted to push further in my pursuit of embracing the organic imperfections. I’ll often start with a handful of recordings from late night modular sessions that I’ll flesh out utilizing non-modular hardware synths, guitars, or whatever the song calls for. From there, once I have it sketched out and arranged, I’ll send it over to Joe and Sam for them to add their contributions. It was important to me to not make them feel as if they’re simply following instructions or trying to interpret my ideas; I want them to feel a sense of ownership and to be able to include pieces of themselves in the music. I let them have free reign to do what they felt was appropriate. Joe is a little more traditional than I am, musically speaking, though there’s enough common ground of course. He’d send me back his bass tracks, and each time, it seemed to add a new dimension to the songs that I might not have been able to do on my own. Sam spent quite a bit of time collecting found sounds, field recordings, etc. We try not to just rip stuff from YouTube, but rather create and find sounds in our surroundings – it feels more genuine that way. Once I have their contributions, I’ll begin rearranging if that’s necessary, editing, and further processing of samples in the modular domain, and keep building from there. Joe and I in particular went back and forth quite a bit on the production side of things with him throwing me ideas and suggestions that I’m sure we can expand upon in the future.
This is the third Carrion album and is said to be your darkest work to date under that moniker; in what ways do you feel this is so? What sorts of experiences are you willing to tell us about that guided the creation of this album?
From the musical standpoint, how much darker could Carrion get? What do you feel constitutes ‘dark music’ – something that many people undoubtedly have their own definitions of… what does it mean to you?
Tepes: The whole ‘this is our darkest/heaviest/most brutal album’ thing is such a cliché by now, and yet it’s an appropriate statement. I don’t believe that pace, BPM rate, guitars, or anything strictly musical is what makes a piece of music dark, heavy, or anything like that. Sure, those are contributing factors, but when I say this is a dark album, I’m thinking of the kind of darkness found in Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, or Nick Cave for that matter, who all have dark and heavy music that outshines any metal band because it’s not always about breakdowns or double kick drums.
Throughout the writing process, I found myself having to recognize and deal with some long lasting personal issues and how they’ve impacted both myself and the people around me, causing harm and hurt to the people I considered my closest and most beloved. On top of that, I can be quite obsessive; I’d wake up and get to work on this album, be that songs, artwork, or anything that relates to creating an album. I’d sacrifice my health and well-being, depriving myself of sleep, food, and really just ignoring any other aspect of my life, which made whatever issues already there worsen. I don’t tend to plan out anything before writing songs. It’s a very natural process that takes on a life of its own. I’m just acting as the mouthpiece for whatever or whoever wishes to speak through me. This time around, what was spoken dealt heavily with me looking in the mirror and not being very pleased with what I’m looking at. I dived deeper into my long lasting fascination with psychology; Jung particularly and his ideas on archetypes, the shadow, and so on became extremely influential in how I chose to deal with the issues I was having and being better able to understand myself in order to hold a magnifying glass to the core of my being, highlighting each wound, flaw, and blemish as I attempt to scrub them off, find ways to heal it, or simply accept their presence. I’d find myself partaking in false coping mechanisms that I’ve never been that concerned with, such as spending a few weeks drinking all day, sleeping too much or too little. As I kept going, trying to identify and exorcise what needed to be exorcised, I began to notice a small but growing change happening; of course, this is still ongoing, and I don’t believe that change on any significant level happens overnight. The Jungian idea of integrating your shadow is a lifelong process that requires constant self-awareness and nurture coupled with the wish to truly be better than your current self.
There are certainly moments throughout this album that reflect the uglier side of me – there are moments that represent everything I despise in myself and others. ‘Revenant’ in particular is a good example of that where in the chorus, the narrator so to speak is demanding your adoration, though I’d rather not get too deep into the meanings of things as I myself rarely have one particular way of looking at it, as well as wanting our audience to find and insert their own interpretations of it.
The cover image to Evangelium Haeresis bears a crucifix, and you’d told me that the song ‘Follow the Sirens’ features a sample of a funeral church bell. To what extent does spirituality and/or religion play a part in your music, either lyrically or otherwise?
There is, of course, a certain ‘blasphemous’ quality to music like Carrion’s… is this intended or a consequence of the kind of ‘dark’ stylings we just spoke about?
Tepes: The cross is the ultimate symbol of sacrifice and specifically the sacrifice that is required in order to achieve salvation, whatever that might be to you and your life; it doesn’t necessarily have to be of a spiritual kind, but any form of rebirth demands your death, and dying could potentially be quite a dramatic event or force you out of your comfort zone.
Spirituality overall has always been at the core of Carrion; several songs, be it musically or lyrically, are born in dreams or moments of floating somewhere in between, in the twilight zone so to speak. I’ve had a few dreams in particular that may not always be recurring per se, but does feature a recurring cast of entities that show themselves or merely exist as disembodied voices. Where one song may try to capture and preserve the atmosphere or the emotion of one dream event, another may be a more direct retelling through the lyrics. I’ve experienced more than once that something I wrote years ago and didn’t fully understand eventually came to fruition, at which point, I was able to better comprehend what was being communicated both to and through me.
I don’t go out of my way to be blasphemous. I think the ‘rebel without a cause’ thing is a tad childish – there’s certainly no drought of causes to choose from, so take your pick. I’m simply expressing myself, my feelings, ideas, dreams, or anything else, and if that happens to be seen as blasphemous by someone else, then I don’t have an issue with that. But as I said, I’m not going out of my way to be edgy. For that reason, as well as my reverence of spirituality as a whole, I’m quite conscious of what we portray symbolically, even in terms of something as simple as merch. I see enough bands out there with goetic sigils on shirts, inverted crosses, etc. and no understanding of the meaning of anything and no other reasoning than to piss off people. It’s fucking childish. Say something real, something that truly matters to you, or at the very least, be honest about your intentions. Don’t try to tell me how dark and mysterious you are if all you’re truly after is pissing of old ladies at the mall. Even if that is your intention, I’d have far more respect for someone who can own up to that than someone who won’t admit to it and insists on their see-thru fucking plastic store bought ideals.
You’d said in our previous InterView that the new album wouldn’t be a ‘Part 2’ to Testament ov the Exiled, but that there would be a continuity of underlying alchemical ideas. Would you be able to elaborate on this – what sorts of conceptual or thematic threads run through this album that stem from the previous one?
Tepes: The idea of making the same album over and over sounds like some kind of personal hell. I constantly strive for progress and evolution, be that in terms of my songwriting, my approach, or the instruments themselves and how they’re utilized. As far as the alchemical theme goes, that’s something that developed naturally. I didn’t plan this out, and if I had, I would certainly have planned it differently than how it’s gone. Testament… carried ideas regarding rebirth, a clean slate so to speak. With this album, that rebirth turned into a walking abortion. It failed and you’re back to the start with an even heavier load of sin weighing you down. Overall, Carrion is my living obituary – it’s a tool of therapy, escape, and a vessel I’ve shaped to fill with my true and ever evolving essence for you all to judge, praise, spit on, or whatever you feel is an appropriate reaction according to the individual’s perception of what they’re presented with. This isn’t some fictional power metal bullshit; it’s me slicing myself open and bleeding all over you and perhaps, at times, I may even baptize you in tears. Musically speaking, I’ve come to view Testament… as a prelude of sorts, a simmering pot of different aspects of myself at the time that I was writing those songs, which isn’t that long ago, but it feels like forever and things have certainly changed since then, for better or for worse… but I believe based on the things I’ve shared so far, you can probably figure out which one on your own. I’ve never shied away from my love for rock and metal. It’s what I’m the most likely to listen to any given day, so to make that influence clearer as we have on this album should come as no surprise. We’ve still got the atmospheric aspects of the previous album, but this time, we fine-tuned it and turned up the guitars to jam an adrenaline shot into this walking corpse.
In addition to Evangelium Haeresis, you released the Chrysopoeia album with Brutal Resonance, which focuses more on modular synthesis. We’d spoken before about your writing process and how you differentiate the two projects, but is there ever any overlap?
Are there every any instances where you begin work on a song for one band/project and it ends up in the other?
Tepes: While I can’t think of a specific instance where that’s happened, I’m not sure if I could completely deny it either. I believe my solo work is more akin to the freeform aspects of jazz and a stream of consciousness approach, whereas with Carrion, the whole process goes differently from the get-go. That said however, I don’t tend to turn on the modular with the idea in mind to create for this or that thing in particular; it develops organically as I go on and dive deeper into it all. Sometimes I might spend several hours doing nothing, but creating, recording, and collecting interesting sounds that are stored away for later use. Other times, I’ll write whole compositions in one go and hit record. There’s no set approach or way to it.
Chrysopoeia, by its very title, also suggests a connection to the alchemical themes presented in Carrion. In what ways do you feel that your solo work and Carrion tie into a larger body of work to represent you as an artistic entity?
Tepes: As I mentioned, there is a more freeform jazzlike quality to my solo albums. As for the alchemical connection, the fact is that these are both things that begin and end with me, so of course being who I am and having the interests that I have, it will certainly color anything I touch in some way or the other. I see a few parallels between alchemical ideas and the use of modular synthesis as well – ‘Solve Et Coagula,’ as it were.
What sorts of connections do you see between Alchemy and modern ‘scientific’ practices of transhumanism, cybernetics, body modification, etc.
Tepes: Quite a lot considering the fact that alchemy is the forefather of modern science and medicine. Though in terms of transhumanism and such, I might lean towards the idea of alchemy having more to do with transcending the flesh than simply adding a mechanical part.
Live shows? Tours?
Tepes: There are plans for both U.K. and U.S. shows, though with the current situation, we’re not able to announce much or even say anything at all. We’re hoping to get out there as soon as possible and if what we’re in talks about right now comes to fruition, I think it’s something that’s worth the wait for sure.
What else is next for you?
Tepes: My workaholic tendencies are no secret. One might even assume that I’ve already begun work on a fourth album; however, that is not the case and quite honestly, I don’t know when that will happen, if it ever does. If this is the last, I’d have no problem with that. Though, to quote a friend, ‘Have no fear.’ I’m considering putting together a remix companion to the album at some point to further explore the different dimensions of each song and, without making any promises, such a release might include one of the several songs written for Evangelium… that for a variety of reasons didn’t make the final product. Mainly, the focus will be on getting onstage. Until then, we are working on a music video for ‘Revenant’ as we speak, for which we’ve acquired the assistance of our audience for certain parts, which is quite an exciting thing to be able to do – to have such an engaging and quickly dedicated group of people who understand what we’re about and often feel similarly as we do.
Outside of music, what are you enjoying most right now? Watching movies? Reading? Driving in the countryside? Anything at all…?
Tepes: I don’t have much free time. I’m constantly working on something, be it music, videos, or plotting my next move. I’ve gone into a bit of sound design work on top of writing the album, creating sample packs privately for clients to use in their own work, be that film scoring or other things. More recently however, I’ve teamed up with Black Octopus Sound via my friend Slade Templeton from the band Crying Vessel. I’ll be putting together exclusive sample work for them to be rolled out shortly if all goes well, while also continuing to do such work on a private basis.
I tend to watch the same movies over and over. I lean towards previous eras mostly, such as German expressionism. I do like more modern film as well, though I doubt anything will ever replace Nosferatu as my all-time favorite. I did recently work through The First 21 by Nikki Sixx and Face the Music by Paul Stanley, both offering intriguing insight into the people whose music I’ve grown up with and still regularly listen to. Beyond that, my reading habits usually consist of religious texts, psychology, and philosophy.
Anything you’d like to add?
Tepes: Thanks to anyone who has shown their support. Whether you’re new or old, we appreciate you all the same, and we hope to be able to see and meet everyone once we’re able to make more concrete plans for shows/tours. I’m aware of our audience being inclined to dive deeper than simply hitting the play button, and it’s very much appreciated to hear of how each of you perceive and interpret what we create, as well as hearing of the ways our creations have impacted you.
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