Jan 2024 16

Nathan Reiner speaks with ReGen on his latest endeavors under the banner of Third Realm, discussing his creative process, a bit of gear talk, and self-care.


An InterView with Nathan Reiner of Third Realm

By Stitch Mayo (StitchM)

As the creative force steering Third Realm, Nathan Reiner’s sonic exploration has transcended conventional constraints, weaving a tapestry that seamlessly blends darkwave, industrial, and an array of electronic elements. From the project’s genesis as a solo venture in 2000 to the recent release of Into Oblivion, Third Realm has become a vessel for introspection and sonic innovation, known for inviting listeners on a poignant guided journey into darkness that is both deeply personal universally resonant. ReGen recently had the opportunity to catch up with Reiner to talk all things synth and subculture.


First of all, how are you and how’s your health?

Reiner: I am well overall, thank you for asking!

Congratulations on the release of Into Oblivion! How has it been received so far?

Reiner: Thank you. I’ve been receiving some very nice compliments regarding the album. The Bandcamp sales alone were really impressive right out of the gate, which is always great to see. Some people even said it was in their Top 5 for 2023, which is very humbling.

Third Realm as a project is dark and heavy (but also goes to some desperately beautiful places), and Into Oblivion feels even darker and heavier than previous releases. Can you share how this album came to be and what the journey has been since Sinister Device?

Reiner: Sinister Device originally began as a side project back in 2013. I later decided that my music is eclectic enough to eliminate the need to split the projects, so it was merged as a Third Realm release. If you listen to the album Love is the Devil, you will hear that the sound of Sinister Device is very reminiscent of that era and genre. Other than the constant process of wanting to create, Into Oblivion felt like it was a return to form, so to speak – that was the aim, rather. I knew it was just a matter of time and effort, so I wanted to make sure I was applying the correct amount of emotion and attention to detail. The new songs were less experimental and more in tune with what I gravitate towards the most as a listener; in turn, I felt I was putting myself back into a comfortable place of creation.



Third Realm is now over 20 years old. How do you feel the project has evolved and transformed since the early days?

Reiner: Since I have always been closely involved with the recording, mixing, and mastering processes, I’d say the biggest evolution was in production and sound quality. Of course, stylistically, I’ve strayed away from the experimental/aggrotech approach of the earlier days. While this is a matter of preference for others, it has been a way for me to discover a sound that truly expressed what I wanted to say, rather than settling on becoming a predictable act within any genre of music that I felt was limiting or too easy to create.

The production on the record is incredible – do you work with hardware synths or softsynths? Any favorites? Also, can you tell us more about the album art?

Reiner: Thank you! I use both hardware and soft synths. I find myself beginning most arrangements with the MicroKorg. From there, I’ll add some extra flavor with VSTs such as Serum, Falcon, and Sylenth1. Halfway through creating the new album, I obtained a Korg Wavestate hardware synth, which is now my favorite by far. As for the album art, I threw that together myself. I wanted to achieve a visual vibe that fit the theme of the album. I enjoy experimenting with photo manipulation and video editing as well, which, admittedly, is still very much a learning process for me.

Can you tell us about your creative process and how you usually work? Are there any elements of a song that tend to come first and are then built upon? What do you feel are the benefits and challenges of working solo?

Reiner: I always create the musical arrangement first. Even if it’s just a basic riff initially, I need a sound to activate that part of my brain that begins to create a story with words. Since Third Realm is a very personal project, the benefits of working solo are that I get to inject my sincere emotions and ideas without pressure. The downside is that it is limited to my abilities. There’s nothing wrong with admitting your limitations. Working with a full band would open up the world of a talented guitarist, an extra ear from an artistic producer with unique ideas, and so on. It’s something I considered expanding upon and have somewhat incorporated during live shows in the past.

Given this experience, what are your thoughts on the current direction of the broader goth and industrial scene, particularly in the digital age, and how do you envision it evolving or potentially benefiting from changes in the future? Is there anything you would change if you had the power to do so?

Reiner: I think that a big part of the global goth community’s connection is due to the digital era. Members can discuss music, exchange interests, and show off their individual styles in online forums, social media groups, and websites. This has enabled the subculture to endure and flourish on a worldwide scale. At this time, I don’t feel anything needs to be changed. I think the tools to connect and educate are there, yet the freedom to engage or not remains.

I’m curious about what currently captivates and excites you in the realm of modern music. Beyond Third Realm, what genres or artists do you find yourself drawn to when you’re not actively creating music? Are there any specific elements or sounds within contemporary music that particularly resonate with you or influence your creative perspective? Or any other art forms?

Reiner: I’ve been digging La Scaltra, Twin Tribes, Gentle Ropes, Romanssi, and Dylan Fraser lately. If I am listening to something a bit more modern or contemporary, I find myself analyzing the production techniques and emotional delivery. Even if the song itself is outside the genres I prefer, I’m still able to extract some type of inspiration. Furthermore, I’ve been getting into dark ambient and drum & bass more recently.

What are five songs or albums the person reading this should go listen to right now?

Reiner: This Mortal Coil – Filigree & Shadow, The Cure – Disintegration, Front 242 – Front By Front, and songs like Twin Tribes – ‘Fantasmas’ and Dylan Fraser – ‘Nightmare.’ If you were referring to Third Realm only, then Into Oblivion, Love is the Devil, Somber Reflections, and the songs ‘Obsession’ and ‘Dance Like You Wanna Die.’



What does fun and self-care look like for you? Any hobbies or practices that you recommend?

Reiner: Music, music, and music. Meditation, herbs, spices, and self-awareness exercises.


Third Realm
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Distortion Productions
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Photography by J.M. Curtin – courtesy of J.M. Curtin Photography & Arts
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