DH: As a begin could you please
tell me a little bit about you and
your artistically development &
when and how did AENIMA
We should have kept track of our beginnings, as they are now a little bit blurry with time. We started out around 1997, I believe. Carmen used to play bass with cult Goth rock band Poetry of Shadows, and went on to sing with her project Isiphilon. I had been busy for a couple of years with my project Millennium, who played some sort of "astral prog-goth" type of music. I had started building my studio at the time, and we talked about doing something that would be an answer of sorts to ageing and becoming more cynical about things. A personal project based around concepts that were very dear to us at the time. It took some time to get things going, but when we finally did so, we were so enthusiastic with the results that we turned it into our main focus, and then into our only project.
DH: Why did you choose the name AENIMA and what do you try to express by this? Is AENIMA your only musical project?
That’s often a necessary question; our name seems to puzzle many. The word "Anima" is Latin for "soul". It was a manifest for what we were about musically and lyrically, for our eternal struggle of the soul, and against a materialist view of the world and life. We then added the "Ae" prefix, because it symbolizes ether, and our music’s ethereal quality.
We were a bit slagged because of our name. Some people were offended that we were named after a Tool album, which we aren’t, and those who knew Latin accused us of misspelling it, which is also not true. We will, of course, stick to it, and hope more and more people understand it and get it for the right reasons.
DH: How would you describe your music? Is your music influenced by certain bands?
Our music is, above all, influenced by visual elements and states of mind. We deliberately try to put our sonic influences as individual musicians behind our back when constructing a soundscape. The only thing we set out to achieve when writing a piece is that it evokes an abstract feeling of ethereality and beauty. This gets us out of pre- conceived notions of what we should sound like, and we are able to sound exactly like what we feel at a given point in time, and still maintain our identity. Bearing that in mind, we can only describe our music as "ethereal", and that’s what we’ve been using. Some have described us as "intimate" or "dark", but those are mere reflexes and are not necessarily our essence.
DH: How was the feedback on the new CD "Never Fragile"? And how long did it take recording the new CD.
The feedback was very positive. It was an EP, and not a full-length CD, so it is always a bit more difficult to get it across, but it has been, so far, much, much better than "Revolutions", the previous album, which was plagued by the demise of our then record label.
The CD was recorded last year, during three different sessions. "Lilith" and "The Light" were recorded in January, "Rapture" was recorded in March, along with several others and the remaining three songs were recorded around June. It actually took a long time, but this was made up of smaller units. We then took the whole month of September to record a full-length album, which will be out very soon now, and will be entitled "Sentient".
DH: How does a new track come to life? What are the most important points?
There is no set pattern for that. It just comes. Some are structured in our heads before even a note is laid down. Some are built brick by brick. Some are spontaneous; some are forced out through some sort of experience. We tend to work in the dark where things are more abstract.
For our recent works, we have rooted our concept firmly in having five people together in a room, all inputting their experiences into an abstract idea for a track, which will be something like a story, or an emotion. It all comes together from the adding up of five individual feelings on a subject.
DH: Which aspects are you talking about? How important are the lyrics for you?
Regardless of how strange this may sound, the lyrics are always slaves to the melody and harmony. They gain an added weight after completion, when set against a backdrop of musical beauty, but as a starting point they are generally secondary. This is why some of our songs are lyric-less, phonetic renditions. Language is, after all, so error-prone.
Those that take a form rooted in language reflect Carmen’s life and feelings, thus being deeply personal to her. We see them as romantic reflections on life and death and existence. To some extent, romanticism and a bittersweet melancholy are the only essential aspects of her themes, but each song is an island.
DH: How important is your artistically work for yourself? What does it mean to you?
We strive for the artwork to reflect the essence of the music. It tends to mirror directly some intrinsic characteristics of our sound; it is blurry, ethereal, based in symbolism and themes of beauty. As with most things we do, it is abstract and strives to evoke a feeling or emotion.
"Never Fragile" came out with a deluxe packaging, a very, very beautiful layout, and we’re more than happy with it. It deals with our usual themes of purity and fragility, but, as the title of the EP implies, it also deals with some sort of strength coming out of it; with an ideal strength in innocence that hardly ever occurs in life, but definitely should.
DH: How does an AENIMA live gig look like? How do you transform the music into performing on stage?
We’ve had two different types of experiences, and are trying to go deeper and deeper into the second type, wherever and whenever possible. The first one is the typical concert situation, in festivals or remote concerts where we have little idea of what to expect, and where we just give as much of ourselves as possible. Carmen is a particularly emotive singer and we appear to have touched positively and immensely people all over.
The second kind of experience happens when we are able to stage a whole show, in a particularly suitable place, and generate a memorable event, that is beyond music, and into the cross-roads of arts, with video screening, dance, sculpture, etc. With those, we’re trying to get people o go home with a strong positive perennial memory, and a sense of awe about the whole thing.
DH: What are you doing apart from music?
We all work in several different areas, some of which also involve music. It steals time, but at least it allows us to buy gear at will. I also have a recording studio, and that’s definitely a plus point for Aenima. But then again, nothing’s really apart from music after all, is it?
DH: What can you tell us about the dark music scene in your country? Are there a lot of fans for your music?
I would rate it as average; it’s not huge, but it’s good enough that we have some. Unfortunately nowadays I do get the feeling that more and more people that are into this sort of "dark" scene you mention are not so artistically inclined as those of some years ago.
There are two main issues when you address music in general over here, which are the poor music education present in our system and tradition and the absolutely lousy and over priced market for musical instruments. If you add this to a musical identity and culture that was, in its great majority, erased during the 40 years of dictatorship, you get a very bleak landscape, plagued by problems of form and structure, of aesthetics and technical issues, but which is, fortunately, getting a little bit better.
Our fan base is fortunately a bit wider than you’d expect in terms of diversity, so we get from mainstream, to dark, to Goth, to alternative, to industrial crowds at our concerts and buying our CDs. The only problem here is that this is a tiny country with not so many people interested in music really, and a huge domination of tacky popular music that overcrowds the market.
DH: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
From what you’ve read, you may get the drift that we really are a live band, and what really interests us is reaching out and touching our audience. That’s what we feel is most important getting across to people right now; that coming to our gigs is an experience not to miss. We should also invite everybody to drop us a visit on the web at http://www.aeterial.org/aenima or mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
DH: Thank you very much for this interview and go on having fun with AENIMA. One last statement?
Well, we’re the ones who have to thank you for the interview. We hope it is a pleasant read, and that it entices your curiosity to go out and see what we’re doing. We hope to be back in Germany for some live gigs next summer, the latest, but we’re open to invitations. The German audience was definitely great. See you there. Thanks for listening.
Interview: Andreas Ohle