Saturnian Mist – Vocalist Famulus Zetekh Interview
By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
The thing about mist is you turn your head for a minute and the whole landscapes changed. Like said natural phenomenon occult black metallers Saturnian Mist are more than meets the eye. Guiding us through this potentially disorientating haze, vocalist Famulus Zetekh reveals the band’s philosophy…
Straight off, just what does your debut album title Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan mean?
Famulus Zetekh – Those who are able to know the adversity. It is a wordplay of two words from different languages. ‘Gnostikoi’ means ‘Those who are able to Know’ and it is derivative from the works of Plato – the greek philosopher. And ‘Ha-Shaitan’ is hebrew word (and therefore an emphasis) to the archetype of Satan/Devil meaning ‘The Accuser’ of ‘The Adversity’. One should know the strong relationship with the terms ‘Gnostikoi’ and ‘Gnosis’ of which latter one refers to the form of knowledge which is more spiritual than mental or mechanical.
The album has been described as an ‘unholy journey of Satanic arts and devotion, compelling both intelligence and irrationality by stretching the edges way beyond the world of man’ – to avoid any misconceptions, in your own words can you explain what Saturnian Mist as a band is all about?
Zetekh – Saturnian Mist is about exploring and studying philosophy and occultism through musical & lyrical expression. First six years we have concentrated to the exploration of archetypal Devil imagery, mainly in western point of view known as Satan and Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan is culmination of this work. Thematically and ‘ideologically’ we want to put all things we know about philosophy, psychology, science, theology, literature in general, occultism and mysticism into an artistic expression, to make it all living. We translate all things mentioned before into one existential language known as music which penetrates every mind whether they were rational or irrational, religious or philosophical. Saturnian Mist is about reality around us that people tends to deny in order to avoid the thinking about the ultimate questions about the life and death.
What do you think people find so fascinating about the occult?
Zetekh – Do they? I think most of the people thinks it’s only a superstition or metaphorical language to ‘create an atmosphere’ because it’s very abstract and difficult issue to understand. In many cases that is of course a good thing since the things occultism could reveal are way too much for many people, or at least for those people who just like their routines and repetitions of habits leading just to numbness instead of anything real.
We see that philosophy alone is just speculation and learning phase if you will, and religious approaching alone is just passion for the sake of passion. Occultism combines these both. Occultism offers practical and devotional approaching and initialization of philosophical views as every intellectual mind would know that you’re not what you think you are, you are what you do. For religious views, Occultism offers rationality and coherency. Occultism is the key to understand the world as it is.
To see behind the world of myths that religions tends to breed, to see behind the intellectual structures which are moreoften just escapism as well. Jiddu Krishnamurti said once, that people tend to create an image of themselves and of the world instead of living in one. That way they live in two worlds, in the world they’ve created, and in the world they really are.
Occultism harness the good things both from spirituality and intelligence into the form of reality which is the reality itself. Into an eye which beholds itself. Of course there are many conceptions about occultism, but this is how we see it. This is how we live it.
Have there been mixed reactions to the album because of this? Are there some preconceptions towards the band?
Zetekh – Because we are occultists? I don’t know about that, maybe partially but the album has had mixed reactions in general, yes. There have been people who have had no idea that occultism is after all kind of ‘down to earth’ instead of superstition Hollywood tends to breed.
These people more often tends to think that ‘this is totally new’ yet it is funny since people seems to have no recollection for instance of the ‘occult boom’ that took place, lets’ say between the years 1850-1950 when we had H.P.B Blavatsky and Theosophical Society and Aleister Crowley & Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn etc. etc.
We are though glad that we can spread the word and perhaps that is the sign of modern times, when spiritual assets comes from ‘entertainment’ even its very inconvenient to use such term related to black metal. I have seen some reviews about the album and it seems that there’ve been very diverse feedback about it from huge praises to total bashing, yet the reasons to do so have changed almost in every review.
I’m not sure about preconceptions, you tell me?, maybe people expected from us something what let’s say Deathspell Omega, Watain or bands like that have already done because of the themes we wield in Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan.
More recently you have released a new music video for ‘Aura Mystica’ from the album – what sort of impact were you looking to create here?
Zetekh – As ‘Aura Mystica’ was most of the subjective and abstract song by its theme & lyrics, we thought it would be nice touch to add more ingredients to form a holistic interpretation about it. For that, the best way would be ‘to show, not tell’ -type of thing and visuality comes best from the video form. In Stoic philosophy there is talking about ‘Apatheia’ which is close to the Hinduism’s ‘Nirvana’ as a result of enlightement.
In Western Occultism which have studied Satan’s archetype carefully, there’s been talking about the ‘realization of The True Will’, as a result of enlightement as well. The song and the video is about that: True Will & Nirvana, movement & immobility. These all together. Surrealism has always spoken the language of paradoxes, and this is why surreal art has been close to the occultism & mysticism throrough its history and this is why I chose it to be the language of the music video as well. This is though one of the "impacts", but there are always more and that’s why I want to leave the ball to the listener / watcher. Everyone can see that there are three stories which comes in one, but why? And how?
There is a repetition of images throughout the video – why was this? What particularly stood out about those?
Zetekh – Have you ever seen a dream which makes totally sense when you’re sleep and watching & experiencing it, yet afterwards when you’re awake and it doesn’t make a sense at all? Your subconscious understood it, but your conscious mind didn’t. This is how subconsciousness tries to tell your conscious mind something. No wonder, subconsciousness has been many times referred as the ‘True Self’?
Did you find the writing process quite visual? Is this an important element of your music?
Zetekh - If you mean music video, then of course yes. Songs itself, no. It’s an element for sure, but it’s importance is not in our hands or our job to value.
Was generating material relatively easy?
Zetekh – It depends on the point of view. It took couple of years, countless hours of solitude, anger, hatred, blood, pain and misery which would’ve made (and it did) many people to go psychosis or other kind of break downs, but it was all right and part of the process.
Given your preoccupation with the occult, what is the aspect of your life that you think people would least expect from you?
Zetekh – That we actually live in society. That some of us have jobs, that some of us are highly educated, that we breathe the same air as every one else. We may be the ones who serve you at insurance company, clean your bathrooms or debate against you in university.
We maybe colleagues, student fellows or casual acquaintances with you and your friends. We teach your children. And you could be totally unaware of this. This doesn’t only consider us, but all occultists world wide.
One of the things that stands out about Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan is that this isn’t just your standard black metal – there’s a sludgy sort of rock n roll groove lurking within as well – how did this come about?
Zetekh – Hard to say? Artist never sees "own children" as others do. It’s maybe because our close relationship to the genre of death metal and some other genres too. One could though remember what was old school black metal all about and understand this better. Anyway we do what our themes & lyrics, thus the Idea demands us to do and songs create themselves using us as vessels to be manifested in this world.
Do you think that some genres tend to stick too firmly within the expected boundaries?
Zetekh - Yes but black metal is most ‘liberal’ when it comes to this, since if you underline some point of views, which in this case is the darkside of existence, anti-christianity or archetypal Satan – you got black metal.
We got Ildjarn, we got Judas Iscariot, Deathspell Omega, Dissection, Nifelheim, Venom, Archgoat and all that could go under the label of ‘Black metal’. But when it comes to the ideological point of views, liberality ends there, which is only a good thing.
This boundary thing is though problem of humanity itself, not just genres. People are afraid of liberty. People are afraid of themselves.
If you were to have a peek through the gates to the otherworld, what do you think would be on the otherside?
Zetekh – This world as it is. You as you really are, not as you think you are.