Remina is the combination of the incredible multi-talented duo of Heike Langhans (:LOR3L3I:) (Light Field Reverie) (ex-Draconian) and Mike Lamb (Sojourner) (Light Field Reverie). It is a project that Transforms the modern notion of Doom and Avant Garde concepts. After releasing several singles in 2021 they have just released their Debut album, the transcendent and long awaited STRATA
Mike: ‘’This is some of the music I'm most proud of having been involved in, I think both of us really dug deep for this album and captured exactly what we set out to do...which isn't always as easy as it sounds! Somewhere along the way while writing music something always changes and morphs, and it's not always one hundred percent in line with what you had intended. Sometimes it's for the best, and other times it dilutes your original vision, but with Remina it feels like we managed to truly capture what we set out to do. We worked so closely together on this, and we carried it every step of the way as a team right through to the final product, I feel like it's a true distillation of where we're both at musically right now.
Heike: ‘’Strata has everything we've been looking to create in one album. With previous bands, I felt slightly frustrated that one little element was always missing, and I had no control over the end result. Mike and I have a very good understanding and work method, so putting in the effort to refine something as simple as the right delay at the right moment (for example), sets this album apart in a way that is personally satisfying. It's a perfect combination of modern electronics and crushing doom metal with a hint of 90's grunge nostalgia. And of course, every song is about space, technology and the unknown. I wouldn't want it any other way!
There are definite layers to it. What was the choice of name? And does being reunited make the process easier and faster when inspiration strikes?
Heike: It's funny you mention 'layers' followed by a question about the name. We were thinking exactly that when choosing a title for the album. Each song consists of multiple layers of both sounds and story. Each story then becomes a world within layers of worlds i.e., a strata. Usually, I try to write themes that weave into one another from song to song, but during our time apart, we both consumed or revisited so many different avenues of inspiration from books, manga, films, and series, so we couldn't help giving each song its own universe so to speak. The moment we reunited, it all came together and sped up the polishing stages massively. Once we're able to bounce ideas off each other in person, everything starts to feel more complete.
Mike: ‘’We both naturally gravitate to a super layered approach in our writing, and this is one of the more complexly layered projects we've done. It provides some challenges in the mix as well, but I don't think it would be the same if it was any simpler. Being reunited was a huge help in the final stages of the album especially, we actually only wrote Ilos and Back in Time in person, the rest did remotely while we had to spend a year and a half apart due to stupid visa issues...I was back in Dunedin in New Zealand, and Heike was back in Cape Town in South Africa. Luckily, we work so well together that we can manage no matter the circumstance, but it definitely was amazing to finish this together. It felt like closure in a pretty huge personal journey for us.
The tangible yet ethereal quality to the record, was this an intentional approach?
Mike:’’ Absolutely, our outline was basically to always maintain a wispy, ghostly, ethereal cosmic atmosphere wrapped around what is essentially a doom core. We both come from doom backgrounds primarily, and that was something we didn't want to lose touch with.
Heike: ‘’Even when I try to write straight-forward up-tempo songs, it always comes out doomy and ethereal anyway. Maybe that's because it's the most emotionally evocative sound and making music is a bit of an emotional outlet for most of us. Desolate and atmospheric soundscapes allow you to sort of think more intensely and since we both probably think too much, our music will always reflect that.
What was the decision to release a whole album rather than the single releases of last year?
Mike: ‘’In the end it came down to practicalities, I think. The singles approach was really working well for us initially, and we had planned to wrap them up as a physical album once they were all finally out...but in the end there were a lot of issues with the plan timewise: having to constantly be producing new artwork for each single, a new video, and a whole cycle of promotion on a song by song basis. I used to be staunchly against singles and EPs, I was always an album collector, but I think when you see a change in the industry it's not always a bad thing to either adapt or at least try out new approaches. In some respects, I still love the idea of finishing a song and getting to put it out there straight away, see the feedback, and constantly be moving forward. Each song gets its time to shine, and no tracks have to sit at the back end of an album to gather dust. I feel like releasing the album as singles first means you really get to live and breathe each song; it prevents artists from just knocking out filler tracks to have an album completed or meet a deadline. I liked how 'alive' Remina felt when it was a constantly evolving entity with the singles approach, but I'm so proud of how Strata sits as an album, so it goes both ways. So, the answer to the question is probably just ultimately the amount of work in a practical sense...Strata still would've been at the end of the road either way, but every song would've been drip fed earlier with bespoke art and videos. Considering we both work day jobs, that was just a little beyond what we had the capacity for this time around.
The choice of Avantgarde Music to release?
Mike: ‘’We've worked with Roberto and Andrea at Avantgarde so many times now with Sojourner, ISON, and Light Field Reverie that we love and trust those guys to always look after us. They treat their bands with a level of respect you don't see that often from labels. I would go as far as to say that they're one of the most straight up, artist-focused labels in the metal world.
There are some epic tracks on there. Where is The Endless City and what does it mean?
Mike: ‘’The Endless City's lyrics and themes are about one of our biggest influences, Tsutomu Nihei's 'Blame!' manga. It's one of the stories and pieces of visual art that has impacted us more than any other. I'll let Heike elaborate on the lyrics themselves.
Heike: ‘’The song portrays the journey of the main character, Killy, in a world where humanity lost control of machines, which inevitably resulted in synthetic life replacing, altering, or exterminating humans. Machines that continuously build further and further into the reaches of space with no end or purpose. There is only one way to stop them and that entails finding a long-lost human gene that allows connection to a 'net-space' in order to override the controls. Killy's journey and landscape is constantly changing and seemingly endless, but he stays committed to this mission no matter what. This song is a tribute and 'thank you' to how impacted we both feel whenever we delve into the world of Blame!
What would you do if you could go back in time?
Heike: ‘’I would instantly want to experience 1895 - 1930, because I have an obsession with Art Nouveau and Art Deco. I also want to know how all the ancient structures were built, especially Machu Picchu in Peru. It would be tempting to go back to wrong mistakes, but somehow, I think all mistakes are lessons that lead to better outcomes in the future. I would however want to go back and be able to say goodbye to my best friend Delene and my grandmother before they passed. I maybe would have also taken better care of my avocado plant that could have been a big tree by now!
Mike: ‘’Aside from the obvious 'I'd invest in crypto" kind of answer, I think I'd go back and just enjoy spending a lifetime with my family again. I know it's simple, but I don't think you really appreciate how special those times are while you're living them. I haven't actually watched the American Version of The Office, but I saw a quote from it that hit me pretty hard: "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them". So, yeah, I'd just go back and experience my family time over again, though I wouldn't change anything necessarily aside from maybe setting right some mistakes and not taking some things or people for granted, but I would want to be back where I am now at the end of it.
Have you created a new genre in Melancholy Cosmic doom? Mike:’’ Ha-ha I know using made up genres sounds so pretentious, but with Cosmic Doom it just fit what we were doing so well. I guess by traditional standards we're probably somewhere between Gothic Metal, Doom, and Post-Metal maybe? But Cosmic Doom definitely feels most 'right' as a summary. We're still really just a Doom Metal band dressed up in synths, if you want to boil it down to the absolute basics.
Icarus Signal is another epic track.
Mike: ‘’From a musical standpoint, we wrote it about one of our favourite sci-fi films, Danny Boyle's Sunshine. It's the most straightforward banger I think ha-ha, but I mean that in a good way, I'm quite fond of that song.
Is STRATA apersonal album of thoughts and expressions.?
Heike: ‘’This was actually one of the less personal albums for me lyrically. Usually, I like to tell a very personal story and allow for double meanings so that others can relate it to their own lives and stories, but this time I just wanted to have fun and get back to writing about astronomical concepts relating to things that inspire both of us. However, within those stories, I still tried to include meanings that allow me and the listener to relate on a personal level. I think music is the easiest way to convey thoughts and expressions because when we listen to music, it serves as a backdrop to what we are thinking and feeling. For me personally, things flow outward more easily when soundscapes are creating visuals and feelings inside.
The ability to be able to control all aspects of your music? Allows you absolute freedom?
Mike: ‘’Absolutely. It's the reason we go with Avantgarde Music again and again, we still own all the rights to our music and Roberto wouldn't dream of interfering, they're so supportive and just purely artist focused. It's really important to us to be able to have ultimate control, we're two very strong-willed people with a clear vision of what we want, and sometimes it's hard to outsource much of the process because we already know what we want...if we can't do it already, we learn how to do it. That makes us sound like we're not team players ha-ha, but we are, we just have a really solid team right now with this. Sometimes too many cooks...you know what I mean.
What's next for Remina? Or are you other projects taking flight again?
Mike: ‘’Our other projects are taking flight, but Remina is basically a mainstay for us now. We hit on something with this that really fulfilled what we both wanted to be doing, and the response has been so beautiful from fans that we feel like this is more or less our main focus going forward. In terms of our other projects: we're writing the new Light Field Reverie album, I'm starting on the new Sojourner album, and Heike's working on the long-awaited: LOR3L3I: album. Despite those projects cranking along, we actually have a fair chunk of the next Remina album well underway...we can't stop turning out stuff for this, we're just having a lot of fun and the response has kind of buoyed us along.
Plans for the future?
Mike: ‘’We may be doing our debut live show next year...but we can't say much yet, nothing's announced. We're excited though! Otherwise, just writing and having fun sculpting the next album.
Top six things you need when listening to Strata?
Mike: My three would be 1. a single malt Scotch (maybe an Ardbeg, Talisker, or Lagavulin), 2. a view of the clear night sky outside, and 3. an uninterrupted 45-minute span to listen front to back.
Heike: ‘’Good headphones, some tissues, and a snug hoodie cuz it's probably cold outside at night!