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  • Writer's pictureSparky

ANTINOE - ''Antinoë is the place where all feelings of longing, melancholy, darkness, can exist''

Updated: May 3, 2023

All Photos by Aitana Fernández

Whispers from the Dark Past is the debut album of Antinoe. It is a brilliant sophisticated intimate album. A tribute and dark offering to icons of Black metal interpreted without loosing any of the darkness that is intransigent to the nature of the art.

Why did you choose an album of piano versions of classic Norwegian black metal songs as your debut?

‘’It was never my original idea to release such tribute album. The suggestion came from Oytun Bektas (Tir, Ruins of Xibalba) who contacted me in May 2022 and offered to release a black metal piano tribute album through his label, Orko Productions. I had been in contact with Oytun for a few years because I'm a fan of Tir, and he had seen my Instagram videos, where sometimes I play short piano black metal covers. I thought it would be interesting to develop the full songs, not just one minute of them. Also, I had just bought my digital piano, the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2, which has hammer action keys, therefore a very realistic piano feel, and I was looking forward to using it. Before that, some people had also requested me to record the full version of these covers, but I was a bit intimidated by it, and also did not have a good digital piano with wide velocity range. So, when Oytun reached me, he did it at the perfect moment. I decided that it made a lot of sense and said: ‘yes, let’s make it happen.’ The inspiration to interpret songs in your own way?

‘’It's all about the darkness. Doesn't matter in which form it manifests screams, blasts and tremolo picks, or cries, whispers and gloomy chords. Darkness is an eternal obsession, even a way of living, like a maze where some of us wander, and just take different paths through it. My path is the melancholic one, like the Lament for Gandalf in Lothlorien, because I am a very calm person. But I also take the crazy frenzy path of darkness sometimes and feel very powerful when playing the black metal riffs on piano superfast, or press the lower keys as hard as possible, and do several following minor chords without a single major chord in between. I love black metal harmonies because they can get to be very dramatic in minor chords. It is a very intimate album.

‘’Yes. Black metal is the most important music to me. These songs, these melodies, and lyrics from other artists, I've absorbed them and now they are part of me, live in my head and in my hands when I play the piano. The process of recording the album has been very intense in a personal level: I have come to understand that, if making music is what I want to do, it's going to take everything else away. I have a daytime job, work as an architect in a studio, and live in the mountains far away from my workplace, so the rest of my time, all of it, is for music. Late night-time, weekends, holidays. It's been a process of complete self-isolation and introspection, for 6 months this has been the only thing in my life.

The decision to just have your voice and piano?

It's the only instruments I know how to play! If I knew guitar, then the album would probably have some acoustic guitars. My style is how it is because this is what I know. Problem about piano is that you get used to do everything by yourself, since the piano can reach the whole range of frequencies and either perform a bass or a riff, or all at the same time. So, it's difficult for me to 'include' other instruments in the compositions, it's all too crowded with notes! I would like to learn to play 'less' to give some space to other instruments so I can actually play with other people. Then there’s the vocal part: I love choirs. I used to sing in a choir when I was a teenager, it is so pleasant to add layers of vocals, each one is a living, breathing, different being. And the main vocals are usually low, because I have this low pitch, and every time I smoke a cigarette it goes a bit lower. I think low vocals can fit very well in dark music and I feel comfortable in this mood. The songs that you chose, personal favourites that resonate with you, rather than popular choices?

“Key to the Gate, Isøders Dronning, Warrior of the Crescent Moon. These are my favourite tracks from Burzum, Enslaved and Aeternus respectively, and I know they aren't the most popular. Key to the Gate is so strong and desperate and then it becomes honest and beautiful, it also talks about heaven and hell which is unusual in Burzum music. Isoders Dronning is the definition of ethereal, has these delicate harmonies who live stuck in my head forever, and talks about a woman who lingers in complete loneliness in a castle of ice. Warrior of the Crescent Moon reminds me of Ares, and I love everything he does and is. Aeternus is such a special band and has some of the most beautiful acoustic neoclassical interludes that I have found in extreme music.

Is Black Metal a genre that you are drawn to and still find vital or is it just the 90s Norwegian period?

‘’I like all of it. I'm not the type of person who thinks black metal is dead. New amazing albums are coming out every day, it's overwhelming. Some of them stay faithful to the 90s sound, some others dare to experiment more. I am open to everything as long as it's good and honest. I focused on the Norwegian 90s because it's the root of a large tree, and it has this feeling of romantic nostalgia that I basically live for. The reason why I chose Norway is obviously related to its impact in black metal history, and also because I had to be specific regarding the main concept of the album. At the beginning, I had considered Swedish bands like Bathory and Dissection, but then I thought "why not Sarcofago? why not Marduk?" I really had to focus on one country! The ultimate purpose of the album?

‘’Two purposes. One is to pay tribute to what I love, just that. The other is to learn making covers is such an educational experience. You can understand in a deeper level the compendium of sounds, arrangements, lyrics, concepts that make a song what it is, an album, a band, even a genre... Also, I was eager to explore the concept of the Dark Past and find out what were the points in common among bands that shared a decade. If you had to pick an absolute favourite?

‘’I Troldskog Faren Vild from Ulver is the song that introduced me to black metal. It's very important to me, as I understand it is to many others.

Is Whispers from the Dark Past just an introduction to Antinoë? what can we expect next? Will it be more of the same intimate style?

‘’Whispers from the Dark Past sets a foundation of influences and style that shall underlay in any future release because they are part of the project’s philosophy. Even if Antinoë turns different directions there will always be intimacy, there will always be darkness, the essence will endure. That's what Whispers from the Dark Past is for: a personal statement and point of view, regarding any future discography within this project. But no, I don't intend to make the same music. Antinoë is a therapeutic project to me, and I need to feel absolutely free about it. That is the purpose of the whole thing, otherwise it doesn't make any sense. Antinoë must stay true to myself, and that means you will probably hear many different things if you follow up: electronic, neofolk, symphonic rock, dark pop. Collaborations with whoever I find interesting and wants to make music with me. But the darkness will always be there, and if someday I manage to get rid of it, then Antinoë will end.

Currently, despite how exhausted I am after the release, I feel really inspired. I’m working on new music and retaking/remaking unreleased old songs. Many of the resources learned and used during WFTDP will be there (similar pianos and vocals), but I'll be adding other non-black metal influences of my own. I wanted to make an EP, but there's just too many songs on the waiting list, so probably it will become an album. Working on it calmly... no rush at all. Does the name derive from Greek Mythology? How does it represent you?

‘’Yes! Well, actually, it’s the Greek word for a Roman lost city built in Egypt to honour a Bithynian boy by a Spanish emperor. Antinoë is Antinoopolis, the city founded by roman emperor Hadrian to honour the memory of his deceased beloved Antinous, who drowned in river Nile 130ad. It’s a real sad story, full of mystery, sorrow, passion. Antinous is a symbol of homosexuality in the popular culture, but to me he’s the symbol of extreme idealisation, and the city Antinoopolis (Antinoë) is the physical place that represents it. So, the name Antinoë is the place where all feelings of longing, melancholy, darkness, can exist. All welcome in, so that the bad feelings are no longer annoying or useless: they are beautiful. And by becoming beautiful they have a purpose and can be perceived. You have a lot of different musical influences that we have yet to hear?

‘’I listen to a lot of music that has keyboards in it, or vocals in a similar pitch to mine. That’s perhaps why I tend to listen to symphonic black metal more than raw. If you play guitar you tend to listen to music with guitars in it. I have influences from art rock bands like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, progressive rock like Opeth, Genesis or Porcupine Tree, dark pop in the expressive vocal style of Lana del Rey, a lot of classical influences like Debussy or Beethoven regarding piano playing, the soundtracks from LOTR or Final Fantasy. I also enjoy electronic music, since my brother Guille (author of the final mix and mastering of WFTDP) is a producer. Lately I’ve become interested in Post Punk and Cold wave. I don’t mean that all of these names have to be reflected in my music, but I am open to learn from them, and let them in if they knock.

What inspires you to create? Is it all form of art an expression, and is it a personal rather than a global representation?

‘’Deep question. I believe it’s a personal vision of the global. Art is the ultimate expression of our individuality in this universe. To me, that thought is very inspiring. Doing something that only one can do, because there’s only one person on this world with the same very specific circumstances, influences, feelings, memories, dreams, fears. You blend it all together and make something out of it, and for a moment feel relief, because you have come to express your existence as an individual, perceiving the whole. Does that sound crazy to you? Should all musical art be pure expression without inhibitions?

‘’A little inhibition can be good. It leads to sophistication, to find a new and more complex way of expression, and it can also create new and more complex feelings. I guess that each one needs to find a comfortable point where they are sophisticated enough to stop the complexity and let it all out. I feel comfortable in black metal because it has the balance between pure and sophisticated, primitive, and complex, that resonates with my brain. Plans for the future.

Many things! I am working on this dark electronic music/trip hop project called 28024 with the Spanish producer Victor Santana which has brought me the opportunity to work with several different incredibly talented musicians. Also, I’m working on some piano collaborations within the metal world that are very promising, and I am truly excited about. And, as I mentioned, I am making new songs of my own, which will probably lead to an album, but I am taking it easy.

Tops 6 albums of all time

Sorry, I really couldn’t tell. I haven’t listened to all of them ;) About the selection of tracks on Whispers, some of the albums are not my favourite ones from the bands, even though I love all of them. For Emperor, my favourite is Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, because Alsvartr + Ye Entrancemperium are the true madness to me. For Satyricon I love, love, love, Dark Medieval Times, and I seriously considered doing a piano cover of it for the album, but it’s not too exciting to play on piano, or at least I could not approach it correctly when I tried. For Dimmu Borgir, my favourite album is For All Tid, although I enjoy the keyboards in all their discography. Also, I wanted to make 10 songs and make an Immortal cover for the last one, but eventually time didn’t allow it. Maybe in the future. Thank you so much Sparky!


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